10 Ways to Dress Up Toast For Yourself or Your Party

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We all grew up with toast – whether for breakfast, lunch, or an after-school snack – and our own version of the simple yet versatile food, but for anyone getting tired of their usual fare or looking to impress their friends with their “cooking skills”, we’ve got some tried-and-true pairings to top your never-again-boring toast. Even with minimal ingredients, we can still eat like a king, or at least fake it with fancy presentation and plating. Such is the case for the open-faced sandwich, which we’ll now prove can be so much more sophisticated than a pauper’s bread and butter.

  1. Ricotta and Artisan Jam

A twist on the classic PB and J, creamy ricotta spreads just like peanut butter but is lighter on the palate than heavy nut butter. Spread a generous layer of the white fluffy stuff and then a layer of artisan jam, if you happen to have a jar on hand. Great pairings are fig, rhubarb, raspberry, and cherry. Try on a thick slice of brioche bread.

 

  1. Nut Butter with Bananas

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Source: Sweet & Sour Gurus

If you can’t do toast without peanut butter, you can still have it and eat it too. Instead of slathering on grape or strawberry jelly, turn to the fruit that was made for peanut butter: the banana. If you have time, caramelize slices of banana in butter and sugar before arranging to your liking on the bed of peanut butter, or any nut butter you prefer. Give peanut butter’s cousins a try ­– almond butter, cashew butter, and sunflower butter if you have nut allergies.

 

  1. Runny Egg

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Source: Huffington Post

No explanation needed. Just poach or fry up an egg, the only rule being don’t cook the yolk through. You NEED a runny yolk for this to qualify as egg on toast. Google toad in a hole for you ambitious chefs. Top with black pepper and coarse sea salt, and a sprinkling of chopped scallions if desired.

 

  1. Avocado and Chili Flakes

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Source: The Bitten Word

Whether the avocado craze is just peaking or almost over its peak, it’s definitely going strong still. And it can’t be beat. Slice up a ripe, buttery avocado or mash it up with lemon juice and pile it on high. If you like heat, throw on some chili flakes, which add both color and a kick.

 

  1. Croque Monsieur

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Source: Free to be Lea

A very indulgent cheese topped sandwich, in case you’re not familiar with French. It’s a brunch staple similar to ham and cheese but with a generous slathering of béchamel, a white sauce made with milk and butter. Recreate this beauty with buttered toast, alternating slices of ham and cheese, store-bought béchamel, and a handful of shredded cheese to top before sticking it in the oven to melt into a wonderful mess.

 

  1. Sweet & Savory Prosciutto, Fig, and Goat Cheese

 

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Source: Renne Kemps

Fig makes another appearance here with savory prosciutto and earthy goat cheese. Goat cheese is quite underappreciated and this recipe is a great way to introduce goat cheese to people who can’t quite get used to the gamy flavor it has. Texture wise, it perfectly bring together soft, ripe figs (fig jam works too) and tender prosciutto, shaved very thin. The ingredients in this particular recipe may be higher end and more pricey, but still worth it and makes you feel like you’re engaging in fine dining, but right in the comfort of your own kitchen.

 

  1. Strawberry, Balsamic Vinegar, and Basil

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Source: Non-stop Crazy

Strawberries meet balsamic vinegar in a clash of sweet and sour, but it works. Surprise your taste buds with a new kind of strawberry sensation, one that turns simplicity into complexity. Or even better, roast those strawberries to concentrate their flavor. Top with chopped basil for a picture perfect slice.

 

  1. Apple, Brie, and Honey

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Source: Peanut Butter & Pickles

Brie is everyone’s favorite cheese, is it not? Pair brie with tart apple and drizzle with honey for a perfect balance of sweet and tart, plus nutty and milky undertones from the brie. To enhance the flavor of the brie, consider warming up the brie first so that the insides get all gooey and soft, the way we like it. Sweet breads like challah or cinnamon raisin toast work well here.

 

  1. Cream Cheese and Cucumber

 

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Source: NeighborFood

Afternoon tea sandwiches don’t just have to be served in those tiny portions with tea. Size your toast up (then cut into finger-food sized triangles if serving at a party) and artfully arrange slices (lengthwise, circles, spirals, etc.) of fresh cucumber on the bed of cream cheese. Tip: Leave alternating rows of skin on the cucumber when peeling for an artsy effect.

