Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Micom 3-Cup Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer


I have a new favorite appliance. Don't tell the Vita-Mix but we use this rice cooker (Zojirushi NS-VGC05 Micom 3-Cup Electric Rice Cooker and Warmer) nearly every day. It takes a bit longer than making rice on the stovetop but it cooks an assortment of rice to the perfect texture and leaves a burner free on the stove; a major concern for us. Not only does it make perfect rice, it keeps it warm for hours without sacrificing texture at all.

I know that space is a concern for a lot of people, but it is actually quite small; it comfortably sits against the wall on our countertop which is a space we rarely utilized any way.

The 3 cup size (3 "rice" cups, not 3 American cups) is perfect for a couple or small family. There are settings for mixed rice, sushi rice, rinse free rice, porridge and even cake! You can even make rice with vegetables or small bits of meat in it. There is a very clear instruction book with recipes and diagrams that make using it a breeze. It plays "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as an alert, how cute is that?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vita-Mix Review


I was recently lucky enough to be contacted by the VitaMix company asking if I would like to try out their new VitaMix 5200. Of course, I was thrilled. After getting it, I was even more impressed. It is not only a blender that gets things super smooth (check out Hannah's homemade rice milk and nutella!) but it due to friction it can actually make hot soup! In less than 7 minutes! On the other hand, you can also make ice cream in it using frozen ingredients and it forms ice cream without any extra freezing. We've made some great juice (from whole, peeled citrus), chopped vegetables and just today I made 7 cups of mustard in it in about 1 minute. I can't wait to make homemade nut butters in it. You can make homemade tanini in it, it is that powerful!
You just can't ask for a better, harder working appliance. It is truly amazing.
But wait, there is more...it cleans itself! You just add water and a bit of soap and pulse until it is clean.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New West Knifeworks


If you have a cook on your holiday list you must get them this knife! I have the Santoku with the stone handle and I love it. It is super sharp-so sharp I feel like I should only use it under direct adult supervision-and can cut through a giant winter squash like it was butter. It also chops vegetables and fish beautifully. I made coleslaw with paper thin slices of cabbage using this knife and it was actually much easier, finer and more attractive using than using a grater or mandolin. Seriously, this knife changed my life. It is a bit on the pricy side but well worth it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Customized M&Ms



This year I had some customized M&Ms in holiday colors made just for fun. They feature my face, "Food Maven" and "Happy Holidays". They are really too cute and everyone I've given them to gets the biggest kick out of them. I think my mom has given them to everyone she knows! I am sort of tempted to make cookies out of them-they would be a fun gift to give to family members. I also think these personalized M&Ms would be perfect for a wedding or bridal shower or even a special birthday. They are distinctive and can be made in several color combinations and you can get pictures and/or phrases put on them. Plus there are a variety of packaging options so you have them all packaged and ready to go as gifts or party favors when they arrive so you don't have to do anything! It isn't too late to place a Christmas/Hanukkah order, just order by Dec. 18th.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

This Just In...

Hansen's Mandarin Lime is really yummy. And clear.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parkside Restaurant

I really can't express how disappointed I am in the Parkside. We were so excited when it opened within walking distance of our house but a couple of visits made it pretty apparent that it was not going to be a regular spot for us. The first time I went for lunch I got a dry, uninspired sandwich. Both the turkey and the bread was dried out and the olive spread was bitter. However, it was the first week they served lunch so I gave them a pass. Then tonight we went to dinner and I realized that it was just part of a larger issue.


I ordered the gumbo (which the menu warned had no okra) and received a bowl of soft rice in a thin broth with bits of shredded chicken and tiny wedges of sausage. I thought there was onions but not sure if there were peppers or celery, which is troubling in a gumbo. I had never seen gumbo served all stirred together like that. Normally it is a mixture of seafood, meat and some vegetables served over rice, not a thin soup.

