Yorkshire Pudding

by Anne Maxfield on December 24, 2018

Accidental Locavore Yorkshire Pudding PerfectAt my house, if there wasn’t a Yorkshire pudding Christmas dinner was a bust. My mother always used a well-worn copy of The Joy of Cooking for hers and it worked no matter how many glasses of champagne had been downed.

I’ve been in charge for the past couple of years, and haven’t had the Joy to refer to, so I’ve been using this recipe that I’ve adapted from Serious Eats. It’s worked out just fine.

  • 4 large eggs (200g; 7 ounces)
  • 150g all-purpose flour (5.25 ounces; about 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons)
  • 175g whole milk (6 ounces; 3/4 cup) (see note)
  • 25g water (.85 ounces; 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 100ml beef drippings, lard, shortening, or vegetable oil (about 1/2 cup)

Combine eggs, flour, milk, water, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Let batter rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, for best results, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate batter overnight or for up to 3 days. Remove from refrigerator while you preheat the oven.

Accidental Locavore Yorkshire Pudding BatterAdjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 450°. Divide drippings (or other fat) evenly between two 8-inch cast iron or oven-safe non-stick skillets. Preheat in the oven until the fat is smoking hot, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the pans or tins to a heat-proof surface (such as an aluminum baking sheet on your stovetop) and divide the batter evenly between the two pans (they should be filled about 1/4 of the way). Immediately return to oven. Bake until the Yorkshire puddings have just about quadrupled in volume, are deep brown all over, crisp to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped. Skillet-sized ones will take around 25 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Yorkshire PuddingMy verdict: Pretty spectacular! The secret is to make the batter ahead of time and chill it at least overnight. Besides making the puddings essentially fool-proof, it’s one less thing to do while you’re opening gifts and preparing a big meal.

If I’m home and have my scale, I use the weights, but if not, use a measuring cup. I use 1 cup of 2% milk instead of the whole milk water mix.

Cast iron skillets work great for this so use them if you have them.





Expiration Dates: Best if Used By, Use By

by Anne Maxfield on February 27, 2017

One of my friends told the Accidental Locavore that the best day of her life was the day they put expiration dates on milk.

Seems her mother was an early believer in no food waste and would keep everything until it was gone.

Gone in all senses of the word.

But what does “03/06/17” on the top of my milk carton mean?

Best by, use by, sell by, discard by, or it will kill you by?

No idea.

It seems that the date is generally considered to be the “sell by” date and if you’re in Texas, like my friend, it actually says that.


How long is it going to be drinkable?

About 5 days, but it depends.

According to the Dairy Council of California, one of the ways to make it last is to: “Drive straight home from the grocery store”.


Eggs have an expiration date on the side of the box.

Hidden in plain sight.

There may or may not be an expiration date, but there’s always what’s known as a Julian date.

A Julian date is a number from 001 to 365. It represents the day the egg was packed.

My box says 351 or December 7th. 

If I’m doing the math right (not accounting for the fact that 2016 was a leap year).

And the eggs should stay fresh in the fridge for 4-5 weeks after the Julian date.


On my eggs, the printed expiration date was 8 weeks after the Julian date.

Like the sell by date on milk the Julian date seems concrete–it’s the date the eggs were packed.

But, how long between the time the eggs were laid until they were washed and packed?

You can usually count on that being less than a week.

So, in a country where every ingredient is listed and warning signs abound, why do we have such vague freshness labeling?

Last week, a voluntary agreement was reached to reduce ten generally used phrases to just two: “best if used by” and “use by.”

This is supposed to lessen the confusion.


Here’s what it means: “best if used by” is for products that might not taste or function as well beyond the specified date, but were nonetheless safe to consume.

Use by” is for the handful of products that are highly perishable and could pose a health hazard if kept too long.

Got it?

When something is going to go bad, why can’t they have something more specific? “You’ll be sorry on ____”.

Remember, most expiration dates are sell-by dates for convenience of the supermarkets, and not a drop-dead date for you.

In the meantime, (since it may take up to a year for them to reset the type), just rely on your nose and try not to buy more that you’re going to use before it goes bad.








