Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cookin' a bit better

I came across these great tips on some cooking techniques and tips. I didn't copy all of them below so if you want to see more (boiling lobsters, seasoned meats, spice rubs, etc) go to the link.

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by Esquire.com

Cook Corn
Instead of boiling corn on the cob, dot it with a little butter, salt, and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast (350 degrees) until tender. Caramelize a little honey in a sauté pan and, when the corn comes out, brush with the honey.

—Alex Guarnaschelli, Butter, New York; host of Alex's Day Off (Cooking Channel)

Bread Meat
After you've breaded a piece of meat for panfrying (dip in flour, dip in a water-and-egg-white mixture, dip in bread crumbs), spray the breaded meat with a little water from a spritz bottle. The moisture will prevent the crumbs from absorbing too much oil while still preserving that crispy crunch.

—David Burke, David Burke Kitchen, New York

Make a Sandwich
Less is more. Proportion is key, making sure each element balances the next. I like a fresh slaw tossed in a light vinegar for some crunch and some acidity. Throw in the protein of your choosing, bearing in mind the salt that comes with cured or smoked meat. And when is adding a fried egg a bad thing? Butter the outside of your bread, griddle it, and that's a sandwich.

—Michael Schwartz, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami

Scramble Eggs
For two eggs, add two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of heavy cream, season with salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, and whip the hell out of them with a whisk until frothy. Melt some butter over medium heat and cook the eggs, not touching them until they are partially set. Then start some light stirring until they're almost finished, and turn the heat off. They will finish cooking because the pan is still hot.

—Randy Zweiban, Province, Chicago

Grill Fruit
Start with ripe, juicy fruit with a high moisture content. Lightly brush on all sides with melted butter or coconut milk. Make a dessert rub by combining one cup sugar with one tablespoon cinnamon. Set up your grill for direct grilling — a preheated grate over a hot fire: Brush the grate clean with a stiff wire brush. Oil it with a paper towel folded into a tight pad, dipped in oil, and drawn across the bars of the grate. Oiling prevents sticking and gives you killer grill marks. Dip fruit in rub to coat on all sides, shaking off excess. Grill the fruit long enough to turn the sugar and fruit juices into bubbling, golden caramel.

—Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible; host of Primal Grill (PBS)

Sauté Garlic
Start with a cold pan, add olive oil, then garlic, and turn burner to low heat. Through the gradual increase of temperature, you'll infuse the oil with the flavor of garlic while it turns slightly brown.

—Marco Canora, Hearth, New York; author of Salt to Taste

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sophia Loren Can Do No Wrong.

By Ginger Murray

​Having a fetish for underarms is known as "Axillism." But what about armpit hair? On men it's accepted -- there are a number of gay websites dedicated to armpit hair sexiness. This same hair on women, however, provokes a range of reactions. It can inspire desire, cause disgust, and for many, it is the de facto badge of a feminist.

Vibha Raval says, "I don't have any hair below my eyebrows, ever, but I am not any less feminist." For her it's an issue of hygiene, personal preference, and modernity. However, Vivian De Milo, a gender queer fetish model and artist, loves it.

"I think body hair, armpit hair in particular, is smokin' hot on femme and female bodied people. It turns me on and tickles my pickle."

​Sexy or not sexy, political or personal? The question rages on, but what about the stink factor?
For years, when I was stressed or excited, my armpits would put out an honest to goodness rankness. Despite those few who were turned on by it, I didn't even like smelling myself. My stench once cleared a dance floor. I tried all manner of deodorants but nothing worked. Then one day, a friend asked me, "have you ever just tried not shaving?"

Like most American girls, I began shaving as soon those first little hairs emerged and so, no, the thought had never crossed my mind. As an experiment, I threw away the razor and let it grow.

Surprise: No more stinking. Wild. I have now become a confirmed hairy armpit gal, and those who got a kick out of my particular odor will just have to come a lot closer. And some will.

Photographer Rosie Jones says, "The most important and fascinating role of hair is to be a part of the olfactory communication. The smell of each and every human being is different and unique -- pheromones produce this distinct smell. Hair holds in itself this unique scent and helps humans to identify and respond to others. Therefore body hair is sex and is sexy. But I can't help but whip it off for aesthetic reasons."

And of course those aesthetics keep a lot of wax and razor companies in business. In fact, it was a marketing campaign that put a smooth, hairless underarm on the map. In 1917, the Wilkinson Sword Co., which made razor blades for men, created advertising to persuade women that underarm hair was unfeminine. The sales of razor blades quickly doubled, and culture was altered.

So whatever your preference, the beauty of our postmodern world is that for the most part, you can do as you damn well please. But Tracey Snyder Stone offers this word of advice, "Hair is sexy if kept neat and clean. Man or woman." Indeed, although there are those who like it dirty, real dirty.

The Sweet Spot is a blog column about alternative sexuality by Ginger Murray, the editor of Whore! magazine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Article: What Size Are You, Really?

- Lisa Marsh

Like most new moms, Erin Correale wants to whip her wardrobe back into shape.

Correale has it easier than most. At 38, she’s within 10 pounds of the weight she’s been since her teenage years. But her clothing size isn’t.

