Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Agua Fresca

I bought a giant yellow watermelon at the Pearl Alley Farmers' Market last Friday, and after chomping on a few wedges, I decided to try my hand at a traditional Mexican agua fresca recipe, which basically consists of pureeing fresh fruit, straining out the juice, and adding a little sparkling water. So refreshing! The only things missing were the little paper umbrellas.

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Writing (Nonfiction, that is)

Being a journalist has given me access into the lives of people and issues I never would have explored so intently and painstakingly on my own. (Astronomers, beekeepers, anti-Semitism and globalization come to mind. Oh, and yes--brownies and chefs too.) Sometimes I forget what a privilege it is, but I was reminded again last night as I came across this phrase from screenwriter (and former journalist) Nora Ephron, who is referring to one of her past magazine article assignments:

I can't believe how real life never lets you down. I can't understand why anyone would write fiction when what actually happens is so amazing.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday Food News

I woke up at 4 a.m. today for some bizarre reason. Rather than toss and turn in bed, I decided to get up and start reading the newspapers. Last Wednesday's Chicago Tribune food section was still posted online since it was only 3 a.m. in the Windy City. I happily read it since I missed it last week. Of course, I had to wait a couple more hours for The Seattle Times and for the "thump" of The Columbus Dispatch on our doorstep.

Here are a few recipes gleaned from my early morning reading that not only made my mouth water, but inspired me to click "print." (With my office door shut tight, of course, so as not to wake my companion with the pre-dawn rattling of my inkjet printer.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Michigan Wine Trail

We spent the weekend in Michigan with our good friends Emily and Brian, and took advantage of a cloudy Saturday by visiting two wineries on the Michigan Wine Trail. We left Karma Vista with bags full of bottles of Coloma Clearwater Riesling, Coloma Sol, Starry Starry White and Cherri Amour. And smack dab in between Karma Vista and Contessa Wine Cellars was The Chocolate Garden, purveyor of delicious, hand-rolled chocolate truffles. I'd be hard pressed to find a tastier corner of Michigan!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I was excited to read Wednesday's New York Times article about the launch of Chow.com next week. The website is a spinoff of the now-defunct Chow magazine, a food and dining glossy for the young, hipster set (or those who aspire to be so). I purchased Chow a couple of times last year and really loved it's snarky-yet-knowledgeable take on all things food. Past article titles included "How to Spot a Bad Italian Restaurant" (Hint: Roman restaurants that are busy before 9 p.m.), "Why You Hate Liver" (the science behind how we taste things), "The Wedding Gift" (Cool kitchen gifts to purchase once the big ivory envelope with the cupid stamp arrives). If it's anything like the magazine that spawned it, chow.com promises to be a great epicurean resource and oodles of fun! You can enter your e-mail address now at chow.com to receive news about their upcoming launch.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Holy Tomatoes!

What do I do with all these tomatoes?
It's a common summer dilemma in the kitchen. Perhaps you have a neighbor like ours, who brings us armfuls of plump, juicy tomatoes every day and tells us she won't stop bringing them until we tell her to quit. Our fruit bowl runneth over, but when I think about the mealy red orbs I'll be plucking from supermarket shelves in January, I just can't say no to garden-fresh tomatoes. But you can only make so much bruschetta, so much salsa, so many caprese salads with fresh mozzarella.

The August/September issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray features a great suggestion: Make roasted tomatoes! You can freeze (6 months) or refrigerate them (5 days) and toss them into whatever you're making for dinner. I added roasted yellow tomatoes to our leftover chicken/salsa verde enchiladas tonight, and they tasted delicious and garden fresh. You could also add them to pasta, omelets, homemade pizzas, calzones...just think of the possibilities!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Podcasts for Foodies

If I choose to do my daily run in the morning, I automatically tune my headphones to NPR's Morning Edition, but if I run after work in the early evening, I love listening to some of the great food-related podcasts that are popping up all over iTunes. There's nothing better than burning calories while learning delicious and seasonally appropriate ways to stuff your face after your workout. My foodie podcast standbys include The Splendid Table and KCRW's Good Food, broadcast from Santa Monica, but lately I've also been trying out the new podcasts from Bon Appetit, which were launched for the first time this spring. Summer topics thus far have included how to select fish at the supermarket, tips for entertaining on a budget, and a primer on summer fruit crisps and stocking your pantry. Gourmet is offering podcasts now too, but I haven't tried them yet. Sigh. So many fun things, so little time...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bread and Wine

