S. Martel

A MA native, I spent 2.5 years working in NC after college. Now I'm in Germany with my hubby. I've taken this chance to search for what I truly want to do. I've always loved food and recently found a love for food writing.

  • Website
  • Location: Mainz, Germany
  • Favorite foods: Chicken Parikash, chocolate, lobster, sushi, gelato, home-grown tomatoes, fresh bread, and so much more
  • Last bite on earth: That would heavily depend on the state of my final day on earth :)

Latest Comments

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: La Belle Farms Foie Gras

The best duck I ever had was at a Chinese food restaurant in Mainz Germany that no longer exists. :( Delicious crispy skin, with unbelievably juicy flesh - perfect with some Thai red curry. Ohh, yeah!

Chicken + Bacon + Tomatillos + Tomatoes = Dinner??? NEED HELP

Side note: My mom's already canned a lot of tomatillo salsa, so I'm trying to come up with something a little more creative, something casserole-related.

But thanks for the ideas so far! Maybe some sort of chicken club enchilada-type thing...

My blender died, recommendations for replacement?

I've just returned home from a long-term European trip, and am living with my mom. She bought a vitamix while I was away, and oh. my. god. I love the thing! I've used it 3 or 4 times in the last week, and I am so sold. If you can afford it, Vitamix-it-up!

Movie night menu needs help!

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! I decided to go with some homemade Indian classics: palak paneer, butter chicken, rogan josh, and homemade naan. Most of it can be made up ahead, then reheated, or even served cold or room temp :)

Is "Food" the next "Bubble"?

NOT a Bubble: Saying that "Food" is an immenant bubble, set to burst is a GROSS overgenralization. Certain sectors of the food industry are merely trends, and may quietly burst in spall, soapy explosions, but "Food" alone? Of course not!

Do people need to eat? YES! Food is essential to life. The restaurant and tourism industry has been the backbone to Western economy for well over 10 years. Restaurants and lodging (I group them together because they began together) have been around for literally hundreds of years. Our current food climate, in all its convenient, omnipresent power, has been secured firmly in our economic landscape for more than 50 years now. We've been on this path since the end of the Great Depression.

Celebrity chefs, and a greater focus on food has been more recent, but it's lately been overwhelmingly focused on regaining our health and small-scale control over what we eat. I think that simply means the power is shifting, not setting up for a massive fallout like real estate.

People didn't NEED to invest their money in dot coms - they chose to take a risk. People didn't necessarily NEED to buy homes - if you're not financially stable enough to afford one, you shouldn't dump your money in. That's why the bubble burst there - financial giants used pressure tactics to convince people who shouldn't have qualified that they were entitled to that commodity, when traditionally, no bank would have let them through the door.

But no matter how you are with your money, no matter how rich or poor, you need food. Whether it be from the supermarket, a truck, a rest stop, or a 5 star Michelin rated restaurant - you still need it.

Unless you can show that "food" growth in a given area is grossly out-pacing population growth (taking the failure rate into account) than I say NO, not a bubble.

Movie night menu needs help!

Thanks for all the great suggestions - keep em coming! (I should mention that I don't actually have an oven... or any real appliances)

Sour Cream Recipes?

Chiciken paprikash! Oh lord, so good:

4 chicken thighs - season with salt, pepper, brown quickly in a pan and set aside.
1 large onion - slice and sautee in rendered chicken fat.
1 TB paprika - sprinkle into hot onions off the heat, and stir for a few seconds.

Add the chicken back into the pot with about a cup of water, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken once cooked (take out the bones and shred if you like). Finish the pan sauce with a half to whole cup of sour cream. Serve with egg noodles or spaetzle!

Dinner Party Suggestions

Slow Cookers are the best! It quietly cooks away while you prep what needs prepping. And it can still be impressive food (i.e. pot roast); I've even made fish stews in mine. If you add tapioca starch in the beginning, gravies/sauces thicken while it cooks, another step saved.

You can save time on hors d'oeuvres by doing antipasto - it can all be arranged ahead of time and kept in the fridge till party time.

Smaller slow cookers are great for warm dips.

Also, any kind of food that's DIY (like a taco bar, baked potato bar) are easy enough to prep, and then the guests can have the flexibility to pick and choose what they like.

Just try to pick appetizers that you can prep ahead, then just stick in the oven (like pigs in a blanket). The key is to keep it simple - the more complex, the more time consuming...

