Mark Bittman

A Few Random Things for Sunday

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1.) Last week at work I spent almost an entire day on orientation computer modules. The more fire safety education I do, the more random information my brain retains about the nature of fire. This particular time, I was most struck by all the different Classes of Fire. Why is this not a Buzzfeed personality quiz yet? I’m totally a D (combustible metal). Or maybe a C (electrical)?

2.) The other night, whilst assembling furniture and drinking bourbon, I found myself thinking of a favorite quote from Gloria Steinem, on women becoming the men we wanted to marry. Not that all men—or only men—assemble furniture and drink brown liquor, but in some settings that are not my apartment, this Friday night home-improvement might garner a raised eyebrow. When I told my mother about it the next day, she laughed and said, “I love that, becoming the men we wanted to marry—someone has to do it.” Seriously.

Another old photo I couldn't part with
Another old photo I couldn’t part with

3.) The cleaning jag continues. In an effort to free up space on my computer, I trashed a bunch of old photos and music files. Like that EP from that awful guy in that awful band circa 2006 or 7? Why was that even still there? Please don’t ask me which awful guy or which awful band…

4.) This book. If you just got engaged or just a signed a lease with your boyfriend/girlfriend, you probably shouldn’t read it unless you’re prepared for some deep thoughts to wake up your morning commute, but if you’re game for a little positive reinforcement about enjoying and appreciating your independence, you’ll enjoy it. Love the NYPL for making e-books so easy to borrow. 

5.) Elaborate Valentines Day dishes? Meh. Who needs to wait until February 14th to make this chocolate soufflé? I love how sane Mark Bittman’s recipes are. I also can’t believe this one is from 5 years ago. Of course, 5 years ago I was shacked up with someone who hated eggs so much he felt compelled to make gagging sounds when I fried one up for myself, which explains why it wasn’t on my radar. Live and learn.

So…which class of fire are you? What was the last book you read? Do you like chocolate soufflés? 


Tofu Mushroom Miso Soup

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IMG_4573I’ve been using miso paste in cooking for the past 5 years or so—I think it was Mark Bittman who converted me when I started reading his books and column and getting a sense of what a well-stocked pantry really meant.

The guide he provides in Food Matters was definitely a game-changer for me, as I’d lived off instant oatmeal and canned soup in college, and now found myself sharing a kitchen with a fake-meat vegetarian who gave me a lot of crap (and lectures) for not feeling satisfied by Boca burgers and veggie hot dogs wrapped in pre-sliced bread. I felt miserable and undernourished, so coming across Bittman’s  flexitarian, “Vegan Before 6″ style was a breath of fresh air. I loved his approach to following a plant-based diet with small amounts of high-quality animal protein with an eye toward sustainability. It seemed so…sane. Vegetarian or not, I’ve always found his real-food recipes uncomplicated and adaptable, and yet somehow even the simplest feel like a step up from the everyday, even when consumed in front of a laptop on a weekday afternoon.

Miso paste, one of those key pantry items, makes a wonderful base for soups, sauces, and salad dressings. You can even use it in marinades and in foods like seitan or meatfloaf. Made from fermented soy, rice, and/or barley, it provides that “umami” flavor. Here are some other great ideas for how to use miso paste from the folks at Whole Foods (been loving their blogs lately).

Yesterday after hot yoga, I had a really strong craving for miso soup. Though I could have just gotten takeout from a local Japanese place, I had what I needed to make it at home, so I did. This recipe is far from authentic, but it makes a perfectly restorative brothy lunch for a cold winter day.


  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 c miso paste (I used a mix of red and white—you can use whatever)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (you can use silken if preferred)
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • a few handfuls kale, baby spinach or other greens
  • 1 cup langostino tails, thawed from frozen (optional, but I was use some up)


  1. In a large stock pot, bring water to a boil. Add miso paste and whisk until broth forms. Add ginger and green onions.
  2. After 2 or 3 minutes, add tofu and mushrooms. Lower heat. Cover and cook ~10 minutes.
  3. Add greens and langostino tails. Cook another 10 minutes.

Serve hot. This will make about 4 large bowls of soup. Feel free to add noodles or rice in cooking if you want something heartier—I would have, but that would have meant a trip to the store, during which I would have spent another $40 on things I suddenly really, really needed.

Do you like miso soup? Do you cook with miso paste at home? 

Pics & Links

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First things first:

Owls > Gargoyles


cappuccinoYesterday I went to a few interesting seminars. When the first one turned out to be canceled, I was directed to a social media primer that turned out to be really helpful. I spent my coffee break brainstorming over a cappuccino at a cafe I would totally work at all the time if I lived nearby.

The second seminar actually turned out to be a wine-tasting class without the class part. It was just a bunch of tables with wines from different regions of the world. It was fun to try some new things and talk to the people pouring about the wines and where they came from. There was even a Riesling from Australia that I didn’t hate-most are too sweet for me the way that certain astrological signs are too overbearing sweet for me. My favorites were a Spanish red and this French red I actually finished almost the whole pour of (I’m one of those people who pours my wine into the bucket after a couple sips at tastings). wine tasting

Lately, I’ve been loving Sad Desk Lunch. You thought your lunch was bad? Check out this tumblr.

