Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homemade Flour Tortillas

For a while now I've suspected that real tortillas had to be better than store-bought ones. I became more certain that I had spent my life eating inferior tortillas when I discovered that the same Mission brand flour tortillas in Costa Rica were much better than those in the United States! Apparently someone figured out that we Americans wouldn't know we were missing out on delicate, flaky goodness.

I enjoy trying to make as much of my meals from scratch as possible, so I finally got around to making my own tortillas. I served them to my roommates in burrito form. While the burritos got rave reviews, the tortillas stole the show - everyone noticed the difference.

Here is the recipe I used. I saw some other recipes that didn't call for this much resting time and some that didn't call for any at all so feel free to try other recipes and let me know how it goes!


Flour Tortillas

From the ReBar Modern Food Cookbook
Makes 10-12


1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. vegetable shortening
3/4 c. hot water


In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using the tips of your fingers, add shortening by working it into the dry mix until little pea-sized balls form. Gradually add hot water while using your other hand to mix with a wooden spoon. When the dough is too stiff to mix with a spoon, reach in with your hands and gently knead for 2 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for at least 1 hour.

Next, line a baking tray or dish with parchment paper, sprinkle with flour and set aside. Uncover the dough and pinch off golf ball-sized pieces. Roll the dough in your palms to form smooth spheres. Dust lightly with flour, set on parchment paper and cover loosely with plastic. Repeat with remaining dough. Set the tray aside, covered, to rest for another hour.

When you are ready to roll and cook, lightly sprinkle flour on the counter and set a ball of dough in the center, pressing lightly to flatten. Roll the disk out with a floured rolling pin, working from the center and rolling outwards to the edges, to form an 8" round. Repeat with remaining dough and stack tortillas between sheets of wax or parchment paper.

Heat a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with oil and cook tortilla on the first side until you see bubbles forming underneath. Flip over and cook until lightly golden. Wrap in foil and keep in a warm oven until all of the tortillas are cooked. Serve immediately!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Best Places to get a Banana at Penn

1. Any old dining hall, free with meal swipe
2. Your friendly neighborhood Fresh Grocer, ~20 cents (priced by weight)
3. Wawa, 35 cents
4. Fruit guy at 40th and Locust, 35 cents
5. Fruit Salad carts, 50 cents
6. Pottruck, 50 cents
7. Au Bon Pain, 89 cents (although you can use dining dollars)
8. Cereality, 1 dollar

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Passover Granola

Are you tired of Passover cereal tasting like cardboard? This easy-to-make, kosher-for-Passover granola will have you wishing Passover would last year-round...well maybe not quite that long. Great by itself as a snack, or with milk or yogurt as breakfast, this granola single-handedly gets me through the eight “leaven-less” days.

Enjoy it for the last few days of Passover!

Passover Granola


1 large box of Matzo farfel (regular or whole wheat)
Cinnamon and sugar to taste
½ c. dried apricots or other dried fruit, cut into small pieces
½ c. raisins
½ c. coarsely chopped walnuts or other nuts
½ c. golden raisins
¼ c. (½ stick) butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the farfel onto a cookie sheet. Melt the butter and mix it with the farfel. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Toast the farfel in the oven for 10-14 minutes or until golden-brown. Let cool for 10 minutes. Mix with dried fruit. Store in airtight container.

Variation: To make a richer, sweeter version, add two tablespoons of honey to the farfel after toasting it. Then bake for five more minutes, and toss with fruit.

Fling Food

I’ve heard a few things about drinks or something at Fling, but I don’t really know what that’s about--the real attraction is the food. The currency is mainly grease, with almost everything served coming out of a deep fryer.


The first thing some friends and I tried was a $7 basket of chicken fingers and fries from a stand in the lower quad. The chicken looked gross, inexplicably and unapologetically stripped of its breading. It ended up tasting alright, though, pretty moist if lacking crunch, but identifiable as white meat and not badly seasoned.


The fries were mainly crumbs. They had basically no resemblance to potato, instead looking and tasting like solidified yellow grease. I don’t know how long they had been sitting there, or how many times they had been dunked in oil, but that’s how they ended up. We had no problem downing them anyway.


Soon after, I got some lemonade from a stand nearby. Its excessive sweetness made it less refreshing than it could have been, but bad lemonade is still good.

