Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Hodge-Podge of Foodie Fodder

Remember when I used to post an entry several times a week, with photographs and commentary? Well, that was before I moved to DC and searching for housing and a job turned my life upside down! But just because I'm not posting obsessively, does not signify the absence of food issues from my life. In fact, a few recent articles struck an internal chord.

First off, the case for organics. There has been some serious debate over the extent of health and environmental benefits of organic produce. Sure, using no synthetic chemicals has its upsides, and the state of the soil largely dictates the quality of the produce. But there are organic pesticide and herbicide alternatives that have consequences for the environment, and the supposed nutritional leg-up of organics is questionable.

A recent study at Washington State University, a well-respected institution in the agricultural realm, supports the points favoring organic superiority. While the study only tackled strawberries, it did so in a comprehensive manner, considering nutritional quality, health of the fruit, flavor, and even genetic diversity (as an insurance measure against climate change). And, seeing as California's use of a known carcinogen in strawberry production was such a hot topic a couple of months back, these results actually have direct and immediate application.

Switching gears to more of a social issue...Being on a pretty tight budget this past month has put a crimp on my organic acquisitions (though, all of my produce is farmers market sourced), but the latest developments in the grocery world may alter my other purchases. Trader Joe's (along with Whole Foods) is my shop for nuts, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and other random things I eat. Exposure of farm-worker's rights transgressions, from poor working conditions to allegations of slavery, has left TJ's shoppers with a sour taste. And while I would not dream of purchasing the tomatoes that seem to be at the center of the dispute, the failure of TJ's in the social responsibility realm could very well be a deal-breaker. I'd be interested to find out what factors enter into your choice of grocery stores, and whether something like this would severely impact your shopping!

Well, if all this ethical musing is getting you down, take comfort in the end-of-season peaches. In my attempt to attract people to my hall-way at work, I have started baking random treats. However, my transient and unsettled state in life (oh, the elusive affordable DC housing...) has left my baking in a state of disrepair. Never fear! My attempt at some interesting cookie-like pastry yielded this week's:

Just Peachy Muffin Drops - when life gets you down, peaches are there to make things better!

1/3 cup oil (maybe a little less)
1/2 cup peach sauce - like applesauce + a little sugar (use homemade...and not TJ's)
1/3 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup fine-ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine oil, sugar, and peach sauce with a whisk until well-mixed.
2. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients, but don't over-develop the gluten.
3. Add the raisins. Drop spoonfulls on a greased baking sheet or into muffin tins.
4. Bake on 350F for 20-30 minutes until golden. Let cool...if you can, but serve relatively warm with soycream or cold with tea.

Perhaps not the most outstanding creation I have developed, these cookies-turned-muffin tops are pretty sweet and go really well with morning tea! Likened to a light scone, they are best made with peach sauce from those fruit smashed on your bike ride home (can personally vouch for the improved taste from the marred fruit).

I apologize for the lack of photographs, but promise to deliver on this week's produce of the week (TBD). Cheers!

No comments: