Harvest Desk

The Salt
4:10 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Luck Be A Lentil Tonight! What The World Eats To Welcome The New Year

"Lechon," or roasted pig, is often served at Philippine festivities, especially during Christmas and New Year's celebrations.
Noel Celis AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 4:46 pm

Many cultures greet the new year with a feast that symbolically sets the table for the year ahead. As they sit down to traditional dishes, people often try to metaphorically eat their hopes and goals for the coming year.

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Around the Nation
3:26 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

In Sacramento, Fighting Hunger Requires More Than Charity

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 5:48 pm

One in seven households in the U.S. won't have enough to eat sometime in the coming year, according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Even someone with a good job and steady income could quickly become a person who relies on food banks to make ends meet.

This story came to us from Capital Public Radio's documentary series, The View From Here.

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The Salt
2:13 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

If You're Toasting To Health, Reach For Beer, Not (Sparkling) Wine

Scientists say beer has more nutrients and vitamins than wine or spirits. "There's a reason people call it liquid bread," says researcher Charlie Bamforth.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 7:51 am

What's the healthiest libation for ringing in the New Year?

Beer, says Charlie Bamforth, a professor of brewing sciences at the University of California, Davis. Though it's been blamed for many a paunch, it's more nutritious than most other alcoholic drinks, Bamforth says.

"There's a reason people call it liquid bread," he says.

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The Salt
12:45 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Food Psychology: How To Trick Your Palate Into A Tastier Meal

Environmental cues — like the color, size and shape of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room — can alter how we experience food and drink. For example, research suggests that serving food on a red plate tends to reduce the amount diners eat.
Ariel Zambelich NPR

What makes the perfect meal?

Most of us might envision a specific dish, or a certain ingredient — a fine steak cooked medium-rare, grandma's chicken curry or mom's hearty ratatouille.

Charles Spence thinks about the food, for sure. But he also thinks about everything else: the color and size of the dinnerware, the music playing in the background and the lighting in the dining room.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Wed December 31, 2014

Potent Powdered Caffeine Raises Safety Worries

One teaspoon of pure caffeine powder delivers about the same jolt as 25 cups of coffee.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 6:32 am

Wade Sweatt thought he had found a healthier way to get himself going in the morning. Instead of getting his daily jolt of caffeine from a cup of coffee or a Coke, Sweatt decided last summer to try mixing some powdered caffeine he'd bought via the Internet with some water or milk.

"Wade was very health-conscious, a very healthy person," says Sweatt's father, James. "His idea was, this was healthier than getting all the sugar and the sodium and ... artificial sweeteners from drinking Coca-Colas and diet Cokes."

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The Salt
3:49 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Beyond Free Lunch: Schools Open Food Pantries For Hungry Families

Erica Johnson prays before her meal. She volunteers at the food pantry at John Still school where three of her four children are students. She eats alone after she feeds her kids.
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 8:33 pm

John Still K-8 School, home of the Tigers, serves Meadowview, a picturesque name for a Sacramento, Calif., neighborhood blanketed in concrete and bare of trees.

There are 970 students on John Still's campus, and every one of them qualifies for the free and reduced meal program, which provides breakfast, lunch and a supper snack.

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The Salt
3:01 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Hangover Helper: Tips To Prevent A Horrible Headache

Seeing double after toasting? Just wait for the hangover that's coming, thanks in part to those bubbles in sparkling wine.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 5:45 pm

The first time I ever got tipsy was during a champagne toast at a cousin's wedding reception.

All was good, until the room started spinning — and the sight of my cousin's bride dancing in her wedding dress was just a whirl of lace.

Of course, if you're an uninitiated teenager, any amount of alcohol can go straight to your head. But, decades later, bubbly wine still seems to hit me faster than, say, beer. It turns out there's a reason.

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

How California's New Rules Are Scrambling The Egg Industry

These "enriched cages" from the JS West farm in Atwater, Calif., in 2011 comply with the state's new law. They are larger and allow chickens to perch and lay eggs in enclosed spaces.
Jill Benson AP

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 11:34 am

Within just a few days, on Jan. 1, all eggs sold in California will have to come from chickens that live in more spacious quarters — almost twice as spacious, in fact, as the cages that have been the industry standard.

