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The Food Almanac: Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Food Almanac: Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Music To Eat Gumbo By
It's the birthday (1930) of New Orleans jazz legend Pete Fountain. In addition to being a clarinet virtuoso, he's the leader of the Half-Fast Walking Club, a fixture on Mardi Gras morning. Pete's dad was for years an oyster shucker at Bozo's. He even owned a small restaurant (a hot dog stand) at one time, called Peter's Wieners, in Waveland. Good old Pete. He's a tremendously nice guy.

Annals Of Food Writing
Today is the birthday (1908) of M.F.K. (Mary Frances Kennedy) Fisher, whom many consider to be the finest food American food writer of all time. She was widely traveled, a student of sensuality (all kinds), and highly literate. Born in Michigan, she lived most of her life in California, but was attached to France and spent a lot of her life there. Her books, while containing many recipes, are more about the pleasure of eating than the technique of cooking. And they are a great pleasure to read. A good starter is a book called The Art Of Eating, which compiles three books she wrote in the 1930s and 1940s. She kept at it until she died in 1992.

In my files somewhere (although I have a bad feeling it was among the many archives I lost in my office after Hurricane Katrina) is a personal letter from Fisher I received in the early 1980s. A mutual friend gave her a subscription to the New Orleans Menu (it was a print newsletter at that time), and she wrote, "As a famous food writer I get many things from many writers, but for some reason I always make time to read your little magazine. It's very enjoyable." I have never been so thoroughly flattered.

Food At War
One of M.F.K. Fisher's books (How To Cook A Wolf) was written with the food shortages of World War II in mind. But we had it easy in the United States, compared with Europe. Today in 1954, after nine years, food rationing finally ended in England.

Looking Up
The Dog Days begin today, and hang on for forty more. The ancient Romans believed that when Sirius--the Dog Star, and the brightest star in the sky--came up at the same time as the sun, it made the weather hotter. Probably not, but here in New Orleans we hardly need to be told that this would be the most uncomfortable time of year were it not for universal air conditioning.

Food Calendar
It is Seafood With Beans Day. Fish and beans are a natural flavor and texture combination. The goodness of the match came to me a few years ago when, for some reason, I had three different dishes along those lines in as many days at various restaurants around town. I remember one was scallops and lentils at Ralph's on the Park, and another was redfish with crowder peas (or something like that) at GW Fins. In both cases, the seafood was on top of the beans, so the combination was unavoidable. After the third of the dishes (whatever it was), my eyes were opened. And I'd like to open yours. Next time you have some seafood and you're wondering what to serve with it, think beans. It inevitably works brilliantly.

Edible Dictionary
Appaloosa bean, n.--An heirloom variety of the pinto bean, popular in gourmet circles in the Southwest. Its markings are like those of an Appaloosa horse, with splotches of dark reddish brown and white. It resembles the cranberry bean, but is longer, creamier, and has a distinctive herbal flavor. It also has a lower percentage of bean sugars, and so produces less gas--as if that were a consideration in choosing it to eat.

Eating Across America
This would be a good candidate for National Potato Day if that weren't already October 27. Today in 1890, Idaho entered the Union. We like the potatoes from there, especially the russets, which make the best French fries.

Delicious-Sounding Places
Potato Patch, Arizona is about two-thirds the way from Phoenix to Flagstaff, in the middle of Prescott National Forest. It's a camping area, near the top of Mingus Mountain, with the widely-scattered trees characteristic of that part of the country. The Hassavampa River flows from a spring of the same name and forms a small lake nearby. It's excellent hiking and camping country. Those who don't enough food to grill over the campfire can find a few restaurants in Jerome, four miles northeast. They include the Red Rooster, the Flatiron, the Mile High, and Asylum. Hmm. I wonder which one has the loudest music.

Deft Dining Rule #304
The only vegetable worth eating in the cheese-covered variety of the au gratin style is the potato.

Fromage Du Jour
Colby, n., adj.--An American variation on Cheddar, made from cow's milk, colored pale orange with annatto, and aged for only about a month. It differs from Cheddar in that it doesn't undergo the "cheddaring" process, in which the curds are cut and restacked as the whey drains. As a result, its texture is utterly smooth, and a Colby doesn't break in the jagged way that Cheddar does. It's much less sharp in flavor and softer than Cheddar. Colby is an old cheese, invented by a farmer in the town of Colby in 1874. Because of its smoothness, it works well better for cheese-topped kind of au gratin dishes, macaroni and cheese, and the like. It doesn't release as much fat as Cheddar does in those dishes.

