Archive: November 2007

Food for Thought on World AIDS Day

There was Michael, leading a double life in New England, afraid to come out to his family and fiancee. And there was Richard, a New York executive with everything money could buy, except a cure. His partner, Brian, was next. I knew them all in the late 1980s, before they died of AIDS. Their deaths were both sad and haunting, but in all fairness, I knew them through their survivors and experienced the heartache of loss only vicariously. I didn't know what it was like to lose dozens of friends who were dropping like flies during that time, yet I kept hearing about this thing called an AIDS epidemic. I went to view the AIDS Quilt when it first came to Philadelphia and I wore a red ribbon on the first World AIDS Day, held 19 years ago on Dec. 1, which is tomorrow. I knew the words to "That's...

By Kim ODonnel | November 30, 2007; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

December Food Mags, Part Two

We pick up where we left off yesterday, a look at what the food magazine world has to offer this holiday season. Yesterday, I assessed the state of four special issues; today, I follow up on the three remaining in my pile. As always, comments and discoveries are highly encouraged in the comments area below. MARTHA STEWART LIVING Can you judge a book by its cover? It's all about Martha, with a holiday twinkle in her eye, standing next to a cake decorated with elaborately stenciled, Old World-looking (natch) gingerbread village houses. Caption reads: "Martha with a cake that evokes a town square in Prague, surrounded by bead ornaments." Theme "The Most Magical Holidays Ever," offering a mix of crafts, decorating, entertaining and baking. It's beginning to feel like a lot like Christmas, but not really in the kitchen. Seasonal produce emphasis? None that I can see. Gift guide Edible...

By Kim ODonnel | November 30, 2007; 9:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

December Foodie Magazine Roundup

Ever since I compiled a roundup of Thanksgiving special issues at the end of October, I've been receiving requests for a similar overview of the food mag world's annual holiday spreads. As November winds down tomorrow and makes room for the most festive time of the year, here's my take on December-centric food issues you may find at your nearest check-out counter or magazine stand. Today, I take on four magazines; tomorrow, I'll finish with another batch of three. And as usual, comments and magazine-y tidbits are most welcome in the coments area below....

By Kim ODonnel | November 29, 2007; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Some Pepper With My Cookie, Please

I was looking for a new twist on a holiday cookie, and I found it in the most unlikely of places -- a cookbook focusing on the Indian Ocean spice route. "Where Flavor Was Born" is indeed a spicy and lively collection of nearly 100 recipes from the countries and island nations on four continents that surround the world's third largest ocean. (If anyone can find a resource that lists all countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, I'd be grateful.) Sugar and spice makes everything nice in these cookies. (Kim O'Donnel) The genius idea of making the spice connection among the cookery of four continents belongs to Norwegian food writer and TV cooking personality Andreas Viestad, who traveled to eleven countries for research, including his beloved Zanzibar, an East African island nation I've been hankering to visit for several years. Rather than by country, continent or type of dish, the book...

By Kim ODonnel | November 28, 2007; 9:49 AM ET | Comments (27)

Hank Hill Gets Schooled in Food Politics

I was minding my own business the Sunday before last, my legs propped up, one eye on the crossword puzzle, the other half-focused on an episode of the Fox cartoon series, "King of the Hill". The episode, entitled "Raise the Steaks," (scroll down page to view on demand) opens with the star of the show, Hank Hill, grilling steaks for his neighbors, all gathered 'round the picnic table eagerly awaiting their steak dinner. The Hills getting into the holiday spirit. (Fox Broadcasting Company) "With great meat, son, comes great responsibility," Hank says to young Bobby, proud and confident in his grilling abilities. Unfortunately, the meat, purchased from the neighborhood supermarket, aptly called "Mega-Lo-Mart," is so tough no one can penetrate it with a knife, and Hank, an embarrassed host and angry customer, goes straight to the source -- or is it?-- of the problem. When he arrives at the Mega-Lo-Mart...

By Kim ODonnel | November 27, 2007; 9:16 AM ET | Comments (5)

Leftover Pumpkin Gets a Breakfast-y Makeover

There was talk in Friday's blog space about what to do with leftover turkey and the more obvious Thanksgiving trimmings such as cranberries and stuffing. However, I overlooked the lonely container of pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge, one cup remaining from dessert and begging to be used. Pumpkin pancakes: A great way to use up leftover puree. (Kim O'Donnel) I immediately thought of the jug of Vermont maple syrup given to me by my visiting father-in-law, and wondered if there was a way to combine the two ingredients into some kind of wonderful breakfast over the long holiday weekend. Pancakes are among my favorite things to make for those rare lingering mornings (although recently, I made blue corn pancakes one Thursday pre-work morning for me and Mister MA, to which he declared, "Let's have pancakes every Thursday!"), and I kept thinking, if only I could come up with a...

