with food, there’s always something new

Archive for January 2008

Welcome to indieats

Some of you know me, some of you don’t.

Since November, 2005, I’ve made my living as a line cook. I trained with Chef Sam Brown at Second Helpings. Last year, at the proding of Ruth Holladay, I started writing the Unfood Food Column for Indyrats.

To my surprise, I like writing and people are interested in what I have to say. As much as I like writing, though, I like cooking even better. So I’ve decided to put the two talents together and start this blog.

indieats is a food blog for independent eaters. I live in Indianapolis, so much of it is about Indy, Indiana and the surrounding states of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky.

Buying and cooking local is an important movement which I support, but I wanted to expand the concept to independent eating. It’s looking at food as joy and pleasure while providing sustenance and nutrition.

This blog is my gift to you, independent readers and eaters. I love lively conversation and debate, so register and comment. Feel free to email me at susan@

You’ll notice the “independent” links on the sidebar. So much has happened on the indie food scene in the past few years. Great restaurants, high quality shops and stores, independent grocers and producers. I wanted a central, easy-to-use resource for you.

I’ll be posting at least three times a week, about a wide range of topics–recipes, food stories and some serious news about agriculture. I’ve learned so much over the past year–Indy and Indiana has a rich culinary history in danger of disappearing. I’m researching those stories right now and will soon share them with you.

You’ll notice I write about dieting, obesity and weight loss. I was never thin, but for years was normal, then overweight, obese and finally teetered on the brink of morbid obesity. I fought my way back to normal, and I did it by ignoring the food police. Weight Watchers Made Me Fat is a light-hearted post about my experience, but there’s nothing funny about being obese. I hope what I’ve learned helps others and I’m here to lend support.

Thank all of you who’ve read my posts and encouraged me while we built this blog. A special thanks to Andrew Holladay. Without Andrew, I wouldn’t have my own domain. Andrew registered indieats, worked out the email bugs, uploaded dozens of WordPress themes and found the pictre for the indieats banner.

Have a good time reading posts, clicking on links and registering.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 31, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized



Last Friday, SuperValu announced they’re pulling out of the natural foods market. Sunflower Market in Broad Ripple is closing. Local media covered it and blogs gave finer nuance to what it means and what it says about Indy’s support of whole and natural foods.

I thought about the people losing their jobs.

It’s never easy being out of work. Filing unemployment, writing a resume, interviewing, a full-time job without the pay. Right now, the economy is shaky, none of us knows what’s gong to happen. We’re all fearful.

Sunflower was a ray of sunshine. Maybe the prices weren’t as low as promised, the selection mediocre, and for my taste, way too many convenience foods. But it had a funky, neighborly feel and staff were friendly and helpful.

Hard as it is to lose a job, it’s even harder when you’re part of something new. You have high hopes and commitment to the purpose and vision. When it fails, you fail.

My condolences to workers and the management team of Sunflower Market–in Broad Ripple and other locations in Illinois and Ohio.

For now, I’d like to make an offer. Anyone reading this blog who has a job or jobs available in the grocery or food service sector, I’ll be glad to post it on this blog. Any Sunflower Market employee who needs help preparing a resume or wants job coaching, contact me at susan@

Written by Susan Gillie

January 30, 2008 at 3:46 am

Posted in bloggage

Informational Cascade


Nora Ephron is back.

She never left, of course, she shifted from mistress of magzine essay to screen writer. In the last few years, she’s returned to the fold and entertained us in the New Yorker and O.

Now Nora Ephron is blogging.

She’s a woman of my own heart. In her post on omelets she has this to say:

protein is good for you, carbohydrates are bad, and fat is highly overrated as a dangerous substance.

She talks about informational cascade, a phenomenon described in the New York Times as a truism taken as fact until someone debunks it. Ephron says:

doctors are not deliberately misinforming their patients; instead, they’re participants in something known as an informational cascade, which turns out to be a fabulous expression for something that everyone thinks must be true because so many reputable people say it is. In this case, of course, it’s not an informational cascade but a misinformational cascade, and as a result, way too many people I know have been brainwashed into thinking that whole-egg omelettes are bad for you.

My favorite informational cascade? Oatmeal, soymilk, upteen glasses of skim milk? They’re fair game, but no, my favorite is “drink eight glasses of water a day.”

I’ve known for years this is nonsense. It ruins your appetite and bladder. You don’t need to be a chemist to figure out there’s lots of water in fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs. Besides, it’s not a normal way to live, keeping track of how much water you drink in a day. People have been on this earth for a long time and only in the last two generations did this water thing get out of control.

People in the desert, riding camels, do you ever see them with bottled water slung under their arms? No, they stop and get a glup when they’re parched.