-Jessica Chang

Cover Image Source: Author

Feeling Food

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Unlike breathing air and REM sleep, eating is one of our basic human needs that we invest emotional meanings in (another of such primordial needs would be sex, but that’s for my senior thesis and not for our article today). The collocation of food and feelings would usually lead to the topic of emotional eating—that is, eating to fill your heart and not your stomach—and there is much online about that. But we’re going to explore other aspects of our emotional relationship with food, like how what we mindlessly do everyday in front of TV screens or newspaper spreads has the potential to be more deeply fulfilling…and therapeutic even. This is not a bad place to begin our investigation into the power of food.

Cooking

Before we even take out our plates or turn up the stove, we need to stock the pantry.

We don’t always get to control how much disposable time we have to go grocery shopping—maybe you have children to tend to, or night shifts after day shifts. But what we can control is how we approach grocery shopping when we make it an excursion and not a chore.

Look around at the couples getting popcorn, the student choosing hummus brands, the men staring at meat, the women eyeing wine. Observe the inventiveness of man (resealable packets of mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto!), and marvel at the bounty of nature. You can be attentive to your surroundings instead of taking it for granted, regardless of which grocery store you’re in, no matter your budget. On these trips into the liminal space that is the supermarket, more than discount cereals and bulk purchase potatoes, perhaps you will also find a site to encounter yourself or escape the outside world.

Later, in the kitchen: there is something empowering about making something with your own two hands instead of outsourcing that activity, whether to McDonald’s or Morton’s Steakhouse. This fulfillment applies to anything that brings you into a direct relationship with your environment, be it gardening, fixing your own bicycle, or hugging a good friend. Cook your food and do exactly what you want with it: more salt, less salt; paprika on caramelized bananas; bacon strips with cream cheese. Exercise your autonomy and create something true to your taste, whatever it may be. You don’t necessarily need “restaurant-quality” dishes to feed yourself whole-heartedly, sincerely, and lovingly.

Beyond this direct and elemental relationship with food that cooking brings, intellectual satisfaction can also be found. Some find the art of cooking or the science of baking to be a fulfilling puzzle, where timing is key and proportions are carefully matched. Each tasty achievement can be very gratifying, especially if one’s life is in need of a little affirmation. Even when things go wrong, experiencing non-success in the kitchen is a non-traumatic way of experiencing the ups and downs of life. The lessons are transferrable: if you can calmly pick up the broken glass of a smashed honey jar bleeding its nectar, you can peacefully face frustrations and strife. ‘It’s okay to make mistakes; I am always learning; I set goals for myself and pursue them with kindness, without pressure.’

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Eating

If cooking and cleaning do not grant your busied mind some reprieve, perhaps the act of eating will. Bringing mindfulness to one’s meal can be as simple as focusing on one’s eating experience, or as radical as that of Bruce’s from the movie ‘Finding Nemo’. Bruce is a big cartoon shark trying for mind over matter, vegetarianism over pescetarianism: “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.” We don’t have to go as far as Bruce does, but he nevertheless teaches us about bringing a consciousness to our eating practices. Notice the texture and the flavors on your plate; allow observations to ebb and flow; engage all your senses: taste the grilled asparagus, hear its crunch, watch it arch when you spear it, smell it, feel it brush past your lips.… Feeding oneself should involve the mind and the tummy: being aware of your meal as you eat and being grateful for the food upon which you feed are practices that are beneficial, uplifting, and fulfilling. Respecting your food is also a form of self-respect — you are not a mindless eating machine.

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Finally, to survey intimate relationships with food, I asked fellow students the following question: “What do you like to eat to feel happiness, and/or to feel comforted?”

Their answers were all different (see if any of your favorites are here), and we might deduce common denominators like “childhood memories”, “inherently mouth-watering”, “simple yet satisfactory”.