“I wear a size two in Ann Taylor, a four in Banana Republic, a six in Old Navy, a four at Coldwater Creek and a friend told me about Chico’s, but told me I would have to look at a size zero,” she says. “I never like size zero—it’s encouraging people to be waifs. That doesn’t make me feel good.”

Sizes zero, two, four and six all for one woman? Is Correale lost in the looking glass, growing and shrinking at every turn like Alice, or is there something seriously askew with the sizing of clothing?

It’s no mistake. The American apparel industry has created an intentional system of “Vanity Sizing.” The increasing use of the smaller sizes—a size 12 in 1970 is now in the size four-six-eight range—is meant to make consumers feel better about buying clothing.

Standards—or Lack Thereof

When it comes to sizing, there are no universal standards. A woman with a traditional hourglass figure with 36-24-36 measurements can wear anything from a size zero to a size ten, depending on the brand and whether it’s sold at the designer, contemporary, junior, bridge or mass level.

The only standard that does exist is to con the buyer into believing she’s smaller. Over time, sizes are getting roomier, allowing women to believe they can still squeeze into a more desirable size two, four, six or even eight.

“At this point, sizes are meaningless. They’re more relative than anything else,” Bill Ivers, chief operating officer of MSA Models told YouBeauty. His agency specializes in providing fit models for designers and brands.

“Sizes are not standard by design,” he explained. “It helps brands be unique and offer an edge over the competition. Brands are looking for brand loyalty and if last season you were an eight and this season you’re a size six, that’s a sales tool. We all look to apparel to make us look good, feel comfortable and confident.”

Even celebrities fall victim to the need for vanity sizing.

One actress cold-called Robert Verdi, style director at FirstComesFashion.com and a celebrity stylist who regularly works with stars like Eva Longoria and Kathy Griffin, and asked him to wardrobe her for multiple appearances during an awards season.

Her publicist said the actress was a size 12, and because they were working on a quick turnaround of less than three weeks, Verdi couldn’t ask designers to make anything custom, so had to rely on pieces designers had in stock.

“We looked at pictures of this woman and I called her publicist back and asked her, is she really a size 12?” he told YouBeauty. “The publicist insisted she was a 12.”

When Verdi and his team packed the dresses up for the trip to Los Angeles, “we snuck in some 14s, 16s and even some 18s.”

Though Verdi told the actress that everything was a “size 12,” the actress “wasn’t happy,” he said. She ultimately wore several of his picks, but one of the dresses was altered to fit by making it six-to-eight inches shorter. The fabric was then added as a panel on the back of the dress so the “size 12” would fit.

“She didn’t want to be bigger than that in her head. A number means so much to so many people,” he added. That's really too bad since the numbers are pretty much meaningless and there are no standards in place.

This lack of sizing standards wasn’t always the case.

Until January 20, 1983, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Institute of Standards and Technology offered specifics for the sizing of apparel with body measurements for men, women, junior women, young men and children. These standards began in the late 1940s as a byproduct of the necessity for size-standardization in military uniforms during World War Two. Committees that included textile manufacturers, designers and retailers worked with the Department of Agriculture to determine these sizing standards and all adhered to it.

The program was discontinued in 1983. The measurements were not keeping up with the typical American body, which was changing due to better medicine and nutrition, along with an influx of new and varied ethnic groups. Sponsorship of these standards was assumed by private industry. That marked the start of sizing’s new Wild West, a lawless, volatile environment that continues today.

An End in Sight?

“Each designer has their own vision of what they imagine as the ideal person to wear their clothing,” explained Tanya Shaw to YouBeauty. “Designers will hold true to what they believe.”

Shaw is the founder and president of MyBestFit, a sizing system that scans your body for about 10 seconds and then provides you with sizing recommendations for styles from over 30 brands like the Gap, Old Navy, Talbots and J Brand.

“We help customers decode sizing and that makes shopping as simple as uniformity,” she explained. “We should find clothes that fit our bodies, not sizes we like to hear.”

The company currently operates one scanner at the King of Prussia Mall in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, but will be adding 45 more locations in fall 2011. Though a Personal Shopping Guide from MyBestFit in King of Prussia will only provide resources that are in that mall, you can enter your identifying code on the company’s web site to find what other sizes and brands will fit you when shopping at another location or online.

“When you cut the confusion out, consumers buy more,” Shaw said. “They have told us the conversion rate [from shopper to buyer] of 100 customers is normally 20 percent. With MyBestFit, in some cases, it’s as high as 90 percent. Imagine if you went into a fitting room and it all fit—your shopping time is more productive.”

Cricket Lee is taking it a step further and attempting to get standards back into the lexicon of apparel makers and designers. She founded Fitlogic, a patented sizing system that fits by body type and size. Though it is now accepting pre-orders online for fall shipments, Lee has spent five years struggling to bring it to market. Because each brand has its own sizing, designers and apparel manufacturers weren’t interested.
Her labeling categorizes women in three shape groups—circle, hourglass and triangle—and the Fitlogic label carries the traditional size plus a number for one of these categories.

“The truth will set you free and if you know you’re a size four and shape three, you know a size 4.3 in FitLogic will fit you every time,” Lee explained. “Women don’t have the time to mess with trying on sizes. It is debilitating to walk into a fitting room with 10 pairs of pants and have nothing fit.”

“It’s progress and it will happen,” she added. “If this can reduce return by 75 percent, how can designers and retailers ignore it?”

