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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Instagram Photos – January 2016 – A Review – Douglas E. Welch [Video] [Photography]

January 31st, 2016 Comments off

In The Kitchen: Linen Kitchen Apron from Sur La Table on Sale

January 28th, 2016 Comments off

Linen Kitchen Apron from Sur La Table

Linen Kitchen Apron from Sur La Table on Sale 

Apron 1Apron 2

I don’t often shop at Sur La Table as there isn’t one very close to me and frankly, it is a dangerous store for me. Too much neat stuff and most that is a bit pricey. That said, I found this apron when I was browsing through a new outlet that opened near me recently and it was a great deal at 50% off. This online price looks to be even lower at $14.99.

I had been looking for a new apron as I really need to be better about not ruining my work clothes when I dive right into cooking at home. Popping oil can quickly ruing a knit polo shirts, as I have found out.

This apron is light, comfortable, and adjustable enough to fit my odd shape. The plain linen construction means it can be easily laundered and perhaps even lightly bleached should it need it.

You can get your own directly from, if you don’t have a Sur La Table near you. I am really enjoying mine and my clothes should last a lot longer now. 

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Categories: Cooking, DIY, Food, Home, In the kitchen, Products Tags:

Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails by Matthew Biancaniello [Book] [Food] [Drink]

January 26th, 2016 Comments off

Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails by Matthew Biancaniello

Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails by Matthew Biancaniello

(I was provided a free, ebook, review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own)

Once we get over the peer-induced binge drinking of your college years, many of us go looking for a more enjoyable, and mindful, consumption of alcoholic beverages. As I moved into adulthood, I began to appreciate good wine, and my marriage to a Sicilian-American certainly didn’t hurt my exploration of both homely table wines and more expensive fare. Finally, as I have grown older, I have developed a taste for liquor of many sorts, cocktails of all descriptions and even began making my own liqueurs and digestivos, branching out into making my own hard cider, too.

As my love of cocktails grew, I began looking for books and blogs that could help me expand my knowledge and enjoyment of the countless combinations of liquor, mixers and infusions of all sorts. My wandering through the online world crossed paths with Eat Your Drink.

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The title immediately caught my eye. What could it possibly mean to “Eat Your Drink?” Living here in Los Angeles, I have been exposed to the heightened levels of mixology that various cocktail creators have been bringing to our local, and hip, bars and restaurants, In some ways, I have been a bit intimidated by the complexity — some might say, oddity — of cocktails with homemade or unusual ingredients along with the high price tag of most of these cocktails. Still, I thought I might be able to find some ideas I might be able to use in my own humble ways.

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While I found the foreword by Roberto Cortez a bit intimidating and off-putting, once I made my way into Biancaniello’s recipes, I was sold. Sure, most of these recipes are not something I would attempt to duplicate in my own home, within each one I found something that intrigued me — something that made me think differently about food, drink and cocktails in particular. One major theme in Eat Your Drink is that of combining spirits with food products to yield something new and unique while still being true to the original ingredients.

Biancaniello takes a chef’s approach to cocktails. He even divides the book into sections that would be at home on any fine dining menu. These include Amuse Bouche, First Course, Second Course, Main Course, Dessert and After Dinner (a traditional placement of cocktails and digestivos) He’s also not afraid to include food elements in many of the recipes — Blood Orange “Crackers”, grilled pineapple, passionfruit and more.

The use of homemade infusion of various liquor talked to my own cocktail sensibilities, too. Fruit and spice infused liquors abound in the book, each bringing a unique twist to each drink, but also something that could be easily created and used in my own kitchen and bar. I make my own limoncello each year to share with friends and family and — even if I might not make any of the book’s cocktails in full — there are variety of infusions that I look forward to making in the coming years.

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One particular infusion of note was toyon berry-infused Capurro Pisco. I am surrounded by this native plant covered with red berries around Christmastime, but I have NEVER seen it used as a food item. I didn’t even know it was edible to be honest. I plan on doing some further research on Toyon berries and might even make that the next infusion I make.

