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Archive for January, 2013

Tonight at 8pm EST on #KitchenParty: How to Prevent a Super Bowl Party Fail with Sara O’Donnell,

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

sara odonnell


With Super Bowl around the corner, you’re bound to get overwhelmed with feeding a crowd and will likely screw it up. Join us this week on Kitchen Party (Thursday, Jan. 31st)… we’re chatting with the hilarious Sara O’Donnell, executive producer and host of the popular youtube cooking series about seven ways to completely mess up your party and how not to do them.

PARTICIPATE – JOIN OUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY COOKBOOK! Upload your favorite super bowl recipes and be part of our community cookbook we publish after every show.  Simply go here: Super Bowl Recipe Submission Page and add your favorite super bowl recipe.  Each week we publish a new cookbook from recipes submitted by our guests, hosts and audience members like you!

Follow Sara on twitter: @averagebetty    Visit Sara’s website:

BEFORE THE SHOW: Got something to say about planning your super bowl party? Or simply share what’s on your menu by weighing in below by posting a message. Or join our chat live Jan. 31st at 8pm eastern / 5 pm pacific while you watch our live-streaming show. Need super bowl recipes -visit

HOW TO WATCH THE SHOW: At 8pm Eastern / 5 pm Pacific on Thursday, January 31st,  join us here and click on the video that will be added to this page about 20 minutes before the show starts. You can post to twitter on the right or post to facebook below if you have questions. Follow the conversation on twitter by using #kitchenparty or head over to Can’t wait until this party starts! Once the show starts, please click on the video to start the video feed. The google hangout does not start automatically.

About our Guest: 

Sara O’Donnell is the executive producer and host of a web series called Average Betty on Youtube. Average Betty videos and recipes create a positive environment for the exploration of all foods. From not-so-secret family recipes to the kitchens of James Beard Award winning chefs and all the morsels in between, Average Betty uncovers the treasures and chuckles that surround good food.

NEVER MISS A SHOW: If you don’t want to miss an episode, subscribe to our google+ account or youtube pages.


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Books on Hold: Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty by Dylan Evans

January 30th, 2013 Comments off

Books on Hold is a blog series dedicated to books I have seen in passing and requested from my local library. See more in the series at the end of this blog post. — Douglas

The inability to properly gauge and understand risks and act in a world of uncertainty is one of the biggest limitations in most people’s thinking today. It leaves people apt lash out in fear or worry themselves into sickness. I’m looking forward to read what this book has to say about developing a better understanding of risks.

Risk Intelligence: How to Live with Uncertainty by Dylan Evans

* Discovered via  Knowledge Blocks


There is a special kind of intelligence for dealing with risk and uncertainty. It doesn’t correlate with IQ, and most psychologists failed to spot it because it is found in such a disparate, rag-tag group of people – American weather-forecasters, professional gamblers, and hedge-fund managers, for example.

This book shows just how important risk intelligence is. Many people in positions which require high risk intelligence – doctors, financial regulators and bankers, for instance – seem unable to navigate what Evans calls the “darkened room”, the domain of doubt and uncertainty.

Risk Intelligence is a traveller’s guide to the twilight zone of probabilities and speculation. Evans shows us how risk intelligence is vital to making good decisions, from dealing with climate change to combating terrorism. He argues that we can all learn a lot from expert gamblers, not just about money, but about how to make decisions in all aspects of our lives. Introducing a wealth of fascinating research findings and using a wide range of real-life examples–from the brilliant risk assessment skills of horse race handicappers to the tragically flawed evaluations of risk that caused the financial crisis–Evans reveals the common errors in our thinking that undermine our risk intelligence. He also introduces a host of simple techniques we can use to boost our RQ, and a brief test to measure our RQ. Both highly engaging and truly mind-changing, Risk Intelligence will fascinate all of those who are interested in how we can improve our thinking in order to enhance our lives.”

Previously in Books on Hold:

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Foodie Books: How Carrots Won The Trojan War and Consider the Fork

January 30th, 2013 Comments off

How Carrots Won The Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables by Rebecca Rupp

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

It was pure serendipity that led me to be reading both of these books at the same time. What a perfect match to be reading about the history of food and vegetables (How Carrots Won The Trojan War) while also reading about the history of cooking (Consider the Fork). I found myself alternating between the books from chapter to chapter, the better to enjoy both of them and the great information they contain. 

Consider the Fork

Both takes take a similar formula — taking one particular aspect and delving into its history and use. As you might imagine, the history of the fork returns again and again through Consider the Fork. First seen as an affectation, forks eventually became the primary eating utensil for the Western World. That said, the author is careful to contrast western habits with the eastern habit of eating with chopsticks as well as the many cultures that eat directly with their hands.

