Forking Fantastic!

Forget about folding cloth napkins into fancy swans and contorted shapes, DING3000’s JOIN Cutlery by Konstantin Slawinski, provides a stunning table display in all it’s plasticized glory.
Designed after a Japanese mind-trick puzzle, JOIN’s cutlery is made from high-grade plastic, which helps keep down the cost in comparison to a metal model.

JOIN Cutlery
JOIN Cutlery

Designers studied different materials and prototypes with an end result of sturdy cutlery for everyday use, playful in nature.  An excellent conversation piece, guests may enjoy figuring out how to pull apart their utensils to EAT!

The simply irresistible JOIN Cutlery set comes in array of colors, get yours here

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We eat what we are or perhaps what we want to be.

In discussion with friends the topic of guilt and food choice has arisen on occasion. Notably, the mutual experience of remorse that transcends us as grocery shopping onlookers, judge, based on the items in your shopping basket.

One friend, after a long run and taxing day at work may have purchased some items that channeled his inner humiliation.  Selecting the self-checkout lane to escape judgment on his guilt-worthy purchases, to his dismay, a cute grocery clerk helped bag each one of his cringe-worthy food products.

Another friend and I were speaking over the phone while I was at the store picking up ingredients for “slutty brownies” with a basketful of Oreos, Boxed Brownie Mix and Cookie Dough; I ran into two chef friends and wilted.  Explaining the cause for embarrassment to my friend over the mobile, she exclaimed that yes, she also judges shoppers by what is in their grocery carts.

This same notion relates to sharing recipes.  You know the ‘ol slip the store-bought pie outta the tin and into your glass serving dish trick? When you are running late to a party and need to bring a dish to pass and don’t want to feel shamed against all the others who slaved over a hot stove to submit a contribution, claim that pie as your grandmother’s specialty, right!  Or when someone requests your recipe but you don’t want to sully your reputation by sharing, there is an entire pound of butter in those mushrooms, gasp!

What is it with food, guilt and judgment? What we eat becomes a powerful symbol of who we are.  Food equates to our personal identity.

Food portrays cultural, economic, religious and individual identities. Those who eat caviar are dubbed as refined, a few rungs up on the social ladder, to preserve this depiction they must scorn simple and economic eats like a one-pot meal.  Noshers of salty chips and Twinkies are thought to be uncaring of physical health, receiving disapproving stares of judgment at the grocery store. A health foodist nourishes on green smoothies and kale but to preserve their identity, must steer clear from processed foods.  A Malaysian family who relocates to Mexico City would find, that their food identity might not coincide with the society they now reside in.  This example, may explain fusion flavors that are popping up with the flux of globalization.

Reflect on your food identity, find family, ancestors, the society you live in, memories, adventure and dreams.

The food you eat tells a story, share it!

Pimp my Ramen!

Already hungry with nothing prepared for dinner, and unmotivated to make a trip to the grocery store because it’s close to Thanksgiving and they are filled with frantic shoppers wheeling carts around in a hectic fashion.  I turned to my cupboards, freezer and fridge, which had the possibility of leading to goodness or grossness.

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

Tonight it was goodness! A cheap package of ramen set the tone for an Asian inspired dish.  I always have a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer, buying it whenever it goes on sale. This habit results in an easy way to add protein to meals or having a quick appetizer on a platter in a pinch.  I also store a canning jar of white miso in my fridge because it lasts for months and months.  Sometimes lazy to cut fresh garlic or ginger I typically keep jars of chopped garlic and minced ginger in the fridge as well.  A dash of miso, Maggi and ginger later I had a pan of steaming, miso butter mushrooms and shrimp.

