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New Year’s Resolutions

14 Jan

We are two weeks in to 2014, and I thought I would check in on how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. How goes it?

I try more and more to not have to find a reason to make positive changes, but there is something about a crisp new page on the calendar that is conducive to new behaviors, attitudes, and … food! New ideas in the kitchen, new recipes, new ingredients, you name it: 2014 seems like a great opportunity.

I have a few food-related New Year’s Resolutions for myself and want to share them with you here, and then I will check those boxes, so to speak, in future posts. I even made a “New Year’s Resolution” tag, if you would like to follow along that way. We are more likely to stick to our goals when we share them with others, right? Well here we go!

  1. Take healthy lunches and snacks to work: It’s often a struggle for me, time-wise, to plan meals for the week, get to the grocery store, cook, pack lunches the night before, and remember to bring it the next day. I would love to get this down to a system! It seems like casseroles and other one-pot comfort foods might be a good option (one container – easy to transport; and filling – our work cafeteria closes at 2pm so healthy afternoon snacks can be challenging). For snacks, healthy, filling, and easy to transport are also key. On busy days, I maaaay be guilty of trolling the halls for unattended candy jars (sigh), and I would love to curb that habit.
  2. Eat filling and healthy breakfasts: Too often I find myself needing to hunker down and work hard between 10:30 and 11:30 on weekdays … not because of any particular deadline or project at work, but because 10:30 is about when my coffee buzz has waned, and 11:30 is when it’s socially acceptable to eat lunch. When I have a full breakfast, I can power through; when I skip breakfast, I feel it. I generally don’t have a ton of time to prepare breakfast in the morning, but oatmeal is one option; I would also like to get into a routine of make-ahead breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, and other similar dishes that I can grab on the go or heat quickly right when I get to work.
  3. Eat less meat: I love meat. I do. But I would like to exercise more moderation. I can’t promise that I will have “Meatless Mondays,” but I don’t think that one or two days per week is unreasonable.
  4. Get to know a few herbs and spices better: How many spices are in your spice rack? I counted once, when a friend of mine was writing an article for a magazine on a related topic, and it was more than 60 – I have to guess I am over 70 or 75 now. Some I crank through, like oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes … others, like garam masala, tarragon, and even paprika I would like to find a few solid recipes for. And as fresh herbs become more bountiful in the warmer months, I am looking forward to picking up something pretty at the farmer’s market and exploring! Which herbs do you wish you knew more about or used more?
  5. Make my father proud: My dad wishes I had a Jewish food blog. I don’t. That niche is not really sustainable for me, but I like the idea of trying to make one traditional recipe per month. It will be worth it even if only to hear my dad do his impersonation of what he thinks it sounds like when I write blog posts. So cute.

If you have ideas for anything in this post, please leave them in the comments!

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Hosting: Our Growing Edge … Round-up! Part II

5 Dec

our-growing-edge-badgeThis is the second post of two, reviewing the submissions for Our Growing Edge, an online “linkup party” that encourages food bloggers to go beyond their comfort zones and try new things.  Check out the first post here, and read on below for the second half!

 

 

13. Prawn Paste, from Sharing the Food We Love. The monster tiger prawns look beautiful!

14. I may put these chicken Japanese Meatballs on my list of things to make – I have never made anything where you combine cooked meat with raw meat, and cook it again – looking forward to experimenting. Thanks, Bashful Bao!

15. The Italian Kiwi brings us an old family recipe for Insalata Russa. The dish is very special to her, and the the tribute to her husband’s grandmother is worth the read.

16. Genie from Bunny. Eats. Design. brings us Duck Fat Two Ways: Duck Fat & Sage Roast Potatoes, and Duck Fat Croutons with Salami & Sage (pictured below). I have to say, I am not sure that a duck fat craze has hit the U.S. quite yet, but when it does, I am ready!

17. Nom Nom Cat tried tsukemen ramen for the first time at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle in Los Angeles. Here is the report!

18. An eggplant extravaganza from Food, Mostly. If you haven’t tried cooking with eggplant, or are looking for some new recipes, check hers out!

19. Caramel Pears, from Amanda at Oven & Apron. How pretty are her pictures?

20. Stefan gives us a step-by-step-by-step tutorial on Chili con Carne, complete with a wine pairing! Thanks Stefan!

21. Sean makes Carrot Cake for his mom, and catches us up on his life recently. Happy Birthday, Sean!

22. This one was my own – I tried my hand at Challah, braided with four strands. Trust me, it was worth the effort!

23. And last but not least, Nom Nom Panda checks out Fresh Tomatillos, and makes some amazing-looking salsa!

Hosting: Our Growing Edge … Round-up!

3 Dec

our-growing-edge-badge And just like that, November was over. The Our Growing Edge crew made the most of the month though – it looks like everyone was busy in the kitchen! It’s possible that this is the highest number of entries that OGE has seen – it’s sure close, if not!

The thing that strikes me the most about OGE is the international nature of the bloggers and posts every month – New Zealand, United States (from California, South Dakota, to Boston, and more!), Australia, India, Argentina, Singapore, France, the Netherlands, and more. I have never heard of many of the dishes and ingredients used – it is a fun learning experience!