Hope that helps!

Lady Gaga's meat dress: Identify the cuts, and then COOK it

In terms of her not being so "wasteful" by not wearing an expensive designer dress... she actually wore 2 other designer dresses as well as the meat dress :)

Some people think it's a statement about DADT (though I'm not entirely sure how that applies...). Could be a statement about how wasteful we are as a group (the amount of meat she wore doesn't touch how much food goes to waste in America daily).

And hey, considering how many butchers say it was low-quality cuts anyway, well, at least it went ON her body, instead of IN school lunches - it's doubtless alternative destination.

So, my ultimate opinion: um, I don't get it. As for cooking, while I'm sure it's nice and tenderized (especially the boots she was thinking around in), I'm not so sure I want eau-de-Lady Gaga as a primary seasoning. Personally.

favorite dessert in a restaurant?

There's a local place in my parents' town that does mostly breakfast and lunch, but they make the BEST turnovers on this green earth! The peach, cherry, and apple are my mom's and my absolute favorites.

Making Ketchup

@dbcurrie: An interesting thing about sugar beets though, 100% of the American sugar beet crop is now grown from Monsanto's GM seeds. If you ever buy sugar made from sugar beets, or anything like that, you are consuming a GM product. Now, I don't take a stance one way or another on the health impacts of GM (I haven't done enough research to have an opinion on that), but for people who have, or are concerned about it, it's interesting to note. At the very least, the environmental impact is enough to give me pause.

@skytown90: Good for you wanting to make your own ketchup. Don't let people discourage you by saying that no one will eat it, or your kids won't like it or whatever. Make a condiment YOU like, call it ketchup or don't, but at least you can serve it knowing that you made it, and you know 100% of what's in it. :)

Ideas for Wild Sockeye Salmon

One of the blogs I read (not mine!) posted an amazing-looking salmon recipe that I've been dying to try, but don't have the equipment necessary. Tea-Smoked Salmon with a Honey Lavender Glaze. It just sounds so lovely!

Storing fresh potatoes/onions/garlic

Potatoes should be kept in the coolest, driest place in your home that akes sense (think of old timey root cellers). Sprouting eyes isn't harmful to you, but it does change the starch content on a cellular level, because at that point, the potato has started to convert that starch to energy for growth. Weird, but neat! Storing them in the fridge can cause the potato to turn green, which IS a bad thing; eating a green potato can be mildly poisonous (although I just peel off the green, and have never had a problem).

Onions are a little less generalized. Some varieties are meant to be stored longer term (think the spanish yellow onions with the thick papery skin). Other ones, like vidalias, are "fresh" onions, and should be used more quickly. They tend to have thinner, moister skins. Usually these are the seasonal onions you only get in the spring, etc.

The best thing for garlic is a garlic pot - little terra cotta pots with holes in them. It keeps the light out, and allows the garlic to breathe, so excess moisture doesn't creep in and cause it to sprout. Once it sprouts, you have the right idea - work around the sprout (if you crush the garlic with your knife, it's easier to peel, and taking out the sprout is super easy since the garlic will crush around it, leaving the sprout itself intact!).

In all of these cases, light and moisture are the enemy (although onions can stand the fridge). If you can store your potatoes away from your kitchen (often the warmest/moistest room in the house) that's ideal. :)

Poll: Do You Like 'Fusion Burgers'?

A burger is a great blank canvas - when I feel like I want to get creative, but I'm not sure where to start, dressing up a burger is always a reliable starting point. I will grant that a good, simple, down-home American cheeseburger is wonderful in it's own right, but by creating the burger as it is now, we simply took a piece of cuisine from another culture (German in this case) and Americanized it. So what better way to treat this classic by continuing on that same path?

Cold-Pressed Coffee Query

What proportion of grounds to water do you use? I've been seeing about 1:4

Inexperienced in the kitchen- what to cook for "thank you" meal?

I suggest something in the CrockPot (if you have one). Slow Cooker meals are great for less experienced cooks (and experienced ones alike), and are virtually screw-up proof. Plus they hold the food at a safe temperature in case something goes amiss, or someone is running late.

