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.

A Panda’s Perfect Birthday Cake

by in News, July 10th, 2014

YouTube Preview ImageIt can be challenging to bake a birthday cake that will meet the demands of a 1-year-old or someone with strict dietary constraints. But even those of us who are especially good at baking cute confections or have a file full of vegan and gluten-free cake recipes have probably never faced quite the same birthday-cake challenge zookeepers at the Taipei Zoo confronted this past weekend: What do you make for the panda who has everything on the occasion of her first birthday?

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Would You Eat Leftovers from a Stranger?

by in News, July 9th, 2014

Would You Eat Leftovers from a Stranger?You’ve thrown a party and have a ton of leftovers — there’s no way you’re going to be able to work your way through them before they go bad. You’ve begun to bake brownies and suddenly realize you’re short on flour. You’re on your way out of town for a few weeks and the groceries in your fridge will surely spoil by the time you return. What do you do?

People who find themselves presented with those dilemmas now have a new high-tech way of resolving them: food-sharing websites and apps. A website is now up and running in Germany that facilitates the sharing of leftovers, helping individuals or businesses pass them along to those who need or want them — for free. Once you sign up — as more than 43,000 registered users across 240 European cities have done — you can post a “basket” of food that’s available by listing its contents or scan the site for a basket you’d like to claim. Then you arrange to meet — the site’s founders have set up “hot spots” — and voila! It’s like Airbnb crossed with borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor.

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Snack Attack: How You Can Arm Yourself for America’s New Eating Trend

by in News, July 8th, 2014

Nut-and-Seed Mix with PapayaIf you frequently find yourself trading breakfast for a granola bar, skipping lunch and hitting the vending machines, or passing up dinner and grabbing a quick bite on the way to your evening activity, you are hardly alone. Increasingly, over the last three decades, the Wall Street Journal reports, America has become a nation of snackers. And if the trend continues, the three square meals we Americans have long prided ourselves on may go the way of the electric typewriter, the rotary phone and the passenger pigeon.

Back in the late 1970s, only 10 percent of Americans snacked three or more times a day. By the 1990s, that number had risen to about 20 percent. In 2010, 56 percent of us were snacking that frequently, the Journal reports, citing the most recent government data. What’s more, a 2013 survey by consumer tracker The Hartman Group found that 48 percent of Americans passed up meals at least three times per week, and the majority of us — 63 percent — didn’t decide what we were going to eat until about an hour before we ate it. And while in the morning we tend to reach for healthy snacks like fruit, in the evening, as willpower wanes, we’re diving into the candy jars and ice cream bowls with abandon.

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Get the Scoop on Ice Cream, Summer’s Favorite Dessert

by in News, July 7th, 2014

Get the Scoop on Ice CreamI scream, you scream. Everyone seems to be screaming about ice cream right now. And as the mercury continues its seasonal climb, the cries may grow louder, the cravings stronger.

The New York Times dedicated its Dining section last week to frozen treats. The new and trendy, soft and custardy, shaved and crushed, fancy and French, malted and milky, the ethnic and exotic all get their shivery due. The paper’s tribute to local ice cream parlors may inspire some readers to make nostalgic trips home and prompt others to make previously unscheduled stops during summer road trips. And Melissa Clark’s DIY tips and recipes — and her urging to experiment and taste — may inspire a new generation of ice cream tinkerers.

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State Fair Foods: You’ll Never Guess What You Can Get on a Stick

by in News, July 2nd, 2014

State Fair FoodsWhen you think of state fair food, you probably think of things that are deep-fried, sugar-dusted, perched on a stick or served in a cone: You’ve got your corn dogs, funnel cakes, ice cream — with which you can fortify yourself as you gaze upon your wall of blue-ribbon pies and, especially in the Midwest, your life-size cows carved out of butter.

But, of course, those fairground staples are only the beginning. State fairs are also famous for debuting foods that are new and different — innovative, imaginative, exotic and often deliberately excessive. Who can forget the deep-fried stick of butter on a stick that made its debut at the Iowa State Fair a few years back?

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Why We Get Hangovers and How Eating Can Help (Plus Recipes)

by in News, July 1st, 2014

Bobby's Spicy Citrus Bloody MaryMany of us enjoy a summer cocktail or two, sharing a bottle of wine over dinner, a few beers while watching the game. No one — at least no one I know — enjoys the hangover that often follows. But what is causing all those miserable symptoms the morning after? Why, exactly, do we get hangovers? And what, if anything, can you do about them?

