Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

North Carolina is frigid today; it went all the way down to 18 last night. I know that’s nothing for all you hardy northerners, but brrrrr. A storm’s coming in tonight bringing snow and freezing rain. Times like these call for making a big pot of chili. If my newly tweaked recipe turns out well, I’ll post it on Wednesday. Make yourself at home; I’ll have a bowl ready for you soon. In the meantime, have a beer, a Sierra Nevada Porter a Duck-Rabbit Porter (changed my mind at the store), some for the pot, some for us, and let’s talk food.

As much as I love excess, I am paying a bit more attention to my health this New Year. I’ve always taken it for granted, but I’m hitting a milestone birthday this year and it’s starting to sink in — I’m not invincible anymore. It’s time to make fitness more of a priority in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing okay until I moved here and then I lost my momentum. But I’m back! Joe Miller at the Get Going NC blog gives us seven useful tips for a better 2011.

Joe’s blog led me to The Couch-to-5K ® Running Plan. I’ve seen references to this program, perhaps from friends on Facebook. I’m not sure if it’s for me but I like the idea of burning calories efficiently. I haven’t run since high school. I was a miler and cross-country runner but stopped after getting three tibia stress fractures in a row. Until now I’ve never been tempted to run again, all that bone banging put me off. But we’re talking only three miles, not thirteen miles, hmmm.

Back to the fat. I could have called this one: 2011 will be the year of pimento cheese, says Time. No kidding. I have seen an onslaught of recipes for pimento cheese dips, pimento cheese potato gratin and pimento cheese bacon bites. They’re all residing in my “make one day soon” list. I live in the land of pimento cheese. Even in the most basic supermarket, there are at least a few different brands. What’s not to love? Cheese, mayo, peppers? 2011 will be a very good year.

This is a fascinating and disturbing story, fittingly printed in the Crime section of The Globe & Mail, about honey laundering: the sour side of nature’s golden sweetener. Honey makes its way onto supermarket shelves and into food processors’ factories (for cereal, bread and more) from China where it’s been contaminated with dangerous antibiotics and diluted with sweeteners. Please please please buy local or made in USA honey. Support your local beekeepers. Support the US honey industry that supports our agriculture.

Everyone loves their Trader Joe’s. We all have our list of staples that we only buy there. Of course we always come out with more than the items on that list. It always cracks me up when the cashiers say, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” And everything I wasn’t but am compelled to buy! Even their beers, or at least some of them, are great deals. Tom Cizauskas led me to this post revealing the real breweries behind those silly Trader Joe’s names.

I’ve always been an advocate of pairing good craft beer with cheese, but when I had a cheese party for myself on my birthday this year, I chose white wine instead. I just think it goes better. Years ago in London, I had a picnic in my hotel room with cheese from Neal’s Yard Dairy; I chose white wine that night too. David Lebovitz’s post, Why You Should Drink White Wine with Cheese, made me realize that I’m not weird.

white wine cheese beer honey pimento cheese food cooking

photo by Arnaud Clerget

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