After just a few mushy bites I bit into something hard. Really hard, it felt like a rock and clanked against my teeth. When I told the waitress, a second waitress (because I couldn't find our waitress at first) and then the manager, they all seemed completely unconcerned. The second waitress said she thought it must be a part of the sausage, but I have to say, I have never once found a rock in sausage before. The manager, when finally summonded, didn't even bother to apologize, just asking if I had saved the rock (I had daintily spit it out into a spoon and returned the whole mess to the "gumbo") and took it away. Our waitress finally did take it off the bill but still...rocks in mediocre soup? No concern from the staff? Not what I would expect from a new local business trying to stay afloat. It wasn't as if I was being rude or demanding, I just quietly pointed out what happened and the manager didn't even bother to make eye contact with me.

Matt didn't fare much better-his "Tuscan chicken" open-faced sandwich could be charitably described as a homemade french bread pizza (think chicken and peppers with lots of red sauce and covered in cheese served on thick, tasteless bread) and was served with an "antipasto" salad which contained what appeared to be long, flat Asian noodles and a creamy sauce. The sauce on the sandwich tasted like it came from the jar and the the 3 mushrooms we were told about were missing. Matt said the sandwich reminded him of something he would have made as a hungry teenager with leftovers from the fridge.

The food was amateurish at best, the staff apathetic and the menu is rather overpriced for what you get. I just didn't get the impression that the chef or the staff was very interested in or familiar with food which, for a restaurant, is pretty shocking. Perhaps the Parkside should refocus what they want to be a kiddy destination? a bar? a sandwich shop? a bakery? a market? a full service restaurant? because it is pretty clear they can't handle doing it all. I think what I was most surprised about was not the appalling food but their total lack of interest or care in their customers.


I love to support local businesses and I love our neighborhood but it is just not good. If you go there, I would recommend just sticking to drinks or the risotto cake which was bland, but not bad.


We are going to be taking all of our business to the delightful Hamilton Tavern where the food, staff and drink have all been top notch no matter when we've been there.

Parkside - Fine Food and Spirits on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola


I am really not a cold cereal or granola person but even I enjoy this granola from Cascadian Farms. It has my favorite nut (almonds) and dark chocolate so it is not too sweet. Perfect for a morning on the go. I also am toying with the idea of using it in cookies or something, it is just that good. They also make some pretzel-peanut granola bars that Matt has been enjoying. All of their products are organic and available at most grocery stores.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bertolli Oven Baked Meals


As people who know me know, the last 6 weeks or so have been rough as my beloved Grandfather has been in grave health. I haven't been cooking as much as normal. It is strange for me as I make 99% of what we eat from scratch. Lately I have relied a bit on the perfectly respectable Bertolli frozen meals for two. My favorites are the ones that you bake. They seem slightly saltier than homemade but they that bake up well and the pasta isn't soggy or sauceless. They are super easy and quick to make and as close to homemade as I've found in frozen entrees.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenny-O Oven Ready Turkey


Yesterday I tried the Jenny-O Oven ready turkey. It was with some trepidation but it really was much better than expected. For $70 (online, in store it is more like $30) you get a turkey in a specially designed bag that lets you roast a fully frozen turkey safely and as quickly as a fresh or defrosted turkey. In 3 hours we had a fully cooked 11-13 lb turkey. I have no idea how this works, but it does!

Pros:
Very quick and easy to make
The meat fell off the bone-not a lot of carving needed
Tasty meat
Crispy skin
Doesn't need to be defrosted

Cons:
A little pricy
Not quite as tasty or crispy as homemade (but still quite flavorful, especially the dark meat)
Can't be stuffed (but you can collect the pan drippings from the bag for gravy)


All in all, I don't think I'd be buying one on a regular basis because I roast a great turkey but the meat was tasty, it was very easy and we have lots of yummy leftovers I look forward to using up. I think it would be perfect for novice cooks, very busy cooks or those who have a hard time making a tasty, juicy turkey. And the "how to" video on the Jenny-O site is pretty funny.

