Cooking and Gadgets

no-knead-1.jpgFirst, it’s important to distinguish No-Knead Bread from No-Need Bread. The former is a very laid back way to make bread if you have no food processor, stand mixer, bread machine or time. The latter is what you keep eating out of the little basket with a napkin in it, even though your pants are a little tight, just because it tastes really good, and look! There’s Ciabatta in there, too!

I have had this recipe forever, in many forms. It was sent to me via snail mail by an old friend, I found it again on line and bookmarked it, but I just kept losing it. Frankly, I don’t mind making bread that has to be kneaded either by hand or machine, but when this recipe appeared in my life a third time last week on someone else’s blog, I decided it was a cosmic sign.

It’s really, really good bread that emerges looking beautiful and crusty and artisanal, and tasting far more flavorful and nuanced than your average white loaf. It has real, shatter-y crust, and lots of texture. I really think you could pass it off as something from a bakery (which is fitting, since that’s where the recipe came from). Best of all, you really need nothing but a bowl, some plastic wrap, two towels and a big pot with a lid. (Well, and an oven). No hard labor, and easy clean-up.

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sauce teriyaki smSpring has sprung! When it comes to weather, we Californian’s have it pretty darn good. Crisp mornings, sunny afternoons, and cool evenings reminds us that soon enough, we will be sporting the occasional sun dress, tank top, or skirt. My cooking is starting to reflect that.

Lean grilled meats, roasted salmon, and lots of organic, grass fed chicken keeps the calories and the carbs to a minimum. Introducing layers of flavors is the key to any good meal. Fresh salsas, marinades, sauces, and condiments help turn what could be a boring, weeknight meal into a flavorful, happy dish.

Homemade staples can always be found lining our refrigerator shelves; ketchup, salad dressings, pasta sauce, jams, fruit soda mixtures, and this teriyaki sauce.

It’s the perfect addition to simple, grilled chicken breast, Asian marinated skirt steak, and roasted salmon. Served with a side of oven baked brown rice and kale chips, no one leaves the table hungry!

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From the L.A. Times

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Value is a relative concept. Just ask the folks at Lehman Brothers. But when it comes to ingredients and kitchen tools that beckon to the enthusiastic home cook, it's important to the bottom line -- in this case, a great meal -- to take a look at what's really worth your hard-earned cash -- and what isn't.

We scrutinized our kitchens and the merchandise. Our thumbs-up, thumbs-down verdicts on a couple of dozen popular or hyped cooking items follow. No apologies – we're opinionated. Some gadgets and goodies are grossly overvalued, others just don't get their due. We considered cost, efficacy and practicality – as well as the happiness factor. Because for a true chocoholic, a 3.5-ounce bar of Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 72% cacao really is worth $6.

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jetsons.jpgThere are so many conveniences the Jetsons had that I could really use today. Jane Jetson had this thing that came down from the ceiling, encased her head and presto! New hairdo! I hate doing my hair. My bathroom has all kinds of gizmos with one purpose; to make my hair look cute. You can’t imagine the work that goes into that.

Flat irons, blow driers, round brushes, the Denman Brush, which is a plastic brush that grips the hair, pulling it taut, while I beam my Elcim blow drier at it. I blast it with the highest heat you can find on the market. God forbid there’s a hint of moisture in the air. My hair goes back to Israel before you can say Jiminy Cricket.

The conundrum of my hair is only surpassed by the puzzle of what to serve at the end of the day. The Jetsons had what really amounted to a microwave oven and TV dinners. I wouldn’t serve that even if I could.  This free-floating dilemma had me open my eyes one morning with what I thought would be the solution: A Slow Cooker! Yes! 

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grilling.jpgYup, it’s time to drag out the ol’ grill and have the gang on over for an end of summer, big bash barbecue.  Labor Day’s the perfect name for that holiday, because we’ll be laboring off what’s left of our arses to prepare for it.

Time for us to tidy the yard of all dying blossom debris, clean the lounges of bird generosities, and hose off the cobwebs on the hammock, evidence of us forgetting to relax and just swing this summer.

Then, gotta get at that gook, the residue of barbecue that didn’t burn off from the Memorial Day or Barack’s-near-our-Block party, remove those flakes of festivities that have clogged neath the jets.  Read Real Simple for cleaning secrets. Have to ask hubby to get on all this, plus disconnect the old propane tank and lug it out to the car then get a new propane tank just in case we run out in the thick of the festivities. ….Wait!  I don’t have a husband.  I am the husband.

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