Wilson also tackles the issue of knives and how they changed from sharp personal eating utensils which nearly everyone carried on their belt, to the ineffectual and dull table knives used in most of the west today. According to the author, it was the dangerous nature of knives that doomed them to extinction in their older, pointer, “stabber”, forms. In the West, we simply made the knives useless as a weapon, where in the east, they dispensed with knives entirely, substituting chopsticks and cuisine specifically designed to be eaten with them.

I loved the comparison and contrast as I worked my way through the book. Just like when producing high school and college essays, compare and contrast is often the best way to present wide-ranging ideas and large swathes of history. Wilson returns to common themes again and again throughout each chapter, tying the history to cooking together but also explaining  how each change effected everything around it.

How Carrots Won The Trojan War

A history of food (mainly vegetables, in this case) is a perfect companion to a history of cooking. Rupp divides her book into a series of easy-to-read and entertaining chapters with titles that echo the overall title of the book. Some of my favorites include, “Radishes Identify Witches, Cabbage Confounds Diogenes, and An Eggplant Causes a Holy Man to Faint.” As can be seen from the titles, each chapter focuses on a particular vegetable. Within each chapter Rupp focuses on the evolutionary history of each plant — how it came to grow from a simple, usually only partially edible plant — to the tasty item planted in gardens all over the world. In some cases, this history is fairly well documented. In others, we can only guess what the original plant might have been like, as humans have been cultivating it for so long, in so many places, its origins are lost in the mists of history.

Rupp then includes interesting tidbits from huma history and its interaction with the vegetable. This often includes traditional medicinal uses (often contradictory), changes in how it was prepared and served and in some cases, how it suppossedly changed the course of history — as with the carrots mentioned in the title. (The Greeks suppossedly ate carrots to “bind their bowels” while they hid within the confines of the Trojan Horse).

This was a great book for reading in combination with others as the chapters are fairly short, pack in a lot of information, both useful and entertaining and allow you to easily dip in, read a bit and then move on. The chapter divisions also allowed me to concentrate more on those vegetables that most interested me and skimming over foods that my picky eating habits cause me to avoid.

Both books are extremely entertaining and feed my typical tendency to “geek out” on nearly any topic. I love learning more about nearly anything and these books provided me plenty of dinner party conversation for months to come. I can see myself sitting around the table now and reciting from the book, “Did you know that the spork was created in 1943 by Bill McArthur in New South Wales , Australia?” or “Tomatoes (or chili peppers for that matter) weren’t used in Italian Cuisine until after the ‘discovery’ of North and South America and explorers brought them back to Europe.”

I would highly recommend these books not only for the information they contain, but also for how that information is communicated. They both provide great and expansive information in an entertaining and easy-to-read style that makes them both entertaining and useful.

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Photos: What it looks like when I’m recording #KitchenParty Live

January 30th, 2013 Comments off

Recipes in Rotation: Risotto Rosso with Sausage

January 29th, 2013 Comments off

Rnr logoRecipes in Rotation is a series that allows me to highlight recipes that have made their way into “the book.” This book is the binder that contains recipes we make on a regular basis — at least monthly and in some cases, every two weeks. I keep them in this special binder for quick and easy access without sorting through a bunch of other recipes to speed things up when I need to get dinner on the table.

Today’s recipe is a Risotto Rosso with Sausage

We originally ran across this dish as a microwave recipe in Sunset Magazine which then converted to a more traditional stove top version. Then I found a cookbook, Cucina Rustica by Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman. Over the years, I have tweaked the recipe to match our own preferences. Here is my adapted version. It is spicy and filling comfort food.

Risotto can seem intimidating, but as long as you go slow and steady with the addition of the stock, it basically makes itself. It is this slow process that allows the rice to release its starch and make the risotto creamy without any real creamy ingredients. Remember, slow and steady win the race with this recipe.

We also regularly make Risotto Milanese, a saffron-flavored risotto and I will highlight that recipe in an upcoming Recipes in Rotation post.

