with food, there’s always something new

Archive for August 2008

Christmas in August

Below is a book review I wrote for Amazon today. If you’ve purchased the book and like it, share your enthusiam by publishing a review on Amazon. It’s crucial that we thank Scott and Christine for their hard work by encouraging others to buy and use their book.

Indiana is rich in agricultural heritage and independent, local farmers dig in their heels against soulless agribusiness. Until the past few years, though, Indiana lacked consumers willing to appreciate and pay for this bounty.

With the publication of Scott’s and Christine’s book, Home Grown Indiana, those of us passionate about local and sustainable food have a reliable resource guide to farms, markets, restaurants and shops with high-quality food produced in our state. Home Grown is a watershed in our awareness of the table of communion all around us.

The book is practical, sensible. Protected by its plastic cover from tomato sauce stains in the kitchen or dust from the glove compartment of the car, the authors divide Indiana into geographic regions. Special stories about those creating local cornucopia teach us to wander away from the megastores and onto the backroads.

The book has an added attraction. I no longer have to worry about what I’m going to buy for Christmas. Everybody’s getting a copy of the book this holiday.


Written by Susan Gillie

August 29, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Posted in cookbooks

Indianapolis Monthly-Open Thread

Bloggers networked at the blogIndiana conference. When people network, they talk. When people talk, they grumble.

What caused the grumbling?

The new Lucas Oil Stadium? Crime in Indy? The price of gasoline? No. Whether bloggers were techies, foodies, politicos or newbies the cover story about chain restaurants in the August issue of Indianapolis Monthly was the sore spot.

So, here’s an open forum for all of you out there to hash out.

  • Chain Reaction? Responsible journalism or flimsy facade to hand out free advertising to Cheesecake Factory and Olive Garden?
  • Hip farmers? Surely you’re not the only one creeped out by farmers as rock stars?
  • Terry Kirts. Nuvoites, we know you want Terry to write about restaurants you like and can afford. Is the glam-mag is keepin him down?
  • The Dish. Sure we love gossip, we all want to be in and know the latest, but does the tone remind you of junior-high school?
  • Overall foodie score for the mag? Good writers who support chefs, local growers and a better food scene or snobs who make you feel bad because you aren’t a plastic surgeon and don’t make enough money?

Have at it, let honesty be your guide but play nice. If you want, post your opinions on your own blog, just link back here. Indy Monthly writers and staffers, feel free to defend yourselves.

And remember, controversy sells magazines.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 26, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Posted in bloggage

Summer Days

Born and raised in Indiana, I’m a native daughter. Still, a few Hooiser genes are missing in my makeup–not into basketball and don’t get tenderloins.

Also, I don’t go to the state fair. This year, though, Nora did the work. For those of you who don’t know her, Nora grew up a “car and a light bulb from being Amish.”

Read her posts and enjoy her photos of this year’s Indiana State Fair.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 26, 2008 at 8:56 pm

Posted in bloggage

Food for Thought

It’s here. It’s finally here.

Last week a package from Amazon arrived at my doorstep with copies of Home Grown Indiana: A Food Lover’s Guide to Good Eating in the Hoosier State.

Friends and admirers joined together last Friday night to celebrate publication of the book with authors Christine Barbour and Scott Hutcheson.

The book is a labor of love, written while the two collaborators juggled “real” jobs,  family and commitment to community life.

The book is a great gift idea. Give to friends, relatives and any and all Hoosier foodies (and non-foodies).


Last weekend, Indy hosted it’s first-ever statewide blogger conference. Held at the new IUPUI Campus Center, bloggers across the state gathered to share and learn. A big shoutout to IUPUI’s School of Infomatics and to Noah Coffey and Shawn Plew for putting the conference together.

I had to work, but attended morning sessions. Thanks to facilitators Chris Hardie, Renee Wilmeth and Bil Browning for their presentations.

And the loot. You wouldn’t believe all the stuff they gave us. A canvas bag, tons of pens (being a pen-zoid, I have to say these pens were A+++) a mint case and stickers.