I want an excuse to make this cake. Vegan, fuss-free, and beautiful to look at. It also looks somewhat idiot proof. Maybe I’ll serve it at my hypothetical cocktail for my hypothetical new drinking friends.

Mark Bittman articulately addresses the question, “Should you eat chicken?” 

I kind of wish I was at FNCE this year, but maybe next year. Had to save my conference $$$/days for something I want to go to this winter. Besides, it’s been a nice week in NYC. No complaints.

What’s been the best part of your weekend? What’s your favorite cake recipe? Do you eat chicken? 

Vegetarian Infogram

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I may be an omnivore, but I still believe most of us are best off when we eat primarily plant-based foods, with small amounts of animal sources of protein if appropriate. It’s kinder to our bodies and to the planet—not to mention the other animals that live here! If you’ve been with me awhile, then you know I like to practice what I preach.

The folks at Everyday Health recently sent me this infogram on vegetarianism. Note that even following a “semi-vegetarian” diet reduce your risk of serious health conditions. Flexitarianism, anyone? If that sounds like your bag, you might dig Mark Bittman’s VB6 approach too!

What are your thoughts on plant-based diets? Any favorite meatless recipes? 

Mark Bittman on Making Peace with Meat

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I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen the term “flexitarian” around. I have to admit, I’ve always been a fan. It’s a good way to sum up a sane style of eating.

A little of the good stuff goes a long way
A little of the good stuff goes a long way

Our reasons for choosing whether are not to consume meat are personal and variable. Though some of us may choose to be vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or whatever-my-boyfriend-wants-me-to-be-atarian, it’s important for people to understand that you don’t have to be one extreme or the other. You can find your own balance. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you have to eschew a vegan meal, same as just because you prefer not to eat meat doesn’t mean you have to forgo bacon every now and then if it’s the one thing you crave like crazy.

In this piece, author Mark Bittman (I  can’t wait to read his newest, VB6), makes a compelling case for eating small (if more expensive) amounts of quality meat raised by reputable farmers as opposed to taking an all-or-nothing approach. He also shares some delicious recipes!

How would you describe your style of eating? 

Mark Bittman’s Dream Food Label

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In this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Review, Mark Bittman shared what his ideal food label would look like.

Under this system, packaged foods would bear a color-coded bar with a numerical score on the front, allowing the consumer to tell right away if the product’s overall rating falls between 11 and 15 (green), 6 and 10 (yellow) or 0 and 5 (red).There would also be a box to indicate whether there are any GMOs. The three factors the ratings would be based upon would be “Nutrition,” “Foodness” (how close it is to real food), and “Welfare” (related to “the treatment of workers, animals and the earth”).

I think I like it.

You can read more about Bittman’s dream label and the though process behind it here.

What do you think of this label idea? What would your dream food label have on it? 

Do You Need Milk?

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Working in a hospital has made me so thankful I don’t have any lactose issues. This sounds nerdy, but every time I enjoy some yogurt or a smoothie made with cow’s milk, I feel grateful. I meet people every day who have to be really careful.

In this week’s New York Times Sunday Review section, there was an opinion piece by Mark Bittman on the fact that, although milk is touted as an important, healthy food, millions of people are unable to digest it properly.

Bittman details some of the conditions that may be aggravated by consumption of dairy and shares his own  experience giving up up milk products to see if his chronic heartburn went away. Surprise, surprise—it worked.

As with most of his work, I found this piece to be engaging and thought-provoking. However, I did cringe a little when Bittman declared, “Osteoporosis? You don’t need milk, or large amounts of calcium, for bone integrity. ” I’m not saying I disagree per se—it’s true, there is a good amount of research supporting the notion that other factors like vitamin D and exercise habits have a big impact on bone health. There are even some established links between high intake of dairy products and certain cancers and other ailments. All the same, I just felt, like, “Dude, that’s a big statement to make when you don’t have any health credentials.”

That said, somehing I like about Mark Bittman is the lengths to which he goes to support his views, and I think he did that in this article. It just seemed a bold statement to make. Granted, it was an opinion piece, and I do think it’s an opinion that needs to be thrown out there against the “Got Milk” powers that be. Drinking milk or eating dairy products doesn’t work for everyone, and though the government has expanded its nutrition guidelines to provide some example of ways in which those who can’t or don’t consume dairy can meet their needs, more resources are definitely needed.

I’ll also say that I agree with Bittman on another point: water is totally nature’s perfect beverage.

Haha how about an “eat your kale” campaign? It’s one of many plant-based sources of calcium (I wrote a piece about this a couple years ago), among other good-for-you nutrients.

What do you think about milk? Do you drink it? Why or why not? How would you  try to get folks to eat more kale?