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Roz Cummins' Posts

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'Tis the season (for coffee, tea, or maybe just some local cider ...)

The ethical and environmental dilemma of coffee

On a baking hot summer night a few years ago, some friends and I took a walk through our Somerville neighborhood. The day had been so warm that heat was still rising from the pavement even at 10 pm. A man from Central America was out tending his garden under the pale light of the street lamp. As my friends asked him about his plants, I thought I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a coffee bush. I had never seen one in real life, only in photographs, but I knew right away what it was. "Is that …

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A question re: fire lines and wild fires

The recent wild fires in Calif. make me wonder why fire lines (areas of land cleared of vegetation) aren't actively maintained around areas where there is housing, and even in different areas of the forest. Does it require that too much land be cleared? The labor involved has got to be less than the labor needed to fight a fire, and perhaps it could prevent firefighters from losing their lives protecting property. Does anybody know why this isn't done?

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One month to Thanksgiving!

Order your heritage turkeys now (if you eat turkey)

For those of you responsible for producing a Thanksgiving meal that features a turkey, it's time to start thinking about ordering one. You can order a heritage turkey from a local farmer in certain states. To learn more about heritage turkeys, and for contact information for local farmers, go to Slow Food's "Ark of Taste." Also, if you want to serve a turkey that's been brined, did you know you can buy pre-brined turkeys from Whole Foods? It's true. My personal turkey strategy is to make two "small" turkeys, around 12 pounds each. I make one the day before Thanksgiving …

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'Tis the Season (for French toast and ethical dilemmas)

A recipe for baked French toast

One of the events I most look forward to every autumn is my friend Ken's Post-Vermont Brunch. He does not use the phrase "Post-Vermont" dismissively, as in "Vermont is so last season! Sugar Maples have totally jumped the shark!" No. What he means is, he has now come back from his annual trip to Vermont, and returns triumphant, bearing gifts. Credit: roboppy via flickr He brings home local, seasonal Vermont products: bread from a small bakery, fresh-picked apples, locally-smoked bacon, and maple syrup. He beams his brunch beacon into the midnight sky, and a fuzzy image of Mrs. Butterworth hovers …

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'Tis the Season (for <em>more</em> cheese and fruit and board games)

Mmm … cheese

Continued from last week ... I like to start a cheese platter with a hard or semi-hard cheese. In the fall I like to use cheddar (you could serve a sharp one and a mild one), aged Parmesan, or aged Gouda. If you haven't tasted aged Gouda, I encourage you to try it. It's a bit pricey, but the flavor is so intense that a little goes a long way. Aged Goat Gouda is good too, though the flavor is very different. I'd pair aged Gouda with apples and aged Goat Gouda with pears. I also enjoy another Dutch cheese …

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'Tis the Season (for cheese and fruit and board games)

The basics for creating a good cheese platter

David has asked me to come up with some dishes and menus especially appropriate for entertaining. I've got several full-menu columns planned for the fall: a brunch, a casual dinner, and a Thanksgiving dinner (with both turkey and non-turkey options). As far as ideas for entertaining in general, I highly recommend Entertaining for a Veggie Planet by Didi Emmons. It includes tips on entertaining applicable to any meal or event, not just vegetarian ones. She is a very funny writer, a fantastic cook, and a deeply committed activist. I had the pleasure of doing a little bit of work on …

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'Tis the Season (to pimp my miso soup)

A recipe for autumn

Certain people have a natural elegance. They look good in anything (and, presumably, nothing). They speak articulately and judiciously, move with grace, and generally make it appear as though living in this world isn't the vexed, booby-trapped, humbling endeavor the rest of us poor slobs find it to be. If miso were a person, that's the kind of person miso would be. Its natural elegance stems from its already being complex and complete on its own: you don't need to tart miso up to make it good. Indeed, if you have good miso to start with, simply adding some warm …

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'Tis the Season (for a bowl of NYC-style chicken soup)

Food can comfort and heal us in times of grief and despair

"Enjoy every sandwich." -- Warren Zevon As is true for so many people, 9/11 is on my mind this week. I'm thinking of the people who perished on that day in the towers: those I knew from college and high school, friends, coworkers, and of course all the strangers whose families' lives are forever altered. I'll always remember the breathtaking beauty of that day -- an impossibly blue sky -- and how all my calls to editors in NYC suddenly stopped going through. "All the circuits to New York are busy." It was only when a friend called late in …

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‘Tis the Season (for the last of the big summer BBQs and family reunions)

Over the 4th of July weekend, I traveled from Boston to western New York to see my uncle and many of my cousins. I'd been there before but couldn't recall the route from memory, so I quickly printed the directions from a website, never thinking that there could be two different ways to get there when one route is so obviously superior. I hopped into my car and set off. About an hour after I passed a turn-off for Albany, I thought to myself, "These rolling hills and grazing cows look different." Then I told myself that I was being …

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‘Tis the Season (for dealing with pests, great and small)

My parents were way ahead of the curve when it came to employing Integrated Pest Management for tending their garden. They would send me (henceforth referred to as "the pest") out into the garden to weed, partly to control the weeds and partly to get me out of their hair. The problem was, from my point of view (then and now), I was only four years old. Some four-year-olds might be able to handle being out in a garden by themselves, but I was not one of them. It wasn't the weeding itself that bothered me -- it offered the …

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