Next, it was time for everyone’s favorite: the fried oreo. They were sold exclusively at a stand in the upper quad, with a big sign advertising the showcase item.

The oreos look like spheres of fried dough dusted with powdered sugar. Unlike the chicken, they were executed very well, with a perfect doneness and a sweet, crispy exterior that tasted like more than just grease. Also, they were fresh out of the fryer, which the other fare, by and large, was not.


The first bite into the crunchy outer layer of the fried oreo deflates the sphere. Then, you get to the soft dough, followed by a warm oreo that has lost its hard consistency but maintained its shape and taste. The end result is a combination of powdered sugar, fried dough, chocolate cookie, and vanilla cream, all at once, warm, and in contrasting textures. It’s truly a culinary triumph. (Perhaps this is why fried oreos pop up at places a little fancier than Fling food stands as well, like at the upscale hamburger joint Rare Bar & Grill in Manhattan.)


I guess for once a year, it’s good to eat solid grease, yellow sugar water, and nasty, naked chicken fingers. After all, Fling food is food for a particular mindset. Serve it to me in a fancy restaurant, or even on a regular day, and I’ll likely be disgusted. But when the time is right, and the mood cooperating, Fling food is actually pitch perfect.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Top 5 First Date Spots

In reverse order, my top picks for a nice place to take that special someone:

5) Franklin Fountain - This traditional 1920s-style "ice-cream saloon" serves up old-fashioned, homemade ice cream sundaes and floats in portions so huge that they have to be shared. And after indulging your sweet tooth, you and your date can take a leisurely stroll down Penn's Landing for some good conversation (and much-needed digestion)!

4) Aqua - Simple yet sleek, this unfussy Malaysian/Thai BYOB is the ideal spot for a first date, and will fit his budget (nothing is over $15). The row of cozy tables and impressive waterfall add a nice touch.

3) La Fontana Della Citta - One of the few Italian BYOBs in Center City where diners are not squashed together elbow-to-elbow. The warm, welcoming atmosphere lends itself to a relaxed meal over lingering conversation - a recipe for first date success.

2) Cuba Libre - Walking into Cuba Libre is like being transported to Havana in the 1940s - the palm trees, big ceiling fans, and salsa music. The upbeat, tropical ambience will surely quell any first date jitters.

1) Amada - Along with the hip decor, open kitchen and vibrant music, Amada stands apart with its Spanish tapas experience, where the small plates are meant to be shared. Sampling dishes together is a surefire way to break the ice on a first date!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Anything but Corny!


If ever there were a popcorn heaven, ‘Dale and Thomas’ would be it. The tiny storefront shop emanates the sweet, salty scent of fresh popcorn, warm and crispy, overflowing from bushel-baskets. Upon entering, amiable staff welcome you to sample as many of the shop’s 12 flavors as you please. The Today show deems it the "Rolls Royce of popcorn," and Oprah hails it as her favorite.

Here’s a rundown of a few flavors I sampled, including what to try and what to avoid;

Chocolate and Peanut Butter DrizzleCornLike an inside out, popped, peanut butter cup.

White Chocolate and Peanut Butter DrizzleCornEven better than the milk chocolate and peanut butter according to several taste-testers I surveyed.
Chocolate Chunk and Caramel Drizzle CornThis was the testers' favorite, and Oprah’s preferred flavor too!
Southwest Cheddar ChipotleCheesy cheddar with a little bit of bite. Tastes remarkably similar to Doritos.
Backyard BBQTangy mesquite flavor—tastes great mixed with the Cheddar Chipotle.
Buffalo and Blue Cheese”—Here’s fair warning: This flavor made me want to gag! To put it bluntly, it has an aftertaste reminiscent of dirt and mold.

With the choice of two flavors, each bag is well-worth its $5 price tag. And during the hour prior to closing time everyday, if you buy two bags, the third is free! Yum!

Philadelphia location: 1625 Chestnut St. (The Shops at Liberty Place). Open 7 days a week.

"Dig in!"