MSA Models’ Ivers is skeptical that day will come. “There is no universal fit and I doubt that there ever will be. If five people take measurements of the same person, there will be five different measurements,” he said. “Consumers have to learn to adapt to the fact that today you’re a size zero and tomorrow, you’re a four.”

While new mom Correale admits she “loved being a size two at Ann Taylor, I didn’t really believe it.” Shopping certainly isn’t any easier. “I don’t know how to shop other than taking three sizes into the fitting room or having someone run back and forth for me. It never works.”

Shopping woes aside, maybe Lee is correct and the truth will set you free. If knowing that a number on a tag is meaningless will free you from getting hung up on sizes and allow you to focus on the best fit for you, maybe it's not such a bad thing after all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nutella Mousse Banana Trifle

I made this Nutella Mousse Banana Trifle for a work bbq this week. People called to me from across the tables how "Amazing" this was. Phrases like "Dear Lord." and "Oh my!" were heard from everyone. More than one person asked me how I made it. Luckily for all of you I took pictures as I did (and the best part - it's a semi-homemade NO BAKE dessert)!












Nutella Mousse Recipe:

1 Cup Heavy whipping cream
1/2 Cup Nutella spread (found in the PB aisle for those of you unfamiliar with the product)
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

Lightly stir the instant coffee powder into the heavy whipping cream (if you do this in a metal bowl the entire mix will stay cold longer). Add the Nutella into the cream and using an electric whisk blend until you have soft peaks. Divide into individual containers and then let chill to set.

Enjoy!

This is the original recipe that serves four - I quadrupled the recipe and layered 8 sliced bananas and two store bought angel food cakes to help make it go further.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Size 2 = Curvy?

I was logging onto Yahoo Messenger this afternoon and saw this headline:


Now I have no issues with Jennifer Love Hewitt as a person (although I don't  follow Celebrity News so really she could be an awful human being and I'd have no idea). What I do have is an issue with media saying that, "Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt proved that real women do have curves upon arriving at the premiere of her latest movie..."

SHE IS A SIZE 2!!!!!

So what I want to know is since when does a size 2 equal "curvy"? I'm not saying her breasts and hips aren't "curvy" but only because the rest of her is so tiny!And what kind of message is that sending to women (and girls) who are sizes 12 or 22?


I Need to Move.

According to OKCupid, I live in "the most promiscuous city in the nation".... I'm obviously living in the wrong city....

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www.huffingtonpost.com

Unless you're reading this in Portland, the most promiscuous city in the nation, you have some work to do -- at least according to OkCupid.com. The start-up dating site has taken on the envious job of determining which cities are most likely to engage in casual sex. Along the way, they've also compiled some sex-related infographics correlating the mundane and the risque (for instance, a ven-diagram of 'people who eat oatmeal,' and 'people who, like, really go at it').

How were these distinctions awarded? OkCupid told the HuffPost it all ties back to the percentage of users in each city who list "Casual Sex" as one of the relationship types they seek. While we're thrilled two of HuffPost's Locals broke the top 10 (Denver and San Francisco), we're disappointed neither of them grab number one by the... uh, never mind.

10. Houston, TX
9. San Diego, CA*
8. Denver, CO
7. San Bernardino, CA*
6. Dallas, TX
5. San Francisco, CA*
4. Miami, FL
3. Pittsburgh, PA
2. Seattle, WA
1. Portland, OR*

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Oh and I have lived in (or very close too) 4 out of the top 10 (marked by *).... I think I need to start rethinking where I move to. Where's the list of the top 10 cities to find someone to settle down with?
 
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I wrote the above piece first thing this morning. This afternoon I came across an email that has some interesting overlap. This article was called "Top 10 Cities for Single Women" - based on surveys and research done by Rent.com (I know such a well known research institute) the following ten cities were considered most desirable for single woman (based off what their research found single woman found "desirable").

10. San Jose, CA
9. New York, NY
8. Las Vegas, NV
7. Los Angeles, CA
6. Chicago, IL
5. Washington DC
4. Denver, CO
3. Austin, TX
2. Seattle, WA
1. Phoenix, AZ

So wait, if you combine the two lists does that mean the promiscuous single women live mostly in Denver and Seattle?

Just kidding folks. Although it does make you wonder who is looking for "Casual Sex" in those first Top-10 if not the "Single Women"?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Menu Swap Anyone?

Is anyone interested in doing a "menu exchange"? We have a list of dinners that we cycle through and I'm dying to get some new ideas. Anyone interested in changing dinner-ruts? :)

Prize Pizza

I cam across the Best Pizza Places in the U.S. article (by Food & Wine) in Yahoo News and I was excited to see that I've eaten at the Best Pizza Place in Portland - Apizza Scholls. 

There is no take out, dine in only, they only make so much pizza dough each day - when it's gone it's gone. And there is always a line down the block before the doors even open! I've only been once - when I first came to visit Portland back in 2008....and I'll be honest I remember it being good but not necessarily the best. I'm not saying it's not just that I need to try it again. 

So here's my question for you. Have you been to any of these "Best Pizza Places in the U.S."?

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Best Pizza Places in the U.S.