Thanksgiving Blend by Starbucks Coffee




I recently tried Starbucks' Thanksgiving blend and it was pretty tasty and went with both sweet and savory foods, perfect for the holidays.

From the site: "Lush herbal accents of full-bodied Sumatra beans with the subtle spice and cocoa notes of Guatemalan beans from the famed coffee-growing region of Antigua."

I think it would make a great Thanksgiving hostess gift for a Starbucks lover.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Candy


So, what are you giving out to trick or treaters tonight? Assuming you are handing out candy. We don't get many trick or treaters, we have an enclosed porch that I think makes it difficult to tell that we are home and there are just a handful of kids in the neighborhood. So I bought a small bag of ghost Dots (my mom's favorite so I can always give any leftovers to her) and we have some other candies we give out in a pinch.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Picking up apples at the Farmers Market

Rachel Rappaport
Coconut & Lime
http://www.coconutandlime.com

Sent from my BlackBerry®

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Food Blogger Group

I just started a community on Ning for food bloggers. If you are interested, sign up here and meet other food bloggers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Its what's for dinner

Rachel Rappaport
Coconut & Lime
http://www.coconutandlime.com

Sent from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Starbucks Oatmeal

You know what is cheap, tasty and filling? Starbucks' new oatmeal. From their site: Perfect Oatmeal is 100% whole-grain goodness finished with your choice of dried fruit, nut medley or brown sugar. Since I work from home, I rarely get out for breakfast but I happened by and was impressed. Sure it is probably cheaper and certianly easy to make oatmeal at home but finding a quick, healthy breakfast on the good is tricky.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Because a knife isn't good enough

Rachel Rappaport
Coconut & Lime
http://www.coconutandlime.com

Sent from my BlackBerry®

Monday, October 06, 2008

Attman's

Rachel Rappaport
Coconut & Lime
http://www.coconutandlime.com

Sent from my BlackBerry®

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tic Tac Chill



I've been really into these mints lately. Even though they are sugar free* (made with Xylitol) they aren't fake tasting and have a cooling feeling on your tongue. They are a little bigger than regular Tic Tacs which is fun, I don't have the urge to eat 2 or 3 at a time like I do with regular Tic Tacs. I also like the packaging, you can slide the panel open or open the traditional window on the top. I was worried the panel would slide open by itself if it was jostled in my purse but that hasn't been an issue so far.











*I wish it wasn't so hard to find mints or gum with real sugar. The calorie difference would be negligible and most fake sweeteners give me headaches.

Monday, September 29, 2008

National Coffee Day Contest

Today is National Coffee Day and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf wants to help celebrate by giving away a $5 dollar gift card to one of my reader! Leave a comment here with the name of your favorite coffee drink and your e-mail address and I will randomly pick one winner tomorrow AM.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Popcorn

Okay, so I finally sorted out the whole popcorn salt issue and now my hot air popper won't pop corn. Ugh. Anyone have a favorite hot air popper? While I know I can pop the corn on the stove, I really prefer air popped so I can drizzle it with butter. So, anyone have a popper that they love?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blogher DC

Just a reminder to the locals that Blogher DC is coming up on October 13th. I will talking as part of a panel discussion on using social media. You can check out the agenda here. If you want to come, I suggest registering as soon as possible, I've heard there are only about 40 tickets left. Since it is just a one day event it is only $100 which includes a cocktail reception and access to the panels.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taping over!

So hungry. Martha is going to shot an extra segement for the hot dog show next week.


And we are getting HP wireless printers

want to watch

Martha comes on at 11 AM in NYC and Baltimore if you want to tune in. Not too late.

Political bloggers

Talking about Palin. Blah. Martha called her Sharon Palin instead of Sarah. John McCain doesn't email or use the computer.

Eddie Ross

Cute segement about making vintage-y crafts. Not really sure who Eddie Ross is..on Top Design?? No cable so I am out of the loop.

Matt Bites

Up now, he looks so cute! I love his look--more tv friendly than Perez's striped shirt.