One fine afternoon, I was waiting for some friends to join me for lunch. The girl seated beside me was happily chomping away at her blueberry bagel. I quickly averted my eyes so that the sight of food wouldn't set my stomach off rumbling with hunger. After a couple of minutes, seemingly satisfied with having eaten half of her bagel, the girl put the other half in the bag and threw it rather carelessly on the table in front of her. Fifteen minutes passed and she showed no further interest in her bagel. Meanwhile, my hunger was slowly reaching its threshold, and I felt increasingly resentful about this girl unnecessarily wasting her bagel. And then I thought to myself--what if people offered other people food they can’t finish? It’s certainly an absurd situation, and perhaps not so sanitary, but most importantly it is a social norm violation, the topic for my research paper for Social Psychology. Most people are more than willing to lend someone a piece of paper or a pencil, but it is a rarity to offer food or drink when requested, let alone voluntarily. It is most probably the fact that meals are something every person looks forward to in a busy day of classes or work. Thus, the prospect of sharing food, that too with a complete stranger is understandably not very appealing.

I tried my experiment on college students at Houston Hall and on middle-aged people in the food court next to CVS. In Houston Hall, most people gave me very strange looks; some girls even moved their things closer to them and continued to shoot me suspicious glances well after the moment had passed. Some males actually accepted the food and even asked for more. However, considering the college student’s obsession with free food, I thought despite the impact of my norm violation, more people would accept my offer. In the food court, not a single subject accepted the food and I almost got yelled at by a man who looked very unhappy with his slice of pizza from Famiglia.

My experiment gave me a lot of insight into how our society is so tightly regulated by norms. Norms are essential to maintain harmony between human beings and promote mutual understanding. Perhaps this is why conformity is so hard to break, as was proven by subjects in the public food court. Subjects who had seen me asking their neighbors definitely seemed prepared with a suspicious glare and a “No, thank you”. The normative influence of surrounding people prevented people from accepting my food even if they wanted to. What I found most surprising, however, was that hardly anyone perceived my offer as an act of generosity- my deviant behavior evidently overshadowed that aspect. Imagine a life where everyone shared their food, and all the different flavors of the world flowed freely- utopia?-perhaps. Unlikely? -definitely. I think this calls for a revolution on food- “Dig in!”

Monday, April 21, 2008

If You're Looking for Baby Names...

In case you or anyone you know is having a baby in May, if you give the baby the middle name "Crunch" you can win $25,000 from Vlasic Pickle Co.

Sounds great, right? Hopefully by the time the kid grows up everyone else will have onomatopoetic middle names.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


For you meat lovers out there...

I just wonder if it comes scented.

Not exactly vegetarian...

Quick quiz:
Which of the following ABP soups contain meat ingredients?
A. broccoli cheddar
B. Southwest vegetable
C. potato cheese soup
d. tomato Florentine

The answer is actually all of the above. Today, I chatted with a friend who was upset that she'd unknowingly consumed meat during Lenten Fridays via ABP soups. This prompted me to visit their website and read the ingredients on all of their soups. I found that a surprising number of soups with no mention of meat in their titles indeed contain animal products.
Many are aware that French onion soup uses beef broth, and from making potato leek soup I know to add chicken broth, but I'm still not soup-savvy enough to know to watch out for Tuscan vegetable.
The following is all of ABP's soups or stews that do not mention meat or assert their vegetarian status in their title. Soups with meat, or meat broth or base are marked by an asterisk, and in parentheses, it is indicated whether it contains chicken (c), ham/pork (h) or beef (b).

baked stuffed potato* (c, h)
broccoli cheddar* (c)
carrot ginger
corn and green chili bisque
corn chowder* (c, h)
curried rice and lentil
French Moroccan tomato lentil
French onion soup* (b, c)
garden vegetable
harvest pumpkin
hearty cabbage* (b, h)
Italian wedding* (b, c, h)
Jamaican black bean* (c, h)
Mediterranean pepper* (b, c)
old fashioned tomato rice* (c)
pasta e fagiole* (c, h)
Portuguese kale* (c, h)
potato cheese* (c, h)
potato leek* (c)
Southern black-eyed pea* (c, h)
Southwest tortilla* (b, c)
Southwest vegetable* (b, c)
Thai coconut curry
tomato basil bisque
tomato cheddar
tomato Florentine* (b)
Tuscan vegetable* (c)
wild mushroom* (b, c)
mac and cheese* (c)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Me and my cast-iron skillet

If you're one of my roommates you probably groaned when you read this title. Because, yes, it's true - I'm obsessed with my cast-iron skillet.