Bread Bulletin
If you're looking for a great way to use up that zucchini and summer squash you bought at the farmers' market, try this great cheesy zucchini and red onion flatbread, courtesy of Epicurious (or Bon Appetit's August issue). My only complaint is that the recipe calls for a tube of refrigerated pizza dough. While I'm categorically against any sort of bread product that's packaged in a tube, I'm willing to look the other way for this flatbread because it tastes so good! And, thanks to the darn dough tube, it's even quick enough for a weeknight dinner. My companion assembled this flatbread very nicely, though he said if he made it again he'd sacrifice aesthetics and scramble the zucchini and onions a bit.

A Perfect Pour
I bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc tonight for dinner--an attempt to mix it up a little since I always drink pinot grigio in the summer. I got my sauvignon blanc recommendations from Maureen Petrosky's The Wine Club, my favorite wine book. She recommends the following Chilean sauvignon blancs as delicious wines that don't break the bank:
Concha y Toro
Valle Central
Casa Lapostolle
I found the Casa Lapostolle very easily at our neighborhood grocery store for $7.99, and was pleased to see it was wearing a "Best Buy" label from Wine Enthusiast magazine. Wine Enthusiast rated it an 86 using a 100-point system. (Incidentally, yesterday's NYT featured an interesting article about wine ratings.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Gratitude for Summer's Foods

For many years now, I've concluded my days by composing a small gratitude list in my journal: a short record of three to five of the day's blessings. This list has included everything from the robins and rabbits in our yard to plum writing assignments to time with my family. With farmers' market overflowing with so many fabulous fruits and vegetables this time of year, I feel like it's appropriate to compose a gratitude list for some of this week's fresh finds:

  • Weekday farmers' markets: A treat if you're always traveling on weekends (as I do during the summer) and can't get to the Saturday markets. My personal favorite: the Tuesday/Friday Pearl Alley Farmers' Market in downtown Columbus. If you work near downtown you can shop on your lunch hour.
  • Peaches: Try this peach salsa recipe from Columbus Dispatch food editor Robin Davis.
  • Blueberries: Bake these late-summer indigo treasures into blueberry muffins!
  • Blackberries: Eat out of hand. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Now available in a seat back pocket near you!

Now that it's officially August, (with the heat and humidity to match) I can flaunt my latest oeuvre: the cover story for Southwest Airlines' Spirit magazine! "The Scoop" is a roundup of all things sweet and cool and creamy: ice cream, of course! I highlighted 10 fabulous artisan ice cream makers around the country (plus one popsicle purveyor and one ice cream sandwich impresario). It's exciting to think that my work will be available at 30,000 feet. Plus, airline magazines have a captive audience. (What else are you going to read while you snack on peanuts? War and Peace?) I hope to post the article's full text to my web site soon, along with the tantalizing photos that accompany it!

The research for this article was great fun. As many of you already know, I didn't have a travel budget for this story, so the ice cream shops sent me pints packed in dry ice and styrofoam coolers. There was a two-week period where the FedEx people were at my house nearly every day with a new cooler full of treats! I hosted a number of tasting parties, which not only were great fun, but also an excellent means of figuring out which flavors to feature. After months of, ahem, intensive research, here are a few of my unofficial favorites:

Best sundae topping: Peanut butter, Mitchell's Homemade, Cleveland
Best gelato: tie between mint stracchiatella and bourbon butterscotch, Capogiro, Philadelphia
Best sorbet: pink grapefruit, Mora Iced Creamery, Seattle
Best ice cream: tie between Key Lime and raspberry cheesecake, Mitchell's Homemade, Cleveland
Nicest p.r. people in the world: Mora Iced Creamery, Seattle
Most fun to interview: Jeni Britton, Jeni's Ice Creams, Columbus
Best summery flavor: Sweet corn with black raspberry conserve, Jeni's Ice Creams, Columbus