Perez Hilton

Wearing really shiny narrow pants. He looks better in person.

Books & Cuteover Load

Getting a cute calender from Cute Overload. Marthas talking about some book about taking pictures in the AM. We are getting a copy of that too--A year of mornings.

Live twitting too...check it out.

...

Martha gave some Martha bloggers a camera. Where's mine?? :)

Martha

is out now, talking about blogging. Martha came out taking our pictures.

I am sitting in the middle of the main row all the way in the last row, in a bright aqua sweater, typing on a Dell.

Martha

So many people are here live blogging. Tons of food bloggers and wedding bloggers. Wondering how to give a standing ovation to Martha while holding a laptop.

And they keep hinting we will get a good gift bag--what will it be??


And staying over to film part of a hot dog episode.


Martha plays a lot of rap music! Lil Jon!

Live at Martha

Getting warmed up in the audience! The set is huge! I see the Cupcake Takes the Cake bloggers and Jess from Tattooed Mama & All things Cupcake!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tune in tomorrow

Just a quick note that I be liveblogging here at Food Maven and livetwittering tomorrow at 10 AM from the all-blogger audience of the Martha show. It will be live so tune in if you can! They also show clips from the show online the next day. Click here for details about the show.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Spain, Culinary Road Trip



I posted about Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow's road trip back when they were filming their show but now the book chronicling their adventures from Spain...On The Road Again is coming out. Check it out here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I love: Filé


I wonder if it has any other uses beyond gumbo? I really enjoy filé powder (I use Zatararin's, which is pretty easy to find and because in New Orleans they jazz it up)because I also really love sassafras. I really enjoy adding this mix to my club soda and dream of making sassafras ice cream one day. There are a lot of sassafras trees in the woods near the place we call "down the shore", really a cabin on Bird River, that I have fond memories of picking the mitten shaped leaves and smelling them.

I have a can of filé powder to give away to the first person to comment on this post with their email address.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live at breakfast

About 5 seconds ago at Ocean City. I love vacation!


Rachel Rappaport
Coconut & Lime
http://www.coconutandlime.com

Sent from my BlackBerry®

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Organic Booze



Veev is a new açaí berry liquor which is so tasty you should run out and get some right now. Not sweet but fruity it is great in cocktails or in a little club soda. A dollar from every bottle sale is contributed to the Sambazon Sustainable Açaí Project, which works to ensure that the harvesting of açaí does not harm the environment.



And I am sure the people of Veev will disapprove (their slogan is "the end of vodka") also very good is Prairie vodka (also organic) that is smooth and tasty. Some of the best vodka I've had.

Need another reason for choosing organic? No hangovers.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Vignette Wine Country Soda


I recently had the good fortune to try Vignette. It is a soda that is made with the juice of California varietal wine grapes. You can pick between a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rosé . It is non-alcoholic and has no added sugars or HFCS. I really like them because they are not too sweet and don't taste like straight up grape juice. It is a very grown up, sublte soda. Right now they are only available in a few select locations but I think they would be great as an offering for designated drivers (or kids) at a wine tasting.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Review: Freda's Kitchen

sandwich from freda's kitchen

I am not quite sure why the Baltimore Sun's Elizabeth Large says Freda's Kitchen is a New York style deli because many of the hallmarks of a New York style deli were missing: no knishes, no matzo ball soup, no latkes; none of the usual Jewish-style sides common at even non-Jewish New York delis. Not to mention that they seemed stunned that we would want only mustard on our corned beef on rye. They did have a limited variety of deli meats, hot dogs and some salads so perhaps that is what Ms. Large was focusing on.

