Thursday, November 29, 2007

December stories

Columbusites may be interested to know that I wrote two stories for the December issue of Columbus Monthly. “Bakery Boom” offers an introduction to the many independent bakeries that have cropped up over town in recent years. The research phase was great fun, especially the two day-long bakery crawls I did for two successive Saturdays.

The magazine did something fun this month, choosing both a “Naughty” and a “Nice” cover story in honor of the holiday season. The “Naughty” cover story advertises a story about the restructuring of Limited Brands with a leggy Victoria’s Secret model, and my story is the “Nice” cover story. Readers can choose which one they want to display during the holiday season.

Also in the December issue is “The New Spiritual Scene,” a photo essay I collaborated on with the very talented photographer Tim Johnson, who heads up the photo department for Suburban News Publications. The photo essay chronicles new and emerging faith communities in Columbus: a new Hindu temple, a street church for the homeless, a Latino Catholic Church, a Somali mosque, Baptist and Pentecostal “praise dancers” and a group of evangelical Christians who meet in a movie theater. This was a fascinating project to be involved in, and we worked very hard on it over a six-month period. My job was to come up with the story ideas, visit the worship sites with Tim, and then to provide the text.

In Lake magazine this month, Lake Michigan region residents can check out my story about the very talented Kalamazoo architect Roger Lepley and the funky, personal-sized drink tables he designs. They’d be a perfect Christmas gift for your friends and family members who like to enjoy their morning newspaper with a steaming mug of coffee. We have two of these tables in our house and we love them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday food news

From today's food sections:

Jeni’s gets a nice mention in today’s New York Times.

These little ginger people candies are so cute — I hope our Whole Foods has them. From the Times.

Mmm. Winning recipes from the Chicago Tribune’s holiday cookie contest.

Holiday entertaining options from the Seattle Times.

These cupcake wrappers are beautiful. Hat tip: Not Martha.

Tuesday’s post, a day late

Thanksgiving Recap: I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Over the weekend we got to see both of our families in Michigan and Indiana, which was fabulous. On Saturday we took a break from eating leftover turkey and pumpkin pie to take in a performance of “A Christmas Carol” at Kalamazoo’s New Vic Theatre (for which we had to order tickets more than a year in advance). We also did some shopping at the Notre Dame bookstore (Thank God their football season is over.) and celebrated my companion’s recent award over dinner with my in-laws.

I won’t be spending much time in the kitchen this week, since I’m not quite ready to plunge headlong into Advent and Christmas plans. I like to have a little transition time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holiday cooking and baking can wait until December 1st. (Though I have been stocking up on December food magazines: Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Food and Wine and Gourmet are already on hand.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving test run

I had Thanksgiving on the brain this past weekend. I just couldn’t wait until Thursday to sample some roasted bird and savory side dishes. Since we don’t currently host our families’ Thanksgiving gatherings but probably will someday, I decided to do a test run of some of Melissa Clark’s Thanksgiving side dish recipes that ran in last Wednesday’s New York Times.

The pumpkin, white bean and kale ragout was absolutely delicious, and so healthy with all of those vegetables and legumes. I substituted butternut squash for the pumpkin. (Does anyone have any hot tips on how to peel a butternut squash? It’s such a pain.) Instead of traditional kale, I used Russian kale that I had purchased from Toad Hill Farm at the North Market. Unlike its sibling, Russian kale doesn’t have those cabbagey, tough, enormous leaves that dwarf your cutting board and take forever to soften in the sauté pan. Russian kale’s dark green leaves are small, light and feathery, and after plucking off the stems, I sautéed the leaves to softness in no time at all.

Unfortunately, my attempt at the corn bread and broccoli rabe strata was rather unsuccessful. Perhaps it was the bland corn bread recipe I used, or the fact that I substituted broccoli for broccoli rabe. Ah, well. I don’t feel the need to try it again.

For the meal’s main event, my companion roasted a whole chicken from North Market Poultry and Game. We both remarked that, unlike the plastic-wrapped boneless, skinless chicken breasts we often buy, this bird tasted so much more…chickeny. It reminded us both of the baked chicken our moms would make when we were kids.

For dessert, I would have loved to try this cranberry tart, but alas, I ran out of time. That’s okay — I think I still have many years left to refine my future Thanksgiving repertoire.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Kitchen update

What I've been cooking:

Fish with creamy leeks. A true 20-minute meal, using leeks from Wayward Seed Farm.

New England clam chowder. Yum. I went high-end with the ingredients, picking up these Bar Harbor All Natural Chopped Clams at the Wild Oats near my house that is slowly morphing into a Whole Foods.

Pecan-topped pumpkin bread. Scrumptious. Our weekend guests, for whom I had prepared it, absolutely scarfed it down. Success.

Curried chicken soup. Delicately flavored and delicious. Plus you get all of your vegetables and protein in one bowl. Made with fresh chicken from North Market Poultry and Game.

Spinach-artichoke dip with bacon. An excellent afternoon snack for a banker's holiday.

Where I've been eating:

Out-of town-foodie-guests gave us the perfect excuse to try breakfast at Tasi, which opened in Pistachio's former location in the Short North: 680 N. Pearl. It was delightful, though they don't yet have much seating. You can try any number of homemade pastries that include blueberry and raspberry danishes, almond and chocolate croissants, and you can purchase loaves of Eleni-Christina's breads any day of the week (after 7 a.m.).

At our table, the four of us enjoyed:
-Sourdough pancakes with sweet and spicy bacon and Ohio maple syrup ($7)
-Spanish tortilla with Bolivian salsa ($6)
-Greek style yogurt with granola and honey ($5)
-Greek scrambled eggs with zucchini, tomato, feta and sourdough toast ($5)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Presidential honors

So, the reason we went to Washington DC last week is that my husband won a (very major) award for his robotics research, stemming from a grant he received from the National Science Foundation. He was honored alongside other young scholars at the White House, and the meeting included a photo opp with W himself.

Now, neither one of us voted for the guy and we have been less than thrilled with his policies, but the opportunity to meet with a sitting president was an honor nonetheless. (In the White House photo Jim is in the second row from the front, second from the right, wearing the purple tie.) In the photo at left, he's giving a brief talk about his work at the National Science Foundation. Congratulations, dear!