Thursday, August 10, 2017

This Is How Much I Hope that Everyone Stops Eating Beef

This post is going to veer considerably from the crumpet-lite typique of what you'll find in the archive. On August 2nd, The Atlantic published a piece entitled "If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef" and this will permanently change what I eat, or rather, what I will not eat.

Though I highly encourage you to read the article yourself, en gros, Hamblin's research (which is based on a collaboration between Oregon State University, Bard Collage and Loma Linda University) concludes that if we (i.e. everyone in the U.S.) stopped eating beef, we would be able to meet the greenhouse-emission goals we'd made in 2009 in Copenhagen. That's amazing. Also, how did I not know prior to this article that almost 1/3 of our planet's arable land is used to raise and feed cattle?

Again, read it, weep if you like beef, but continuing to consume beef is ultimately such a gross use of resources that I'm out. No more beef for me. I'll allow myself to be swayed by Kobe tartare if I happen to be in Japan and someone else is paying.

Hamlin's piece coincides with some personal thoughts re: am I eating well? Why do I think so much about eating? Can I drop those things that do harm? I think that I have, as I'd argue that most of us do,  an idea of what eating well might look like, if we had but the zen to actually eat that way. Hamlin has encouraged me to reframe the very one-sided consideration of diet, where before I thought about it as something that was only affecting me, rather than something that truly affects the animals I eat and the land they use.

I mean, it does affect me, but also:

Look at all that burning rainforest. What progress environmentalists had made in their efforts to "Save the Amazon Rainforest" during the 90s and and early aughts has been felled hard: "In the Brazilian Amazon, the world's largest rain forest, deforestation rose in 2015 for the first time in nearly a decade, to nearly two million acres from August 2015 to July 2016" ("Amazon Deforestation, Once Tamed, Comes Roaring Back"The New York Times). Hundreds of miles of The Great Barrier Reef has been declared dead, killed by an ocean that is too hot, which is too say, a planet that is too hot and the emissions that have trapped that heat, and so much of that emission and heat produced by the beef industry.

(I don't mean to simplify, because there's other things that need to be done in addition to not eating (as much or not at all) beef. But. One-fat-ass-third of planet earth! Dedicated to hamburgers/tri-tip/filet mignon! Why????)

I think that there's, to some extent, a mass-amnesia of what sorts of food things should be special, rare, rich, too-rich, too-costly. The brunt of the "cost" of eating beef has been mitigated to large swaths of South America, the San Fernando valley, Texas, Florida, Africa... and whatever lay downstream of that. (While I was looking a photographs of the world's largest ranches I just learned that the Mormon Church actually owns the largest cattle ranch in America, in St. Cloud, Florida. Haha gross.) Eating rich meat products daily is now normal, as is dairy and sugar... food products that more traditional cuisines indulge in rarely but Americans feel entitled to. And while the conversation around these products have focused on adverse health effects and obesity, there's also a larger socio-ecological system that's at the receiving end of the inherent waste and violence involved in producing these things at an industrial scale.

Beans are great. And they're so great for you. I had some amazing butter beans made with a rich veggie broth and sun dried tomatoes the other day. For example. They're also so cheap. Admittedly I haven't been eating much beef in the past couple years anyway. There's a recipe on Damn That's Rye for a lover's borscht that does have beef and its really fucking delicious but that's because borscht is delicious and I think that I can come up with another recipe to replace that one. Really, there's just so many other things to eat. And we should be eating less of most the things we eat in any event.

.....The above threatens to develop into contemplations on being at peace with the natural world and knowing how to identity mushrooms in the wild....

I'm interested to hear what sort of healthful and ecological regimens exist for you if you're up to share. I might save mine for another post, though I don't know how relevant that would actually be to anyone really. But this, cow --> beef --> ecological disaster, is something I'd like to see on more blogs.

So long, farewell, future bœuf haché that I might have had. I'll never know. Here's me and here's my goodbye:

Friday, January 13, 2017

Damn That's Rye Rolls

Rye reminds me of a taste before my time. Eating rye bread takes my memory as far back as it is able and some atoms even farther than that. Like I'm knocking up against my great-great-great-grandmother's door in Sweden, even, standing next to a bay with a slice of sött svartbröd and a filet of smokey herring, watching a ship with sails turn into headwind for the new world. 

Also, let's be real, rye figures predominately in this blog's title. I'd thought to myself from the very beginning that Damn That's Rye should have a pan-ultimate, 100% rye bread récette. Do I have that? Not yet: figure these rolls as a step towards Damn That's Rye's destiny. For starters, I did not have a starter, and I feel that any definitive bread recipe needs that.  

I'm coming at you with this ready to get better, at rye, at posting, and other indoor sports.


While the dough was proofing the yeast and the molasses and the warm room... and January light! Let's start again, I thought to myself. Let's start again with something dark and full of heart. This year there will be a new kitchen, and it will often have bread, and it will have light, and we'll feed the warm pieces to each other.


The crumb is not as porous as I would like, but the flavor is spot-on. Other things to work on: the crust. Perhaps baking the rolls in a lidded dish would make for something less un-giving. Once you get inside the roll, all is rye with the world, but the crust is a little much for a roll I would say. Inspiration for the rolls came from Root Simple and from Lemon and Anchovies, the latter more so for the rye/spelt combo, since a new year means better grains.

Rye Rolls
Makes 1 dozen

1 3/4 lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups rye flour
1 1/2 cups barley flour
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons caraway seed
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
zest of one orange or two clementines 
1 tablespoon olive oil
butter for brushing

Mix the dry ingredients together, including the yeast, in a generous bowl. Drizzle the molasses over the mixture. (This just looks super Pollack). Then add the seeds, zest and water. Mix until you get a wet dough, then allow to rest for 20 minutes. Return and mix, then let rest and repeat twice more. (That's one hour of intermittent mixing and resting). Add more rye flour and knead the dough until the round completely absorbs the moisture. Cover and let rise for 4 hours. 

Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Form balls about the size of your palm and  place on the baking sheet. Score with a butter knife, cover and let rise 30 minutes longer. 

Bake 25-30 minutes. As the cool, brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.*

*I forgot to incorporate the salt into the mixture earlier, and I was all woe is me, but I actually like it on top better, and in any case, salt can affect proofing.