Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Citrus Zest

January 31, 2017

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Food waste has become so prevalent, that we sometimes toss the very things that we need later. Skins and peelings fit this category.

We often use the juice, or the flesh of citrus, and discard the peels. Yet, some of the most flavorful part is on the outside.

Before you squeeze or peel that lemon, lime or orange, stop and zest it first. Put the zest into a small glass jar and keep it in your freezer for later use.

Citrus zest adds a jolt of flavor and brightens up fish, chicken and vegetables and sauces, with just a little sprinkle. We also use it in baking, for scones, muffins and pound cakes.

How To Zest Citrus:

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Wash the outside of the fruit, and wipe it dry. Using a microplane grater, rub it all over the fruit, shaving off the colored part of the rind, and leaving the white pith behind. You can also use a vegetable peeler to peel off the rind, and then julienne it into tiny strips. Toss it in your jar, and enjoy it as needed.
The fruit can then be peeled or juiced as normal.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Showing Their Stripes

January 30, 2017

The stars showed their stripes on the red carpet at last night’s SAG awards, brightening a landscape that featured more black gowns than ever before.

Michelle Dockery wore a striped Elie Saab gown with a thigh high slit and black piping.

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Michelle Williams opted for sequined stripes, by Louis Vuitton.

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Yara Shahidi’s stripes were a mix of sheer and opaque with a hint of sparkle.The rainbow of color was grounded by black from designer, Naaem Kahn.

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet

Mayim Bialik took a more modest approach, with her striped taffetta gown that had a high neckline and short sleeves.

23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals

Photos via Style Caster

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Quiet Amidst The Storm

January 25, 2017

 

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It is no secret that we are living in challenging times. Whether you are in support of our current administration or not, it’s pretty rough out there. My social media feed has been filled with articles containing facts, opinions, and “alternate facts” since the Presidential race got underway last year. Every post is met with a long thread that evolves from agreement, to hideous accusations from “friends” and total strangers alike. And you know what? It’s debilitating.

We, as a country are so divided that we can no longer carry on a conversation, without it exploding into accusations and vitroil. I as an individual, am done. I haven’t changed my views, I haven’t crawled under a rock shielding myself from news stories, and burning issues. I have however, decided that I am going to refrain from commenting on things more controversial than eating pickles with peanut butter. (Verdict: GROSS!)

Everyday, I find myself respectfully defending my views only to be attacked. Yesterday, I found myself in a nearly 1000 comment thread about the inaugural cake. Let that sink in a moment, before I tell you that it got pretty ugly. In a time that the world is in turmoil, people took time to argue over a cake. A CAKE! I fell down that rabbit hole, and came back a little bruised from the journey.

And not commenting isn’t making it that much better. The things I take issue with continue to be there. The things others take issue with are blamed on us “liberals” and “special snowflakes.” Each individual action, is now attributed to an entire group of people, who didn’t do it, and don’t condone it, yet whatever political affiliation that the guilty party belongs to, now owns their misdeed. The constant verbal attacks over absolutely everything are becoming overwhelming. The name calling, the assumptions regarding one’s intelligence, and the outright bullying of those with different views has got to stop. And until it does, I’m not going to play.

Sometimes I am so riled up, I feel like I can’t breathe. Sometimes I am so shut down, that I just want to pull the covers over my head and hide. This can’t be healthy, for me or for anyone.  So I am taking a little break, and sticking to discussing issues that are far more benign than those with a political bent. Which apparently means pickles over cake, unless the President or his family hates pickles, in which case, it’s all fair game.

In a year that has divided us so, I look at the beacon of light that is before me. Last Saturday, millions of people came together to protest, and bring to the forefront issues that are meaningful to them, that our current administration doesn’t agree with. While the public shouldn’t need to protest to have our leaders represent their points of view, perhaps, in some really twisted way, all of this discord is in fact, bringing us together. We can only hope.

In the meantime….Indigo 0ut.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Marching Orders

January 18, 2017

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“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”- Women’s March on Washington

Women’s marches are scheduled to take place across the country this Saturday, in support of human rights. While the main march is taking place in Washington D.C. other marches will take place in New York and Los Angeles, as well as over 300 other locations around the country. And yes, men are also welcome.

If you would like to find a march near you, visit the official website and look for sister marches.