By Kim ODonnel | November 26, 2007; 9:25 AM ET | Comments (13)

Morning-After Thanksgiving Eats

Good Thanksgiving morning-after to you. Are you staring aimlessly at your coffee like I am, going at a decidedly slower pace than usual? (I decided against getting up at four a.m. and joining the throngs of frenzied Black Friday shoppers at Target.) Once I'm out of my morning coma (all that cooking will knock the wind out of you), I'll take stock of the contents of the fridge, assessing the state of the leftovers. We were a small albeit merry group of three yesterday (including Father-in-Law Appetite), collaborating on a menu that included brined roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, curried mashed sweet potatoes and wilted tatsoi with a hot mustardy vinaigrette. For dessert, we got in the car with our upside down pumpkin-cranberry-pecan cake and joined forces with friends to sample six different sweet offerings. What a sugar high! There's been talk about making "dressing sandwiches", but I got...

By Kim ODonnel | November 23, 2007; 9:27 AM ET | Comments (10)

Thanksgiving Table for One

Whether we travel or stay at home, Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest of the year. For one meal, we scurry through airports, plow down interstates and push our way through supermarket aisles -- just to break bread (or a turkey wishbone) with loved ones. The anxiety is high, the lines are long and the Scotch suddenly is not strong enough. Take my friend B., a farmer in Virginia. After several intense weeks of turkey season, she is enormously relieved on Thanksgiving. Finally, she is left alone. The husband and kid will have left town to visit his family, and she's got the house, football and the TV tray all to herself. Instead of turkey, she will give thanks to beer, cheese and crackers. In her book, An Alphabet for Gourmets, the late M.F.K. Fisher wrote that "dining alone" has its place, however unpopular. "This misanthropic attitude is one...

By Kim ODonnel | November 21, 2007; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Entering the T-Zone

We are officially in the T-zone, down to the nitty gritty, the final 48 hours before sitting down to give thanks this Thursday. So... how are you holding up? I'm hoping that you've got the grocery shopping out of the way because by tonight, people are downright mean, pushing their carts into yours to make their way to the pile of sweet potatoes, swerving in the direction of the tower of cans of pumpkin puree and agonizing over the frozen bird in the cart, wondering if the darned thing will be thawed by Thursday. It can get ugly, like rush hour traffic, but without your favorite radio station. In the midst of the madness, remember to breathe! Jillian Pransky, one of my favorite yoga teachers, who's based in Hoboken, N.J., shared her thoughts on the importance of deep breathing in a recent holiday e-mail newsletter: When we are stressed, we...

By Kim ODonnel | November 20, 2007; 7:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Thanksgiving Pudding: What's Your Pleasure?

My dear friend, Miz B., who moved to this country from her native Britain 14 years ago, refers to all desserts as "pudding." Although it took me a while to get used to her choice of nomenclature, I've come to prefer it over the word "sweets," which really, in my opinion, should be used only when referring to candy. But at the end of the meal, the choice of word is irrelevant (and it gets really confusing if you read the history books); what's important, particularly with regards to Thanksgiving, is that a sweet ending exists after all that hard labor plowing through stuffing, gravy and mashed tubers. Thanksgiving just isn't the same without dessert, I mean pudding. By the time the British colonists arrived in 1620, they were already eating "pye." To wit, a few lines from a poem by 17th century poet William King: Of all the delicates...

By Kim ODonnel | November 19, 2007; 9:43 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Hearty Helping of Thanksgiving Chat Leftovers

As promised in yesterday's What's Cooking Thanksgiving special, I'm serving up a little extra chat luv on the side, as there were just too many leftover questions in the queue begging for attention. And as always, weigh in with Thanksgiving tips and suggestions that have worked for you in the past. Have a delicious, mindful weekend -- and let's get busy! Iowa City, Iowa: I used to get this fantastic raw (I think) cranberry sauce/relish from a deli back in my hometown, but this year I'm not able to go back for Thanksgiving. I've been looking for months for a similar recipe online, but no success. The relish was all sweet -- besides cranberries, it had mandarin oranges, walnuts, maybe other berries. I would love to make something similar for my dinner on Thursday, but don't know where to start. Do you have a recipe or any guidelines to make...

By Kim ODonnel | November 16, 2007; 9:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do You Do Your Turkey?

