I was about to post the Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding recipe that I left out of my food waste post, when I found myself worrying a little bit about whether posting recipes is appropriate for my new forum. You see, I tend to think of Scienceblogs with the first syllable pronounced just like Thomas Dolby in “She Blinded Me With Science” yelling “SCIENCE!” (which I have included a link to for no apparent reason, simply because it pleases me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V83JR2IoI8k.) Is this warm, fuzzy, chocolatey goodness appropriate to a hard-edged SCIENCEblog? Does PZ Myers post recipes? I do not know, but I fear not.
And this sent me spinning on a meditation about what counts as “serious” and what doesn’t. Those of you who have read me over the years know that I have strong opinions on this subject – I think that we tend as a culture to be contemptuous and dismissive of anything that smacks of traditional women’s work. Moreover, I have argued that as women moved out into the professional world, we accepted the idea that this work was worthy of contempt, and often transferred it off to poorer people, usually poorer women and non-white men and women. And in doing so, we ignored the fact that who did this work and how we did it had a tremendous ecological impact. That is, all those second cars, all those meals eaten at fast-food restaurants, t etc… all that stuff matters. It matters in terms of ecological impact, in terms of human health and in a whole host of moral areas.
Now I’d be a complete anti-feminist whack-job if I claimed that this was women’s fault – that the problem was that we women didn’t stay home and bake cookies. That’s not my claim – it took decades for men to even raise their household participation to 20% after women started hitting the workforce in droves. Basically our government said “we need y’all to go out and work to help grow the economy, but we’re going to make sure you have no secure health insurance, no good subsidized programs for young kids, so you get the fun of working, doing the majority of the housework and taking your own sick time to take care of your kids.” It really isn’t much wonder that most people started stopping at McD’s on the way home.
A lot of people are dismissive of personal choices and personal actions, and as I argue in _Depletion and Abundance_ it isn’t an accident that all the things we decide are unimportant personal choices happened to be traditionally associated with women – they are measures of our contempt for women’s traditional work (consider the attention still given to the individual vote, in comparison, which also doesn’t matter, except all the times that it does). Perhaps more importantly it is enormously profitable for industry to pretend that individual choices are unimportant. After all, if they are unimportant, there’s no reason to constrain them, no reason not to stop at Wendy’s on your way to the climate change demonstration, no link at all between all those cows and global warming…
Thus we put “agricultural emissions” in the category of *big important issues” and say we can’t do anything about it personally – of course “industry” doesn’t acually eat. In fact, I’m pretty sure that 100% of all meals are eaten by individuals ;-).
Which is all a really long way of saying that I’m definitely going to keep posting recipes, even if, as one of my prior critics claimed, he feared he’d wandered over to Lady’s Home Journal, rather than an energy blog. As I’ve argued before, we can’t change our agriculture, or improve our health without changing the way we eat – and we do that by teaching people to cook again, to make good use fo the food they do have, and by helping them make ethical food choices. And that requires small and homely things like recipes, which have their place even in SCIENCE!.
Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding (note, this recipe probably won’t actually improve your health, but it will turn stale bread and over-ripe bananas into a tasty dessert.)
Enough stale bread to cover a 9 inch pie pan in two layers, cut rather thick (a bit less than a loaf, for most sized loaves)
2 overripe bananas
1 tablespoon of vanilla or banana extract
A couple of handfulls of chocolate chips or to taste
A sprinkle of nutmeg
3 cups of milk or vanilla soymilk
Take the bread slices and cover the bottom of the pan. Break off pieces to make sure the whole thing is covered. Slice the bananas on top of the bread, and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top of the bananas. Layer on the rest of the bread, again, breaking it to make the pieces totally cover the top. You can sprinkle any crumbs around the edges. Beat the eggs, add the vanilla, nutmeg and the milk, and mix thoroughly. Pour over the bread mixture. Use your fingers to sort of squish any bread that isn’t getting wet down into the milk mixture. Bake 35 minutes at 375, serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if you are feeling decadent.
Laotian Chicken (or turkey) Soup: I used to think that everyone made soup out of the bones of any meat that they found, but somewhere (I can’t find the figure again) this Thanksgiving I read that more than half of all turkey carcasses eaten at home get thrown away (the actual figure is higher, given that many people eat bird at restaurants). Go figure?!? This is just nuts. The correct use of animal bones, if you are a meat eater, is to make soup stock – period. This gives you more total meals out of the bird, besides being unbelievably good. This is my favorite iteration of chicken soup.
Take a chicken carcass (or turkey) and cover it with water (if your water is icky, filter it). Add some peppercorns, a piece of ginger root and an onion. Simmer until yummy. Add a little salt or soy sauce to make it yummier. Remove carcass, saving any bits of meat that are still hanging around, and strain soup. Put the meat back in the pot, with 2 large chopped onions, another minced good-sized piece of ginger root (small if you don’t like ginger), 2 stalks of lemongrass (easy to grow, will overwinter inside, can skip this if you don’t have it), 6 keffir lime leaves (can be found asian grocers, also easy to grow inside on a sunny window), the juice of two lemons or 3 limes, some brown sugar to taste, half a cup of fish sauce or soy sauce, some sliced garlic (however much you like) and half a fresh pineapple or a can of pineapple chunks plus the juice). You can also add slightly under-ripe tomatoes, if you have any lying around, or rice noodles, if you like them. Then add as many minced bird chiles as you can tolerate, or a good dollop of chili paste, or if you don’t like heat, none of the above. But it is better hot. Simmer until flavors are melded, maybe 20 minutes, and serve hot.
Note: This is the low key version – the first version I ever had of this, in a Cambodian Restaurant in Indonesia was a lot hotter, sourer, saltier and sweeter. You can double everything and it will be awesomely good, but not everyone is ready to go there ;-).