The corned beef was indeed tasty and fresh and the sandwich (even after a car ride home wrapped in foil) was not soggy but it was also on the small side. My sandwich (which, though not teeny, was unevenly filled--the corned beef was lumped in the middle and didn't make anywhere near the corners of the bread) was almost twice the size of Matt's and we ordered the exact same thing. One would expect some sort of standardization of sandwich size, especially since they were on the expensive side at $8 a sandwich. Also disappointing: the counter staff said pickles came with the sandwich so Matt didn't order any on the side but when he got home, there were none in the bag. The red skin potato salad, although it was flecked with what appeared to be dill was unexpectedly and overwhelmingly sugary sweet. I don't think I've ever had sweetened potato salad before and I don't care to ever again, it was really quite disgusting. We were rather disappointed that for about $20 we ended up no pickles, inedible potato salad, (especially for Matt) sandwiches which left us still hungry and no beverages.

So, I would never make a special trip there again, but if I was in Mt. Washington and terribly hungry, I'd probably stop in and pick up a a pound of corned beef and make my own sandwich.


I'd post a link to their website but despite what it says on their menu, fredaskitchen.com doesn't appear to exist.

Freda's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 28, 2008

FAGE Total Greek Yogurt



I have loved Greek yogurt for a while now, but today was the first time I tried one of the ones that came with fruit. It was pretty good. I normally don't like cherry flavored things but this was less sweet than I expected and the flavor was mild. Perfect for a quick breakfast or snack.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chopstick Shame


How much do I need this shirt? And it (along with all other shirts) is on sale for only $12.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Birthday Chocolate

birthday candy!

My yearly custom assortment from Rhebs. Yum.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rising Mango Star

How cute is this kid chef? I wish I had access to this sort of technology when I was his age!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Knock Knock


I love Knock Knock's line of cards and now they have a cute magnet that encourages people to grade the meal they just had.

Friday, August 08, 2008

SOYJOY!



I'm not much of a bar person, mostly because I work from home and can make whatever I want to eat but these Soyjoy bars are pretty good, especially the mango one*. I like the mango/coconut flavor and it has an enjoyable coconut-y texture. I appreciate that they hold up to heat well and are hard to smoosh which makes it a good choice to stash in your bag or car (or take it to the beach!) in case of emergency. I like having something on hand in case I get stuck some where longer than I think and get hungry. Even eating half a bar takes the edge off. I also like that they are basically just soy and dried fruit in bar form. So if you haven't checked them out, do so!


*The other flavors are pretty good as well but they have a dryish texture that I think works well with coconut.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

RA Sushi

my zonie roll
Heather and I went to RA Sushi (over on Lancaster St) for lunch last Friday. I was pleasantly surprised. I had read a bunch of negative to middling reviews for this location and a couple of the other locations in other cities. It was pretty loud but the sushi was pretty good. Large rolls, fresh fish, good rice and a lot of variety. I wouldn't say it is my new favorite sushi place but if I was down in Harbor East, I'd probably make a stop. My main complaint would be that there are very few "special" rolls that don't have some sort of fried component. Unusual rolls seem to be a bit of a focus there so I was surprised they didn't have as much variety in the raw only line. I was able to find one I liked (above) and had an acceptable yellowtail and scallion roll and Heather tried several yummy looking pieces. All in all I'd go back, especially for lunch. A lot of the complaints online were from people who went there late at night/peak dinner hours when I would assume, given the bar-like atmosphere, was pretty loud and crowded. Two things that normally mean sloppy sushi making to me.

Ra Sushi on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Smith Island Cake

Our state cake

We went to the Chesapeake Folk Festival in St Michaels today and split a slice of Maryland's state cake.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yummy doughnuts!

doughnut from the

I can't resist Fenwick Bakery's (7219 Harford Rd Baltimore, MD 21234) raised doughnuts. Very fresh and tasty! This visit they also had peach cake, which was tempting but I was just getting a snack. They also sell a variety of breads and other baked goods, but I think their doughnuts are the best.
Fenwick Bakery on Urbanspoon

Mastellones Deli & Wine Shop

old world italian My meeting today was cancelled and I had planned to get lunch out afterwards so I decided to treat myself to an Old World Italian sandwich from Mastellones Deli & Wine Shop (7212 Harford Rd Parkville, MD 21234). They are so good! I love the olive spread. They make their own bread and cheese there and it is a great spot for wine and imported Italian goods. It's my go-to spot for Parmesan cheese, fresh bread and Italian Nutella. It's take out only and closed on Mondays.