Risotto Rosso with Sausage - 4

Risotto Rosso with Sausage - 1Risotto Rosso with Sausage - 3Risotto Rosso with Sausage - 2

Risotto Rosso with Sausage

(See this recipe on 


2 Tbsp Butter + 1 Tbsp Butter for finishing
3 Tbps Olive Oil
1 onion
3 links (1/2 lb) mild Italian Sausage
4 cloves garlic
2 14oz cans tomato sauce or other canned tomatoes
1 handful (15 leaves) fresh basil or 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup Red Wine
2 quarts Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
Tiny Pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


Put stock in small sauce pan and heat until steaming. Then place on low heat to keep warm
Heat 2 Tbps butter and olive soil in large, heavy sauce pan or Dutch Oven over medium heat
Chop onions and garlic and add to oil. Cook until translucent and soft
Remove sausages from casing (and in case you’re a fan of making homemade sausages, here are the DCW Casing prices) and crumble into pot. Brown meat until no pink remains
Add red wine to deglaze pan and cook until wine is reduced by half
Add tomato sauce or tomatoes and cook until a slightly thickened sauce is formed
Add Aroborio Rice and cook until all the sauce is absorbed
Add first ladleful of stock to rice and meat mixture. Cook and stir until completely absorbed.
Repeat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Let each ladle of stock be absorbed before adding next ladle.
After 5-6 ladles, add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and cayenne.
Continue adding stock until rice is al dente — without crunch but not mushy
Once rice us cooked, remove from heat and stir in butter and parmesan cheese
Serve warm with additional parmesan

More risotto recipes:


Previously in Recipes in Rotation:

Categories: Cooking, Food, Recipe, Recipes in Rotation Tags:

Books on Hold: Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man by Mark Changizi

January 29th, 2013 Comments off

Books on Hold is a blog series dedicated to books I have seen in passing and requested from my local library. See more in the series at the end of this blog post. — Douglas

I often say, “A geek in one thing, a geek in all things.” Not only do I geek out on technology, but also food, science, history, architecture and a bunch of other topics. This book tickled the science portion of my geekery this week, so I had to request it from my local library. You can pick it up there, via your local bookseller or using the Amazon links below. It is also available for Kindle.

Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man by Mark Changizi 

* Discovered via  Google+ post by the author


The scientific consensus is that our ability to understand human speech has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. After all, there are whole portions of the brain devoted to human speech. We learn to understand speech before we can even walk, and can seamlessly absorb enormous amounts of information simply by hearing it. Surely we evolved this capability over thousands of generations.

Or did we? Portions of the human brain are also devoted to reading. Children learn to read at a very young age and can seamlessly absorb information even more quickly through reading than through hearing. We know that we didn’t evolve to read because reading is only a few thousand years old.

In Harnessed, cognitive scientist Mark Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically “designed” to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we’ve evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech—regardless of language—is very clearly based on the sounds of nature.

Even more fascinating, Changizi shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.”

Previously in Books on Hold:

Categories: Books, Science Tags:

New Food: Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

January 26th, 2013 Comments off

If you subscribe to my Pinterest page, my @douglaswelch Twitter account or my Google+ feed, you know that I am always finding recipes I want to try. This series, New Food, will highlight some of those finds as we make them for the first time in our own kitchen. Then, I’ll report back to you on the results — for better or worse! — Douglas

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

Sometimes New Food simply means a new twist on an old favorite. Over the years we have often made breaded chicken breasts, but lately we have dropped that in interest of reducing our calories. Grilled chicken breast works for most things, but there are times when you still want a bit of crunch with your chicken.  Enter an old-fashioned way of making a crunchy coating for food — good, old-fashioned, cornflakes.

Cornflake Coated Chicken Tenders

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can dress things up a bit. The original recipe I found via Pinterest used a mixture of egg, honey and mustard to stick the cornflakes to the chicken. My wife isn’t a big mustard fan, though, and I am constantly watching calories, so instead I added some different flavors, using Creole Seasoning mix and some black pepper added to the cornflakes. This gave a great taste to the chicken and reminded us that this would be worth making again.

Here is my take on Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders.

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

(Recipe on


  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken-breast tenders
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 cups cornflakes, finely crushed
    • I put my cornflakes in a zip top bag and crushed them with my hands
  • 1 tsp Creole Seasoning Mix
  • 1/2 of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. In a shallow dish lightly beat the eggs. 
  3. In a zip top bag, crush cornflakes together with Creole seasoning, salt and pepper.
    1. Add shredded cheese to cornflake mixture (optional)
  4. Place cornflake mixture in shallow bowl. Dip chicken strips into the egg mixture; roll in crumb mixture to coat.
  5. Arrange chicken strips on an ungreased baking sheet.
    1. For more crunch, spray top of each piece with high quality cooking spray
  6. Bake about 12 minutes, or until outsides are golden and chicken is no longer pink.

