Archive for March, 2016

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Egg Peeling Hacks

March 29, 2016

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It is just after Easter, and many of us have a glut of hard boiled eggs laying around. They are a great, healthy, high protein snack, and can be used in salads and spreads. But first, they have to be peeled.
By Sunday night, the internet was bursting with tricks to peel hard boiled eggs quickly.

One site had “The Crazy Russian Guy” peeling them by smashing them and then rolling them along the countertop. The shell slipped right off.

Commenters suggested that he may have poked a hole in the end of the egg before cooking, which would allow water to seep between the egg white and the shell, making the peeling process simpler. Sure enough, Amazon sells egg shell piercers, for $4.95-$8.16, depending on the brand. The more expensive model is called an “International Egg Piercer.” Personally, I think a large saftey pin, or a thumbtack would do the job without buying a fancy gadget, but to each his own.

Dr. Travis Stork of the t.v. show “The Doctors” has his own egg peeling hack. He places the egg in a cup filled with about an inch of cold water. Placing a hand over the top, he shakes the egg in the cup until the shell pops off. Pretty slick move.

Epicurious has a video in a similar vein, where a dozen eggs are put into a pot with cold water in it, and swirled to allow the eggs to crash into one another cracking the shells. The demonstrator then tapped on each shell to further the process. After that they were easily peeled and rinsed under cold water. Frankly, this one didn’t look like a hack at all, and took as many steps as just peeling them without pomp or circumstance.

We have heard that super fresh eggs are harder to peel, but after cooking, we just run the whole pot under cold water, and then crack the shell and peel it off under running water when we are ready to eat them. Besides, who wants to eat old eggs?
Lastly, many suggest that eggs be cooked straight from the refrigerator, as opposed to letting them come to room temperature before using them.

Once they are peeled, The Pioneer Woman, Rhee Drummond,presses them through the holes of a cooling rack to chop them quickly.

For more information on how to boil an egg, read our previous post here.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Sustainable, Biodegradible and EDIBLE?!

March 28, 2016

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Take out food is a huge business in big cities, and with that comes disposable containers, cutlery and napkins. That one-time-use plastic cutlery may spend a matter of minutes transporting food from plate ( also made of plastic) to mouth, but it will live a lifetime in a landfill. Some work has been done to create biodegradable disposable utensils, but what if there was a better idea?
Narayana Peesapaty, of Hyderabad, India has come up with a product that is not only earth friendly, but is also edible.

Bakeys are disposable utensils made from a mixture of rice, millet and sorghum, which are baked dry and formed into spoons. Sorghum is one of the most sustainable crops, using less land water to grow than rice or corn. It is also able to grow in 95% of the world’s arable land. For the energy expended to produce one plastic spoon, Bakeys can product 100 sorghum based spoons. Even if the diner chooses not to eat the utensil, it degrades quickly, leaving no major environmental impact behind.

Currently the spoons come in three flavors; plain, sweet and spicy. There are plans afoot to produce plates, forks, knives and chopsticks, as well as new flavors.

The company’ s kickstarter campaign has raised over $79,000 so far, against their goal of $20,000, with 19 days to go.

Brilliant.

photo: Tasting Table

Video: Bakey’s 

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Food Fatigue

March 25, 2016

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I’ll cut to the chase on this one… I am on day 40 of another Whole 30. Yes, that’s right. I am 10 days past the program deadline, and still compliant. Why, you may ask? Because I am food numb.

I don’t have a specific craving for anything, my energy level is fairly high, and my stomach isn’t filled with hot lava anymore. All good. Except that I am so bored, I don’t even want to bother eating anymore. During the last 10 days, I have loosened up a bit. I sprinkled a tiny amount of soy sauce on something. I ate a French Fry. I even used a dollop of non-compliant mayo on my tuna fish. Part of the reason to do a Whole 30 is to change your relationship with food. Mine has certainly changed. Food has become completely dull to me.

There are plenty of foods that I can enjoy on this diet; vegetables, fruit, fish, chicken, eggs and most nuts. Olive oil, coconut oil and ghee. Surely, I can put together something that stirs my senses, yet I keep going back to the same few dishes.

I need to find some balance in my eating life, to sustain the positive effects of an extreme Paleo diet, sans meat, and a regular American diet filled with processed carbs, sugar and even more meat. I get irked at all the recipes and food photos that pop up on my various feeds, because everything seems to have butter, cheese, sugar, or is fried. My own site is filled with non-compliant recipes and decadent baked goods available to order. Yet, I can’t eat any of that. And while clean eating and a healthy diet is great, a little flexibility and, frankly a little enjoyment isn’t a bad thing.

After my last Whole 30, I had a little fear that once I started to go rogue, I would fall back into bad habits. And I eventually did. I want this time to be different. I want to be able to indulge a little, and go right back to what I hope to be the new normal. I know it works for me, but is there a really good reason to leave out all grains, legumes and dairy? I need to explore what does and doesn’t suit MY body, and tailor my eating accordingly. While Whole 30 and ultimately Paleo focuses on a meat heavy diet, I can’t tolerate meat. But maybe I can tolerate the yogurt, rice or beans that I left behind. It is time to gently and slowly start exploring other healthy food groups and see how they make me feel. And a glass of wine after my event tonight might now be a bad idea either.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Cacio e Pepe

March 24, 2016

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Just like in fashion, some foods suddenly take on a life of their own, as every menu, magazine and blog seems to be gushing over the same dish. Lately, that dish is Cacio e Pepe.

Translating from Italian, “cacio e pepe” means cheese and pepper. It is just a slight upgrade from the children’s plate of pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, but the simplicity of the dish, and the purity of the ingredients make it one that you will go back to again and again.

The preparation varies from recipe to recipe, but all agree on the ingredients: pasta, some of the water in which it was cooked, Parmesan, Romano, and or Pecorino Cheese, butter, and of course, pepper.  You really can’t go wrong here.

Cacio e Pepe:
Cook pasta a minute or two less than stated in the directions, reserving about a cup of the cooking water.

In a large pan, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter, and add a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper, swirling until the pepper is “toasted.”
Put the drained pasta into the pan, and add about a cup or more of the grated cheese, ( you can use all of one kind or mix the Pecorino with the Parmesan) and another tablespoon of butter, and toss until the pasta is coated. Slowly add some of the pasta cooking water, while continuing to mix and toss the pasta, until a smoother consistency is reached. You will likely only need 1/2 of the water. Place in a bowl and enjoy!!

Photo: Bon Appetite

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Ballerina Girls

March 23, 2016

Fashion trends emerge in interesting ways. Sometimes the runways influence what is to come, and sometimes it is just something that the cool girls just know, and it spreads like wildfire to the rest of the population. Case in point:
As I was walking to the gym this morning, the mannekins were being changed in the window of the Banana Republic flagship store. The only memorable thing I noticed were the shoes…flat, pointy lace up ballerinas were being put on every foot.

Later, I looked at my instagram feed, and a few of the most influencial style bloggers were wearing a version of those shoes. I’ve been noticing them a lot lately, at all price points and materials.

Let’s just call it right now; this is going to be the shoe of the season!!

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Atlantic Pacific

Blair Eadie of Atlantic Pacific never misses a great style. Hence, her caramel suede lace ups.

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J. Crew

How do you do J.Crew? Their lace up ballerina sports a pointy toe and a floral print.

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Banana Republic

Banana Republic’s version has a tapered toe and built up back.

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Aquazzura

Aquazzura with the shoe they call “Christy “that started it all.

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Aquazzura or Aldo? Its getting hard to tell!!

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Man Repeller

Leandra Medine, aka The Man Repeller, always has to be a little different, but the message is the same…lace it up!!

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Placing Toppings

March 22, 2016

MM Bars

Generally speaking, we just sprinkle our toppings on baked goods to get nice, even coverage. Certain harder topping items tend to crack and shatter when sliced through, leaving a messy look to bar cookies. Such is the case with our shortbread candy bars which we sprinkle with various flavors of M&Ms and coated candies. To rectify this problem, we scored cutlines into the top of the cookies while still in the pan, and placed all of the candies inside those lines to avoid having to cut through them later. While it looks like uneven before the bars are sliced, once cut, the presentation is much neater and more precise.

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Germ Patrol

March 21, 2016

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When we think of spring cleaning, our minds immediately go to purging our closets, uncluttering our cupboards and giving things a good old fashioned scrubbing. While that is a great practice, there are little things that we often overlook that may be harboring nasty germs. When was the last time you cleaned your gym stuff?

Earbuds: They get tossed in your bag or your pocket with who knows-what-else, and then stuck inside your ears. Not only are they covered with bacteria from the bottom of your bag, or inside of your pocket, they are also covered in earwax and sweat from your ears. Take a moment to think about how gross that is, and then take action!
Use a toothpick to gently remove any visable gunk, and then wipe them down with a cloth that has been very lightly saturated in rubbing alcohol. Make sure the cloth is just damp, so that no moisture gets inside the earpiece. They will not only look and feel better, but they will sound better too!

Fitness Tracker:  We wear these items religiously on our wrists, day and night, and especially when we are working up a sweat. Do you ever think about cleaning them? Some trackers are water resistant and can be worn in the shower, like the Nike Fuel Band, while others need to be removed first. Make a habit of wiping down the band with either rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant wipe after hitting the gym. Would you take a shower and then put your used socks back on? Then don’t put your sweat covered tracker back on either. Most devices have manufacturer’s suggested methods for cleaning them. Fitbit suggests using a toothpick in the computer port in the back to gently remove any build up, and then using Q-Tips lightly soaked in alcohol to wipe the back area clean. (Are you seeing a pattern here yet?)

Gym Bag: We lay it on the floor, inside a locker and fill it with sweaty clothes and dirty sneakers, yet we don’t often think about cleaning it. If you use a washable bag, you are in luck. Toss it in the washer and dryer to freshen it up often. For many other bags, it isn’t quite so simple. Nylon bags can be wiped down with a soapy cloth and air dried. Wiping it down inside and out with an antibacterial wipe regularly is a good practice. Don’t forget the handles!

Yoga Mat: If you tote your own, its a good idea to keep it clean. Wipe it down with a solution of water and apple cider vinegar to disinfect it naturally and keep the rubber from degrading. Airdry it fully open and away from direct sunlight. If you use the mats available at the gym or studio that are shared by others, this might not be possible. Tote some antibacterial wipes along to give it good once over before beginning your practice.There are also special mat sprays available from a variety of sources, or you can make your own. Simply fill a small spray bottle with purified water (spring, distilled or filtered,) and a couple of drops of teatree oil and a drop of lavendar oil. Teatree oil is a natural antifungal and antibacterial and lavender helps  relaxation  and relieves tension. While you’re at it, give your sneakers a good squirt.

Phone: This is probably the most handled and germiest thing we own. It goes everywhere we go, and provides tunes to push us through our sweatiest of workouts. Show it some love, and clean it off. Apple does not advise using anything more than a lint free cloth to clean off their iPhones and iPads. Other sites claim a lint free cloth soaked in a little, you guessed it, alcohol is ok once in awhile. Apple also sells something called iKlenz spray, which is approved for use on their products. Using a screen protector is helpful as that can be wiped off, or easily and inexpensively replaced. The cases we use can be cleaned, and depending on the material they are made of, many can be removed and washed with a mild soap and water solution. Check with the manufacturer as to how you can clean your case.

Sneakers: Washing and drying sneakers isn’t a good idea, as it can damage the midsoles. If you do choose to put them in the washing machine, use a gentle cycle, and stuff them with newspaper to hold their shape while air drying. Alternatively, use a toothbrush to get the mud off of them, and a damp sudsy cloth to the uppers. Many companies from Amazon to Foot Locker sell a sneaker cleaning spray that is said to be very effective. A little squirt of mat spray (see above) or sprinkling them with baking soda after wearing them, helps to control the dampness and odor.

Now that you know what to do, get going and freshen up those germy gym accessories  today!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Chicken With Sundried Tomatoes

March 17, 2016

 

T02Sundried tomatoes were all the rage in the 1980’s. You couldn’t go to a restaurant without finding them scattered in the pasta or cooked into a sauce. They were tucked into sandwiches and tossed into salads. Then, after a nice long stretch of being the ingredient of choice, they faded away into the oblivion.