Annals Of Fruit
Today in 1806, a large white strawberry from Chile was introduced in England. It was the forerunner of the strawberries we eat today, hybridized with the much smaller, much redder berries that had been cultivated from wild strawberries only a couple of centuries earlier. The process is still dynamic, as plant researchers continue their efforts to remove the last hints of flavor from strawberries so they look better and hold up longer on supermarket produce racks.

The Saints
Today is the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint of doubters. Because of that (and perhaps because I am named for him), I think he should be the patron saint of restaurant critics. But the Vatican inexplicably has turned a deaf ear to my suggestion.

Food Namesakes
Soul singer Fontella Bass was born today in 1940. . Michael Cole, who played a character on the Mod Squad, came in today in 1943. . Henry Frederick Baker, a British geometer, postulated himself today in 1866.

Words To Eat By
The following are all from the pen of M.F.K. Fisher, born today in 1908:

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it--and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied--and it is all one."

"A complete lack of caution is perhaps one of the true signs of a real gourmet: he has no need for it, being filled as he is with a God-given and intelligently self-cultivated sense of gastronomical freedom."

"Almost every person has something secret he likes to eat."

"Between the ages of twenty and fifty, John Doe spends some twenty thousand hours chewing and swallowing food, more than eight hundred days and nights of steady eating. The mere contemplation of this fact is upsetting enough."

"First we eat, then we do everything else."

Words To Drink By
"Licker talks mighty loud w'en it git loose fum de jug."--Uncle Remus, written by Joel Chandler Harris, who died today in 1908.


Raspberry Simple Syrup

I absolutely love the idea of creating new beverages as well as new food dishes. So many fresh, seasonal fruits and herbs can be easily processed into juices or syrups that can be added to cocktails, sodas, lemonades, and iced teas.

I was familiar with breaking down berries into a sauce/syrup from making my blackberry buttercream. Today, when I saw that the raspberries in our local community garden were ripe and going to waste, I spent an extra half hour picking as many as I could easily reach. I was going fast, therefore smooshing many of the berries, so I knew from the start that I would break down the berries into juice or syrup instead of trying to keep them perfectly whole for a dessert. Also, I prefer seedless raspberry anything--removing that annoyance lets you enjoy the berry flavor so much more.

1. Take a photo of whole raspberries.
2. Take another one.

3. I did a quick rinse and then put them in a saucepan with just a little water and a couple tablespoons of sugar. (If I were making a more concentrated reduction, I wouldn't add any water.)

4. I cooked them down until they were almost completely liquid, and reduced them for ten minutes or so.

5. I strained out the seeds and pulp. With raspberries, you really have to work the pulp with a spatula to get all possible juice out of them.

6. Look at that beautiful juice! This is just slightly thickened (reduced) juice with about two tablespoons of sugar. To make a thicker syrup, you can reduce for longer and add more sugar. I would use a thicker syrup to add to desserts like cheesecakes, but this time, I want a thin simple syrup that I can add to beverages.

7. Finally, I made a separate, plain simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water. You simply heat gently in a saucepan and stir or swirl occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Then, I added the raspberry juice to taste...you can make it as sweet or as tart as you want depending on how much you add. I finished it with a squeezed slice of lime for acidity and bottled it up and chilled it. I store my simple syrup in the fridge. Basic simple syrup can last up to a month in the fridge I'll have to experiment with the fruit addition to see how long it keeps.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - Recipes

A long time ago.
Okay, let's start again.
Exactly eleven years ago, I decided it was high time to pursue my dream of being a writer. I didn't have a clue what that might mean. But I did know somebody who wrote funny essays in the newspaper, maintained a great website about the South LONG before anybody coined the word Blog--at least in my existence. And she'd written books!

Besides, I was a librarian. I read books. How hard could it be to write one?

Oh, boy. I had a lot to learn.

But my friend Beth Jacks decided I could take baby steps.
She invited me to become her website USADEEPSOUTH's book reviewer. Now that was a whole lot of fun! I began reviewing for a couple of others places and sites. I got free books, and occasionally a small check in the mail.

Beth never stopped encouraging me. All the way to the publication of my first book and the fabulous GLORY BE party last spring in my hometown of Cleveland, MS.

