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Archive for the ‘tips & how-to's’ Category

There are some things that I’m just not that good at.  I know.  Shocker.  Mastering the sauté pan flip, for one.  Every single time, one good flip and bits of food are everywhere.  I don’t know if I have weak wrists, a lack of confidence or just supreme uncoordination.  Probably all three.  That I can live with.  But the one thing that drives me nuts is caramelizing onions.  I just don’t have the patience and usually end up with dry, overly browned (aka “burnt”) bitter onions. Until now that is.  I have finally discovered a foolproof way to caramelize onions.  Alert the press!

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One Christmas when my godson was 4, I had the brilliant idea that I would make a gingerbread house to decorate together on Christmas Eve.  Oh what fun we’d have sticking on brightly colored candy bits with white icing!  How clever I was to come up with a unique crafty type of gift rather than a regular old toy!  What wonderful memories we would create together!  I would be the best godmother ever!  Yeah, it didn’t quite turn out that way.

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It’s Christmas cookie time.  You know it is.  I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cookies and I don’t think I’m alone on this one.  It’s that time of year when all my good intentions go out the window because there’s just too much to do and not enough time to do it.  It happens like clockwork and yet always catches me by surprise when I find myself completely overbooked and overwhelmed.  Then, because I don’t have enough going on, I realize I have those holiday cookies to bake but I have to say, I make some damn fine cookies.  I think my friends would agree. Well, I hope they do otherwise I’m going to have to reconsider my gift list.

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For the holiday weekend, I took a little trip up to a friends cabin in Western Wisconsin (that’s some of us above, kicking back outside.)  On the first night a neighbor – Willie – came over for a visit.  We got to talking about cobbler.  He asked if I could teach him how to make one like his Grandma made.  Sure, I said.  Is it more cakey or does it have a biscuit type of crust?  He said something about pie crust; it had a pie crust on the top and bottom.  Huh?  At least that’s what I think he said.  There were a lot of strong opinions being thrown about and none of us, besides Willie, thought a cobbler had two crusts.  We all call that pie. He left and I didn’t think much of it, doubtful our “lesson” would come to pass.

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These days, I’m not too sure what to think about Valentine’s Day.  When I was in grade school it was quite the big deal.  We’d spend ridiculous amounts of time decorating empty Kleenex boxes with construction paper and doily doo-dads.  I’d spend hours analyzing the meaning of each Scooby-doo Valentine before deciding who got what.  Wouldn’t want to send the wrong message to that 3rd grade boy, now would you?  (FYI, Scooby can convey some deep stuff whether you intend it or not.)  Then I would spend just as much time pouring over each Valentine I received.  If Billy sent me a Smurfette valentine, did that mean he liked me?  Ugh, it was all so exhausting for a grade schooler.

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waffled aloo parantha – food by me, photo by waffleizer

A little update on a most amusing project I’ve been working on.  My pal Dan – of the fabulously seasonal Fruitslinger blog – started a new one that answers the age old question – will it waffle?  Yep, it’s called Waffleizer.  The concept is simple and unique; what can you cook in a waffle iron besides waffles?  Turns out, quite a lot.  So far he’s waffled burgers, bread pudding, hash browns and s’mores. Though the sub head is “30 answers to the question “will it waffle?””, I bet he comes up with a whole lot more.

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I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays.  On one hand, I love getting together with friends and family, sharing food and laughs, old and new traditions, seeing the ornaments from my childhood on the tree, wrestling for that last crab leg.  On the other hand, I despise the stress I self-generate to get everything done.  I blame Martha for setting unrealistic expectations we can never achieve without of staff of 50.  (Where IS my staff by the way?)

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spread.lrg

Baking often has some unintended side effects besides a big fat butt, though that’s certainly the #1 occupational hazard.  It’s the leftovers.  Oh the leftovers.  In restaurants, this is rarely a problem because you can always find a use for the extras, be it a component in another dessert, a mignardise or a garnish.  At worst you can feed the staff but at home, they tend to collect on the counter and in the freezer.  Who has that kind of space? (more…)

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12complete pie.lrg

I love a good lattice crust.  It’s one of those things that impresses the hell out of people and is so damn satisfying when you get it right.  Sure, anyone can throw some streusel on a pile of fruit or even lay a flat sheet of dough on for a top crust but a perfectly woven lattice is a sight to behold.  “Oooooh!  You MADE that?”  Hell yeah I did.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard really.  If you ever made those little potholders as a kid on the loom with the nylon circle doo-dads, you can do this.

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