My future as a Forbes contributor remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I’m about to give birth — to a book. The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook will be out in the world on September 14, and I’ll be buzzing it up this fall in DC, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco, Seattle — and a few other spots, still be to be confirmed. For updates on where to find my content — and me, when I”m on the road — stop by kimodonnel.com, which is cute but will be even cuter and snazzier in just a few short weeks.
The House version of the Child Nutrition Act has moved one step further on its legislative journey. After two days of markup and amendments, the House Education and Labor Committee has passed the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act (H.R. 5504) by a vote of 32-13. Republican support came from House members Michael Castle (DE) Vernon Ehlers (MI) and Todd Platts (PA).
Spearheaded by committee chair George Miller (D-CA), the $8 billion legislation authorizes, among other things, increased access to free meals, improved nutrition and food safety standards and oversight of food sold in vending machines.
The next step: Getting the bill heard on the full House floor. Advocates hope it will be scheduled before Congress breaks for summer recess (Aug. 9-Sept. 12). In a press statement, First Lady Michelle Obama lauded the committee’s efforts, but is calling for continued movement on an issue that is near and dear to her: “I urge both the House and Senate to take their child nutrition bills to the floor and pass them without delay. The President looks forward to signing a final bill this year, so that we can make significant progress in improving the nutrition and health of children across our nation.”
Introduced by committee chair George Miller (D-CA) on June 10, the bill would authorize $8 billion in new funding over 10 years for child-nutrition programs, including the ailing National School Lunch Program. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, has been scheduled for full committee markup (debate and amendments) for next Wednesday, July 14. Although likely to be voted on at the committee level, the question remains: Will H.R. 5504 make it to the House floor for a vote before Congress goes on summer vacation (August 9-Sept. 12)?
Meanwhile, the Senate version, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S. 3307), has passed out of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry committee, and awaits scheduling for a full Senate vote.
Stay tuned for updates.
For more background on child nutrition happenings on Capitol Hill, check out my School Food Cheat Sheet on Culinate.
Still, anything over 80 degrees means it’s time for iced coffee — and not just brewed coffee with a coupla ice cube floaters that results in brown crayon water, but a gutsy cold caffeinated brew that takes the edge off of a summer scorcher.
For the first time this season (I told ya — a few days ago, we were still wearing our woolies), I’ve whipped up a batch of cold brew coffee, which essentially is a concentrate, dark, viscous and a little slice of heaven. Here’s how it works:
Place a half-pound of ground coffee (automatic drip-style) into a mixing bowl and pour 5 cups of cold water over the coffee, stir and allow the mixture to steep, at least 6 hours.
Strain and pour resulting concentrate into a jar or covered pitcher and keep refrigerated. You’ll end up with at least 3 cups of concentrate.
To make a cold-brew beverage, start with 1/4 cup of concentrate in a 12-ounce glass. Add 1 cup water or add ice cubes, or if you’re hard core like yours truly, simply add milk and taste along the way until desired java flavor, adding more concentrate as you see fit.
Sugar? Up to you, but the long steeping process results in a sweet, almost chocolate-y richness that makes sugar seem superfluous.
It’s the eve of America’s love fest with fire, flags and frankfurters. Before we get this red-white-and-blue jamboree started, let’s inhale some pre-barbecue air and fasten our food safety seat belts.
The pointers that follow may seem ridiculously obvious, but they bear repeating; in the heat of the charcoaled moment, some of the smartest people I know start doing stupid stuff like this guy:
So, before you don those beer googles, do put on that thinking cap and wear it all weekend if you can, particularly if food and the great outdoors are involved. A handful of my tried-and-true tips for safe outdoor feasting:
1. Keep cold things cold and hot things hot. The “danger zone” for food-borne bacteria is 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. At home, keep those salads and sides cold until serving; while out at the park or beach, keep the cold stuff in a cooler and return to the cooler when not using. Stuff that sits out on the picnic table is an open invitation for bacteria to party like it’s 1999.
2. Clean that grill grate. I mean, give it a really good scrub with a wire brush and get rid of stuck-on bits of food and carbon build-up. A clean grill is a happy grill — more efficient, less moody.
3. Charcoal grillers, do me, your neighbors and the ozone layer a favor: Give up the lighter fluid, once and for all, and let go of those petroleum distillates. Instead, buy a chimney starter to fire up those coals. Think of it as a new toy rather than a flame buzzkill. It’ll set you back about $15 and will last a whole lot longer than a 64-ounce squeeze bottle of the liquid starter.
4. If you don’t already own one (and you should, doggone it), treat yourself to an instant-read thermometer to know when your meat has arrived at a safely cooked temperature. Pork, beef and lamb can be cooked to varying degrees, depending on preference.
Keep in mind these temperature checkpoints: Medium rare is 125 or so; medium is 135ish and well-done is 160 degrees. I’m aware that some of this doneness advice conflicts with the earlier mentioned ‘danger zone’ warning, but I’m also not going to discourage you from a medium-rare steak if that’s what rocks your world. Commonsense is key here. Chicken, however, must be cooked thoroughly, to a ballpark of 160-165 degrees.
If meat is your thing, may I put in a word for sourcing those chops, burgers and steaks locally from a butcher or a farmer — a person you can have a conversation with about how the animal was raised and processed, rather than at no-name meat counter or frozen aisle of products from an industrial feedlot from any number of locations around the world.
5. Drink plenty of water and alcohol in moderation. And if you’re drinking the hard stuff, designate a driver. The car will be there the morning after, and we’d like you to be, too.