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food (179 posts)
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
P.O.P. Candy’s Thyme, Walnut ‘n’ Cherry Butter Crunch Toffee, $13 for 8 oz. Inspired by (brace yourself) the ingredients in holiday stuffing, this sweet slab of faintly herbaceous toffee (pictured) just plain works: it’s buttery, nutty, and delightfully unusual.
Obsessive Confection Disorder’s Apple Cider Caramel, $4 for 1.2 oz. Few flavors evoke the season like apples and cinnamon, both of which figure prominently in these artisan treats from a small California company (whose adventurous caramel menu also includes Artichoke-Limoncello and Black Garlic With Smoked Pepper). Filled with chunks of fruit and a generous dash of nutmeg, the Apple Cider Caramels pack a tart, spicy punch, and—though you’d never guess it—are 100% vegan.
Chuao Chocolatier Love At First Bite Chocolate Fangs, $5.95 each. Unlike those sticky wax choppers from childhood, these sumptuous white chocolate fangs offer a surprising center of strawberry balsamic caramel. Fangtastic! (Oprah.com readers get 20% off until Dec. 31; use code OPRAH)
Bissinger’s Blueberry Acai Gummy Pandas, $4.75 for one 4 oz. bag. We don’t typically consider candy a health-food item, but these intensely flavored gummies feature not one but two sources of antioxidants—and taste about ten times better than the bland bears of old.
Vosges Day of the Dead Red Fire Skull Lollipop, $3 each. Each November, the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos celebrates those who’ve gone on to the great candy shop in the sky—and these lollipops will have you celebrating the delicious marriage of dark chocolate and ancho and chipotle chilies.
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
But Stephanie Izard has a funny way with everyday ingredients. The only woman to win Top Chef--and also one of the 15 breakthrough stars we profiled in October's O magazine--Izard is the chef/owner of the Girl & the Goat restaurant in Chicago. Her cookbook, Girl in the Kitchen, hits bookstores this week, and it's a riot of unexpected pairings (shallot custard with apple-endive salad; pear-pistachio-parsnip soup; artichoke and strawberry panzanella) and lesser-known finds (kohlrabi, anyone?). Izard's collection looks so mouth-watering that when my wife settled on a fungus-heavy recipe, I decided to give it a go. Someone who thinks apples are equally at home in a pork ragu as a bacon-studded macaroni and cheese might have something new to show me about mushrooms, I figured.
If you like olive oil and vinegar, try...skipping the vinegar completely. Theo Stephan, founder of the California olive oil producer Global Gardens, and author of the new cookbook Olive Oil and Vinegar for Life, says real (meaning it has no more than 0.8% acidity), fresh, extra-virgin olive oil can stand as a dressing on its own, though you can add fresh herbs or minced garlic, too.
If you like ranch dressing, try... making it with yogurt. Whisk a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and a few spoons of plain yogurt with salt and pepper. Then whisk in a tablespoon of olive oil. The yogurt will give the dressing a tangy zip.
Like every Italian grandma, the books each have their own ways of doing things. Here's some of their most valuable advice:
When it comes to beef, sirloin (93% lean), ground round (85% lean), ground chuck (80% lean) are most popular. Rodgers likes ground round because it stands up well to long simmering. The Meatball Shop's Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow use chuck. If you're using ground chicken or turkey, make sure it's a mix of dark and white meats, with skin. Breast meat is so lean, if you use it alone, your meatballs will be overly dry.
This squash's deep-orange flesh has a sweet, nutty flavor (some even compare it to butterscotch). The more orange the inside is, the more candy-like the taste. Potassium- and beta-carotene-rich, it's a classic and versatile fall vegetable. Ina Garten has a maple-roasted take on it, Jessica Seinfeld puts it in quesadillas and Susan Spungen turns it into a smooth bisque.
Apples, Beer and Cabbage
Oktoberfest actually starts in mid-September, but it runs through the first week of October. You could make this traditional German stew, which includes two different kinds of apples, varying colors of cabbage, caraway seeds and pork shoulder; these crowd-friendly deep-fried sauerkraut balls; or just embrace Oktoberfest for what it really is: an opportunity to drink beer. O asked beer sommeliers for their regional favorites, then sampled their suggestions. Here are some of the most delicious bottles. Also check out The Oxford Companion to Beer, out this month.
Three more things you shouldn't miss, including a cheese spread that's perfect for a night of baseball...
The joy of being frugal is a lot like the joy of eating one illicit grape while wandering the produce section—everybody experiences it, but nobody wants to talk about it. Two days ago, however, ABC news did a story about the cheapest family in America, who buy almost expired meat, freeze on-sale milk and hit the grocery store with walkie-talkies so they can talk to each other about deals while in different aisles. It had me laughing my head off and taking notes as to how they do it (hint: they prep for 4 hours before going to the store), because, let's face it, their total for 4 kids and 2 parents was $120 dollars—and that was for food for the WHOLE month!
Watch the ABC video clip
Saving ideas from the Coupon Mom
Suze Orman: the emergency stash.