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Could be helpful

Take Fountain|Simple Scrambled Eggs and Mac & Cheese

The legendary story is that Johnny Carson asked Bette Davis “the best way an aspiring starlet could get into Hollywood,” to which the actress replied “Take Fountain!”*

It’s a wonderful quote, one that I think of a lot while driving here.  I love it because it speaks to the fact that the question is impossible to answer, and yet Ms. Davis does answer with the simplest and easiest solution.  I also like it because, although you could interpret it as being flip, it  has a sense of “don’t be intimidated.”  Just take the first, simple, easy step and go from there.

Friday Tip|Freezing (part one)

Halllooooo!  It’s Friday and it’s time for a tip!

I love making things with buttermilk.  There’s the Indian bread we love that calls for a 1/4 cup, and the beautiful German Chocolate Cake that needs a cup.  Problem is, buttermilk is sold in quarts…that’s a lot of bread and cake.  I hate throwing things out, so I decided to take the remaining buttermilk left from my friend V’s birthday cake and freeze it in an ice cube tray.  Beautiful thing – two cubes measures 1/4 cup.  Probably not exactly but close enough.  So if you take your standard ice cube tray, fill it up with buttermilk (or any other liquid, like, say, chicken stock, or nice dark veal stock, or even vegetable stock or orange juice, whatever), and then pop the cubes out and store them in a freezer bag, you can parse out what you need, when you need it.  Eight cubes = 1 cup.

Friday Tip|The Egg Edition (part two)

It’s Friday again (I’m sensing a pattern), so time for another helpful tip.

*****UPDATE*****

So I post this helpful tip on March 18 and exactly two week later, Cook’s Illustrated emails an egg cracking tip!  Coincidence?  I think not!!

Regardless, their egg cracking method is better than mine, so I’m stealing it.  Instead of cracking your eggs on the side of your bowl, crack them on the counter.  Simply hit the egg in the same place you would on the side of a bowl on the counter instead (at the chubby middle of the egg).*

Food Photography & The Learning Process

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning.  This morning I got sucked down the internet rabbit hole and wound up at this article, from Derek Sivers’ blog.  It’s about memory and learning, mostly focusing on how fast we forget and what the optimal amount of time is before studying something again for maximum retention.  Fascinating stuff.

But the thing that struck me about the article wasn’t so much that someone had figured out that people have an algorithm for learning; what I thought was interesting was that this understanding flies in the face of how we generally perceive progress. In a great post on Facebook, Derek explores the idea that when practicing something, it’s really when we sound/look/feel our worst/sloppiest/crappiest that we are making the most progress.  If we’re doing it perfectly, we’re not stretching.  No stretching, no learning.

Friday Tip|The Egg Edition (part one)

Hola!

It’s Friday, so it’s time for the third Friday Tip, which is actually going to be posted while it’s still Friday this week (thank you technology that lets me write posts in advance!).

This one is pretty simple – it’s about separating eggs and beating egg whites into…uh, beaten egg whites.  Here is all you have to remember:

Separating eggs – do it when they are cold

Beating egg whites – do it when they are warmed to room temperature

Friday Tip|The “Late” Edition (with name change)

Couple of things today:

First – I started my own Frrrrrrriday Rrrrrroundup, and I’ve already blown it – a day late and several dollars short. I’m going to blame this one on some out of town company – my great friend Amy Lang from Birds+Bees+Kids, who was in LA promoting her excellent wares – because I need something else to blame and because it gives me a great-but-very-rare opportunity to link to her site.

Confit and spinach ravioli|How to teach an old dog…

I made ravioli last week, for the first time since returning from school.  The husband said they were “blog-worthy,” which is pretty high praise from him (not that he’s stingy on the praise, but he doesn’t throw it around disingenuously).   And seeing as I’ve been wanting to post more here, I’m posting the recipe.  I don’t have a photo*, so I waffled a bit about putting anything up, but I’m also working on being okay with less than perfect, especially when there are no consequences.  This blog is supposed to be fun, right?

Could Be Helpful|My Version Of The Friday Roundup

This post is inspired by Colleen Wainwright, aka The Communicatrix, who takes a minute or two each Friday to send a shout out to five cool things/people/peoplewiththings that she finds when she’s poking around the internets.  I’d really like this blog to be helpful (hence the “could be helpful” category), so I started thinking that publishing a “Friday Five” of my own would be a good idea – instead of five cool things, I’m going for five things that I think are helpful.  Ideally, they’ll be in the kitchen, but probably not limited to the kitchen and not limited to cooking (mostly because I’m not sure I can come up with five helpful things for cooking every week).

Why does my yogurt always separate?|Tempering yogurt

We’ve been cooking out of a new cookbook from Madhur Jaffrey called Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking and having some trouble with the yogurt in the dishes. Jaffrey is a well-known cook and the dishes really are pretty easy and straightforward, so the yogurt going all goofy on us was perplexing – the only thing I could think was that maybe it needed tempering, as do eggs and a few other things when you add them to heat. A bit of Google magic and sure enough, yogurt is a sensitive creature. But as with many high maintenance things, a little pampering and you’re in for a treat. Here are a few tips on cooking with yogurt:

Daring Cooks September 2010|Canning!

First, the important bits of business:

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Yes!  At last!  I learned how to can stuff!