So I guess I can forgive her for remembering the piano recital. And even for writing about that recital.
The one that I fainted dead away off the piano bench and had to be helped from the stage of the Women's Club's gathering room. Hey. It was summer. It was the South. It was hot.

I've been thinking a lot about piano playing. It figures in something I've worked on perfecting for a while now. But I'd totally forgotten about that recital until Beth's essay appeared in her Snippets column in newspapers all over the South. I can't send you to the link but I can quote from the funny piece. Here's a bit of the ending.

SNIPPETS
By Beth Boswell Jacks

Piano recitals test fathers and fortitude

“Historians may argue that Patrick Henry said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ but personally, I think it was first uttered by a daddy sneaking out of a piano recital.”

But the comedy at my beloved piano teacher Gladys Woodward’s 1957 recital was not funny at the time, at least not to my sister Kathy, then 11 years old.

Our dear friend Augusta Russel Scattergood preceded Kathy on the program. Gusty exited the cramped, hot “waiting room” behind the stage and walked to the piano to play (probably) “To A Wild Rose” or some other piano recital classic. As Gusty’s fingers hit the keys, so did her head. Kerplop. She fainted. Dead away.

Two of the daddies jumped up to haul the faintee back out the stage door into the cubicle where the other terrified pianists hovered in their dotted swiss. The men lifted Gusty gently, one daddy holding her shoulders, the other her white stockinged legs. The girl had nary a foot on the floor.

As the comatose body passed through the door, undaunted teacher Gladys pushed sister Kathy onstage to play (what else?) “Fur Elise.” Kathy recalls her fright, saying, “I stared at Gusty’s body and thought, Wow, if the folks in the audience did that to her, what are they going to do to me?”

Feeling there was no escape and ever the trouper (but not the pianist), Kathy positioned herself prettily on the piano bench and began.

Da dee da dee da dee da da da . . .

In the following minutes, the audience would hear these notes again and again and again. There was no getting past those first nine notes of “Fur Elise.”

Where did the music go next? Kathy didn’t know. What’s more, she didn’t care. She played the equivalent of three pages of those same nine notes, got up, bounced her saucy self back out the door, and told Mama later she’d jump in the Mississippi River before she set foot at another piano recital.

For a long time Kathy blamed her catastrophic performance on Gusty’s fainting spell, but personally I think the fault lies entirely with Beethoven.

Nobody should have to play “Fur Elise” or listen to it. Ask a daddy.

Oh, and while I have the floor. It wasn't quite as bad as Beth described it.
As a child, I fainted frequently. Usually in church. Always in the heat. I think my grandmother's generation called it The Vapors. My head did not kerplop onto the piano keys. I'm sure I was much more graceful than that.


This is NOT me playing. But it is the piece I can now play without a mistake.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving



A new family favorite: Chocolate Silk Pie, recipe from the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls, TX.


Sustainable | Slow | Stylish

It keep us divided from each other by cocooning us in invisible comfort. Inside its walls, it is easy to assume that everyone lives as we live and thinks as we think. It whispers that anyone who is Not Like Us must not be trying hard enough. It is the nice guy explaining in the comment section that men should be welcomed to the women-only bicycle ride. It is your employer not giving the woman in the next cubicle more responsibilities, because she's just going to leave the company when she gets pregnant. It is your grandparents saying that racism no longer exists because there is a black president, and your kids' school only including the pre-contact life of first nations communities in their curriculum.

If you are reading this blog post, that means that you are part of a tiny fraction of humanity who can read and have internet access. Bloggers and social media users tend to forget that we are a subculture within that tiny fraction of humanity. We are so privileged.

One of the most troubling problems in the slow movement is its lack of diversity. People who are talking about applying slow movement ideas to various disciplines - or who talk about environmentalism, or bicycle infrastructure advocacy, or any of a number of similar topics - are mostly over-educated white people like me. The slow home hashtag is used by architects and interior designers, and we tend to assume that home ownership is the norm. We need to talk about slow home for renters. Slow design is still a term mostly used by academics. The term slow travel is mostly being used by young people who travel - often college kids with the resources to travel around the world, or digital entrepreneurs who can work while travelling. The slow fashion hashtag often skews toward talk of luxury design, or things being custom-made - or on the flip side of that, being inexpensively handmade but with a huge time investment. The slow food movement is portrayed from the outside as being about expensive restaurant meals and overpriced farmers' markets and ridiculously time-consuming gardens, instead of being about good, clean, fair food that starts locally. Even minimalism, the most diverse of the related topics, is essentially a philosophy born of privilege - "too much stuff" is the ultimate first-world problem.