Let’s get to the round-up! You can see all of the entries on this page. There are sooo many that I am going to break the round-up into two posts. The second will be posted later this week. Enjoy!

1. The first entry came in from Dearest Sultana, who shared with us a Homemade Gumbo, and a discussion about making roux, which can be tricky business! I am starting my own “to-make” list NOW!

2. Have you heard of Salted Kouign Amann? I had not, but The Pig & Quill gives us a very detailed tutorial about this crispy sweet treat on her blog. Thanks, Em!

3. Hello, Autumn Cheese Beer Soup. I can’t wait to meet you. In my kitchen. With standard ingredients, this looks like a great recipe to whip up on a cold weekend, or snow day, without having to run out for a specialty item. YUM, Food on Demant!

4. Peppery Lacto Fermented Radishes: Totally new to me. Thanks for expanding our horizons, Om Nom Ally!

5., 6., 7., 8. Vessy’s Day was SUPER-prolific this month, with FOUR entries! Steamed Clams with White Wine, Hot Creamy Tomato Soup, Banana Peanut Butter Cookies, and Chicken Empanadas. They are eating well at Vessy’s house! Thanks for the delicious – looking contributions, Vessy.

9. Trampling Rose, THANK YOU for spending the time to make the gorgeous Rosettes and Krumkake for us to covet. And congratulations on your feature in South Dakota Magazine’s “Sweets for the Holidays” feature! That’s awesome – quite an accomplishment to be published in print!

10. Pumpkin Pie Mousse, and a ton of unique and creative photography, from Passionate about Baking. Read on!

11. Beef and Onion Stuffed Bell Peppers, exploring Paleo-friendly dishes and concepts, from Dish by Dish. Happy birthday, Felicia!

12. Urban Food Lover talks us through the journey of making Healthy Hassle-Free Home-made Granola for the first time. No matter what your tastes, you probably love some variation of granola. Try it out for yourself if you haven’t yet!

Check out the second half of the round-up here!

Hosting: Our Growing Edge

1 Nov

our-growing-edge-badge

Happy November! This month, My Utensil Crock is the host for a monthly food blogger online “linkup” called Our Growing Edge. Started by Genie from Bunny Eats Design, Our Growing Edge is a reminder to keep pushing ourselves to try something new – whatever “new” means to you – such as a new recipe, technique, ingredient, or restaurant. Oldies can be goodies, but I love the thought of a monthly reminder to push my comfort zone. I have participated a few times, maybe you recall seeing the logo in a few posts, like:

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies

 

 

Dark Chocolate Cherry Brownies, from August; and

 

 

 

 

WWChocChip-3Chocolate Chunk Cookies made with whole wheat flour, from September

 

 

 

 

 

Any blogger can join the linkup, and bloggers can enter as often (or as occasionally) as they would like. If you have a blog, why not try it out this month?

Throughout the month, bloggers will be posting their submissions on the linkup site, located here. Shortly after the end of November, I will post a “roundup” summary post, and we will check out the submissions. The host blog rotates monthly, and I am looking forward to hosting this month!

I hope you enjoy this series!

p.s. In writing this post, I realize that I can probably push my comfort zone a bit more than modifications to brownies and cookies, so let’s see what I can come up with this month. Any suggestions?

“Capturing Knowledge” in My Utensil Crock

16 Apr

During my junior year of college, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to enroll in a course called “Capturing Knowledge.” I cannot imagine that this title is in the current catalog of my alma mater, but everything about it was a good idea. On Tuesday nights, about 20 of us would gather in a small lecture hall, and order warm cookies and milk from a delivery service. Yes, this is how class started. Perhaps it might help to know that the course was only open to members of my sorority. Perhaps that doesn’t matter, because cookies and milk are delicious in any environment, and frankly, I think we would all be happier and more productive at work if every meeting started this way.

As we settled in (with our cookies), the professor would guide us through various topics in organizational management and change. Looking back, our ultimate goal seems simple and even elementary. But in the late ’90s, the thought of creating a website to memorialize the information, ideas, and ingenuity that we generated was… well, worthy of an upperclassman seminar and college credit. Because college generations cycle quickly, our sorority was losing the inventiveness and hard work of officer after officer – hours and days were consistently used to reinvent the wheel. We had reference notebooks bursting at the seams with scraps of paper lining innumerable shelves – that we actually did use routinely – but at the precipice of the cyber revolution, it was time to memorialize our efforts in a more useful format.

The ceramic crock on my kitchen counter filled with my most-used gadgets is where I first turn when I need something in the kitchen; so when I was looking for a functional way to organize my most useful kitchen tools – recipes, tips, tricks, and more – my mind’s eye kept falling on … My Utensil Crock.

I hope you find it useful as well. I will also use this forum for Q&As, and to share lessons learned about kitchens and cooking with friends. Perhaps this will also help justify my quarter in college spent “Capturing Knowledge.” Because, as you can imagine, we did not actually publish a website.