October 2011

A Little Place I Found

Have you heard of a place called Teavana?

It is a wondrous place for the tea lover and those who are knew to drinking tea.  Now, I am originally from Montana which lacked this shop but when I moved to Portland, I was introduced to a place that focused on something that I loved.  It was nice to feel like people understood me instead of hoping that a coffee shop might have a good tea(which they usually don't).

If you aren't located in an area where you can walk in to a store, the website is a very welcoming place with a large variety of products to keep you on your toes.  However, if you do live in a city with one, you should take a gander.

When I first walked into one and was welcomed so warmly by the associates, I felt like I could ask any questions.  Not to mention, they have the best tea pots that will warm and keep your tea warm.  It is so very nice to have tea that you come back to and hasn't gone cold.  Not to mention the amazing tea pots that come in so many designs that I could spend hours deciding.

The Splendid Table - A Wonderful Food Show On NPR

Lynne Rossetto Kasper, a very knowledgeable food expert, hosts the show.

If you love food, then you'll love the weekly one hour show broadcasted on National Public Radio called, "The Splendid Table." You'll have to check with your local NPR station to find out the time for the time in your local area as it varies from place to place. Lynne Rossetto Kasper, a very knowledgeable food expert, hosts the show. Each week there is a theme and she interviews a guest for about 30 minutes. The rest of the show includes special recurring segments 15-20 minutes for listeners to call in with questions about anything food related.


One of my favorite segments is a short interview with a husband wife team that travel around the country eating in various diners, restaurants, and roadside food stands. They review one or two a week and the descriptions they provide are fascinating because it also includes some commentary on the local culture. Occasionally, Lynne will also interview someone writing a fascinating food blog online. One week she interviewed someone who was creating really unique dishes out of Jell-O!

Best Methods for Preventing Tears While Chopping an Onion

4 great tips to keep you tear free.

I never fail to produce an excessive amount of tears every time I even think about peeling an onion. Keeping onions in my diet, however, is important because onions contain such nutrients as vitamin B1, fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Since many other individuals also have trouble chopping onions, I decided it was worth investigating. Sure enough, there are some tride and true methods you can incorporate in order to prevent the next avalanche of tears from emerging.

1. Place your onion in the refrigerator 30 minutes before you intend on chopping it. The gases that cause your eyes to become irritated are slowed down. If you are quick with the knife, you should be able to dice the onion before it makes you cry. Of course, if you are in a hurry, use the freezer for 10 minutes instead of the refrigerator.

2. Turn on the fan above your stove, and cut the onion on a cutting board directly underneath of it. The fan will draw the gasses up into it instead of having them make their way into your eyes. If all you have is a ceiling fan, however, than use that to help redirect the onion gasses away from you.

Heinz Announces New Ketchup

The old classic gets a revamp with balsamic vinegar
Big news in the condiment world this week: for the first time in a decade, Heinz is releasing a new ketchup flavor, "Balsamic Vinegar." Aside from the intriguing new flavor, one interesting feature of this story is that Heinz has no plans to advertise the ketchup, but will be "banking on the power of social media to get the word out."
Preliminary reviews of the new flavor have been positive so far. The original ketchup is made with white vinegar, so the balsamic vinegar substitution apparently creates a much richer flavor with even more umami. Of course, umami has always been ketchup's strong suit, so I am particularly intrigued by the idea of a ketchup with more of it.

Satisfy your Cravings

With Chocolate Waffles


It’s always a great idea to switch things up a bit to keep them from getting boring, especially when it comes to food. There are only so many different combinations that can be made to make each meal a little different than the last. That is, until you start adding chocolate to waffles.

When it comes to chocolate cravings, nothing quite tops it than chocolate fudge brownies. With this craving, why not make it acceptable for breakfast, so you can satisfy it at any time? Try chocolate brownie waffles for a little bit of dessert for breakfast.

Bananas usually are a common breakfast food whether on the run, or cutting it up to put on top of cereal. To take breakfast to the next level of sweet, take this fruit and turn it into something sweet to lie atop of chocolate waffles by making a caramel banana topping. Check out the recipe – chocolate waffles with caramel banana topping.

The McRib Returns


As you might have heard, the McRib is back for a limited time. LIMITED TIME YOU GUYS. I finally gave in to nostalgia, hunger, and "feeling sorry for myself" and had a McRib today. I returned home filled with tangy barbecue sauce and regret.
The McRib is one of those cult favorite McDonalds foods. And yes, I feel like a sell-out just by having typed those words. Like the Shamrock Shake, the McRib was an elusive creation for many years. Sometimes they would pop up unexpectedly in one part of the country, only to vanish away just as quickly. An entire database-driven website was dedicated to tracking the McRib. I once made a detour on my way to Chicago O'Hare airport just to try and snag one. (Failed.)
And now? The McRib's season has come. All McDonalds everywhere are offering them through November 14th. And judging by what I saw there today, this promotion has been a smashing success. While I was waiting for mine, I witnessed five orders being processed. All of them included at least one McRib.

