Nothing Like Ice Cream From Home

by Allison Yan ’19

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What makes some ice cream better than others?

Since arriving at Harvard, I’ve realized that Cantabrigians, and Bostonians at large, sincerely appreciate their ice cream. JP Licks is a staple, a place that locals and college students alike frequent, even when the weather dips. Lizzy’s is a less bustling, more intimate alternative to JP Licks. And then there’s the lovely Toscanini’s, for the rare few who find the time to trek to Central Square.

I’m proud to say that I’ve tried them all by now. But it’s just not the same as ice cream back home.

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Cincinnati, Ohio is home to many things: an average baseball team, a slightly above-average football team, and, most importantly, Oprah Winfrey’s favorite ice cream. You read that right. Cincinnati is home to Graeter’s ice cream. Many of my fondest childhood memories are from post-event treats to Graeter’s, where I would shamelessly indulge in black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream sundaes (those were my mom’s favorite, so they had to be my favorite as well). She was very particular about her sundaes, and so was I: one scoop of black raspberry chocolate chip with whipped cream, nuts, and black raspberry syrup. She always went for a maraschino cherry on top. I never liked the taste of maraschino cherries, but since I always appreciated the aesthetic the cherry added, I would get one as well.

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Of course, my love for Graeter’s went beyond just visits to the ice cream confectionary for those sumptuous sundaes. There were rarely times when we didn’t have pints of black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream in our freezer. Post-dinner desserts always consisted of our trusty ice cream in a Graeter’s waffle cone.

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There is just something unique about Graeter’s ice cream that can’t be beat by the ice cream shops here. The way the ice cream melted in your mouth so you could chew on large chunks of chocolate chips, the heady thickness of the ice cream that would trump soft serve any day, the extra sweet flavor that made it clear that you were partaking in a special indulgence rather than some faux-healthy dessert.

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In my first months here, I felt like I missed Graeter’s almost as much as I missed my family. There’s a lot that goes into good ice cream, really. The richness of the texture, the presence of yummy extras (namely, chocolate), and, of course, the memories associated with the ice cream.

Anyone who wants to contest my claim that Graeter’s is the best should take me to JP Licks to prove otherwise.

I Only Eat My Mom’s Vegetables

by Allison Yan ’19

I’m sure every college student misses a genuine, home-cooked meal from time to time. There’s just nothing like the rich, unique flavors from a family favorite dish or a parent’s particular seasoning choices or a combination of both.

IMG_0258My mom is very particular about healthy foods. Her meals almost always contain greens. I used to bemoan the fact that I had to eat my vegetables. But over time, I appreciated her choices more and more. Yes, sometimes that sprinkle of cilantro and sliced eggplant on a protein heavy dish seemed a little excessive, but it was all in good thought. By the time I started high school, my mom’s lovingly cooked vegetables had become an integral part of my diet: the particular crunchiness of her green beans, her affinity for topping everything with a leafy vegetable, and more. No matter whether she was cooking for the family or bringing dishes to Asian potlucks, my mom would always be ready with the healthy dishes.

IMG_0260Being away from her veggies and her cooking makes me realize just how much her vegetables meant to me. Dining hall vegetables just aren’t the same.

IMG_0261Anyhow, if I’m really gaining the freshman 15, I’m definitely blaming it on the fact that I only eat my mom’s vegetables.

Why Did the Turkey Stop Eating? He Was Stuffed!

By Orlea Miller ‘16

Thanksgiving is easily a foodie’s favorite holiday of the year. While my day-to-day life revolves around the foods I’m eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Thanksgiving is the one time of year when everyone else does the same. We begin looking into airline fares months ahead of time when making our holiday plans, and then spend at least a week or two carefully selecting Thanksgiving recipes and entering the grocery store madness just to eat together as a family.

My family sticks to the traditional foods for this annual event: turkey, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and green beans (and a countless number of pies and other treats). Unfortunately, they don’t like straying from the recipes they’re used to either. However, after years of box-made stuffing, I decided to try out a new recipe for Thanksgiving this time around.

I found the recipe for “Save-the-Day Stuffing” online (a.k.a. homemade stuffing with a few healthy swaps) to lighten everyone’s plates this year. I used the typical veggies but included light bread and liquid egg substitute, and ended up with a pretty tasty addition to our household’s Thanksgiving repertoire.

Ingredients
(MAKES 5 SERVINGS)

6 slices light bread

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup fat-free chicken broth, room temperature

1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute

1 tbsp. light buttery spread

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, to taste

1 oz dried cranberries (if desired)

Directions:

Leave bread uncovered at room temperature overnight. Otherwise, begin by lightly toasting bread.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Spray a medium baking dish with nonstick spray, and place bread cubes evenly along the bottom of the dish.

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Chop up the celery and onion to prepare it for the stuffing.

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In a medium pot, combine broth, celery, and onion. Cook for 8 minutes over medium heat.

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Remove pot from heat, and add mushrooms and garlic. Season mixture to taste with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. Let cool for several minutes.

Add egg substitute and butter to veggie/broth mixture and stir. Pour mixture into the baking pan, evenly covering bread cubes. Mix gently with a fork. Bread cubes should be moist, but not saturated (if necessary, add 1 – 2 tbsp. water, and then mix again).

If desired, throw in the dried cranberries to add a sweet kick to your stuffing!

Cover with foil, and cook dish in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove foil, and fluff and rearrange stuffing. Return dish to oven (uncovered), and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

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After comparing my homemade stuffing to the boxed one we have had at our Thanksgiving table in years past, I was impressed. This version had more flavor and texture, though I admittedly added in more chicken broth than the recipe called for after noticing it looked dry before putting it in the oven.

