Good Reads

books

Well hello! I have had a fun week packed with book club, trivia nights, fancy cocktails made by mixologists in 1920’s garb, and my favorite falafel. These are the links that caught my fancy this week!

When you love Les Mis a little too much, this is the blog for you.

Straight from the bartender’s lips – why that friend is always getting kicked out of your favorite spots. Here’s a hint, don’t take your dinner from the garnish tray.

Umm…this place has pretzel bombs filled with egg, cheese and bacon along with fruity pebbles doughnuts? Is it heaven?

Making it through the quarter life crisis

When you spend most of your day using electronics, here’s a clue on Balancing the time a day you spend looking at screens.

Another excuse for me not to watch the news – the stories you expose yourself to can lift you up or bring you down.

I knew there had to be a reason that all my friends were into guys with beards – they keep you young, healthy, and handsome!

Why being in your 20’s can be hard, in the words of your favorite female comediennes.

Ranking Disney Sidekicks – hot or not? Surprisingly, Sebastian is on the hot list.

Just another reason Martha Stewart is awesome.

What have you read this week?

Spice Up Your Popcorn (Literally)

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I’ve always liked popcorn. Some of my first childhood memories with friends are laughing about the gross orange buttery film that gets on the top of your hand when you eat the prepackaged kind. But for the most part, I was an air popped girl. My mom had a popcorn maker, and was convinced that microwave popcorn was full of dangerous chemicals (turns out she was right!). She would pop up huge bowls drenched in butter and salt for slumber party snacks and rented movies. I’ve always kept it pretty simple with popcorn, butter, salt, a little pepper or adobo spice, and potentially some cheese was about as inspired as I got.

And then I went to the Hester St. Fair one weekend, and sampled some of Cultured Confections designer popcorn. They had crumb cake popcorn with REAL crumb cake chopped up and mixed in; there was baklava with deconstructed filo dough and nuts tossed among the kernels. Then I read about Jessica Quirk of What I Wore’s Herbes De Provence popcorn on her lifestyle blog That’s Quirky. She tossed it Herbes de Provence (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, fennel seed) infused olive oil and spice mix.

It got me thinking, why not swap in oil for butter, and try out some different herbs? I’d already used seasoned salt once when I was out of the regular kind, and liked how it turned out. It just so happened the next time I was craving a bowl of popcorn, the only cheese I had in the fridge was crumbled feta. I figured now was my chance, and mixed it up with some dill, salt, pepper and olive oil, and tossed it well with the corn to coat. The result? Delicious Mediterranean popcorn.

Then I picked up this month’s issue of Women’s Health Magazine, and discovered that not only is it delicious, popcorn is actually a pretty healthy snack. Three-cups popped has only 100 calories, as much fiber as a cup of cooked brown rice, and more antioxidants than a day’s servings of fruits and veggies. As a bonus, the article had even more ideas for spicing up this movie snack staple. All mixtures call for 3 cups of air popped corn tossed together with the ingredients to coat evenly.

Rosemary Parmesan

· 1 tsp olive oil

· 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

· 1 tsp grated parmesan

Pina Colada

· 1 tsp extra-virgin coconut oil melted

· 1 finely chopped ring of dried pineapple

· 2 tsp sweetened coconut flakes

Curry Chipotle

· 1 ½ tsp canola oil heated, and whisked with spices until bubbly

· ½ tsp curry powder

· ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle or chili powder

· 1/8 tsp salt

Lemon Dill

· 1 tsp olive oil

· 1 tsp oregano

· ½ tsp dill

· ½ tsp lemon zest

· 1/8 tsp salt

Sugar ‘n’ Spice

· 1 tsp flaxseed oil

· 1 tsp powdered sugar

· ½ tsp cinnamon

· ¼ tsp ground nutmeg

· 1/8 tsp salt

Cran-Chocolate

· 1 tbsp dark chocolate melted

· 2 tbsp dried cranberries

· 1/8 tsp salt

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

I was reading recently that 95% smart phone users in my generation (the Millenials) use their phone before eating, and 49% consider their smart phones an integral part of their dining experience. Instantly I thought, “Sounds about right,” as I reflected on the number of times I had scrolled through my facebook feed while I ate lunch, looked up a restaurant menu on the way to a new place, or saw a friend post a photo of their dinner. The next thought I had? How sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely, totally in love with my iPhone. Let me count the ways. It makes going to Brooklyn a whole lot less scary when I know my handy friend GPS can help navigate me from a foreign subway stop to the house party. What ever I’m trying to do, there really is an app for that. After moving recently, I couldn’t get over how many times I pulled out my level app, and marveled about the fact that I was using my phone (PHONE!) to make pictures hang evenly. When my friends are late, I am never without a game to play without trying to stuff my Nintendo DS or a magazine into my clutch. I LIKE being able to have constant updates on what my friends are up to on facebook, and being able to scan headlines on twitter to stay up to date on the news.

