by Amy Reiter in News, July 8th, 2014
by Amy Reiter in News, July 7th, 2014
If 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.
by Debra Puchalla in Family, News, July 3rd, 2014
I 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.
by Amy Reiter in News, July 2nd, 2014
Watermelon’s always been the coolest fruit of summer. When I cut into a watermelon, it’s either for a last-minute barbecue contribution or an instant “side dish” for the kids — seed-spitting contests are just a bonus. It has plenty of vitamins A and C, and it’s ready in two minutes flat. Wedges, cubes, balls of sugary-sweet juiciness — the options are endless and there’s no oven required. But maybe I need to hone my knife skills and take a slice from Vancouver’s Clive Cooper, a government worker by day and artist by night whose latest extreme watermelon carvings give fruit-platter party planners something to, well, chew on.
I thought Cooper and his fabulous menagerie were the “why” of a spike in watermelon searches reported by Yahoo web trend expert Lauren Whitehouse a week or two ago; since then his fierce alligator carving and the latest, the triceratops above, have been stomping their way through food news and Facebook. He’s not the only one; Pinterest is ripe with countless carved characters. Why, after all, should food fans have to wait for pumpkin season to make faces? As to folks searching “watermelon,” they wanted to know how many calories are in the fruit (about 50 per cup) and how to cut it (try Alton’s cut-the-ends-first method); there was also a 500+ percent increase in searches for “watermelon cake” (not a cake at all but a trompe-l’oeil fun fruit dessert), plus plenty of people pondering perennial favorites likes drinks and refreshing salads with watermelon (with feta as a partner; here is Ina’s take, one of my go-to’s for summer guests).
by Amy Reiter in News, July 1st, 2014
When 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?
by Amy Reiter in News, June 30th, 2014
Many 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.
by Amy Reiter in News, June 27th, 2014
All 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.
by Amy Reiter in News, Product Reviews, June 26th, 2014
Parenting 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?
by Amy Reiter in News, June 25th, 2014
Cooking 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?
by Amy Reiter in News, June 25th, 2014
Let’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.”
It would probably be an overstatement to call the usual way of reserving a table at a hot restaurant at a prime time on a Saturday night an entirely democratic process. In theory, snagging a seat is simply a matter of dialing up the restaurant or booking online through a free website like OpenTable — equally accessible to all. In fact, it probably doesn’t hurt to know someone or be someone or, if conventional wisdom holds, be the kind of person who’s willing to slip a little cash someone’s way.
Now a new batch of fee-based apps is aiming to change the way tables at desirable restaurants are reserved. Whether these new apps, which claim to make hard-to-get reservations available to anyone willing to open their wallets, make the process more democratic is open to debate. Certainly they’ll make it more expensive.
Whether restaurants and diners will embrace the idea of paying for something that has always been free, if sometimes inaccessible, remains to be seen. In New York City, the market most of these new apps initially aims to serve, people are already used to paying a fee to book tickets to events — even to movies.
“But for restaurateurs — even those who demand $6 for a baked potato to accompany a $48 steak — charging patrons for reservations feels like touching the third rail,” Julia Moskin noted in a recent New York Times story about the new apps.