Type the words "Thanksgiving turkey recipes" into a Google search box and you'll get a return of 1.7 million possibilities. (Actually it's 1.73 million, my mistake.) The thought of wading through even a sliver of this recipe mountain is giving me a headache. Over the years, I've tried various methods and flavoring techniques to make that turkey crackle with zing at the table. I've poked 40 cloves under the skin and flambéed the roasted bird with cognac (fun and theatric but a bit dangerous if you've been drinking wine all afternoon); I've made compound butters with shallots and herbs, tucked under the skin and basted with its buttery juices (safe, traditional) and one year I think I even flipped the bird and roasted it breast-side down (not worth the trouble). Turkey, center stage. (PRNewsFoto) But six years ago, when I finally got hip to brining the bird, I stopped shopping...

By Kim ODonnel | November 15, 2007; 8:38 AM ET | Comments (20)

As the Bird Turns

Thanksgiving is all about the food -- or is it? We all know that the meal is the excuse for gathering around one table and breathing the same air for about four hours, whether or not we like each other. For some of us, this meal is an annual reunion of relatives, both estranged and strange, the one opportunity every year to stand witness to our DNA and to make small talk with people who may as well be strangers. With such a heavy premise, the food had better be good -- or what on earth will we talk about? Will we be able to endure the agony of sitting next to a cousin whose politics are radically different from our own? Will we able to keep the lecherous uncle at bay and and smile at his wife while he smiles at your chest? Will we be able to lie...

By Kim ODonnel | November 14, 2007; 8:26 AM ET | Comments (0)

An Ode to the Apple

Autumn is tricky business. Lovely eye candy though it may be, with its splashes of crimson and gold, an awe-inspiring collage of color that inspires long drives and baking adventures, it's also a precursor to early sunsets and a reminder of the inevitable descent into the abyss that is winter. Apples doing the still-life thing. (Kim O'Donnel) I know, you'll argue that autumn is something of a culinary paradise, a smorgasbord of seasonal ingredients to play with and embrace. As much as I enjoy roasting pumpkin, braising sweet potatoes and exploring the nuances of parsnips, I am reminded of snow and ice and my annual countdown to spring. But as I mentioned, this autumn thing is a tricky tightrope, and the only thing that keeps me from tipping over is the apple. Ah, the pomme. She is my diamond in the seasonal rough, my spark of light, a reminder of...

By Kim ODonnel | November 13, 2007; 9:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

10 Days, 10 Ways to Keep Thanksgiving Sane

Today is Nov. 12. Translation: Thanksgiving is a mere 10 days away. Please note that this announcement is for planning purposes, not for inducing panic attacks. Think of it as a friendly wakeup call rather than a fire alarm. But. But, she says, gently but firmly, procrastination must be stowed in the overhead compartment for this ten-day journey. It really is time to talk turkey. Below, I offer 10 ways to stay on top of your pre-planning hosting game, one for each day until the minute the guests start knocking on the door. There's always room for more tried-and-true tips, so please weigh in with your favorites in the comments area below. 1. Get the lay of your land: Take stock of the cabinets for tools, such as a roasting pan, instant-read thermometer and extra cutting board for carving. How are those potholders doing -- is it time for a...

By Kim ODonnel | November 12, 2007; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

When I interviewed cookbook author Jules Shepard earlier this year for my Food section story on her gluten-free journey, I gained an appreciation for the constant dietary vigilance of someone living with celiac disease. Jules Shepard's apple pie with a gluten-free lattice crust. (Kevin Clark) Shepard, who refused to give up a life of enjoying baked goods, developed an all-purpose gluten-free flour mixture, a blend of five grains (plus xanthan gum as a binder) that makes carb-heavy faves such as pizza, cookies and scones not only possible but culinarily respectable. (I tested three recipes this summer using her flour mix and was duly impressed by the results.) I tried to imagine what life would be like without gluten -- as 1 in 100 Americans do -- but sure enough, as soon as the story was published, I moved on to the next topic on my to-do list. Flash forward three...

By Kim ODonnel | November 9, 2007; 9:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Giving Thanks to No Dairy, Eggs or Meat

Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving this year or contributing to someone else's feast, chances are good that you'll be in mixed company -- you, a turkey drumstick-chomping omnivore, breaking (egg and dairy-free) bread with someone who gladly will pass on the bird and gravy. These days, homogenous dietary preferences are more the exception than the rule at dinner parties. In the five-plus years I've been hosting a monthly vegetarian chat, I have witnessed an evolution in the way people eat and think about food. I remember questions from meatless readers who were tired of feeling marginalized at family holiday gatherings, but in just five years, there's been a shift in attitude, with increased interest on how to integrate, diversify and collaborate at the table. "Veggie Gourmet" Mimi Clark. So, you, the diehard meat eater, may ask: How do I allow space for vegetarians and vegans at the holiday table? Having an...

