A recurring theme in my kitchen is that I struggle with making breads. I don’t know what it is about yeast but it vexes me to no end. The bread I make at home is either a complete bust or just blah. Yet still I persist in thinking that if I just find the right recipe, the mysterious world of yeast will finally make sense to me. That thinking never really worked out for me with geometry or algebra. But call me the optimist because I am determined to one day pull a bread out of my oven that is worthy of ooohs and aaahs and gets gobbled up leaving people looking around for more, even if it’s just a crumb. This experiment with focaccia is just one step toward that goal. Continue reading “Crusty”

You Don’t Speak For Me Chris Kimball

I debated whether I should start this post by asking who died and made Chris Kimball boss….looks like I just did.  Mr. Kimball has taken it upon himself to suggest that the world of food bloggers is somehow a slap in the face to trained professionals who, in his words, possess “thoughtful expertise…that comes from real experience, the hard-won blood-on-the-floor kind.”  I’m referring to his recent Op-Ed in the New York Times in response to the announcement that Gourmet magazine will cease to exist.

I understand perfectly that this is Mr. Kimball’s opinion and he’s entitled to it.  He’s also entitled to share that opinion with all who will listen.  But please Mr. Kimball, don’t self righteously express your voice when it suits to get your opinion printed in the New York Times and then discount others doing the same when it doesn’t suit your business model.  The idea of each person having a voice, people in this world die for that privilege.

Mr. Kimball, do you really think that  “the world needs fewer opinions”?  Personally, I think its imperative that different opinions can be expressed and considered.  Not all opinions will be good ones, but why is it that you think only the opinions of “experts” are worthy?  Is that really the world you live in?  I don’t.

And what about your idea that only those who graduate from the “school of hard knocks” are credible?  Are you saying that my life experience has no credibility?  Really, could you be THAT arrogant?

Furthermore, how can you defend this opinion that so blatantly insults your publications’ readers?  Do you realize that some of us on this “ship of fools” are the same people who make it possible for your magazines to exist?  We’re the ones who subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated or Cook’s Country.  We’re the ones who buy your annual cookbooks.  We’re the ones paying YOUR salary Mr. Kimball.

Let me know if I’m following your logic correctly…if I aspire to become a credible cook, the only way to do that is by enrolling in an accredited program?  If that’s the case, then why have I sent your company a check for the last three years?  Silly me, I thought that by using tested recipes, my skills would grow.

And about those recipes, you do know that you ask us, the “instant pundits”, to test them during development for your publications.  You do know that, right?  Why would you do that if you think that our experiences are not worthy?  Or did you just mean anyone who doesn’t belong to your CI, CC,  or ATK club?

And please, I really would like to understand your logic behind making print subscribers also pay additional for online content.  Is it really necessary for you to double dip into my finances just so I can access your Premium Content online?  You may call that “a thriving paid Web site”.  I call it greed.

I would never presume to say that my skills in the kitchen are anywhere near those of someone who has been to cooking school.  But since when do you have to wear a chef’s hat in order to be a good cook?

When all is said and done Mr. Kimball, I do respect your right to your opinion.  But I respect myself more than to be a pawn in your world.  So I’m going to express my opinion in the one and only way that matters to you, with my pocketbook.  Gourmet may be gone but your magazines aren’t the only other players left in this game.

Will it make me a hypocrite to leave the Cook’s Illustrated recipes up that I’ve posted here?  Maybe so.  But I’d rather be a hypocrite than a fool.  And if I were to continue to subscribe to your publications, that’s exactly what I’d be.

Thanks for the memories Chris.  You really know how to ruin a good thing.

For other responses to the OpEd piece, mosey on over to The Amateur Gourmet for Adam’s post, or to Sky Full of Bacon , Wise Ax, The Gurgling Cod, or The Breakaway Cook. And for Mr. Kimball’s blog response to all this, click here.


SB "Pancakes"

This post originally appeared on Exit 51 and incorrectly listed 4 egg yolks instead of whites.  What the heck was I thinking?

Fool me once…shame on you.  Fool me twice…won’t get fooled again.  Or some such nonsense.

But being fooled isn’t always the same as being foolish.  Case in point, pancakes.  I’ve never been a big pancake fan, unless they were being cooked up by my grandmother, but sometimes I just get a taste for them.  Here on the South Beach side of the street, pancakes aren’t something you are going to be eating.  Unless, those pancakes aren’t really pancakes at all.  Don’t believe me?

It’s surprising how easy it is to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating one thing when really, what’s on your plate has no resemblance to what you tell yourself it is.  Like those faux mashed potatoes that we love so much at our house.  Cauliflower has nothing remotely in common with potatoes.  But given the right presentation, it is possible to tell yourself that they are the same.  So you’re being fooled, but you’re certainly not being foolish.  How else do you explain the fact that oats, cottage cheese, and egg whites could be mistaken for a pancake?  Because I didn’t believe it either…at first.

And then I made them.  And I believed.  And what’s more, I think these were easier to make.  With typical pancakes, I  could never figure out when to flip them and would always seem to end up with either gummy, undercooked flapjacks or dry, scorched ones.  But these Oatmeal Pancakes, thanks to the egg whites, are pretty fool proof.  I even avoided the dreaded ‘first pancake’ syndrome.  I can never do that with Bisquick.  Never. So now I’m wondering whether this batter can be transformed into waffles?  Or perhaps made a little thinner.

Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean that being fooled isn’t always a bad thing.

Oatmeal Pancakes

From The South Beach Diet

Makes approximately 3 large or 6 small pancakes

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • vanilla to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Coat a nonstick frying pan with spray or lightly oil and heat over medium flame.  Pour batter into pan.  Turn the pancakes once the first side is nicely browned.  Cook until the second side is fully browned.  Serve immediately.

{Printable Recipe}

DIY Lightbox

DIY Lightbox

My latest DIY project was inspired by this post on Shutterboo.  I took one look at her homemade lightbox and knew I had to have one.  Sure, I could go online and spend upwards of a hundred bucks or so to have an “real” lightbox but thank you  recession, our disposable income is no longer quite so disposable.  A cardboard box and tissue paper I already had.  Goodbye counter top glare in my food photos, hello macros.

In case you now have lightbox envy, Shutterboo’s post is a perfect guide.  All you need is 30 minutes (or less), a box, utility knife, ruler, tissue paper, poster board, and tape.  For real.  Oh, and some lights.  I didn’t have any small lights that I could “borrow” from other rooms.  So I spent $12 on two small, adjustable lamps at Target.

I like the results.  But I may need to get a third lamp that I can shine down into the top of my rig.  Or maybe I just need to try stronger bulbs to keep from getting dark shadows towards the front of the box.

For other examples of homemade lightboxes, Google “light box photography”.