As Biancaniello moves into the Second Course and Main Course recipes he loses me a bit. The inclusion of savory ingredients in cocktails is something new to me and a bit challenging for my palette. That said, his Cactus Sage Heaven does sound a bit “heavenly” with agave syrup raspberries, sage leaves, ginger and tequila. Still, cocktails including Uni (Sea Urchin), horseradish and oysters are a bit too much for me. That said, there might be those among you who are already salivating just thinking about it. To each their own, for sure!

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After reading about these adventurous Main Course cocktails, the Dessert and After Dinner, pulled me immediately back in, though. The Mayan Campfire with tequila, chocolate syrup, smoked jalapeno tequila and marshmallows had me dreaming of a warm fireside and a comfy chair where I might imbibe and enjoy it. Chai Iced Tea, made with chai-infused gin also caught my eye.

Again, while most of these cocktails might be a bit exotic for me to try making them in own home, the infusions, interesting ingredient combinations and sheer creativity of the recipes certainly got me thinking about what small portion I might be able to use for my own creations. I am fond of saying that any book that gives you one or two great ideas and gets your own creativity flowing is a good book. Eat Your Drink certainly hit this mark for me.

Preorder Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails by Matthew Biancaniello

Categories: Books, Cooking, Drinks, Food, Opinion Tags:

Noted: The Perfect Creamy, Fizzy Creation to Satisfy Your Craving For Bubbles

January 22nd, 2016 Comments off

In The Kitchen: Bell Plantation PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter and PB2 with Premium Chocolate

January 21st, 2016 Comments off

Bell Plantation PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter and PB2 with Premium Chocolate

I have always loved the taste of peanuts and peanut butter, but for the sake of my weight, I can’t eat it very often. At 190 calories per 2 Tbsps, along with toast, it can throw OFF my calorie count for the rest of the day. That said, i find it difficult to exclude entire ranges of food products out of my diet completely, as I am a fairly fussy eater. This limits my food choices already. A serving of PB2 (2 Tbsps) comes in at 45 calories, compared to 190 calories for typical peanut butter, so it is a significant savings while still giving me my peanut butter “fix”.

I had read about PB2 and seen it on the market shelves for a long time before I finally broke down and tried it. Frankly, the expense turned me away most frequently. It is probably twice the price of typical peanut butter and I was afraid I would go through it much too quickly. I have found, though. that I use it more slowly than a typical jar of peanut butter — making only 1 serving at a time — so I think it works out ok in the end. It is easy to mix up, too. 2 Tbsp of powder to 1 Tbsp water and a quick store is all it takes. Amazingly, it feels and tastes like real peanut butter which is not something that can be said about most powdered foods.

I first thought I would use PB2 on toast, much like I would regular peanut butter. While the lower calorie count does allow me to have my occasional peanut butter on toast in the morning, I have found a host of other ways to use it, too. It brings a kick of extra flavor and body to a number of foods. I can sprinkle it into a hot bowl of oatmeal, include it in smoothies (which seems a big usage by others, according to the reviews I have read), add it to a regular bowl of cereal, like Cheerios, and even sprinkle it over a peeled banana as an afternoon snack. For an additional hit of flavor, I also picked up the PB2 with chocolate. It is nice to have some variety to choose from, which also helps me stick to my calorie count each day. Food boredom is one of my worst enemies so it helps to mix things up.

If you love peanut butter, but can’t fit the calories into your diet, give PB2 a try and let me know what you think.


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Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker [Book] [Food]

January 20th, 2016 Comments off

Bourbon Curious: A Simple Tasting Guide for the Savvy Drinker

Bourbon curious cover

* I received a free ebook copy of this publication from the publisher for review. All opinions are mine.

I am fond of saying, “A geek in one thing. A geek in all things.” It’s certainly true of me and I have countless friends who feel and act in the same way. This means that I can “geek out” over gardening, bees, architecture, art and, of course, food and drink with ease. I am self-learner and over the years I have “gone down the rabbit hole” with Alice many times. With this history, it only makes sense that Bourbon Curious caught my eye when I was recently looking for new books. It is, above all else, a geek’s guide to bourbon.

So what does it mean to be a “geek’s guide?” Well, first Bourbon Curious is written by a true devotee of bourbon, award-winning whiskey writer, Fred Minnick — someone who obviously loves everything about the drink — the history, the science, the culture, the business, everything. I would describe him as a fellow geek with the same ease as I would apply to my technology geek friends. He’s knowledge, passionate and, above all, informed about bourbon and wants to share it with the world.

