I’m gonna shift gears a little here today, and instead of one of my normal ‘epics”, I’m just going to do a few quick and dirty observations – Let’s go.
* Sourdough 1,2,3 Bread
I’m working on the research phase of a future post on something called, “Sourdough 1,2,3 Bread” – Here’s a discussion of it on The Fresh Loaf, one of the better bread baking forums on the web. As you may know, if you bake sourdough breads, you maintain a starter – essentially the yeast that raises the bread. Well, this is a very easy loaf that supposedly keeps one from throwing away perfectly good starter when refreshing it – you take a small amount of starter, add a double amount of water, and a triple amount of flour, and voila! you have a nice loaf of bread – and the best part is that you made this bread with starter that you almost threw away!
Sounds good, but I think that premise is hogwash. For those of us who keep a sourdough starter around – alive and well – we either bake something with it, or we pitch it. If you’re going to force yourself to bake something every time you refresh your starter, you’ll soon have a kitchen full of bread! Most of it stale! I already bake a lot more bread than I really should.
No guys – I’ll agree this is a neat, easy, and efficient way to bake a quick loaf of bread, but, No, it doesn’t save us any otherwise wasted starter. We bake when we need to bake, and at all other times, we don’t bake.
I’m heavy into some research on how to make this fast and easy process even more so – when I’m comfortable with that, I’ll post and share it with all.
* Portland Food Carts
I love street food! And I’ve eaten tons of it – most not even in the U.S., ’cause we in the U.S. are only just now easing up on health regulations that have for years kept street food vendors off the streets. In yet another thing, we trail behind the rest of the known world – and we call ourselves a “developed” nation! But as I travel around, I notice that more and more cities are allowing street food vendors to function as never before – Wow! What the hell took so long?
I think I know why most U.S. cities frown on food carts – and it’s not so much a heath issue, it’s an economic issue – the truth is that brick and mortar restaurants pay far more in taxes and fees than do food carts, and a food cart will always be able to offer a better deal than will the restaurant. So cities have essentially protected the restaurants from competition.
But I’m noticing that my favorite local food city, Portland, has not only opened the door to street carts, but has assisted in marketing and advertising the project in the City. The food cart movement in Portland no doubt owes much to the well established Saturday Markets – one food based, and one crafts based – and their long success and popularity. The public has always loved them, and apparently has badgered their politicos for more. All these things add to the street fair atmosphere Portland assumes in the summer – if you haven’t visited in awhile, do yourself a favor and have some fun in Portland.
* Scripps Creates a New Cooking Channel
I just read that Scripps Networks and The Food Network is creating a sister channel called The Cooking Channel. Supposedly, it’ll be for more serious “foodies”, and will feature more instructional programming. I’m encouraged by that – but only slightly, because I don’t trust the folks at Scripps – As far as I’m concerned, they ruined The Food Network, and no matter what they’re saying now, they’ll probably ruin this one too.
Way, way back long ago, I remember that the only reason I ever got cable in the first place was because I was excited about The Food Network – and I loved it then. Almost every program on it was instructional – and then there was Alton Brown’s, “Good Eats”! That program was, and still is, a superbly excellent program in every way – and given its popularity, I’m amazed that The Food Network has never built on that basic concept – all they’ve managed to do is to shrink it annually until it doesn’t seem to be even made any longer. I guess they couldn’t figure out how to make it into a competition.
Perhaps I’m a bit unique, but from my perspective, where The Food Network went wrong was in gearing ALL their programming to the “20 somethings” – as soon as they did that, their approach switched from educational to entertainment. I for one was not willing to give up instruction in favor of Reality TV and 12 hours a day of “competition” programming. I’m not saying that this approach failed, if they wanted to draw a young audience, they did fine. But they lost me!
Now what we hear from Scripps is that they still want to appeal to the 20 somethings, but specifically, those among that group who may be more interested in cooking itself. I think this is a recipe for failure guys – Personally, I think Scripps had it right when they assumed that for 20 somethings, food was a tool for socializing and entertainment – who that age has time enough to actually cook?
What would I like to see on The Cooking Channel? Frankly, I’d love to see just what they suggest they’re going to program, but I’d like to see that programming geared to cooks who maybe had a stronger interest in the kitchen, and had the time to actually cook there – like older folks.
This whole thing may be a self-correcting problem, once the ratings begin to show – that’s my suspicion anyway. If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize. But I don’t think I’ll have to.