Archive for the 'How-To' Category


Anti-Snob Wine Appreciation from The 4-Hour Workweek

Four-Hour Workweek author Timothy Ferriss recently wrote a fun blog post called Anti-Snob Wine Appreciation: 7 Tips from Sonoma. This is something I can appreciate, as someone who loves wine but doesn’t like to spend a ton of money on bottles to drink with dinner.  To me, “good wine” is all about the experience, not the price tag.  Did it taste good?  Did it complement the food?  Was it a pleasure to drink on its own?  Was it an interesting varietal I’d never tried before?  Did it teach me something about a region?  These are the things I care about when I pick out a wine.  So without further ado, here’s a quick rundown of Ferris’s “anti-snob” methods of wine appreciation (and be sure to read the full article):

1.  Don’t worry if you can’t pick out the “hints of coriander, cauliflower, and cat fur” in your wine — you don’t have to be a supertaster.

2.  Move from the elbow instead of the wrist to swirl like you were born with a wineglass in your hand.

3.  Remember that tasting is smell-dependent.

4.  Try using a wine aerator.

5.  Try wines at different temperatures and don’t over-chill the whites.

6.  Go for varietals that are out of style.

7.  It’s all about you.

PS — If you haven’t read The 4-Hour Workweek, check it out. It will change your life.


Setting a Beautiful Holiday Table


Food and Wine’s Stylish Holiday Table Slideshow caught my eye, especially with the opening photo above.  It’s a great example of using fresh colors and mixing and matching unexpected pieces to create a festive setting.  The slideshow goes through all the individual elements of this table setting, from the blue runner to the pink and orange glassware to the leaf salt-and-pepper cellars and moorish-inspired trays.  I’m have a weakness for blue and my china pattern is Lomonosov’s Cobalt Net, so I’m always looking for new ways to use it with other colors.  I also like the idea that a holiday table doesn’t necessarily have to use the colors associated with whatever holiday you’re celebrating, as long as it’s festive.  As in Food and Wine’s photo above and the setting below I threw together for this photo, it seems like citrus is a good match for blue.



Serving Sizes for Holiday Crowds

This Food Network article provides a useful guide for figuring out how much food to prepare for your holiday soiree.   As my husband can attest, I am notorious for making way too much food, like 8-10 servings for the two of us.  Oops.  So, this list might come in handy.

Servings Sizes for a Crowd from the Food Network

In summary, the basic consumption profile for one person is three drinks, 4-6 hors d’oeuvres if it’s before a meal and 12 hors d’oeuvres if that’s the only food.  The article also gives some useful guidelines on how many servings you can expect to get out of various dishes and drinks.


Put on Your Thanksgiving Game Face

Raise Your Game: Thanksgiving Edition from the Washington Post provides great tips about how to take typical Thanksgiving foods to the next level. Below are some examples from the article — good practical ideas, I think. Check out the full article for details on how to:

1. Make your mashed potatoes fluffier by keeping the potatoes dry before mashing.

2. Make the taste and color of your cranberry sauce richer by using brown sugar instead of white.

3. Use flavor enhancers such as wine, shallots, garlic, liquor and chile peppers to make your gravy more interesting.

4. Use a streusel topping for sweet potatoes instead of the infamous sticky-sweet marshmallows.


Week-long Recipe Hiatus

Well, we’re off to visit family and friends for the next week, so I won’t be posting any new recipes for a little while.  However, I will be putting up some posts about getting ready for Thanksgiving, setting the table, making the right amount of food for holiday parties, strange vegetables, anti-snob wine appreciation methods and a few other topics.  So, happy Thanksgiving week, everyone!


Lifehack: A More Productive and Rewarding Life through Cooking

This great post on Lifehack called 9 Reasons Cooking Advice Belongs on a Productivity Blog runs through a lot of good reasons to cook instead of eating out or buying packaged foods. Here’s a quick rundown:

1.  Good nutrition is good for your brain.

2.  Cooking is cheaper much of the time.

3.  Cooking can be faster than ordering.

4.  Cooking is a cheap and fulfilling hobby.

5.  Planning meals for the week helps you manage the rest of your schedule more efficiently.

6.  Cooking can be a good way to go green.

7.  Cooking healthy food is better for you than many other options.

8.  Planning meals before shopping and then eating at home can save gas money.

9.  Cooking food for others and eating together are intimate activities that are good for relationships.

So, check out the full list.  If you’re on the fence about whether cooking is worth the time investment out of your busy life, this might just get you into the kitchen!


101 Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less

Mark Bittman of the New York Times is one of my favorite food writers.  I stumbled upon one of his articles, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less, from a while back and thought it was worth sharing.  In this article, Bittman offers tons of meal ideas that take no time at all.  I’ve always thought that cooking simply with fresh ingredients usually produces the best results.  In this case, it’s quick, too.  A lot of the recipes are geared towards summer, but many can be done at any time, and many of these ideas would make great appetizers or small-plate dishes for a party.

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