Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Out, Chickens!

The Buffalo News has a story this morning about a woman on Rhode Island Street who received a visit from animal control asking her to remove her illegal chickens from her backyard. As anyone who has spent a decent amount of time on Buffalo's West Side knows, this is far from the only "illegal" chicken coop in the city. Perhaps this will be the impetus for the City to go back and reconsider the 2004 ordinance that created poultry prohibition. You can read the story here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tag Team Spaghetti

My husband makes amazing spaghetti sauce. It has been one of our standard household meals for almost as long as we've been married (9.5 years). I used to pride myself on making good spaghetti sauce, but he has spent years perfecting his and I just can't even try to compete with it (wouldn't want to). He also adds in delicious meatballs that at one point were probably the size of baseballs, but have shrunk a bit since we have become more health conscious. He's been using leaner beef, too.

So, last night was spaghetti night in the Glanowski household but this time we decided to make it a more cooperative effort. Dan started making the sauce around lunchtime and I was put in charge of making the spaghetti noodles from scratch. We had it timed perfectly so the pasta finished just as the sauce reached its simmering peak of perfection.

I have only newly started making pasta from scratch, and I love the process. It is like magic how a mound of flour and a few eggs can turn into ribbons of delicious noodles. It took me about two hours to make a pound of spaghetti noodles, but that is because I had to let the dough rest for an hour after kneading. I am thinking about giving homemade bread a try just because I think kneading is such a fun, stress-relieving activity. The pasta machine does most of the work for the second round of kneading and then making the pasta sheets thinner and thinner until they are just what you want. My pasta machine also has cutting attachments for both fettucine and spaghetti, and it worked beautifully. A few simple cranks of the handle and I had silky, fine heaps of spaghetti noodles. A quick bath in boiling water (less than half the time of dried pasta) and we ended up with smooth, fresh pasta for our sauce. There is such a difference between fresh and dried pasta--the fresh retains some essential softness even when al dente, and has a slightly different, starchier flavor. It is well worth the effort to make your own.

Our dinner was perfect--a delicious example of teamwork.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Local Restaurant Week, a Review

Local Restaurant Week, which Whitney posted about a couple of weeks ago, is wrapping up and I hope it has been a huge success for all of the restaurants who participated. My husband and I went out to The Blackthorn (on Seneca Street in South Buffalo) last night in celebration of Local Restaurant Week. The Blackthorn is close to our house, and every time we go there we have had good service and good food. It also has the added advantage on Friday nights of having one of the best fish fries in Buffalo. The Local Restaurant Week special was a glass of wine/pint of beer, an entree, and a dessert for $20.09. We bypassed the special in favor of the fish fry.

Dan got the full works--beer battered with french fries, cole slaw, and pasta salad on the side. I went for the "lighter" option of broiled fish, steamed vegetables, and a baked sweet potato. That is the great thing about the Blackthorn fish fry--you get a real choice for what kind of fish you want (they also have breaded, lemon garlic, and something else I can't remember off the top of my head), and what kind of side dishes you want. They also have a real variety of dishes on their regular menu, so there are options for everyone whether it is a Friday night or not. Plus, the main bar is known for its selection of whiskey and of course they always have Guinness on draft. It has a family-friendly Irish pub atmosphere and though it is always busy the service is always good.

The Friday night fish fry is definitely a very Buffalo thing. Growing up in St. Louis I remember it as something the Catholic churches would have during Lent but that was about it. It always seemed weird to me to go to church for a fish dinner, and my family wasn't Catholic, so I never had a real fish fry until I moved here ten years ago. While I certainly couldn't eat one once a week (though I know there are some folks who do) it is a food tradition in this town that I enjoy.

I give The Blackthorn my thumbs up as having the best fish fry in town. Does anyone else have a favorite?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More reading on the Obama garden & WH food policy...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grassroots Feeding A Food Revolution?

The New York Times ran an interesting article yesterday about both the decision by the Obamas to install a food garden on the White House lawn and the rippling changes being felt throughout Washington toward the way our elected officials and policy-makers think about food policy. It's an interesting read, you can find it here.

I find it interesting that The Omnivore's Dilemma seems to have become the manifesto of sustainable agriculture. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn't really think of it as a rallying cry that would spark a national movement like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Anyone else out there feel the same way, or did I just not read it as deeply as others?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Buffalo Small Press Fair - this Saturday!

In continuing with my buy-local coverage, I thought I'd highlight the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair happening this Saturday at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum on Porter Ave. I've never gone and am sorry to say that I'd never heard of it until today.

From the website: The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is a regional one day event that brings booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, and other cultural workers (and enthusiasts) together in a venue where they can share ideas, showcase their art, and peddle their wares.

The inclusion of zinesters piqued my interest. If you don't know what a zine is, I suggest you read this and then go to the Small Press Fair with $20 in cash. I don't know Buffalo's zine scene too well but I'd be willing to bet that for $20 or less you'll pick up some fun, photocopied pieces of local art. If you want to see some of the best of the best, check out Microcosm Publishing. It's not Buffalo-based but it is an independent and community-focused publisher.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Michael Pollan Seeks Food Rules

In today's online edition of The New York Times Michael Pollan is reaching out to readers to ask for their food "rules" as part of a new project he is working on. You can contribute here.

Also, on a somewhat realted topic, I spent a chunk of my weekend reading The World Is Fat by Barry Popkin. While I appreciated that it had information from different countries and cultures than other similar books about food systems and the global obesity pandemic, I found it rather preachy and not particularly insightful. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food was a much better read.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Flapjack Fun

Yesterday morning, the Growing Green program of the Massachusetts Avenue Project hosted a Flapjacks for the Farm fundraiser at Trinity Church on Delaware. I went around 11am for the second seating of breakfast, and it was a great time. The sausage was provided by Spar's, my favorite local source for sausages (located on Amherst Street, between the Wegman's and Grant Street) and the pancakes were cooked and served by the young adults who are participating in the Growing Green program. They had blueberry, strawberry, chocolate chip, and original variety pancakes, as well as fruit and a variety of beverages. It was well-attended and the table I was sitting at (including Assemblyman Sam Hoyt--who also happens to be my boss--Michael Gainer of Buffalo ReUse, Kevin Connors and Aaron Bartley of PUSH Buffalo, and Kelly Ganczarz from the UB School of Urban Planning) had a lot of fun laughing and telling stories, but also talking about Buffalo's potential to really expand and promote urban agriculture. We also discovered that Earl Grey tea looks remarkably like maple syrup. Whoops.

They do great work in their community, and I encourage you to support them however you can. Here is a list of what Growing Green will be growing this year:

Basil, Beets, Roma Tomatoes, Onions, Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas, Jalapeno peppers, Pickling Cucumbers, Broccoli, Sweet Peppers, Chives, Thyme, Sage, Carrots, Zucchini, Radish, Dill, Spinach, Potatoes, Collards, Blueberries, Strawberries, AND MORE!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Quick Link

A review of the Field & Fork conference from Buffalo Spree, complete with a photo of the Oles Family (my CSA farmers)!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Local restaurant week, get on it!

Sushi at Sea Bar in Downtown Buffalo
"Sush'" originally uploaded by Nick Sherman

I'm re-blogging this announcement from Edible Buffalo's site but I thought this event deserved as much attention as possible: Local Restaurant Week in Western New York.

Some of the best city and suburb-based restaurants are offering a "dining package" for only $20.09 per person the week of March 23-29, 2009. It's a great way to get out and try a new place (and for a great price).

Visit the event's website for a list of participating restaurants.