Two mentioned the food from their hometowns in Japan and South Korea, and three others mentioned dessert: coconut macaroons, cotton candy, chocolate chip cookies. Another cited the “intrinsic happiness” found in milk tea, fried dough fritters, and soya milk (a Singaporean favorite…granted, Singapore has many food favorites). Fried chicken and apple pie; soup (whether kimchi jjigae or carrot potato onion); peanuts and other nuts. One friend analyzed his own choice of ‘mi goreng’, whose delicious availability was reassuring and whose relative level of “unhealthiness” signaled a glorious “do not give a ****” defiance. Another noted that it depends on why the comfort was sought: was the body tired from a blistering day? was the soul bruised from heartache?

So, what can food do for us when we let it?

Independently of the brain chemistry underpinning anything we ingest (including food), the way we relate to our food can shape the way we enjoy life and living.

~ Min Yi Tan

cover photo source

Your Guide to Pres Lawn Picnics

preslawnpicnicWith summer just around the corner, the President’s Lawn (or Pres Lawn, as it’s affectionately called) is now the perfect place to enjoy an afternoon. Rather than spend your meal time cooped up inside one of the dining halls, try a putting together a picnic to enjoy with a group of friends and soak up some sun.
If your not frantically cramming for your summer organic chemistry class and have some extra time, you’ll find that Tufts and Somerville have everything you’ll need to create a great picnic lunch.

The best picnic, in my opinion, is what my friends and I like to call the “Euro Lunch.” Rather than buy a whole bunch of prepared foods, buy a selection of quality ingredients that lend themselves well to a prolonged, leisurely meal.

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Source: Min Yi Tan for Tasty Tufts

First up, the bread. Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or a self-professed meat-lover, a great loaf of bread gives you a great base for the meal. Try Pepe Bocca for hearty Italian loaves or focaccias, or Dave’s Fresh Pasta for a wide variety of rustic loaves and rolls. Flying Pig Bakery also has a nice selection of specialty breads, with flavors that range from cranberry-orange to roasted garlic.

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Source: A Canadian Foodie

Next, to put on your bread, you’ll want a variety of delicious, yet easy to transport fillings. A nice cheese, such as gruyere or chevre is great if you’re willing to splurge, and if you’re looking for a more affordable option most local grocery stores sell sharp cheddars at a good price. Cured meats like salami, prosciutto, and jamon serrano are also nice, and if you don’t consume either meat or cheese buy some hummus or roasted peppers and eggplant from the prepared foods section at Dave’s Fresh Pasta.

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Source: Strawberry Plum

You’ll also want some spreads and condiments to add to mix; a nice olive tapenade or roasted red pepper spread adds a nice flavor and richness, while honey highlights the sharp nuttiness of aged cheese.

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Source: Whiskey NYC

Finally, throw a few pieces of fruit into the picnic basket to pair with the cheese and cleanse the palate at the end of the meal. If they’re on sale, strawberries are nice, while thinly sliced apples also do the trick. Slice some fruit and place it on some good bread with cheese and honey, and you’ll understand why the French and Italians serve fruit and cheese together.

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Source: Milly and Tilly

Lastly, don’t forget a few things to make the picnic more enjoyable. Bring a blanket to sit on (the ones you get for free at orientation work especially well) with a few heavy things to weight down the edges if it’s particularly windy out. Pack plenty of napkins, utensils, and cups, as well as some water to wash off your hands in case they get sticky. Then head out to the Pres Lawn with your food, grab some friends, and get ready to enjoy a nice meal on the last few days of this semester!

-Kinsey Drake

Cover image source.

A Guide to Cooking Oils

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Olive Oil:

Olive oil is the go-to cooking oil for many people due to its flavor and its nutritional value. It is useful for sautéing, pan-frying, stir-frying, searing, grilling, broiling, and baking. There are many different types of olive oil, with differences in color, aroma, and flavor. Try a darker green oil for an herbal aroma and a slightly bitter, grassier flavor. Lighter yellow olive oils tend to be buttery, milder in flavor, and fruitier, perfect for dishes with subtle flavors that won’t get dominated by the oil’s taste. Extra-virgin olive oil has very low acidity and is best used uncooked (on salads or bread), so you can appreciate its high quality.

Vegetable Oil:

Vegetable oil is a blend of corn, soybean, palm, sunflower, and other oils. It is very commonly used for frying and cooking desserts when the flavor of olives is not ideal. Because of its neutral taste and low price, it is used in a huge variety of dishes.