But with every piece of wonderfulness, there’s the people who take it too far, and the downsides. I mean, how many times have you had friends bail on you last minute via text? It’s so easy to fire off a sentence without guilt when you don’t have to hear the disappointment in the other person’s voice or see the sad expression on their face. Or what about those people who seem so busy posting about all the fun they’re having that it makes you wonder, are they really enjoying the moment, or are they just so focused on letting other people know they’re enjoying it that they forget to really experience themselves?

If a tree falls in the forest, and no ones posts a video on facebook, does it really make a sound?

All this constant need for updates has led to a syndrome that I’m sure you’ve heard about, fear of missing out (FOMO). People curate a happy wonderful life online that shows only the awesome moments. People who don’t take that with a grain of salt feel that their ordinary lives don’t measure up.

But when I think about the moments when I’m so happy I can’t stop smiling, high fiving, and talking about how much fun I’m having? Well, there usually isn’t a smart phone anywhere in sight. They’re the times at trivia when you’re forced (by the rules) to keep your iPhone in your purse, and everyone has to talk together to figure out the answers. Or when you’re at a music festival with no plugs to charge it, and no annoying person in front of you at the concert videoing the whole show with device above their heads, uploading pictures to instagram, and blocking your view of the stage. They’re times spent camping, and tearing up the dance floor in a fancy dress at your friend’s wedding when your dress doesn’t have any pockets.

I love my iPhone, and the powers it has granted me, but sometimes it makes me wonder. Do we really want to be the generation, who’s constant univited dinner partner is our phone? I mean, really, we know enough not to put our elbows on the table, is it really good manners to put our phones there instead?

Photo Credit

Food Photos

What you see here is a pizza that I ate with friends oh, about three weeks ago now. Why do I have a picture of this pizza, and not the friends I am eating it with, you might ask? Well, that my friend, is a very valid question. At the time, it seemed very important to photograph the meal. Granted, this was the first pizza of the year at the first open weekend of a famous pizzeria in my home town. I was having a great Easter weekend at home, and the pizza looked absolutely delicious. And still, in the past I’ve never felt the compulsion to take pictures of things I’ve eaten, or was about to eat—unless it involved a birthday cake with my name on it.

There is a strange epidemic of people posting pictures of the food  they’re about to consume that all began with food bloggers, and seems to have spread to the general populace. First there were the recipe bloggers. They would create delicious creations, and artistically depict the process from cooking through finished product along with instructions, lists of ingredients, and so on. It was the 21st generation’s take on the cookbook- the food blogger depicting the steps to make a particular dish. With the proliferation of recipe blogs in every niche from healthy to baking to savory dishes, the number of food pictures on the internet has increased.

Then somewhere along the line food photography made a jump. Fashion bloggers who don’t post recipes, but post daily outfit pictures started including an instagram section of pictures from their weekends, including fancy desserts shared among friends. Then people who don’t even blog began to upload pictures of their dinner to their facebook feeds. Now, oddly enough, when I see a delicious meal set before me, one of the things that occurs to me is, maybe I should take a photo?

I’m still not really sure when this came about. Maybe it’s the simple fact that everyone has a smart phone, which makes a camera and posting ability accessible at all times, so the number of photos posted in general has increased. But really, have we reached the point of oversharing, that everyone needs to know everything we put in our mouths? Are people even interested? And, are we interrupting our quality time spent savoring desserts to whip out our phones and capture the moment to share with anyone we know? There’s something about the presence of smart phones at every dinner that makes this seem more and more appealing.

http://www.getkempt.com/the-code/the-phone-stack.php

Healthy Samoa

It’s girl scout cookie time of year, and really, who can resist those little muchkins peddling reasonably priced bites of your childhood? This March’s issue of Self magazine published a recipe from chef Jennifer Iserloh that will help you resist the miniature do-gooders packing a few extra pounds onto your waistline.

Caramel Madness

  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 23 reduced-fat Nilla wafers
  • Parchment paper
  • 12 Chewy caramels
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 oz dark or semisweet chocolate chips (3tbsp)

Heat oven to 300. On a baking sheet, toast coconut, turning every 5 minutes, until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment; set wafers on top. In a bowl, microwave caramels and milk on high, stirring often, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. With a spatula, fold coconut into caramel mixture. Spread 1 tbsp mixture onto each wafer. Let cookies cool 5 minutes. Microwave chocolate, stirring often, until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer into a small resealable bag; snip off corner. Drizzle cookies with chocolate; let cool.

52 calories per cookie. Sure beats the 75 of girl scouts.