Nothing Up My Sleeve – Presto!!

Union Stree tFair“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Wait! Please do pay attention.  This next Sunday June 3rd, I’ll be onstage at the Union Street Festival with Suzanne Griffin of Cooking By The Bay fame. You will find us at the corner of Gough and Union at 1p.m.  Suzanne will be demostrating her Asparagus Farotto, Shaved Vegetable Salad and the indescribably delicious Chocolate Chia Pudding infused with Oranges.  Oooo, it’s soooo gooood!

Suzanne and I have recently been comparing recipes and cooking techniques, and she kindly invited me to be her assistant for the day.  Please drop by, sit for our demo and do come up have a taste and say hello afterwards.  We would love to hear your comments.

Eat Well and Smile Often!


p.s. Pay no attention to the man in the chef’s coat  It’s all her show on Sunday!

Organic IS Marketing Hype!!

I’ve put my foot in it now.My Garden

I recently listened to a debate on Intelligence Squared “Organic Food is Marketing Hype“.  I feel the need to take a stand and say, Yes it is hype. This is arguably a very broad based and simple statement about a topic that is anything but simple. Throughout the debate the one thing that became clear to me is that the topic/label ‘Organic Food’ is about as clear as mud. I venture that if you put 5 people in a room that you would get 4 different definitions and 3 people who agree on them. But the truth is that there is no ONE definition to the term Organic and it is this ambiguity that marketers literally capitalize on.  Organic farming is good in many ways and not in many others. But as it stands now the use of the term is only employed to sell you a product not to describe its fitness.

To Explain: One faction supports the notion that organic food supplies the body with more nutrients. Yet a study in England proved there was no difference in nutrition between organically and traditionally farmed produce. Another faction worries about the damage being done to the soil and ground water.  They measure remainder pesticides and nitrogen and promote manure fertilizers and Till farming. The rebuttal is twofold: Tillage promotes soil erosion by allowing fertile topsoil to run off; and secondly, manure based fertilization does not provide as much plant available nitrogen as does chemical fertilizers  From here the argument continues with the facts that Nitrogen is Nitrogen, whatever form it comes in and that if we were to use only manure as a plant food source we would need 5 billion more cows on the planet to produce enough. Can you imagine how much more land we would need just to produce the silage need to feed all these cows!!  Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, published a report stating that “For every kilogram of high-quality animal protein produced, livestock are fed nearly 6 kg of plant protein.”  That 6 times that amount.

No-tillage farming, farming that does not turn the soil, on the other hand, uses Monsanto products to reduce costs and increase yields. Now this creates it own set of issues as the USDA will attest to: Damage to the soil and the creation of Super Weeds – weeds resistant To Round Up.  Can’t argue with science.  But here is the rub.  World population is growing exponentially with the current count at over 6 billion people. United Nations Estimates place it at 9 billion by the year 2030.  How will we feed all these people?  A study referred to in this debate said that in a side by side field test, the first year yields of organic compared to conventional farming were equal but over a 5 year period they were only 60%.

Problem: We will need half again as much arable land by 2030 to produce enough food to sustain our population growth.  If we were to go entirely organic we would need an additional 40% to maintain yields. That  means in just 20 years we would need to double the acreage we currently use just for farming and this doesn’t include the acreage needed to produce more food to feed 5 billion more cows.  How many rainforests do we cut down?

Squash BlossomWell, I have an answer!!  We in America are lucky in that we have such an abundance of arable land right in our own back yards. If this discussion equates to a war on hunger and stopping the abuse of our planet then it’s time to reinstate the call for Victory gardens.    Let us each lower our carbon footprint by not buying produce that travels all the way from some-where-else. Let us each manage our own soil conditions and employ traditional crop rotation methodology reducing the need for commercially raised products.  We MUST increase the amount of arable land in order to feed the world.  So let’s start using our walls, our roofs and our backyards rather than cut down any more forests.

The picture above is my very first squash blossom of the season.  I do not use Round Up, I weed by hand but I do use Miracle Grow in combination with manure and my yields are tremendous.  My garden currently utilizes only a 20′ by 20′ section and I will have enough produce for many meals to come.  I have even re-purposed old building materials to create planters for more tomatoes.  If all you have is an eave overhang then get yourself a Topsy Turvy and grow your own or create an Edible Wall.  Each of us can make a difference and be just as Organic as we want to be.


Eat Well and Smile Often,


p.s. I am so looking forward to stuffing these blossoms with organic goat cheese!



This week my world turned upside down. My little girl went in to surgery on Friday to have a large lump removed from her chest.  To say I was nervous all day is to put it mildly. I grilled her doctor before hand in a way that surely embarrassed the both of us.  “So what about the anesthetic?” and “Have you done this before?” Antibiotics, what about those??”  I was a paternal wreck to say the least.

While she was under, our lives together kept running through my thoughts.  Had I been good to her, given her enough attention, fed her well? Did I discipline her too much . .  too little?  What would she think of me after? What does she think of me now?!  Will I be able to take care of her when she comes home?  Too many hard questions. And those times she ran away just break a father’s heart. I remember when she first came to me. She was only one year old and so delicate.  We had quite a time of it the first couple years.  She would rarely leave me side when I was at home, and the noises she would make when I left each day . . .

I held my breath when I saw the hospital’s caller ID pop up on my phone . . .  “She’s doing great Mr Judt.  She’s waking up right now and everything went extremely well.”  Whew!  To say it was a relief to hear is to not say nearly enough.  My baby girl was alive and well and coming home.


Baby Girl
So in honor of my baby girl making it through surgery I dug deep in to my parental trove of recipes for that one thing I know would make me feel better about . . . everything!




Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Betty Crocker’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake
1/4   cup butter or margarine
2/3   cup packed brown sugar
9   slices pineapple in juice (from 14-oz can), drained
9   maraschino cherries without stems, if desired
1 1/3   cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1   cup granulated sugar
1/3   cup shortening butter
1 1/2    teaspoons baking powder
1/2   teaspoon salt
3/4    cup milk
1  egg

1   Heat oven to 350°F. In 9-inch square a round cast iron pan, melt butter in oven. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter. Arrange pineapple slices over brown sugar. Place cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
2   In medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter over pineapple and cherries.
3   Bake 50 to 55 30 – 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan. Serve warm. Store cake loosely covered.


My baby girl feels better, I feel better. Make this and you’ll feel better too!!


Eat Well and Smile Often!




p.s. Upside down, who’s to say what’s impossible and can’t be found?
I don’t want this feeling to go away
Please don’t go away