Canola Oil:

Canola oil is often touted as one of the healthier cooking oils due to lower saturated fat levels. It is quite similar to vegetable oil in taste and usages, and it is often utilized for frying at medium temperatures. It boasts a light and clean flavor, although some people taste slightly metallic or fishy essences.

Sesame Oil:

Heavily used in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisine, sesame seed oil is a delicious alternative to olive or vegetable oil. It is commonly used for frying tempura, marinating meat, and as a post-cooking seasoning on noodle dishes. A staple in my own kitchen, sesame oil adds a sophisticated flavor to any dish. I recommend stir-frying your vegetables or meat with garlic, a spoonful of sesame oil, and a dash of soy sauce to create a mouth-watering Chinese-style dish in under 10 minutes. However, beware of sesame oil’s low smoke point, and be sure to mix it with another, blander oil that is more heat tolerant (e.g. grapeseed oil) if using to stir-fry.

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Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is a wonderful replacement for butter or vegetable oil in baked goods and desserts. Instead of using PAM or another non-stick product, try spreading a bit of coconut oil on your pan to give your pancakes a mouth-watering coconut aroma. It is also particularly tasty in curry dishes and soups, as well as drizzled onto rice, oatmeal, popcorn, smoothies, and even coffee!

Hazelnut Oil:

Hazelnut oil possesses a strong, roasted, nutty taste that is slightly sweet. Commonly added to cakes, cookies, and other baked desserts, it can also be used to make a richly flavorful salad dressing or drizzled as a garnish over pasta or bread.

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Foodnutritiontable.com

Summary:

Use olive oil for salad dressings, sesame oil for stir-fries, vegetable or canola oil for frying and baking, and treat yourself to interesting, unusual oils on special dishes or occasions.

-Annaick Miller

Cover image source.

Restaurant Review: Gourmet Dumpling House lives up to its name

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It might not be a sure tactic, but keeping my eyes out for odd and bizarre items on restaurant menus have almost always led to traditional ethnic cuisine. For Gourmet Dumpling House, it was the presence of spiced pig ears and cured jellyfish. Despite these curious culinary distractions, Gourmet Dumpling House excels in what their name boasts: gourmet dumplings. After all, what better way to ring in Chinese New Year than with the “golden ingots” of Chinese cuisine. In fact, legend has it that the Treasure God felt sorry for the poor family that scraped together whatever food they had left to make these dumplings and blessed them with real ingots. The exact details vary but it has become a tradition to eat dumplings with your loved ones in hope for wealth and blessings in the upcoming year.

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The simple wooden tables and chairs are arranged in the most economical manner to serve as many customers as possible. Similar to its interior design, Gourmet Dumpling House doesn’t attempt anything fancy, instead it prides itself on sticking with the basic ingredients and age long traditions of dumpling making. Fillings for their steamed dumplings include chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and a vegetarian filling ($6.95). Pork, however, tends to be the most traditional filling.

The most common mistake with dumplings that Chinese restaurants in town make is with the skin. They can often be too thick, leading to a chewy consistency that meddles with the flavor of the filling. Gourmet Dumpling House achieves this pleasing ratio between filling and skin thickness, allowing the flavors of the seasoning, pork, and leek to really shine through. Dip a dumpling in the provided vinegar mixture and let the added acidity elevate the meatiness of the pork. Or if you’re a lover of heat on your tongue, ask for either the chili oil or the chili paste to dip your dumplings in.

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What Gourmet Dumpling House really excels in however, is another form of dumpling: the soup dumpling, or Xiao Long Bao as it is called in Chinese. These delectable dough pouches contain either a pork filling ($7.50) or a pork and crabmeat filling ($7.95). Unless you’re allergic to crabs, definitely go for the crabmeat filling and you’ll be surprised by how the raw richness complements the meatiness of the pork.