Top chefs and fabled bakers are among the new breed of pizzaiolo who are just as fanatic over the temperature of their ovens as how local their ingredients are. They're elevating pizza around the country from greasy pies in cardboard boxes to inspired creations with crackly, charred crusts topped with house-made cheese and charcuterie.

Here, we've chosen the best places for pizza around the country from new guard spots—including a Bay Area pizzeria that uses locally milled flour—to the nearly century-old East Coast institutions started by the original pizzaiolo obsessives that loyalists still (rightfully) love.

New York City; Co.

Signature item: Popeye (with pecorino, Gruyère, mozzarella, spinach, black pepper and garlic).

Sullivan Street Bakery founder Jim Lahey is one of the country's elite bakers, so it makes sense that people can't stop talking about his chewy, crisp, ever-so-slightly tangy pie crusts. Lahey's newest project: He developed the menu for Crust, a soon-to-open Neapolitan-style pie spot at LaGuardia Airport. co-pane.com

Oakland, CA; Pizzaiolo

Signature item: Marinara.

For chef-co-owner Charlie Hallowell, a Chez Panisse alum, seasonality and local ingredients are key—even the flour is milled in Oakland. pizzaiolooakland.com

Boston; Santarpio's Pizza

Signature Item: Homemade Sausage Pie.

This super traditional pizzeria, with wood paneled walls covered with pictures of famous athletes, has been around for more than a century. santarpiospizza.com.

Los Angeles; Pizzeria Mozza

Signature Item: Squash blossoms, tomato and burrata.

Powerhouse team Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich and Nancy Silverton combine the best California ingredients (squash blossoms and trumpet mushrooms) with Italian tradition (big wood-burning ovens and house-made mozzarella) to form some of L.A.'s best pies. mozza-la.com.

San Francisco; Flour + Water

Signature item: Margherita (with tomato sauce, Fior di Latte and extra-virgin olive oil).

The puffy, charred cornicione (end crust) is the result of just two minutes in the 800-degree wood-burning oven imported from Italy. flourandwater.com.

Providence, RI; Al Forno

Signature item: Margarita (with house-made pomodoro, fresh herbs, two cheeses and extra-virgin olive oil).

In 1980, Johanne Killeen and George Germon launched a new era of ambitious cooking in Providence with their thin-crusted, grilled pizzas topped with superfresh ingredients. alforno.com.

Brooklyn, NY; Di Fara

Signature item: Plain pie.

Seventy-two-year-old owner Domenico DeMarco makes all the pies at this Brooklyn pizza mecca, so they come out with the perfect balance of tomato sauce (made fresh daily), mozzarella and Grana Padano cheeses. A Di Fara spin-off called Tagliare opened in LaGuardia Airport in the fall of 2010. difara.com.

New Haven, CT; Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Signature item: White Clam pizza.

This longstanding classic, considered ground zero for New Haven-style "apizza," was started by Frank Pepe in 1925, and is now run by his grandchildren. The Original Tomato Pie (without mozzarella) is still on the menu. pepespizzeria.com.

Portland, OR; Apizza Scholls

Signature item: Apizza Amore (with tomato sauce, both fresh and aged mozzarella, pecorino, grana, olive oil, cured pork shoulder and fresh basil).

Pizzaiolos Brian Spangler, Dan Roberts and Jon Ullrich are so exacting about their craft that they mix their dough by hand daily and won't let customers put any more than three toppings on the nicely charred pies. apizzascholls.com.

Chicago; Burt's Place

Signature item: Deep Dish Pizza with Caramelized Cheese Crust.

At this landmark Chicago eatery, Sharon Katz enforces the strict call-ahead reservation policy and husband Burt works the oven, pulling out pies with a lighter crust and less cheese than most Chicago deep-dish pizzas.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Common Courtesy (a rant)

I need to rant here for a moment so I hope you don't mind..... and if you do, well that's too damn bad and you can just move along. 

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Now, I will start off by saying that my last entry was about Mr. CT and since writing that blog I have told him how I feel and am now wearing my heart on my sleeve. Did I call him up and say I want you to be mind? No. Did I email him like a nervous little school girl, rambling about how I like him and don't want to put labels on what and who we are but that I like him and am not interested in "dating" anyone else? You bet I did!

Hello World, my name is Morgan and I have a giant yellow streak down my back when it comes to expressing my feelings to men. 

So it's been put out into the Universe and now I'm just waiting to see what happens.... aside from the Universe plopping a sexy handsome international attorney into my lap two days ago.  Oh, and did I mention he's local? And by local I mean here in Portland/Vancouver!! Not sure if this is a test to see if I'm really ready for Mr CT and I to be solo or if this is the Universe's way of saying Mr. CT is not the one.... damn you!

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Anyway, this blog wasn't meant to be a rant about me being a fickly mistress, this blog is about "Common Courtesy" and how it does/should still apply to online dating. 

Now I realize that online dating is a lot like speed dating. It's an opportunity to meet a variety of people quickly, all at the same time, and if you don't like what you see across the proverbial table... you move along. 

However, I also believe that once you have exchanged a handful of emails, have discussed likes/dislikes, have flirted, have chatted.... it is COMMON COURTESY to say if you are no longer interested! I believe that after all the above it is polite to say "well thanks, but I just don't feel the chemistry" or "good luck on your search but I've found someone local"... Hell I'd accept "I've decided to delete my account and join a monastery!" 