Fat Free Candy for Those Sweet Cravings

"Little cinnamon-y bites of chewy goodness"

Even the best dieter will occasionally need to succumb to a craving, and to be honest, most of us have them pretty frequently.  Fortunately, there are options to satisfy any sweet tooth.  My personal favorite, and one I admit to gobbling a little more than I should, is Hot Tamales candy.

Nothing says satisfying like the eye-watering, mouth-burning sensation of too many Hot Tamales.  Little cinnamon-y bites of chewy goodness, Hot Tamales are the perfect sweet snack.  They don't melt in your mouth, have no bits to fall off and make crumbs, and last forever (we probably don’t need to delve too deeply into why that is).

Restaurants Not Serving The Fish You Ordered

Not only illegal and unethical but it can also lead to serious problems.
When it comes to seafood, it seems that most of the time, you're not getting what the menu says. The Boston Globe ran a series of DNA tests on local restaurant offerings and found that 24 of the 26 samples of red snapper, all of the 23 samples of white tuna, and a whole host of other samples (including fish labeled as flounder, Alaskan butterfish, baby cod, and New England cod) turned out to be cheaper species instead. 
The Globe focused on white tuna and red snapper because these two species are both at the upper end of the price range. Since the fraud involves substituting a cheaper fish for a more expensive one, if you order cheap fish, you're probably getting what you ordered. However, it may not be exactly as described - according to the Globe, many fish described as "fresh caught" or "locally fished" are actually just the regular products of industrial factory fishing, caught in distant oceans, frozen, and shipped cross-country.

A Cup Over Seas

When I was a young man which wasn't too long ago(at least it feels that way) I was able to travel down under.  Now keep your minds out of the gutter cause I mean I traveled to Australia and New Zealand to spend a short time down there.

While being young, a high school kid, I was able to stay with a family in New Zealand which I may have never appreciated as much as I do now.  The family was just like any other with two parents and two boys.  I was welcomed with open arms and played a great deal of hacky sack as well as learning new games that were prevalent to the area.

But one thing that struck me was the family time that encompassed the idea of afternoon tea.  We sat down to the table, all of us, and enjoyed some tea and food.  It was amazing!  When American families are falling apart and leaving the family dinner or anything of the like in the past, this family still valued the tradition.

It wasn't only the tea that made it good, it was the conversation.  I think this was the key and is the key to most, if not all relationships.  With this nice break from the day, we were able to talk to each other.  This is a war ender if I have ever heard of one.

So why is it that Americans work so hard to become more disconnected when we should be doing the opposite?  Is it too much money focus or is it just an addiction to work.  It feels like we drill into our kids' heads that school is just for getting a job so you can retire and die.  I personally thought that school was for learning or bettering myself with knowledge because as a human being, we can expand ourselves and further our evolution instead of hindering it through the wrong moves.

What better way to improve ourselves than a break from the day to communicate with love over a cup of tea.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Or: how to cope with a dreary and drizzly autumn


Well, it's thoroughly October. For us Chicagoans, that means the sky is whipping around an icy drizzle that likes to unhood every hapless, grocery-seeking pedestrian as they traipse through the unnaturally pitch-dark early evening. It means my landlord had to come over yesterday to light--with fire!--the gas heater embedded in my wall (as someone raised on radiators this is an entirely strange and new concept to me). And it means that no matter where you go, you'll be bombarded with pumpkin-themed imagery and pumpkin-flavored treats. 'Tis the season of giant orange gourds. There is no escape. 

So, I thought, why not embrace it? It's not like it isn't delicious. There are few pies better than pumpkin pies, few muffins better than those glued together with the hollowed-out innards of Halloween fruit. It makes the process of settling into an icy wasteland of a city that much more bearable. So I braved the slushy eve and picked up the remaining ingredients needed for my very favorite dessert bread: that of the pumpkin persuasion.

Beer in Waffles?

Who Would Have Thought?

While waffle batter already has a lot of variation depending on who's making it, why not throw in the option of thousands of different kinds of beers into the mix? On a slow Sunday, why not wake up a little later and pre-game the day of football with a little bit of beer in your waffles? 

Waffles traditionally have a type of malt flavor already so it lends itself easily to being mixed with different types of brews. Any type of beer can be incorporated into the waffle batter depending on preference since the yeast in beer acts as a substitute for the yeast in waffles. To stick with the consistency of waffles, I'd recommend using a lighter beer like a pilsner or wheat beer, which contains a significant amount of malted barley. However, using a stout beer also works just as well since it is made using roasted malt or barley, hops, water, and yeast. 

Adorable Tea Infusers


If you're enough of a tea connoisseur that you indulge exclusively in loose-leaf, you'd better be armed with a good teapot. But if you still like to brew by the cup, not the pot, it couldn't hurt to pick up a trusty infuser. While the traditional tea ball route works just fine for your basic infusing needs, there are so many cleverly-designed tea accessories that the standards just seem boring. Here are some of the cutest trinkets for infusing loose-leaf. Pick them up for yourself or your favorite tea drinker. 