I found the stuffing recipe, along with quite a few other holiday dishes at www.hungry-girl.com, one of my go-to websites for healthy sides, entrees, and desserts that are just as tasty as the original version, yet far more nutritious and lower in calories and fat.

On the Wok

By Faye Zhang ’17

From the time I first peered over the stove at my mother’s hand deftly flipping eggs, tomatoes, and rice, to a year spent living and cooking solo on meager means, I’ve grown to appreciate—nay, love—the wonders of the wok.

The wok, an English label, is a misnomer. In Mandarin Chinese, the wok is known as a “guō”. In Indonesia it is known as a “penggorengan” or “wajan”. In Malaysia a small wok is called a “kuali”, and a big wok “kawah”. In the Philippines it is known as a “kawali” or a “wadjang”. In Japan, “chūkanabe”. In India, ”cheena chatti” (literally, “Chinese pot”) or “karahi”.

No matter its name, size, or country of origin, the wok varies little: a round-bottomed, cast iron pan attached to a long wooden handle. According to legend, woks originated during Chinese military marches, when soldiers gave their war helmets a double role as cooking vessels over campfires. Perhaps “double” is too limiting. The wok serves nearly any purpose: boiling, braising, deep-frying, roasting, smoking, searing, steaming, stewing, and its most well known use, stir-frying.

With a wok, one never struggles to remove charred bits of food that stick to the bottom of a pan and refuse to budge. The cast iron material and round shape allows a spatula, or traditionally, a set of long wooden chopsticks, to chase down every particle and douse it with seasoning. Food sticking to the pan is no matter at all: the wise cook prizes the caramelized layers of past flavors, each of them lending mysterious savor to each new dish.

With a flick of a chopstick, the sizzling food slides over a steaming bed of rice to finish the dish. In my case, food often never left the wok—the round pan serves as a perfect, albeit hot, bowl. No use complaining, though. The wok was built for heat; perfect for cooking over a traditional pit-style stove filled with smoldering coal or wood. Fire would lick the iron rim, creating 180 degrees of perfect thermal conduction.

Modern stovetops, such as flat electric stovetop surfaces, have led to the creation of frying pans attempting to pass as flat-bottomed woks. Heavy cast iron has been substituted for lightweight stainless steel. Wooden handles have been replaced by smooth rubber. The Presto 5900, a stainless steel electric automatic wok, essentially cooks by itself.

And yet, food made in these modern contraptions somehow tastes off. Broccoli has no bite, meat is tepid, stews lack depth. Perhaps it’s the relentless cleanliness and efficiency; modern woks scrubbed clean after each use never get the chance to accumulate flavor history. There is a Chinese dish called “guō-tie”, potstickers—a clever use for leftover dumplings made in huge and un-finishable quantities during holidays. To make them, day-old dumplings are dumped into a hot wok, doused with oil, and left to sizzle. They’re called potstickers because, while the innards simmer, the thin dumpling skin sticks to the wok and fries to a crispy, salty-sweet crust.

Guō-tie is impossible to get right on stainless steel. One bite proves why: the blackened dumpling rim which envelopes a release of savory juice can only be created by a properly aged wok—the kind passed down from ancestors, full of browned, crusty memories.​

To the One-Dimensional Eater: A Manifesto

By Dana Ferrante ’17

This past week, I hadScreen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.03.47 AM to write a manifesto as part of a course about youth protest in Europe during 1968. Having read everything from anarchist memoirs to situationist leaflets, we were asked to use the ideas, language, and rhetorical styles of these sources to create a manifesto about a topic of our choosing. Naturally, I chose to write mine about the food system. If you’d like to learn more about actual (and less accusatory/radical) plans that are currently in the works, check out the Massachusetts Food System Plan, as well as the Food Better Campaign going on here at Harvard. 

 

A specter is haunting our stomachs: the specter of what locavore’s call “carelessness.” This specter has not appeared out of thin air—it is the inevitable consequence of the present culture of instant-gratification and ignorance, perpetuated by people across the globe. It was born at a time when the advancing industrial society quickened the speed and immediacy of life, forcing our food system to follow suit. And yet this society is irrational as a whole. How do people expect something that grows in the summer to be on their plates year round? Why do the eggs in the grocery store come from across the country, instead of from the farm right down the road? We all bear responsibility for the present state of affairs, and it is because of this that we must commit ourselves to change —for ourselves, for future generations, and for the sake of the global environment.

  1. Whoever does not consider what they eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced, remains ignorant of one of the most essential aspects of his or her well-being and that of society as a whole.
  2. These are called One-Dimensional Eaters.
  3. As the shelves of our supermarkets become fuller each year, food has become less of a source of sustenance or means to survive. Today, it is a commodity, and the global population is compelled to consume far more than it needs.
  4. This generation now prefers the copy to the original, the appearance of culture, fake food to the authentic recipes. Time and effort have gone by the wayside, and only the illusion of freshness and culture is satiating.
  5. Without farmers, there would be no more food.
  6. The general separation of food production and the consumer has made us blind to the people and energy that it takes to get dinner on the table each night. Society now demands speed, while food requires exactly the opposite: patience.
  7. Through this, society as a whole has forsaken the importance of the home-cook. This is both the result and the cause of the on-going food illiteracy

Therefore, the locavores propose:

  • To inform the population of the real environmental and societal situation created by our ignorance of the food system
  • To become more conscientious of where our food comes from and how it is produced
  • To eat locally and seasonally, therefore supporting local agriculture
  • To slow down our consumption and reintroduce patience to the consumer
  • To initiate a home-cook movement
  • To work with producers, business owners, food system stakeholders, and consumers to find out how the food system can be improved
  • To teach the newest generations to eat according to region, season, and availability, as our ancestors did
  • To eliminate one-dimensional eaters