reading (and making) this week

It’s been a busy week at Next Gen House. This weekend we made a big batch of homemade bolognese sauce using the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution book. (If you like the convenience of a slow cooker but don’t like to simply dump cans of processed soup and packets of chemical flavor mixes over frozen chicken breast, this cookbook is for you.) We were able to use ground beef and ground pork from our meat CSA with Clarion River Organics.

We also canned two batches of strawberry balsamic jam. This is the first year we’ve done a jam with balsamic and now I’m kicking myself for not having used this variant before. You can’t taste the balsamic in the finished product, but it makes the strawberry flavor deepen and burst. It’s similar to the effect that vanilla extract has in baked goods. If you’re making strawberry jam this year, definitely go for a balsamic variant. And also, cool your jars on a Christmas towel. Because it brings some festive cheer to a hot kitchen, apparently.

I also took some friends to our farmers market for the first time. It can be intimidating to go to a market like that if you’ve never gone before, but once you start to get to know the vendors and get a feel for what is available when, you gain confidence in your purchases. I even have a favorite farmer, and I try to buy at least one thing from his stand every week. (The last two weeks – snap peas!)

Going back to listening to a food studies book on my commutes, and this morning I started Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. It’s riveting already and I’m only 45 minutes in.

Here are some other things from around the interwebs I’m reading this week.

13 Books on the Food System That Could Save the Environment (Food Tank)
I’ve read some of these and others are on my reading list. Really looking forward to reading Foodopoly as well as Behind the Kitchen Door, having worked at restaurants myself. 

The Controversial Science of Sports Drinks (The Atlantic)
An article from last year, but one that backs up my reluctance to consume sports drinks of any kind.

Food Companies Work to Make It Look Natural (AP)
When you buy products, look beyond the marketing hype. For example, the photo of the packaged turkey breast in the article: do you actually think someone stood with a white coat and a carving knife at a carving board to shave that off specifically for your sandwich? NO.

Natural Remedies for a Travel First Aid Kit (Mother Earth Living)
Great ideas for the summer from a great website and magazine I subscribe to.