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Food (179 posts)
Michelle M. Warner, class coordinator at The Brooklyn Kitchen, a recreational cooking school in New York, stirs a teaspoon of honey into tons of savory dishes, from chili to enchiladas--she says its warm sweetness is the perfect finishing touch. Honey has plenty of other uses, too, from balancing out the saltiness in terikyaki sauce to jazzing up your breakfast cereal.
Keep a hunk around to grate over pasta, enhance a basic pasta sauce (mix the cheese with the pasta cooking water), shave over salads, shred over eggs and melt for grilled cheese sandwiches.
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking there's a Right Way to do everything. For example, dinner. I know I am under the impression that families are supposed to eat dinner like so: arranged around the perfectly set table, chatting about the day, eating a freshly-prepared meal composed of locally-grown vegetables and exotic spices that everyone is happy to try. This is not my dinner reality. Then again, it's not the dinner reality of anyone I know, either.
The gorgeous photography of Miho Aikawa, however, has me thinking that maybe that's totally okay. Her series "Dinner in NY" captures people having dinner the way they actually have dinner. A twenty-something woman has leftovers on her bed, watching television. A cat begs at the table for pizza. A young mother balances food on her lap while waving a toy at her newborn. A teenager eats alone, staring at her laptop. The photos are amazingly intimate portraits of people being themselves, and I can't stop clicking through them. What struck me most was how very many people eat while watching TV or using their laptops. And when I thought about it, I was honestly surprised to realize that I often eat this way too.
As Aikawa writes on her website, "we now do almost 50 percent of our eating while concentrating on something else." Here, I admit, I expected a mini-lecture on how we need to talk to each other more, focus on food and family more. We've heard all this before, and we know it, of course. I loved that Aikawa instead writes, "I would like to propose thinking what a dinner should be by objectively seeing diverse dinner situations. When you enjoy mealtimes, you're more likely to eat better. Let's think what we can do to enhance the pleasure of the table." Here's a dinnertime message we can all use: not a finger-wagging, but a call to action. She's not saying any one way of eating is better than any other, just that we should enjoy our mealtimes. Some of these distracted eaters seem a little zoned-out, but some (a smiling group of friends eating and watching television together) seem to be having a really wonderful time. And in the end, isn't that what a shared meal is all about?
Check out all of Aikawa's wonderful portraits at her site. (via TheKitchn)
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Classic dinner recipes in 35 minutes or less.
Lasagna. Your grandmother's red-sauce version is probably better off without radicchio (and who are we to mess with your Nonna?), but any lasagna involving bechamel or mushrooms (or both) will benefit from radicchio's punch. This recipe calls for cooking it until it wilts, then mixing it with sauteed mushrooms and sage--they form the veggie layer of the finished dish.
Risotto. This basic recipe has tons of variations; to use radicchio, tear the leaves and cook them with a chopped onion before adding the rice. Instead of grating Parmesan into the risotto at the end, try Piave Vecchio--its slight almond bitterness is the perfect complement.
The compendium has a spine cleverly designed as the nutritional information panel on a box and starts with the food's paleolithic era (aka 1903), when Tryabita Cereal Mills marketed a celery-flavored hot cereal--which certainly sounds healthy--and goes up to the 1990s and 2000s (of note is 1993's very meta Rice Krispies Treats cereal, a cereal that tastes like treats made out of...cereal). Other bits we're crunching on: the freeze-dried marshmallows in Lucky Charms, Count Chocula and Baron von Redberry are called "marbits"; and, as we long suspected, Grape Nuts probably don't have anything to do with grapes: According to Post, the cereal got its name because its inventor, C. W. Post, claimed grape sugar was formed during the backing process and that the cereal had a nutty flavor. And then there are the characters, from the Trix rabbit to Tony the Tiger to Snap!, Crackle!, Pop!, and Pow! (yes, there once were four, but Pow! got the boot sometime in the late 1950s).
Forget cereal's bad rap (the sugar, the unpronounceable ingredients, the funny colors it turns your milk): this book reminds us to look at cereal as culture. Toucan Sam (who was quite a linguist, you know, speaking pig latin, talking of his "ove-lay" for "oot-fray oops-lay") would probably be very proud.
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"It's not for everyone," says Will Thomasen, a college student who is trying to eat for free for the entire year. (Check out the original article for the crafty ways Thomasen finds his food, and for more tales of extreme-savings!) Part of "Generation Cheap," Thomasen told Good Morning America, "I think we've learned from the mistakes of people in the past. We're just surrounded by this story of more and more economic crisis, more and more need for saving and savvy spending." The article is compelling, but what strikes me most is how the students reported that living with less had changed not just their present but the way they look at their future. Says Thomasen, "I have switched my priorities from being able to drive a nice car and have a nice TV and all of those types of things to be able to live appreciating the types of things that a lot of times come for free."
Save Money on Groceries
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I'm talking about roasted chickpeas, which might just be your new go-to snack. Making them is beyond easy. All you do is rinse a can of chickpeas in a colander, then pour them onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with a paper towel and shake the pan lightly to dry the chickpeas off. Gently pull the paper towel out from under the chickpeas and pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil over them, and move the pan from side to side again so they're coated. Bake at 450 degrees for a half-hour to 40 minutes, sliding the pan around during cooking once or twice. They're done when they are slightly puckered and blistered.
Like popcorn (another beloved, fiber-rich snack), you can tweak the recipe to suit your taste. More or less salt, spicy or sweet, lots of flavoring or barely any at all. Cayenne, garlic salt, chili powder, garam masala, and cumin are all excellent. Sprinkle whatever you're using on the chickpeas while they are still hot and enjoy them warm--they'll taste crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And like me, you'll never go back to just eating them in salads or hummus again.
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If you'd rather be on the beach with a margarita: Tortilla Soup
Ancho chili, cumin, tomatoes, cilantro and fried corn tortilla strips are key ingredients in this soup, but the best part is the toppings, which can include anything from sliced avocado and shredded Monterey Jack cheese to salsa and lime wedges.
If you love spice: Thai Chicken Coconut Curry Soup
With fresh ginger, 5 cloves of garlic, Thai green curry paste, coriander, cumin and jalapeño, this bracing soup will clear any stuffed-up nasal passages. Garnish it with some freshly shaved coconut or unsweetened coconut flakes.
If you're watching your salt intake: Luther's Italian Chicken Soup
Singer Luther Vandross, who suffered from diabetes, made this soup with no-salt-added stewed tomatoes; reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth; no-salt-added tomato paste; and plenty of herbs.
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Two Toronto teenagers sent a Lego Man into space, and the resulting video is nothing short of awe inspiring. (MetaFilter)
* Do you love Maurice Sendak? How about Steven Colbert? If you answered yes to either of those questions, watch this video. (Colbert Nation)
* Because there's no such thing as too much (Jon) Hamm, send someone you love a Hamm-O-Gram this Valentine's Day. (Hamm-O-Gram)
* An insightful—and sad—profile of NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is out of work, out of money, and out of friends to go bowling with. (GQ)
* "There's this perception that plant-based diets are for privileged white people, but that hasn't been my experience."—Inspired Vegan Bryant Terry has some thoughtful ideas about food. (O Magazine)