Even the conversation following the (brilliant) Salon post on Pollan's possible sexism and the issues of privilege in the slow food movement has tended to turn into arguments over feminism, or whether the DIY movement is actually disproportionately female, or comments pointing to worthy slow food projects being done in partnership with communities in need - instead of examining the critique that the ideas of the slow movement seem largely irrelevant if you lack the means or the time to adopt them. (Note that I said they *seem* irrelevant, not that they *are* irrelevant.)

"We Are Better Together" art print by Ello Lovey on Society6. LOVE this.
How do we broaden the reach of our conversations, and find ways to tell our stories and share our ideas outside our little subculture? How do we describe the ideas and projects of the slow movement for a different audience with different concerns? How do we answer - or acknowledge and address - charges of privilege or elitism? How do we include other cultural traditions in the mix without colonialism or cultural imperialism? How do we, to imperfectly borrow a term from feminism, create an intersectional slow movement?

There are no easy answers.

Maybe, we can make a start by acknowledging our privilege, and being mindful of it. We are lucky we can use our privilege as a tool to help us make changes that those who haven't been as lucky might be unable to make alone. (And yes, if you dig a little deeper, 'luck' itself is a social construct that lets us feel more comfortable wearing our privilege, but that's another whole blog post.) If we create projects after careful consultation, charrettes, or co-design processes, we can make change *with* communities instead of *for* them, on their terms, with their trust and support and ingenuity. We are better together, and we can create brilliant things and elegant solutions by truly engaging with each other as equals in the design and planning process.

Also, perhaps we can make a start by taking our ideas out into the wider world. We can talk about the great things we can do on a limited budget, with limited time, with limited resources, or in different cultural contexts, but that does no good if we only end up talking to people like ourselves. We need to be engaging. We need to make our work relevant. We need to do more than academic papers and blog posts and art shows and conferences. We need to share our ideas through demonstration projects and street art and pop culture. We need to think big and scale up. We need to showcase brilliant projects and put conceptual designs into production and into peoples' hands.

Tell me: what else do you think we need to do to broaden the appeal and the usefulness of the slow movement?


English Historical Fiction Authors

In the Victorian period, food was expensive. A middle class family could expect to spend a little more than half their income on food. Their diet, just like with the upper classes, included a half pound of bread daily. A laborer’s diet might include two pounds of bread, with his wife and children getting something over half this amount.

This was often delivered directly to houses by bakers or pastry cooks. There were also street markets, stalls, and shops called such names as pastry shops, pie-shops and confectioners, where families could purchase a variety of baked goods. Families could prepare their own bread in their own oven or have it baked in a bakehouse, too. The family coal budget was one of the issues that led to making these different choices.

In the home, who was making the bread depended on the size of the household. Servants were relatively inexpensive and readily available during this period. Many families could afford to hire a maid-of-all-work. Next up would be families who could afford this and someone to do “heavy work.” Then, you get into larger households, where there might be cooks, kitchen maids, and scullery maids to specialize in food preparation.

Who made the bread outside of the home? According to A.N. Wilson in The Victorians, the baking life was a tough one. It only became worse during the London Season when bread orders increased. Eleven at night was the start of a baker’s day, when he made the dough. He was able to sleep on the job for a couple of hours while the bread rose, then had to do the rest of the physical tasks of preparing rolls and loaves. Kneading was sometimes done with feet, perhaps making for a less-than-clean product. The bakehouse was alarmingly hot as well, up to ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Some bakers had to deliver the bread they made, too. They only had five to ten hours off per day and all but none during the Season. Wilson says statistics show London bakers rarely lived past the age of forty-two.

Now, having said all this, it is true that in some places in England, the lifestyle of the industrial revolution was killing people even faster than that. In Glasgow, Scotland, for instance, during the middle of this period, men’s life expectancy dropped to thirty-seven and women to forty.

A baker didn’t only have to worry about the process of baking. Getting supplies was more difficult than it is now, though as always, suppliers were important to businesses. They had to choose from various grades of flour, classes of butter, and different kinds of sugar. Eggs needed to be fresh and fruit needed to be best quality.

