Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Setting Tuesday's Table

Don't forget to wash your hands first.

"Topsfield Fair serves up extreme eating" by Astead W. Herndon Globe Staff  October 11, 2016

TOPSFIELD — At the Topsfield Fair, the New England institution that dates back more than 200 years and is known for its novelty foods, a culinary tour might well prompt an existential question: “Why did I do this to myself?”

That's a good one.

The deep-fried peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich tasted like a combination of sandpaper and butter. Carys Evans, 11, said her deep-fried Milky Way bar tasted like “french fries dipped in chocolate.”

Who gives a f**k?

Yet it was the bacon stand that truly encapsulated the gluttonous, calorie-laden spirit of the fair. Throughout the day Monday, droves of families from across the state flocked to the one-of-a-kind stand, where patrons could enjoy such delicacies as bacon covered in s’mores, bacon dipped in maple syrup, and a bacon-covered grilled cheese sandwich. 

It used to be fun but is no longer. Sorry.

No matter that the thick flavors of marshmallow and chocolate drowned out any hints of bacon, or that the grilled cheese was, sadly, lacking in cheese. People were paying for an experience, and it was an experience they received.

“You know, as I eat it, it continues to get better,” said Jackie Puglia, of Stoneham. She had just paid a few bucks for chocolate-covered bacon-on-a-stick.

Her husband, Chris, had a ready explanation.

“Bacon is the secret to life,” he said before placing his order. “I live by that.”

I hope your arteries are aware of that.

Tiger Stockbridge, of Dorchester, heard Puglia’s adage and countered with one of his own. “Bacon makes everything better,” he declared.

And the industry has an excess so....

This is not how the Topsfield Fair began. In 1818, the Essex Agricultural Society received a charter to “promote and improve the agricultural interests of farmers and others in Essex County,” according to fair organizers. For nearly a century, the agricultural society held a cattle show, but since 1910, it has held an annual gathering at its current location at the Topsfield Fairgrounds.

Today, many attendees are fair veterans, such as Wakefield residents Christina Nardone and Matthew McConnell, who boast more than a decade of consecutive attendance. There are relative newcomers, too, including Gisele Bundchen, Massachusetts’ favorite supermodel (and wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady), who attended the fair Saturday afternoon.


“I just love the fall. I love the animals. And I love the food,” Nardone said as she ate her favorite Topsfield treat, a sandwich with turkey, mayonnaise, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. She had just bought one for herself and another for McConnell. At the stand for the sandwich, called the “Gobbler,” signs encouraged fairgoers to “gobble till you wobble.”

Couldn’t agree more, McConnell said.

“You just come here to eat,” he said. “You just gorge and gorge and then regret it come tomorrow.”

Such splurging, however admirable, could add up.

A $15 admission ticket allows entrance to the fairgrounds, but each food item is sold separately. Similar to the fried candy bars, a parfait of chili, cornbread, and sour cream cost $7.75, a giant turkey leg cost $10, and a foot-long hot dog cost $5 — the same price as a root beer float. With admission and one assuredly unhealthy meal, a family of four could spend upwards of $100, not counting any small roller-coaster rides or paid attractions.

Despite the cost, families flocked to the fairground Monday, romping about in the crisp autumn breeze....

They “love the food, love the rides, love all of it.”


No worries about diabetes or weight?

Eat better at the homeless shelter!

"Cambridge nonprofit Food for Free brings farm fresh produce to Pine Street Inn" by Sacha Pfeiffer Globe Staff  October 11, 2016

When you’re dependent on charity, you don’t have much say in what you receive.

For Pine Street, that means lots of grocery store castoffs, but for the past few months, Pine Street Inn’s guests have regularly been eating garden-fresh vegetables with a gourmet touch, from braised kale to roasted beets to sautéed Swiss chard.

That’s thanks to a new partnership with Food For Free, a Cambridge nonprofit that’s growing produce specifically for the Pine Street Inn and delivering hundreds of pounds of fresh veggies to the shelter each week. The shelter then turns those deliveries into highly nutritious stir-fries, stews, and side dishes.

Another benefit of the weekly shipments:

“Cooks can brainstorm.”

Food for Free “rescues” unwanted food from supermarkets, bakeries, farmers markets, and other locations and delivers it to about 120 schools, shelters, food pantries, and other organizations. It also grows produce at Lindentree Farm in Lincoln, on a quarter-acre organic plot called the “Field of Greens.”

RelatedFueling the farm-to-table movement, with lessons from Toyota

Food For Free distributes about 2 million pounds of food a year, including between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds of produce grown at the farm. For the past five years, it has been making deliveries to the Pine Street Inn, primarily of rescued food. But this year it began dedicating its entire field exclusively to the shelter.

“We’ve selected our crops based on what would be useful for the Pine Street Inn,” said Food for Free’s executive director, Sasha Purpura. “This is the first time we’ve been so targeted about what we’re planting.”

Each Wednesday morning since June, Food For Free volunteers have been gathering in Lincoln to pick, wash, pack, and deliver to the Pine Street Inn anywhere from 200 to 400 pounds of the harvest — including beets, cabbage, lettuce, Swiss chard, collards, kale, scallions, carrots, and tomatoes. The program will continue through the end of the growing season later this month or early next month.

