Archive for June, 2013

Wrongs and Rights

June 28, 2013

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This has been a bad week, if you are closed minded, bigoted or exclusionary.

Americans are “just saying no” to racism, inequality and prejudice. In case you have been in a coma, or live under a rock, here is a rundown of this week’s big events:

Paula Deen admitted to using the “N-word” and having a penchant for “plantation style” service (code for black men in tuxedoes and white gloves serving white supremacists their dinners). In a series of apologies posted to YouTube, Deen asked for forgiveness again, and again and again. Her crocodile tears and drag queen makeup that stayed intact for the entire ordeal did not succeed in having the desired effect. Her subsequent appearance on the Today Show where she used biblical references to justify her situation, and claimed to be confused as to what is acceptable vocabulary after hearing her black kitchen staff use the “N-word” among themselves, was like rubbing salt in the country’s wounds. Her endorsement deals began dropping like flies, and at this moment The Food Network, Novo Nordisk, Smithfield Pork, Target, Wal-Mart, and Caesar’s have all bid adieu to the Southern belle. In the meantime, sales of Deen’s latest book have sky rocketed, her cruises have sold out, and lines of fat white folks are lining up outside her restaurants in a show of solidarity.

Big business is standing up and saying that racism of any kind is unacceptable and making an example of Deen by hitting her in her pocket book.
No word yet from the butter industry, on the demise of their iconic queen.

The Supreme Court voted to end the Defense of Marriage act, now allowing all married couples, regardless of their sexual orientation, the same rights. Just typing that sentence feels ridiculous. Did we really need to go to the Supreme Court to know that denying benefits to some, based on whom they love is just plain wrong?

While there is still much work to be done on the equality front, this is a giant step in the right direction. Cue the Gay Pride parade, set to happen this weekend in New York.

The Supreme Court also tackled voting issues and ruled that the act to protect minority-voting rights was unconstitutional and unnecessary.  Given the previous stories, maybe they need to rethink that one. One small step backwards, perhaps?

Democratic Senator Wendy Davis became an overnight media sensation when she successfully filibustered a vote that would close abortion clinics across the state of Texas, and ban abortion after 20 weeks. People applauded her accomplishment, and women all over the country want to walk in her shoes: pink Mizuna Wave Riders to be exact.

Republicans are in an uproar, and are trying to reschedule the vote, with the hopes of passing the bill, denying women in Texas the right to choose.

American seems to be at a threshold, similar to that of the mid 1950’s when equal rights were at the forefront. This week, it seems that many people are waking up to the fact that injustices based on race, religion, or sexual preferences are not acceptable. We can only hope that the other part of our country will soon follow suit.

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Smart Socks

June 26, 2013

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There are lots of workout related gadgets on the market these days. From bracelets that track activity, calories and even sleep quality, to sensors inserted into running shoes connecting to  apps galore that track, prod, and reward progress, it’s overwhelming.

But what if there was something that could help prevent injury, and improve technique? For those of us who are a prone to injuries of late (ahem), this could be interesting!
The Sensoria is an insert that fits a specially developed athletic sock embedded with electronic fibers. The device can track activity, pace, distance and lap times as well as stance, cadence, foot position and stride length. It connects to an app, and users are told whether or not their running pattern is neutral or over pronated, which can result in injuries. Should an injury occur, the sensor can provide analysis to help the user improve technique to avoid future problems.

Statistics show that 60% of runners experience some type of foot injury annually. This smart sock could impact that number significantly.

The Sensoria kit is available for about $99, and includes a pair of washable socks, an ankle sensor and the app.

photo: glasshouse images

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Cutting Soft Foods

June 25, 2013

IMG_1710Cutting soft cheeses and thin layers of cake can be a mess. This tip is so easy; you’ll never use a knife again!

When cutting horizontal slices of anything soft, use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss. That’s right! Just slide the floss through the item and viola, you have a clean, even slice with no mess.

