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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Photo by msiew

Photo by msiew

Let’s face it, bones can be inconvenient. In these days of ultra processed food, people have become accustomed to eating food that goes from the freezer, to the microwave, to their stomachs without much pause in between. Also, a large number of American meals are taken in the car, another place where bones are just a nuisance.

After a while, if that’s how you eat, then that becomes how you cook (skinless, boneless chicken breast anyone?) and then the knowledge of how to cook meat on the bone disappears from our society. Please don’t let that happen.

So what are the benefits of food on the bone? First, and most important is flavor. The bones provide collagen, which gives a depth of flavor and satisfying mouth-feel to the dish. The meat closest to the bone tastes different (some say sweeter) because it has more collagen in it. Bones also slow you down. You can’t just gobble your food down in three bites if you have to deal with bones. Studies have shown that eating slowly can help with weight loss. There is also an economic benefit. If you save the bones from your roast meat you can make stock and stash it away in the freezer for the next time you make soup. Once you’ve made a soup with your own homemade stock you’ll never go back to cans or boxes; it tastes better and it’s cheaper.

Unfortunately, these days it can be difficult to buy meat on the bone. Unless you order in advance from your butcher, most likely all he will have is boneless cuts. Farmers’ markets can be a good source of local, grass fed meat and are more likely to sell cuts on the bone. Recently, I was at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn speaking with the guys at the Arcadian Pastures stand about this very subject. They said they’re never quite sure how to answer the question about bones because some customers really don’t want them and others do. Jokes about the difficulty of raising boneless animals aside, they usually bring both bone-in and boneless cuts of their meats to satisfy as many customers as possible.

Next time you’re thinking of having roast beast, try to get it on the bone. It’s worth having to order in advance or going to an unfamiliar store (who knows what else you may discover there).

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I like to poke around in the forgotten corners of food history learning what people ate, and how they cooked differently than we do now. Some, like anthropologist Richard Wrangham, say it is cooking that made us human. What better way to learn about people from different places and time periods than by cooking and eating their food? Here I’ll be writing about kitchen experiments with old recipes, preservation and waste prevention techniques of the past, and unfamiliar ingredients. I’ll also include travel pieces exploring the food history of my destinations, and some beginner attempts at food photography.

It’s important that information about traditional foodways not be lost. It can be useful to us today, making our food choices more environmentally friendly, healthier for our bodies and easier on the wallet. Renewed interest in knowing where our food comes from and the resurgence of farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture is making it easier than ever to incorporate these ideas into our daily routines.

I’ve read that in Greece when γιαγιά (that’s grandma in Greek) makes yogurt at home, she doesn’t use a thermometer to tell if it has cooled to the right temperature. Instead she dips her finger in the hot milk and if she can only keep it there for 20 seconds then it’s time to add the starter. These are the kinds of tidbits I hope to unearth and share with my readers.

Thanks for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.

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