Do not simply stuff these soup dumplings in your mouth like you would with a conventional dumpling, as you will most definitely scald yourself. These dumplings aren’t called soup dumplings for nothing, for they contain a meat gelatin stock that chefs fold into the dumpling while in an aspic-like form. To not burn your tongue, follow these simple steps:

  1. Place a soup dumpling on one of the provided soup spoons
  2. Nibble, I repeat, nibble on the edge of the dumpling to make a small hole
  3. Suck the soup out
  4. Dip the dumpling in the ginger vinegar mixture provided
  5. Tilt your head back and pop it in
  6. Give yourself a pat on the back–it’s harder than it sounds

Alternatively, you could choose the less exciting option of waiting for the soup dumpling to cool off completely and simply eating it whole but where’s the fun in that?

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Do not let the name fool you though, for a variety of dumplings are not the only items on the menu that Gourmet Dumpling House excels at. As mentioned, the chilled spicy pork ears ($5.95) is an item for adventurous taste buds. For the more conservative taste buds, the scallion pancake ($4.95), oyster pancake with gravy ($6.95), and the house fried rice with pork and shrimp ($7.95) provide excellent alternatives. Do not miss out on the sautéed flat noodles with beef ($7.95), one of the more truthful renditions of this much beloved dish.

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Gourmet Dumpling House might not boast the perfectly pleated miracle pockets served up at world-class establishments like Din Tai Fung. It does however offer a solid selection in its extensive menu that comes as close to any joint in the Boston area in delivering an authentic Chinese culinary experience. Don’t forget to check out Tea Do round the corner for a post-meal bubble tea too!

Ambiance: B+

Service: B+

Food (Taste): A

Food (Presentation): B+

Price: $13-20 per person

Overall: A-

-Finn Qiao

Elephant in the Room: Eating Alone

image3My roommate is out for the night. Most of my friends are busy. Hodgdon is closed. I need food. What does that mean? I have to eat at the cafeteria.

Alone.

Of course, there are other options, but all of them require money. I’d rather not let a prepaid meal go to waste. But eating alone is a daunting task. Maybe I’ll run into people I know and eat with them. Maybe the cafeteria will be empty. Maybe this will be the day they introduce takeout containers. Unfortunately, none of the possibilities happen. Dewick is jam-packed. I have to find a table beforehand. Somehow, I only find a large round table to eat at. Great.

Perusing the night’s options, I can’t help but think of how to make “eating alone” less stressful. However, that doesn’t work, and I end up piling up my plates with mashed potatoes and stuffing. I fill a cup with cranberry juice and a slight tap of grape juice. I also find myself getting a plateful of craisin nut bars.

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So here I am, eating an unusually large amount of food while sitting alone at a large table in a crowded cafeteria. This has to be one of the worst situations.
I wouldn’t go to great lengths to call myself self-conscious. In fact, I enjoy being by myself. I’m fine with taking walks and admiring nature, or even chilling on the T to get bacon and mashed potato pizza in Harvard Square at Otto. When I can get my mind to relax, I feel like any situation is feasible. But why is eating at the cafeteria so hard to do?
First off, I try to come up with options to make my experience less daunting:
  • Browse the phone. Of course! I can read the news, roll my eyes at Kanye West feuds, replenish my social network addictions, reply to that one email I’ve been procrastinating on, play Tetris, etc.
  • Listen to music. I always have a pair of headphones on me, and always down to listen to Mumford & Sons.
  • Work on homework. I can always count on an essay lurking around my schedule.
  • Enjoy the food. I can pretend that mashed potatoes and stuffing are as satisfying as any food from Ratatouille.
  • People-watch. Exactly how Steve Carell and Tina Fey did in Date Night.

As helpful as all of those options may be, I find faults in all of them:

  • Eating food with a fork and looking down at a small screen is more difficult than it sounds.
  • Whenever I listen to music, I always end up listening to Adele or Christina Perri.
  • Homework? Yeah right.
  • Sometimes the meal is satisfying enough to end the experience on a good note, but sometimes there’s too much garlic in the mashed potatoes.
  • There’s countess reasons why this would be a terrible idea.

As the result of not finding a solution to my awkward situation, nothing changes. I’m still alone and feeling like people are staring at me (probably due to my intense thought processing). As time passes, groups of people role-play as vultures in order to take my spacious table. Once the last nut bar has been consumed, the table is theirs to claim.

As I leave and pass other tables with people also eating alone, I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t take the initiative to eat with them. Many of them are doing one of the options I listed. I exit the cafeteria feeling worse than before.