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Previously on New Food:

Categories: Cooking, Food, New Food, Recipe Tags:

Cookbook: Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants

January 26th, 2013 Comments off

While I am not one to spend my life eating at famous and/or trendy restaurants (even living in Los Angeles, the home of many of them), I am always up for a quick peek behind the curtain at their food — and the people that make it. One great way to gain insight from chefs is by looking at the meals served to their staff, either before or after the dinner service. Many chefs credit these meals with bonding their staff together like a family and helps them face the rigors of restaurant life. One quite stuck with me throughout the book. Anita Lo, Chef and Owner of Annisa’s said,

“I don’t see how you can make your staff care about food if you’re note feeding them well.”

A simple idea, yes, but one that I think is very powerful. I think it could be applied in the home as well. How can you hope to have children who appreciate food if you aren’t serving them something they can, and should, appreciate.

Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants

Each section of the book — focusing on each restaurant profiled — begins with some wonderful pictures and then a short description of the chef, the staff and types of food served at their staff meals. Immediately preceding each set of recipes is a short “In conversation with…” Q&A section.

Again, I am not the height of a gastronome, so many of these recipes were a bit to frou-frou for me, but as with all books, I look for the lessons I can learn and the small things I can apply to my own cooking.

Featured recipes include:

  • Skirt Steak Stuffed with Charred Scallions from Ad Hoc
  • Beautiful Lace Fried Eggs from Arzak
  • Bread and Butter Jalapeños from The Bristol
  • Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Rum Sauce from City Grocery
  • Chicken and Eggplant Rice Noodles from Cochon
  • …and many more!

I marked a few of the recipes to keep for later use, including:

  • Raspberry Virgin Mojitos
  • Chicken and Dumplings (with cornmeal dumplings quite different from the ones I make now)
  • Curried Rice and Chickpeas
Description from…

“Peer behind the “closed” sign in the world’s greatest restaurants, and you may glimpse a packed table whose seats are elusive even to the most in-the-know diner: the daily staff meal. This insider’s look goes behind the scenes to share the one-of-a-kind dishes professional cooks feed each other.

Join authors Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy as they share these intimate staff meal traditions, including exclusive interviews and never-before-recorded recipes, from twenty-five iconic restaurants including: Ad Hoc in Napa, California; Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain; The Fat Duck in London, England; McCrady’s in Charleston, South Carolina; Uchi in Austin, Texas; Michel et Sébastien Bras in Laguiole, France; wd~50 in New York City, New York, and many more.

Enjoy more than 100 creative and comforting dishes made to sate hunger and nourish spirits, like skirt steak stuffed with charred scallions; duck and shrimp paella; beef heart and watermelon salad; steamed chicken with lily buds; Turkish red pepper and bulgur soup; homemade tarragon and cherry soda; and buttermilk doughnut holes with apple-honey caramel glaze. It’s finally time to come in from the cold and explore the meals that fuel the hospitality industry; your place has been set.”

Previously in Cookbooks:

Categories: Books, Cooking, Drinks, Food Tags:

Books on Hold: The Naked Brewer: Fearless Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Rule-breaking Recipes by Christina Perozzi, Hallie Beaune

January 26th, 2013 Comments off

Books on Hold is a blog series dedicated to books I have seen in passing and requested from my local library. See more in the series at the end of this blog post. — Douglas

I am a big fan of beer and have often thought about making my own. Hard cider is as close as I have come, though. Perhaps this book will push me over the edge into some full-on beer brewing.

The Naked Brewer: Fearless Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Rule-breaking Recipes by Christina Perozzi, Hallie Beaune

* Discovered via TheKitchn


For novice and experienced homebrewers alike, a year’s worth of homebrew recipes and how-tos that will arm you with the basic wisdom any homebrewer needs to build their brewing know-how.

In The Naked Brewer, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune provide a spectrum of seasonal homebrew recipes with something for every beer-loving palate, from a Black Smoke Pale, Crisp Summer Kolsch, or Honey Chamomile Blonde perfect for summer, to heartier brews like a Pecan Pie Brown, Imperial Blood Red, or Fig and Clove Dubbel. This brewers’ handbook will help you master tricks like:

  • Recipes for easy tinctures, syrups, and preserves that will become unique additions to your homebrew. 
  • The Top 10 Brewing Don’ts that will help you be the most successful brewer possible. 
  • How to make a whiskey barrel–aged beer by adding whiskey-soaked wood cubes to your brew. 
  • How to make a delicious German brew with just a fifteen-minute boil.

The Naked Brewer shows you how to make tasty, interesting, and innovative brews in the comfort of your home that you will be proud to share with friends.”

Previously in Books on Hold:

Categories: Books, Cooking, Drinks, Food Tags:

Home: Delightful painted wall cabinet

January 25th, 2013 Comments off

I came across this lovely cabinet at one of my client’s today and had to grab a picture. Something I’ll keep for future inspiration and reference.


Categories: DIY, Home, Photos, Shared Items Tags: