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Posts Tagged ‘food’

The best thing about spring is the arrival of fresh fruit. And while I enjoy a tomato-based salsa I find that fruit salsa is a little more versatile. Now that mangoes and strawberries are both in season, it’s the perfect time to combine them into a topping for chicken or serve them with tortilla chips at a backyard barbeque.

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Earlier this spring, I rediscovered ricotta cheese as a simple dessert. Similar to cottage cheese, ricotta can serve as a substantial filling for both sweet (cannolis) and savory (lasagna) dishes. But it can also stand on its own as a low-fat, high protein dish. A recent brunch order in a New York City restaurant delivered a plate full of ricotta as the main course. And it totally worked.

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We finally have tender yellow green leaves on the trees. The witches fingers of bare branches are all wearing tiny bows of color and from a distance the lilac trees look like poofed up bichon frisés after a spin at the doggie salon.

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Last Friday I took the train down to New York City to attend the 2012 James Beard Federation Awards dinner as a nominee at the Books, Broadcast and Journalism awards. It is the JBF’s 25th annual awards celebration.

When I heard my name announced over the livestream broadcast from the press lunch in Las Vegas in March I almost fell off my chair in surprise. My cover story for The Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine about the foodie renaissance in America had been nominated under the category “Best Food Coverage in a General Interest Publication.”

The other two nominees, Los Angeles Magazine and New York Magazine, had submitted very different packages. Those entries were more like mini Bon Appetit magazines within their publications, instead of the broad, 3,000-word trend story I had written.

“It’s like apples and arugula,” said John Yemma, the Monitor’s editor, when I told him that my entry looked like a square peg when compared with the other two in my category. I wasn’t really sure what to expect on award night. For a lot of major journalism awards, writers often have to be nominated more than once before they earn an actual award.

I decided at the very least, this was going to be a great party in New York, an up-close look at some of the movers and shakers in the food world, and a lot of fantastic eats.

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Plus, riding the train is a lot of fun.

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The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., falls on May 4-5, 2012. I’m not really swept up in the culture around the Derby, even though my mom lived in Lexington for nearly two decades. In my most cynical moments, I can’t understand the big to-do around a 2 minute race.

But I admit, I cried through “Seabiscuit,” “Secretariat,” and “War Horse.” There is something about these majestic, beautiful, intelligent creatures in motion that stirs the human spirit, no matter how intellectual one becomes about the trappings and heartbreak of betting on a horse.

What I do love without question is a Kentucky Pie That Shall Not Be Named – gooey pecans and chocolate over a buttery crust and smothered in a dollop of fresh whipped cream. With the Derby falling on Cinco de Mayo this year, I got to thinking about the perfect marriage: Mexican chocolate and buttery pecans.

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Two nights a week I don’t get home until 9 p.m. after swim practice and I am ravenous! Sometimes I have leftovers on hand so I can eat right away. But most nights I need to make something substantial – and fast.

Beef stir fry with green peppers and onions is a perfect answer. It’s quick, hearty, and has both good veggies and protein for a post-workout meal. You’ll be eating a hot meal within 15 minutes after hanging up your workout clothes to dry.

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I’ve been meaning to tell you about this cookbook for awhile. For all those of you out there who are raising chickens, pickling, and making your own crackers, you’ll find good wit and wisdom in “Make the Bread, Buy the Butter” by Jennifer Reese (Free Press, October 2011, $24).

Having chickens cluck in the yard and filling your pantry with preserves that you picked and canned yourself is rewarding – but is it worth all the time battling persistent bugs and rodents just to say, “I made this sauce with heirloom tomatoes I grew myself”?

Reese, who blogs at www.tipsybaker.com, took on an ambitious project when she applied her journalistic skills to figure out what is worth making at home (croutons), what is worth attempting for the experience (Camembert cheese), and what is an accomplishment but a true pain in the rear (prosciutto).

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Forget plastic green grass. Go au naturel with these delightful and easy-to-make Chocolate Easter Baskets. You will need exactly three ingredients: a bag of pretzel sticks, a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (or your favorite chocolate), a bag of mini candy-shelled Cadbury Eggs.

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You might call this a pre St. Patrick’s Day post, except here in Boston I’m a little bit late. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations start the weekend before March 17 because there just simply isn’t enough time to get in all the Irish-related festivities in just a day or two. We may not dye our river green the way Chicago does, but this is still the home of the Boston Celtics. Plus, we are geographically closer to Ireland than Chicago, so I think this qualifies us as more authentically Irish-American than our Midwestern cousins. Somehow. (more…)

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You may recall some weeks ago that I was complaining about the aftertaste of boxed mix biscuits. I had been in a mad dash between activities but was still craving a just-from-the-oven biscuit to go along with a bowl of cheddar corn chowder. Even though I added some dried Rosemary to the dough for a lovely flowery taste I could still tell that these were convenience biscuits.

For some reason, short cut foods make me feel really …  lonely. I have no other way to explain it. Chalk it up to the mystery and power of food to strengthen, comfort, and express love. If you are going to break bread alone, lonely-filled biscuits are not the way to go, because you’ll just eat more to get rid of that empty feeling.

Despite how sad I know you are feeling for me right now, I didn’t really give those biscuits another thought once I left my dishes in the sink – until I got an e-mail from the Scone Lady at Victorian House Scones.

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