Consider farmers' markets for your meet needs

Explore farmers' markets for meat

Shopping in the store for meat can be more of a challenge than what you think. All you have to do is look at the recent news headlines for meat recalls and you will be shocked at all the meats which have been called back. This is when you may want to search elsewhere for your meat and then you can discover some great varieties and options.

The first reason you should explore farmers' markets for your meats is because these meats are straight from the farm. You may think all the meat you are getting at the market has plenty of space to roam and get what they want to eat, but you need to realize most of the time the cows are confined to a stockyard for fattening and then they are not allowed to roam.

Another reason you need to consider farmers' markets for your meat is that they are going to allow you to have a wider selection of meats. For example, some of the cuts of meat you get at the markets are available only at the farmers' markets. You may find out about a different cut of steak in thickness and taste quality because the farmers usually bring the entire cow or pig with them instead of leaving portions behind.

It's important to feel comfortable when consuming meat and know that it hasn't been recalled from your local market. This is when you should know more information about farmers' markets for your meats. When you look here, it is easy to find the meat you need and know exactly where it is coming from.  

The I-lived-in-Hippieland Hamburger Helper Recipe

Take a box of Hamburger Helper and open it up.
Throw away the box because you already know how to make Hamburger Helper.
Remember you don't really have the proportions memorized and fish the box out of the trash.
Remember you also don't have any hamburger
Brown some tofu in olive oil and soy sauce.
Curse yourself for only having soft tofu in the house.

Add the pasta and envelope of tasty chemical goodness to the mix, cook according to directions on the box.
Add plain yogurt instead of milk because you don't have any milk.
Whoa does that make the sauce thick!
Add tons of chili powder and some nutritional yeast because both of those things are awesome.
Whoa, it's almost a solid!
Let it sit while you wait for the Verizon guy to come back.
Offer him some.
Don't be surprised if he says no.
Eat it yourself.

Optional: Apologize to the Verizon guy for the mess in the house, to which he might say "are you like OCD or something, your bed is made! No one makes their bed." Is that true? Do other people not make their bed? It's always the first thing I do as soon as I get out of it. Well after I pee and drink some diet Mountain Dew.

Let me say in conclusion, I am obsessed with nutritional yeast. I never ate it until I lived with in Portland for a while, and before long very long, my partner started actually saying "go get me x or y (whatever food item) and DON'T ADD NUTRITIONAL YEAST." I very rarely have it in the house because I will literally put it on everything.


Haitian Griot: Worth the trouble and then some

I lived in Port au Prince Haiti during some of formative years, and so I often get called on to make a recommendation when folks are visiting a Haitian restaurant. I always tell them to try to the Griot, whether they are pork eaters or not. It's simply too tasty to pass up.

The basic recipe for griot, which is a form of marinated, baked and then fried pork, is not too tricky. You start with boneless pork shoulder, cut into large cubes. It's best to keep the thick layer of fat on the outside, both because it's tasty and because the meat gets dry without it. In Haiti, you often get griot with a little bit of hair still on it, which I like a great deal, but I suppose the average person does not.

In addition to the pork shoulder, you'll need orange juice (sour orange if you can get it), salt, garlic, and oil. You marinate the cut up pork shoulder overnight, then boil it, then fry it, and serve it warm. I use olive oil for the frying (do it on the stove top, although it can be done in the oven as well); in Haiti a rather generic mixed vegetable oil is often used for this component. Ideally you should serve it with the marinade (cooked up all together) and something called Haitian pikliz, which is a super tasty spicy garnish made of cabbage, carrots, onions, vinegar and scotch bonnet peppers.

Or probably, you should just try this at a Haitian Restaurant. In New York, the best one is Kombit in Brooklyn. In other large cities, look for any Haitian restaurant with lots of cabs parked out front.

OK, OK I tried it

Taco Bell's Dorito Loco Taco

I've been reading a lot about (and even recently wrote about) the new super start of fast-food loving carnivores, what Taco Bell is calling the Dorito Loco Taco. First off I need to get this off my chest: I really really hate the name and I refused to order it with the “loco” part. Why does Taco Bell keep adding weird fake Spanish to their menu? Do they really think anyone believes they are a Mexican Restaurant?

When I got through the ordering without using the the weird/bizarre use of a Spanish word in a weird/disrespectful way, I was pleased with the price. I was close to the same price as a regular taco (I almost wrote “hot dog”) in Manhattan, which is $1.39. I didn't do the super-taco or whatever it is that they offered as the upsell, at least partly because everyone who was blogging about it complained about the ridiculous amount of sour cream on it.