We used this trick to cut a crottin of goat cheese into 3 slices and worked like charm.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Cooking with Garlic Scapes

June 24, 2013

Garlic scapes are the green leafy stalks of the garlic plant that grow above the ground shortly after the first leaves appear. They are long and curly at the ends, and are usually cut off, as they inhibit the growth of the plant, resulting in very small garlic bulbs. Most garlic scapes are tossed into the compost heap, but they are completely edible and delicious. The farmer’s market is full of them right now, but act quickly, as these are only available in the early summer.

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Think of these green stalks relating to garlic cloves, in the way that scallions relate to onions. They possess the same garlicky flavor, albeit a bit milder.
We experimented with some of these unusual stalks, and found them to be quite versatile.
Here are just a few ways to use garlic scapes:

Use them to make pesto:
Instead of using basil (or any other green vegetable you like) and garlic cloves, place chunks of garlic scapes into the food processor, with a large handful of pignoli nuts. Process until finely chopped. With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil until the sauce forms a smooth consistency. Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over pasta, or spread over grilled fish or chicken.

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Use them in dips and spreads:
Take 1 can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) and some garlic scapes (we used about 16”-20” worth, cut into chunks) and put them in the food processor. Add a handful of parsley if you like and process until finely minced. Add the juice of one lemon, and with the machine running drizzle in olive oil until it forms a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita, or grilled vegetables, or as a sandwich spread.
Use them in a traditional vinaigrette, with olive oil, Dijon mustard and either balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice.

Finely chop them and sprinkle them in salads, over pasta or vegetables.

They cook quickly, so if you are using them in a recipe, add them near the end to avoid them browning.

Now that we have gotten you started, surely you will come up with lots of great uses for garlic scapes.  Let us know in the comments what your favorite uses are.

Enjoy!

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Happy Anniversary To Us!!!

June 22, 2013

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Today is our anniversary! I can’t believe we have been blogging for 4 years already.
Thanks for coming along for the ride… the best is yet to come!

Special shout out to our partners, Glasshouse Images. We would be nothing without your beautiful photos.

photo: glasshouse images

Photos: Glasshouse Images

A Shot In The Dark

June 21, 2013

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The Center for Disease Control just released statistics citing a 56% decrease in the spread of the HPV virus among teens since the vaccine’s introduction in 2006.

That’s great news in the battle of HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the country.
Many people contract the virus and show no symptoms, thus passing it along to their partners unwittingly. While the virus can cause genital warts in both sexes, HPV is found in virtually all of the cervical cancer cases diagnosed.

The vaccine, often known by the trade name Gardasil, is given in 3 doses, spaced out within a six-month timeframe, and is approved for females ages 10-26. Ideally, it is given when the girls are 10-13 years old, prior to becoming sexual active. In 2009, the vaccine was approved for boys as well, who can also contract the disease and certain related cancers.

While it is wonderful news that the efficacy rate for the shot is about 82%, skeptical parents who are uncomfortable with the vaccine’s potential side effects, and discussing the sexuality issues that accompany it are still not embracing it.  The virus can be spread through other means, although sexual transmission is the most common.
My own child was inoculated last week, and other than a very sore arm, there were no immediate side effects. The idea that she may be protected from cervical cancer in the future is well worth the mild pain.

Currently, only 11.5% of all girls in the United States are being vaccinated, vs. 80% in other countries such as Great Britain, Denmark and Rwanda. Hopefully, the successful prevention of HPV and subsequently cervical cancer will over shadow the controversy surrounding the drug so that our population may also benefit from the protection it provides.

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Solar Charge Me

June 20, 2013

Three businesspeople leaning on a wall, looking at phones and digital tablets

The first of many solar powered charging stations went live in New York City yesterday, providing residents with a place to charge their precious smart phones.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to be sure the city had the infrastructure to weather future emergencies.

He said in a statement yesterday: “New Yorkers will have improved connectivity and access to the wireless technology that has become such an important part of our daily lives.”

The 12.5 foot poles will have adapters for both iPhones and micro USB powered devices. AT&T is funding the project at no cost to the city, and is also providing free Wi-Fi, at parks throughout the area.

