food

Beezy's: Best Cafe Ever At 20 North Washington Street

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It is my distinct pleasure, as Best Customer Ever As Of 11/13/2008, to tell you about Beezy's Cafe, which opened this week at 20 N. Washington Street in downtown Ypsi.

Check out the "It's not time lapse photography, they really did open that fast," photojournal of the night before Day 1.

Marvel at the hottest new floorboards in town. (Not to mention the hottest new floorboard-laying-machine in town!)

Chest freezers are magical.

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Over at Eat Close To Home, Emily is both wondering whether to buy a chest freezer and also commenting on the one-wayness of the blogger-commenter relationship. So I'm going to go old-school - I was blogging before comments existed, yo - and post here, rather than there.

My family bought a chest freezer sometime in my childhood. Every year, we got a lamb and a quarter(?) of beef from my godmother, down the street. When we moved out of the North Campus Co-ops to Jorvik, my parents gave us that freezer - and bought themselves a smaller one. When we moved out of Jorvik and bought a house, my parents gave us a small chest freezer as a housewarming present. (...with a lamb inside it. Yummy.) (We donated the parents' -> Jorvik chest freezer to Growing Hope.)

Ypsi Food Coop += liquor license

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Recently, the Ypsi Food Co-op has made some small rearrangement between every time I've been in, seeking ever more efficient utilization of their space. The most recent rearrangement, though, was to accommodate an entirely new category of product.

Yes, boys and girls, my food co-op has a liquor license, and are carrying various local and/or organic beers and wines - at no higher cost than my corner liquor store. Woot. The selection's not huge, but as long as they're carrying Bell's, they're doing one better than Chicago. (Ha ha, Dale. Ha ha.)

There could be nothing better...

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...than River Street Bakery's three-seed sourdough with Calder Dairy butter.

Mmmmm.

And maybe a splash of the blackberry jam Margaret gave us? Yeah. Sometimes I eat too little dinner just so that I can have a toast-snack later.

I blame Barbara Kingsolver.

I think I have to officially stop pretending to be a vegetarian.

Additionally, Cara is threatening to revoke my unsupervised internet privileges.

Yes, boys and girls, I just impulse bought a meat grinder off of Craigslist.

(Actually, a pair of meat grinders...)

Staff of life Sunday

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I've been feeling a little bummed lately when thinking of skills / hobbies I haven't practiced in a while. I think I've now caught up on homebrewing. Yesterday, I bottled a brown ale; today, brewed the third variation on the honey wheat that I served at our wedding. Meanwhile, Cara decided that today was a good time to exercise her grain-and-yeast skills as well, and has whole wheat bread and rolls on the rise.

Relatedly, I'm mid-read of Standage's A History of the World in Six Glasses (beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, cola), which I recommend to anyone who enjoys other fine works of single-food anthropology. (e.g. Kurlansky's Cod and Salt.) The first section discusses beer as the first significant non-water drink in civilization, invent/discovered concurrently with bread and equally important in encouraging/supporting agricultural society. (Today's lesson: beer is both safer and more nutritious than water, so drink up!)

Canners: pH testing?

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Typical recipe collections for canning include a warning, often in bold, all-caps print, along the lines of, "Follow these recipes exactly exactly exactly or you will die of botulism." Now, clearly, what they mean is, "don't adjust recipes in ways that push the pH high enough that botulism can grow," but they don't want the liability of telling people how to make up recipes.

So, can one simply pick up some pH test strips at the friendly local hardware store and use those to make sure that recipes come out to an appropriate acidity? It seems the magic number for botulism is 4.6. Is "pH lower than 4.6" prior to processing sufficient, or is there some buffer needed to account for changes during processing?

Blueberry season!

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It's blueberry season, apparently until the end of August. We like Dexter Blueberry Farm - not organic, but local and close. (Plus, it's where my mom took us several times a summer when I was little, so it's tradition.) I picked about 9 pounds.

Blueberries are $1.35 / lb at the farm. I weighed some out; they're about 3 cups / lb, making a dry pint about $0.90. Blueberries at the store are about $4/pint. Wow.

Now, were you to think like an economist, and figure out how much time I spend picking said blueberries, and driving to the farm and back, and declare that my picking time costs me the same hourly rate as my working time, then this pint costs about $5.75, before per mile costs are calculated. Which is why I avoid thinking like an economist - and also why we take friends along. With Kelli & Michael in tow, the mileage costs are cut in half from what we pay alone, and the time expenditure has entertainment value, meaning the cost of my time is priced at the opportunity cost of the fun I could be having elsewhere, and, ehhhh, let's just say it all equals out, my time cost is zero, meaning the cost of the blueberries is equal to the price of the blueberries plus mileage costs / pickers. I don't care for economist pedantry anyways, so this method is fine by me.

Epazote is magical!

Deborah Madison turned us on to the magic of epazote, "the bean herb". This was not, mind you, for its various medicinal uses, which most significantly include the treatment of intestinal hookworm (yum), but because it makes cooking tasty beans relatively fast and nigh on idiot-proof. Not only is it tasty, in a savory/tangy sort of way, but it eliminates the soaking step and speeds up cooking, and also makes beans easier to digest! Amazing!

The basic recipe, known to work well with both black beans and pintos:

Eat local stories of the week

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There have been two stories about food this week that have raised my ire.

First, at a community garden workshop held by Growing Hope, I learned that the local "Plant a Row for the Hungry" campaign raised 10,000 pounds of fresh produce from local gardeners. That's a lot of food! Now, the largest part of that actually comes from the State's Huron Valley Women's Correctional Facility, where gardeners donated their entire harvest, of over 7,000 pounds of produce. Why the entire harvest? Because the prison's contract with their food supplier wouldn't let them use the food grown on site in the prison's kitchens. Of course, the food wasn't wasted, because Food Gatherers was there to take it, but I had read this weekend that the State of Michigan spends 1/5 of its general fund on the correctional system - about as much as it spends on higher education. It is ridiculous that the State was so incapable of being flexible that it couldn't use the food onsite.

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