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

Miso Butter Mushrooms and Shrimp

1 pkg of Ramen Noodles (do not use the flavoring, just the noodles!)
8 oz. Portobello Mushrooms, large slices
10 Tail on Cooked Shrimp, completely thawed
4 Tbs. Butter
2 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp minced Ginger
4 Green Onions, chopped
2 Tbs. White Miso Paste
2 tsp. Maggi Sauce (found in the ethnic aisle, made by Nestlè)

Cook the ramen in a pot of boiling water, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat add butter, garlic, ginger and green onions.  Cook until fragrant about 1 minute. Add in the shrimp and cook about 2 minutes just before it turns pink add the mushrooms, miso and Maggi seasoning. Cook until mushrooms are tender about 1 minute more.  Add in the cooked ramen noodles and heat until warmed through.  Serve.

Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Trying new things. Being different. It’s not for everyone but for those who dabble in the unexpected, magical things can happen.  Tonight, in my kitchen, I did something out of the ordinary and discovered the wondrousness of a simple, chocolate pudding. Afresh to the exploration with tofu, I chanced upon a recipe that piqued my curiosity.
Continue reading “Chocolate Tofu Pudding”

Hostess with the Mostess

When Hostess invited the Twinkie to the party guests were entertained!  More people were introduced to the Twinkie and it became an icon, filling the mouths of happy customers and the pockets of a profitable organization for 82 years.

Tweets and Facebook posts of disbelief, gasps of no more Twinkies!  A yellow spongy cake with a cream filled center wrapped in plastic that lasts FOREVER, is it really gasp-worthy or is it what Hostess makes us believe about ourselves, how we relate to the product, that warrants gasps of loss? For some the Twinkie speaks to nostalgia of childhood, a simpler life.

Today marks the fall of the Twinkie, a societal impact, we don’t need junk food, fillers and additives, Twinkies and Ding Dongs may have lost their zeal.  In conglomeration with a slew of dispassionate and unengaged employees the Twinkie’s shelf life is expired.

Hostess operated a top down business model, focusing on organizational profit and growth.  Hostess was there to “satisfy your snack cravings with a full line of delicious flavors. The greatest snack cake on Earth, Twinkies.” A multi-billion dollar company that did more with less, a great idea for profitability tunnel vision but what about employees, how do they fit into this model?  Are they wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket of trust and value, with less?

Employees lost belief in Hostess, fizzling the relationship between organization and employee.  Customers’ appeal for junk food is swayed for healthier options, the Twinkie losing its impact. Hostess wants profit maximization–power.  What does an organization that is bigger than big, whose focus on profit, with dispassionate employees and a mission that is no longer connecting with customer values do?

Innovate, diversify or die.  One cannot live on longevity in a changing environment.

In Hostess’s case, perhpas too much power results in weakness.  Once you are at the top there is no way to shift left or right or upside down, instead the party’s over.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth?!

As a creative, envisioning a brilliant idea and then discovering that someone has already found a solution ensues a self-thought bubble of, why didn’t I DO that?! Jealousy aside, for those critical-solvers innovating their ideas into action, the following is an AWESOME social experiment turned tangible.

As of late, I’ve been reintroduced to the prevalence of, “the temporary event space.” What I’ve experienced and heard, people transform their rad apartment, yard or uber-fab loft into a purpose, an event.  Whether it be an art show, concert, dance or culinary soiree. A temporary event space is contrary from simply, inviting friends over.  A temporary event  has a name, a purpose, a theme, it’s transformed into a community for friends, friends of friends and strangers to co-mingle and co-create in a space.

Joe Che and Margaret Gere did just that.  It could be coined, “flashmob cooking” but Chaos Cooking it is.  Che and Gere to fulfill a nostalgic need, the sense of a bustling kitchen filled with family members, elbow to elbow, during the holidays, fueled this culinary phenomenon. The first Chaos Cooking event hosted 18 close friends in an apartment kitchen, co-creating a meal.  Chaos Cooking continued, new friends, friends of friends, strangers and themes came about.  In fact, it got as chaotic as 80 individuals crammed into the apartment kitchen cooking, prepping and eating in every nook and cranny.

Several Chaos Cooking events later, Che and Gere decided to expand their idea to communities near and far.  Borrowing on the CouchSurfing, vouching concept, Chaos Cooking launched a website that encourages others to host temporary events in their own homes, apartments, lofts, garages and yards. Chaos Cooking communities now stretch around the globe.