“We’re happy to receive any fresh produce,” van Overbeeke said, “because when you don’t really get anything fresh, you’ll take anything that anyone gives you.”

And the volume of vegetables Food For Free supplies to the shelter is invaluable, because “when we get deliveries from small organizations, it’s 50 pounds of this and 10 pounds of this and 5 pounds of that,” explained van Overbeeke. “But for a single meal I need about 400 pounds of vegetables.”

Each Food For Free shipment is large enough that the Pine Street Inn’s kitchen staff can turn it into a vegetable dish to accompany a meal for about 2,000 guests of the shelter and its related facilities, such as veterans homes.

One day last week, dinner at the shelter was spaghetti Bolognese paired with a julienned stir-fry made from Food For Free’s kale, cabbage, and scallions seasoned with garlic, vinegar, and mustard.

“The best part of getting fresh produce from Food For Free is it lets us take something that was in the ground a day or two ago and serve it for dinner,” van Overbeeke said. “It’s great to provide our guests at the Pine Street Inn with a farm-to-table experience here.”


Also seeMassachusetts communities celebrate first Indigenous Peoples’ Day


"The Department of Agriculture plans to buy $20 million of stockpiled cheese to distribute to food banks and pantries nationwide in an attempt to stem farmer losses after dairy prices plummeted amid a global milk glut earlier this year. The purchase of about 11 million pounds of cheese, which the USDA reported Tuesday in a statement, comes in addition to $11.2 million in subsidies for dairy producers announced earlier this month. A dairy lobbying group had asked for as much $150 million in cheese purchases. Some American dairy cooperatives had so much milk this spring they were forced to dump tens of millions of pounds."

"McDonald’s is recalling millions of fitness bands that had been given away in Happy Meals because they might cause skin irritation or burns to children. The fast-food chain said last week that it would stop distributing the bands in Happy Meals. Now it’s recalling 29 million of them in the United States, and 3.6 million in Canada. The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., received more than 70 reports of incidents after children wore the bands, including seven reports of blisters, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Step-It Fitness plastic wristbands, in blue, green, purple, orange, and red, look like watches and are supposed to track physical activity."

McD's giving out little trackers to the kids so they get be used to it! 

I said no fries

KFC wants you to smell like fried chicken with sunscreen giveaway
KFC's secret recipe revealed?

"Americans’ increasingly picky tastes are affecting not just the bowls on their tables, but those on the floor: Kibbles ‘n Bits sales are suffering. J.M. Smucker Co., which makes pet food in addition to its namesake jams and other products, said Tuesday sales for its US pet food division fell 6 percent as Kibbles ‘n Bits was hurt by growing popularity of more-premium brands. The company has conceded that people are looking for pet foods with better ingredients, reflecting trends in what pet owners are feeding themselves. Kibbles ‘n Bits sales posted a double-digit percentage decline for the three months ended July 31, the company said. Meow Mix saw a mid-single digit percentage decline."

What grade would you give it?

Whatever you do, don't order Chinese food in Connecticut.

Instacart expands high-tech grocery delivery, with hopes of helping grandma

"Chipotle’s latest burrito giveaway is for children. The company is offering free kid’s meals on Sundays during the month of September, another attempt to lure back customers spooked by a series of food scares. An E. coli outbreak last year sent Chipotle sales plunging. In June, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. launched a three-month loyalty program that lets customers earn free meals based on the number of visits they make each month. On Monday, it announced that high school and college students could get a free soda or iced tea if they buy a meal and show ID. The chain has given away millions of free burritos this year. The Chipotle kid’s meals include burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and salads."

"The Coca-Cola Company has just achieved one of its major environmental goals, five years ahead of schedule. The company announced this week that for every drop of water used in its beveraage, it can now give the same amount back to the planet. In 2007, Coca-Cola announced a goal of replenishing the water it uses by the year 2020. Through 248 community water partnerships in 71 countries around the world, the company claims to have already met its goal. An assessment conducted by LimnoTech and Deloitte in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy found that in 2015, Coca-Cola returned 191.9 billion liters of water to nature or human communities — 115 percent of the water it used in its beverages that year."

Gatorade goes organic as PepsiCo joins natural-product push

It underscores how significant elected officials believe the problem is

"A British court has ruled that two groups of shareholders in brewing company SABMiller should vote separately on the $104 million takeover offer made by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev, effectively giving smaller investors an outside chance to derail the deal. The decision Tuesday is seen as a concession to smaller shareholders who complained that their payout plummeted in relation to larger investors after the pound fell following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. While smaller shareholders will receive cash for their stakes, SABMiller’s two biggest investors will get cash and euro-denominated shares that have appreciated since the deal was announced in November. SABMiller’s board has in principle accepted the deal, which would create a company controlling nearly a third of the global beer market."

I wanted a coffee with no ice, or did you miss that?


Smoke Shop serves real barbecue

Eataly is coming

America’s Test Kitchen

Ice cream headache

The rebirth of the Jewish deli

Time to abort (and here I was told he was improving just the day before).

"Officials in Kentucky are monitoring a day-care center after an investigation found that staff members forced children to line up for a swat with a ruler before they could have a yogurt — a ‘‘game’’ the workers called ‘‘smack for a snack.’’

Training for intelligence agency work?