Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods

The United States is a country that labels everything from cosmetics to cleaning agents, but I find it surprising that there are no laws in the U.S. requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods. A recent survey concluded that 93% of Americans believe GE foods should be labeled. What the heck are they feeding us?

As a culinarian, I find this outrageous and I hope you do as well and help me take action,

It is estimated that 60%-70% of processed foods available in U.S. grocery stores likely contain some GE material,  This means plants and animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. These techniques use DNA molecules from different sources, sometimes different species, and combine them into one molecule to create a new set of genes (via

Do you think this is right?  I do not.....

I was recently contacted by the JUST LABEL IT organization with the following email.  Please read and help this cause. 

A legal petition calling for the mandatory labeling of GE foods, written by attorneys at the Center for Food Safety, was submitted in September to the FDA. It was created on the premise that people have a right to know what is in their food, and to give consumers not only a voice, but a choice in how they can take action.  The FDA will take public comments on the petition. The FDA carefully considers official comments from the public when drawing upon a final ruling.

Please help their campaign by signing and circulating this petition to the FDA (

Until I blog again- Eat Well, Live Life and Be Safe

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Brining My Thanksgiving Turkey (Cranberry, Apple & Sage)

Happy Thanksgiving:

I purchased a  11 1/2 # farm raised no hormones or antibiotics turkey for Thanksgiving from Locust Leaf Farm in Foster, Rhode Island. (want to learn more about where and how I got my turkey?  click here) The following blog post will detail how I brined the turkey.

First lest start by asking why brine a fresh farm raised turkey?  Well brining adds moisture and flavor to the turkey and helps to keep it from drying out. Not only will your turkey be moist and tender but you will also accent the natural flavor of the bird. Planning is the one the most important part of the brining process, brining to early could be disastrous, brining to late would be a waste of time. You will need to brine your turkey roughly one hour for every pound.  For my turkey I started brining my turkey 11 hours prior to the turkey making its way into the oven.

For the brine: (recipe a variation of Good Eats Roast Turkey)

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 gallon chicken stock
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 2 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water


Combine the chicken stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, sage in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil, add one bag of cranberries (they will pop like popcorn), boil for one minute.. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Stuff the turkey with the second bag of cranberries and truss the turkey.  Need help or don't know how to truss a turkey?  Click here  coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.

A 11 to 13 pound bird should require approximately 2  hours of roasting or until the thickest part of the leg reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Until I Blog Again:  Live Life, Eat Well and Be Safe

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Thanksgiving Turkey- from Locust Leaf Farm- Happy Thanksigiving

Happy Thanksgiving, in this post I would like to give thanks to the many small farmers who give chefs, cooks and foodies the chance to buy all natural farm raised meats and produce throughout Rhode Island and throughout the United States.

If you have followed my blog you will recognize the name Locust Leaf Farm, so far I have purchased a 1/4 cow from them, a side of lamb as well as eggs and other miscellaneous items.  Check out my original Locust Leaf post here

Today I purchased a Farm Raised Turkey for Thanksgiving from Locust Leaf Farm, the farm gets the birds in June when they are only a few weeks old and then raise them on the farm in very large open air coops.  While in the coops the turkeys are given unlimited all natural fresh food (including treats of vegetables and grasses) and water.  Thus the turkeys are able to walk, jog and play turkey games throughout the day. Unlike the mass produced turkey farm turkeys you buy in the supermarket (see below)

Locust Leaf Farm raised and sold 40 turkeys in 2010 and  this year they have already sold 50 birds before January 1st . Because of the consumer demand they decided to expand and raise 75 birds for this Thanksgiving.

Locust Leaf Farm processes their own birds right on the farm, and they also process for other local farmers.  They do this as a family, with the help of 2 other trusted individuals.  This year they are estimating that they will process between 400 and 500 birds the week leading up to the Sunday before Thanksgiving..

I purchased a 11.5# Turkey for $40.25 , the largest turkey they raised this year was a little bit over 28#.

The farm even raised a few heritage breed birds this year, the Blue Slate Tom Turkey. The heritage birds were hatched by the farmers daughters and  preschoolers.  A picture of the Blue Slate Turkey that was taken at the farm a is below:

This is unlike the mass produced turkeys you buy in the store: 
The Secrets Behind Mass Turkey Production
via the Business Pundit

Slate has an informative ditty about how turkey suppliers meet huge Thanksgiving demand, which amounts to roughly 46 million turkeys during a single week. Suppliers must plan a year ahead:
Market leader Butterball…has already begun the production cycle for next year’s holiday season. Eggs for breeder birds have been purchased from one of the world’s two major genetic suppliers, Hybrid and Nicholas. Those eggs will then be hatched and placed in turkey farms so that they can grow and become sexually mature during the winter. Come springtime, these birds will produce the eggs that are destined to become the turkeys we actually eat.
The eggs laid next spring will be incubated for 28 days and then, after they hatch, the resulting turkeys will spend about 10 to 18 weeks on a farm before they’re brought into the processing plant in late October and November. The birds are slaughtered, quickly chilled…then shipped out to retailers, usually all in the same day.

The article adds that turkeys need to be bred with human help:
The vast majority of turkeys sold in the United States…have been bred to produce as much white breast meat as possible, resulting in males so large and unwieldy that they can’t properly mount the females. Toms therefore have to be manually stimulated and “milked” for their semen, which is then inserted into a hen using a syringe.
And that, folks, explains how your roasted bird made it from farm to table. Not a pretty process!
Article printed from Business Pundit:

You choose what method you prefer, you already know mine, and for that I give thanks to all the small farmers

Until I blog again- Live Life, Eat Well and Be Safe...gobble gobble gobble

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nomadic Chef Blog Wordle

A whimsical blog post, enjoy!