Do You Eat Vegan? Why I Can’t

by Anne Maxfield on March 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore PETA Vegan MagRecently, my mother gave me a copy of the Peta Vegan Starter Kit, a magazine to get you started on a vegan diet. Now, the Accidental Locavore loves cheese and meat, so the chances of me going vegan are slim to none. It’s a free country and if you choose to eat vegan, that’s your choice (like supporting certain loud-mouth politicians), but don’t expect me to.

Accidental Locavore PETA Vegan ChickenMy biggest problem with it, and something that is conveniently overlooked, is the reliance on processed foods. By page 3, Peta is promoting faux chicken and beef, along with vegan margarine (when was the last time anyone even used margarine?). It reminded me of one of the most shocking episodes of the Oprah show I ever saw.

She had convinced her staff to go vegan for a week. To illustrate the point, Kathy Freston, an author of vegan cookbooks, went to a staffer’s house, cleared out everything non-vegan and went shopping at Whole Foods with the staffer. There they piled a shopping cart full of food, but the cart wasn’t full of vegetables and fruit. Instead, Kathy eagerly pointed out the tofu Italian sausages, tapioca mozzarella, fishless fish sticks, etc. It looked like every single thing in the cart was processed food.

Accidental Locavore Vegan PhotosWhy would you give up simple food—meat, fish, vegetables to eat a “Cheerful Log” Vegan Ham Loaf with a list of ingredients that includes: Vegan chunk (non-GMO) soy protein, soy fiber, wheat protein), non-GMO sunflower oil, tapioca starch, vegetable protein (sweet pea, carrot) , vegan seasoning (licorice, kelp) red yeast, sugar, trehalose*, soy sauce (non GMO) sea salt?

At least the soy is non-GMO, although since the Cheerful Log is made in Taiwan, you might be skeptical about that claim. Although tofu is considered to be good for you, 94% of soy beans in the US are GMO, so not as good for you as we might believe.

Accidental Locavore Vegan IdeasAnd being vegan takes a lot of time. A lot of time. It’s hard to find truly vegan food and then, if you care, probably harder to find food that tastes good. While I have had a couple of dishes where tempe and tofu star, for every one of those, I’ve endured glop that resembles chipboard (probably vegan) more than a Black Angus burger. What about you, could you do it?Accidental Locavore Noshis Burger

*also known as mycose or tremalose, is a natural alpha-linked disaccharide formed by an α,α-1,1-glucoside bond between two α-glucose units. Whatever that means.



The Dark Side…of Urban Chicken Keeping

by Anne Maxfield on March 24, 2014

Accidental Locavore Hen HouseIn certain hip, locavore, foodie parts of the country (Brooklyn, Berkeley, Cambridge, etc.) the trend recently has been to raise your own chickens. While the Accidental Locavore has thought (briefly) about it, and admired the beautiful exotic chickens at Brykill Farms, you have to eat an awful lot of eggs to make it worthwhile. And from what I know from people that have them, it’s more work than just letting the birds run around the yard looking good and eating bugs.

Accidental Locavore Beautiful EggsBut that hasn’t stopped a lot of people from becoming urban chicken farmers, creating new niche-marketing opportunities, along with some unforeseen causalities.  You can buy decorator chicken coops (fixed or movable), or if you have commitment issues you can rent chickens complete with coops and give them back when the weather turns nasty. If you’ve overdone it, or are extremely competitive, you can get your coop on the annual coop tour in places like Austin, Texas.

Accidental Locavore Chicken VestsOnce you’ve got the birds and the coop, how about outfitting them? You can dress your bird with frocks, diapers or what seems to be an urban no-brainer – a reflective vest in your choice of colors. There are magazines, even a “Dummies” guide devoted to raising urban birds and when you tire of that, you can read “Chick -lit” to your brood. But what happens when our metropolitan farmers have too much on their plates?

Accidental Locavore Brykill ChickensReady for this? According to CBS San Francisco, in the Bay Area Animal Care and Control has a new and growing problem on their hands – homeless chickens. Turns out that rather than serve them up for dinner, when people have had enough of their chickens, they just kick them to the curb and let them fend for themselves (you’re picturing them begging on street corners, right?). Not to worry, there are rooster rescue groups along with opportunities to build housing for homeless chickens. Habitat for Hens anyone?


The photo of the safety vests is from their website, with thanks.