Archive for the 'Latkes to Lattes Conference' Category

Come hear David Kraemer at JTS this Monday!

I’ve already posted once today, so sorry for double-dipping, but this is worth posting ASAP:

From the JTS press release:

Dr. David Kraemer, the author of Jewish Eating and Identity Through the Ages [and 2006 Hazon Food Conference Keynote Speaker], will discuss “Jewish Eating and Jewish Identity” at The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Henry N. Rapaport Memorial Lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, February 4, 2008. The event will take place at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City.

Shechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference?

goat.jpg

On the Friday night of last year’s Hazon Food Conference I said, “put your hands up if you eat meat – but would not do so if you had to kill it yourself.” And a good number of hands went up.

Then I said: “put your hands up if you’re vegetarian – but you would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” And a different group of hands went up. And after a brief pause, everyone laughed.

They laughed because the two responses revealed what a self-selected group we were – and how fascinating our different distinctions. The first group were essentially saying, “I do like eating meat – but I know the process of killing it is awful – it’s actually so awful that if I had to kill it myself, I just wouldn’t eat meat.”

The second group were essentially saying “I’m vegetarian because I hate everything about how animals are raised and killed in our industrial food economy. But if I actually took responsibility for killing an animal myself, I would feel I was acting with integrity, and in accordance with my beliefs – and therefore, in that instance, I potentially would eat meat.”

And my response, when the laughter died down, was to say “Great: next year we’re going to shecht (slaughter according to kosher law) an animal here at the Food Conference..”

And people went: “Oooohhhhhh..”

Local, free-range, organic (kosher!) meat

cow.jpgAs a CSA coordinator and food blogger, I have the privilege of hearing the rumblings of what’s sprouting in the world of sustainable agriculture and eating.  And the question on everyone’s mind these days seems to be: Is it possible to consume meat and poultry in a way that is responsible for the earth and our bodies?  And, is there a way to do it that supports farmers, without completely breaking the bank?

AND (for kosher-keeping consumers), is it possible to find ethical meat that is also kosher?

As a result of the rising interest in meat from “happy cows,” a crop of organic family farmers across the country have started offerring sustainably raised and ethically slaughtered meat as part of their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) communities or through special meat coops.  This morning, NPR featured a story about these sustainable meat coops and the enthusiastic response they’ve received from members.

And this week, the Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA in Washington DC launched a program that will offer not only ethically raised, but also kosher meat to their members.

Forum urges Jews to think how did this food get to my plate?

From JTA via JPost and our very favorite Alix Wall (who helped cook in the kitchen the food we all ate!)…

Forum urges Jews to think how did this food get to my plate?
By ALEXANDRA J. WALL / JTA
Dec. 31, 2006
FALLS VILLAGE, Conn — David Frank graduated from New York’s French Culinary Institute without ever tasting a single morsel.

Quinoa. Learning to love it.

Who knew that quinoa packed so much protein in its weird little spirally grain? Turns out, it’s a pseudo-grain since it comes from a plant, not a grass, and indigenous Andean natives considered it holy. The Spanish conquerors found that heretical and tried to ban its use for a few centuries, to no avail.

I decided to cook it after a friend of mine, Chana Citron, taught me that it is an ideal kid food. Provides all essential amino acids, and packs an enormous amount of protein (12-18%). First rule, which I learned the hard way: you must rinse it. Boxed brands supposedly are pre-rinsed, but I don’t trust them. Unfortunately, I didn’t rinse my first batch. The kids dutifully tasted a bit and immediately, unanimously rejected it. Ruined by saponins, the bitter coating that prevents birds from devouring the entire crop.

It is amazing how many recipes neglect the rinsing part. The grains are small, but I happen to have a strainer fetish, so with a fine-meshed strainer it is a snap to rinse under cold running water in the sink.

In search of the perfect latke

At Hazon’s food conference two weeks ago I was shocked when I tasted the latkes. They were delicate, lacy, not greasy, flecked with tiny bits of green, and utterly heavenly. I had never tasted a latke made for more than 20 people that was worth eating, and this preparation was for 150 people.

It took some sleuthing to figure out the recipe. First I cornered the very busy chef of Isabella Freedman, insisting on seeing the machine he used to grate the potatoes so finely. He showed me his industrial-sized Robot Coupe, and I realized the grater holes were about 3 mm wide rather than the usual 5 or 6 mm wide in a standard Cuisinart. That was my first problem. How to grate my potatoes so finely?

