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Mark Bittman Book Review: The Food Matters Cookbook

For some time it has occurred to me that a connection existed between healthy eating and environmental concerns like global warming that leads to warmer ocean temperatures and super storms like Hurricane Sandy. But I couldn’t find a cookbook that tied these issues together in a non-strident fashion that didn’t make me feel guilty. Award-winning New York Times food writer/ Op Ed columnist Mark Bittman meets this need in The Food Matters Cookbook, the follow-up to his books How Food Matters and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

 

Initially, Bittman’s approach to food confused me. Sometimes I thought he was merely a clever fellow who had moved over to become an ardent proponent of plant food to the exclusion of all else when he published his encyclopedic tome on vegetarian eating and cooking. But when I read his articles in the Sunday New York Times Magazine, which often featured meat and fish dishes that made my mouth water, I just didn’t get it. Who is this guy? Are there two Mark

Bittmans? In fact, he has given us permission to have both and a road map that explains how we can do it. In this book, Bittman explains how and why it’s good for us to try to eat healthier and why it’s also good for the planet. He includes over 500 healthy recipes to put some meat, so to speak, on his evenhanded approach. 

 

He refreshingly suggests—and it’s always a suggestion not an imperative mantra—to shift our emphasis from eating animal products and Pop Tarts to plant foods—and making plant-based food the centerpiece. Rather than exclusively eating animal products, he proposes tastier ways to prepare vegetables or grains or beans with smaller sized pieces of meat, poultry, fish and dairy. In short we can eat as though food really matters –a phrase he calls sane eating. 

 

He tells us that ignoring these suggestions is very expensive for people and the planet. His examples are exhaustive but necessary. These costs include childhood and adult obesity, dietary maladies like heart disease and diabetes, and huge negative environmental impacts. The fact that animals emit more methane than virtually any other source, including vehicles that use fossil fuels, is evidence enough for me that alternative solutions to a meat-based diet must be considered. 

 

But dietary change is not easy. It is difficult in the face of Pepsi Cola-sponsored events like the Super Bowl to maintain a shift in what we consume over time even if we are sympathetic to the need for it. This is what is particularly appealing to me about Bittman’s book. He proposes small changes such as eating one less meat-based meal a week or going meatless one day a week. Another suggestion would be to swap an afternoon of Pringles and diet soda for peanuts and raisins or dried cranberries flavored with spices and seltzer. In short, he tells us, “Sane eating can be flexible.”  I find his approach to be intoxicating. He urges moderation not deprivation, eating smaller more flavorful portions and not giving up our sugar or meat habits overnight. He suggests that these small changes will lead to larger ones, one step at a time. 

 

As your eating habits change so too will your cooking. Here’s one of Bittman’s seasonable cold weather meat recipe that includes apples and onions. The size of this dish (12 oz.) combined with plant food reflects the author’s sane approach.

 

Roasted Pork Shoulder With Potatoes, Apples And Onions Serves 4 

1 12-ounce boneless pork shoulder roast

 

5 or 6 garlic cloves- cut in half the long way

 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried

salt and black pepper-season to taste

 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

 

1 pound waxy or Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks—with skin on 1 pound apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

 

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish.

 

Heat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Make slits all over the meat and insert the garlic and sage. Rub with one tablespoon of oil. Spread remaining sage over the roast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in large roasting pan. Roast undisturbed until a lot of the fat is rendered – about 45 minutes.

 

Remove pan from oven and increase heat to 425 Fahrenheit. Turn the roast over and scatter potatoes, apples, and onions. Drizzle with the remaining one tablespoon oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to coat vegetables with pan drippings. Return pan to oven and cook undisturbed until potatoes begin to brown around the edges—15 to 20 minutes.

 

Stir the vegetables and continue roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes until the roast is fork tender. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and apples and onions to a serving platter. Roast should read between 140 to155 Fahrenheit depending on how well done you like the pork. Slice thinly and garnish with pan drippings and parsley.

News

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.

Diamond Fitness held its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 6. Members of the Historic Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce came out to meet Wendy Goldstein, her staff and her re-invented gym at 138 South St.

Goldstein said she was touched by the warmth of the people who came into the gym to welcome her, even before the official opening. “People came in to say hello, saying they had heard that the gym had changed hands. It warms my heart,” she said.

Goldstein attended a chamber meeting and is now a member. Nassau County Legislator Donald McKenzie helped Goldstein cut the red ribbon as chamber members Walter Imperatore and Michele Browner cheered the opening along with staff members and friends.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Movie: Godzilla

Thursday, Sept. 25

Bayville Car Show

Friday, Sept. 26

Plein Art Competition

Saturday, Sept. 27



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com