Winter Warmers: Waffles and the State of Book Publishing (an on-going discussion)

On cold winter mornings, I need something that will warm me up at my core.  Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at waffles.  Simple, hearty, and classic.  I add mixed berries on top, a pat of butter, and some agave nectar rather than your standard syrup.  The agave nectar has a more honey-like sweetness, but isn’t as intensely sugary as maple syrup.  I’ve actually started adding it to other snacks in place of honey or sugar, such as in plain yogurt and coffee.  Who knew my favorite cactus/desert plant could not only make a mean tequila, but a versatile sweetener as well!

With all that’s been going on in the nation for the past week, I find that my attention span has dwindled down to goldfish-size.  Work continues to get crazy as, though the publishing industry is floundering as a whole, the cookbook division is showing soaring numbers.  It’s an exciting and interesting time to be working in publishing, as we see the movement from words on paper to words on a screen.  While I whole-heartedly maintain that the Kindles and iReaders of the world will never replace the feel of a book in your hands, there’s something to be said about the new technology.  And as the industry struggles to adapt, I predict you’ll be seeing an influx of author blogs and book-websites in order to market to the newer genre of electronic readers.  However, I also believe the new technology is mainly for those who want to read a book, and forget about it afterwards.  There are two types of readers in this world: those who can finish a book and throw it away, and those who would rather saw off their left arm than relinquish their collection.  I fall into the latter category, and therefore, my books will always come in paper-bound format.

Techniques: How to De-Seed a Pomegranate

photo by Joe M500 via flickr.com  

 

 

photo by Joe M500 via flickr.com

Everyone has their own go-to method for seeding pomegranates. Some peel them in water, so the red juice doesn’t stain their hands. Others painstakingly pluck the seeds out with a tiny spoon. Still others simply swear at the fruit until it yields its inner core… or, failing at that considering they’re cursing out an inanimate object, they give up and try an orange, instead. Whatever your method, the easiest tactic I’ve come across, that leaves me relatively stain free and keeps the seeds intact, is two-fold:

Start with a sharp paring knife. Make a cut around the thickest part of the pomegranate, slicing through to the membrane, but not to the actual fruit itself. Take each side of the fruit and begin twisting, softly, until the two halves come apart. Then, take each half, run your knife along the inner edge, to separate some of the seeds from the skin. To remove the seeds, you can either take each half and turn them inside-out over a bowl, OR (if you’re looking to get a little aggression out on your snack) you can take each half, turn them upside-down over a bowl, and beat the back of them with a wooden spoon. The seeds should fall nicely into the bowl.

Winter Warmers: Bread Pudding

I was watching the Food Network tonight and Throwdown with Bobby Flay came on.  Now, let me rant for a moment.  I believe the premise of this show is horrible.  Not that it’s a poorly produced show; rather, it is one of the most mean-spirited shows on television.  Demeaning, even.  Here, they take some locally known chef who has this one dish they do extremely well.  They don’t have a fancy show or legions of suburban moms drooling over their curly auburn locks.  So, the Food Network contacts these people and fools them into believing they are about to be a part of a Food Network special!  “Oh happy day, haven’t I made it big!!”  I can only imagine the celebration that goes off in that chef’s naive, trusting, cream-puff-filled head.

So they make him/her play the fool, and tape with an audience as the chef showcases his dish; then, in the middle of it– in struts Bobby Flay!  “I’m challenging you to a throwdown!… In hopes that I can inflate my already over-inflated sense of self-satisfaction.”  Ok, I’ll concede, he seems like a really decent guy.  But, you’d have a smile the size of Texas plastered on your face, too, if a single book deal even made your banker go CAH-CHING!  This man has made millions while his “throwdown adversaries” are generally still cooking out of makeshift, home kitchens.  So instead of being featured in their own Food Network special, suddenly they’re the bumbling sidekick in Bobby Flay’s Food Network Special.  That’s why I feel no certain amount of glee when he loses.

Anyway, I digress.  Tonight’s episode featured the Dessert Truck in New York, and their famous bread pudding.  Just witnessing the custard sauce glaze the gooey batch of chocolate bread pudding was enough to make all my tastebuds light up with delight!  And, yes, there was some drooling.  I couldn’t help it.  So I found this recipe for Butterscotch Bread Pudding.  Results to follow as soon as I procure a quasi-essential ingredient:  some bread.

It’s beyond freezing in Boston, hope you all are warming up with something sweet, tonight!

Winter Warmers: The Art of Brussel Sprouts

photo by fxp via flickr.com

photo by fxp via flickr.com

I am obsessed with these leafy, green, little things that look like tiny cabbages!  Once the bain of every 8 year-old’s existence, brussel sprouts have gone through a much-deserved palate revival over the past few years.  I remember when asked what my least favorite food was, I would always say, “Brussel sprouts!” not because I ever actually tried the things, but just because it seemed like the popular thing to say.  But, oh, how I was missing out!  Sprouts have this melty, buttery quality to them that comes out when you bake them at a high temperature.  Add a bit of cream sauce, a dash of pepper, and voila!  You have an enticing side-dish.

Personally, I prefer to roast my brussel sprouts– I line them up on a cookie sheet, douse with a spash of olive oil and salt, then bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so at 450.  So p-to the-h-e-nomenal!!!  However, I just stumbled upons this recipe for Wine and Honey Glazed Sprouts, that I am very excited to try out!

Great Gadgets!: Best Breadbox EVER

I cannot fathom who came up with this freakishly awesome creation, but it was either someone with: a) a Slinky obsession, b) a particular affinity for armadillos, or c) way too much time playing Halo in his mom’s basement. Regardless, this is by far the coolest storage container I’ve seen. Thanks goes out to Gizmodo.com for alerting me to its existence.

Behold:

from gizmodo.com

from gizmodo.com

Winter Warmers: Resolutions, Day One: Success!

So! My resolutions are off to a great start! I took a Rebounding (aerobics on a trampoline) and Smart Bells (weight-training) class at the gym, finished a chapter in “The Art of Living,” took the long way home, and smiled at a particularly adorable boy with flaxen hair! AND, what you people REALLY care about: I made dinner! With nary a take-out container in sight! I made Salmon with Lemon and Rosemary, to be exact. It was delish. I picked up some sockeye salmon at my local Trader Joe’s, used dry rosemary instead of fresh, added some capers, and cooked it all on the stove. So, yeah, I made changes– but it worked and I had a wonderful protein-and-omega-3-filled dish.

Pat on the back for me! Hope your resolutions are off to a good start.

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Happy (Belated) 2009, Internet!

Mmmmm.  Bubbly.

 

by oskay on flickr.com

by oskay on flickr.com

I hope everyone’s year is off to a food-filled start!  It’s a few days late, but I wanted to share this article from Tasting Tables on what you can do with all that leftover champagne (hint: make more cocktails!).  Hopefully, your hangover has worn away and you can stomach such a concept.  However, I’m sure you will have no issue putting these fabulous concoctions to use, whether or not you still have a stash in the fridge.

As I am wont to do on New Years Day, I have made several significant resolutions.  Beyond the self-improvement variety (spend more hours at the gym, read the classics,  travel, give blonde-haired boys a chance), I have made an even more significant (and economic) resolution: no more dining out (unless, of course, someone else is paying).  Therefore, I will be forced to cook for myself each and every night.  Frequently, I hope to share my culinary adventures with you, readers, as well as my culinary blunders (which, I am predicting, will be many).  Here’s to starting the new year off right!  Now, back to my quest for the perfect paella…