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easter basketOn Purim, Jews celebrate Persians trying (but not succeeding) to kill us, on Channukah, we commemorate how the Greeks tried (and failed) to kill us, and on Passover, we celebrate escaping being killed by the Egyptians. All this, Shalom Auslander points out in his novel, Foreskin’s Lament. And all this, is why there aren’t a whole lot of crafts surrounding the Jewish Holidays.

Take Easter:  The Christians have bunnies and chicks, and colorful eggs.  All lovely inspirations for fun family crafts. At that same time of year we have Passover:  famine, and locusts, and killing of the first born.  Is there a craft for that?

Well, there’s about to be.

Yesterday, I went to the Hershey’s Easter Party, a PR event where they showcased their adorable (and yummy) Easter crafts and products for 2014. Easter all the way.  Admittedly adorable. Easy to do crafts. Yummy treats.  But decidedly NFJ. (Not for Jews!)

So I say genug es genug (enough is enough – in Yiddish).  It’s time for some Passover Crafts!  And I’m here to help you adapt Hershey’s Easter crafts and Goodies for Passover.

1. Forget the Bunnies: Go Frogs (more…)

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Yum.  Anything in The Perfect Bacon Bowl tastes better.

Yum. Anything in The Perfect Bacon Bowl tastes better.

Like the bad Jew that I am, I LOVE bacon.  I can’t help it.  It has all the things I crave: fat, salt, crunch. Yum.

So I was super excited to be invited to the Perfect Bacon Bowl Breakfast at the super fun Ellen’s StarDust Diner only a few train stops away. (full disclosure: while there, I ate a lot of free bacon, and I left with a free sample of the product).

We ate bacon bowls filled with eggs (awesome for me – -I’m on the Atkins diet (don’t ask!), bacon filled with crab meat salad, and I watched friends like Gay NYC Dad and The Can Can eat Perfect Bacon Bowls filled with slated caramel ice cream. Sounds awesome, looks awesome, tasted awesome.

BUT – (you knew there had to be a but, didn’t you?)  in addition to being a bad Jew, I am also a cynic.  So I figured that the perfect looking Bacon Bowls at the event would not be so perfect when I tried it at home.  Which, it being Shabbat the next day, I did.

I carefully followed the directions, wiped the Perfect Bacon Bowl Maker with a paper towel coated with Pam, cut one piece of bacon in half and crossed them over the base of the device to make the bowl’s bottom, then wrapped two other pieces around it to form the sides. I did have a little trouble deciding which was the fat side, since the instructions say “fat side up.” Aren’t both sides of the bacon the Fat Side?   Then I put them in the microwave (one at a time as per the instructions) and…

It worked!  Maybe my bowls were a bit shrunken, and maybe they weren’t quite as lovely as the ones at the event..but I’m pretty happy with them. And the way my family chowed down on ‘em…they were too.

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Last week, I got an email from a company that  I’m sure was well intentioned.  But boy, was it ill-conceived.  For every pair of pink headphones sold during the month of October, it said, they would donate a portion of the proceeds to Breast Cancer research. Here was the pitch: “We here at (company) love boobies and we know you do too! Show your underlying support for all the joy “the ladies” bring the world” by buying our product.  In the even more offensive video on their website, they try to be funny as they say they “really really love boobies” while staring exaggeratedly at a female employee’s breasts, but then only make things worse in the “serious” part of the video when they say they “If breasts go extinct, the world would be a very sad place.”  So are they saving breasts? Are they worried about “the joy the ladies brings the world”  or are they worried about the nearly 40,000 women who DIE each year from breast cancer?

Yup.  40,000 women die each year from breast cancer. It’s easy to forget that, amidst the pinkwashed cocktails, lipstick, sneakers, you name it, that come out in force during October – breast cancer awareness month.  Can you think of another kind of cancer that has a slogan?  Another cancer that could inspire a post called “71 Catchy Breast Cancer Slogans“? that lauds these slogans, including ones like “For Guys, every month is Breast Awareness Month,”  and “Save Second Base”?

So I was happy when my friend Shari, from the food blog My Judy the Foodie, asked me to be a part of her Bake it Happen campaign against breast cancer. Shari’s mother, Judy, died of breast cancer.  And Shari’s blog was started in her honor.   What did I have to do?  Bake Judy’s Banana Bread and share it with someone to spread awareness – and to raise money.  And for every picture of Judy’s Banana bread tagged #BakeitHappen, a donation is made to breast cancer research. (more…)

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Samsung House. Last month in downtown NYC.

A few weeks back, my fridge died.  It was old. It was battered.  It was time.