If you choose to attend the D.C. event, there will be some restrictions due to security concerns.

Here are a few tips and things you  should know if you are attending one of the marches.

Security will be extremely high. There are many common items that are banned, including aerosols, balloons, coolers, including glass, thermal or metal containers, selfie sticks, packages of any kinds, and bicycles and strollers.

Signs must be made of cardboard, posterboard or cloth only, and measure less than 3 feet wide, and 20 feet long.

Backpacks are allowed, but must not exceed 18″x 13″x 7″.  Other bags, such as a cross body pouch, must not exceed 8″x6″x4″ in size.

The weather is supposed to be mild, but at this time of year, can be unpredictable. It is best to wear light layers that can be added or removed as the day goes on.  Sunglasses, hats, and gloves are recommended.

It may be winter, but sunscreen is a must when spending the day outside, regardless of the season.

Amenities may be sketchy so be prepared with non-perishable snacks in clear zip-lock bags, and  (it pains me to say this), water that has been purchased in plastic bottles. Due to the ban on containers, your metal or glass water bottle may be confiscated. Restrooms may also be hard to come by, and the liklihood of having to use a filthy porta potty is pretty high. Dress for ease of use, with nothing hard to get in and out of, or anything that might touch the floor, such as overalls, jumpsuits or super wide leg pants.

Carry hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes, as well as tissues. You will need them!

Comfortable footwear is a given, but making sure your shoes or boots and socks don’t rub weh your feet swell is important. A coating of  Vaseline or Aquafor on your feet will help prevent blisters, and leave them suprisingly soft.

Be sure that your money, credit cards, transportation tickets and most importantly identification are safely stowed and close to your body. Placing them in a plastic bag inside a small crossbody pouch will keep them both safe and dry, in the event of rain.

Make sure your phone is fully charged, and bring a backup charger with you, if possible. If you are not using your phone, putting it on airplane mode will save battery.

Pre-purchase a local Metrocard, if applicable, so that you can easily get on public transportation.

Google has posted a map of spots where you can warm up, meet up and use the restrooms here.

Not into crowds, but want to show support? The 1@1 equality action initiative asks that at 1:00p.m. in Washington D.C,( regardless of your time zone), people stop whatever they are doing and stand for one minute of silent solidarity.

1@1 is a small, symbolic act in support of the American ideal of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is one powerful minute to connect, reflect and recommit to making that American ideal a reality.

The only way to make our country great, is to be an active participant in the decisions that shape our lives. Whether is is women’s rights, or healthcare reform, let your voice be heard by those that initiate real change. The future is in our hands.

Kitchen Organizing

January 13, 2017

The end of the year was a whirlwind for me, with 20 hour days in the kitchen and frenzied shopping for ingredients. Lack of time, and lack of patience, brought on by lack of sleep, left my kitchen in a state of disarray. It was technically clean. Scrupuously so. But when you get hit on the head with falling items everytime you open a cupboard, and you don’t have anymore canvas bags because you couldn’t fully unpack the groceries from the prior trip, it’s time to regroup.

I have a decent sized kitchen by New York City standards, and I have extra storage for serving pieces and sets of dishes. I even have an extra refrigerator, which is a godsend during busy times. Yet, my kitchen itself lacks a real pantry. With the need to always have stocked quantities of flours, sugars, nuts, dried fruit and assorted forms of chocolate, being organized so I can actually find what I need is a must.  Once I started buying flour and sugar in 50 pound bags, I knew it was time to retool my kitchen storage.

Canisters:

Canisters from Bed Bath and Beyond

Canisters from Bed Bath and Beyond

I was still using the set of terracotta cannisters that I got as a wedding gift. They were not only too small, but they weren’t airtight. Flour and sugar was constantly spilled on my shelves, and grimy fingerprints were visable, even if they were properly wiped down each night for hygiene purposes.

The fix: Large stainless steel canisters with latched lids now hold all-purpose flour, sugar and brown sugar. I will be returning to the store to get medium sized ones for wheat flour, and confectioner’s sugar. They sanitize easily, seal tightly, and are big enough that I am not lugging a huge bag around to refill them every hour. I can also get a large measuring cup into the canister to make scooping and measuring a breeze.