Would it still be Thanksgiving Dinner if we ate turkey every night?

Someone made a comment at the Food Conference that ‘ethnic foods’ were unhealthy; take your pick between Italian (heavy sauces), Indian (full of butter), Chinese (high fat & sugar content), and nobody’s national dish is particularly good for you. Nigel countered this with an important distinction: what we think of as “typical” cuisine from other countries is often, in that country, reserved for special occasions, whereas we eat it any (and sometimes every) night of the week. Couple that with the fact that when we eat out we’re likely to eat more than we are hungry for, and still have dessert–and yes, eating special occasion food all the time IS bad for you. It’s the equivalent of having a Thanksgiving-type meal four or five nights a week.I hadn’t really thought about this before. Our culture assigns different kinds of foods and meals to different kinds of occasions, and more and more, the category of ‘simple sustenance’ is giving way. Food plays a lot of different roles in our lives, and its importance for feasts, festivals, gatherings, important occasions cannot be understated. But in terms of what we need to stay healthy, our bodies require much less than society would like to feed it. We risk numbing ourselves by excess (not to mention getting fat, encouraging overproduction of our farmland, and increasing the disparity between this country and most of the rest of the world).

I do it all the time — I ‘treat’ myself. If I’m feeling sad, or stressed, or I woke up late, or even if I just happen to be biking past the bakery that gives a 50% discount on all its pastries if you arrive by bicycle (how do you turn that down!?)–I buy something yummy to get me through the day. But when I stop to tally up the week– the ‘treat’ hot chocolate, muffin, pastry, carrot cake… I’ve eaten something like that nearly every day.

The close of Latkes to Lattes…

A conference about Jews and food might cause some to think of people trading chicken soup and brisket recipes. But this was a different kind of conference, and a different group of Jews.

Organic, sustainable and compost were the buzzwords, with most participants saying they wouldn’t eat chicken soup unless it was made with ethically-raised, free-range chickens. And brisket? Only if the cows were grass-fed, leaving kosher consumers with few options.

Hazon convened this group of 150 people, chefs and farmers, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members, educators and food enthusiasts to talk about how the every-day decision of what to eat is loaded with numerous consequences, and how eating organically is not only the health-conscious choice, but the environmentally-sound one as well.

Children’s Cob-Oven Challah Baking

Children at Latkes to Lattes conference kneading challah dough
Children at Latkes to Lattes conference kneading challah dough.

Children and parents at the cob-fed oven at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

Children and parents at the cob-fed oven at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

More to follow!

An Amazing Morning For A Jew: On Hens, Tiger Poo and Hechshers…

I had an amazing morning. Here was just the first little bit:

Where it begins with us: the organic waste bin in the dining hall.I went for a walk with Marco and Talia (aged 3) to find the goats and the hens. The goats are just roaming around, doing hen-like things, and looking pretty happy. The difference between how they live and the pictures one sees of hens in cages is pretty dramatic. Last year some of the Adamahniks gave me eggs from here – they were like eggs I’d never eaten before; kind of like the eggs that Michael Pollan describes in Omnivore’s Dilemma — dark and rich and strong. The eggs of happy hens.

Starting back where we started

Hello from the Food Conference!

I’ve just been to two sessions, and eaten so much amazing food, and tasted raw milk for the first time, and heard about the combination of different bacteria that are involved in making miso, in a process that takes anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 years.

And this only the first day!

It’s interesting, though, that the things that have grabbed me and pulled me out of my seat with “Wait! What about…!” thoughts are the same things that I’ve already heard about before, or ostensibly already studied, or were so ubiquitous to have never merited a second glance. The most recent session was about the Birkat Hamazon.

(Virtual) Latkes to Lattes: Our Blogcast of Hazon’s Conference on Food, Jews and Contemporary Life

Greetings from the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center!

Over 150 Jewish food, farm, health, sustainability and spiritual learners are gathered here for the next four days to share our stories about food, connect Jewishly to contemporary issues, and celebrate innovative approaches to our heritage.

Said Nigel Savage during one of tonight’s sessions, as we innovate Jewish tradition in light of contemporary life, we also “vote with our feet” and determine which innovations have traction, which innovative ideas “stick.” That is precisely the purpose of Latkes to Lattes — innovating Jewishly, exchanging ideas, and ultimately broadening what it means to eat kosher with what “sticks.”