Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cake Decorating

Looking to try something new in 2008, I took a cake-decorating class at Sur la Table last weekend.

Obviously you can teach yourself a lot of things about baking by reading and kitchen trial and error. I thought, however, that I could benefit from some expert advice on this particular topic, and I’m glad I did. After spending two hours in the store’s well-equipped, sun-filled kitchen, I walked out not only with the ability to create all kinds of fun cake accoutrements (stars! leaves! hearts! scalloped borders! fun shapes!) but also with a fully decorated cake, shown here in all its glory. Yes, the design is a bit precious, but remember this was for a class — we all had to create the same design.

The class was taught by Dena Logan, a warm, knowledgeable and high-energy instructor who has cultivated a loyal local following. (She doles out baking advice in this month’s issue of Columbus Monthly.) I’d definitely take a class like this again, but not anytime soon because it’s pricey. One perk: On the day of your class you get a 15% discount coupon, which you can use for anything in the store.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eating locally

This year's Saveur 100 singled out a few food editors across the country for their exemplary work at local newspapers (#24-#28 on the list.) I was so happy to see some editors and writers gettin' some love for the contributions they've made to the local food scene -- their role is so important.

I think Saveur 's editors described the role of a local food editor just right:

"Indeed, what all our favorite editors do the best is make locals feel lucky to be eating and cooking in the place where they live."

The same could be said for local food writers, bloggers and restaurant critics. We're fortunate to have some of those here in Columbus, like Dispatch food editor Robin Davis and bloggers such as the Restaurant Widow. I hope even more crop up in the future.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What I've been up to

Sipping: Pomegranate soda from Fizzy Lizzy. Available at Fresh Market. Mmm, antioxidants.
Savoring: Cinnamon "beach glass" candy from Froehlich’s. Thank you, Michigan Santa.
Warming up with: Guayaki yerba mate organic tea. Thanks to my former boss, who brought me some when she came to visit from NYC.
Grateful for: Trader Joe’s sea salt caramels, discovered on a shopping trip with mom in early December.
Remembering: The Clementine clafoutis I made on Saturday, way too late at night. But it was easy and delicious. So citrusy and custardy and comforting--a perfect winter dessert. (I always have a tough time finishing off a whole crate of Clementines anyway, even though I love 'em.)
Coveting: Whiteware from Sur la Table. Beautiful, classic ... and on sale.
Vowing to make again: Cheddar corn chowder from the Barefoot Contessa. I halved the recipe and used milk instead of cream to make it lower in fat. How I loved having the leftovers to heat up at work!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Food for thought

I just had to share this quote, which I read on early this morning:

"The only way I know what I really believe is by keeping watch over what I do."

~Sr. Helen Prejean, "This I Believe," January 6, 2008

Read the full text here.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New year in the kitchen

I have made a few modest food resolutions for 2008:
  • Take the time to prepare homemade salad dressings (inspired by my Oregon friends Cheryl and Sarah, who make the most wonderful vinaigrettes I’ve ever tasted.)
  • Make Saturday pancakes. I especially love these, made with whole wheat flour.
  • Take back the spice cabinet. In addition to being above eye level, our spice cabinet is jam-packed. This means that every time one opens said spice cabinet, one is pelted on the forehead with an assortment of square metal tins, tiny glass jars, nutmeg pods and squares of baking chocolate. This is why we call it the spice dungeon. It’s time to avail myself of these helpful tips.
  • Savor more chocolate croissants from La Chatelaine (For cryin’ out loud, the place is only three blocks away!)
  • Drink more lavender gimlets at Dragonfly. This indulgent sipper is my favorite drink in town.
  • Shop the Worthington’s winter farmer’s market. I’m a loyal summer customer, but I keep forgetting about its indoor, cold-weather incarnation.
What are your food resolutions for 2008?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back from the fresh air

Happy New Year everyone! It’s good to be back after a looong pre-and-post-holiday hiatus. I took a little break from cooking while we trekked through Michigan and Indiana for Christmas. (This photo was taken during a Christmas Day walk in the woods with my family, just before sunset.)

Restful stays in three(!) locales meant that I got to catch up on my reading. I finally combed through the December issues of Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Cooking Light, as well as the cookbooks I received as Christmas presents: The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and the new North Market Cookbook.

By the time I returned to Columbus with dog-eared cooking magazines and cookbooks in hand, I was ready to fire up the ovens, and I did so in earnest for three days straight. The result of my labors was a steady parade of warm-you-up recipes: baked oatmeal, baked eggs with prosciutto (which looked just darling in their little ramekins), black bean soup with chicken and chorizo* (using chicken chipotle sausages from Wild Oats to kick up the heat) and Tuscan-style white beans. (For recipe, scroll down to "legumes.")

*In Bon Appetit's January 2008 issue, p. 28