Peach Shortbread Mini-pies and Sourcing Dilemmas

If you’re anything like me, it’s almost imperative that you know where your food comes from. 

You want to support your local market so you buy from local farmers and producers. You want to know that your veggies and fruits were grown sustainably (momentarily disregarding the uselessness of that term according to Wendell Berry), and that your meat was raised and put down with dignity. You want to eat wholesomely sourced food because it benefits your local economy, and you can feel the difference it makes in your body.

So what happens when the people around you, good friends and nice neighbors, serve you food that you know was not wholesomely sourced? I’m talking CAFOs, synthetic-pesticide drenching, GMOs and modern slavery immigrant worker conditions.

How do you smile and eat that plate of food that you might not even call food at all?

I’ve had to ask myself this question on several occasions, and making these Peach Shortbread Mini-pies brought on similar anxiety. I used commercial white flour and commercial castor and ‘light brown’ sugar in the recipe for the crust and the filling. From the moment I considered making these mini-pies, I knew I’d have to use these ingredients along with all the other local and organic ones I had on hand. I immediately felt the nasty weight of compromise. I was settling, supporting the system, perpetuating the very values I stand against.

I made these mini-pies anyway. And so-help-me-God, they were delicious.

photo (5)Moreover, they made me happy, they made the people I shared them with happy.

Where our food comes from matters, how we prepare it matters, and how we feel when and after we eat also matters. I’m happy I made these mini-pies (special thanks to Laura in the Kitchen for the shortbread crust recipe). Of course, that doesn’t negate the fact that I have no idea where some of the ingredients came from, and that I hate that I don’t know. However, being happy about making and eating these is nothing to feel guilty about.

As much as we may try to not support this broken food system, we still live in it daily. Sometimes, we just have to balance our food choices and habits as much as we can while still asking ourselves these hard questions. And when we can’t make the decisions we would prefer to make, we should at least try to enjoy and be happy about the hopefully delicious outcomes of those uncomfortable decisions.

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Baked French Toast around Kalamazoo for Spring Break

It’s 20140320_223841finally beginning to warm up (compared to 0 degrees) in Kalamazoo, and I’ve been thankful, especially because a friend who I haven’t seen in years came to visit me this past week. She spent a week here, and we lived like kings and paupers when it came to food. Besides the typical reasons for a staycation being enjoyable, food and good company are reason enough for each other.

We visited Fandango and had some of their delicious tapas selections. The Artichoke & Spinach Dip was amazing – not overly cheesy with enough spinach and artichoke so you can try to justify the dish by claiming you’re eating healthily (we did anyway!). Similarly, their Bacon Date Wraps were the most perfectly-balanced, salty and sweet bite-sized delights. I could’ve just kept ordering those all evening and I would’ve been quite happy.

Next we visited The Wine Loft. If you’re not a heavy drinker, but enjoy a good-quality white wine, find a bottle of this Cascinetta Vietti Moscato D’Asti: Sierra Club Political Internship - Summer and Fall

I’m new to the whole wine thing, so my description won’t be exceptional by any means, but that drink was fruity, but not overly sweet, and smooth in all the right ways.

Crow’s Nest provided a well needed salad and soup dinner, and I’m ashamed to say this was my first visit. Their ambiance was very college/ young adult friendly, but still somewhat classy. Brick walls, digital photography, a close kitchen and a simple standard menu. It’s hard to beat that combination.

If you’re looking for some place to dine in Kalamazoo, give any one of these places a try, and take pictures!

From there on out, we were definitely paupers 🙂 . Chinese take out and pizza comprised our meals for the rest of the week. Although maybe it’s not so pauper-ish because the pizza was from South Haven?

In the midst of all of this, I tried Laura Vitale’s Baked French Toast recipe (by the way, she was on The Today Show, I love this lady!) and discovered an excellent, easy and delicious breakfast dish. I love crunchy bits so I ate all the corners (yum!) my friend ate the middle parts, and the streusel topping added a sweet and textured layer that you’d be remiss to leave out. I say that specifically because I was about to be lazy and not add the streusel topping, I’m glad my friend convinced me otherwise. Seriously, that would’ve been a mistake.20140321_094902

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So all in all, I had a great spring break. Delicious food and great company is all I could’ve asked for really.