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Lynn Andriani (187 posts)
These tree nuts, which are in season now, aren't terribly popular with Americans (our per capita consumption is less than an ounce per year, compared with a pound per person per year in Europe, and 2 pounds per person in Asia). There are many reasons to try them though: They're sweet, have very little fat and are cholesterol- and gluten-free. Roast them or try them in this filling soup. If you can't find dry-packed roasted chestnuts at your local market, try Kalustyans.com.
These mini-cabbages are another seasonal food that fall on the low end of the popularity scale. If you think you don't like them, this article explains why--and gives ways to tame their astringency and bring out there inherent (really!) sweetness.
A Meal with Your Eyes Closed
Dans le Noir, a "dining experience" with locations around the world, comes to the U.S. this month, with a new restaurant in New York. Diners eat in complete darkness, guided and served by either a visually impaired or blind staff. Just how different does food taste when you can only rely on your senses of taste, touch and smell? Try it yourself this month, by eating dinner with a blindfold on. To get the full experience, have someone else prepare the meal for you, so you're totally in the dark (pardon the pun) as to what's on your plate.
The Fall Peanut Butter
You could easily mistake the menu from Chef Stella's in Summerville, S.C., for an ice cream parlor. It makes peanut butters flavored with fruits like blackberry, black currant, kiwi and strawberry; as well as spreads that draw inspiration from frozen dessert classics such as praline, coconut and coffee (actually, Chef Stella uses espresso in its peanut butter for an even bigger punch). But it's the subtly-flavored Pumpkin Spice Peanut Butter we're loving right now, perfect on top of pancakes or waffles.
The Sweet Tooth's Peanut Butter
There are a number of white chocolate peanut butters on the market, but we've fallen hardest for Nutty's Old Fashioned White Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter. (And we're apparently not alone: The company makes more than 12 flavors, from date walnut to mint chocolate chip, but white chocolate is its bestseller.) Nutty's, located outside Dallas, melts white chocolate into freshly milled peanut butter while it's still warm, lets it cool, then adds more white chocolate chips. The result is sweet, smooth and delicious.
The Maximalist Peanut Butter
Saratoga Peanut Butter Company's Adirondack Jack is like trail mix in a jar. A 50/50 blend of almonds and peanuts gets amped up with sweetened cranberries, sunflower seeds, honey, flax seeds and cinnamon. Surprisingly, though, it isn't overly cloying. And if you're going to eat any peanut butter straight out of the jar, this is it. No pretzels, bread or crackers necessary.
Happy Birthday Box, $9. This is the under-$10 birthday gift that works for everyone--provided they’re under the age of 100. The top of the box has “99” written in what look like digital clock numbers, so you can mark out the necessary parts with a black Sharpie to personalize the recipient’s age.
Dogbrella, $30. Yes, other dogs will think your pup’s a diva when they see her strutting down the street with her own personal umbrella (it’s built into the leash). But just think: No messy shake-off once Fido gets back in the house.
Pumpkin Gutter, $10. This weekend, when you’re staring down a thick-skinned pumpkin you want to turn into a jack-o-lantern, bring in the big guns, aka this tool. It fits into any standard drill and quickly cleans out the squash. Plus, it keeps your hands out of the slime, so you don’t mess up that candy-corn manicure.
Gummylamp, $28. All of the cuteness, none of the stomachache. Squeeze this giant Gummybear’s belly and a high-powered LED light switches on, illuminating the immediate space around you.
Glass-Cleaning Brush, $8.50. Hard-to-remove lipstick marks lift right off of wine glasses with this dual foam brush, which hugs the glass’s rim to remove smudges, yet is gentle enough for your thinnest Champagne flute.
Simmer it for scent.
Skip the honey and lemon juice, and make your own autumn air freshener: Put them in a pot of water, add some cinnamon and simmer on the stove (refill the water if it evaporates).
Brew apple tea.
Follow this simple recipe, which consists of peels, cinnamon, honey and lemon juice.
Jar some apple jelly.
This will take a few hours, but the sweet and tart jelly makes a lovely fall hostess gift. You'll need the peels and cores from 15 to 20 medium-sized, tart apples; a box of dry pectin; and lots of sugar. Here's a recipe.
Make apple dirt.
Peter George, executive chef of 360 the Restaurant in Toronto, uses this sweet mixture as a rub for chicken, turkey or fish such as salmon, pike or halibut. You can also sprinkle it in Thanksgiving stuffing, or add it to stuffed pork loin. Here's how: place about a cup and a half of peels on a baking sheet and cook in a 250-degree oven for an hour or two, until golden brown and crispy. Grind them to a powder with a mortar and pestle, mix them with 4 teaspoons of cinnamon and a quarter cup of sugar, then grind again.