For as far back as I can remember (okay, maybe just a few years) I have longed for a cast-iron skillet. Not just any cast-iron skillet. I wanted a second-hand skillet made by one of the original manufacturers, such as Griswold or Wagner. While living at home, I was deprived of such cookware. My mother has feared cast-iron skillets since she "ruined" one (not possible) and the process of seasoning a skillet confuses her.

I realized my skillet-owning dream this fall at a flea market downtown. One of the vendors had Wagner skillets in a variety of sizes and was more than happy to share his skillet knowledge with me as well as a mutual distaste for the Lodge "pre-seasoned" skillets commonly sold in stores.

I purchased a small skillet from the jolly gentleman and smiled all the way home. Since then, it's been nothing but good times with my cast-iron skillet. Rather than clinging to my eggs, it offers them up to me from its seasoned, non-stick surface. It goes from the stove to the broiler for fabulous frittattas or blackberry cobblers.

In my opinion, a multi-purpose pan that can take a beating is an absolute essential for college students and everyone else.

To learn more:
The Wagner and Griswold Society
Background, care and seasoning
Recipes for cast-iron cookware

Friday Blog Lovin' - Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Photo Blogger: Deb
Blog: Smitten Kitchen

This experienced blogger from New York is a little bit obsessive and a lot a bit creative, the proof is in her brilliantly stunning blog. Her tremendously tempting flourless chocolate walnut cookies give Jewish foodies something to look forward to this week.

Note: Click on the photo to see Deb's original post.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A List In Response...

...to the post about Michael Pollan's books.

A little advice on eating the "whole foods" way at college (something I am trying hard to do):

1. The salad bar in the dining halls or the salads at Houston are a good option.
2. When Houston has apples or pears, those are good, too.
3. The bookstore has decent fruit salad, although at $3.95 it's a little pricey. Ahh, bursar.
4. When you're at the store, buy fruits and vegetables that last a while, like bananas, oranges, apples, and baby carrots. Good general rule: shop around the outside of the store, and eschew aisle shopping.
5. Don't buy big bags of snack foods.
6. Freeze your breads.
7. If you want something sweet, make it yourself. Home-baked goods are much less likely to have yucky ingredients, plus you can control fat and sugar content. And you're guaranteed no high fructose corn syrup.
8. Generally speaking, don't buy packaged foods at all. If you must, good options are Amy's Kitchen (vegetarian canned soup, frozen dinners and snacks, etc.) and Kashi (7 whole grains on a mission!).
9. Real sushi isn't bad, except if you read the ingredients for Penn Dining's sushi...unpronounceable ingredients AND high fructose corn syrup!
10. Find a friend, and cook together. That way you know you're eating more healthily and you automatically have an eating buddy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Penne with grilled chicken in Red Vinegar Sauce

Ever had one of Greek Lady’s grilled chicken salads but you weren't able to finish the mountainous pile of chicken on top? Well, this is a great way to use that chicken in an entirely different dish, and save you the guilt of having to throw it away. Of course, freshly bought chicken or salmon works just as well.

Penne Pasta and Grilled Chicken in Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

2 c. cooked penne pasta
2 tbsp. olive or canola oil
11/2 c. cubed chicken breast (or grilled salmon for a lighter meal)
11/2 c. spinach
13/4 c. peppers (red, green, yellow, purple- whatever you like)
11/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. each thyme, rosemary and sage
¾ tsp.ground paprika
1½ tsp. minced onion, or onion powder
¾ c. Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce ®
11/2 -2 tbsp. of red wine vinegar
Salt to taste, and fresh cilantro to garnish

Sauté the chicken in the oil on medium heat until the meat begins to lose its translucent appearance. Turn to low heat and add in the herbs and peppers. (You don’t want to wait for too long or use high heat because the chicken and the peppers might get overcooked). Add the spaghetti sauce and the red wine vinegar and simmer for about a minute. Add spinach and cook for a few seconds, then add the cooked pasta and give it a thorough toss. Garnish with olives and cilantro. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Homemade Pizza

I've found that pizza is a really easy option for weeknight dinners, provided you have some basic ingredients. Making the dough from scratch isn't hard either - you just have to start it about two hours before you plan to eat.