The point is - that you would (or at least I hope not) get up from the table, on a f2f date, excuse yourself to the restroom and just not come back. Would you? Most respectable people wouldn't. They'd have that friend call at 7:03 pretending to be an emergency or you'd say "thanks for a nice evening, but I have an early meeting in the morning". Even if you ended the evening with the common dating white lie "I'll call you".... at least you're saying "Goodbye"

There have been two men (three if you count the fact that Mr. CT deleted his online account before we could really get emailing) who have chatted with me for weeks -- series of emails discussing anything and everything... at times perhaps more than if we had been across an actual table sharing drinks after work -- that have just "disappeared" so to speak. 

The first one mentioned in his last email he was going camping for the weekend and would email me upon his return. The weekend came and went and no emails. After a few weeks (you can see roughly the last time someone was logged in when you/they have marked each other as a "favorite") I just began to assume he'd been eaten by some starting Canadian bear.  I just looked (prior to this blog) to see if it still listed his last log in as "2+ weeks", NOPE "Earlier This Week"! So his "I'm going camping" and "I'll email you on Monday" was a digital combination of a "bathroom break" and "I'll call you". 

The next one literally just "disappeared" and deleted his account... TWICE! The first time I noticed his profile didn't show up under my favs, I figured oh well, we hadn't emailed that often. Then he reappeared one day and sent me an email. His email account had been hacked so he was deleting and recreating various accounts. So we started emailing again, back and forth, multiple times a day. Then this morning *poof* GONE AGAIN. 

WTF?!

Now I'm sure both of these men had perfectly "logical" reasons for these occurrences.  But at the same time.... something old fashioned courtesy queen in me says this is FAR from okay. Common courtesy isn't hard. Saying "thanks but no thanks" makes a person feel a lot less like an undesirable leper. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

How Do You Know?


How do you know when you're done "looking around" and "keeping doors open"? 


What are the signs you're ready to see what can happen with that ONE special one you found? 

And then...how do you even begin to say that out loud to the person? 

It's been years and I feel old and rusty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Starbucks Secret Menu

This morning my mother sent me to Yahoo News to see pictures of a chupacabra... while there was no chupacabra there was an article called "The Ultimate Guide to Starbucks Secret Menu" - and I had to share. 

So I'm sure some people are going to give me shit but I'm a fan of Starbucks. They don't make the best coffee ever and there are certainly companies I like more. But over all they don't over roast or burn their coffee (something that I just can't stand) and they gave my little sister her first job (which she's excelling at) - so for that they have a soft spot in my heart as well.

Having someone on the "inside" is always fun. She comes home from after work and brings all sorts of concoctions she's created (although she does love to put the white mocha in EVERYTHING). haha. I love that places have "Secret Menus" I don't even have to know what they are. In a foodie world like today, where more and more restaurants are refusing any substitutions (even for allergies) it's refreshing to see some places allow for personalization (and no, I don't mean "Have it Your Way").

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A list of the coffee giant's off-the-menu items

Frequenters of Starbucks know the situation all too well: You're standing in line, reciting the precise order of the five different descriptors that constitute "your drink," when you hear the person in front of you make a request so foreign sounding it completely throws your concentration.

A Zebra Mocha? A Grande Green Eye? A Captain Crunch Frappuccino? Say what? They may sound like a far cry from the standard drip cup or your simple Mocha Frappe, but these drinks are not Starbucks folklore. And really, considering that the coffee giant has in years past boasted offering some 87,000 different drink combinations, that such "secret" items exist should not be too surprising.

As it turns out, many of your fast-food and restaurant chain favorites have "secret" menus — places like Taco Bell, Wendy's, Subway, Chipotle, and even Jamba Juice. Of course, the one at beloved West Coast cult favorite, In-N-Out, is arguably the most famous. So well-known, in fact, that there's really not much "secret" about it anymore. Starbucks' off-the-menu items are certainly not as widely publicized as In-N-Out's, but they are known enough to the point where you won't get a dirty look from the barista when you ask for a Double Dirty Iced Chai.

Read on for an in-the-know guide to the "secret" drinks at Starbucks. Just remember that not all of the drink names may be universal so make sure you can at least explain how the drink is made to your barista.

Green Eye: A Red Eye or Black Eye, sure — that's one and two extra shots of espresso in a regular drip, respectively. But those that go for green get a sure-to-jack-you-up three shots of espresso boost to their cup of coffee.

Dirty Chai: A chai latte (hot or iced) with a shot of espresso added in. And if you want two shots? That's called a "Double Dirty" or "Extra Dirty" Chai.

Zebra Mocha: Sometimes also called a "Penguin Mocha," this drink combines the white chocolate mocha with the regular mocha for those who can't pick a favorite. Or, if you really want to take it to the next level, ask to have raspberry flavoring added for something called the "Red Tux" Mocha.

Chocolate Dalmatian: A White Chocolate Mocha with java chips and chocolate chips sprinkled in.

Cake Batter Frappuccino: Perhaps a little deceptively named, as there are no actual pieces of cake or cake batter in it, this beverage vanilla and almond syrup to a Vanilla Frappuccino.