By Kim ODonnel | November 8, 2007; 7:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Chat Leftovers: Let the Thanksgiving Prep Jitters Begin

Based on the leftover questions from yesterday's What's Cooking, it's fair to say that the annual ritual of planning (and often fretting over) Thanksgiving dinner has begun. Feast day is just two weeks from tomorrow, so fire up those ovens, ladies and gents. It's time to start cooking! Today's batch of questions are turkey-centric; I promise a vegetarian equivalent in the coming days, and tomorrow, Thursday, Nov. 5 at 1 ET, I'm hosting my What's Cooking Vegetarian Thanksgiving Special. Tucson, Ariz.: I have a Thanksgiving juggling dilemma. I have a great simple recipe for roasted root veggies (cubed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash etc. tossed with rosemary, thyme, olive oil, s&p) that I want to make for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they need to roast in the oven for about an hour at a much higher temp than the turkey and it takes less than an hour to carve the bird after it...

By Kim ODonnel | November 7, 2007; 7:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Baguette Breakthrough

Last week's piece on bread troubleshooting further illustrates just how many schools of thought there are on the topic. Hats off to "Seattle cooking mom," a self-described active bread baker, who suggests paying less attention to books and more attention to the bread itself. I couldn't agree more with this piece of advice. The remaining portion of my very first baguette. (Kim O'Donnel) A personal pitfall that continues to plague my bread-making is my tendency to multi task. As a cook, I've always got a few things on the stove at the same time, which is why I've got no problem pulling off a multi-course feast, but experience has proven that bread really does require one's full attention. Clear the counter, clear the head and focus on the bread -- and in all likelihood you'll have delicious results. With all the recent back-and-forthing in the blog space, I had lingering...

By Kim ODonnel | November 6, 2007; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (16)

Fruitcake Date

Sunday, Nov. 4: Day 17 of my fruitcake fruit bath. I could let my "mash" keep going, but when I popped open the jar and nearly passed out from the fumes, I knew it was time to put a halt to the booze biz and start making cake. In preparation for the batter step, I consulted two resources for ingredient ideas as well as technique: Nigella Lawson's "How to Be a Domestic Goddess" and "Caribbean Recipes Old & New" from my friend and Barbados chef LaurelAnn Morley. Fruitcake, out of the oven, ready for a few weeks of dark storage. (Kim O'Donnel) Because this was my maiden fruitcake journey, I'll admit I was a little nervous, but what helped was a deep cleansing breath and gathering and measuring all of the ingredients (mise en place) from get-go. Morley's recipe, below, calls for "browning," a cooked caramel-colored syrup found in many...

By Kim ODonnel | November 5, 2007; 9:24 AM ET | Comments (14)

Kim Cooks Up a Book

My editor tells me I'm allowed one full-blown shameless plug, so here goes: I am the proud mama of my first-born cookbook, "A Mighty Appetite for the Holidays." It is a cute little (7x7) soft-covered book that is small enough to tote on your daily commute or to tuck into a carry-on bag on your flight over the river and through the woods. The book is divided into two sections -- the Thanksgiving feast, from soup to nuts, and the festive month of December that includes four holidays, a winter solstice and a new year. My goal is to gear you up with a battery of recipes (with plenty of room for improv and variation), inspire you to try new ingredients and expand your culinary horizons, and maybe, just maybe, entertain you with stories about the mercurial marriage of family, food and the festive season. Here's cookin' with you, kid....

By Kim ODonnel | November 2, 2007; 7:12 AM ET | Comments (12)

Bread 911

Yeastcrazy: I have been trying to bake a lot of bread -- but I consistently have two problems -- the dough won't take the amount of flour that is called for, and the dough won't rise as much as it should. I have been using a thermometer to make sure the water is not too warm or too cold. The only way I can get the dough to rise (and it's still not enough) is to set it as close as I can to the stove and to turn on the stove -- it needs way too much heat to rise. Any ideas? Although I consider myself a student of (rather than an expert in) breadmaking, I'll share a few pointers that have worked for me and lessons learned along the way. You state that you have been "using a thermometer to make sure the water is not too warm...

By Kim ODonnel | November 1, 2007; 8:44 AM ET | Comments (20)

 

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