Public health food regulations, and all other laws regarding food in Canada, are well-intentioned, and drafted to protect consumers. Most make perfect sense within the context of the industrialized food system, where people do not, and cannot, know everything about the food they eat.
When cooking, eating, and drinking outside the industrial system, food legislation often conflicts with food culture and individuals’ rights. Here are some examples.
Alberta Public Health Food Regulations
The provincial public health food regulations apply to operations such as restaurants, food stands, farmers’ markets, bake sales and the like. While I consider the restaurant scene only a peripheral component of our food culture, some of the restrictions put on restaurants clearly reflect how we think of … Continue reading.
The precision of the French language in describing the actions, equipment, and raw materials of the kitchen is unmatched, and it reflects their strong appreciation and understanding of food.
Consider the diagrams of pigs that show where the different cuts of pork come from on the animal. The British, North Americans, and French all have traditional ways to divide the animal. You’ll notice that, on the French diagram, not only are more parts of the animal used, but where the British and North Americans discern only one cut of meat, the French often have many. The part of the animal that we call the shoulder, or butt, forms at least three cuts in French cuisine, each with their own name: … Continue reading.
But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is? It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it’s just there it’s a little different.
-Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction
I am part of a culinary exchange between NAIT and a school in Semmering, Austria. This past month I hosted an Austrian student named Dominik, whom a lucky few met at Valerie’s psychedelic taste-tripping party.
On Dominik’s last full day in Canada, we coerced him and two of his Austrian colleagues, Mike and Lena, to cook us a classic Austrian dinner.
First Course: Frittatensuppe – Pancake Soup
Domink requested that we make a good beef stock for the … Continue reading.
Ducks and geese are fatty little creatures. Historically even fattier than they are now. Especially in southwestern France, where they are usually fattened to make foie gras.
This is a goose from Greens, Eggs, and Ham. It weighs about eleven pounds. We’re going to render some of its fat. We’re also going to confit the breasts and legs, then turn them into rillettes.
First we cut the breasts and legs from our goose. For a description of this process, see Poultry Cutting.
Rendering the Fat
Even though the choice fat around the breasts and legs is going into our confit, there is still lots of fat to be rendered from the goose. Look for fatty trim … Continue reading.
Since 2009, Lisa and I have been members of the Tipi Creek CSA. CSA usually stands for community supported agriculture, but at Tipi Creek Farm stands for community shared agriculture.
Here’s the skinny. In March we pay a flat fee. Three times between planting in May and the last harvest in September, we go to Tipi Creek and spend a few hours helping out. This may involve planting, weeding, or harvesting. In return for our money and labour, every week from roughly July to the end of September we get a shipment of vegetables.
Last year we received salad greens, spinach, Swiss chard, onions, leeks, kale, radishes, peas, beets, cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, rhubarb, corn, pumpkins, squash, watermelon, potatoes, kohlrabi, beans, … Continue reading.
This week I cut up a chicken from Greens, Eggs, and Ham. The bird was massive. Happily I was able to try a few different preparations. First was a ballotine, which is a portion of boned meat made into a single, flat sheet of flesh, which is then rolled around a stuffing, cooked, and served hot or cold.”Boning” by the way is the removal of bones from meat. The modern English speaker has extreme difficulty with this word, and so “de-boning” is becoming the more common verb.
Here is the leg and thigh:
To bone the meat, make a cut to expose the length of the leg bone, which should then separate fairly easily from the flesh.
Repeat the … Continue reading.
I recently looked up “mozzarella” in Larousse, and found the following descriptions:
- “a fresh cheese, springy and white”
- “kept in salted water or whey, shaped into balls or loaves of varying size”
This sounded utterly unlike any mozzarella I’ve had before. Turns out there are two types of mozzarella in this world: the traditional fresh mozzarella, described above, and the American low-moisture mozzarella, which includes the familiar white bricks at the grocery store. Traditional mozzarella belongs to a class of cheeses called pasta filata, which means “spun paste” or “spun curds”. The curds are heated, then stretched repeatedly to develop an elastic texture in the finished cheese. Other cheeses made by this method are provolone, scamorza, and caciocavallo.
I … Continue reading.
My ideal yogurt is Greek yogurt, which is thick, rich, flavourful, and made of sheep’s milk. Unable to find whole sheep’s milk, I’m experimenting with goat’s milk from Fairwinds Farm of Fort Macleod, Alberta, as it is fattier (and just more Greek) than cow’s milk.
There are two ways to culture yogurt at home. The first is to add a small amount of commercial yogurt containing active cultures to milk. The second is to use pure bacterial cultures. Regardless of which method you use, the process is basically the same.
Danlac Starter Kit
I eventually want to make cheese with pure bacterial cultures. I contacted Danlac in Airdrie, and ordered a starter kit containing several doses of rennet and cultures … Continue reading.
Today was devoted to playing with the simple formula (dairy) + (heat) + (acid) = (fresh cheese), that is, changing the dairy, acid, and amount of heat to manipulate the taste and texture of the finished cheese.
Mascarpone, the most mispronounced of all Italian cheeses, is made from whole cream, and is usually curdled with lemon juice or straight citric acid. My recipe from the Culinary Institute of America’s Garde Manger, Third Edition,called for tartaric acid (available at brewing supply stores), the taste of which took a distant backseat to the rich, buttery flavour of the cream.
- 1.92L heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp tartaric acid
Here are some brusque instructions. Heat cream to 80°C. Stir to prevent burning. Remove … Continue reading.
I’m starting my foray into cheese-making with a few simple, fresh cheeses. First I’d like to cover the basics.
Cheese: A Blunt Introduction
Cheese is curdled dairy. “Curdling” is the coagulation of proteins. In cheese-making, heat, acid, and certain enzymes are used to coagulate the major protein in dairy, casein. Subjecting dairy to heat and acid or enzymes (or both) will separate the mixture into solid curds and liquid whey. The curds contain most of the protein, fat, and nutrients of the original dairy product. From an anthropological perspective, the principle benefit of cheese-making is that most of the energy and nutrients of the milk are solidified into a longer-lasting, easily-transported mass (that happens to taste amazing).
The whey, while … Continue reading.