The market for these building blocks of baked goods was international. Some sources were Ireland, Holland or New Zealand for butter, Hungary and America for flour, and France for eggs. These items affected shelf life, quality and color of the product.

Companies offered other wares such as machinery, tools such as rolling pins and rolling racks, cake boxes and boards, nuts, peels, flavorings, colorings and decorations. As the period continued, manufacturers attempted to invent machines to do some of the hard work. Some machines for sale included those for egg whisking, flour sifting, dough kneading and dough mixing.

During the Victorian period, we see the rise of consumer culture, and women with leisure time to leave the home and shop. By the 1870s, parts of London were safe for women to shop in, and soon came places for women to eat, socialize, and use the facilities. This is the time when ladies’ tea shops came into being. Meals eaten there were usually lunch or tea.

Adventure back in time to a Victorian confectioner’s shop, pastry shop or delicatessen. What would you find available for sale? You might enjoy cakes for various celebrations, gateux and petit fours, biscuits, shortbread, meringues, marzipan, trifles, pound cake, sponge cake and gingerbread, for starters. All of it was perfectly delicious (assuming it was made with the best products and no poisonous fillers) and looked not so different than it might today. Just as now, price point improved the ingredients considerably, with cakes starting at a shilling. Buyer beware, because it wasn’t until the 1870s that the government started policing the adulteration issue. Until then, some of the big issues were chalk in flour, lesser fats being sold as butter and poisonous food dyes.

Americans don’t often, if ever, choose fruit cake for wedding cakes, but it is traditional in England. Even Prince William and Kate Middleton served fruit cake for their wedding. But once again, ingredients and cake processing varied widely based on price point in the Victorian era.

The most basic cake was made from butter or lard, sugar, eggs and flour, and raisins or currants. As cakes became fancier, you see candied peels, fruit, lots of spices and alcohols being added. Food preservation was a major issue before refrigeration and alcohol helped preserve fruit cakes almost indefinitely, so the bakers said.

Cakes were cooked in closed, cast iron ranges by the 1850s. Originally ranges were all coal-based. Then gas versions were available about this time as well but were considered more dangerous.

Ranges required a great deal of maintenance and only rarely had thermometers, so bakers had to come up with methods of checking temperature, like putting paper in the oven until it was dark yellow. That meant the oven was ready to bake cake. Cakes were set on paper or in sand or bran filled trays so the bottom didn’t burn. Smaller baked goods like scones could be cooked on hot plates.

Art and commerce come together for my favorite category of cake, the special occasion cake, such as wedding, christening and birthday cake. Special occasion cakes could be decorated as fancifully as they are today. Smaller cakes were also decorated of course, just to attract the customer. Bright and pretty was important. Cakes were covered with almond paste, then royal icing, then stacked, before being piped around the sides and topped with gum-paste or marzipan decorations, flowers or fresh fruit. There were schools to teach the artistic parts of cake decorating, like modeling, sugar spinning, and fancy pastry making, as well as books. Competitions existed for decorated cakes.

While the process of making baked goods is still labor-intensive today, we can be glad so many improvements have been made to equipment and supplies. I imagine the taste of cake prepared by a conscientious confectioner was just as delicious back then though.

Bibliography:
Davies, Jennifer, The Victorian Kitchen, 1989
Flanders, Judith, Inside the Victorian Home, 2003
Lodge, Nicholas, The Victorian Book of Cakes, 1991
Picard, Liza, Victorian London, 2005
Tabraham, C.J., The Illustrated History of Scotland, 2004
Wilson, A.N., The Victorians, 2011

After a couple of years of writing Victorian-set steampunk, Heather Hiestand went back to what first sold her into the romance market in the first place—Victorian-set romance. Her first novel for Kensington is the 1886-set The Marquess of Cake (July 2013) which will be followed by One Taste of Scandal (December 2013) and His Wicked Smile (2014). All the novels feature a Victorian bakery, a central setting of the Redcakes series. You can learn more about Heather at her website and blog. You can join her newsletter too.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Vegetarian Sausage, Asparagus and Corn Risotto

5 cups low sodium vegetable stock (I used 5 cups hot water mixed with 5 tsp vegetarian better than buillion)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 package (2 sausages) Tofurky italian sausage with tomato and basil, chopped
1 bunch asparagus, stalks chopped into thirds or fourths
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp Earth Balance (or butter)
salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Add vegan sausage & cook over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and corn and cook until asparagus starts to soften (but is still crunchy) and corn is hot. (alternatively, roast the asparagus in the oven for 10 min at 400 degrees F). Cover and keep warm.