Anyway, I bought two and that was just about the right amount. The dorito loco tacos come in a little cardboard sleeve, which according to the Taco Bell website, it is to keep you from getting Dorito Dust on your fingers. That seemed a little strange to me because I touched the shell directly with no transfer of dust. I thought they were trying to make the shells like really big Doritos, just folded in half, but that's not the case. They are regular taco bell taco shells with some slight Dorito flavoring added to them.

Meat Passion: What To Put on Homemade Pizza

I've recently gotten into an ongoing debate with a friend about the relative merits of different meat based topics for home-made pizzas. The fact that we are able to have an ongoing debate is either proof of our passion for meat, proof of our passion for homemade pizza, or proof that we have way too much time on our hands. My guess is that an argument can be made for all three.My friend favors the extremely salty variety of meats for her home-made concoctions (also known as recipes, depending on who you're asking and how it turns out) such as salami, canadian bacon, and even (once in a pinch) garden variety (which is a strange thing to say about something that has never seen a garden) bologna.

I like all those meats, and I like pizza but I'm not a big fan of those type of meats on pizza for obvious reasons; they become too salty. I'm not being all health nut about this either, I'm not all that concered with the occasional meal that leaves me panting for water and my ankles swollen up like cantalopes. What I don't like is that the super salty meats added to cheese makes a kind of sodium slush that I don't find very tasty. I favor pizza meats like ground beef, pulled pork (I know, sounds weird but it is so good) and chicken bits.

Of course, if you're using the blandest of all cheese (like a super low fat mozzarella) bring on the super salty sausage and its peers. But I favor a slightly grander cheese with a more tame meat accompaniment.

Dorito Taco Bell Shell: Worth the Indigestion

Taco Bell has been threatening, I mean promising, I mean promoting a Dorito taco shell based taco. And yes I know that Taco Bell has been accused of not using real meat in their tacos but I think folks need to consider the fact that they cost nineteen cents each and they're tasty and they're fast food. As long as they aren't made of rats or something, I don't really care. And the way rats run roughshod over New York City, I'd actually be okay with rat tacos. As long as the meat was cooked really really well.Be that as it may, the promised or threatened or promoted Dorito taco shell taco came to New York City and all the New York City blogs are busting their burps over this one. And almost every single big stupid blog says the same stupid thing “oh crap these are gross, they are so gross I can't stop eating them.” This, my dear New York blogging friends, is not what it called news. It is not even “news” like a celebrity break up is news. It is simply restating the obvious. I don't know that I'm in favor of people getting paid to restate the obvious.

I, of course, had to try one for myself. But I limited myself to one because, as every single New York blogger said, they're really gross. But tasty. But also gross. They have way too much sour cream, and it mixes with the meat sauce and becomes a puddle of brown. But wow, it was hard to stop with one.

Getting to Know Fast Food Meat, Part II

Burger King

Unlike many of my generation, I did not grow up on fast food. I grew up in a very rural area of Wisconsin and the the closest thing to fast food that was the closest to us geographically was an A& W Drive In where they had shag carpet on the floor and still served root beer in glass mugs. It was a hamburger restaurant, technically, but they cooked stuff from scratch and had real cutlery and the service wasn't even all that peppy, so calling it “fast food” was a stretch.

My mom took me to McDonald's when I was probably eight or nine and I remember thinking “hmmm this is pretty fun” I doubt that I thought it was tasty; we grew most of our own food, my mom even baked her own bread and what we couldn't grow, we bought from our neighbors. To me, beef came from the deep freeze labeled with the stamp of the farm the cow grew up on; we bought what we called a “half beef” every year. I didn't taste Taco Bell until was probably a teenager and I didn't have Burger King, if I recall correctly, until I went away to college.

I remember the first time I bit into a Whopper. It was as if all my taste buds had until that moment been waiting for just that moment. I loved the combination of a hideous amount of mayonnaise (I never realized how much until I started trying to wipe it off many years later) with the tangyness of the slice of tomatoe and the just mushy enough bun with the pure heaven of the flame broiled beef. I still don't know if I believe it's “flame broiled” isn't it just as likely to be a spray? But if it is, why do the areas around Burger King restaurants smell so much like barbecue?