Thanks all you sponsors.

Blogging is about building community, and one of the people I met is my virtual friend Kirsten. She’s now the proud owner of a set of butter dishes. Nora has a set, and I have a set, so the three of us are The Sisterhood of Butter Dishes.

Trust me, Kirsten, butter dishes change your life in ways you never imagined. I see a cookbook about miniature deserts that fit butter dishes in your future.

Special Thanks to a Special Lady

Last weekend’s activities wouldn’t have the panache or verve without the presence and guiding hand of Renee Wilmeth.

She cohosted the celebration party for Home Grown Indiana. If that weren’t enough, she turned up at blogINDIANA to talk about ethics and participate on a panel discussion about community.

That girl has some energy. I sometimes think to myself, “where does anyone get the money or time to eat out that much?” Who cares? Like 30,000 other unique readers, I click on her blog to find out what she had for dinner the night before.

Sad News

“life itself is full, not only of charm and warmth and comfort but of sorrow and tears.” Laurie Colwin, More Home Cooking.

For all the happiness we’ve experienced, there were tears. Kevin Edwards (co-owner of Snips and Edibles in Irvington) sister Kimberly died in a car accident. Her funeral and burial were last weekend.

Snips is not just a hair salon, it’s a caring community. We wish Kevin prayers and love during his family’s difficult time. 

Written by Susan Gillie

August 22, 2008 at 2:19 am

Posted in bloggage

Goose on a Budget

An easy way to save money and eat well is to shop at Goose the Market.

What, has she lost her mind? That  foodier-than-thou place with all the weird French stuff? Isn’t it expensive?

Goose caters to upscale tastes and clientele, but its owners, Christopher Eley and his wife Mollie, are humble. They created a neighborhood store modeled on those found in European countries.

Chef Christopher explained the philosophy. Buy what you need when you need it and use it all up. The cost of an item might seem higher than the grocery store, but the quality is greater.

In the end, the cost is comparable and sometimes less.

It makes sense. We are blessed with a powerful, efficient food system that produces two times more than we need. We buy cheap, throw out a lot and eat more than we should, resulting in waste, sloth and crummy food.

A shopping trip confirmed their strategy works. Here are a few tips for budget-minded eaters.

Soup and Sandwiches

Although a meat market and food store, The Goose serves ready-to-eat food. Food writers annointed their signature sandwich, the Batali, the best in Indianapolis.

The sandwich costs $6.95 (comparable to sandwiches at Au Bon Pain or Panera, but far more substantial).

Order the Batali, eat half of it with a cup of soup ($4.00) and save the other half for later.


Goose’s herbs range in price from $2-$3 an ounce, while Marsh/O’Malias charge $2.99 for 3/4 ounce ($2.49 on sale). At the grocery store, you have to buy the entire package, use what you need and throw out the rest.

Buying only what I needed, rosemary cost 80 cents, saving me $2.19.


Time Magazine ran a fun article, “Recession Gourmet.”

Celebrity chefs, using the wisdom of centuries of thifty women, shopped and crafted gourmet meals for under $10. They used cheaper cuts of meat, bought fresh produce on sale and in season, and served pasta or grains flavored with small amounts of meat as main dishes.

Two of the six meals featured pasta and panchetta as the entree. Panchetta, an Italian flavor powerhouse, infuses the pasta with meat flavor. Although the per pound price seems expensive ($14.99), four ounces flavors enough pasta to feed four.

Panchetta, once hard to find, is sold at most grocery stores and Trader Joe’s. Panchetta at Goose is comparable in price to competitors, but quality is incomparable. Panchetta sold in grocery stores is pre-sliced and packaged in plastic. Goose slices when you buy it, so its flavor remains intact.

Spaghetti with Panchetta and Chili Flakes


When I moved to Indy, I had a hard time finding flavorful onions. Last week, Goose had red onions grown by local producer, Good Life Farms. More expensive than grocery store onions, they’re packed with flavor.

