Friday, February 29, 2008

AeroGarden Day 14


The Aerogarden is going well, everything had sprouted and pretty much doubled in size since last week. Today was also the first day I had to add water and more nutrients.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Twist Sponges


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

Martha Stewart's Cookies


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

Tear-Free Onions?

Oh, those wacky scientists! What will they think of next? Listen to the story here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Has anyone made homemade dog treats before? Did it work well? Worth the effort?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Great Tastes

Great Tastes was a lot of fun-lots of tastings (absinthe!) and our presentation went well I think. Luckily we are none the worse for wear. My only quibble with the event was they ran out of programs about 1/2 hr after opening and we had to wander aimlessly around. I wasn't even sure where the food blogger panel was until it was almost time for me to speak. But! It all went well and we had a lot of fun.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Aerogarden Day Seven

aerogarden mint sprouting



day 7

day 7 growth


Yesterday marks one week of having the Aerogarden up and running. All but one of the pods have sprouted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pickle Sickles



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

Attune Probiotic Bars


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

Busy Cooking

My mom came over for lunch today and before noon I had made a batch of marshmallows, tuna salad, smoked salmon deviled eggs and peanut butter oatmeal cookies. Now I have to think about dinner...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

AeroGarden Day 5 Update

basil day 5
Aerogarden update...lots of things are growing. I have basil (which sprouted yesterday and doubled in size today), purple basil, thyme and chives all starting to sprout.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mu Shu Pork is for Lovers


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

Finally on the Silpat Wagon



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

Aerogarden


Look what I got in the mail today (well, in the FedEx today which doesn't quite have the same ring). An Aerogarden! I am pretty excited to see what happens with it. It seems like people have had good results. I have the gourmet herbs kit (although the Japanese Herb one is tempting) and I am supposed to be able to get fresh herbs for 4-5 months. I really like cooking with fresh herbs and we do grow some in the garden but the idea of fresh herbs and not having to spend $3 for a tiny pack, especially in the colder months is very attractive. I'll update with progress soon. I just planted them but supposedly they sprout in just a couple of days.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Love and Chocolate, Less War


Happy Valentine's Day!


card by rock scissor paper, my favorite card company.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner?


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

Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist

I don't have cable so I have never seen Ingrid Hoffmann's show, Simply Delicioso but I was happy to have a look at her new book, Simply Delicioso: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist which has a ton of recipes. Some of them are a little on the "simple" side for me, calling for bottled salsa instead of making a homemade sauce for enchiladas, the tamale pie calls for a box of cornbread mix but there also some interesting drink, salad and dessert recipes (all categories that I always find lacking in "Latin" cookbooks) that look interesting and even the easiest recipes are inspiring, I really want to make tamale pie now, though probably using my own recipe. My verdict: worth a look. The book has great pictures, interesting recipes, easy instructions and lots of tips.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Great Tastes


Just a little reminder that I, along with some other illustrious local food bloggers, will be on a panel at this year's Great Tastes event. Tickets are available here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Celery Seed


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

Dark Chocolate Love

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

Senseo


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.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Good Food Day

I had a great trip to H Mart this morning. Normally I avoid it near Chinese New Year like the plague (memories of a grueling 4 hour ordeal around this time of year still haunt me) but it was pretty empty. And guess what they had...rhubarb! After all those weeks of frantic searching, there it was. Of course, I needed it a week ago, but whatever. I still picked some up, it is so fresh and red looking. And I got some heads-on shrimp (only $3.99 lb), fermented black beans, and a big bunch of really fresh beets (with beautiful greens still attached-only $1.40), rice, lots of noodles, and a ton of fresh veggies. Very successful. I have some yellowtail in the fridge and am really looking forward to doing some cooking this weekend. I already made sesame noodles!