Mastellone's Deli and Wine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Energy Gummi


Vitamin gummi bears for grow-ups? I had to check them out. They have B12 & C vitamins and have guarana which is supposed to provide an energy boost. I tried the orange ones and they were pretty tasty, good chewy texture and while the orange wasn't too zesty, it was sort of jammy and pleasant. I can't say that I noticed any major energy burst but I do have a super-human tolerance for stimulants like caffeine so I am not the best judge.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life


I've been reading What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life by Avery Gilbert and I can not recommend it more. It not only has an interesting chapter on Smell-o-vision, featuring none other than John Waters, but a lot of information about how smell influences taste and other aspects of daily life.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hey Locals!

I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion for a place that has good sushi but also a variety non-sushi choices downtown.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Patriotic Foods

I wrote a roundup of patriotic foods over at FoodieView if you want to check it out before the 4th of July.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cake is Awesome pt 2




Threadless is now selling the shirt we got free at the Charm City Cakes event. Check it out here.

Great Grapes!

great grapes

We had the great fortune of going to Great Grapes, an annual food, wine and craft festival this weekend. It was very warm but the samples were plenty and everyone was super friendly. The focus was on local wineries, many of which have fun events of their own all round the city.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cake is Awesome


Last night we went to the Threadless and Charm City Cakes party. It was very hot (no air conditioning?) and a little last minute feeling but fun. There was a very cute cake (above) that was so perfect, Matt thought it was a statue! Everyone also got a (I am assuming) limited edition shirt with that cake on it. There were some prints up and a DJ. I am glad we got there fairly early and got the shirts and cake, it said it went on until 11:30 but everything seemed to be winding down fairly early.

Mary Ann (or maybe Mary Alice? it was pretty loud) from Ace of Cakes was there (who I am not familiar with because we don't have cable but people seem excited) who got a statue from Threadless for wearing their shirts on-air and in real life. We also ran into the photographer who took my picture for the Baltimore Magazine article which was fun, he was the nicest photographer I've ever had! Anyway, the main reason we wanted to go besides our love of Threadless and the lure of free drinks was to finally try a Charm City Cakes cake. I mean, they cost a fortune, we make all of our own cakes for celebrations and we were getting tired of waiting for someone to have a wedding and get one. They look great, we've all seen that, but how do they taste?

After all that build up we battled the crowds and tried a tiny sliver and it was just eh. Moist. Decent crumb, but it really just tasted like a kind of generic bakery cake. Not horrible but not anything outstanding either. My slice didn't have the fondant on it, but it had a very sweet, buttery icing that left sort of an oily feeling in my mouth. Could they not be using 100% butter? Anyway, it is sort of a relief to know that despite the cakes looking gorgeous, they are not perfect.

I am glad we went and I hope more events like this pop up in Baltimore.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Why I love Rheb's

Beyond the fact that they sell the best candy ever, they send out e-mails like this one:


Due to the weather conditions during the summer, we are temporarily suspending our on-line ordering. If you would like to discuss the shipping of candy we ask that you give us a call at 410-644-4321 or 1-800-514-8293.We do this in an effort to ensure you receive the quality candy that you are used to from Rheb's. We will resume on-line ordering as soon as the weather cools again. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause and we hope you have a wonderful summer.

The Rheb Family

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Clementine Update

The last time I went to Clementine, they were out of a lot of their menu items. It was towards the end of lunchtime and new, so I forgave them. However, I went there again yesterday and they were out of 2 soups and didn't have salmon, despite it being noon and definitely lunch time. This is really some thing they need to work out if they want to do well!

