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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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June 20, 2008

obsession: oat flour

oats, rolled and ground

Confession time: I have a food crush.

It's sort of an embarrassing one, too. The object of my affection is not the sort of gorgeous new thing one can hang off an arm and take out to the glam new place. No, my crush is a homely, comfortable, snuggle up on the couch in sweats sort.

Beige, even.

It all started because I wanted to tweak a pancake recipe. I had simple enough goals: adding whole grains while keeping the pancakes light, although slightly too substantial for fluffy. Whole-wheat flour didn't really do much, neither did white whole wheat. Slightly better nutritionally, the flavor left me unmoved.

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September 02, 2006

whb: Lavender sugar

Weekend Herb Blogging is Kalyn's weekly venture into the land of herbs and always offers a collection of international food writers weighing in with delightful ideas for using the goodness that is fresh herbs. . This week's edition of Weekend Herb Blogging is being guest-hosted at The Inadvertent Gardener.

LavsugarMany people have used vanilla sugar, and more than a few have some in the pantry (jar+vanilla bean+sugar+time=magic), but few have lavender sugar. Indeed, most folk I say "lavender sugar" to look at me blankly. This is too bad and something I think should be remedied immediately. Fortunately the solution is simple: jar+lavender buds+sugar

Lavender is lightly sweet, and adds a vaguely floral note to food. Too much can be cloying, or "soapy," something which using scented sugar helps avoid. It's hard to go overboard because your food gets too sweet long before it gets too lavendery. It's perhaps the best complement to berries out there, bringing out the berriness without dulling the flavor (as vanilla sometimes does). I use it to macerate berries for shortcake, in whipped cream, even in the shortcake. It's also great in sugar cookies and other lightly flavored treats.

If you buy lavender, make sure you get culinary not aromatic as the latter may have oils or other non-tasty things added. I pick mine from the garden — just when the buds are showing color, but before the flowers open — and use them fresh. As you can see from the picture, I'm not the most particular about cleaning out the papery part of the bud, but you could be if you have nothing else to do with your time.

I use about 2 tablespoons of buds for a quart jar of sugar and let it sit for a month before the first time I use it. I seldom use more than 1/2 a cup at a time so I just top off the sugar, shake it every time I take some out and it goes on forever. Well, almost. I usually add more lavender when I have a fresh harvest.

When using the sugar, you can pass it through a strainer to remove the buds or leave them in. I usually strain it for things like whipped cream or sprinkling on berries, but leave the buds in if cooking the sugar in something. You can also toss the sugar with buds in a food processor to grind it up a bit, which is what I do for lavender shortbread (recipe to be here soon).

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