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Here’s the real question: could anyone be in the same position as I was? I think so. I’ve actually seen people do so while I was eating a meal with someone else. Do they have the same thoughts as I did? Maybe not to my extremes, but there has to be some form of pressure in eating alone in an awkward situation. Is it right for me to feel bad for someone who eats alone? Does pity make the situation any better?

I’m not sure how address the problem other than saying that the cafeteria can feel like one of the most hostile places on campus. It could be because of the way the tables are set up (especially in Dewick—a mixture of round and long tables). Or it could be that we’re all naturally awkward people. Or that I’m taking this concern way out of proportion. Regardless of the science behind painful cafeteria visits, the struggle is real.

I admire the people who are perfectly fine with eating alone. But if you’re someone who doesn’t understand why eating alone in the cafeteria can feel overwhelming, know you’re not alone. Don’t judge.

-Kyle Paul

Chic Korea: Meju in Davis Square

image41After much fanfare, Davis Square’s new darling Meju has finally opened. While its sibling Bibim in Allston prides itself on a homely interior setup, Meju’s interior is far more sleek and modern, with clean intricate chandeliers and a well-stocked, minimalist bar on the side. Despite the contemporary setup, Meju doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel in terms of its food. Its soft opening offered a limited menu emphasizing traditional Korean comfort street foods.

We started off with tteokbokki, the iconic sticky rice cakes slathered in the iconic fermented chili paste, gochujang. With the basic ingredients in hand, this is a dish that tends to be rather standard across all Korean establishments. Meju’s version featured rice cakes that were cooked to a perfect sticky consistency whereas one might find them chewy and undercooked or mushy and overcooked in certain other places. A light layer of mozzarella on the top might seem like an odd pairing but it certainly balances out the heat of the peppers for those unaccustomed to the taste.

Veering away from the traditional seafood pajeon, we opted for the kimchi pajeon (pancake) instead. The iconic taste of fermented cabbage wasn’t as pronounced as one would have expected. However, what salvaged this dish was the crispy exterior with the satisfying crunch that accompanied with each bite. The soy sauce mixture on the side definitely made up for the lack of seasoning on the pancakes as well.

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Onwards to the soft tofu stew and spicy pork bulgogi, the classics of Korean street cuisine. Tip of the day: ignore the option of white rice and go for the purple rice. As odd a color as purple might be for rice, it is a form of glutinous rice that provides a wonderful nutty flavor and earthiness to complement the various fermented pastes of Korean cuisine.

Unfortunately the soft tofu stew didn’t quite live up to expectations. One could have arguably gotten a fuller, richer, more affordable pot of stew at Kaju Tofu House. Similarly, the spicy pork bulgogi was served up lukewarm and at its price point of close to 20 dollars, one would reasonably expect a larger portion. The pork itself was barbequed to the appropriate consistency but the flavor of the meat could have benefited from a longer marinating period

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This chic spot offers a great option for unique cocktail blends and a weekend hangout spot. The overall quality of the food however, while satisfactory, does not quite live up to its price tag. Granted that Meju is very much in its infancy and is just now starting to crank out a full menu, it might take another few weeks before it really finds its footing. For the cash-strapped college student, spots like Kaju Tofu House seems a much better alternative for a comforting bowl of spicy peppery broth to warm up to in the harsh winter months.

Ambiance: A

Service: A-

Food (taste): B

Food (presentation): B

Price: $20-40/person

Overall: B

-Finn Qiao

How to Conserve Water in the Kitchen

droughtWith the on-going West coast drought and new water restrictions in California, it seems like there couldn’t be a better time for everyone to do their best to conserve water in the kitchen. There are lots of easy ways to save water that will actually reduce the time you have to spend cleaning up in the kitchen after dinner.

1. Use your pots and pans as serving dishes as well as cooking vessels. There’s no reason you can’t serve risotto, pasta, or curries out of the pots you cooked them in. Just set a few extra hotpads on the table for heat protection. Already you’ve eliminated the need to wash any sort of serving dish, which saves water and time.

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2. Use a dish squeegee to scrape food off plates rather than rinsing them. It’s a small, flexible spatula that efficiently removes leftover food from your dishes. This one from Amazon is inexpensive and very intuitive to use.