Getting to Know Fast Food Meat, Part I

I know real “foodies” (especially of the type that might do something like read a blog on all things meat) hate everything about fast food. And yes, I know from a political standpoint, yes, everything about fast food is messed up; destroying the rain forests, the homogenization of American culture, adding calories to the average urban dweller's diet with no positive outcome, I agree, these are all bad things. And yes, I know from a food stand point, fast food doesn't have much to recommend it since it's mostly all frozen and made of dubious ingredients to start out with.

At the same time, the recent Kentucky Fried Chicken (sorry I'm not going to call it KFC, it's still fried and shortening the words to the initials doesn't change that) television commercial, in which it is claimed that Kentucky Fried Chicken is made “in real kitchens by real chefs” got me to thinking about relative fast food tastiness. For folks who don't regularly eat fast food, perhaps they don't even know there is a difference.

But of course, there is, even amongst the most common of all fast food fare, the hamburger. The most beautiful of all fast food hamburgers is, of course, the 99 cents (give or take) hamburger found at the Portland, Oregon based chain, Burgerville. Burgerville claims that most of its ingredients are organic or at the very least natural, and I believe a majority of their burger meat actually comes from grassfed cows. That does make a difference even in a humble fast food hamburger.

PETA: Stupidity To Spare

... men eating meat makes them impotent?

Well our friends at PETA are at it again. A few years ago they decided that the real problem in American society is the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile so they spent perfectly good money, hiring full time people to chase it around the United States and conducing protests wherever it stopped. I doubt it made people stop eating hot dogs, but it got PETA a lot of attention which seems to be what PETA likes best.Now they've come up with a super stupid new ad which basically implies that men eating meat makes them impotent and that if they eat less meat they will become, well more potent. The science behind this claim isn't really bad, high cholesterol can cause problems with penile erection in men, and eating meat can certainly cause high cholesterol. But then so can having a parent with high cholesterol.

So the problem isn't so much with the premise of the ad itself. Yes, they've taken a specific kind of provable premise and generalized it so widely that their actual claim because nearly false, but it's not exactly a lie. What is the problem with the ad is that the way they demonstrate the newly virile (because he's newly vegan) dude is by showing a woman walking down the street wearing a neck brace and sporting various cuts and bruises and two black eyes. The implication is that the dude is so virile they had rough sex. So rough that the woman looked like something out of a domestic violence awareness poster. Ah PETA I guess you only care about female animals.

Fuddruckers: Overrated Burgers for Everyone!

Despite the hamburger-shaped door handle, I wouldn’t call it the home of the world’s best burger.


Yesterday my family and I found ourselves at the receiving end of a very generous gift of money, so we went out and paid eleven—eleven!—bills. I was so happy that I found myself singing songs that I made up on the spot a la five-year-old enthusiasm. “I am happy and nothing can change that!” I crooned, making my daughter nod in appreciation while my husband simply rolled his eyes and grinned.

During our day out, we decided to stop and eat somewhere my daughter and I had never been. My husband had eaten at Fuddruckers often as a child and loved it, so we thought we’d give it a try. Let me tell you, that world’s best burgers sign (or whatever it said) was completely overrated. All of the new research regarding the carbon footprint of the burger in general aside, the simple taste and quality of the sandwich altogether was nothing to write home about.

The meat itself wasn’t all that great, though the bun was nice. The fries were bland and plain—definitely not something you’d expect from a place that serves mostly burgers and fries. We also had cheese sticks, which were akin to bland bar food. But the most disappointing factor was the actual toppings bar, which is the restaurant’s claim to fame.

All I could do was stare disappointedly at the few toppings on the bar: tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions. Where was the bleu cheese, the onion strings, the spices? If you banked on the fact that your burger joint gives consumers loads of options for dressing up your burgers, you’d better deliver on a wide variety of such options—not just present your basic fast food variety.

There were only a handful of sauces—ketchup, brown mustard, mayo, etc.—to choose from when I was expecting a wide array of options. I figured I’d have to just make several dipping cups of sauces just to try them all out, but no; it was just mayo and ketchup for me. How boring! And expect to pay extra for bacon and cheese if you select them for your burger (order them while ordering; they are not available at the toppings bar). This might be typical for other joints but with burgers as expensive as $9 you would expect they’d come with cheese—or perhaps a gold coin.

The taste itself wasn’t horrible and the service was fine, but the price of the place coupled with the basic, boring burgers just isn’t going to entice me to return. Ever. If my husband suggests it, I’ll go simply for him—but I certainly won’t expect much.