I like getting creative with my pizza toppings based on what I have around. Here are some combinations I enjoy on top of tomato sauce and mozzarella:

  • garlic, spinach, feta cheese, sliced red onion
  • sauteed mushrooms and onions
  • roasted red pepper and pesto
  • bacon and caramelized onions
  • roasted garlic and artichoke hearts
This is a reliable recipe for pizza dough from The Gourmet Cookbook. You can substitute some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour if you so desire.

Basic Pizza Dough


1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and dredging
3/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil


Stir together yeast, 1 tbsp. flour and 1/4 cup warm water in a measuring cup and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes.

Stir together 1 1/4 cups flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture, oil, and remaining 1/2 cup warm water and stir until smooth. Stir in enough of remaining flour (about 1/2 cup) so dough comes away from sides of bowl.

Knead dough on a dry surface with lightly floured hands (reflour hands when dough becomes too sticky) until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put on a lightly floured surface, and generously dust with flour. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/4 hours.

Do not punch down dough. Carefully dredge dough in a bowl of flour to coat and transfer to dry work surface. Holding one edge of dough in the air with both hands and letting bottom touch work surface, carefully move hands around edge of dough (like turning a steering wheel), allowing weight of dough to stretch round to roughly 10 inches.

Lay dough flat on lightly floured work surface and continue to work edges with fingers, stretching into a 14-inch round.

Top and bake at 425 degrees.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Top 5 Just-Add-Water Meals

(1) Annie’s White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
(2) Simply Asia Sesame Teriyaki Bowl
(3) Bowl Appetit Three Cheese Rotini
(4) Thai Kitchen Pad Thai

(5) Thai Kitchen Thai Peanut

Honorable mention: Betty Crocker Warm Delights Hot Fudge Brownie. It’s not a meal, but it’s a just-add-water microwaveable brownie. Amazing, right?

Based on:
A: Aesthetic appeal (0-5; Nauseating to Tantalizing)
B: How obvious it is that I just added water (0-5; I can still taste the powder to I could pass this off as homemade)
C: How satisfying it is as a meal (0-5; I’m still hungry to No need for a snack)
D: How upset the nutrition facts made me (0-5; Take 10 years off my life to [Almost] healthy)
E: How likely I am to buy it again (0-5; Maybe, if it’s on clearance to I’ll buy seven)
*Note: I decided not to include overall taste because they’re all delicious and all rather comparable to my unsophisticated palate.

1: 4, 3, 3, 3, 5 (18)
2: 4, 4, 3, 1, 4 (16)
3: 4, 3, 4, 1, 3 (15)
4: 3, 3, 3, 2, 3 (11)
5: 2, 4, 2, 2, 4 (10)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Lentil Stew

I invented this recipe for lentil stew, taking my inspiration from a recipe for Misir Wot, or Ethiopian Lentil Stew, in the Jewish Vegetarian cookbook “Olive Trees and Honey.” I used some of their flavoring choices and some of my own. I also used two recipes in “Simply in Season,” the Ethiopian Lentil Bowl and the Hearty Lentil Stew for ideas.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can really leave out anything you want (except the lentils and water, obviously) depending on what you like or have. I only used stuff I already had in my kitchen.

I was a bit skeptical at first. This was a total experiment, and I’ve only made soups a couple times before. It’s good, though! The chili powder and freshly ground (of course) black pepper add a little kick, and the raisins a little sweetness. I think it’s a keeper, if I do say so myself.

Lentil Stew (invented by yours truly)


2 c. water
½ c. lentils
~5 oz. tomato paste
12 baby carrots, chopped
½ large onion, chopped
A couple handfuls of random frozen vegetables (peppers, green beans)
A handful of raisins
2 big cloves garlic, chopped
Scant tbs. chopped fresh ginger
Generous dash cumin
Chili powder, as you like it


Cook altogether over LOW heat, covered, until lentils are cooked, about 30-45 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Try not to sustain a steam burn, as I did.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Foodie BlogRoll!

We have recently been added to the Foodie BlogRoll, a network/group of food bloggers. You can see the blogroll on the left of the page - it contains links to over 1000 food blogs and some other info if you are interested.

This is a big step for our blog, as we are hoping to increase our readership in both the Penn community as well as the food blogging community! Thanks to Jenn DiPiazza, creator of the food blog Leftover Queen and the Foodie BlogRoll, for adding us!