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Source: Earth Easy

3. Try to use the dishwasher rather than hand-wash your dishes, and only run full, efficiently-packed loads.

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Source: Dawne Webber

4. Avoid using the garbage disposal, which requires large amounts of water to run, and scrape waste into the trash can.

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Source: Reddit

5. When washing fruits or vegetables, fill a bowl with water to wash them in rather than using a lot of running water. This way all of your produce for one meal is washed in less than a quart of water rather than multiple gallons.

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Source: Green Kitchen

6. Use the water left over from washing vegetables (see #5) or using the salad spinner to water your flower or vegetable garden.

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Source: Telegraph UK

7. Repurpose leftover drinking water for other uses. Pour water leftover in your drinking glass into your dog’s water bowl, or use it to water your garden.

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Source: 9th of June

8. Cook pasta water in half the normal amount of water; instead of using 4 quarts for every pound of pasta, use 2 quarts. Just stir more often and the pasta will be fine. As an added bonus, the pasta water will be extra-starchy and will really improve the texture of the sauce.

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9. Better yet, cook pasta or grains in the “one-pot method” popularized by Martha Stewart. Just enough water is added to cook the pasta without needing to drain off any excess liquid, and there’s one less pot to wash since the sauce is made along with the pasta.

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Source: Apron Strings Blog

10. Experiment with ingredients that use less water than mainstream foods. 1800 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of beef, while only 302 gallons of water are used to produce a pound of tofu. Lots of nuts require huge amounts of water–almonds use nearly 2000 gallons of water per pound–so try substituting nuts in your diet with fruit like oranges, that only need 67 gallons of water to grow one pound. Other low-water foods are broccoli and potatoes (34 gallons per pound each). (Source)

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Source: Jewish National Fund

Cover photo source.

-Kinsey Drake

Tasty Tufts Taste Test: Vanilla Greek Yogurt

realitycheck-yogurt03lf2For this Tasty Tufts Taste Test, or quadruple T for short, I decided to look into everyone’s go-to breakfast item: Greek yogurt. I’ve seen numerous students making epic parfaits at the dining hall, coating the yogurt in cinnamon, craisins, raisins, granola, honey and anything else you could possibly think of but I was curious to see what people felt about the yogurt on its own. I got my daily exercise in by walking to the nearest Stop and Shop and bought five different kinds of vanilla Greek yogurt: Yoplait 100, Stop and Shop store brand, Dannon Oikos, Chobani and Dannon Light & Fit. While I could have solely tasted them myself, I was more interested in the opinions of others, specifically targeting the Jumbo student body. Thus, I erased any determinant of the yogurt so that the tasters could not easily bias themselves toward which yogurt they liked and disliked based on labels and allowed the test to ensue.

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Source: pinterest.com

I gathered six students to feast on the five different yogurts; each labeled anonymously A through E. Each student went on to what they liked to call their own kind of wine tasting, and rated each on six categories I gave them: Best Overall Taste, Best Texture, Most Creamy, Most Expensive, Store Brand, and Least Favorite.

In the category of best overall taste, the data were evenly distributed between three out of the five yogurts, with two votes for Yoplait 100, two votes for Dannon Oikos, and finally, two votes for Dannon Light and Fit. Interestingly, none of the six students voted for B, the store brand, or D, Chobani, as having the best overall taste. In fact, when it came to the category of least favorite vanilla Greek yogurt, four out of the six voted for D, Chobani, and two voted for B, the store brand. When I asked them each why they chose these as their least favorites, I got an overwhelming response that D was “not as sweet as the others,” and had an “overpowering flavor of vanilla extract.” For why B was less popular among the students, their answers related more to the texture of the yogurt.

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Source: Chef’s Best

In the category of Best Texture, the data showed that E, Dannon Light & Fit, was the overall winner with four out of the six votes, as well as being my personal favorite breakfast treat. Two voted for A, Yoplait 100, and none voted for B, store brand, C, Dannon Oikos, or D, Chobani. B was not voted for as the students continued to state that it was “a bit chunkier than the rest.” Interestingly, based on this notion of texture, all six of the students were able to gage which of the five yogurts was store brand, as they all responded with B, which was the Stop and Shop brand of vanilla Greek yogurt.