It's been a shock to the egg industry, and to grocery stores. Eggs are one of those staples that self-respecting grocery retailers absolutely, positively have to keep in stock. "You have to have bread, milk, lettuce. You have to have eggs," says Ronald Fong, the president and CEO of the California Grocers Association.

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The Salt
4:03 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

As Bourbon Booms, Demand For Barrels Is Overflowing

Kelvin Cooperage, owned by brothers Kevin and Paul McLaughlin, is making white oak barrels for the newly-rising craft distillers. Here, oak scraps are burned inside the finished barrels to char them.
Noah Adams NPR

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 5:35 pm

If you could make a lot of bourbon whiskey these days, you could be distilling real profits. Bourbon sales in this country are up 36 percent in the past five years.

But you'd need new wooden barrels for aging your new pristine product. Simple white oak barrels, charred on the inside to increase flavor and add color, are becoming more precious than the bourbon.

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The Salt
2:16 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Not Just A Man's Drink: Ladies Lead The Whiskey Renaissance

Women at a whiskey tasting at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences on May 3, 2012, in Miami Beach, Fla.
Aaron Davidson Getty Images for W South Beach Hotel & Residences

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 9:17 am

What do Lady Gaga and Rihanna have in common with Founding Father George Washington? Whiskey.

Yes, our first commander in chief distilled the popular spirit. And these pop icons are helping to fuel a new female-driven whiskey renaissance.

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Television
4:42 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

If You've Ever Looked For Faces In Your Potato Chips, Thank Myrtle Young

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 5:02 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Food
8:40 am
Sun December 28, 2014

A Cuppa Matcha With Your Crickets? On The Menu In 2015

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 2:06 pm

It's time to set the table for 2015. What will be the next kale? Has the cupcake breathed its last?

We're headed for high times. As states legalize marijuana, cannabis comestibles are coming. Pot brownies — so 1960s — are joined by marijuana mac 'n' cheese and pot pesto. There's a new cooking show called Bong Appetit.

Another crushed leaf is this year's superdrink. Matcha is made from green tea and promises a calmer energy boost than Red Bull. The Japanese have been drinking it for centuries.

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Author Interviews
6:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Jamie Oliver, Up To His Elbows In Mashed Potatoes With 'Comfort Food'

David Loftus

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 1:46 pm

Jamie Oliver is a food superstar — he has produced and presented hugely popular TV programs on cooking, notably The Naked Chef and more recently Jamie's Food Revolution. He has written more than a dozen cookbooks, many to accompany the TV shows. He has written about English food, Italian food, fast food, American food and school food, and has campaigned for a healthier diet for kids, built around introducing children to a wider range of things to eat — including the dreaded vegetables.

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The Salt
11:13 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

AirAsia Plane Missing After Takeoff From Indonesia

Relatives of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other Sunday at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Trisnadi AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 1:48 pm

Updated at 1:00 p.m. ET

Search operations have been suspended for the night for an AirAsia plane with 162 aboard that lost contact with air traffic control after takeoff from Indonesia on a flight to Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority reports.

The plane, en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, lost contact about an hour before it was due to arrive in Singapore. It was scheduled to land at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday), Hadi Mustofa, an official with the Indonesian air ministry, said on Indonesia's MetroTV.

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Food
3:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

In The Nation's Capital, A Signature Soup Stays On The Menu

Copyright 2014 WAMU-FM. To see more, visit http://wamu.org.

The Salt
5:33 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

This copper engraving from approximately 1700 depicts the condition of the English prisoners at the hands of the Dutch. In the 1660s, Cornell University's Eric Tagliacozzo says, the conflict and competition for the spice trade came to a head. "The Dutch decapitated a number of English merchants who were also in the Spice Islands trying to profit from the trade."
WikiCommons

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:07 pm

Ah, nutmeg! Whether it's sprinkled on eggnog, baked into spice cake or blended into a latte, this pungent spice can evoke memories of holidays past.

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The Salt
3:18 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

What Would Jesus Drink? A Class Exploring Ancient Wines Asks

An illustration depicts Jesus Christ transforming water into wine during the wedding at Cana (John 2:7).
Joseph Martin Kronheim Kean Collection/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 12:16 am

Inside the Boston Wine School, Jonathon Alsop places empty glasses and plates of figs and cheese before a small group of students. Alsop, who founded the school in 2000, is doing a test run of a new class that poses the question: What would Jesus drink?

