Showing posts from January, 2012

The Magic Flutes

Now, I love me some Valentine's Day. I love the Dollar Tree. I really enjoy the Just a Buck series on HelloGiggles. Hilarious. So tonight after we had some delicious Shalimar, I could not resist a stroll through the dollar store. Check out these beauties:

I just wish we would have had these in time for our wedding! I bought the pink ones too to enjoy on Valentine's Day.

Pizza making class at King Arthur Flour, VT

Today I went to a pizza making class at King Arthur Flour that my parents signed me up for as a Christmas gift. They are located in Norwich, VT. I had a great time driving out there with all of the beautiful scenery populated with ski resorts and small cheese farms.

I got there early and checked out the store. Browsing the store was a great time for me, as I am sure it would be for anyone who is really interested in baking. They also sell supplies online, and you can order a catalogue. They had pretty much any kind of flour you can think of, probably 10 different kinds of vanilla extract, endless decorating supplies, bread cookbooks, and much, much more. They also sold some local Vermont products. I bought some Grafton cheddar cheese, Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon, and some tart pans. Then I went to their cafe. I got a spinach and feta croissant and a coffee. The croissant was very flaky, very fresh, and totally amazing.

The Baking Education Center was really professional and comforta…

Party at The Mount, Lenox, MA

My fellow book-clubber Elizabeth and I went to Edith Wharton's 150th birthday party at The Mount tonight. There were some beautiful flower arrangements from Gillooly & Co. Design, and some great food from SoMA catering. The gardens are obviously not nearly as exciting as they are in warmer weather, but the inside of the house is amazing. We especially loved her library, and wanted to sit and hang out there reading for hours. Her bed seemed too small for a modern person. The historic toilet had a big sign on it that said "NOT A FUNCTIONAL TOILET", and we thought that was very funny. Some weird guy kept following us through all the rooms, and we thought at a party where the average age was about 65 maybe we were the hot ticket.

The food included chocolate covered strawberries (amazing), chocolate hazelnut macarons (fabulous), and lots of cheese. I had pieces of manchego and a soft and pungent cheddar from Rubiner's Cheesemongers. They were also serving Saratoga wat…

My favorite vegetable is pizza

Recently, I stumbled onto the White House Food Blog. It is really interesting because it includes a lot of information about recent discussions about school lunches. Also, apparently steak is big in the Obama white house.

I also stumbled on the online portion of an exhibit at the National Archives about Uncle Sam's influence on the diets of the American people. I love all the historical photos. Also, cool images like this one:

They also have a tumblr about the exhibit.

It is all very interesting. All I know is that pizza is my favorite vegetable. Although, my second favorite is french fries.

Vacations I would like to go on

It is that time of year where it gets dark outside much earlier than one would hope, one dreary day can sort of meld into another, and sometimes I can go the entire work day without ever feeling warmed up no matter how many layers of clothing I'm wearing. It is the time of year when I randomly will type in "hot, dry desert" into Google images to make myself feel better.  So let's talk about something fun - good ideas for vacations! Pretend it is no longer winter- instead, it is a perfectly mild day, and I am wearing something like this:

And off we go!
I loved this story on NPR about the father and daughter who went on a BBQ journey. Here is their blog. Ever since watching Friday Night Lights and going to Capital Q, I have just thought a BBQ Tour would be so much fun. Although possibly my above wardrobe choice could get messed up with some sauce.I read in Wine Enthusiast magazine about Blantyre in Lenox, MA. Go check out these ridiculous wine tastings that are complime…

The Merry Monk

Scott Lemieux says:

Albany Jane speaks the truth. I'm sure Ms. Garlic will have more, but she brought me back some of those boar short ribs after dining there earlier this week, and despite the disadvantage of spending 20 minutes in the car they were exceptionally good. I don't know what I would have thought of the sour cherry sauce in theory, but in practice is worked exceptionally well. I will need to get back soon to try the mussels, which by Ms. Garlic's account were also outstanding.

Update by Ms. Garlic:

I agree. Actually, they not only traveled the 20 minutes in the car, but also a 5 minute cold run through the snow, and unfortunately probably sat on the counter as my friend and I paid our bill and talked about the Republican primary race for a while  - so the fact that they were still really good after all of that is something!