Wire bins:

Wire bins from Bed Bath and Beyond

Wire bins from Bed Bath and Beyond

I buy dried fruit and nuts in quantity, but often in small bags from Trader Joe’s. Those bags were all over the place, no matter how hard I tried to keep them organized.

The fix: Simple and inexpensive wire bins are the perfect size to hold all those bags, as well as boxes, and bags of chocolate. I can just reach in, or pull the whole bin out to find what I need. A piece of parchment as a liner allowed me to coral a selection of small items used for decoration, such as food coloring, sprinkles and candy melts.

Glass jars:

Glass jars for everything!

Glass jars for everything!

Open bags and oversized boxes can spill, or take up valuable space.

The fix: Pouring things into appropriately sized glass jars allow me to store things like spice blends, chocolate shavings and small, usable amounts of various salts and specialty sugars. They are reusable, free of BPAs, and easy to clean. The fact that they are transparent, makes it easy to see what is inside.

Labels:

Not my kitchen! But a girl can dream, right?

Not my kitchen! But a girl can dream, right?

Is it seasalt, or kosher salt? What percentage of cacao is that chocolate? Marking the jars and canisters makes it easy to tell.

The fix: While you could get nice labels to put on things, I have found that the chef’s trick of using tape works fine for me. Often, restaurants label foods in the refrigerator with blue tape to not only mark what is inside, but to note the date it was prepped to ensure freshness. I like plain old masking tape and a sharpie to mark my containers. It peels off easily, and provides a broad surface to write on.

My kitchen won’t be winning any design awards, and nobody will be saving photos of my cupboards on Pinterest. But they are now very organized and servicable, and got that way with a very meager investment.

Not my kitchen either. This person doesn't really cook. I'm sure of it!

Not my kitchen either. This person doesn’t really cook. I’m sure of it! But their pantry does look nice!

Now, if I can just keep it this way, I’ll be in good shape~

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Eggplant Gender

January 10, 2017

Two Eggplants in Round Bowl, High Angle View

Today’s tip comes from a client of mine who shared a tidbit learned when he studied at the CIA.

( The CIA he is referring to is the Culinary School of America, where he studied to be a chef, not a spy, he quickly pointed out.)

It seems there are both male and female eggplants, and the taste is different among the two genders. Who knew?!

via Plant-based Paradise

via Plant-based Paradise

The female eggplant has a long brownish slit-like indentation at the bottom. The male’s marking is more round. The male eggplant has less seeds and tends to be less bitter, making it a better choice for cooking, especially for dishes that are not heavily sauced.

Thanks for the tip, Bob!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Fishnets

January 9, 2017

Everything old becomes new again, and one of the latest styling trends is no exception.

Fishnet stockings have been around for decades, taking on personas from sexy-sleazy (Fredericks of Hollywood) to grunge (Madonna’s Material Girl). This time around, the look is much cleaner, less overt, and in some cases downright sporty. No garter belt necessary here!

Pair them with old school sneakers and rolled up pants for casual take on the trend.

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via pinterest | origin unknown

Tennis anyone? All white adds a sense of purity to snekaers and fishnet ankle socks.

via instagram

via instagram |origin unknown

Fishnet anklets add texture to a classic Gucci loafer and cropped jeans.

origin unknown

origin unknown

Same look, larger scale.

The Style Folder Tumblr

The Style Folder Tumblr

Fill in the blanks: Wear fishnet tights underneath torn denim to add texture, and a little coverage.

The Sartorialist

The Sartorialist

Let a little net peek out of the top of your boot for a layered effect.

Where to Get It

Where to Get It

Victoria Tornegren

Victoria Tornegren

White fishnets accent gold metallic mules.

Charme and More

Charme and More

It’s an inexpensive wardrobe update worth trying. Are you game?

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Kitchen Tips Thursday: Dried Fruit

December 8, 2016

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What exactly is Kitchen Tips Thursday, you may be asking? It’s when I am too busy to get the post up in time to call it Kitchen Tips Tuesday! Better late than never, right?
Today’s tip is about using dried fruit in baking. Before you stop reading, this isn’t just about fruit cake. In fact, I have never made a fruit cake, nor have I even considered it. I do however make delicious scones, and oatmeal walnut cookies, both of which use dried fruit in different ways.

