Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
As you might have guessed, I do a lot of cooking. Which, in turns means I do a lot of cleaning. We don't have a dishwasher and the stove is constantly getting splattered with sauces and syrups not to mention the counter tops and the Kitchenaid. I really hate using paper towels to clean up spills and things but using a dish towel sometimes seems like overkill. Enter the European Sponge Cloth by Twist. As the packaging says, it is what would happen if a paper towel and a sponge had a baby. It is flat-ish and very absorbent. It is also the perfect size: it can clean up a fairly large spill but it isn't unwieldy. I also love their naked sponge line, it is made with no dyes and is 100% cellulose (tree fiber sourced from renewable tree farms ) . All of their products including the loofah sponge (made with natural loofah) were designed to be as effective and ecologically sound as possible, including the simple packaging which can be turned into a bird feeder.
What's not to love?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a copy of Martha Stewart's Cookies: The Very Best Treats to Bake and to Share. I some times have mixed feelings about Martha but I really enjoyed her holiday cookie magazine she had the year before last. Her book is very similar: cookies divided into categories like "crisp and crunchy", "light and delicate", "crumbly and sandy", "chunky and nutty", and "rich and dense", cooking baking tips and fun ways to package cookies to give as gifts. There really is a cookie for everyone and the instructions are clear and concise-no thousand step cookie here. The most involved ones are chocolate covered cookies (she has some homemade versions of thin mints and Mallomars cookies that look great) or the ones that need special equipment like the springerle or bratseli cookies. Beyond those there is a great range of cookies, everything from orange-cardamon madeleines to alfajores de dulce de leche and classics like snickerdoodles and double chocolate brownies. The pictures are beautiful and inspiring.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
One of the oddest things I've tried lately is the Pickle Sickle. It is basically a pickle flavored ice pop that is made from the whole pickle. Pretty salty but oddly refreshing. Apparently they are quite the rage in Texas where the pickle is serious business. Matt said that when he lived in Austin all of the movie theaters offered whole pickles at the concession stand.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
You all know I love things with probiotics. Normally I eat them in cheese or yogurt but now there are available in granola or chocolate bar form in some new products by Attune foods.
You have to keep them refrigerated until you toss them in your bag to eat them that day but they have the texture of regular granola or candy bars and have 5x the amount of probiotics as yogurt. I have tried almost all of them.
The dark chocolate and mint chocolate bar were the best bars out of the chocolate bar line up. They each are fairly low in calories and are basically 2 flat squares of chocolate. The chocolate crisp one was okay but the blueberry vanilla white chocolate bar was really fake tasting.
The granola bars were all pretty good if a little on the sweet side for my taste. They are the chewy dipped in yogurt type which I enjoy and were a good size for a snack. I liked the mango-peach one the best of the granola bars but all of the flavors were true to life.
One odd thing I noticed about the bars was that the name of the bar and the packaging don't always describe the bar inside in what I would think of as the proper way. The peach mango bar had large chunks of dried cranberries in nearly every bite. Cranberries were not mentioned on the front of the bar, in the name or in the description at all. They are listed in the ingredients, but it was a surprise to bite into the bar and have it be so full of cranberries. Cranberries are a rather aggressively flavored fruit and I think the bar should have been called a cranberry-mango-peach bar as the cranberry was the dominate flavor and there were just hints of mango and peach. I didn't mind but I'd hate it if I was someone who didn't like cranberries and ended up buying a whole box of what I think were mango-peach bars and end up with cranberry bars. The same thing happened with the chocolate bars as well. The mint chocolate one, while tasty, also had crisped rice in it. Again, the crisped rice was in the ingredients list but not in the name on the label. There was no reason to suspect that the bar would have crisped rice in it, the other ones (except for the actual crisped rice bar) were all traditional smooth chocolate bars. Again, it wasn't exactly a bad thing, just unexpected.
All in all, they were a great snack or lunch addition but the labels and names were oddly vague.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
Matt made mu shu pork for Valentine's Day and it was really good. He basically followed the recipe from Martin Yan's Feast cookbook. They were amazing! The pancakes were super simple, just flour and water but so tasty. The pork and vegetables were fantastic and a great excuse to buy things like lotus flour and cloud ear mushrooms.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I recently acquired a silpat and perforated baking sheet from Demarle. Matt tried it out when he made the fortune cookies and it worked great. Very even cooking and they didn't stick at all, despite being paper thin. If you want to order one or check out the other nonstick bakeware Demarle makes click here. One of my readers, Alice, is a Demarle representative (i.e. she does home sales) so if they ask you for a rep ID # you can use 5130 and order through her. She is very helpful and can answer any questions you might have.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Unfortunately, Valentine's Day is on a weekday this year. I personally love Valentine's Day and always try to do something special for it. Since it is on a weekday, Matt's making us some homemade Chinese food and I am probably making cupcakes rather than going out some where to eat. What are you doing?
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Friday, February 08, 2008
One of my favorite flavors is celery seed. According to McCormick
"Celery seed is the dried fruit of the Apium graveolens which is related,
but not identical, to the vegetable celery plant. The tiny brown seeds have a
celery-like flavor and aroma."
I had always liked a particular flavor in Old Bay and then one day I realized it was celery seed. So now where ever I use Old Bay I add a little extra celery seed. Anyway, it lasts forever and I got a bit of sticker shock when I went to buy a new jar yesterday. It was $5.60. I don't remember it being that expensive before. But what can a celery seed lover do? Frankly I was glad they had it in stock, the last couple times I've been shopping there has been a empty spot on the shelf. Possible celery seed shortage?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
The National Confectioners Association just released a new survey for Valentine’s Day.
Americans across the board agreed that dark chocolate is the most preferred type of chocolate (46%). And, supporting the notion that the American palate becomes increasingly sophisticated with age:53% of adults aged 55 or older cast their votes for dark chocolate over milk chocolate (37%)55% of voters aged 18-34 picked milk chocolate over dark chocolate (31%) .
I am so happy that the popularity of dark chocolate is increasing, even as a child I eschewed milk chocolate. The more people buying dark chocolate equals more varieties and the more affordable the good stuff will become.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Would you believe that until this weekend we didn't own a coffee machine? We are just not big coffee drinkers. Matt loves to drink tea, but I am frankly not much of a beverage person at all. Anyway, we got one of those pod coffee machines, the Senseo. And so far, I like it. Matt said the "dark roast" coffee could have been a little darker, but I think it is just fine. I love that you can make just a cup at a time, it isn't like the two of use are going to drink a whole pot. It is super easy and quick to work as well and the coffee is really hot. Currently, they are having a promotion where you can get a chance to order the machine (normally $70) for just the price of shipping ($15). Not bad. You just have to fill out a survey on the site for your chance.