I was down there because my friend and I attended a lecture by George Rickey's son Phillip about his dad's career. It was i…

Valentine's Day Inspiration

I love Valentine's Day. Are you one of those people who hates Valentine's Day and thinks it is just for marketing purposes and making single people feel bad? If I bake you a red velvet heart shaped whoopie pie will you shut up about it?

I am a subscriber to Martha Stewart Living magazine, and while the December holiday issue makes me feel anxious every year, the February Valentine's issue always gets me excited. The cards! The amazing desserts! The cheesy little presents you can make for your love! I know Caitlin Flanagan is weirdly against date night for couples in relationships, but some people who are in long-term relationships or married actually do enjoy their partner's company - imagine that! Now, I am a person who likes to stay home for New Year's Eve,  but I always, always like to go out on Valentine's Day. And by this I do not mean actually on Valentine's Day - that would be too crowded, no doubt. I mean the 13th or the 15th, when it is easy to ge…

The Best Pizza I've Ever Made

Now I am a big fan of the Cook's Illustrated Pizza Margherita recipe, as discussed here. But I recently tried Mark Bittman's pizza dough recipe from the New York Times Essential Cookbook, and that is very good too. I like the idea of mixing half wheat flour and half white flour in a lot of bread recipes because I feel you get some of the health benefits of the wheat flour, and some of the texture benefits of the white. I think it is a good mix, so I've been doing this in my pizza dough too. I went to Wild Oats Market in Williamstown, MA (as discussed here) earlier in the week and got some Maplebrook mozzarella and no joke - the best pepperoni I have ever had in my life. It is from Vermont Smoke and Cure and oh my goodness was this good. I cannot wait to try all of their other products like summer sausage, ham, bacon, and sausages. So delicious it was unreal. The same day I bought these products earlier in the week I had one mishap after another - through bad planning I had…

Caitlin Flanagan & Taylor Swift

Now for a break from our regularly scheduled programming I'd like to take some time to defend my girl Taylor Swift's good name.

For fun, go take a listen to this interview here. Check out what our friend Amanda has to say about it. Here is Irin Carmon, the woman who was on the radio with Caitlin Flanagan, and what she has to say about it.

Now, it is clear to me that there are many, many things wrong with Flanagan's arguments. She clearly doesn't pay much attention to facts. But two things that she did hold up to support her arguments were Taylor Swift and Disney Princess movies. I might argue that those princess movies don't even send very constructive messages to young girls. Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" has to leave her community and family to be locked in a cell by a beast that growls at her, and then in the end when she decides to stay there because he turns better looking, and we are all supposed to cheer. I feel a lot of my friends pick this one …

Pasta Making Class at Different Drummer's Kitchen

As a Christmas gift I signed my husband up for a pasta making class at Different Drummer's Kitchen in Stuyvesant Plaza. The instructor was from MezzeNotte in Guilderland. We sampled some food from this restaurant at the Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts and really enjoyed what we tried. He said they made some risotto, ricotta gnocchi, and a couple kinds of long fresh pasta. He said it was all hands-on and that the staff was very helpful. He said that in the class he learned the having a Kitchen-Aid mixer with a pasta attachment is the easiest method of making fresh pasta at home. He said that the hand crank ones really need two people - one person to feed in the pasta to the machine, and another to crank it (sometimes a third person is also needed to keep the device steady on the counter).

Check out some of his photos - it all looks delicious! Apparently it was not difficult to learn.

Duncan Hines, the cake and the man

So I have mentioned that I am dogsitting in a house that has a kitchen that is equipped for cooking with mixes and not from scratch. The dogs' owners come home from Florida tomorrow, so I decided to make myself one of these mixes to test out how they are (and because I feel celebratory because it is almost time for me to go home). It is usually my feeling that mixes are more expensive than cooking from scratch, and also may have other unwanted ingredients included like preservatives. It is also usually my feeling that all a mix really does is give you the dry ingredients already mixed together (which takes about two minutes to stir together yourself). I guess it also saves you having to look up a recipe. I always doubted if they tasted very good. Well, here I am to tell you that actually the Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix is not bad. It is just about as good as a homemade cake as bread made from a bread machine mix is as good as bread made from scratch. You get a lot of th…

Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts

Today I took a break from dogsitting and went to the Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts, at the Hotel Albany, (formerly the Crowne Plaza) where we had our wedding almost exactly six months ago. In fact, the Grand Tasting was in the very same room where we had our wedding reception. It really made me appreciate our wedding all over again. Sure, there were issues I had with weddings relating to materialism and gender, and it is silly the way people expect weddings to be this "one perfect day". But going back there and remembering everything - the Prime booth was where our wedding cake sat, the Taste booth was where Erin Harkes performed Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" for our first dance - I thought it actually was about the most perfect of a day as I could ever experience. Wedding planning can be so difficult and require so many different skills that not everybody has, but if you do it right and follow your vision and don't compromise too much, it can reall…

More bad food

So I am out here dogsitting, where the kitchen is mostly supplied for making things out of mixes. I've eaten a lot of salads from the salad bar at the local Stop & Shop (there should be more salad bars in the world - in offices, and schools), but I really miss my kitchen, I gotta say.