In a small sauce pan, bring vegetable stock to a simmer reduce heat & keep warm.

In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add onion, salt & pepper, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add rice & cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to thoroughly coat it with the oil, & becomes lightly “toasted." Add the wine to the rice, stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until liquid is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente, thick & creamy, about 20-30 minutes total. Season with salt & pepper. Stir in the margarine/butter and parmesan. Then stir in the veg sausage, asparagus and corn mixture.
Serve immediately.


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - Recipes

It’s summer time and everything moves outside - except for around here, where everything starts to move inside! We do, however, have the privilege to spend most of the rest of the year in lovely temperatures and outside, including the “Winter” when everyone else is holed up!

Just lately, I’ve been gardening a lot, turning much of our unused patio and portions of our yard into planting areas for fruits and vegetables! I have been growing things in the odd container here and there, the last 3 years or so, but I really want to kick this up a notch or three and grow a lot of our own stuff!

We do get a double growing season around here, which is great (Spring and Fall) but this year I am also trying to grow at least some things through the blistering heat. It requires a lot of babying of the plants, especially in the early stages and some creative use of shade clothes and watering techniques.

So far, so good, but with temperatures of 120 F in the forecast, things are getting pretty dicey out there!

Since we can’t be outside much and the kids are of course on summer break, we’ve been making things for the garden inside.

My kids totally delight in rock painting, which we have done several times now.

They love the walk around the neighborhood, hunting for the roundest, smoothest and biggest (or smallest) rocks.

And they love the actual painting - and then the playing with the finished product, as well as placing them all over our garden!

And I’ve been busy making other things for the yard, mostly inspired by a variety of pinterest pins I have collected over time,  which I will be sharing with you over the next little while.

The first little project I want to share with you, are quick and easy solar lanterns. Very little effort and a lot of savings by doing it yourself, even if you purchase all the components!

These mini solar stake lights. I purchased 12 and with shipping and tax, they came to $1.80 each. If you can find them at your local Dollar Tree, they’ll be even cheaper!

Mason jars (1 pint, with lids and bands)

I got the  Heritage Collection Pint Jars at Target for $10.99. As  I wanted blue lamps, that worked out pretty well. If you can’t find them at Target anymore, they are also available here.

You can also do it with different lights of course, but these happen to be the exact size of the mason jar band, meaning you just need to wedge them in the band, with no glue or anything, screw them on tight and you are done!

If it seems a little loose, you can  put a ring of hot glue around the inside, where the band meets the solar light. If you get a lot of rain where you live, you may want to do that anyway, so the rain won’t fill up your jar over time.

Mine worked out just perfectly, so no glue was needed!

I put the band (minus the lid) on the jar and screwed it on loosely.

Then I took the stake off the solar light and dropped the top in through the band.

Then I tightened the band and that was it! The light settled into a nice and tight spot. But not so tight that I couldn’t get it out again!

Then I just made a little hanger with some wire by wrapping it around the lip of the jar a couple of times, wrapping it around the side and up to be joined into a hoop.

Twelve solar lanterns for $3.70 each. Not bad, considering that the solar lids alone usually retail for $11 and up . each! And then you still have to provide the jar, which would add another dollar or so to the final cost!

I put mine on Shepherd’s Hook Stakes all over the garden! Not only do they look lovely, they have functionality since we have a lot of raised beds and containers all over the garden now and it helps to know where the corners are, when it gets dark!


The Food Almanac: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - Recipes

I’m Joanne, the writer, photographer, and eater behind Eats Well With Others.

I started this blog back in 2009 during my senior year in college as a way to teach myself how to cook and avoid dorm food (and, consequently, high cholesterol) at all costs. What started as just a spur-of-the-moment whim has morphed into something I spend the majority of my time thinking about, an obsession if you will. This blog has undergone a lot of changes over the past five years, most notably that about two years ago, I embraced a vegetarian whole-foods based lifestyle and haven’t looked back. That being said, I still eat sushi when the mood strikes and I always make room for dessert. Always. And I hate most salads. Yes, I’m that kind of vegetarian.