My oven, too, had been acting up.

So after much deliberation and research, I bought  a new fridge and range.  Both, as it turns out, from Samsung.

One day later — really – the very next day – I was invited to Samsung House in NYC, Samsungs weeklong showcase for its new appliances and gadgets.  Take a look at what is was like.  In a word: awesome.

[View the story "It's a Samsung Life for Me" on Storify]

 

 

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Sbarro

Sbarro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

True confession:  Sbarro has always seemed to me to be kinda…well, kinda NOT the kind of place I’d like to eat.  Here in NY, the Sbarros are mostly in super-high-traffic areas, like Times Square and Penn Station.  Not places I hang out, and certainly not places I’d go to eat.  Plus, this is NYC.  If I want pizza, a chain store is not my first choice.

But that was before I went to Sbarros to make some pizza.

Take a look:
[View the story "Sbarro's 270 Calorie Skinny Slice" on Storify]

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At a recent Blogging Angels podcast, we talked to Jennifer Perillo, she of In Jennie’s Kitchen fame.  And sadly, made even more well-known, by the sudden death of her husband (and, in a weird coincidence my longtime co-worker/editor at Lifetime) Michael.

The night before Jennifer arrived for the record (which we do at my dining room table), in a crazy moment of not wanting to waste food, I baked banana bread using the overripe bananas that were otherwise destined for the garbage.  I say crazy because – I do NOT bake. Not ever. Well, once a year, for my husband’s birthday.  If you’re ever invited to my house for dinner, you may get Pear and Leek Soup, followed by Lemon Sole stuffed with Shrimp Mousse, or if I’m feeling homey, and not worrying about heart attacks, The World’s Best Brisket.  And then you’ll get a purchased desert.

I don’t do desert.

Except the night before a well-known very accomplished baker/cook/food blogger arrives?  Like I said, crazy.

What’s even more crazy, is that the recipe impressed ‘em all.  Even though Jennifer at first balked at my “and there isn’t any butter in the recipe” announcement.

So here it is: Blogging Angels Banana Bread – A recipe for non-baking bakers everywhere

(Adapted from 1,000 Lowfat Recipes by Terry Golson)

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 bananas)

1 egg

1 egg white

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 c vegetable oil

1/2 c plain non-fat yogurt (I used the Greek kind)

2 1/4 cups unbleached, all purpose white flour

1/4 t salt

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1. Pre heat oven to 375. Coat a loaf pan with non-stick spary.

2. With an electric mixer, beat together the first six ingredients at medium speed.

3. Sift Flour,, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl. Stir to mix.

4. Beating at slow speed, at dry ingredients to wet, in three additions. Do not over mix.  Stop as soon as the dry ingredients are all mixed in.

5. Pour into loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes. Cool for ten minutes before completing the cooling on a wire rack.

Of course you could add chocolate chips or chopped walnuts before you pop it all into the loaf pan. But this was pretty good just plain as plain could be.

And just so you know, the 1,000 Lowfat Recipe book is a winner.  I’ve never made a recipe from there I didn’t like.  And the Honey Mustard Chicken Nuggets in there are a family fave!

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Well, that’s not entirely true.  I mean, I did meet Bobby Flay and Marcella Valladolid — both of them real honest-to-goodness Food Network Stars – but I’m pretty certain that the preternaturally fit and handsome Bobby Flay didn’t eat ANY of the food he had us try at the Hellmann’s/Share Our Strength event, and I’m just as certain that the gorgeous, perfect-bodied Marcella Valladolid, while she mixed up a bunch of killer cocktails (at a Sauza Tequila Ladies Night In event) didn’t get even the teeniest bit tipsy. (more…)

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So I made this really really good meatball dish for dinner. Not that labor intensive (despite the long ingredient list). Needless to say – the hubby forgot to tell me he had a business dinner, my son took one look at it and said he didn’t like it, and my daughter and I were left with two dozen meatballs.

Thank goodness there’s room in the freezer.

My dog, however, loved the meatballs, and, while I got the kids started on their homework, he wasted no time licking the plates I had put in the dishwasher. Did I mention the meatballs had a lot of turmeric in them?

Now, my dog has a yellow face. Truly yellow. Bright, looks like I dyed his hair like the people in this New York Times article yellow.

The picture doesn’t really do the color change justice.  But trust me: it looks like I he’s in the middle of his adolescent rebellion.

I’m just hoping that next time, he doesn’t come home with a tattoo.