We love getting feedback on the blog, so please post a comment if you feel so inspired. Or you can always email Penn Appetit: pennappetit@gmail.com.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Remedy Tea Bar

If you're ever in the Rittenhouse area, weary from hours of shopping or in need of some warmth, stop in to Remedy Tea Bar at 1628 Sansom. The inviting, Zen-like décor is ideal for both getting work done and meeting up with a friend. The laptops were out in full force when I went but there was also a couple sharing a pot of tea on the couch and two women gossiping at a table nearby. The pastel lime walls and sleek wooden furniture lend a calm, friendly atmosphere to the place. The workers don’t reflect the décor; when I asked about the selection of teas, the cashier responded with a sigh and then pushed a menu in front of me. But my pot of tea was so cute I was willing to ignore her unpleasantness.

Remedy Tea has a varied assortment of teas, with intriguing flavors like Roasted Apple, White Pomegranate, and Red Hot Chai or the standards of Earl Grey and Moroccan Mint. I opted for the Spiced Pear black tea – a blend of cinnamon, ginger, and pear bits. It had a nice (but not overpowering) kick with gentle hints of sweetness. The pots cost $4.25 while the cup is $2.35. But with less than a $2 difference, go for the pot. There is something so comforting about drinking tea from a pot; I always feel like I’m treating myself.

Remedy Tea also has tea lattes like the Dirty Chai – Masala Chai, chocolate, vanilla, and steamed milk. Their frozen tea drinks looked tasty as well and, weather permitting, I will give one a try next time I go. With my pot of tea, a book to read, and a table by the window, I spent a leisurely Monday afternoon happily pouring my tea, people-watching, and re-caffeinating for the H&M shopping spree ahead of me. If you prefer sipping over doing homework, then Remedy Tea Bar can be your calming harbor in the storm of approaching finals.

Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
This seemingly simple advice appears on the cover of Michael Pollan’s new book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. And according to Pollan, it is the answer to the increasingly complicated question of what humans should eat.
Pollan’s last book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma explores the principal food chains in the United States and our “national eating disorder,” which has instigated a national discussion about the way Americans eat.
Now, In Defense of Food attempts to show us how to change the way America eats. Pollan argues that instead of the products of nature, we’re more likely to reach for highly processed, unrecognizable forms of food that come wrapped in packages full of heath claims. Pollan aims to help natural, whole foods fight back, one meal at a time.
In the first section of the book, Pollan discusses nutritionism, a philosophy that assumes food is simply the sum of its nutrients; the main reason for eating is to maintain health; and that expert help is needed to construct the best diet. Pollan knocks this down, showing that nutritional scientists are eager to find a health benefits in whatever they are paid to study. One day, fats might be the nutrient to avoid, the next, carbohydrates are the culprit.
Pollan is even more forceful in his fight against the Western diet, claiming that all heath issues stem from the way America eats. He encourages Americans to “eat more like the French, or the Italians, or the Japanese,” since they are generally healthier than those who eat a Western diet.
Pollan offers some ground rules for what to eat in the last section of the book. His rules include, “eat mostly plants, especially leaves,” “do all your eating at a table,” and “try not to eat alone.” These seem simple enough.
But other rules are nearly impossible for most people, let alone college students, to follow. One rule encourages readers to “avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or d) that include high-fructose corn syrup.” That rules out just about everything in my dorm room. Most of Pollan’s other rules about what and how to eat require access to a kitchen and a farmer’s market, making them difficult for a Penn student to follow. While Penn Dining offers some local, organic options, it’s almost impossible to ensure that everything one eats would be approved by Pollan.
The best way to heed Pollan’s advice is to recognize that there is a problem with the way America eats, and to take small steps towards a change. If you are in college, don’t eat at your desk; go to the dining hall with a friend and utilize the salad bar. And for everyone, farmer’s markets are popping up everywhere; be adventurous and try it out, maybe using produce you’ve never tried before. By making these small adjustments to the way we eat and think about eating, we can positively impact our health and the way we think about food.
Written by Kristen M., staff writer for Penn Appetit

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Curried Egg Salad

Though new to the food blog world, I've quickly become an avid blog reader and chosen a favorite: 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson, the creator of 101 Cookbooks does stunning photography and writes posts that are both informative and eloquent. Heidi has a fresh, healthy approach to vegetarian food, and though I'm not a vegetarian, I would have no problem giving up meat to eat her food daily. She is based in San Francisco, which can be frustrating at times when you have to read about all the fresh produce she just picked up!

