All Posts By Amy Reiter

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire and Wine Spectator, among other print publications, as well as for websites including The Daily Beast, MSN, Babble, AOL/Huffington Post and Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

Which Is Better: Pie or Cake?

by in News, July 30th, 2014

Which Is Better: Pie or Cake?Dessert confession: I am not a pie person.

Unless it’s Key lime, I can easily pass pie by, even if my disinterest in crusts and cobblers containing apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin or (shudder) mincemeat deeply offends my pie-baking mother-in-law. So if you’re serving pie a la mode, just hand me the a la mode, please. But if there’s cake, feel free to give me the biggest piece — and then another.

I am a cake person.

It turns out the world may fall into two distinct groups: pie people and cake people. Recently, representatives from both camps squared off in a battle over bragging rights on Vox.com: “Is cake the great American dessert? Or is it pie?” the site wondered.

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How to Shop Like a Chef (Hint: Buy Generic)

by in News, July 29th, 2014

How to Shop Like a Chef It’s not always clear, as you’re standing in the supermarket aisle and feeling overwhelmed by a shelf crowded with different versions of the same product, when it’s worth reaching for a recognizable name brand and when you can save yourself a few hard-earned bucks and buy generic without sacrificing quality. Next time you’re in that situation, you may want to ask yourself, “What would a chef do?”

In a follow-up to a recent study on the over-the-counter-medicine-buying habits of doctors and pharmacists, a group of researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and at Tilburg University in the Netherlands has revealed which foods chefs and other food-prep pros buy generic more frequently than the general consumer, and for which food products they tend to shell out for a name brand.

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Orange Juice Drinkers May Soon Feel the Squeeze

by in News, July 28th, 2014

Orange Juice Drinkers May Soon Feel the SqueezeIs your morning cup of orange juice in danger? It might be. And your grapefruit too.

A bacterial disease known as citrus greening (AKA Huanglongbing or HLB or yellow dragon disease) is threatening America’s citrus crops. Named for the way it turns citrus fruits green, misshapen and bitter tasting, and thus unsuitable for sale or consumption as either fresh fruit or juice, citrus greening poses no direct threat to humans or animals. For the trees themselves, however, it is devastating — and ultimately deadly. There is, as of now, no known cure.

Though the disease likely originated in China in the early 1900s and has long wreaked havoc abroad, citrus greening wasn’t detected in the United States until 2005, when it was spotted in Florida. By 2008 it affected almost every citrus-growing county in Florida, and it has continued to spread broadly and rapidly, primarily via a gnat-sized insect called the Asian citrus psyllid, which carries the disease from tree to tree as it feeds.

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S’mores: Fried and Frozen, Drinkable and DIY

by in News, July 27th, 2014

Skillet S'MoresS’mores are the perfect campfire food: the roasting of the marshmallows on a stick over the fire to your own preferred consistency (golden brown on the outside, mushy on the inside for me); the sticky-fingertip removal of marshmallow from stick and gentle placement atop several squares of not-yet-melted milk chocolate and between fresh-from-the-box graham cracker halves; the ungainly, delicious, headily sweet act of eating it; and the instant urge to repeat the process all over again.

But what if you’re stuck in the city with no campfire in sight? Several eateries around New York City have come up with creative solutions to that common problem, and the New York Daily News recently surveyed a few. At choco-centric restaurant Max Brenner, you can get order up the at-table DIY Urban S’mores for Two, complete with a teensy tabletop grill over which to roast marshmallows, then eat with graham crackers and a variety of toppings, listed on the menu as “pure melted milk chocolate, toffee bananas … warm peanut butter and raspberry sauce.”

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Toasted Selfies: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

by in News, July 25th, 2014

Toasted Selfies: The Best Thing Since Sliced BreadYou’re bored with your breakfast options — sick of the same old, same old. Cereal? Been there. Eggs? Done that. Pancakes? Waffles? Yeah, yeah, we’ll wake you when they’re over.

But, hey, how about toast with your face on it? Bingo, right?

A company called the Vermont Novelty Toast Corporation, which has been manufacturing toasters that pop out toast with images and logos on it since 2010, is now moving beyond pictures of Edger Allen Poe and peace signs and offering customers a chance to purchase a toaster that browns toasted selfies right onto their bread. (Images are singed onto one side only; the other side is just toast.)

