Kitchen Hacks TM_KH_FRYNG_FI_001

One of the rules I’ve come to adopt as a life tenet is that sometimes, you just gotta say f— it.

Since my boyfriend and I began dating about five years ago, we’ve been compiling a list of wise saws to live by. (My secret hope is that one day, if/when we live together, I will crochet this list into an heirloom wall hanging.)

So far, we have a whopping total of three. 1. The above. 2. Listen to some good music every day. And 3. Don’t be an asshole.

For a former overachiever, the first has been the hardest to accept. But I know, deep, down, that truer words have rarely been spoken (or yet crocheted).

It goes for food, too. Sometimes, a nice salad or a lovingly braised chicken is just not going to happen. So sometimes my friends, you just gotta say, fry it.
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Bookshelf

DIY Junk Food

A new book helps you recreate your childhood favorites

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When I was eight years old, my family moved from Southern California to a cozy neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. To my young mind, there were a number of good things about our move, but none was more tantalizing than the fact that for the first time in my life, there was a small market a few blocks away that I could get to entirely on my own steam. Suddenly a world of candy and store-bought snacks opened to me.

My friends and I would meet after school and ride our bikes to the “Little Store” to buy boxes of Cheez-Its or packets of Lik-M-Aid. From there, we’d go back to the playground, where we could sit on the swings and gobble our spoils. For a girl who had previously been led to believe that homemade popcorn and baked tortilla chips were the highest form of snackage, it was revelatory.

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The Larder homemade chips and salsa

I am the daughter of a devoted sports fan. My father follows most major flavors of professional athleticism (he is lukewarm about hockey). He is devoted to college sports, regularly attends triple A games, and even stays up-to-date with football scores from the high school my sister and I attended.

And so, though I don’t care a whit what happens in the world of football, basketball, or baseball, I pay a tiny bit of attention for my dad. I make a point of reading to just enough each fall to be able to talk about the World Series with him. I listen to his thoughts about the Oregon State Beavers and the University of Oregon Ducks. And come Super Bowl time, I provide the game day snacks. MORE

Chocolate anise and chocolates

If licorice conjures memories of movie theaters and popcorn, then turn your thoughts to the dark side. The distinctive flavor of black licorice is usually associated with chewy candy, but there’s so much more to it. Salted licorice offers a satisfying chew that’s part savory, part sweet. Anise seeds have an earthy, almost spicy character. Fennel gives two more options: Raw, it has a crisp, bright taste and cooking brings out its syrupy sweetness. Star anise makes for a pretty garnish, but it also has a delicate sweetness. And tarragon’s subtle licorice flavor is tempered with herbaceous notes.

Given the versatility of licorice flavors, it’s a prime candidate for combining with chocolate. It can be tricky to pair the right type of licorice flavor with the right type of chocolate, but in the hands of these three chocolate companies, the results are something to savor. MORE

Food Culture

Consider the Cheeto

The simple pleasures of junk food are more complex than they appear

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There are always new studies coming out about why people eat junk food. Or rather, the studies tend to be about the effects high-fat foods have on other creatures, like rats and mice; from these effects, we try to extrapolate possible causes of human predilections for junk food. The most recent of these, as reported in the Huffington Post, noticed that mice fed a high-fat diet exhibited brain chemistry similar to that produced by depression; when their diet was changed, the fat-fed mice appeared to be more anxious and sensitive to stress than those in the study’s control group. These effects suggest a cycle: the poor mice suffered depression-like symptoms while eating their junky diet, and withdrawal-like symptoms when returned to healthier food.
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Chocolate TM_CH_PEANT_FI_001

Peanuts get a bad rap these days, from outright bans at schools to bags of Halloween candy proudly declaring their peanut deficiency. But when I was a kid, the more peanuts, the better. I present for your deliberation: Mars versus Snickers. Mars bar? Cloyingly sweet with an oddly slick texture. Snickers bar? Caramelly, chewy, and delicious—and stuffed with peanuts. I rest my case.

If peanuts are good, then peanuts and chocolate is better. There’s a reason that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have endured since 1928, and it isn’t because my college roommate used to—and probably still does—eat them compulsively. MORE

Baking

The Milky Way

Grappling with a pastry genius

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The Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Christina Tosi is the most frustrating and ridiculous book I have ever tried to bake from. It is also one of the most brilliant. I pulled it off the shelf for the first time 10 days ago to attempt Tosi’s famous crack pie, which is supposedly so sugary that people start trembling after a few bites and so delicious that they keep right on eating. (The pie, a souped-up version of the classic Southern chess pie, retails for $44 at the Milk Bar bakery in New York City.)

I soon discovered that a key ingredient – freeze-dried corn – had to be mail-ordered. As I waited for that to arrive (I’m waiting still), I also discovered that once you’ve opened this book, it is hard to close. Milk Bar isn’t just another pretty collection of cobbler and cookie recipes. Tosi’s garishly colored confections range from the unusual to the demented, and they marry premium ingredients, like Plugra butter, to American junk food, like Cap’n Crunch. This is the only baking book on the planet that will show you how to make a Fruity Pebbles marshmallow cookie and a Saltine panna cotta. MORE

Soda Week

State of the Soda Ban

There's a culture war brewing over soft drinks, but is anybody winning?

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Crushed large soda cupWhen Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gave the keynote address at the National Soda Summit this summer, he seemed like a natural choice to rail against the public health risks of sugar-sweetened drinks. Sodas have been the bête noire in his fight against Philadelphia’s obesity problem. He has tried and failed twice to pass a soda tax, which would add two cents per ounce to the cost of sweetened beverages. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, his administration has launched a campaign to reduce soda consumption and encourage healthier behaviors. In a city where 63 percent of residents are overweight or obese, Mayor Nutter has made it clear: Big Soda is enemy number one.

Until the soda summit, however, the mayor had been tight-lipped on the idea of regulating soda consumption directly. But his speech in Washington raised a few eyebrows here at home. In discussing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s so-called soda ban, which, if passed as expected next month, will prohibit the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, Mayor Nutter praised Mayor Bloomberg’s plan. MORE