Captain Crunch Frappuccino: No, this doesn't involve bringing the childhood-favorite cereal into the store and asking them to blend it in a frappe. Still, fans say that the combination of hazelnut syrup (though some folks contend it should be toffee nut) in a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino is a dead ringer for the flavor of the cereal.

"Short" Drink: The Tall drink's smaller, less expensive younger brother.

French Press: Apparently if you ask, Starbucks will brew any of the coffee they sell in a French Press.

Super Cream Frappuccino: Like to go heavy on the whipped cream? Ask for a "Super Cream" version of your Frappe and you'll get half a cup of whipped cream blended in.

Affogato-Style Frappuccino: This one probably classifies more as an in-the-know than a "secret" one. Order any Frappe "affogato-style" and you'll get a shot of hot espresso added on top of your drink as opposed to having it blended in.

Triple C's: And the award for best alliteration in a Starbucks drink name goes to the Three C's: Cinnamon Dolce Latte with caramel syrup and chocolate mocha syrup.

Biscotti Frappuccino: This off-the-menu item sounds a little like a Starbucks version of a DQ Blizzard or a McFlurry, except you have to have to buy a package of biscotti cookies separately and ask your barista to blend them into your Frappe. Note: There seems to be some contention online as to whether or not baristas are actually allowed to put biscotti in the blender, so maybe only ask someone you know is willing to do you a favor.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Scream You Scream

Most of the country has been having more than their fair share of a heat wave this summer - while Portland has had a high of (maybe) 88* so far. It may not be over 100 here but that doesn't mean it's not Ice cream Weather.  (Found in the New York Times Dining & Wine section)

Ice Cream Favorites Grow Up
By Melissa Clark
Published: August 12, 2011

It all started with grasshopper pie. Shockingly green, made from mint chocolate-chip ice cream slathered with crème de menthe-flavored whipped “topping,” it was a specialty of one of our neighbors when I was growing up and a block-party staple.

I hadn’t thought of it in years. But it sprang to mind recently while I was trying to transform store-bought ice cream into a party-worthy dessert.

It used to be that a couple of cartons of premium ice cream made a perfectly respectable end to a summer soirée all on their own.

But these days, with ice cream makers nearly as prevalent in home kitchens as food processors, and fancy ice cream ubiquitous in every corner deli, I knew I needed to do a little more than just pass around the pints.

I wanted to make something just as easy as that grasshopper pie, but updated and fresh. Something that took advantage of the variety of intriguing ice cream flavors now available, but that added a personal spin to make a dinner-worthy dessert, without (to be blunt about it) requiring much effort.

Once I got going, icy ideas stormed through my brain. I thought about ice cream pies made from homemade cookie crumbs, topped with whipped cream infused with aromatic spices. I thought about a play on tiramisù using vanilla ice cream in place of mascarpone. I thought about those fancy iced bombes my mother used to make in the ’80s, with two or three layers of bright-hued whipped frozen mousse packed into a decorative mold.

A cheater’s version would simply pack layers of different colored ice cream and sorbet into a metal bowl. I added a tropical twist by combining coconut ice cream swirled with coconut macaroons, fresh mango and vibrant sorbet.

It was stunning, and quicker to put together than the time I spent locating the package of macaroons at the supermarket.

I also picked up some malted milk balls. When I got home, I froze them and pulverized them with a rolling pin, then used the crumbs, mixed with some malted milk powder, to make coffee ice cream malted bonbons. They are just the right size for noshing on straight out of the freezer, with no spoons required.

After these first two escapades, I learned that the key to making whimsical desserts with store-bought ice cream is patience.

I needed to sit on my hands while the pints softened enough to spread. To speed up this process a little, I slid the ice cream out of the pint container and onto a plate, and cut the frozen cylinder in half. Then, once I formed the bombe and the bonbons, I needed to sit on my hands again while the ice cream hardened in the freezer. Immediate gratification it’s not.

One way to avoid all that waiting around is to serve sundaes. All you need to do is make the sauce ahead of time.

As much as I appreciate a traditional hot fudge number, it’s butterscotch I pine for. Mine is based on maple syrup with a good slug of dark rum to keep things from getting too cloying. Poured over scoops of ginger ice cream and showered with walnuts and dollops of thick crème fraîche rather than whipped cream, it was cozily familiar yet quietly thrilling to eat.

Another childhood favorite was those frozen chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.

For my modern grown-up version, I scooped ice cream into sliced baguettes, then drizzled it with either pepper-spiked apricot jam or sea-salt-strewn chocolate nut spread.

These sandwiches were sweet, savory, sophisticated and laughably easy, just like grasshopper pie — even if their color wasn’t quite as dramatic.

Tomato Heaven

I email subscribe to the Just a Pinch Recipe Club and today there was an article called "Savoring the Goodness of Homegrown Tomatoes" in the Janet's Notebook blog.  While I don't have homegrown anything I do love tomatoes and so had to share this article and recipe links with you.

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Growing up, my friend's grandfather always told us girls that to enjoy a fresh tomato all we needed was a sharp knife and a pinch of salt. Indeed, there were tomatoes served at every one of their meals during those hot, sticky summers. And as he would slice in to the fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes, juice would flow like a roiling creek. It was a wonder to my youthful, wide eyes. As a frequent dinner pest - er, I mean dinner guest - I was always first in line to sample his latest garden finds.

