Archive for January, 2011

28th January
2011
written by Caryn

fat flakes & flurries

It should come as no surprise that in the winter it snows in many parts of the world. Still, that doesn’t stop the incredulous gnashing of teeth and non-stop coverage of every snowstorm and flurry. It’s pretty amusing albeit overdone. I think a whole feature on DC’s “Ice Cream Cone Man” is taking things a bit too far, though. On second thought, I *do* enjoy a good scoop of pistachio every now and then.

While the snow story hasn’t been as astounding here as it was last year, the weather has been chaotic enough to knock out the local schools for 3 days now. Luckily we’ve been able to stay pretty busy and, more importantly, safe and warm inside. Of course snow days are also great for lolling around the Internet, soaking up random goodness. A few things that have caught my eye:

  • I recently shared this fun map with Liz — a list of what food is representative of each state. Some are real head scratchers, but entertaining nonetheless. Another map of the US has surfaced and this one is a little less light-hearted, but still pretty interesting: The United States of Shame. Want to know what fascinating statistic places your state dead last in the rankings? Here’s your chart. I was a little surprised to see that Virginia has the highest number of alcohol-related motorcycle deaths, but after looking at some of the other states’ claim to shame, it could have been a lot worse. Don’t drink and drive and always wear a helmet (on your bike that is, but if you need it around the clock, that’s ok, too.)
  • We’re quickly approaching February and hearts abound, whether you prefer them in foil doily form or conversation style. I found some cute and easy heart-shaped crafts that I definitely want to try: 3-D Paper Hearts courtesy of Happy Clippings, Crayon Hearts via Martha Stewart and this Woven Heart Pattern from the Basket Maker’s Catalog.
  • If you’re looking to get someone a great Valentine’s day gift (ahem), this would be an awesome treat for anyone who loves trying new things and appreciates well-crafted food: Valentine‚Äôs Day Handmade Food Gift Box from Eat Boutique. It looks like a great assortment of yumminess and while I’m not a fan of beets (sorry Schrute Farm!) this more than makes up for it: Bacon-Coffee Caramel Popcorn with Candied Bacon. I know many are growing tired of the bacon frenzy and feel it’s jumped the shark. I kind of feel like those people are insane, though, and I say bring on the bacon!
  • While Maryland, DC and Virginia duke it out over whose fault it is that the recent snowstorms caused so much mayhem and foolishness, one of my NYC colleagues is focusing on the beauty of the snow with a roundup of these lovely snapshots.

24th January
2011
written by Caryn

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

This weekend was a nice relaxing few days. Of course too short, but that’s how it goes with weekends, I suppose. With the weather being the deep freeze that is late January, it was the perfect opportunity to hibernate for a few days, indulge in hearty comfort food and watch some football. The football didn’t turn out too great (we were rooting for the Bears and the Jets, sigh), but I think the hibernating and eating portions of the weekend more than made up for it.

I have found a few interesting recipes in the January/February issue of Everyday Food and this slow cooker spicy buffalo pulled chicken sounded perfect for a football day. The site doesn’t have the recipe listed yet, but there are some great instructions and photos for this dish here. The ingredients are simple, and mixing both chicken breast and thighs helps to keep the texture and flavor of the meat just right. The seasoning and sauce were what you’d expect for a pulled bbq sandwich, although for picky eaters, you may want to puree the onion, pepper, tomato and seasonings before adding to the meat. I made this recipe mostly how it was printed, but added extra hot sauce, used diced tomatoes instead of crushed and added a little extra chicken breast that I had already poached from making stock. Toward the end of the cooking time, I took the lid off of the crock pot and let some of the liquid evaporate, to thicken up the sauce. This made quite a bit, even considering the extra chicken I tossed in, so have been able to plan on some leftovers.

It doesn’t seem right to have a spicy barbecue sandwich without some cool, creamy cole slaw. I mixed a quick batch together and my new Kitchen Aid slicer/shredder attachment made quick work of all the chopping. (Thanks to my mom for this great gift!)

The barbecue and slaw were great, but what really pushed this over the edge was the bread. Oh, the bread. I don’t generally buy sandwich rolls and figured, how hard can it be, really? I know you may think it’s crazy, but it was completely stress-free and completely worth the minimal amount of effort.

Kaiser

King Arthur Flour has an easy-to-follow recipe here. I imagine you could take this basic recipe and do any number of yummy things with it. This makes a really wonderfully textured, yet tender roll with just the right amount of crusty goodness. I happened to have sesame seeds to add on top, and I think it definitely took it up a notch, but if you don’t have them, it will still be good. I promise.

Kaiser Roll Dough

For a great tip on how to shape these beauties, check out the knot method on Pinch My Salt. It worked perfectly for me, although I think these rolls would be just as tasty without any manipulation.

I know a lot of people are intimidated by bread, especially when it doesn’t involve a bread machine, clever tricks or fancy equipment. I’ve said it before and I will say it again — making your own yeast bread is really quite straightforward. But let’s just keep that between us so my family will continue to think I am some kind of magician.

21st January
2011
written by Caryn

You’ll probably notice my last blog update was over a year ago. A whole year! Shameful, I know, but I figured blogs would all be extinct by now and we’d be flying around in our Twitter-powered hovercars. Hmmm. Anyway, I was kind of busy last year, so I think that more than makes up for the lack of what would have been sporadic and not-very-interesting updates. I’m just coming out of my post-365 haze and decided I should update my blog, since my stepdaughter was kind enough to call me out in her new blog, which is all about food, cooking, budgets and media. At any rate, I hope to update this blog at least more than once this year. What better way to ease into things with a good, old-fashioned link roundup?

Guide to Housecat Coats & Colors: This is wild. At least to me. If you’re a cat person, I think you’ll find it fascinating.

– Today The Current is celebrating 6 years of awesomeness. This musical goldmine from Minnesota Public Radio is a wonderful soundtrack for cool and interesting people.

– Oh Bob Dylan, he’s like the new Dan Brown.

– I love chick peas, too, but I don’t think I’d go to these lengths to enjoy them. Still, I have several things on my to-do list this year that reflect this same “take the long way home” approach, so I can definitely relate.

– Speaking of intense projects, my friend Tam shot me this gem from Folk School: DIY caskets! I enjoy a challenge as much as anyone, but this one I’m hoping to not need for a good long while.

– Another cat link: iPad Games for Cats! Finally, one thing that would make me want an iPad.