I've eaten things this week I wouldn't normally buy or eat (my friend once told me that bad food doesn't count if you didn't actually buy it yourself). I don't think of myself as a snob. I'm also not crazy about calories or anything but I usually think you can have anything you want if you make it yourself. Like ice cream - it takes a while to make it yourself and you don't want to eat it all at once because it took a lot of effort to make. I do feel like some people my age wouldn't normally eat junk food or low brow foods, but if you change one thing like make the hot dogs out of Wagyu beef all of a sudden it is gourmet and acceptable to eat . One thing I thought …

Crescent Rolls, Mayonnaise, and Velveeta

Just for fun I'd like to talk about some foods that sound gross to me.

So I am out here dogsitting in Massachusetts, and my coworker cooks almost exclusively with mixes. As a person who cooks from scratch frequently with actual ingredients,  I didn't even know half of these mixes existed. Call me crazy - but I didn't know you could have a box of dry ingredients that makes a dish of scalloped potatoes if you just add water! How, exactly does that work? She has tons and tons of slow cooker mixes, but I am not going to judge those because they just seem like packets of seasonings. I shouldn't make fun. Her doctor is always telling her to eat healthier, and we are always trying to come up with healthy foods that she may like. But she really seems to be the type of person who judges whether foods are good or not based on what is not in them (spices, vinegar, anything mushy), than what they contain (healthy ingredients with actual nutrients).

When I was over here on my lunch…

Things I Love About the Berkshires

This week I am dogsitting in North Adams, MA. (Last time I was dogsitting I took myself out to breakfast at the Blue Benn in VT.)  I love the Berkshires, and it is not just because three different museums out here have employed me, compared to none in Albany. I love the Berkshires for a lot of the same reasons I love the Napa Valley. Sure it is very rural, and you often feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but it is still relatively culturally sophisticated. James Taylor lives here. What is often ranked as the number one liberal arts school in the country is here. Emily Dickinson, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Herman Melville are all from western Massachusetts. The scenery is incredibly beautiful, and yet the one movie playing in town is likely the same artsy movie you saw at the Spectrum last week. Our friends who live in Seattle and Boston talk about how they want to go to MassMoca. People who hear about me having an hour commute always feel really bad for me, but it is very beautiful…

Food and Growing Up

This weekend we saw the movie Young Adult. I enjoyed it much more and laughed much harder than I probably should have. I'm turning 30 next month, and to me this character really hit home in that she sounded like half of my friends (of course if you ignore the whole over-the-top-crazy thing). Some people come up with names for their future children when they are 8 years old, get married right out of college at age 22, and don't understand at all people who don't want kids. Some people, on the other hand, are well into their 30s, wear Hello Kitty shirts, gulp Maker's Mark, and refer to babies as "it". The first group of people think that the second group just need to meet the right person, have a couple of kids and settle down, but the truth is that if this character (as a member of the second group) had a kid she would probably treat it as negligently as she treats that poor little dog of hers.

I thought that it was interesting the way food was treated in t…

Working Retail vs. Food Service

This year I decided to take on a part-time job during the weekends throughout the holidays to make some extra cash (because weddings, no matter how much you try not to spend a lot of money and make everything yourself are freakin' expensive). Back when I was an unpaid intern at the American Museum of Natural History, the archivist told me as I was taking on tons of debt to basically hope to be like her one day, that it would be a long while until I made a lot of money. Of course, it is also really satisfying work, and I knew what I was getting into. One main reason that I went to graduate school was so that I didn't have to be a waitress anymore. So when I came up with the idea of working weekends during the holidays, I really didn't want to go back to that.

So I showed up at a craft store, let's call it Mary Jo's Crafts, which is next to Emperor's Wine and Spirits. To their credit they hired me, since most places like that see that you have a Master's degr…