I posted a recipe on my site for a Crock Pot Chicken Paprikash - super simple, 5 ingredients, always a crowd pleaser (we even made it for a cocktail party I managed the catering for in college - a cocktail party for job recruiters). It does contain sour cream, which could be omitted I suppose... but then you'd basically have chicken paprika stew :)

Otherwise, I suggest checking out the Pioneer Woman ( Pioneer Woman website) - She gives great step by step directions of all of her recipes. I have no affiliation with her whatsoever, but her methods are incredibly easy to follow.

Good luck!

My muffin tin is turning orange!

Of course, that might just be a sign to buy a new one... it's always fun buying new kitchen stuff! And Williams-Sonoma has these non-stick "gold" pans I've had my eyes on for a few years now... oh how I want them!

Bye wisdom teeth

I ate about 10 lbs of mashed potatoes the first week after my wisdom teeth were removed. I usually made it with Adobo seasoning mixed in, but you could play with flavors: wasabi, garlic, truffle ;)

Just remember , for the first few days at least NOTHING SHOULD BE SUCKED THROUGH A STRAW! Sorry, don't mean to yell, but it can remove scabs and cause dry socket (very painful)!

Also, surprised no one has mentioned this, Ice Cream. My best friend brought me Bailey's Haagen Daaz... smooth, creamy, soothing (and no chunks)

Is anyone else against uncalled for abbreviations when ordering?

I honeslty don't have a problem with food abbreviations in moderation (for instance, I've always called it chicken parm, but if I ask my husband to go to the store to grab some parmesan cheese, it gets the full name treatment). Now, I don't think anyone is doing it to appear pretentious or better-than-thou, but maybe we're starting to go overboard as a culture. I just heard one that made me cringe:


Yes, with a z. As in "congratulations." Ouch. Oh, and I never heard anyone say "'za," what is that, pizza? And where are people saying that? It doesn't even make sense. If you want a single syllable for pizza, call it a pie.

Video: Kitten Wearing a Tiny Hat Eating a Tiny Ice Cream Cone

Well, maybe I'm just a huge sucker (ok, yeah, I am) but that was freakin' cute! I love kittens... and put a tiny hat on it, and, well, I say that's a win.

What Have You Conquered?

Scrambled eggs and HOMEFRIES - sad I know. Scrambled eggs were the 2nd thing my dad ever taught me to cook (after stovetop oatmeal) back around the age of 9. It wasn't until I took some tips from Ms. Ina Garten (by way of her cookbook) that I discovered the perfect method for making gorgeous, soft, custardy scrambled eggs. And I had been trying for YEARS to make decent (not even perfect - just decent) homefries.

My homefries are good now, a bit of work still left on those bad boys, but my eggs are perfect now! (When I give them the proper attention and time that is...)

Sea food in Central U.S.

In terms of things like lobster, often times they're shipped still alive, so it's really no different than eating it in Maine (except the obvious price spike from the transport). And as dbcurrie and larikatz said, most fish is frozen on the boat. If you eat salmon, most likely it was from an Alaskan fisherman, and they prep and freeze while out on the water, so even in Alaska, where wild caught salmon is "local," you're still getting a frozen product.

That being said, although there is nothing wrong or inherently dangerous about eating imported seafood, I think it's usually best to support local business and agriculture, and eat whatever the locals eat. Supports their local economy, and immerses you in local culture.

how long can it keep in the marinade?

The won't go bad or anything, but marinading for too long (esp in something acidic like Italian dressing) can effect the texture of the chicken, going from tenderized to mushy. I would suggest just putting them in the marinade the night before, then you should be ok. Drumsticks are tougher muscles anyway, so they should be all right over night; 2 days may be pushing it.

Double dippin' the chicken

If you're redipping in the marinade, then continuing to cook the chicken, you're fine. As long as the 2nd coat of marinade makes it to 165 degrees for at least 10 seconds, salmonella is thereby killed on the surface. Cross contamination would only be a factor if you're dipping it back in the raw-chicken-y marinade and then serving. You may just want to do a 2nd flip to ensure the sauce gets a good sear.

Easy (REALLY easy) party snack food ideas?

Easiest dip on earth, and a HUGE crowd faorite:

In an 8X8 pan in this order, layer 1 brick cream cheese, 1 cup salsa, and a big handful of shredded cheese (cheddar, mexi blend, whatever). Serve cold, or stick in the oven/microwave (if the pan isn't metal). Serve with corn chips.

Optional, add a layer of chili. Always a huge hit, my hubby doesn't like cream cheese, but likes this dip.