Archives for category: Darn Good Ideas

Every time I pick up this free magazine (usually at Savenors, but they are available all over) I learn so0 much. It’s the best way to find out about the amazing food people around Boston. They have great photography and design, and always the most seasonal of stories. Usually I learn more about food producers that I eventually spot at the markets around town.

For example in this issue, they wrote about a young tech-savvy entrepreneur who is wholesaling fish in Boston: Red’s Best. In the article they noted that if you buy local fish it is typically totally sustainable, not overfished, caught by a small operation fisherman, and amazingly fresh. I had never thought of it that way! I looked for someone selling fish at the farmer’s market yesterday and picked up a pound right away. And that was just the first article I paged to. When you see this magazine around town, definitely pick one up.

Have you ever brought a beer into the shower with you? Not once have I thought to do this. After some completely informal quizzing of my male friends, I’ve determined that they understand having a cold beer during a late afternoon shower to be one of life’s great pleasures. “Oh of course,” they say, “You’ve never done that?”

“It’s a way to relish a normal thing, and make it more fun.” Joe says.

“But you don’t even take long showers,” I say.

“Yes I do.”

“Oh.”

Maybe I’m crazy, but doesn’t it sound a little weird to be all sudsy, with warm water everywhere, and then try to drink a cold beer?

However, if there’s relishing to be done, I will not be left out of it.

While I was mulling over this, I came upon this gentleman’s blog wherein he posted about his first outdoor shower of the season. The ante has been upped: it doesn’t get more vacation fantastic than an outdoor shower. Here’s his drink of choice:

a manhattan garnished with persian cherries that have been rehydrated with rye and bourbon.

Now that I’ve heard about this, it’s definitely going on my summer bucket list.  Are you getting excited about new things to try this summer? {speaking of, Anna just posted a great, very Boston themed one.}

Our favorite all American advocate and blogger ACL posted about lawn chair season beginning last weekend and he’s right! What I’ve been missing in my active walk-to-the-park, sit, walk-home lifestyle is a something like this. Light, foldable, tightly webbed, I’ll be the envy of the senior citizens!

He links to these American made beauties, here’s my favorite:

$27.49, friends.

Today I have a little post on Momfilter (a website I love) about planting cilantro from something in your spice cabinet–coriander seeds! I’m so proud of my little green seedlings. Look how strong they are. From the day I planted them, I think it’s taken about a month to get to this stage:

the May foodswap was last weekend and I made marshmallows! and a good thing too, because Monday, May 21, turned out rainy and cold.

When I made the first batch of marshmallows I thought, “those liars. This is hard! and sticky! Not easy like they promised me on the internets.” But after that I made the next two in quick succession and it seemed much easier. A marshmallow recipe is a good one to make while you’re replying to emails or doing something else; there is a lot of waiting time where the watched pot likes to be left alone.

Toasted Coconut, Lillet spiked, and Chocolate Cinnamon.

The toasted coconut was crunchy and squishy (I’m using all the leftover coconut in my oatmeal these days), the Chocolate Cinnamon had unexpected chunks of ultra dark chocolate hidden throughout, the Lillet spiked ones tasted of citrus with an alcohol twist dusted in powder sugar and brilliantly white. They were my favorite.

They were very popular at the swap–too popular. I only made 10 bags, and 12 people signed up to trade with me, and I wanted to trade with a few more after that! It was hard to decide how to trade, and I didn’t like not having enough for everyone! (aren’t the labels appropriate? Joe made them for me, the font is called Bello.)

I traded for a jar of chive kimchi, a jar of mole sauce, a bag of homemade cheddar crackers, a container of marinated mozzarella balls, a beautiful lemon poppy seed cupcake filled with violet jelly with mascarpone frosting, strawberry-sherry compote, a jar of arugula pesto, four decadent marshmallow brownies, a mini loaf of onion bread, and a bag of homemade chai! As usual I was stunned and awed at the awesome things everyone brought.

My friend Johanna made the chai and I thought the packaging turned out irresistible! How pretty are these?

Several of you commented that you would like to start a foodswap in your town. I think you should! You would probably need to recruit about 5-7 people to get it started, and then spread the word! The most unexpected people participate and really get into it.

When I realized I was going to be in Santa Monica for a week with free childcare (commonly called grandma) the first thing I though of was xobreakfast.

Xobreakfast is a blogger that I’ve admired since I first read about her on the venerable pages of Wednesday Chef. I like her style, I like her breakfast love, I like her quirky puns, and I love her great taste in recipe development (her maple olive oil oatbread is the house favorite these days). I think the first thing I loved about her was her clever avatar:

irresistible, no?

Though I had piles of affection for this person, of course I’d never spoken with her, much less met her. But I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

And she said yes!

do I look thrilled? I was.

Probably the best thing about meeting up with a food blogger is there’s no shame in emailing back and forth for weeks with our lists of where we think we should meet. L.A. currently has lots of coffee shops that are the best parts of “hipster” culture: obsessive about quality, beautiful architectural almost art-galleryesque interiors, articulate chalkboard menus, fair trade brews, carefully selected pastries…plus, and this was a big unexpected plus to me: patios with sunshine!

We picked a place half way between us, The Coffee Commissary. We were partially convinced by the existence of a food truck name Eggslut that parked outside on week day mornings. In typical fashion, everyone on Yelp insisted that the baristas were jerks who refused to smile and acted like they worked as grim reapers in the evenings….though the Yelpers gravely admitted the coffee was delicious.

But when we got there we found everyone all smiles and cordial explanations (possibly they were tipped off that two glamorous bloggers were arriving?). We both picked up salted caramel rice crispy treats, and I had to circle back halfway through for a cream biscuit with strawberry jam and creme fraiche.