"This is ... a cheese that Jesus might have eaten," he tells students. "It's called Egyptian Roumy — it was a cheese that was introduced to the Egyptians by the Romans. It's a sheep's milk cheese."

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The Salt
3:18 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

Why Bury Fig Trees? A Curious Tradition Preserves A Taste Of Italy

Michele Vaccaro buries a fig tree in the yard of Mary Menniti in Sewickley, Pa.
Hal Klein for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 6:42 pm

On a gray, chilly December morning in Sewickley, Pa., Michele Vaccaro and his assistant are digging a trench in a garden.

"It looks like we're burying somebody over here — a body," Vaccaro says.

Cast your old Godfather stereotypes aside, because this Calabrian immigrant is carrying on a much more wholesome tradition: He's burying a 12-foot fig tree.

"It's been done for years. Probably [since] the 1800s," he says, when Italians coming to America first started bringing fig trees over from the old country. "They would put them always in the ground."

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Found Recipes
3:18 pm
Thu December 25, 2014

After The Presents, A Buttery Tea Cake Tradition

Susan Tannewitz-Karnes grew up eating Mrs. Lawrence every Christmas. The tea cake was so beloved that Tannewitz-Karnes and her siblings would argue over who received more than their fair share.
Courtesy of Susan Tannewitz-Karnes

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 11:13 am

When listener Susan Tannewitz-Karnes was a child in Johnson City, Tenn., Christmas wasn't Christmas without an English tea cake baked by their neighbor, Mrs. Lawrence.

She would deliver it about a week before Christmas. "We would come home from school and my mother would just say, 'Mrs. Lawrence came by! We have Mrs. Lawrence!' And we'd say, 'Oh, yes! Yes!' We couldn't wait."

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The Salt
2:27 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Inside The Indiana Megadairy Making Coca-Cola's New Milk

Cows rotate in the milking parlor at Fair Oaks Farms, a large-scale dairy and tourist attraction, near Rensselaer, Ind.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 10:47 am

Coca-Cola got a lot of attention in November when it announced that it was going into the milk business. Not just any milk, mind you: nutritious, reformulated supermilk.

It also invited ridicule. "It's like they got Frankenstein to lactate," scoffed Stephen Colbert on his show. "If this product doesn't work out, they can always re-introduce Milk Classic."

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The Salt
2:24 am
Thu December 25, 2014

A Punch Line In The U.S., Christmas Fruitcake Is Big In Calcutta

At Calcutta's famous New Market, vendors do brisk business in fruitcake as Christmas approaches.
Sandip Roy for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 25, 2014 6:00 am

Denzil Saldanha is over 80 but far from retired.

He takes orders on the phone, surrounded by workers, newspapers spread out in front of them, cutting slices of fruitcake with thick almond icing.

The family-run Saldanha Bakery and Confectionery is making 600,000 pounds of cake this Christmas. Denzil's daughter Debra Saldanha, who gave up banking to join the family business, says customers appreciate that it's all made to order.

"They get the smell of hot cake coming out of the oven and literally wafting in the air," she says.

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The Salt
5:33 am
Wed December 24, 2014

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

Pepperpot, a traditional Guyanese Christmas dish, is basically a stew of aromatics and tough meat parts like shanks, trotters and tails that benefit from a long cooking.
Courtesy of Cynthia Nelson Photography

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 9:00 am

There are some Christmas foods you make far in advance that just get better and better with age and anticipation. Like British fruitcakes that age into their boozy ripeness, and German gingerbread cookies called lebkuchen that get softer and spicier as they mature.

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The Salt
1:28 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Record Number Of Britons Are Using Food Banks

At the We Care food bank in Southeast London, customers pay 1 pound sterling, or about $1.60, for 10 items. The token payment is meant to ease customers' discomfort about having to use the food bank's services.
Ari Shapiro NPR

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 5:26 pm

The United Kingdom is struggling with a situation that may sound familiar to Americans. The economy is expanding, unemployment is dropping, yet growing numbers of people don't have enough food to eat.