It is frustrating to not be able to get what you want and what is listed on the menu every time you go to a restaurant. It also makes me hesitant to go back for dinner, their menu is limited to begin with so if they were out of food then, I would imagine being I might be forced to order something that I had no interested in whatsoever.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Farmer's Market Report

farmer's market

We went to the farmer's market (the one under 83) today and really lucked out. Some french shallots, spring onions, a heirloom tomato plant (with black tomatoes!), pea vines and best of all, some blue crabs! The crab guy was getting ready to leave so he sold me 16 crabs for $11 (what I had in my pocket) which was a great deal-they are normally $20 a dozen.

I love the farmer's market, even during this time of year when there are more plants for sale than produce but I wish it was better organized. While the prepared foods stands are not something I am interested in at all, they are very popular. Unfortunately, they are not in their own separate section so you end up have to cross long lines of customers to get to the actual produce. It is really frustrating because the market is very crowded anyway, and have to cross lines of people waiting to get an omelet or hot sauce just to get some onions is daunting. Wouldn't it be a better set-up to have all of the prepared foods and hot foods in one section and the produce and flowers in another? That way the people who are going there to get fresh fruits and vegetables and get them and get out and not have to tangle with the people getting breakfast or lunch or kettle corn or whatever.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Edible Gardening

My garden is featured on AT: the Kitchn today. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

FitFlop


I am always interested in new health/fitness news and when I heard about the FitFlop (over 10,000 preorders in England!) I had to try it. When I first heard of it, it reminded me of the Dr. Scholl's exercise sandal, which I love. Both are supposed to provided added exercise when walking. With the Dr. Scholl's sandal, you have to use your toes to grip the wooden bottom so they don't slip off which encourages calf and leg muscles to exercise just by walking. The FitFlops to much the same thing- "Studies at Salford University by Dr. Philip Graham-Smith and Richard Jones have shown that the FitFlop midsole extends the amount of time that the slow twitch* muscles are engaged during each step (by approximately 10-12%). So just by wearing a pair of FitFlops you'll get more exercise while doing just exactly what you're normally doing. (*slow twitch muscles produce energy by converting fats into energy aerobically)".

You really do feel your muscles work when you wear them, but they are quite comfortable and perfect for wearing while standing.


While I love my Dr. Scholl's, I have to say the FitFlops are better suited to walking on different types of ground. The wooden sole of the Dr. Scholl's made it tricky to walk on uneven surfaces, like cobblestones. The FitFlop is so comfortable, it is like walking barefoot. Since the straps go rather far back on your foot (toward your ankle) they are very secure and don't flip or flop much so you can walk for long distances.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cheese Ball (for dessert) Anyone?

dessert cheese balls??

We were at BJ's picking up some odds and ends before our free trial runs out and I came across this gem. Dessert cheese balls. It just seems wrong.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Circus Cookie Cutters




Thanks to Erin, I really want these cookie cutters!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Papabubble




I love Papabubble! Handmade hard candy in interesting flavors and shapes. The bergamot is amazing and I love the candies with the names of the five boroughs in them.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aquasana

While Baltimore has some of the best tap water around (Coca-Cola bottles it in town for it's Dasani line) it sometimes has a faint but detectable chlorine note to it. We've been drinking a lot of tap water the last few months in the form of homemade club soda and wanted the water to be the best tasting it could be. I don't believe in bottled water and don't have room for (or interest in) one of those office-style water coolers so the logical step was to try a water purifier. Enter Aquasana. I've tried their under sink water system and not only is it easy to use but it was really easy to install. I replaced our never used built-in soap dispenser with a button faucet that dispenses filtered water. It's perfect for filling up my club soda bottles and getting a quick drink while not disturbing the functionality of the sink. It also takes the lead out of water, which is a concern in a lot of the older homes here in Baltimore that have old pipes. And it tastes great, so it is like getting bottled spring water straight from the tap.

I also tried the the shower filter and enjoyed that as well. I didn't notice as much of a difference with that as the drinking water but I bet if I had well water or "hard" water I could really tell the difference. That aside, I really do enjoy using it, it made no difference in the water pressure and the water smells much better with the chlorine removed. I also think my hair seems softer.