Now, medical researchers on our own IUPUI campus debunk this old wives tale.  I stand vindicated. Doctors Aaron Carroll and Rachel Vreeman published their findings in the December, 2007 issue of British Medical Journal.

“The first belief they explored — people should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This advice has been promoted as healthful as well as a useful dieting or weight control strategy.

“When we examined this belief, we found that there is no medical evidence to suggest that you need that much water,” said Dr. Vreeman. She thinks this myth can be traced back to a 1945 recommendation from the Nutrition Council that a person consume the equivalent of 8 glasses (64 ounces) of fluid a day. But an important part of the Council’s recommendation has been lost over the years — the large amount of fluid contained in food, especially fruits and vegetables, as well as in the coffee and soda people drink each day should be included in the recommended 64- ounce total. Drinking excess water can be dangerous, resulting in water intoxication and even death, the study authors note.”

So there, quit drinking all that bottled water. Save your pennies and spend them on fresh tarragon, mortadella or cipolini onions at The Goose Market.

Food as pleasure, not virtue, makes you a happier person.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 28, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Posted in food is health

sewer harpy

Food blogs came of age last year, and with growing power and influence, came controversy. Chefs and restaurateurs feared the fact that anyone can say anything about their restaurants

I view blogging as an important tool, discounting blowhards who blast restaurants behind the cloak of anonymity. This week, though, I read a disturbing post that made me uncomfortable.

I was clicking around, looking for bloggage, landing on an Indianapolis Star restaurant review. This is what the reviewer said:

Pretentious and overpriced.
this restaurant has as much chance of surviving as Brittney Spears does of not doing something completely mental ever again.
Dressed in a suit, and with 2 very attractive and impeccably dressed clients, we were greeted at the door by a twentysomething host who was compirable with the Maitre’D in “Ferris Buellers Day Off”. After looking at us like we were dressed like the 3 most horribly dressed homeless people he had ever seen, he asked if we had a reservation. We thought he was joking and we actually laughed, because the place had been open an hour and was EMPTY. He then literally rolled his eyes at the fact that we had the audacity to not have a reservation and suggested rather curtly that “…we may want to make one next time…” We’ll make sure to do that next time…Wouldn’t want to have any of the crickets in there waiting for a table..

The food, albeit unique, and tasty, was so ridiculously overpriced it was borderline laughable, unless you would like a $12.00 eggplant panini.

Definitely not worth eating here…It’s not even worth the “Well we tried it” experience…Especially when you have to literally pass YATS to get here.

Craig Claiborne set the bar for restaurant reviews. Reviewers visit multiple times, eat across the menu. Standards of journalism used for other stories are used in reviews.

The Star’s “review” meets none of Claiborne’s criteria. It meets no professional standards because it wasn’t written by a journalist. Instead, it’s a rant by a Cheeto-eating coward hiding behind a handle.

I don’t mind rants or mean people. I admit, I like slumming on Chowhound and reading nasty comments. On the boards, though, you know your reading opinion. From the MSM, you expect objectivity, especially when the headline says THE REVIEW.

We’re aghast at racial slurs the Star allows readers to post on TalkBack. A badly written, grammatically incorrect screed about food pales in comparison, but to the chef/owner and to the employees who work at this restaurant, it has damaging impact.

We don’t know who wrote it (possibly a competitor?) or what qualifications, training, experience allows him or her to judge this restaurant. I’m not a student of popular culture, but hell, even I know you spell Britney with one t.

Entrepreneurship is rare in Indy, especially in the restaurant business, and putting the stamp of MSM credibility to these comments is unfair.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 24, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Posted in bloggage


Beware the tri-bean salad. Two venerable indie restaurants are closing, Fletcher’s of Atlanta and Glass Chimney (wait, there’s hope, braingirl says Fletcher’s may reopen).

Workers at a meat plant in Delphi contracted a brain disease similar to one found in workers in Minnesota. Nuovo food writer, Jennifer Litz, reviews Petit Choux chocolate-inspired creations.

Local dietiticians, Annessa Chumbley and Ruthanne Hilbrich, started Flourish to help bariatric patients navigate the food scene.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 24, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Posted in bloggage

Magical Thinking

Originally published in


As a working cook, I prepare food in front of customers. Cooks hate the open concept, but I love it. Customers give instant feedback, making me better at what I do. Right now, I work the grill station noon to 7:30 at night. That means burgers and fries. Monday everybody’s back to work. It’s obvious they all made the same New Year’s resolution.

They ordered the grilled chicken sandwich.  

Normally customers don’t order this sandwich and for good reason. It’s awful. The breast is a mass-produced, skinless, boneless, soulless piece of meat the consistency of composite sawdust. The box says “up to 15% of a Solution.” Food alchemists concocted sodium potions to give this synthetic poultry taste. Each breast is at least 5oz., almost one third of a normal adult’s weekly allowance of animal meat. 

