Times Top 5: Michelle Obama Wants Healthy Food for AllFrom The New York Times Dining Section 03.11.09

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

It’s easy for the Obamas to eat fresh vegetables at home; they have a White House chef catering to their every whim. But Michelle Obama is tackling healthy eating as part of her agenda, and she’s pushing for access to fresh food in even the poorest communities. Read all about it, plus a new direction for popular California pinot noir and a simple roast chicken, in today’s Times roundup.

1. First Lady supports healthy eating, also indulges in a Coke. We’re happy to read that Michelle Obama is a big advocate for community gardens (a great way to get fresh produce into poorer neighborhoods) and also nixes sugary juice boxes for her daughters. But she’s not above some french fries and a regular Coke every once in a while, either. Isn’t politics always about compromise?

2. Roast chicken, hold the roasting pan. Melissa Clark follows a friend’s advice to roast a chicken on a bed of stale bread, making the whole process simpler and giving you an instant side dish in the pan. It sounds like the way the famous Zuni Cafe roast chickens are served, over a big bread salad.

3. California Pinot Noirs lighten up. Pinot Noir became trendy and expensive after Sideways. Now, some California producers are making lighter, less fruity wines. As one says, “It got to the point where I didn’t want the wine to be fatter than the food.”

4. Vegetarian mushroom and daikon soup. An easy, not-too-heavy, Asian soup that sounds perfect for these late days of winter.

5. Maple syrup for $160 a gallon? The past two years have been poor for maple syrup harvesting, which means prices are sky high and everyone is hoping for a big 2009 (this year’s harvest just started). And get this: In New York, we tap less than one-half of 1 percent of the maple trees in the state. Senator Schumer has introduced legislation that would give small companies access to some of the trees.

There’s lots more in today’s Times, including mashed potatoes with dandelion greens from Bittman and an interesting article about Chinese cashew chicken in Missouri. What are you reading?

Last Week’s Top 5: Cheap Steak and Foolproof Fish

(Image: Jim Young for Reuters)