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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

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, and many of them were in costume, a new addition to the popular champagne party. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date Daphne, a 3-month-old long haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.

The 1907 Courthouse building is now known as the Marguerite and Joseph Suozzi Building, marked by a special ceremony held at the North Shore Historical Museum on Sunday, Aug. 3 to a packed house.

“It’s a great day for the Suozzi family and a great day for the museum. We are so grateful for the Suozzi family for this generous donation,” said Brian Mercadante, president of the museum.

Mercandante then gave some history on the building, which was built in 1907 by the Town of Oyster Bay, when Teddy Roosevelt was president and the Gold Coast was in its heyday. He described how it came to be a museum, explaining that Tom Suozzi came up with a plan for redevelopment during his term as mayor of Glen Cove in the 1990s.


Sports

Kevin Mercier, 39, of Oyster Bay, led a large contingent of local runners in the Lynne, Gartner, Dunne & Covello Sands Point Sprint 5 Kilometer Run, held on the grounds of Nassau County’s Sands Point Preserve on Saturday morning, Aug. 9. Mercier was the 18th finisher overall and third in the 35-39 age group with a time of  21 minutes, 7 seconds.

Other local runners winning awards at the Sands Point Preserve were Nicholas Cuddy of Oyster Bay, who earned first place honors in the Clydesdale Weight Division with a time of 25:53, Joanne Gallo of Oyster Bay, who  took home the first place award in the women’s 65-69 age group with a time of 28:11, and Anja Hermann of Oyster Bay, third place woman in the 20-24 age group, who finished in 28:47.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay will once again be the site of the Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24.

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Bayville Car Show

Friday, Aug. 22

Junior Triathlon

Sunday, Aug. 24

Historic Church Service And Tour

Sunday, Aug. 24



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