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Good Bread: Rock Hill Bakehouse

My friends are lucky enough to live near Glens Falls, NY home of the Rock Hill Bakehouse. Every time I go to visit we eat lunch there and I bring home a loaf of the raisin walnut bread. Their chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies are fantastic too.

Holiday Giveaway: The Amazing Thermapen Thermometer

Roast chickens the night before Thanksgiving. Poultry overkill!

Wanted: New Idea: Chicken Thighs

I haven't had a chance to try this recipe for spicy indian chicken thighs bookmarked for a long time - Please let me know if you end up giving it a try!

The Food Lab: The Best Guacamole (and the Science of Avocados)

For those without a molcajete, I use my microplane to grate the onion, garlic and jalapeno that I add to my guacamole and find that it works great. It also makes the pieces of onion and garlic disappear so no one chomps on a big piece! If the onion is really watery, I'll squeeze it out in a paper towel before adding.

Pumpkin Beer History: Colonial Necessity to Seasonal Treat

I was at a beer dinner tonight that featured Sixpoint. One of the courses featured their Autumnation which is a traditional pumpkin beer - as in, doesn't have pumpkin pie spices in it. Could be worth a try for the traditionalists in the house - cans only, I believe.

Win Tickets To A Celebration of American Regional Cuisine at Craft New York

NYC - Mario Batali and Michael White. Can you tell that I'm obsessed with pasta?

Workout at Work

While I think that _greenbean may be onto something with the heart rate issue, I have some personal anecdotal evidence with this. One summer I waitressed at a small luncheonette that had a dinky air conditioner. Even though the space only had 6 tables and 10 counter stools, I busted my butt running around all summer (only one waitress) and lost weight despite nonstop snacking on taylor ham breakfast sandwiches and buttered, toasted blueberry muffins. I typically work out 4-5 times a week and it seemed that waitressing that many days (6am to 3pm shift) was an ample substitute.

I also had to wear a bandanna around my head to catch the sweat. Cute, I know.

Easter Dinner: Traditional or Something Different?

Since I'm away from my family I decided to cook for some other family-less friends. I had 2 quarts of bolognese in the freezer, so we're having assorted cheeses, salumi, and olives, rigatoni bolognese, a green salad, focaccia and carrot cake.

I guess it's actually fairly traditional for my family since in addition to a ham we always have spaghetti and meatballs and stromboli on Easter!

Dinner tonight--what's on your plate or in your bowl?

I just finished a bowl of whole wheat linguine with turnip greens braised in chicken stock, tomatoes, red pepper, salt/pepper, pancetta and LOTS of parm.

"Big" salad ideas, please!

These are all excellent ideas and blog links everyone, thank you! I am already feeling more inspired and excited to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

I am starting to think that the winter blues are partly responsible for my lack of inspiration. But luckily, our first farmers market of the season is on Saturday and I am keeping my fingers crossed for some spring veggies - please, please, please asparagus!

How to Make Bagels at Home

@Adam Kuban, let us know what you think of the Peter Reinhart version. A quick revision to the recipe that I just remembered - since the malt syrup is so sticky, I add it to the sponge (just add it directly to my measuring cup full of the called-for water). I also add a tsp or so of syrup to the boiling liquid. I have made the recipe using bread flour and high-gluten bread flour and didn't notice a huge difference in the final product.

How to Make Bagels at Home

I have been using the Peter Reinhart recipe posted on The Fresh Loaf website, and have had great success. BUT, I can't wait to try this recipe and do a proper taste test!

I have to say, the PR bagels only take me 12-14 hours total, so don't let the time frame turn you off. I start the dough around 8 or 9pm and bake them when I get up the next morning. The hardest part is hand-kneading the dough for 9 minutes - I'm forced to do that because I practically brought my Kitchen Aid mixer (professional) to its knees when making the dough in it. Beware of that scary grinding noise!

Southern Themed Wedding Shower Ideas

I would echo @MMinNYC above, Virginia Willis' Bon Appetit Y'all would be a great source for ideas. I own the book and have cooked out of it many times - always to rave reviews from southern friends. Her pimento cheese recipe is fabulous - I can't remember off the top of my head what type of cheddar she calls for, but I always do a 50-50 split of super sharp good Cheddar (cabot seriously sharp) and a milder sharp grocery store cheddar. I don't know why, but the mix works!

In fact, I have a huge batch in my fridge right now - bringing pimento cheese sandwiches to a potluck lunch on Friday! (that's another great thing, it's best if made a few days in advance and left to sit - even better for shower prep).

Southern Themed Wedding Shower Ideas

I've now hosted two bridal showers in Georgia and would suggest considering: pimento cheese finger sandwiches, cold/room temp fried chicken, deviled eggs, chicken salad finger sandwiches, fried chicken biscuits/sandwiches, sweet tea, and one of those jello fruit salads with cool whip that might horrify you but apparently delight southern women (and men) of all ages. Cute idea, you're a nice sister!

You could also check out the menus of some cafes down South for more ideas!

Cosmetic Food Uses?

I have been seeing an organic aesthetician for facials and she recommends making a mask of organic raw honey mixed with a little bit of whole milk organic yogurt. She claims that the honey is naturally antibacterial (helping with acne/breakouts) and the yogurt works to slough off dead skin cells. I haven't tried it, but my little sister is obsessed! I think that she keeps on the mask for 45 minutes to an hour.

What breakfast spots would you recommend in Savannah, Georgia?

@Lorenzo, thanks for your comments about my suggestions.