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Seems like we like everything big in this country.  Big cars, big hair, big portions in big fast food restaurant chains.  And now, big handheld games. With a screen that’s  93% bigger than a DSLite, the new DSiXL, releasing today,  is poised to be the – if you’ll excuse the expression -  next big thing from Nintendo, the Japanese handheld electronics giant.

What I want to know, is why aren’t certain other things considered better when they’re bigger?  Like my waistline.  Or the average dress size of a supermodel. Or the number I say when someone asks me my age.

Sadly, those things aren’t considered better when they’re bigger.  The Nintendo DSi XL, however, is.

The DSi XL comes in snazzy new colors.  The one that (full disclosure) Nintendo sent me for my review is Burgundy.  SO much more sophisticated than plain old black or white.  It’s got a camera, a slot for an SD card, internet access — all the same stuff as it’s predecessor, the DSi.  But this one is big. My first thought was – this will be harder to carry around.  But then I realized — the primary audience for DSi’s isn’t carrying them in their purse or suit jacket.  This thing is for the backpack crowd.  And if my kids are any indication, they backpack set is going to love it.

It’s huge!  Said my daughter when we opened the box.

It’s so cool. My son (who recently announced that he’s no longer “into” DS chimed in.

See?  Bigger.  Better.  Case closed.

But there are other things about the new DSiXL that I like even more.

First, it comes preloaded with three games.  I hate that you can buy your kid a DS and still it isn’t really a present until you shell out even more money for a game or two.  This baby came ready to play right out of the box.  Second:  it comes with a full sized stylus (as well as the regular puny always getting lost one.)  So even if you lose (if!! ha!) you’ve got the pen sized one as a back up — much harder to lose (and according to Nintendo, more precise.)

But most important, you can see it.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot count the number of times my kids have said “look at this, ,mommy” while showing me their DS, and all I see is screen.  The new XL has “enhanced side-viewing angles that make it easier for everyone” to see what’s happening.

That helped a lot when I tried the XL with the new America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s get Cooking game.  It’s  a nifty new cooking program based on the PBS Series. (More full disclosure) Nintendo sent me that, too.  But here’s the thing:  I really like it.  And lest you think it’s just because it’s free, you might be interested to know that Nintendo also sent me Personal Trainer: Cooking, not too long ago, and you know what I wrote about that?  Nothing.  If you don’t have anything nice to say…

ANYWAY – this one has real recipes from a reputable source, videos showing clearly how to do things like dice an onion, carve a turkey, or mince herbs, and even little tutorials on knife skills and sauteing. Tonight for dinner, my kids and I made maple mustard chicken from the program and some garlic bread, also from the program.  It was great.

First of all, the program tells each cook what to do.  “Nancy, turn the oven to 450.”  “Daughter, mix together the garlic and butter with the back of a wooden spoon.”  Each person is assigned a task, and those tasks are appropriate to their skill.  So you can sign in your eight year old as not being allowed to use knives or go near the stove.  The program will still find something for him or her  to do.  And if you have raw chicken on your hand and don’t want to touch the XL?  No problem, just tell it you’re ready to move on (yes, voice commands) and it tells you (yes, audio) the next step. Cool. It even has a built in timer, so it doesn’t just say “Put the garlic bread in the oven for 15 minutes” it tells you when the fifteen minutes are up.

Speaking of 15 minutes….do I think that the XL will have more than it’s 15 minutes of fame?  Maybe not.  But it has just enough improvements over the original DSi to make that one seem quaint in comparison.

And it actually got me and my two kids in the kitchen, cooking dinner together.

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Now that was big.

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Me and Rachael Ray


rachael-rayI have 67 cookbooks.  67! Julia Child, James Beard, Jim Fobel, Patricia Wells, Barbara Kafka, The Silver Palate gals…to name a few.  And those are only the ones in active rotation.  There are other “collectible” cookbooks around the house too – my 1950′s Happy Housewife book, for instance. .   I also have countless back issues of Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and my new favorite, Fine Cooking. Not to mention the literally THOUSANDS of recipes I’ve cut out from newspapers and magazines over the years.  Those fill another four notebooks and a little index card file.  There are the recipes I keep in my online Epicurious folder,  the ones I’ve saved to my hard drive, and all those recipes that are just stuck in my head.  No paper necessary.

I’ve made my own pastry for Beef Wellington (an oldie, but a goodie).  I made most of my kids’ baby food from scratch.  I’ve cooked squid and duck and venison.  I’ve flambeed cognac, and made my own fish stock.  I even have a kick-ass (secret) recipe for Pear and Leek soup. Sounds weird, but man, is it good.

Why, then, do I find myself turning, more and more, to Rachael Ray?  (more…)

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