Carmelized onions are easy to make and tailor-made for freezing. I sliced the onions, chopped up some rosemary and carmelized them in a sliver of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Cooking them at low heat in the crockpot yielded 12 servings for a per cost of 29.5 cents. They were gone within a few days. I used them on zucchini omelets, lentil soup and pasta.

Goose is not bargain shopping in the good ole American sense of double coupons or buy- three-get-one-free, but they sell plenty of good-value products.

By not wasting food, you can save your pennies for one of Goose’s fabulous steaks.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 15, 2008 at 8:07 pm

Posted in lean times


Urbanspoon made a big splash with its iPhone app. “Shake” the phone and up pops a restaurant recommendation. Users describe it as a hybrid 8-Ball/slot machine. 

It’s fun, but mostly useless. I thought about deleting the icon and adding staid, traditional Yelp.

Seems lots of us had the same idea. Urbanspoon updated its app, so we can look up restaurants instead of relying on chance.

101 Cookbooks

When I shopped for iPhone apps, I was surprised there weren’t any for food blogs. Turns out there are and one has been around for more than a year.

Heidi Swanson, graphics designer and cookbook author, is an Apple and iPhone fan. Last year her friend Wayne created an iPhone app and icon for her blog 101 Cookbooks.

As Heidi’s photo shows, the app lets you look at her ten most recent recipes, recipe categories and accesses the full site.

How cool is that?

Some Cheese with this Whine Please

Switching to iPhone was easy, but Catch-22 caught up with me.

Activation and calling were a breeze, but I wasn’t receiving calls or voicemail. Back at the AT&T store on Monday, they explained that it took eight to ten business days before my service would activate. (I’d transferred my land-phone number to my mobile phone, so AT&T had to do “paperwork.”)

Two weeks later and still no incoming calls, I headed back to the store and, after an hour and a half, they connected my phone service.

Now for some whine. Activating the mobile phone disconnected my internet connection. It seems DSL was bundled with the land-phone service, and when you disconnect one, you disconnect both. 

I spent 30 minutes on the phone going through a credit check, only to find out it would be a minimum of one week for AT&T to restore service. It took a week and a half to reconnect and another three days and many calls to tech support to re-register the connection.

In the meantime, I went on an internet diet.

In the mornings, instead of sitting in front of my computer, I sat on my sunny porch and fussed with the herbs. I read a real book (John and Matt Thorne’s Mouth Wide Open) which both confirmed and changed my thinking about food and food writing.

Since my only connection was the iPhone, I learned how to browse using an index-card sized screen.

What I didn’t do was blog.


This weekend, on the IUPUI campus, bloggers will attend the Blog Indiana conference. Whether you’re a blogger, or interested in blogging, or just like to read blogs, I hope you’ll come.

The conference is a whopping bargain, two-days of action-packed panels and information sessions for $49. That’s less than 8 cents a minute! You can’t afford not to go.

Breakfast is provided both days, but lunch is on your own. Hop the Red Bus Line (free and runs every 15 minutes) and eat downtown or on Mass Ave.

Most of the people there will be Crackberry Blackberry users, but I hope to meet some fellow iPhoners.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 14, 2008 at 3:52 am

Posted in bloggage

Keepin’ It Real

Gasoline hit $4 a gallon this summer. The housing market slumped. Congress is crafting a mortgage bailout. Employers are shedding payroll. Face it, we’re in a recession. One that isn’t going to lift until late next year, if we’re lucky.

We’re not worried about our jobs, we’re not worried about losing the house or the car. After all, it’s just money. As a friend said about this latest financial pickle, “nobody’s died, the kids didn’t get divorced.”

Spend it, save it, earn it again, we can’t take it with us.

When worry hits, though, we fret about food. No matter how much quantity or variety of food we have, anxiety makes the belly rumble. Primoridal fear takes over. Even though  our modern food system is cheap, fast, efficient and provides each and every man, woman and child in our country with 3,900 calories a day, the rise in food costs makes us fear we’re going to starve.