The Atlantic magazine recently published an interview with Richard Stephens, a psychology professor at Keele University in the U.K. and a member of the Alcohol Hangover Research Group, a group of scientists who study hangovers that convened this past weekend. He offered some insight that may prove useful before you head out to those Fourth of July barbecues and wake up the next day with fireworks going off in your head.

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Salad as Art: Presentation Is a Matter of Taste, Study Shows

by in News, June 30th, 2014

Salad as ArtAll that time you spend artfully arranging food on the plate before serving it to your guests or family is not in vain. And if you’re the sort of cook who doesn’t think much about how you present the food you make, thinking that taste alone will carry the day, you may want to reconsider your approach.

Presentation may not be everything, but when it comes to the meals we serve, appearance may be more important than we realize, capable of greatly influencing diners’ perception of taste, a recent study, published in the journal Flavour, has shown.

Building upon prior research showing that visual factors, like the color and balance of elements on the plate, play a large role in the way people respond to food, experimental psychologists at the University of Oxford, in Oxford, England, set out to discover whether arranging food “in an art-inspired manner” would affect diners’ expectations and experience of the food they were served.

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Why Not Letting Your Kids Eat Junk Food May Backfire

by in News, June 27th, 2014

Why Not Letting Your Kids Eat Junk Food May BackfireParenting is full of “Do as I say, not as I do” moments, but few may be as obvious as the vast differences between the food choices we make for our kids and those we make for ourselves. Am I the only parent who strictly limits her kids’ access to sweets, waving away their pleas for candy and giving them fruit for dessert, only to raid the treat drawer as soon as they have been tucked in and drifted off to sleep? I’d guess not.

I’m also probably in good company in feeling guilty when I give in and agree to let my kids eat junk food, even though the salty, fatty, sugary packaged foods that strike fear into our hearts as parents are the very same foods we get nostalgic about when we think about our own childhoods.

We know we’re raising our kids in the midst of an obesity crisis and skyrocketing diabetes rates, but is it such a crime to let them enjoy a twirl of cotton candy or an ice cream cone every once in a while?

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Temp Tats Help You Wear Your Love of Cooking on Your Sleeve

by in News, Product Reviews, June 26th, 2014

Temporary Food TattoosCooking from a recipe can be logistically challenging — going back and forth from your cookbook or computer to the food you’re preparing while trying to keep several steps in your head and not lose your place. If you’ve ever found yourself yearning for a better way — and one that is far more fun — you’re in luck.

Two Italian problem solvers, Marina Cinciripini, an interior designer who loves kitchens, and Sarah Richiuso, a product designer and illustrator, have created a collection of illustrated recipes in the form of temporary tattoos. Cooks can apply the tattoos directly to their forearms — or really, one supposes, whatever body part they choose.

Marina and Sarah called their line of temp tattoos, which can be applied in seconds using a damp paper towel and last about two or three days, I Tradizionali — in part because they see it as a new way of passing down traditional recipes from generation to generation. What’s more, their website notes, having a recipe emblazoned on your forearm not only helps you remember how something is prepared, it also evokes “the common gesture of ‘rolling up one’s sleeves’ before cooking.” Poetry, right?

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How to Achieve Your Personal Burger Best

by in News, June 25th, 2014

How to Achieve Your Personal Burger BestLet’s talk burgers — big (but not too big), juicy and perfectly turned, with or without cheese, tucked inside a fancy bakery brioche or a basic potato bun, dressed to the nines or served neat. It’s nearly impossible to discuss the finer points of burgers without working up an appetite. But there’s no nibbling around the fact that some burgers are better than others. The question, then: What’s the key to making sure your burgers rank among the best?

According to The New York Times, a lot of it comes down to what you cook the burger on, and those known for the most-perfect patties insist on “heavy, cast-iron pans and griddles.” Yes, even if you’re cooking outside on a grill. Heat the meat in a pan over the fire. Don’t place your patties directly on the grill. “The point is to allow rendering beef fat to gather around the patties as they cook, like a primitive high-heat confit,” Times Senior Editor Sam Sifton explains as he strives to deconstruct “the perfect burger.”

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