The Concept:

“Good People + Good Food = Good Times

Everyone brings the ingredients to make a dish of their choice. Everyone cooks together and then helps restore the space to its original condition.”


Imagine 15 or even 95 people chopping, boiling, tasting, mixing, slicing, stirring, drinking, singing, conversing and learning together, in one space.  Utilizing a coffee table as a prep station, converting a desktop into a chopping block, elbow to elbow with a stranger mixing frosting while you are stuffing dates.  Food in one hand, drink in another, conversing about who knows what, meeting who knows who! After the initial burst of food-prep frenzy, chefs turned into bussers, eat together and clean-up the mess. I’d say a great night ensued.

A brilliant social experiment, involving people, food and a space. Chaos Cooking builds community, inspires ideas and surely, fills a fridge with leftovers.

Saburba

I’ve read about it, thought about it and finally visited it. A new chef-driven eat-in or carry out restaurant becomes refreshment to the suburbian panorama of Ada, MI. Using the words quaint, charming, foodista, local, and superfreakingdelish, Saburba is a sense of commonplace in what was once familiar.

A hip spot to meet friends, bring out-of-towners or pop in for quick, satisfying, real food. Saburba  sources local farmers, greenhouses and even artisans’ their own canned goods.

Head chef, Peter Davidson has a passion for food and it shows.  He helped open local faves, Winchester, Grove and The Green Well and now at Saburba we can delight in Chef Davidson’s flair for local, made-from-scratch, seasonal eats.

Entering Saburba expect to be greeted by a chalkboard rendition of a happy, skillet wielding pig, overlooking playful farmyard friends.  Being led by black and white checkered tiles, to a curvaceous, glass deli case, featuring homemade sweets {Sunday is donut day!}  There are around 4 industrial-esque tables with mismatched stools and Bentwood chairs for eating in-house.  Step right on up to the counter and order from the chalkboard menu affixed to the wall.  An open and bustling kitchen seizes attention as you pay with a swipe of the finger on an iPad.

Get the ramen!  Homemade noodles.  Kimchi, mushrooms, soul-satisfying broth, bokchoy. Did I mention homemade noodles!  Take a seat inside and hone in on the sense that you are on glorified picnic. Fresh, real food, no fancy napkins or plates, simple and nourishing.

Ramen, Saburba-style!

One of the owners, Sarah Andro, brought us dessert to sample, Ooey-Gooey Bars, a lovely cake-like custard that was just that, ooey-gooeyness all up in my mouth!

I am also noting that Saburba offered a delightful Rosemary, Orange, Lemon flavored water which I imbibed with a blue and white, twisted cardboard straw, now come on, really can it get any better than that!  They sold me on that darn twisty straw!

Yes, I dredged and fried my tofu

A new sushi place opened near my house, Maru, extending a modernized, chicness to the neighborhood.  A friend suggested that I revel in a “pillow of goodness,” aka tofu from the vegetarian hibachi grill and well, it was clearly, quite good!  The first bite presented a crisp, golden texture on the outside, followed by a fluffy center that melted in my mouth.  The tofu was drizzled in a sweet sauce, brandished with sesame seeds.  It was a dish that had me asking, how?  What made the tofu so perfect!  Crisp and springy?!!!
Continue reading “Yes, I dredged and fried my tofu”

Irony of Democracy

I tend to keep political views personal–meaning no rants on Facebook, no tweeting or hashtagging, however, I may throw in the occasional pin or two!

I’ve been contending the notion of exercising my right to not vote this election year.  I will not be sharing all of my reasoning here, what I am sharing is an experience I consider prudent:

At 7:25pm I pulled into my driveway, I paused, and shifted into reverse.  It was decided, I was going to go and vote.  I reached my polling station and walked in. The lines were manageable, yet there was a potency of marijuana, booze and stale sweat wafting throughout the air.  Horrified, no judgement as I myself had rolled in, fresh after a run.