Noelle ordered the signature “slut” which was a coddled egg with pureed potatoes, chives and gray salt that came in an adorable glass jar.

I brought her honey from the east coast. She made me granola. And we talked about…food! Cortados (I had never heard of these mini cappuccinos that were on menus all over LA), muesli, packing too many dishes to take to France, babies and boyfriends, eating too much when you travel to new exciting places, the strawberries at the farmers market, bread recipes….of course we knew lots about each other because we’d read each other’s blogs! It was so fun.

It made me think of this quote on Swiss Miss recently:

There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal — you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting. – Trent Walton

What about you? Is there a blogger who you’d love to meet in person? Would you be nervous to share how much you truly know about them, in conversation?

Goodreads is the yelp of the book world. Like yelp, they are the chosen venue for their genre of reviews: they have more than 7 million users and offer a variety of ways to track your interactions with their chosen field: progress updates, themed bookshelves, snooping your friends recent reads, and of course: reviews.

Just like Yelp, read the reviews, and you are are plagued by the problem of no-elected-critic: some people seem to trash a book for personal reasons, some careful cite their opinions and then forget what they were talking about and meander on a different topic,  some arbitrarily nominate their recent read as the greatest book of all time because they happend to be drunk while reading (this last one happens more with yelp than goodreads, but still).

And yet, just like Yelp, I read dozens of these strange strangers’ opinions; squinting as I read, trying to spot their neuroses and discover whether they match mine or not. If you both think slow service is cause for complaint (oh my goodness no. stop reading of this person’s frantic life immediately), or if you both think quirky signage makes it worth the trip (yes!) perhaps you can share an opinion or two.

I liked my friend Kate’s careful specification of what exactly each star means to her (you can click the photo for a close up). Goodreads should adapt her specifications and suggest these boundaries to you as your review. She’s a librarian, so of course we can count on her to guide society towards agreed upon organization.

ps: Here’s my account.

I liked Rebecca’s swift tips post about her dermatologist’s advice for the great winter dry out. My sister bought me a pot of creamy-pink-super-moisturizing-Clinique-substance for Christmas. in an attempt to not turn out like Nora Ephron, I’ve been slathering it on nightly.

Babies can make late afternoons a little sludgy. So can jobs where you’ve been assigned a computer from the mid ’90s. That might be worse, actually. So reserve your pity for those folks.

anyway, in the sludgy hours between 4-7pm I like to contemplate my new year’s resolutions for 2012. One that I keep thinking about is MEETING MY NEIGHBORS. A nice couple just moved into the apartment next door. From our few brush-bys, when they smile eagerly at me and gesture mildly to Lux, I’m pretty sure they are super nice. Have I introduced myself? no. Have I mentioned that I hope they are settling in ok? no. IS THERE SOMETHING IN THE BOSTON WATER THAT KILLED OFF MY NURTURING MIDWESTERN ROOTS?  if so, that would explain the hollow echo when I hunt for my empathy.

As an entry point to the intimidating resolution that I have chosen, I have decided we will fill out these door knockers designed by one of my A-list heros: Candy Chang.

You know how text messages are the total shy cop-out to actually calling someone? Well this is the shy cop-out to actually introducing myself. But A-list hero ms.Chang designed them so cheerfully that I just know they will pave the way to a future of sharing mouse-trapping tips, cups of sugar, keys to roof decks, and other perks of city friends.

Candy designed these for Good Magazine, but she made the pdfs available for free on her website.

Anyone else already making lists?

Football season has begun. A mysterious time for me, as I never did really enjoy my tickets to Notre Dame as I should have, and I wait through superbowl coverage for the commercials, and basically can’t stand the fitful noise–the starts, stops, whistles, and that weird crescendo of the NFL anthem as their logo flashes on screen—of the game on television.

But Joe, whom I relate to and agree with on so many levels–from the absurd minute to the morally overarching–really does love to watch the games.

And so I quizzically mull over the differences between him and me and where they feud on this matter.

Most timely, Grantland has re-published an essay by David Foster Wallace about tennis and Federer. That’s a screenshot of it above. A wonderful perk of reading DFW on Grantland‘s website is their amazing layout for footnotes. Just so much better than the bottom of the page stuff.

Anyway, in the essay was this enlightening, or at least relatable to me, paragraph about loving sports. Perhaps it will sound true to you as well:

Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.

The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.

Of course, in men’s sports no one ever talks about beauty or grace or the body. Men may profess their “love” of sports, but that love must always be cast and enacted in the symbology of war: elimination vs. advance, hierarchy of rank and standing, obsessive statistics, technical analysis, tribal and/or nationalist fervor, uniforms, mass noise, banners, chest-thumping, face-painting, etc. For reasons that are not well understood, war’s codes are safer for most of us than love’s.

With Steve Jobs announcement of retiring from Apple, it’s been sweet to see the internet spring into action and write up little memorials, odd au revoirs, and even buy more Apple stock.

I’ve seen a few vintage Apple ads posted in tribute, which reminded me that the white screened, hoodie-ed, possibly high, Ellen Feis Switch ad is still the best.

This is the kind of useful thing America’s Test Kitchen usually keeps behind a paywall or buried in Cook’s Illustrated: whether it’s ok to buy a cheap nonstick pan. The answer is yes, and definitely get rid of your old one as soon as it starts peeling.

They do point out that if you have an expensive one, it probably has a lifetime warranty, which would make the price worth it. I wish I had thought of that when I got rid of my toxically peeling All Clad two months ago.

But you can read the results for yourself right here on their all new internet hang out—the cleverly named Feed. I love the layout and how much content they’ve packed in, including lots of the esoteric that is usually just in Cook’s Illustrated.

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