I didn't mean the Crab Shack, I agree that is a tourist trap. I was actually referring to a small seafood restaurant off the causeway (Route 80), not in downtown Tybee. It's right in the midst of the marshes, it would be on your right going towards Tybee. You drive down a long dirt road and park in a dirt parking lot. You can watch the shrimp and crabs being pulled in while sitting at your table drinking beers and shelling shrimp. It's no fine dining establishment but I thought that the shellfish was very good.

And yes, The Breakfast Club is a bit of a drive, but I would venture a guess that many visitors to Savannah also take a trip out to Tybee so wanted to mention it as an option for the person who posted.

What breakfast spots would you recommend in Savannah, Georgia?

@erineats, I would bet that the cemetery is definitely blooming. I'm in Athens and all of our dogwoods, cherry blossoms, magnolias (one particular variety, I'm no horticulturist) and tulips are out! Bring on the allergies....but so so pretty, especially for February/March!

What breakfast spots would you recommend in Savannah, Georgia?

Skip J. Christophers, it's a regional chain and there's better food to be had. I really enjoyed The Breakfast Club on Tybee Island (25 min drive from downtown) which I had to follow by a walk on the beach to work off the enormous plate of food I'd just consumed. If you are able to work up an appetite again, definitely hit up the shrimp shack that is off the causeway between Tybee and the mainland out in the marshes.

I had a great brunch at B. Mathews in Savannah (their lunch is great too - especially the black bean burger). Killer bloody marys.

I know that you wanted downhome food, but if you are up for a delicious croissant/baguette breakfast sandwich I'd encourage you to check out Harris Baking Company. They have outside cafe tables and served up the best platter of bread, butter and jam I've been able to try in the Southeast. You could also take it to go and eat in one of the squares or in Forsyth Park.

I never got around to trying Clary's because it was always packed, but many friends have recommended it for breakfast as well.

Have a great time - Savannah is one of my favorite places in the U.S.

Bridal shower lunch ideas Please!

I have helped host a variety of showers and the last one I did I made potato-buttermilk rolls (I can provide the recipe if you'd like it) and pre-made sandwiches with homemade egg salad, chicken salad and pimento cheese (this was held in the south). They were a huge hit and we served them with a great cheese tray with fruit and a big green salad.

At showers held up north we've passed toasts with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onion and capers; stuffed mushrooms; and filet mignon (room temp) sandwiches.

You could also do a variety of pizzas served at room temperature including Jim Lahey's pizza patata, mushroom pizza, zucchini pizza, etc. I've had them all and they taste/look great at room temp. Another pizza that is my favorite is one that I make with caramelized onions with anchovies melted in, chopped kalamata olives and fresh grated pecorino. Even people who "hate" anchovies love this pizza and it's also good served at room temp.

Even though pizza dough isn't hard to make, it still impresses people and may even shush your MIL! Good luck.

Serious snow

As a born and raised Northeasterner who now lives in Georgia, I witnessed the epic run on bread, eggs and milk yesterday. I was told by my Southern friends that Southerners believe that if you buy white products it will keep the snow away. Multiple people confirmed this, but I'm still a bit skeptical...since when are egg yolks white?

Not to mention that it didn't work - we got 6 inches.

Got a tried and true recipe for carrot cake?

This is the one I always use to rave reviews. It also stays moist for days, probably due to the use of oil instead of another fat. I will top it with a basic cream cheese frosting to which I add a Tbl. or two of maple syrup. I've made it in 2 9-inch pans and 3 8-inch pans with no discernible difference in taste or texture.

Enjoy and happy baking!

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.

Where to eat in Sydney?

You are going to eat incredibly well, so get excited. Sydney ruined most Asian food for me since I have been unable to find comparable quality Szechuan or any Uighur food since. My cousin lived there for a few years and is entirely addicted to asian food not to mention a consummate restaurant/food researcher so I do think that he probably took me to some pretty good spots in the grand scheme of things.

In my 2 week stay in Sydney we eat here multiple times. I have amazing memories of the cumin-spiked lamb kebabs, flat pancakes filled with ground lamb and scallion dipped in black vinegar, and a saucy sauteed eggplant dish.

We also ate more than once at Red Chili, a Szechuan restaurant in the heart of Chinatown. I can still taste the dry-fried chicken with heaps of dried red chiles, the mapo tofu and the spicy szechuan eggplant (I love eggplant). The chinese broccoli in garlic and oil served to cool down our mouths and brighten up the table.

I can't remember specifics of other meals I had in Sydney but I enjoyed many a great breakfast and if you are up for some walking/exploring, be sure to check out Simon Johnson, a spectacular gourmet food store in Pyrmont (get the olive oil marinated feta and check out the cheese cave) and eat lots of Red Rock potato chips (my favorite flavor being black pepper lime). And the sushi at the Sydney Fish Market (worth a trip in itself) is pretty darn good and fresh.

Enjoy the trip - great city.

Dead-Simple Turkey Gravy

I'm with @Sarah-Jane, this recipe worked like a charm. I was able to find the Swanson's chicken stock and used two containers of that simmered with carrots, fresh thyme and black peppercorns over low heat for about an hour until reduced by a third. After all is said and done I have a little less than a quart of gravy. It tastes great. My only heads up would be to caution you that the final product is a pale tan - next time I would probably cook the roux longer to darken its color and hopefully darken the final product. Also, it's not super thick - probably the consistency of cough syrup. On the day of, I may get inspired to thicken it further with a little Wondra.

What's your ultimate pumpkin dessert?

I just made these pumpkin cupcakes last week for a friend's birthday and they were a huge hit! Super moist and pumpkin-y with a nice hit of spice from the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I skipped the nuts and used cream cheese frosting (sans the maple syrup). The recipe says it yields 10 cupcakes, but I stretched it to 11. I highly recommend these and they'd lend themselves to prettying up for a specific shower theme, if you had one.


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