It seemed only natural that I should love this book. It hits all my loves including the (somewhat murky) history of bourbon, the science of bourbon making, the dispelling of bourbon myths, the somewhat rough and tumble world of bourbon marketing, and, of course, the buying, tasting and enjoyment of bourbon.

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Like many books on food and drink, there is an entire section dedicated to the how, what and why or tasting bourbon and some of the possible flavor notes you might experience there.

The last 3rd of the book is taken up with a detailed listing of popular bourbons for tasting containing information on each distillery, the bourbons they produce, the name of the master distiller, proof and product age, mashbills (basic breakdowns of which grains are used in product) and more, including items to look for when tasting. It is quite a lengthy list and working through it in your tasting would develop quite the bourbon education.

Finally there is an Appendix with short histories of a large number of the current bourbon brands

Bourbon curious whiskey whisky

If you want to increase both your knowledge and enjoyment of bourbon, then Bourbon Curious is a great place to start. Go “down the rabbit hole” and see where it leads. I think you’ll greatly enjoy the journey, as I have.

About the Author

Wall Street Journal best-selling author Fred Minnick wrote the award-winning Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey. Minnick writes about whiskey for Covey Rise, Whisky Advocate, and Whisky magazine. He is the “bourbon authority” for the Kentucky Derby Museum and regularly appears in the mainstream media, including CBS This Morning, Esquire, Forbes, and NPR.

Categories: Books, Drinks, Food, Fun, In the kitchen, Opinion Tags:

Food: Making Hard Cider 2016

January 19th, 2016 Comments off

It’s a new year and it’s time for a new batch of hard cider. This time, though, I am going with something other than apple juice as my juice of choice and substituting a cranberry-raspberry juice blend from my local warehouse store. There are a host of other juices in this blend too including apple, grape, raspberry black currant and cranberry. The fact is, you can use nearly any juice you enjoy, whether bottled or fresh pressed as long as it hasn’t been treated with preservatives like Sulphur Dioxide, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate. These preservatives would kill off the yeast your add and entire purpose. These preservatives should be clearly listed in the ingredients. Of course, pressing your own fresh juices is always the best way to go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try more packaged ingredients. My first bath of hard cider was made with unfiltered apple juice from my local Whole Foods, and this glass carboy I am using is being re-used from my previous batches of hard cider.

Food: Cider Making 2016

Making hard cider couldn’t be easier. Place your juice in a glass or plastic jug, add the yeast, stir the mixture and top with an airlock to keep air (and airborne fungi and bacteria) and yet allow the escape of the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast. The yeast converts the sugars in the juice to alcohol until all the sugars are converted or the alcohol reaches a high enough percentage to kill the yeast. In my simple batches, I would guess I rarely reach more than about 4% ABV (alcohol by volume) so my yeast simply converts all the sugar. You can create higher ABV ciders by adding additional honey or sugar, but I am after the flavor of the side, not really high alcohol levels.

In the past, my batches are finished in anywhere from 3-7 days depending on the amount of sugar in the juice and the temperature of the room. In my first batch, fermentation was so vigorous that I could actually here the bubbles rising in the bottle — sort of an on-going fizzing.

Cider Bubbling Cider Airlock Cider Airlock closeup

You can find a more complete, step-by-step, example of my cider making in this past video – Video: Making Hard Cider – Dog Days of Podcasting 2014 – 11/30

For all of my cider projects, I picked up my yeast, airlocks and stoppers — and a lot of great advice — at my local brewery supply store, The Home Beer, Wine and Cheesemaking Shop in Woodland Hills, California. As their names implies, they have supplies for many DIY pursuits. I have always wanted to make beer, myself, but it has always seemed a bit more intensive process than I am willing to take on. Still, it might happen in the future. 

You can also get supplies directly from


Categories: Cooking, DIY, Drinks, Education, Food, Podcast, Show, Video Tags:

Seeing Differently: A Bit of Morning Zen [Slow Motion Video]

December 13th, 2015 Comments off
Categories: Food, New Media, Podcast, Show, Video Tags:


November 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Noted: Learn to Grow Hops

November 4th, 2015 Comments off