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For the scones, the dried fruit (usually cranberries, but sometimes raisins, currents, dried cherries, dried blueberries or combination there of) are tossed in flour before being mixed into the dough. This is to keep them separated, and prevent them from getting sticky. This technique is often used in muffins when the fruit is fresh, as in the case of blueberry muffins, for example, to allow the fruit to disperse within the batter, rather than drop down to the bottom. Both of these items have heartier dough, and allow the fruit to become imbedded into the scone or muffin, thus protecting it from the heat of the oven.

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The opposite is the case for the cookies. My recipe calls for the dried fruit ( they use the classic raisins, but I make mine with cranberries) to be soaked in lightly beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour before getting added to the dry ingredients. This makes them plumper and prevents them from sucking the life out of the delicate cookie dough during baking. A very dry raisin will try to seek hydration from the moisture in the cookie, and it can also end up almost petrified after baking dries it out further. This method takes a bit longer ( get it started and go do something else for an hour) but it is well worth it for the end result.

Happy holiday baking!!!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Haters Gonna Hate

November 22, 2016

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A Facebook friend from my childhood posted what she thought was an innocuous yet extemely deragatory comment about Michelle Obama’s current Vogue cover. It incited a dialogue that was both bitter, and frightening at the same time. Those that agreed added their two cents in the same defamatory way, and those that disagreed practically ripped her head off. As I read the comments, the small voice in my head kept repeating,” don’t engage, don’t engage.” Yet, regardless of your political bent, she made a comment that was demeaning, rude and wrong on so many levels…about another woman who didn’t do anything to invite this vitriol.
I silently followed the thread throughout the evening, and picked it up again early in the morning. A few people commented to say goodbye, as they unfollowed her forever. A few encourged her. The only thing that was consistent was the hatred. This was not about reasoning, or objecting; this was two factions that were so fed up with one another, that they said exactly what they thought, without sugar coating a thing. I finally caved and simply stated my mantra that Michelle herself instilled in me a few months ago: “When they go low, we go high.”

Minutes later, the post was deleted.

I think of myself as open minded and reasonable. I am liberal, and believe in the rights of all people, regardless of race, color, religion or sexual orientation. I believe in being a good person, and doing the right thing wherever possible. I want to accept that others have opinions different from my own. Yet, all of this hate is getting to me. It’s giving me a stomach ache that won’t go away. It’s causing feelings to well up inside me that are full of fear, and frustration. And finally, as each racist, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic cabinet appointment is revealed, those feelings inside me are starting to resemble hatred. And that frightens me even more.

Yes, I do hate that we have just set ourselves up to be a white supremacist society that has no filter in how we deal with others. Even our new first lady to be, who has decided to stay in New York, seems to want no part of this sh*t show. Yes, I do hate that you supported this behavior and are doing nothing to stop it, as it spirals out of control before your guy even takes office. Yes, I do hate that suddenly you are smug and spewing rude comments as if it’s ok because our future president does it too. It’s not ok.

I am sorry Michelle. I don’t know how much longer I can continue to go high, when so many around me on both sides are going so very, very low.

Each day, I take a deep breath, and try to remind myself of the good things in life, and to live in the moment, because as the Jews in Nazi Germany can attest to, it can change for the worst in heartbeat. And all indications are that we could easily be headed in that direction.

I believe in free speech, but not in hateful, hurtful speech. Please take a minute to think, before you speak or post a comment that might inspire hateful rhetoric, and demand it from others. If we all did that, it would be the first step in coming together to keep America great.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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How To Host A Successful Thanksgiving

November 21, 2016
The Jones Family

The Jones Family

When one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn, invited me to participate in their Thanksgiving video series, I jumped at the opportunity. But the real magic happened when my family wandered in, and reluctantly joined in on the fun.

While the content is as promised, what puts a smile on my face is seeing my family together as we really are; raw, authentic and very happy. In a time when many are feeling isolated, disenfranchised and afraid, looking at my multi-cultural and multi-racial family, gives me great joy, and for that I am thankful. This Thanksgiving, do not let fear or hatred cloud your thoughts. Family isn’t just about gene pools; it’s about love. I hope you can feel ours in this video.

This is us…

http://www.thekitchn.com/videos/p8Kj7Vly

Tips For Cooking the Best Thanksgiving

*Sorry, I can’t get the video to embed. Please click on the link to view.

Thank you Rebecca and team at The Kitchn + Apartment Therapy for letting us be part of your series.


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