This certainly is the time of year to celebrate that bounty. Tomatoes are in their peak around the country, each one ripe for the tasting. While just a pinch of salt does do wonders, there are also some terrific tomato recipes out there that really get my taste-buds tingling.

Capreses are about the best thing to happen to the tomato since the invention of salt. Simply meaning a combination of basil, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, capreses come in many shapes and sizes: sandwiches, flatbreads, pasta, salads. Nikki Smith of Hemet, CA thinks that caprese pizza is the way to go. She uses fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, freshly chopped basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil to embellish a refrigerated pizza crust. The simplicity of the preparation is matched only by the simplicity of the flavors. Happily, they come together to form one delicious, crowd-pleasing treat.

Stuffed tomatoes are also a great way to make use of excess produce. Cherry tomatoes transform into darling, bite-size appetizers at the hand of Texas cook Jeanne Benavidez. She uses a mixture of cream cheese, onion, garlic and avocado to fill her party-ready Avocado-Stuffed Tomatoes. "A friend brought this to a back yard party once and I really liked it," says Jeanne. "She was kind enough to give me the easy recipe. I have made it several times and everyone seems to really enjoy the little morsels of coolness."

Equally cool, figuratively speaking, is Judy Sprague's recipe for full-size Stuffed Tomatoes. This fellow Kentuckian bowled me over with her bacon, broccoli and onion stuffed 'maters. Topped with panko breadcrumbs and salty Parmesan cheese, it's easy get creative with this one and add in other veggies of your choosing. (Extra zucchini, perhaps?) "I love the taste of this!" says Judy of her super summery dish. "It is a very easy side dish to make a meal special!"

Now, rather then cooking up his leftover tomatoes, Greg Honeycutt of Birmingham, AL chooses to preserve them in an especially unique way. "I dehydrate extra ones," he says. "I slice them as thin as I can, put them on a Silpat in a low oven and leave them be. 200 degrees for several hours usually does the trick. I then crush them to powder with mortar and pestle. Great for a tasty, colorful garnish, or to add a bit of flavor to anything you wish." Imagine how good those freshly dehydrated tomatoes will taste come soup-making season!

And Greg's not the only one preserving summer freshness for colder days ahead. Linda Scharek of Wildwood, FL described her favorite preservation method during a recent conversation in the Cooking Tips and Hints Discussion Group. "You can freeze tomatoes," she says. "Cut in quarters and put in a Ziplock bag. When you need tomatoes for sauce, just take them out of the freezer, skin will come right off, and use for whatever."

These great cooking ideas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to celebrating the dear, humble tomato. Enjoy them simply sliced and sprinkled with a pinch of salt, baked atop an olive oil coated pizza crust, or stuffed with the freshest of herbs and veggies from your garden. No matter the how, simply enjoy. These warm days of bounty are meant to be savored.

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To finish off this entry I wanted to share a (different) caprese pizza recipe I'm dying to try - I'm going to have to alter the cooking instructions though because I don't have an outdoor grill.

Grilled Caprese Pizza with Balsamic Reduction

1 (14 oz.) can pre-made pizza dough
2 tomatoes, sliced
6-8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
5-6 leaves fresh basil, minced
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
olive oil
salt and pepper

Unroll the pizza dough onto a sheet pan. Lightly coat each side with olive oil and cut into four pieces. Set aside. Prepare all the ingredients on a platter and set aside.

To make the Balsamic Reduction: Bring the balsamic vinegar and sugar to a light boil in a small sauce pan. Allow to boil, while stirring constantly for 4-6 minutes, or until reduced in half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat a grill over a medium high flame until grates are very hot. Hot grates are important to ensure the dough cooks quickly and doesn’t stick. Gently stretch each section of dough and carefully lay it across the grates. Cover and allow to cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Check halfway through to make sure they don’t burn. Flip using two tongs. Evenly distribute the tomato and mozzarella slices. Cover and allow to cook for an additional 2 – 3 minutes, or until the cheese is slightly melted. Remove from the flame and cut in half. Drizzle each slice with the balsamic reduction and sprinkle with minced basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4 as entree. Serves 6 – 7 as side.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Age Really Just a Number?



        
The inspiration for this blog came from the dating site I'm a member of. Despite being very smitten with Mr. CT - I'm trying to "keep my options open" (as a friend so wisely recommended) and have not closed my profile. I'm not on the site searching through other people's pages, but am leaving mine up for others to contact me (I know this isn't the way to find a date but really I'm more interested in seeing what happens with Mr. CT than anything else at this point). 



Anyway. I've noticed that either mostly men over 40 are looking at my profile (you can see who has viewed you recently on this site) or there are only mostly over 40 men on this website.

Is it because by 40+ men don't feel the same pressure as younger men to conform and date "super model" looking woman? Is it because they're looking for a younger woman to make them feel young? Or is it just something about me that appeals to older men?

Not that I want to judge all older men based off my first-first date experience but I think that date showed me that there might be an age limit for me. Someone who hasn't experienced everything I've yet to (marriage/divorce, traveling, etc) or at least wants to do them again (i.e., have children).  I understand the benefits of the "older man" - ready to settle down, done with the "bachelor lifestyle", secure in job/finances....but I think for me ten years older is really my maximum. Anything over that and I start playing the mental "Are you closer to my age or my mother's?" game (fyi Mr. 1st 1st Date was closer to my mothers....eek)



On the reverse side I definitely feel that there is a limit to how young I could/would date. 

