Kitchen Hacks TM_KH_BOOZE_FI_001

I’m coming up on a milestone birthday (it rhymes with shmenty-five) and I’ve been doing some deep thinking and metaphor-exploring about this decade in a person’s life.

If the college years were a plastic bottle of Vladimir—painful but functional—then I’d say the mid-twenties have improved a little to Absolut. Specifically, though, they’re the last ounce left of a bottle of marshmallow-flavored Absolut in my old freezer. My roommate and I have no idea where it came from, or to what particular gathering it was towed, by whom. Nor do we quite like the flavor. But hey, it’s free, I guess. MORE

Bookshelf

Out to Lunch

Conquering the packed lunch with Beating the Lunchbox Blues

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Whether you’re sending kids off to school or toting your own midday meal, packing lunches is one of more relentless kitchen tasks. It’s a constant struggle to find items that travel well, stay fresh, and also manage to be appealing.

My own mother was an incredible lunch packer during the years that my sister and I were in school. She made sandwiches, filled thermoses, and invented all manner of room-temperature friendly dishes that would inspire us to eat to the bottom of the container.

Years later, when I asked her about it, she confessed that it had been one of her least favorite parenting activities (right up there with helping with math homework) and that while she missed having young kids, she does not ever miss the daily lunch packing chore.

While I don’t have kids yet, I still find myself frequently packing lunches for my husband to take to work and I’m always on the lookout for ways to make those meals a little bit more interesting. MORE

Fish Fortnight TM_TL_BLUFSH_FI_001

When I was very young, my great-aunt had a house in one of the little towns that dots the Jersey shore. Despite living in Southern California, many summers, we’d make the cross-country trek to spend some time with the extended family at Aunt Doris’ shore house.

There would be long days at the beach and in the late afternoon, everyone would regroup at the house for showers and dinner. While my grandmother wasn’t much of a cook, at least once during these gatherings, she’d cook up a bluefish feast, which was one of her few specialties.
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The Whole Chicken Project TM_WC_SPATCH_FI_001

For this month’s Whole Chicken Project, we’re going to talk about spatchcocking. Go ahead, giggle. It does sound like an impossibly dirty thing to do to a poor bird. The first time I heard the word, I conjured
up mental images of a raw chicken being trussed up and given a
firm rub-down.

In reality, you spatchcock a bird by taking a pair of sturdy kitchen shears and using them to cut out the chicken’s backbone. It can take a little persistence to convince your scissors through the bones, but once you remove that one-inch strip, a world of quick-cooking options opens up.
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The Larder TM_TL_CROUT_FI_001

Wasted food is one of the unfortunate facts of our modern lives (a recent study says that we toss between 30% and 50% of all food produced). We overbuy, we eat out on nights when we had planned to cook, and we let leftovers wither away into slimy puddles in the back of the fridge. For our planet to survive and thrive, we need to curb this waste.

While there are grand, systemic changes that need to occur to truly rectify this issue, there’s also a lot that we can do at home to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills. To my mind, the most important thing to do is to start seeing our aging and leftover food from a transformational perspective.

Leftovers from dinner can be scrambled into eggs for breakfast. The last bits of cheese can be blended into a pleasing spread the French call fromage fort. And then there’s stale bread. From use as a soup thickener, to bread puddings and panades to breadcrumbs, it can do almost anything. MORE

Conflicted Kitchen TM_CK_ROVEG_FI_001

In many households, a Sunday roast is a weekly tradition. Whether it’s a simple roast chicken or a brawny pork shoulder, the meal brings everyone to the table and provides welcome, convenient leftovers for days.

But the Sunday roast shouldn’t be restricted to the carnivores among us. Vegetables are equally good roasted. Just as with meat, the oven’s dry heat caramelizes the exterior, drawing out natural sugars. Even unpopular plants like Brussels sprouts lose their slightly bitter, vegetable edge as they become sweet and tender in a roasting pan.

Recently, I’ve been focusing my own weekend roasting on local heads of cauliflower and broccoli. Butternut squash, beets, carrots, parsnips and leeks are all good seasonal choices as well. MORE

Conflicted Kitchen

Feeling Crumby

Homemade breadcrumbs make everything better--and sometimes healthier, too

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Anyone who is even remotely concerned about healthy eating or weight control has considered the carbohydrate. It’s clear to me from my own eating and weight patterns that starchy, floury foods contribute to weight gain, if only because they tend to make it all too easy to overeat. Unfortunately, they also contribute immeasurably to the pleasure in many a meal.

There’s the extreme approach of cutting them entirely. We all know at least one person who lives on romaine heart spears and hard-boiled eggs. I’ve tried this for hours at a stretch only to have my resolve broken by the aroma of just-baked pizza or the sad prospect of a burger minus the bun. MORE