Taking a Spin on the Traditional Favorite

Waffles as Dessert

While the new craze is savory waffles, let’s not forget the old and welcome back dessert waffles onto the menu. Chefs have learned to master the buttermilk flavor of waffles by combining it with sugary treats to turn this into one of America’s all time favorite signature sweets. Although an old time favorite, simple and traditional dessert waffles can take a spin to create something new and unique to any menu.

To keep it simple to begin with, let’s take one of America’s traditional desserts, where you only need a delicious waffle batter cooked to perfection, your favorite ice cream and maple syrup or rich melted chocolate.

If you love chocolate, try this spin on the traditional recipe by making fudge waffles with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

For those of you who like chocolate but feel as though the above is a little too much, mellow it out and try buttermilk waffles with a homemade chocolate hazelnut spread topped with some ice cream and some nuts.

Or maybe, chocolate just isn’t your thing at all – and this is where it starts to get creative – if you love cinnamon rolls, try cinnamon roll waffles. Take a plain buttermilk waffle; add some cinnamon sugar drizzle on top along with some cream cheese icing to really make this into one of the most delectable desserts.

To stick with the theme of incorporating sweets into waffles, why not try crème brulee waffles? Although this has yet to be popularized, as it has been with French toast, why not take the same recipe and instead of bread, use already made waffles?

Waffles can substitute in any dessert as well that has any type of bread involved, since waffles are a sweeter, heavier type of dough-based food. Keep this in mind when experimenting with new recipes at home.

The Origins of High Tea

I used to love having lunch at a tiny British tea shop in my town when I was a little girl. The shop was run by a British woman, so that was good enough for me to believe that I really had been transported to Mother England. Whether or not it’s completely authentic, high tea is a tradition that I really wish that we’d adopt here in the United States. It’s kind of like the siesta—Americans need some kind of break in the middle of the day that will let them calm down and relax for a minute. And this is coming from a die-hard coffee addict. Tea and its accouterments are a different kind of experience from going into Starbucks and rushing out with a venti latte—its ceremonies require you to slow down, to think, to interact with your experience. Let’s talk about some of the best things about a good English tea:

Different Seasons Calls for...

Different Waffles!


There are many different ways to bring in the changing seasons, but why not start with something simple, such as breakfast? Get the waffle iron hot; these seasonal recipes are something you are not going to want to miss.


As the leaves start to change colors and fall and the weather becomes a little cooler, pumpkin becomes an obsession from invading coffee shops to grocery store shelves. Take advantage of this while you can because before you know it, the seasons will begin to change again. When you go to your local grocery store, pick up a can of pumpkin and some apple cider and try pumpkin waffles with apple cider syrup for a fall spin on this traditional favorite.


Winter is right around the corner when you start to see gingerbread-housing kits on display at the end of each aisle in the store. What warms the heart more than when the snow starts to melt than the somewhat spicy but ultimately sweet taste of gingerbread? While decorations cover your house setting the holiday spirit, fill the stomachs of your guests with gingerbread waffles and cranberry maple syrup.

A Real Recipe for Bachelor Chow

In the once-underrated, now-beloved show Futurama, a foodstuff of questionable content called Bachelor Chow is a fixture in the life of lazy everyman Philip J. Fry. It's a joke predicated on the comical loneliness and carelessness of the life of a single man, but it also comes from a deep seated and rarely acknowledged fantasy for such a substance to exist. The real world is full of food products marketed to men who would likely pick up a package of Bachelor Chow if it existed, but most of those things aren't terribly healthy or tasty. It's time to fix that. Herein you will find a recipe for an actual rendition of Bachelor Chow.

Kishr: A Tea Made From Coffee

This ancient beverage from Yemen is making its way over to the US


You might not consider a drink that comes from products of the coffee plant to be tea, exactly. You might be inclined to keep those two hot, caffeinated beverages in separate categories so as to mollify the organizational tics in the back of your mind. Maybe you're even the kind of person who gets ever so slightly miffed when someone considers herbal tea like chamomile to be included in the same category as darjeeling or earl grey. If you happen to be a beverage purist, kishr will probably unsettle your preconceptions a little. It's a drink that's arguably both tea and coffee at the same time--and also neither of those things.

"High" Tea or High Tea?

What are you thinking, cause I'm thinking peacefully

When I first saw the name High Tea, my mind never went to the proper form of drinking tea or having a bit of snacks during the day.  Of course, my fantastic mind went straight to a form of Weed tea.

But what a concept!  For all I know, it could have been a site for medical marijuana users who enjoy the tea rather than smoking which is a compelling argument filled with hope and much sadness.  The fight for medical marijuana use has been a long and tumultuous one which can be very difficult for those that use this plant for health reasons such as MS or cancer to bring their appetite back after chemo.