For some time, I was eyeing her curried egg salad recipe, with toasted pecans, apples, and curry powder. The recipe was easy enough to put together. In the time the eggs were boiling and the pecans were toasting, I was able to prepare the rest of the ingredients. I also like the use of yogurt instead of mayonnaise, as I rarely have mayonnaise on hand. As expected, Heidi did not disappoint; the egg salad was a "more flashy" take on the original, as she put it. The curry powder and yogurt mixture definitely added flashiness while the crunch of the pecans and burst of sweetness from the apples complemented the eggs nicely. I had it with a toasted wheat bagel but I imagine pumpernickel bread would be quite tasty as well.

Curried Egg Salad

From 101cookbooks.com


5 good quality eggs
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder (your favorite)
3 tbsp. plain yogurt
2 big pinches of salt
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium apple, chopped
1/4 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
1 small bunch of chives, minced


First off, you need to boil the eggs properly (the key to good egg salad!). Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2-inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking and place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so - long enough to stop the cooking.

While the eggs are boiling and cooling, combine the yogurt, curry powder and salt in a tiny bowl. Set aside.

Crack and peel each egg, and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the curried yogurt, onions, apple, pecans, and chives. Now mash with a fork. Don't overdo it, you want the egg mixture to have some texture. If you need to add a bit more plain yogurt to moisten up the mixture a bit, go for it a bit at a time. taste and add more salt if needed. Enjoy as-is, or served wrapped in lettuce or between two slices of good, toasted bread.

Friday, April 4, 2008

An apple a day...

I wish I enjoyed eating apples more. Then, perhaps I could somehow come closer to justifying buying an Hermes apple purse--horn handled knife and all.

You know you want one.

Top Seven Bottled Waters*

1. SmartWater – Electrolytes…what could be bad?
2. FIJI – Best looking bottle this side of the Mississippi
3. Naked – Can’t find it anymore, unfortunately
4. Fred – Bottle shaped like a flask
5. Ethos – Charitable cause
6. Poland Spring – What it means to be from Maine…need I say more?
7. Any other spring water

Avoid Dasani, Aquafina, and Evian at ALL COSTS.

*I am not condoning the purchase of bottled water, due to its negative impact on the environment.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lemon Butter Pasta

Lemon Butter Pasta (enough for one)


2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp olive oil
1/3 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried basil
1 dash garlic salt
1 bowl of cooked pasta
Canned tuna, or cooked chicken


Mix the first five ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. The quantities are a starting point; I recommend adding basil, lemon juice, and garlic salt to taste. Throw in the pasta, and grilled chicken, tuna or whatever else you’d like. Toss gently. Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

food of spring: Food Haiku #6

spring's arrival means
i can say at last, farewell,
root vegetables

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mag release

As I know you are all eagerly awaiting the release of this semester's Penn Appétit, I just thought I'd place a post here to let you all know that this issue is looking hotter than a jalapeño, more irresistible than a flourless dark-chocolate cake, fresher than locally grown produce...ok, three food puns is probably enough—just be sure to pick up a copy!

Don't Mock My "Meat"

As a vegetarian, I’ve had enough mock meat to understand why it makes some people retch. I’ll advise against, for instance, the Fresh Grocer item labeled Tofu Pups—for all the allure of their clever name, those faux dogs left me sick as one.
But, my fellow vegetarians, do not despair. Lucky for us (and some more open-minded omnivores), there is at least one shining light in this black night of protein deprivation:
Morningstar, this one’s for you.

Morningstar Farms offers an incredible array of vegetarian and vegan products—from breakfast “sausages” to “steak” strips, “chick” patties to classic garden burgers—each nothing short of a miracle. How they manage to blend soy and wheat into so many different flavors and textures both scares and amazes me, but never fails to delight my taste buds.
Even Fro Gro knows where it’s at: they’ve devoted an entire freezer section (my personal oasis) to Morningstar’s neat green packages. And conveniently, they go on sale often, making Morningstar’s meals not only some of the tastiest and most nutritious foods available, but a financially sound choice as well.
Simply put, Morningstar puts the eat in mock meat. Not everyone can be vegetarian, but everyone can be Morningstarian.

Post by Maggie T., a faithful Penn Appetit writer and Layout Editor

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