Possibly one of the best things about Aquasana is that once you buy the products, you can sign up for a lifetime of automatic filter refill deliveries. You get a discount so it is cheaper than placing single orders when you need them and there is nothing to remember, they just send them out when it is time to change the filter. What could be easier?

Pizza for One

Sometimes I wonder if the reason I do some much from scratch cooking is because I had bad luck with frozen and prepared foods. If I am not actively cooking I get distracted and disaster strikes. For example, the few times a year I try to to eat a can of soup, I invariably leave it on the stove too long and either burn it or it condenses into a salty mess. Of course, food made from scratch tastes better but I do like having a few quick lunch options to have on hand. Since I work at home, I can easily make lunch, but some days there are times when we don't have too much in the way of groceries or I spent the day creating new recipes for publication or Matt took the last of the leftovers in his lunch and I just want some thing easy for lunch. I don't like tv dinner type meals so frozen options are kind of limited but I do enjoy frozen potstickers or pierogies. I like the idea if having a frozen pizza (frozen pizza technology has come a long way since I was a kid) on hand but they are often way too big for one person and they are sometimes too wide to fit in my freezer so I was interested to try some new lines of pizza-for-one.

I recently tried DiGiorno For One Garlic Bread Crust and it was actually pretty tasty. Not too greasy and it appeared to be topped with a good quality cheese (that actually tasted like cheese) and a lot of toppings. My only complaint? I really dislike food cooked in the microwave and I have access to an oven so I baked it and it just wouldn't bake through. The center stayed cold for so long, that by the time it was cooked through, the edges got really brown and I ended up not being able to eat much of the crust, even though I cooked it within the outer amount of time suggested on the package. I kind of don't think it was my fault though, the crust was really, really thick and dense straight from the fridge. If I bought another I'd try a different crust.



Today's try: California Pizza Kitchen For One Crispy Thin Crust which I think will eliminate my thick-crust issues, as the crust is sort of like a large cracker and has a much shorter cooking time. The result: it didn't burn and it was pretty tasty. The toppings were flavorful but not overwhelming and it had fontina cheese. I've never eaten at one of the restaurants before so I don't know how it compares to the non-frozen ones but it had a good flavor and was bubbly and crispy in only 10 minutes.

The verdict? I wouldn't mind picking up a couple if they were on sale to have on hand.

Food Find

I love checking out the find of the day at Found Magazine and today was particularly funny. Someone was writing a list of things they were worried about and on the list was the ability to make frosting. What makes it extra funny is that it was right above "being tired" and "persistent cough" on the minor worries list. Check it out here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Clementine

Clementine

We went to a new place in our neighborhood, Clementine, for an impromptu lunch today. The verdict: we'd love to go back, maybe next time for dinner.

Positive: great space, quick service, attractive decor, friendly service, tasty sandwiches, great tarragon potato salad, fun signage. Drawbacks: We got there at 3PM when they apparently were starting to transition to dinner and they were out of anything hot. We only wanted sandwiches so it wasn't the end of the world (I bet their mac & cheese is good though, it looked like that sort of place) but they were also out of "basil lime elixir" and a couple of other things. My roast beef sandwich (with tomato-onion jam, Munster & horseradish sauce) was tasty but I wish the meat went to all corners of the bread. Matt had a sandwich with bacon, asparagus and avocado that was tasty but a bit on the skimpy side.

Clementine


I think they will iron the shortages issue out, it is a new place and these things happened. They also seemed quite busy-when we arrived there were two large parties finishing up their meals. It helped that the waitress was very apologetic but it is frustrating to go a restaurant and not be able whatever you want off the menu. Luckily we were just looking for a light lunch so it didn't matter much. I'm looking forward to going back for dinner.

I am also happy to see a fun, friendly restaurant open up in my neighborhood. Go Harford Road corridor! I love the idea of an affordable place that's only about a mile from the house. We love Chameleon (also very close by) but it is a bit pricy for a quick dinner out.



Clementine

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