Strangers in the Night

Met this new neighbor on my night walk about. I’ve seen signs of this one coming, in little scrawled positive reinforcement messages like a simply written, “I think you’re great.” If you’re gonna have a graffiti artist prowling the hood, so much better this than the unartistic “back phat” who uglified the nabe several years ago. This is more along the lines of one of my faves, de la Vega, who had a museum/store in the East Village up till recently and pumped a lot of positive energy into the city with his ubiquitous and iconic message, “become your dream.”

20120417-220347.jpg

post script: try to ignore the little hater message defacing the property. I did.

The Swap That Doesn’t Stop

All kinds of goodies pop up and surprise me.

I’m beginning to conceive a world where there are no stores, only trade markets.

20120410-135619.jpg
And where a very small business can go public without severe government intervention.

20120410-135636.jpg20120410-135658.jpg
And where voters decide how their tax dollars get spent.
And where citizens take to the streets or pull up their hoodies to stand up for their rights.

20120411-013711.jpg
And where flowers of communal gardens replace lonely urban lots.

20120410-135727.jpg

Hey, wait a minute.  I think I hear something… When the moon is in the seventh house

QUESTION: could it be that we’re in the Age of Aquarius? What are the signs? What are you seeing that we are doing better as a people than maybe ever before? Go ahead, folks, gimme the dirt! And keep on singing…let the sun shine in!

20120410-140717.jpg

Our Daily Bread

Most of these are my efforts to implement techniques/recipes from bread guru, Peter Reinhart, in his latest tome Artisan Breads Every Day (btw, my preliminary assessment is the title is misleading and would be correct if followed by “For A Master Baker With Excess Time and Patience”). The fancy, shiny bun in the back is courtesy of Baked in Brooklyn, which has recently opened a mega-space on the north side of Greenwood Cemetery, on 5th Ave. (interior pic below).  Baked in Brooklyn (which does not yet appear to have its own website) seems to be owned by Aladdin Bakery.  This is yet to be confirmed (I tried calling to ask but was told that they can’t give out that information, so I’m waiting for a call back from someone who has the authority to make such disclosures).  Also yet to be confirmed is whether there is any connection between Baked in Brooklyn and Baked, based in Red Hook (also Brooklyn).  Preliminarily, it appears not.

20120409-134627.jpg

20120409-134756.jpg

20120409-134830.jpg

20120409-134840.jpg

20120409-134901.jpg

Happy….

Easter, Passover, Day, Night, Spring, Dirt, Resurrection, Light, Love, Holy, Hallowed, Hole created tonight to place hungry roots of spring herbs.  If you are a follower of the fisher of men, happy fishing day.  If you are a mourner of the fissures of men, thank you for the pain that heals.  Whatever you believe or follow, here’s to each piece that we pull down of heaven to earth.  Take a taste, and pass it around.

BK Swappers Keeps On Giving

The anniversary swap was almost several weeks ago, but I continue to enjoy the goodies and, at least for some of them, will continue to for awhile. Many thanks to my fellow swappers for the earrings …

20120405-143231.jpg

The handmade soap…

20120405-143329.jpg

And Aimee’s sourdough starter (see below for a link to her blog, Red Garden Clogs)…

20120405-143452.jpg

My Beef With Bittman … But, Actually …

Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters (Simon & Schuster 2009), How to Cook Everything (who cares who published it?  But age maters — it was ’08), and author of the former NYT column “The Minimalist,” was on NPR recently, hawking a follow-up to his break out success.  I was listening on my headphones, probably scarfing down yet another overpriced meal from Pret as I listed to Bittman explain that How to Cook Everything: the Basics (with 1,000 photos – for reals) is his response to feedback/criticism he got on How to Cook Everything.  The Basics describes – and apparently illustrates – everything from the most simple (boiling water) to the most overwhelming (how to select kitchen equipment and stock a pantry).  I sat down to write this post, ready to argue him up and down on several points, and to set forth with crystalline clarity why in fact one should never use soap on a cherished cast iron skillet, why having good kitchen equipment does indeed make one a better cook, and why not every star chef should jump in front of a camera.  (When did “triple threat” turn from sing/dance/act to write/cook/be-on-every-show-even-peripherally-relating to food?)

Then I made the mistake of looking him up online.  I should’ve just stuck to my workday tainted impression of Bittman as another media hungry foodievangelist.  But now I can’t.  How can I argue with a guy that uses his good name to make a case for limiting junk food ads in schools?

The Revel Mama in me is cheering him on even as I’m dreading my partner’s turn to watch down our DVR list and as I’m silently casting my curses against Spain: on the Road Again.  I love Spain but I will gouge out innocent olives out if I have to sit through one more awkward dinner with Gwyneth and Batali, whose recent croc in mouth disease further deflates my appetite.  (In November, Batali was quoted as equating bankers to Stalin and Hitler, and just last month shelled out $5.25M to settle claims that he cheated waitstaff out of tips).

Bittman brings to our attention the fact that only one state has banned junk food advertising (I could survive on Maine lobster) while nine states (and this number is growing) expressly permit advertising on school buses.  How can I say one bad word against this man when I, myself, envision retiring to Sao Paolo for the sole reason that in 2006 its mayor passed the “Clean City Law,” which banned outdoor advertising of all kinds.  Despite urgings from alarmist businesses against instituting the ban, now 70% of the city’s residents agree that it’s been beneficial.  Pictures of the city, wiped clean of visual pollution (not even fliers are permitted — can we get that in Brooklyn??), speak for themselves.

Not only does Bittman have a compelling fiscal argument (the ad revenue cannot begin to cover the cost of the obesity epidemic it feeds), but he has a sound legal one as well.  While the environmentalist in me was questioning the necessity of publishing 1,000 photos (1,000!), the Revel Lawyer in me is more impressed by Bittman’s command of the law.  He clearly understands BigFood’s efforts to twist the First Amendment in a way that would make the drafters’ stomachs churn.  Bittman explains that the First Amendment was applied to advertising in the 1970s to give the public access to information about products, but now it’s being used as a corporate sword to swipe away at kiddie consumers’ protections.  The legal test for whether the First Amendment applies to permit unfettered commercial speech, Bittman notes, is that the speech itself must be truthful and not actually or inherently misleading.  As he further explains, authors of a recent article in the journal Health Affairs make the (obvious to any parent) point that children under 12 cannot discern bias in marketing and so all advertising targeting them should be subject to regulation because it is inherently misleading.

Well, Mr. Bittman, I guess your deft legal ability makes you a quadruple threat.  Now, back to my beef with you.  Hmm.  I think I’ve forgotten.  Or maybe it wasn’t so important.  Perhaps it was more a green-eyed author than work-a-day tedium that initially inspired this post.  Either way, I’m glad it led me past your shiny celebrity chef veneer to hear what is clearly an important voice in pushing back the BigFood giants and protecting our most valuable assets.  And for that, I thank you.

One little barb I can get in on Bittman: he teases the Health Affairs article authors about the boring name of their article (“Government Can Regulate Food Advertising To Children Because Cognitive Research Shows That It Is Inherently Misleading.”) but in my opinion slightly missteps with his own headline.  When I first read the title, “The Right to Sell Kids Junk,” in The New York Times Opinionator, 3/27/12, I thought he was going to tell me it’s okay to sell my daughter’s Thomas the Tank Engine collection on Ebay while she sleeps – which I was fully ready to agree with.  Then I read it and realized it’s something far more important than clearing kids’ clutter, which is putting limits on the clutter they can’t control.