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A 5-Minute Steak Defrost Hack? (and Other Meat-Thawing Tips)

by in News, July 24th, 2014

Grilled SteakIt’s the end of a long day and you’re craving a thick, juicy steak. Fortunately, you have a nice fresh cut in the freezer, awaiting its big moment. Unfortunately it’s frozen solid as a rock and dinnertime is in less than an hour. Time to surrender your steak dreams and start making pasta instead? Nope, not so fast.

CTi, a Taiwanese cable channel, suggests an electricity-free steak-defrosting hack that will safely thaw a frozen steak about 1 centimeter thick in less than five minutes. How? Take two metal pots or pans, turn one over bottom up and place your vacuum-sealed steak flat on it. Then fill the other pot or pan with water and place it, topside up, on top of the steak. The weight of the water and its temperature, conducted by the metal, will speed thawing. In five minutes, CTi says, your steak should be defrosted and ready to cook. (You can use the time to pick a recipe.)

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Superfood Alert: Is Kelp the New Kale?

by in News, July 22nd, 2014

Is Kelp the New Kale?Are we on the cusp of a full-on kelp craze? Not only have magnetic fake kelp forests recently been touted as an eco-friendly way to repel sharks and prevent attacks on beaches, but the nutrition-packed seaweed is also being hailed as the “next big superfood.”

“Eat Kelp. It’s chock-full of nutrients, it mitigates climate change by sequestering carbon, improves oceans by soaking up excess nitrogen and phosphorus, and has potential as a valuable fertilizer and biofuel,” Patrick Mustain, a communications manager at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, recently wrote in Scientific American, in a blog post titled “Move Over, Kale, The New Super Vegetable Comes From The Sea.”

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Why You End Up in the Slowest Supermarket Line

by in News, July 21st, 2014

Why You End up in the Slowest Supermarket LineIs it you, or does it feel like, no matter how hard you try to pick the shortest, fastest-moving line at the grocery store, most of the time you make the complete wrong call and end up crawling along at a snail’s pace, stuck behind someone who needs a last-minute price check on an item or is fumbling around for his or her frequent-shopper card or is simply bent on chit-chatting the afternoon away with the cashier — while customers who come after you and slide blithely into other lines are out of there in record speed?

It’s not just you.

“When you’re selecting among several lines at the grocery store, the odds are not in your favor. Chances are, the other line really is faster,” science writer Adam Mann explains in Wired. “Mathematicians who study the behavior of lines are called queueing theorists, and they’ve got the numbers to prove this.”

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The Milkman Returneth (Glass Bottles, Bow Tie and All)

by in News, July 18th, 2014

The Milkman Is Back (Glass Bottles, Bowtie and All)Do you remember the good old days — back before supermarkets and shopping centers swept into the suburbs and milk was routinely pasteurized, homogenized and contained in plastic — when the milkman, dressed in his crisp white uniform, used to come in his truck or horse-drawn wagon, glass bottles clanking, and a set fresh daily supply of dairy on your doorstep?

Yeah, me neither. But even those who are too young to have had personal experience with the family milkman may feel nostalgic about the simplicity and the directness of the farm-to-table connection his cap-and-bow-tie-wearing image evokes. That collective sentimentality, as well as an interest in buying local, a commitment to quality and the lure of time-saving convenience, is the driving force behind a new (old) trend: the return of the milkman.

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Why We Really Need to Refrigerate Eggs (and the British Don’t)

by in News, July 17th, 2014

Why We Really Need to Refrigerate EggsTo refrigerate or not to refrigerate — that is the question about eggs that several media outlets have been scrambling to answer in recent days.

The recent ovo-interest appears to have been whisked up by a Business Insider article in which writer Dina Spector wondered why we refrigerate eggs here in the United States while people in Europe and the U.K. are weirdly chill about chilling eggs, generally leaving them on the counter with the non-perishable foods. “Why doesn’t anyone in the U.K. freak out over eggs sitting in room temperatures for days on end?” she demanded to know.

It turns out that the different approaches to refrigeration here and abroad stem from differences in the way eggs are treated to prevent salmonella poisoning during farming and processing.

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