Dessert debate: cake vs pie
October 14th, 2013
12:00 PM ET
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Each autumn, some of the world's most prominent food scholars, chefs, journalists and enthusiasts gather together on the campus of the University of Mississippi for a symposium on the state of Southern food. Overarching themes covered by the Southern Foodways Alliance in the previous 15 years have included the role of farmers, a study of global influences, the undercurrents of music and booze, just to name a few. The subject at the core of 2013's installment: Women at Work.

For two days, featured presenters and honorees like Diane Roberts, Vertamae Grosvenor, Emily Wallace, Candacy Taylor, Charlotte Druckman, among many others, spoke eloquently and enthusiastically of the essential roles that women have played in the creation of Southern food culture past and present.

Then it was time for dessert. Eatocracy's managing editor Kat Kinsman and New York Times Atlanta bureau chief Kim Severson faced off in a tongue-in-cheek Lincoln-Douglas debate. The topic at hand: which holds more essential social and emotional currency in the South, pie or cake?

Kinsman defended the pro-pie position, and Severson took the side of cake. They tied, by an assessment of audience applause, but here in the spirit of National Dessert Day, we're serving up slices of both their arguments. Dig in.
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September 10th, 2013
02:30 AM ET
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Home cooks have been all a-cluck over recent guidance not to wash raw chicken before it's prepared and cooked. While it may seem counterintuitive, food safety resources like the United States Department of Agriculture's "Ask Karen" website advise:

"Washing poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.

Some consumers think they are removing bacteria and making their meat or poultry safe. However, some of the bacteria are so tightly attached that you could not remove them no matter how many times you washed. But there are other types of bacteria that can be easily washed off and splashed on the surfaces of your kitchen. Failure to clean these contaminated areas can lead to foodborne illness. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary."

The same goes for beef, pork, lamb and veal. Eggs, too, can incur an uptick in potential contamination, because according to the USDA, "the wash water can be 'sucked' into the egg through the pores in the shell."

So why did we all start bathing our birds in the first place? Probably because Julia Child, James Beard, Bettie Crocker, Fannie Farmer, Margaret Mitchell and the "Joy of Cooking" told us - and our parents and grandparents - to.
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August 14th, 2013
02:00 AM ET
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Depression is a daily struggle for millions of people, and stigma around the illness only adds to the burden. Emma Thomas' Depressed Cake Shop campaign is helping make conversations around the taboo topic a piece of cake.

"The concept is: make gray cakes, sell gray cakes and create a platform for discussion and media coverage," said Thomas. "And I think that's what we've done."

The London-based PR specialist and creative director became increasingly aware that people in the creative community around her frequently suffer from depression, but don't always have the freedom to discuss this with people in their professional or personal lives.

"If you go to the doctor and you're depressed the doctor will sign you off with stress so depression isn't on your record," Thomas said. "If you return to work after having the flu, people don't judge you forever. But if you have depression and you return to work after being down, you're judged forever."
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Filed under: Cake • Charity • Dessert • Events • Favorites • Health News


August 6th, 2013
01:30 PM ET
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Editor's note: Video by Jeremy Harlan, CNN photojournalist; text by Sarah LeTrent, Eatocracy editor.

Some residents of Grand Isle, Vermont, don’t want to talk about what happened in that blue building on Pearl Street. Others have an awful lot to say on the matter.

A cattle trailer, spray-painted in red with the Animal Liberation Front’s acronym “ALF,” still sits out front of the complex now shrouded in overgrown weeds.

It’s an eerie reminder of the events just four years ago that thrust this tiny town of fewer than 2,000 people into the national spotlight.

In October 2009, the now-deserted structure – which once housed the veal processing plant Bushway Packing Inc. - was permanently shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after an animal protection organization, the Humane Society of the United States, revealed an undercover video showing plant workers kicking, dragging, stunning and skinning live calves that were less than a month old.

It was yet another blow to the U.S. veal industry, which has long been mired in conflict with animal welfare groups because of its use of crates to restrain the calves’ movement.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, consumers seldom cite animal welfare as a concerning food issue but express it as “a matter of high concern” for veal.

But just 40 miles from where that horrifying video was filmed in Grand Isle, in the small town of Fairfield, Vermont, the folks behind Stony Pond Farm are among a number of smaller-scale dairy farmers trying to persuade consumers and fellow farmers alike to think outside the pen when it comes to veal – and they’re aiming to make more humane rearing and slaughtering practices an industry standard.
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