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.

Coffee-Making Alarm Clock Starts Your Morning Right

by in News, August 13th, 2014

Coffee-Making Alarm Clock Starts Your Morning RightYour alarm clock gets the credit (or perhaps the disdain) for waking you up, but for many of us, it’s really that first cup of coffee that does the heavy eyelid lifting. A new product from British designer Josh Renouf, a recent graduate from Nottingham Trent University, aims to combine clock and coffee in one handy, attractively designed device that wakes you up to the soothing rumble of ball bearings working to boil water using induction heating and the rich smell of coffee — one cup, just for you, freshly brewed right on your bedside table.

The Barisieur — a name Renouf hopes will evoke both “your own personal barista” and coffee that will please the most-particular coffee connoisseur — won’t be available for purchase until early next year (with an estimated retail price of about $420), but it is already making a splash in the press. Sounding somewhat overwhelmed by the surge of interest, Renouf found time to answer a few of our burning coffee/alarm clock questions via email.*

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Bacon Prices Heat Up, But You Can Still Pig Out

by in News, August 12th, 2014

Bacon Prices Heat UpBacon, bacon — who’s got the bacon?

Only those willing to shell out the big bucks, nowadays. Due to the spread of a deadly virus affecting pigs across 30 states, the retail price of bacon has surged 10 percent this year, rising to $6.11 a pound in June — the highest it’s been since 1980, according to Bloomberg.com. In fact, consumer bacon prices may be at an all-time high — they’ve nearly doubled in the last decade alone, and may still climb higher!

But pork-loving consumers haven’t stopped pigging out, even if it does mean shaking a few extra quarters out of their piggy banks. U.S. bacon sales have risen 11 percent — to $4.2 billion — in the last 12 months.

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Ice Cream That Changes Color When You Lick It and Other Frozen Innovations

by in News, August 11th, 2014

Ice Cream That Changes Color When You Lick ItNot only is ice cream about the best thing ever — and that’s not just summer talkin’ — it actually keeps getting better and better. Every year brings new ice cream innovations.

This summer, for instance, Cronut® creator Dominique Ansel teamed up with fashion designer Lisa Perry to bring the world an ice cream sundae in a can: a sealed, frozen chocolate-lined soup can filled with root-beer and stracciatella ice creams, mascarpone semifreddo, macerated cherries, honey marshmallows and mini cherry meringues. “Pop It!” reads the label of the limited-edition frozen treat, which was available at only one location and for only one day, earlier this month.

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Five Restaurant Menu Tricks (and How to Avoid Falling for Them)

by in News, August 8th, 2014

Five Restaurant Menu Tricks (and How to Avoid Falling for Them)Restaurants can be risky business ventures — just look at how frequently they come and go. So to make sure their eatery isn’t just another flash in the pan, some restaurateurs employ a few subtle tricks to get diners, once seated, to more readily part with their cash.

There’s the “free” salty snack (chips and salsa, anyone?) placed on your table before the meal to increase your thirst and compel you to order more pricey drinks. And then there’s the way your server painstakingly describes every ingredient in the evening’s specials, but declines to mention the price, knowing you may be too embarrassed to ask. And there’s the way your wine glass keeps getting topped off, so that you get to the bottom of the bottle halfway through your meal and may feel inclined to order another one.

But the stealthiest strategy of all may be the sly tweaks made to restaurant menus to get you to fork over more moolah than you may have intended. Recently The Guardian noted a few such tricks.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by , August 8th, 2014

frosting
In this week’s news: School bake-sale restrictions spark a tempest in a muffin tin; homemade yogurt is whey better than the store-bought kind; and veganism gets a high-profile new cheerleader.

Bake-Sale Ban: Half-Baked?
Ah, the beauty of the s...

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The Secret to Grilling the Perfect Steak: Lava

by in News, August 7th, 2014

The Secret to Grilling the Perfect Steak: LavaWhen you’ve cooked steak using lightning (verdict: “tasted good though a little metallic”), built walk-in gin and tonic clouds (one blogger called them a “drunkard’s dream“), turned the roof of a high-end London department store into a boating lake with a waterfall and a “float-up bar,” and pushed jelly way, way past its previous limits, what do you do for an encore?

If you’re Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, you make a meaty meal over 2,100 degree F molten rock. In June, London-based Bompas & Parr, who describe themselves as “Jellymongers and Architectural Foodsmiths,” traveled to upstate New York to team up with Syracuse University art professor and lava expert Robert Wysocki to “see what happens when super-heated liquid rock meets an icy crevasse and a 10-oz rib eye” — and recorded and consumed the results.

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Wine: How to Store It, Pour It — and Enjoy!

by in Drinks, News, August 1st, 2014

Wine: How to Store It, Pour It and Enjoy!Americans may be drinking more wine these days than we used to — especially in Washington, D.C., where, it may not surprise you to learn, more wine is consumed per capita than in any other state or district. But that doesn’t mean we know how to properly store and pour it. At what temperature should it be served? How full should our wine glasses be? And are we really supposed to decant?

Here are a few rules of thumb:

Be Chill (But Not Too Chill) About Storage: Ideally, bottles of wine should be stored (preferably, though not necessarily, on their sides) in a cool, dark place — like a basement or closet, if not in a dedicated wine cooler — at temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees F, with 55 degrees F being the sweet spot. Exposing wine to temperatures above 70 degrees F could speed aging or even flatten out the flavors and aromas, Wine Spectator warns. It’s cool to keep wine in your kitchen fridge short term, but don’t leave it there for months on end, as the low temp could damage the corks and, in turn, the wine. Aim to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations and long-term exposure to bright lighting when storing, but don’t freak out if they happen, especially if you’re planning to drink the wine sooner rather than later.

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How to Plate Your Food Like a Pro

by in News, July 31st, 2014

How to Plate Your Food Like a ProWhen it comes to serving food, presentation may not be everything — there’s taste to consider, after all — but studies have shown it can have a surprisingly big impact on how the foods we prepare are perceived. When we cook and plate to please the eye, as it happens, we also please the palete.

This week’s news that Red Lobster, in order “to be seen as a purveyor of quality seafood,” would stack food “higher on plates, as is the style at fancier restaurants,” as the Associated Press put it, brings that point home. Whether arranging the same food — fish, rice and vegetables — vertically, rather than spread out on the plate, will boost the seafood chain’s bottom line remains to be seen. Still, you may find in it the impetus to experiment with your own meal presentation.

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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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