Melissa's blog

The Best of 2012: The spectacular food coming from Midwestern kitchens

 If there is anything I can say about this year for sure, it's that I ate well, perhaps better than I ever have. I had meals that went beyond what I ever imagined food could be in terms of intricate qualities, each ingredient like little clockwork pieces, gears whirring together perfectly in tune.

Duck and DIY Food Processing

 It struck me as a sliced off lingering slivers of lovely red meat from the bones of the duck that I was doing something both very ancient and also very similar to the dreaded pink slime. Hear me out on this- pink slime's defenders talk about how it let's them use the whole carcass of an animal, which is an admirably thrifty concept. Of course it's been demented by desire for "low-fat" products, so the perfectly good little bits have to be mangled and treated like garbage in order to get the lean meat from it. 

Dark Bedroom/Cold House

 When I was in high school and college I struggled with insomnia. The worst was when I lived in the dorms. Snoring roommate I hardly knew five feet away from me, sodium lamp light streaming in through the blinds, the ever-constant noise of slamming doors and drunken college students. I was constantly sick, constantly tired, almost always teetering on clinical depression. I missed class constantly, only getting by because like most colleges, the classes were a colossal waste of time and I could pass the tests just be reading the books.

Rektún mat- Real Food

 It's amazing for me to think that it was 2008, the year when I lived in Sweden, when Magnus Nilsson was getting his little restaurant in the North of Sweden off the ground. That so much has changed since then, not just for me, but for the entire idea of Swedish food.

No, we don't know how much protein "cavemen" ate

 How hard it is to read a scientific study? Should you bother to learn? I recently commented on a blog post on that subject. 

A Trip to Montreal: Blood, Marrow, Butter

 This blog wouldn't exist if food wasn't important to me, but it amazes me how I can continue to have experiences relating to food that change my view of things. That's one of the reasons I haven't written a book. I'm just not there yet in terms of experience, even though I've made great improvements in my life and maintained them, there is still much to learn. How could I ever put the pen to the page knowing that my words would be a static representation of my views for months and even years?

Is Southern Food Unhealthy?

 Recently I've been researching Southern food in the 1800s for a dinner that I'm cooking for. Weirdly, this style of cooking is somewhat in revival in Chicago with restaurants like Big Jones and Carriage House serving fairly authentic period foods. I was at Big Jones recently and all their biscuits are made with pastured lard. That's pretty hard to find in the South these days.

Wheat and Playing with Fire

 Over the years I've been involved in this community, I've met many many people who have seen their health improve when they eliminated wheat gluten from their diet. But I also see it as part of a worrying trend that relies all too much on self-experimentation and self-diagnosis. Often when I meet these people they are noshing on a burger without a bun at a regular restaurant or ordering a salad a restaurant like Hanna's Bretzel where gluten-free ingredients are laid side by side with non-gluten free ingredients.

Dr. Mcdougall is uncivilized

 One of the most hilarious articles I've come across lately is by low-fat vegan diet promoter Dr. McDougall. It's titled The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue). Who the hell uses words like "uncivilized" these days? The whole time I was reading it, I imagined Dr. McDougall as a snobby British gentleman with a tophat and monocle, as well as a Richard Dawkins-like scowl, pontificating on the savages. 

Senza: Gluten-free dining exits the health-food ghetto

There is no doubt that gluten-free options are growing. However, at least in the places that I've lived, most gluten-free options are kind of sad. They are either bundled in with "health food" options and are also whole-grain/vegan/low-fat bundles or misery or are just regular menu items made with an assortment of mediocre processed gluten-free breads and pastas. Since the main problem for me with wheat seems to be the complex carbohydrates, often these options are worse than regular food.