Rational thinking be damned.

So I’m here to help. Today I’m starting a blog series, Lean Times, to help. For the next few weeks, I’ll  provide simple tips on how to eat well and nourish the senses and the body during these less than desirable times.

Written by Susan Gillie

August 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in lean times

Oh, Beans

Beans are a culinary wunderkind. Though celebrity chefs pay scant attention to beans, they’re a double doozy, three-fer: protein, vegetable and fiber. They’re low in calories, high in nutrition, and if prepared properly, a taste sensation.

Beans are a bargain. They’re cheap, easy to fix and readily available. You can pick up a can of Libby’s Orgainic Black Beans at Marsh/O’Malias on sale for $1 (regular price is $1.39). Cost is less than 29 cents a serving.

As economical as canned beans are, there’s a less expensive, better tasting, more nutritious alternative–dried beans. On the same grocery aisle as canned beans, you’ll find bags of Hurst Brand Black Beans. A one-pound bag costs $1.39, serves 13, for a per serving cost of 10.7 cents.

Although canned beans are nutritious, they’re high in sodium (250mg per serving) compared to less than 5mg per serving of dried beans. There’s the added advantage of not having to recycle cans when you use dried beans.

Everyone knows dried beans are cheaper, better tasting and better for the environment, but no one cooks them. It’s too hard and you have no guarantee they’ll turn out well.

Dried beans aren’t much work when you cook them in a crockpot. Clean and rinse, put them in the crockpot with 2.5 cups of water for every cup of beans. Set heat on low and cook overnight while your sleeping. In the morning, turn off the crockpot, let them cool and store in the refrigerator. When you get home from work, portion them into zippered freezer bags, label and freeze. Simple.

The other problem is hard beans. According to Harold McGee, “This may have been caused by growing conditions on the farm, or storage conditions after harvest.”

There are two kinds of hard bean problems: “hard-seed” and “hard-to-cook.” “Hard seed” beans have outer seed coats that are water resistant. They’re smaller and shivelled and you can easily spot them when you cleaning the beans. “Hard-to-cook” beans look normal, but were damaged during storage. Once you cook your beans, you can pick these out before serving.

Black beans are versatile. You can make soups, salads, casseroles and even brownies. My favorite new recipe is over on Kirsten’s website.

It’s Jamaican (esque) Rice and Beans.

Kirsten uses her rice-and-beans as a side dish to tofu. I took her recipe, doubled it, added some egg ribbons and made it the entree, with roasted zucchini and a simple salad as side dishes.

Nutrition Facts-Black Beans

Serving Size  ½ cup (350 g)
Calories  120
Total Fat




Total Cholesterol



7 g

Total Carbohydrate




Dietary Fiber





250g/10% canned beans

5g/0% dried beans

Written by Susan Gillie

August 12, 2008 at 2:28 pm

Posted in lean times


Written by Susan Gillie

August 2, 2008 at 1:04 am

Posted in Uncategorized


It’s official.

We all know economic stagnation is forcing us to forsake the restaurant habit. Kraft reports growth in the second quarter, a sure sign we’re eating at home.

Is it fascism, racial profiling or just the death of common sense? The Los Angeles City Council issued a moratorium on fast food joints in “poor” neighborhoods. Seems the whole country is fat, but affluent surbanites are only 14.3% obsese compared to urban Hispanic and Afro-American populations which are 29% obese. So no more Popeye’s.

The day is soon upon us when restaurant employees will refuse to serve customers apple pie because they’re too fat. You’ll order a pizza, and after they ask for your zip code, they’ll say “no pepperoni for you, blubberbutt. According to our database, your BMI is waaaaaay off the charts.”

What’s happening to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness?

As a friend of mine says, “I have as much right to be a fool as anybody else.”

Written by Susan Gillie

August 1, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Posted in bloggage