The following is my Wordle (or word cloud)  for roughly the last 10 months.

If you are unfamiliar with Wordle, the following is the definition straight from their website: Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

Until I Blog Again, Live Life, Eat Well and Be Safe

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New York Produce Show and Conference Part 2

Day two of the New York Produce Show and Conference was a day full packed with information and industry leaders and chefs.

If you missed Part 1, stop and read it first..

Starting off the day was Jim Prevor, aka the Perishable Pundit who welcoming the attendees and remarked about how big of a success the previous day was, as mentioned in my last post there were over 3500 guests on the Produce Show floor. Jim was then followed by Chandra Ram from Plate Magazine to speak about what is hot in the New York restaurant and food service world.

Here are the trends associated with produce she discussed:
  • Farm Relationships
  • Meatless Mondays 
  • School Nutrition Initiatives
  • Foraging
  • Restaurant Gardens
  • Pickling & Preserving
  • Exciting Salads-More than just leaves
  • Creative Desserts-Stepping back in time where produce was used as the sweetener of a dessert
In fact Chandra explained that the the purchase of Ball canning jars has gone up 300% because of the new trend and that a well know restaurant group has revised its children's menu to move away from chicken finger, fries and burgers.  She also commended restaurants such as Dirty Candy, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Arrows Restaurant for paving the way.

We were then treated to two chef demos, the first by Executive Chef Ben Pollinger from Oceana and then Ralph Perrazzo.  Chef Pollinger demonstrated his Winter Vegetable Rolls with Curried Spinach Sauce, served in a Braised Onion while emphasising the connection between earth and plate.  Chef Perrazo demonstrated his Strawberry Confetti Dessert that included a hibiscus reduction, Chef Pollinger was assisted by Chef Anthony D'Adamo of Ritz Carlton NYC.  Both dishes were absolutely terrific.

Once the Chefs were done with their demonstrations Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RD from the Culinary Institute of America discussed the My Plate Challenge and the ten ways the food service industry can help make the transition to a half a plate of fruits and vegetables per meal.

  1. Think strategically about flavors you put on the plate
  2. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Improve the fat quality, promoting healthier fats
  4. Increase options for healthy protein options
  5. Emphasise healthy carbohydrates
  6. Opportunities to reduce sodium
  7. Give a wider range of portion sizes and calorie options
  8. Leverage small measures of indulgence
  9. Share nutritional information with the consumer
  10. Engage your colleges and industry partners

We then had a working lunch ideation session, the assignment was to address one of five challenging questions in small groups ensuring that the end result is a plate composed of at least 50% fresh produce. The questions all focused on how the following segments of the food service industry could achieve that outcome.

*Well-Established Steakhouse Chain, *Quick-Service Hamburger Based Chain, *Elementary School Food Service, *Baseball Stadium Concessions and a *Corporate Cafeteria.

Then came the Keynote Speaker, no other than Farmer Lee Jones of The Chef's Garden, Inc.  Farmer Jones started by explain his family history and specifically their rocky history of farming in Ohio.  He quickly moved to how his family decided to forget about selling their produce at farmers markets and to solely work (and learn) with chefs to produce produce that is culinary focused.  This switch lead to The Chef's Garden and being on the cutting edge, growing some of the finest tasting and most nutritious vegetables in the world.  Creative in his approach, while at the same time putting the chef first.  As quoted by Farmer Jones "Food that looks good, tastes good, and is good for you."  He also suggested that the rest of the industry embrace technology as they have, in fact their produce is not picked until a chef orders it and that each of his seeds has a bar code that results in true transparency to trace back a product.  The produce is also given a DNA test to check for Ecoli and then passed through a metal detector.  It was very apparent the Farmer Jones loves what he does, loves the earth, and believes in working with Mother Nature not trying to trick her.

Until I blog again, Live Life, Eat Well, and Be Safe...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The New York Produce Show and Conference Part 1

The journey began on an autumnal Sunday afternoon in early November at the Providence Amtrak station on my way to New York City and the New York Produce Show and Conference.
As the train departed Providence heading south to New York City most of the normally vibrant New England autumn leaves either were already off the trees or were a dull brown.  

The New York Produce Show and Conference was held at the NYC Hilton in Manhattan.  There were around 3500 attendees on the exhibit floor during the day.

I had the pleasure of bringing four talented JWU seniors from theCulinary Food Service Management Program with me to the show (on the left).  As well Chef John Abels from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago also brought four students with him as well.

Our mission to work the "Culinary Innovation Station" on the conference floor as well as to assist the "Celebrity Chef's" during their demonstrations. The celebrity chefs included Sarah Molten, The Lee Brothers, Charles Oakley (yes the former MBA player).

The premise of the "Culinary Innovation Station" was to send the students out on to the trade show floor and to have them "Forage" for the fresh product that we would use  to cook and produce samples for the trade show participants. 

We got off to a rocky start as the induction pans we were given did not work on the induction burners provided, so we only had an electric grill and a toaster oven to use.  Did this stop us, most certainly not.  As I told the students, pretend you are a culinary MacGyver, and so we did, and I must say the students were very creative and productive while foraging. Unfortunately we were so busy I didn't have enough time to take a picture of all of our dishes, but the two below are Organic Medley of Squash with Fresh Raspberries, Micro Basil and Bacon and Dueling Fruits.  We also had a Country Apple Salad, Trio of Mushrooms with Fresh Herbs and Sherry, Braised Portobello Mushrooms with Wilted Greens and Fruit and several others.  (dont ask me where the bacon came from, its a produce show, it just seemed to appear, the pork gods were good to us on this day)

Until I Blog Again, Be Safe, Eat Well, and Enjoy Life.