For years, I couldn’t even look at one; that is how over-saturated they became. Yet, there was something about the deep slightly sweet flavor that added dimension to dishes that was worth exploring again. When the request for “that chicken stuffed with sundried tomatoes you used to make” came up, I initially turned up my nose. But after a few weeks of Whole30 induced deprivation, I was willing to stretch a bit to introduce something new to my palate. And you know what? It was good!

It may be time to de-stigmatize the sundried tomato and give it another chance.

Chicken Stuffed With Sundried Tomatoes

Lay sliced chicken breasts ( or slightly pounded and flattened breasts) out on a tray, inside up. Spread the breasts with dijon mustard, a few pieces of chopped scallion, and lay on a rehydrated sundried tomato* or two. Roll the breast up and place it seam side down on a baking dish. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

Bake the chicken breasts in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until they are cooked through and enjoy!

*Be sure to use oil packed tomatoes, or rehydrate the plain dried tomatoes in warm water before using them. Dried tomatoes that haven’t been rehydrated will suck every ounce of juice from your chicken and leave you with a hard, dry meal. No bueno.

These are perfect to make in advance. I had a late meeting tonight, and left them all prepared in the refrigerator so the pan could be popped in the oven while I made my way home.

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Sauce It Up

March 15, 2016

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I used to wonder how restaurants got their pasta dishes so hot. It seemed that the act of draining the pasta and pouring the hot sauce over it didn’t yield me a dish as piping hot as those I got when dining out.

The secret? Instead of putting the sauce on the pasta, put the pasta into the sauce!
Cook the pasta according to directions, removing it about a minute earlier than the stated cook time. Add the drained pasta to a warm pan, add the sauce, and swirl it together until the pasta is fully coated, and heated through. If the mixture seems a bit thick, add a little of the pasta cooking water to the pan to make the sauce smoother. Pour the entire contents of the pan into your bowl and enjoy it while its hot!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Waste Not, Want Not

March 14, 2016

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We live in a disposable society. Our landfills are overflowing with non-biodegradable materials that came from the so-called conveniences in our lives. Styrofoam cups and packing materials, bubble wrap, unbreakable plastics and cheap shopping bags. A little awareness helps us to be more conscious of our wasteful ways. Bringing our own bags to the grocery store, or recycling our glass and metals and plastics, simply doesn’t seem like enough.

Packing materials are one area that really irks me. The baked goods at Indigo Jones Eats are lovingly packaged to ensure that they arrive at their destination fresh, and without a crumb out of place. All that packaging adds up. Recycling boxes often helps, but at some point, it feels unappetizing to pack fresh foods into a box with old packing tape and stickers all over it, so a new one, albeit a recycled paper one, gets called into duty.  I have started shredding old papers to use as filler and padding, avoiding some, yet not all of the bubble wrap I used to use. I even try to re-purpose those giant padded strips that come in all of Amazon’s shipments. Noble as these practices are, there is still a box, a ton of shredded paper, and plastic bubble wrap padding my cello wrapped packages of cookies and s’mores.

According to the French Ministry of Ecology, we toss more than 14 million TONS of waste into landfills each year. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 99% of all birds on this planet will have some plastic in their guts. Something must be done to rectify this!

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Always innovative Ikea is among the first to introduce an alternative for their packing. Working with American based company Ecovative, they are using mushrooms, instead of styrofoam to protect their products.

Using mycelium, the part of the fungus that acts as roots, attaching itself to soil or whatever surface it is growing on is the base of this unique product.  Ecovative grows the mycelium around clean agricultural waste, such as corn husks, until the fibers bind together into a solid shape. They then dry the fibers to prevent further growth.  The end product is bespoke packing, formed to fit specific items.

In addition to creating packaging for Ikea and Dell Computers among others, Ecovative also offers a “grow your own” package which allows the consumer to create their own mushroom material products.

The best part? The mushroom materials decompose in the garden in just a few weeks. Genius!

To learn more, or to order some, checkout Ecovative’s website.

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Photos courtesy of Ecovative.

 


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