My customers are trying to eat “Heart Healthy,” buying into magical thinking that boneless, skinless chicken or turkey is good for them.  

Here’s the kicker, they ordered it with cheese. Over half of them had french fries. 

The problem is calories count. Do the math: chicken breast and bun 493 calories, slice of cheese 94, fries 509, for a total of 1,096 calories. A hamburger, with lots of veggies (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles), without cheese and fries is 446 calories.  American cheese isn’t even cheese. It’s “a cheese by-product made from a combination of natural cheese, vegetable-based gums, dyes, emulsifiers, and stabilizers. (Steven Jenkins,  Cheese Primer).  

French fries, nothing more than deep-fried, cancer bombs. Ragging on french fries is like kicking puppies. don’t give them up, just save them for special occasions. Order fries at Peppy’s–they make them with real potatoes. Or live large and eat pomme frites with aioli at Brugge’s or Taste Café. 

Surviving the lunch crowd, I prepped for dinner. I’m allowed a certain amount of freedom to improvise so I make a sandwich special every night. Monday’s was Salad Sandwich, inspired by Hank Stuever’s Washington Post article, The List: What’s In and Out for 2008.

Panini out/Banh Mi in. 

Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich traditionally made with chicken, scrambled eggs, shredded pork, grilled pork or pork meatballs. The meat’s layered on a Vietnamese style baguette, with pickled carrots, radishes, chili peppers, cilantro and then topped with a Vietnnamese-like mayonnaise.  

You can see a street vendor making Banh Mi at Making Banh Mi Thit @ Cho Ben Thanh Market   (No refrigeration, no hand washing station, I don’t care what Anthony Bourdain thinks, ouch!) 

My version strays from the original, but I’m trying to entice vegetable-challenged Hoosiers to eat delicious food and dump the pound packers.    

Ginger’s Salad Sandwich 

  • 6 oz baguette or Hoagie bun
  • olive oil
  • 2 oz grilled or roasted chicken, sliced paper thin
  • a handful of spring mix
  • 4 cucumber slices
  • small handful of grated carrots
  • 2-3 springs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic/mustard vinaigrette

 Lightly toast inside of bun with olive oil. Layer chicken on bun, then spring mix, cucumbers, carrots and fresh cilantro.Drizzle sandwich with balsamic/ mustard vinaigrette. 

Balsamic/Mustard Vinaigrette 

  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Maille mustard
  • 1 cup canola oil

 In a food processor, blend balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, honey and mustard. Blend for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add canola oil. Refrigerate vinaigrette, it lasts for up to one week.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Posted in food is health

Scott Hutcheson’s Resolution Muffins

Originally published on

Scott Hutcheson (The Hungry Hoosier), like the rest of us, made food-related New Year’s resolutions. Continuing his 2007 resolution to eat more slow food and less fast food, he’s come up with a great recipe for an egg muffin. 

I’m not a breakfast eater. As I’ve said, oats are for livestock (am I the only one creeped by the fact that Purina makes breakfast and pet food?). When I read Scott’s recipe, I tried it right away. And, oh, those muffins are so good and so easy. They’re clouds of billowy eggs. 

You can find Scott’s recipe on his website The Hungry Hoosier.

Try making these muffins. With Scott’s recipe, you can vary ingredients to whatever’s in your frig. You don’t need three kinds of herbs, chipotle or whatever exotic ingredient is popular. Portions are controlled, and if you have children, you can make these in smaller muffin cups. 

Just make sure you have good eggs.  

Since my New Year’s resolution is to cut down on meat consumption, I made a variation of Resolution Muffins.  

Asparagus Muffins

  • Olive oil
  • 12 Asparagus tips
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half
  • salt
  • pepper
  • grated nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a six-serving muffin pan with cooking spray and place the pan on a baking sheet. Mix the eggs, salt, pepper and half-and-half in a bowl. 

Saute asparagus tips in olive oil. Place two tips in each of the muffin cups. Grate about 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese into each muffin cup. Pour egg mixture over the asparagus and cheese. Stir with a spoon to mix ingredients. Top with grated nutmeg. 

Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wired rack.  Muffins can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or put each one in a freezer bag and freeze. If frozen, thaw and microwave for 30 seconds. 

Scott’s writing, radio and television programs contribute to the dynamic Indy food scene. He’s starting a Hungry Hoosier column for Indianapolis Monthly featuring local farmers and producers. He and Christine Barbour, another great Indiana food writer, wrote a book which will be published this Spring. 

If you haven’t read Scott’s writings or heard him on radio or seen him on TV, make it a resolution to do so.

Written by Susan Gillie

January 7, 2008 at 4:44 am

Posted in food is health