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May 2012

May 19, 2012

Food Revolution Day: Make Your Own (Lower) Sugar Chocolate Milk

See that innocent looking glass of chocolate milk? It's public school enemy #1, at least according to Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Seriously, they declared an entire week to fight against flavored milk in schools and it often seemed to be the defining issue in the school lunch debate.

This seems, to me, like an odd focus. Flavored milk doesn't even make my top ten list of problems when it comes to school lunches. Bad policies, processed commodity food, budgets and staff stretched to the breaking point, a lack of creative thinking at the highest levels, and kitchens without actual cooking equipment...those strike me as the real enemies.

Flavored milk, not so much.

Still, Oliver's enthuiasm about feeding kids better lunches is laudable, even if his approach sometimes seems to be more showman than scientist and I am sometimes left questioning WTF this or that stunt or statistic was about. I have both questioned and snarked while watching the spectacle, wishing all the while that we'd see more serious work from Oliver...less reality show and more reality.

Today makes me happy.

Food Revolution Day, Oliver's latest endeavor, is a day of food-focused activity designed to get people talking, teaching, cooking, and eating good, healthful food. It's about home cooking, getting in the kitchen with your family (If you need a cookbook, might I suggest mine) When I heard about that mission—and nary a word about banishing flavored milk—I couldn't help but jump in with both feet and a bit of a 'tude...

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May 07, 2012

Reflections and Shades Upon an Anniversary...

Seven years ago, kitchenMage was born into a rather small and snuggly online food'verse. Quirky sites like Belly-Timber (now sadly in eternal hiatus) could tell the tale of the Mighty Cheese Warriors (cached) to a crowd that was sufficiently inside to get the joke and Food Blog S'cool meant we didn't need no stinkin' conventions.

In 2005, agents and publishers had not yet begun to demand that their writers start a weblog. This is fortunate for me since I might have ended up writing about nothing but esoteric technical topics, government compliance, training and other things that, as one reader said, "makes your brain hurt." I still do that work but I have also written a cookbook and having food as an additional focus has been sanity-saving.

Anniversaries are time for reflection and renewal and this one is true to form. kitchenMage is undergoing a serious makeover behind the scenes; one that has been near-eternal, largely because a few months ago I decided that I needed to rework the structure and content as opposed to simply the look and feel.

For a variety of reasons, the last few years has left me reading a lot more than writing and it's been interesting. The food'verse has been utterly transformed since way back in 2005 and not always for the better. While there are a lot of really great web sites, they are increasingly hard to find amongst the self-promotional noise and assemblages of food-like substances.

Just today a twitter conversation led me to discover that "pie inside cake" gets 13.5k hits on The Google. Fortunately, fewer than 500 are images. On the other hand, most involve frozen pies and cakes from a box. The more ridiculous the combination, the more likely it is to garner attention and page views. I have found myself sighing a lot as I read.

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