What Mario Batali's eating this fall
October's must-try food guide
The autumn Champagne
Here's what I thought I knew about the poet: She was an eccentric whose largely hermetic life screamed austerity and mystery. And I can't help it: The first words that pop into my head when I hear her name are always, "Because I could not stop for death" and not "hope is the thing with feathers." So when I read in this post on the New York Times' Diner's Journal blog that she was really into baking, I was shocked. Here I always pictured Dickinson living on milky tea and cold pot roast (since she was too busy writing to eat the meat while it was hot). It turns out Dickinson loved to bake cakes or and loaves of rye bread. Manuscripts, letters and fragments from Dickinson's life have just gone on display at the Poets House in New York City, many for the first time, and among them is her recipe for coconut cake, written in her own hand. (Read more about Dickinson's unlikely hobby--and the baked good that won her second prize at the Amherst Cattle Show of 1856--here.)
Keeping with my perception of Dickinson, the instructions are stark and simple; there are no notes in the margins about how so-and-so likes this case with extra coconut or hot pink sprinkles. It's a very Dickinson-esque recipe, but still: It reminds me how thinking we know a person just by sizing them up is just wrong. Everyone--even famous, much-biographied writers--can surprise us.
20 books of poetry everyone should own
Poetry that will get you through a hard time
That's where Taste Buds, an infographic created by data visualists David McCandless and Willow Tyrer, comes in. The simple black-and-white graphic visualizes flavor patterns, with each area covering a different food category, like fish, poultry, root vegetables, etc. The categories are laid out like the spokes of a wheel, so the offshoots of, say, the fish category include lobster and crab, white fish, smoked fish, shrimp, etc. Follow those ingredients, and you'll see which flavors go with them. So if you're trying to figure out what to do with that shrimp, try coriander, curry, ginger, lemon or lime. For the asparagus, you might go with cream, eggs or mushrooms. (And if you're wondering why these combos, McCandless and Tyrer say they determined the pairings based on 1,000 recipes from Epicurious and BBC Food).
You can purchase a hi-res pdf download of the image here--which we plan on doing for those evenings when we don't feel like following a recipe but need just a little direction.
Batali, who's written eight cookbooks (most recently Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours), has 19 restaurants, and has starred in countless TV shows, says he loves the transition from summer simplicity to autumn complexity that takes place in October. For him, this time of year means braised meats, heartier greens, and beer (instead of wine) pairings. If summer's all about the instant gratification of perfectly ripe, raw fruits and vegetables, or quickly-grilled meats and fish, fall's the time for making a hearty, Tuscan soup like Ribollita one day, letting the flavors develop overnight, and eating it the next day; or assembling a salad that combines savory chicory, pancetta and Brussels sprouts with sweet and juicy Comice pears.
And come to think of it, if there's a month when you're most likely to pull off the orange clog look, this is probably it.
More foods we're eating this month
The autumn Champagne
Mario Batali answers your cooking questions
This week, the Sesame Workshop introduced a new muppet, Lily, during a national primetime special, Growing Hope Against Hunger. Lily, a red-headed seven-year-old, often depends on her local food pantry for meals. Her boldness in addressing her situation is striking: "When you don't even know if you're going to have a next meal or not, that can be pretty hard," she tells Elmo, who admits he didn't know there were many people don't have the food they need (more than 50 million Americans, says this clip from the special).
It's hard not to fall for Lily; her straightforwardness is refreshing and inspiring. We're guessing Lily's mom or dad told her about their predicament and let her know that things would be okay. She isn't pretending she's something she's not, telling Elmo her family has enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to last all year. She doesn't keep her hunger a secret. She's just being herself, in all her moppy, wide-eyed, hot pink-skinned glory.
3D Cards, $5. Send a card and a gift all in one with these adorable letterpress camper and station wagon. The recipient assembles it by cutting, folding and glueing--and voila: a holiday ornament or trinket for her desk.
Vitra Chairless, $29. This sturdy strap of fabric--er, “seating device”--promises to relieve your tired spine and legs when you just can’t find a chair.
Tea Mints, $2.99. In flavors like lemongrass yuzu and ginger pear, these breath fresheners double as mood lifters.
Food Pod, $15. This cool silicone cooking tool lets you boil, blanch or steam eggs, vegetables, shellfish and other foods, and can hold up to a dozen large eggs or several heads of broccoli.