During the day, I moonlight as an MD/PhD student in New York City where I spend my hours trying to further elucidate the molecular mechanism of insulin signaling in fat cells. While simultaneously pondering what I should bake next. Suffice it to say, it’s a balance. And I pretty much just don’t sleep.

I also run marathons to raise money for cancer research through Team in Training (and also to mitigate the effects of all of that aforementioned baking). When I first started running with them, I didn’t really have a connection to the cause, but my dad passed away in September of 2012 from liver cancer and suddenly my reasons for doing it became all that more real. If you are even slightly considering training for an endurance event, I highly recommend doing it with them. Let’s just say once you drink the purple Kool-Aid, you never go back.

I currently live in a fairly tiny studio with my boyfriend (commonly referred to as The.Boy) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. We met online and I am eternally grateful that he doesn’t mind eating lukewarm food or postponing dinner so that I can get that perfect shot.

If you are interested in working with me on product reviews, giveaways, recipe development, food photography, ambassador partnerships or press trips, then please contact me at [email protected] Or, if you just have a random question about a recipe, life, or just want to say hi, you can contact me there as well!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope I’ve inspired you to get into the kitchen and get cooking.


Clubbhouse Happenings

Well the fair cooking is over Luke made it to state! That will be in another post. I have to say that his cooking days are not over though. Each kid has a week that they are responsible for helping with the cooking. It has been that way for a while here. We share all the responsibilities to some extent with everyone! It wouldn’t work here if we didn’t. I did however make this recipe on my own. As I know that I have said before we love breakfast food around here. Bacon is the food of choice, however we all know that it doesn’t serve as a balanced meal. I came across this recipe a few years ago. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out the first time however it was well loved and quickly became a favorite. I have tried all the breakfast meats in it and I have to say that the bacon is the favorite! I was not surprised. I think that ham looks the best, however it is too watery when you add that. Here are the ingredients: Puff pastry, eggs, cheese, breakfast meat of choice, salt and pepper to taste. Sounds pretty easy doesn't it? When cooking for the family I use both puff pastries that come in the package, a dozen eggs and a pound of bacon. You may want to cut that in half for a smaller family. The first thing that you want to do is get your pastry out to thaw. It says it takes about 40 minutes to do so or you can put it in the fridge the night before. Who has time to do that, right? I usually get it out first and we are good to go. I open the package and set both on the parchment lined cookie sheet that I am going to bake it on. Next I go for the bacon and pop it in the oven to cook. Once that is done I start with the eggs. You want to scramble the eggs in the skillet, however stop cooking them about 2 minutes early, or leave them slightly wet. Don’t worry you are going to cook them with the puff pastry so they will be done when you are going to eat them. I then take the cheese and heavily sprinkle it on the eggs. I like sharp cheddar, however you can use any kind of shredded cheese that you like, or have on hand. When the bacon and egg/cheese mixture is finished you are ready to assemble. First open up your pastry. This time I left the bacon in strips however I usually crumble it up and add it to the egg/cheese mixture. It turns out better that way.

Of course we had to add a couple more pieces of bacon to it. My family loves bacon! On top of the bacon you add the cheese/egg mixture. Now when I usually make it I just divide the bacon, egg and cheese mixture between the two pastries and lay in in the center of each.


The eggs are still a little on the wet side. Like I said earlier though you are getting ready to pop it in the oven so they will be good and cooked! Next you want to cut the sides of the pastry. You want to make about 1 inch slits on each side. Once this is complete you start to fold them up rotating sides. My daughter calls them fingers, so you wrap the fingers to make the braided look. I know a lot of times with pastries we brush the tops with butter or something. I haven’t done that with this and it looks so pretty. You cook this for about 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. You want it to be a nice golden brown. You are finished! This picture doesn’t do justice to the golden brown color that the pastry has. Sorry I took these with my cell phone. We serve this with home fries or hash browns and fruit. I can’t wait until our cantaloupe and watermelon are picked from the garden to add to this!


What else can you do with puff pastry? We have tried this with all breakfast meats like I previously mentioned. We have also opened one up, brushed it with butter and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar and baked that for a yummy snack. We have apples on our tree this year for the first time an I am going to try to make apple dumplings with it. Of course I will post that when I do.


Watch the video: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - Evening Edition (January 2022).