What We’re Reading: February 15, 2014

Our editors are driving away the winter blues this week by looking to sources of inspiration and comfort, like The Selby, seed catalogues, and chicken soup.

This week, our editors are feeling out sources of inspiration to keep away the snowy blues. We’re seeking comfort with the coziest of chicken soups, dreaming of spring with our favorite seed catalogues, and peeking into others’ beautiful spaces via photographs.

Caroline Lange: The Natural Effect
This video by Only Organic is totally sassy, but that sass really amplifies the message it’s looking to make—namely, that “natural” is the best false advertising move ever made. Sure, “natural” might make us feel better as we fill our basket at the grocery, but what does it really mean? What does “natural” indicate? As the video enumerates, not much.

Marissa FinnChicken Soup Recipe — Barefoot Contessa
When I was growing up, my mom would make a huge pot of matzoh ball soup on the first snowy day of every season. When the flakes started to come down during school, I knew I’d come home to the smell of onions and dill. I now find myself craving her chicken soup every time it snows. This recipe by Ina Garten is the closest I’ve found to my mom’s, and it’s been helping me survive the snow all winter. I make a huge batch, and whatever I don’t give to friends and neighbors, I freeze in individual portions that last me a few weeks. Needless to say, Ina’s chicken soup found its way into this week’s menu.

Doug Young: The Selby
These days, I am looking at The Selby for inspiration. Todd Selby’s photos and illustrations offer an interesting look at the world of food and art.

Betsy Davidson: Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Pole bean or bush beans? Zucchini? How many varieties of basil? Spring and planting season cannot come soon enough and my copy of Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog is so dog-eared that said dog-ears are no longer effective. Back to pad and paper.

Lauren WilsonCalifornia Legalized Selling Food Made at Home and Created Over a Thousand Local Businesses — Forbes
On the eve of our Innovations issues, I find myself in an unfamiliar position: rooting for deregulation. Similar to the story that our Amy Zavatto spells out in the next issue of Edible Manhattan, the loosening of restrictions for New York alcohol producers has paved the way for our state’s current spirits (and beer, and wine) revolution. The rules can be different for food, but California seems to be of a similar disposition when it comes to taking action to support small food and drink businesses. The numbers speak for themselves.

Gabrielle Langholtz“Culinary biography puts Lincoln in the kitchen” and “Make molasses your valentine” — American Food Roots
I’m always hungry for history and two recent posts from American Food Roots hit the spot. Just in time for President’s Day, they covered Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen, from his stepmother’s sorghum to the salt Mary Todd bought for making ice cream. I love picturing honest Abe milking a cow and while I’ve thought of Jefferson as the most farmy patriarch, have now learned that, more than any other president, Lincoln was “a son of the soil.”

Next up, AFR’s story on molasses traces the sticky stuff from its role as “an essential Ingredient in American Independence,” (as John Adams wrote) to the British prohibitively taxing its import (which lead to merchant outrage and colonial uprising–move over, Tea Party) to the 1830s, when brides measured their popularity by the number of layers of the molasses cake guests brought. I was inspired to bake a loaf of River Cottage Gingerbread, which called for the last half-cup of molasses in my cupboard.

Feature photo: Flickr/www.WorthTheWhisk.com

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