Standing in line, ballot in hand, I recognized a couple whom I was acquainted with in the community.  They are about my age, I turned and addressed them, we exchanged common congenialities amongst acquaintances and continued standing in line.  I learned that she had voted earlier and was kindly, accompanying him.

Still waiting, he turned to me and asked what my thoughts were on the state proposals.  Gasp!  I found this question awkward {as I’m standing in line to vote} and politely circled around answering it.  Still waiting, she now turns to the table of volunteers and asks, ” so if he doesn’t know who to vote for or how to vote on some of the proposals can he leave them blank?”  The answer is yes, questions provide clarity, I’m glad she asked.  However, she then continues on to announce, “oh shoot, I wish I would have known that because I just went through the ballot and circled names”…right then my soul fizzled.

My mind began questioning, how many voters are actually INFORMED voters?

What percentage of registered voters, who on election day, exercise their right to vote, understand and enter ballots correctly?

I’m interested in the data of apathetic voters who show up to the poll and simply vote to vote. How many voters tackle ballots like standardized tests, in that, even if you don’t know the answer you’d better be filling in that oval, completely!

disheartened but interested.

Crisp Leaves, Blustery Winds and Apple Cider Pancakes!

What cries out fall more than a chilled, windy day, stirring up colorful leaves in your path? Well, coming home to a piping, hot stack of Apple Cider Pancakes of course!

Stick a Fork in ’em!

I was enjoying a toasted almond, espresso bean, tea at the local coffee shop, the other night and my stomach started rumbling.  Obviously, I turned my attention to google, searching dinner prospects.  As children, my sister and I coined the term, “breakfast for dinner” as a main, gastronomical highlight for our young palates.  Breakfast for dinner caused uproarious appreciation in my household {meaning, my sister and I making a train and chanting breakfast for dinner yay yay yay throughout the house, remember we were 5 years old!} I don’t know if it was because breakfast at dinner time was devious from the norm or it was such a comfort food, it had to make us happy, perhaps a little of both.

I set off with my rumbling stomach to the grocery store {breaking one of my cardinal rules,  grocery shopping while hungry, this is never good for me as I either buy something I don’t need, Oreos or I enjoy a Bolthouse/Odwalla right there in the store, classy I know!} Typically, pancakes are cheap to make as most ingredients are household staples, however these special, fall-time pancakes called for apple cider.  Apple cider is a seasonal enjoyment that comes around once a year and it just so happened that this year, in Michigan, the apple crop was basically nil due to unseasonable weather = expensive apples and expensive apple cider, like $7.99 per gallon– woof.  But, because it’s a seasonal treat that only comes but once a year I deem it okay to make expensive fall pancakes, just once.

Piping Hot Stack of Apple Cider Pancakes

The recipe includes a mother batch or large batch for storage, as well as the batch that you will eat.  It’s convenient to make a mother batch for a few reasons:
1. You already have all the ingredients and you are already making a mess in the kitchen
2. The next time you want breakfast for dinner it will be on the table faster
3. It’s cheaper, you know what’s in it and it’s better for you than boxed Bisquick

The Mother Pancake Mix:

3 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt

Place ingredients into a large mixing bowl, mix together well and transfer to an airtight container to store until future use.

Now you can move on to making the pancakes which you will eat!
The amount below makes roughly 6-8 pancakes:

1 cup of dry pancake mix {yes, this is from the mother mix above!}

1 egg, separated {both the white and the yolk will be used, see directions}
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple cider
Unsalted Butter {for cooking and serving}
Real Maple Syrup

Directions:

Place the 1 cup of dry mix in a large bowl and add the cinnamon.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg white, buttermilk, greek yogurt, honey and apple cider.
In another small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and olive oil.
Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry mix and stir until just combined.

Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pan. When melted add about 1/4 cup of batter or so for each pancake into the pan. When you start to see small bubbles on the top of the pancakes and the edges are beginning to cook, flip the pancake to cook through on the other side.

While the pancakes are still warm, top with a dollop of butter so it melts over the top of the pancakes. Serve with real maple syrup!