Saturday, April 12, 2003
set your vcr. . .
'cuz here's a great program to watch: coffee kids' documentary "grounds for hope." it's coming back to the new york area friday april 18th at 10:00pm on pbs channel wnye.
it's part of a series called the visionaries. coffee kids is a wonderful charity that helps coffee workers and farmers -- not just with handouts, but with great microcredit projects and education initiatives for children in coffee communities. the documentary shows the kinds of projects coffee kids does and how helpful they really are to those who in need.
the people at coffeekids are working hard to help alleviate the burden of what long-time readers know as the coffee crisis. i urge everyone to see the documentary and then consider contributing a little something to coffee kids. . .
Friday, April 11, 2003
save the pizza
"pizza sales going stale," the headline trumpets. americans are deserting the fast-food pizza for healthier or fancier alternatives.
desperate executives attempt to lure customers back by advertising that they're increasing the fake-y soy cheese on their goods, in some cases, up to pound of greasy, messy supposed "cheese" per pie.
no doubt those guys need a wake-up call. "it may be just a basic, fundamental shift in the role of pizza in the american diet," one analyst says.
only after sorting through the rest of the article does what seems to me to be the real truth emerge: "the problem may not be pizza itself, just the boring versions are often delivered." let's face it: who really wants to eat the same stuff those places always serve?
as the chains struggle to cut costs, the quality of the ingredients continues to plummet, and all the new "variations" result in only more of the same yucky stuff, or at best a sad heap of still low-quality additions. for which the chains charge an outrageous sum.
there's no way i'll believe the american love affair with pizza is over. but americans do demand high-quality, better-tasting, healthier versions.
pizza itself isn't inherently bad for you: throw some whole-wheat flour into the crust; use fresh tomatoes and vegetables, pure olive oil, a light hand with the highest-quality mozzarella or fiori di latte you can find; don't spare the fresh herbs.
this gives a delicious, fresh-tasting pizza that's a joy to eat. it's way cheap too. and so simple to make at home. long-time readers know i do it every week.
i understand not everyone has the time to follow my crust recipe; so this one might be more convenient for working people with children. however, the sauce (light red or yellow) still takes only 15 or 20 mins -- make up a double batch and freeze. the cheese requires only last minute slicing; the herbs can be quickly torn by hand.
i applaud you who have abandoned the miserable fast-food pizza. but there's no need to deprive yourself: thus i continue with my subversive message: make your own at home. . .
Thursday, April 10, 2003
for the birds. . .
normally i would suggest that readers who find themselves in boston this april 26 check out a great charity concert with bonnie raitt, danny o'keefe, and john mayer. its purpose is to raise funds for the songbird foundation, a great charity devoted to environmentally friendly coffee.
long-time readers know that many migratory songbirds we enjoy in the spring and summer winter in central and south america. they favor living in the shady trees that normally overhang coffee plantations. but since the introduction of coffee varieties that don't require shade, many agri-businesses and high-production farmers have switched to these new coffees.
while they produce a lot of beans, the resulting coffee may not be as high-quality and certainly endangers the songbirds' winter habitat. so i would normally encourage everyone to go to this concert to support the effort to preserve shade-grown coffee practices.
but i can't -- because the concert is apparently already sold out! only high-end "meet the artist" tickets are still available. . .but don't feel sad.
if you want to purchase something for the environment, try making a donation to the u.k. charity, the world land trust. they're raising money to buy up rain-forest land for preservation. for every donation made during their easter acres campaign, they'll send you out a bar of organic green & blacks maya gold chocolate. . .
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
more things yoga can do
a new study in oregon suggests that people suffering from multiple sclerosis benefit from a modified form of iyengar yoga. researchers concluded that after doing yoga for several months, patients felt less fatigue.
the study was performed at oregon's health and science university and reported at a recent neurology conference. (actually ohsu is doing other studies on yoga, such as a recent one on benefits for the elderly and also seems to do a fair number of yoga related conferences and projects).
for those feeling more frivolous, there's a nice article today on a woman who designs yoga mat bags. they are pretty, with indian jacquard fabrics in subtle tones and contrasting but co-ordinating lining.
but maybe she should reconsider the black web handles for some of the more refined fabrics. . .i do like the key ring, however. good feature!
she also has plain khaki bags for guys. interested? look here. she just seems like a positive person, as well. ..
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
just a wonderful, easy-to-read, plain english explanation of 1/4 of what bccy is all about. a great discussion of the coffee crisis, coffee purity, and why it all matters. . .
you folks in k.c., get yourselves up-to-date, and run over to the roasterie! that's exactly the kind of coffee we here at bccy support.
Monday, April 07, 2003
he gets it!
"whenever you talk about making money out of coffee, you've got to consider it's not about a commodity, it's not about purchasing coffee from your supplier, it's not about a machine, but about how you create that experience when the consumer comes to buy the coffee," says an irish cafe consultant.
he continues: "you have to focus on taste, so you have to brew it properly, but you also taste with your eyes. you need to make sure it looks good and you provide a good service."
i wish every coffeehouse and restaurant in the u.s.a. would accept these principles. what made me accept this consultant, hugh gilmartin, as my personal savior was this statement: "coffee is a cuisine, as opposed to a commodity. you don't have the waiters making the starters [appetizers] in a restaurant, so why do you have them making the coffee?"
i would love to beat all the fine chefs of new york over the head with this quotation. . .too many times have i spent US$200 on a fancy dinner at a top-notch restaurant only to have the busboy try to cobble together my after-dinner coffee. . .
and for those of you interested in yoga, it might almost be worth plowing thru the dumb salon ad to read this amusing bit. . .
Sunday, April 06, 2003
pizza returns. . .
so things have been a bit unsettled around here at bccy since i was without the precious pizza flour for 2 weeks. however, today the traditional sunday night pizza returned. . .with a twist.
on whim, instead of concocting my usual flour mixture of first clear flour and an ultra-high-protein professional-type pizza flour, i ordered the king arthur pizza flour mixture. it contains durum flour as well as what was for me a surprise ingredient, chemical leaven -- baking powder. and apparently no malt!
i was worried it wouldn't have the ultra-chewy texture with the crispy exterior mr. right prefers. but after making the dough in the usual way (it required a little less water) with this new flour, he reported that he actually preferred the taste of the pizza pre-blend.
however, due to the chemical leavening, it rose a little extra in the oven; it was thicker and tad breadier than my usual, but browned very nicely. i also personally thought the chemical leavening gave the crust a sort of biscuit-y flavor!
but hey, whatever mr. right wants, he shall have. so now i have to find a way to roll this dough extra-thin without tearing to make up for the super-boost of the chemical leaven. . .hmmm . . .must think. . .