Yesterday I saw a 20 year old had viewed my profile. Now he didn't make contact but the first thing I thought when I saw his age (age mind you not profile/picture) was "Oh hell no!".

Mostly because my younger sister is only 20 and since I helped raise her after my parents divorced I some how can't get the Baby C's Age = Child (I still call her and her bf "The Kids")... which brings me to her boyfriend... he's 22 and I still don't think I could date someone that young. Sure they're old enough to go to the bars (where a 20 year old can't even do that!)... but I'd forever thing Mr. X = Same Age as Nick-Nick.

No thank you.

I think the youngest I could go... probably only a year or two younger than myself... or at least for now. I've been out of school for five years, have worked at a number of businesses and organizations as well as moved around a bit. Just like I don't want to be with someone who has experienced much more life than I have I don't want to be with someone who is still discovering who they are. (Not to say younger people haven't "lived" more than I).

However, as a general rule of thumb I don't (or at least try not to) prejudge based on age. I'll engage in conversation, reply to an email, but I can't help but wonder how much farther than a "hello" it will go.

What about you? How much older/younger have you dated?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hair

I remember being somewhere around 9 or 10 the first time I shaved my legs. I didn't need to, the hair was blond and "peach-fuzz" but it was thicker and (in my opinion) more visible than my friends. I didn't ask my mom or someone to help me with how. It just seemed instinctual. Now years later, I'm still shaving my legs and often wish for thin peach fuzz again.  

I think my first real exposure, however, to the conversation about hair "down below" was when I first read Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues in college, and the piece called "Hair"

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"You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair. My first and only husband hated hair. He said it was cluttered and dirty. He made me shave my vagina. It looked puffy and exposed and like a little girl. This excited him. When he made live to me, my vagina felt the way a beard must feel. It felt good to rub it, and painful. Like scratching a mosquito bite. It felt like it was on fire. There were screaming red bumps. I refused to shave again. Then my husband had an affair. 

When we went to marital therapy, he said he screwed around because I wouldn't please him sexually. I wouldn't shave my vagina. The therapist had a thick German accent and gasped between sentences to show her empathy. She asked me why I didn't want to please my husband. I told her I thought it was weird. I felt little when my hair was gone down there, and couldn't help talking in a baby voice, and the skin got irritated and even calamine lotion wouldn't help it. She told me marriage was a compromise. I asked her if shaving my vagina would stop him from screwing around. I asked her if she'd had many cases like this before. She said that questions diluted the process. I needed to jump in. She was sure it was a good beginning.

"This time when we got home, he got to shave my vagina. It was like a therapy bonus prize. He clipped it a few times, and there was a little blood in the bathtub. He didn't even notice it, 'cause he was so happy shaving me. Then, later, when my husband was pressing against me, I could feel his spiky sharpness sticking into me, my naked puffy vagina. There was no protection. There was no fluff.

"I realized then that hair is there for a reason-it's the leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house. You have to love hair in order to love the vagina. You can't pick the parts you want. And besides, my husband never stopped screwing around."

*          *          * 

I've heard feminists and friends (sometimes one person in both roles) speak on both the pro-hair and pro-shaving side. Women who wax all together, shave a "landing strip", a "V" and those who don't trim at all. I personally don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" way to keep your hair. 

Do I have preferences? 
Sure. 
Who doesn't?

Earlier in my blog I praised the NYTimes for having an article (in the Fashion & Style section) about the choice women make on whether or not to shave (arms, pits, legs, vaginas, etc). Then later on they ran another article - this time focusing on men and hair

We seem to be at a tug-of-war struggle between women encouraging others to let it grow (au naturel) and marketing ads pushing men  it's time to take the razor plunge and remove it all. 

Would you shave it all or let it all grow in for the one you love? 
Do you have a preference for hair or no hair? 
Do you see it as a political statement or a marketing ploy?

To shave or not to shave?

Moroccan Style Tomato Soup With Chickpeas

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
2 cups of stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
Parsley or cilantro for garnish

Preparation

1. Cook onion and garlic and ginger in olive oil for 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 teaspoons each cumin, coriander and cinnamon; cook for 1 minute.
3. Add tomatoes, stock and cooked chickpeas.
4. Simmer until saucy.
5. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Steamed Eggplant With Spicy Peanut Sauce

Total Time:
25 minutes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons sambal olek or other chile paste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 Asian or baby eggplant
1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
1/4 cup sliced scallions.

Directions:
1. In a bowl, whisk together peanut butter, 1/3 cup water, soy sauce, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, sambal olek and garlic.

2. Trim the ends of the eggplant. If using baby eggplant, peel them. Place in a steamer basket set over a pan of simmering water. Cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can wrap the eggplants individually in parchment and microwave until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.) Halve eggplants lengthwise.

3. Transfer eggplants to a platter, cut side up. Spoon peanut sauce over eggplant. Garnish with peanuts and scallions.

Yield: 6 servings as an appetizer; 3 to 4 as a side dish

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Food Slacker

Well so much for my 365 photo plan...just one too many things for me to remember. But here's the yummy Chicken Parmesan & Capollini Marinara w/ salad.

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