Six months ago, Peter Brogan was among those Britons going hungry. He'd lived a comfortable middle-class existence for the first 50 years of his life, with a house, a job and a relationship. Then the relationship fell apart, and so did his life. Between alcoholism and depression, he couldn't keep his head above water.

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The Salt
10:58 am
Tue December 23, 2014

For Australian Christmas, Everything's Overturned But The Pudding

Australian Christmas today is characterized by gastronomic eclecticism. Many of us have abandoned the old British customs — except for the rich and alcoholic Christmas pudding.
Edward Shaw iStockphoto

Americans know Australia as the land Down Under, and one consequence of this geographical flip is that Christmas here falls at the height of summer.

Our 100-degree temperatures aren't exactly conducive to cooking with a hot oven — although early colonists gave it their best shot.

But it wasn't long before Australians began to rebel, ditching the formal dining room for the pleasures of a picnic spread at the beach or a shady glade. Over the years, many of us have abandoned the old British customs altogether.

Except for Christmas pudding.

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The Salt
10:17 am
Tue December 23, 2014

Farm Fresh? Natural? Eggs Not Always What They're Cracked Up To Be

Cage-free eggs for sale in 2008 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Joel Kramer/Flickr

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 2:49 pm

You're in the supermarket gathering ingredients for eggnog and a Christmas Bundt cake, and you're staring at a wall of egg cartons. They're plastered with terms that all sound pretty wonderful: All-Natural, Cage-Free, Free-Range, Farm Fresh, Organic, No Hormones, Omega-3. And so on.

And yet the longer you stare at them, the more confused you become. You are tired and hungry, so you just grab the cheapest one — or the one with the most adorable chicken illustration — and head for the checkout line.

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The Salt
5:21 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Sandwich Monday: The 'Shroom Burger From Shake Shack

Mouth's eye view of the 'Shroom Burger.
NPR

If you haven't heard of Shake Shack, it's a hip, growing national chain where Americans go to stand in long lines. Also, it serves food.

We tried the 'Shroom Burger, a breaded and deep-fried cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom patty in a bun. It's topped with lettuce, tomato and the chain's special sauce.

Peter: In order to get the mushrooms stuffed with cheese, they plant the spores in a block of Velveeta.

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Found Recipes
3:44 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Yule Have To Try This Gingerbread Buche De Noel

Cookbook author Dorie Greenspan says she makes a "Franco-American" buche de Noel with American flavoring and French technique.
Alan Richardson Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 4:50 pm

Sweets this time of year take on all kinds of whimsical shapes: cookies cut into stars, stockings and gingerbread men, candy canes, peanut butter balls ... or logs covered in frosting.

Yes, really — logs.

Not real logs, of course — these are holiday cakes, rolled and frosted to look like a yule log and known as buche de Noel. Sometimes the cakes are dotted with little meringue mushrooms or edible holly leaves. While the cake may not be on every American's baking list, cookbook author Dorie Greenspan says it's iconic in Europe.

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The Salt
1:25 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

In Slovakia, Christmas Dinner Starts In The Bathtub

Ivan Babej AP

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 7:06 am

For centuries, families throughout much of central Europe have relied on one simple main course for Christmas Eve dinner: the common carp.

But getting from river (or carp farm) to table is not so simple. As the tradition goes, the Christmas carp must first swim in the family bathtub for at least a day or two before being killed, cleaned and prepared.

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The Salt
2:45 am
Mon December 22, 2014

Nuns On The Ranch Give A Heavenly Twist To Beef

Sister Elizabeth feeds Yoda, a water buffalo calf at the ranch. The nuns bought the buffalo to make mozzarella.
Sonja Salzburg for Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 2:17 pm

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

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The Salt
8:40 am
Sun December 21, 2014

A History Lesson On The Philippines, Stuffed In A Christmas Chicken

The rellenong manok at La Cocina de Tita Moning, a restaurant in Manila. Chef Suzette Montinola uses a traditional recipe from the 1930s that belonged to her grandmother.
Aurora Almendral for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 12:41 pm

Noche buena, the Christmas Eve feast in fervently Catholic Philippines, is deeply steeped in tradition. One of the mainstays of this decadent meal, usually eaten after midnight mass, is rellenong manok (rel-ye-nong ma-nok). It's a hybrid name: In Spanish, relleno means stuffed, and in Tagalog, manok means chicken.

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