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

Clementine on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 16, 2008

Weber Grill


I think we are going to get this grill. Matt's birthday is the end of this month so this will be his birthday present but I think we are going to get it early, so if it ever stops raining we can get some grilling in.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pop’rs: Carbonated Sprinkles


One of the most unusual things I've tried lately is Pop'rs. Basically fruit and savory flavored Pop Rocks, they are advertised as being appropriate to sprinkle over anything (even vegetables!) but I think they are best as an alternative to sprinkles on sweets. Although the buffalo (buffalo chicken flavor, I assume as it tastes like neither the city or bison) is tasty, I can't imagine it eaten any way but licked off the palm of your hand. Anyway, fun for kids, and since they are vitamin-fortified, they are better for you (and have better flavors) than Pop Rocks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cooking Contest Cookies


Lynette Spence of St. Paul, MN won the $5,000 grand prize in the Bake Life Sweeter Contest for her “Cinna-Spin” Cookies. She used a pouch of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix to create a cinnamon roll-like cookie. Most corporate sponsored contests like this one (and the larger Pillsbury Bake-Off) require use of specific ingredients like mixes and other prepared ingredients. I always think about entering these contests but never do because I rarely have the qualifying ingredients on hand. Maybe I should try my hand? I don't find cookie mix as chemical tasting as some cake mixes do so maybe I could tart up a mix? Has anyone ever entered this sort of contest before?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gwyneth Paltrow + Mario Batali

Have you heard about their new PBS series about food? We don't have cable so I don't watch any food programming but I might be tempted by the prospect of seeing a peppy, funny Gwyneth eating; she's normally so serious. They all look like they are having fun in Spain.

Check out the book here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tomatoes!


We went to Market Day at the Cylburn Arboretum with the always delightful Danielle and her equally delightful boyfriend today. We braved the mud and rain and ended up with about 6 different varieties of tomato plants. I'm most excited about the Yellow Pear and the Rugter varieties, which I've only had from the farmer's market before. I tried to get the tallest of the plants available so I am hoping for an early harvest and sturdy plants. One of the plants even has a tiny tomato on it so that's a pretty good sign! Matt's going to get them in the ground tomorrow. I don't think we're going to grow much more in the way of vegetables this year (we also bought a chile which is described as chocolate brown and smoky tasting) because we only had okay luck with the zucchini and eggplant last year and we've already planted 3 blueberry bushes this year. We already have a plum tree, plans for a possible fig tree and a blackberry bush that had quadrupled in size from last year to concentrate on.
What's going in your garden this year?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Reusable Ice Cubes

DSCN8994

Okay, you all know my feelings about water. Now, I must reveal something else: I also dislike ice. I drink slowly, so my drinks quickly become either really watered down from the melting ice or appetizingly warm from my refusal to use ice. My solution? These slightly cheesy reusable ice cubes. I recently bought a big bag of martini, lime and butterfly shaped cubes at Target for about $2 so it is an affordable luxury and they last for years. Anyone else use reusable ice cubes? I find they work just as well, if not better than regular ice cubes and they are more festive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mushroom Recipe Contest


Marxfoods is hosting a recipe contest. Get details and enter here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Green" Clean


I really like using as natural a product as I can for cleaning. Generally I stick to Method products for well, everything but recently I've tried Shaklee concentrated dish detergent, scour off paste and wipes. While I prefer unscented things for general cleaning (love Method's go naked line) the Shaklee products are pleasant and not overwhelming. They also really get things clean, which is important to me and my constant kitchen clean up. I hate rewashing and scrubbing and I find that some "natural" products just aren't up to the task.
What do you use?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

On the lookout for: popcorn salt


I love popcorn and always use popcorn salt. I've had the same container of Morton's popcorn salt for a long time and it recently ran out. Now I can't find it to buy again. The website says that it isn't available at any stores in a 50 mile radius, but that could be wrong. I know I have bought it locally in the past. Has anyone seen popcorn salt for sale lately? I'd rather not have to order it off the website because it is only available in a 4 pack (and one shaker lasted me about 2 years, even with frequent use) and the shipping is almost $8.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Yogurt Ickiness

Just opened a fresh carton of Trader Joe's Greek Yogurt and it was moldy! Despite the clingfilm still being attached and it being well before the sell-by date. Now I'm scared to go get more.