For those of us who hiked several miles uptown to get power to charge our electronic devices last Fall when the super-storm rendered lower Manhattan powerless for several days, this could be a lifeline for future situations. Like when our batteries run low while picnicking…

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Don’t Pass the (Star)Buck

June 19, 2013

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Often, some of the controversial health bills passed in New York City become more widespread in time.  Such is the case with Starbucks, who today announced it would post calorie counts on all of their menu boards, nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking at having all restaurants with more than 20 locations post the nutritional information publically, allowing customers to make more informed decisions. Starbucks is one of the first to voluntarily post calories in their stores across the country.

In an effort to serve up healthier options the chain began offering sugar free syrups and switched to 2% milk, as it’s standard several years ago. Skim milk is also an option for customized drinks.

Would you pass on that double chocolate chip Frappuccino at 500 calories, and choose a 260 calorie iced Café Mocha, or a Skinny Flavored Latte at only 110 calories, if you were well informed? How about a 240-calorie croissant, instead of the healthier sounding banana walnut bread at a whopping 490 calories?

Informed decisions are generally better decisions, and Starbucks is taking a step in the right direction to make sure that their customers know what they are indulging in.

New York has successfully led the country in kicking the trans fat habit, banned smoking in public places and built awareness of the calories in their food.  Now how about those giant sodas Mayor Bloomberg is fighting to limit? Do you think that will eventually catch on as well?

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Hot Tips Tuesday: Bitters

June 18, 2013

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Flying can wreck havoc with your digestive system. Something about the pressurized cabin and not being very mobile for hours on end can cause a little pressure inside your own cabin, if you get my drift.

Why didn’t I know about this trick a few years ago, when my seatmate on an overnight transcontinental flight announced they probably shouldn’t have snacked on prunes before traveling? Just for the record, they were right!
Anyways, it’s never too late to know about a natural solution for a natural, yet unpleasant problem.

Bitters! Yes, that bartender’s ingredient of choice for making cocktails also relieves tummy issues. According to the Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, bitter foods stimulate the release of digestive enzymes.

A few drops taken on the tongue or in a glass of water should do the trick. Of course a Manhattan can do the trick as well!

photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Fried Chicken

June 17, 2013

It was Father’s Day, and bandaged hand or not, I wanted to make a special dinner to celebrate. I usually shy away from fried foods…partially because of the health aspect, but more because of the mess. I have a commercial stove and even vigorously boiling water leaves spatters. The kitchen is open to the rest of our loft, and the thought of all of my guests hanging out in the kitchen while I hover over a pan of sizzling hot oil doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. Tonight however, I persevered. I poked around on all of my favorite websites, looking for tips for the perfect fried chicken. Soaking overnight in buttermilk seemed to be a commonality. Many recommended adding a little baking powder to the flour mixture for a little extra crunch. Given my recent run of mishaps, most of my Facebook friends suggested ordering out, or baking it in the oven to avoid another trip to the burn unit. Instead, I donned gloves, put on an apron and some sleeves, and went for it.

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Fried Chicken:

Soak the chicken for several hours, or overnight in buttermilk, liberally seasoned with some salt and pepper.

Prior to frying, roll the chicken pieces, still coated in buttermilk, in a large bowl of flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, a tablespoon or so of baking powder, garlic powder,paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. Lay the chicken pieces out on a parchment or waxed paper covered baking sheet and return to the refrigerator until ready to be fried.

Place about 1” of vegetable oil in a large pan. The higher the sides of the pan, the less spattering there will be. Heat the oil to about 375 degrees and add the chicken, skin side down. Work in batches, and leave ample room between the pieces. Cook covered for about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces and cook uncovered for about 7 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of the pieces. You want to cook it through, but avoid burning the outside. The drumsticks cooked faster than the breasts due to size, but generally dark meat takes a little longer than white.

Drain on paper towels. Transfer the cooked pieces to a rack placed on top of a baking sheet, and place it in the oven to keep warm. The rack allows air to circulate and keeps the chicken crispy. If you are unsure if the chicken is cooked through, leave it in the oven to finish cooking.

Serve and enjoy!!!

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I served ours with sweet and spicy corn salsa with pancetta, previously posted here.

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