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Source: Dallas Frugal Foodie

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Source: Noosa Yogurt

The reason I made a separate category from best texture called “most creamy,” is because some students do not necessarily associate the two completely, as two out of the six students actually voted for B, the store brand yogurt. The other four votes correlated more to what the students found to be best texture, and were evenly distributed between A, Yoplait 100, and E, Dannon Light and Fit, at two votes each.

When asked which yogurt they thought was the most expensive, the students responded with an even distribution between A, Yoplait 100, C, Dannon Oikos, and D, Chobani with two votes each. The actual answer was that A, B, C, and E were all priced the same at $1.29, and D, Chobani, was priced forty cents cheaper at $0.89. Interestingly, the same students that voted either A or C as the yogurt with the best overall taste, also voted for these yogurts as most expensive, which gives a clue towards correlation between what how good something tastes and how much something costs. On the contrary, the two students that chose D, Chobani, which happened to be the cheapest one, made a sneer remark that this one must be the most expensive because “expensive things normally taste the worst.”

While this taste test did not give overwhelmingly conclusive data, there are some key points I found from the investigation: one—people really can tell a store brand product, in this case Greek yogurt, apart from others, and since it costs the same as the others…you mine as well get whichever tastes the best to you! Two—If what you like the most about your yogurt is the burst of sweetness it brings to your day, you may want to avoid Chobani; but on the other hand, if you have a more “matured palette” who enjoys things a bit less sweet and more acidic, this yogurt is certainly beckoning to be eaten by you! Third—control the sampling size of yogurt, because if you leave it all out there, people will eat all of it before the study is even done! Fourth—Make sure to have spoons (You do not even want to see the makeshift ways some students eat their yogurt)! Overall, Vanilla Greek Yogurt is a delicious snack for any time of the day (as this study was done at about 1:00 am) that just about everyone enjoys, but this test showed that not everyone has the same preference. So, go on now! Go find the Vanilla Greek yogurt that makes your heart flutter and sends you to a yogurt heaven. Spoons up!

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toon-books.com

-Jay Sheintop

Cover Photo Source

Food Memoirs

 

coverIf you’re someone that likes to cook and eat good food, chances are your other leisure activities will reflect that as well. Maybe you visit new cities with the intention of visiting a new restaurant, or your idea of a fun weekend outing is going to a chocolate tasting. One of my favorite things to do is read food novels and memoirs. Sometimes recipes are sprinkled into the chapters, but the focus is on the experience of cooking and learning about food. Food and cooking can evoke a whole range of emotions, so there’s guaranteed to be a book out there that appeals to any type of food-enthusiast. There’s dozens of food novels and memoirs that have been published in the past few decades, but here are a few of my favorites.

If you’re someone who loves scandal and wants to learn about the life of a restaurant chef, you’ll love reading…

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Source: Third Street Books

Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.

Gabrielle Hamilton’s life will shock, impress, and amaze you when you read of her decidedly non-direct rise to stardom in the New York restaurant scene. If nothing else, you’ll realize that there’s more than one path to success.

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Source: Hither-Thither

Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain

Learn all about the seedy behind-the-scenes of the 1980s restaurant industry in Anthony Bourdain’s first book. He’s since become a mega-celebrity in the culinary world, but Kitchen Confidential will always remain his most well-known work.

If you love reading about home-cooked memories and traditions, try…

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Source: Goodreads

A Homemade Life and Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life, describes her childhood food as well as her time spent studying in France. Her second, Delancey, still has the same wonderful writing style but tells the story of starting the restaurant Delancey with her husband. Unlike some older food memoirs, the recipes are wonderful and well tested. The recipes for her “Winning Hearts and Minds Cake” and black pepper vanilla ice cream are worth the price of the book alone.

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Source: Goodreads

My Berlin Kitchen, by Luisa Weiss (Who also happens to be a Tufts alum!)

In this food memoir, Luisa Weiss explains growing up in America and Germany with an Italian mother and American father. In between stories of cooking for German holidays, you’ll learn all about Luisa’s unexpected love story.

If you saw Meryl Streep’s rendition of Julia Child in Julie and Julia and want more, read…

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Source: Goodreads

Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell

Spoiler alert: Julie Powell is not as sweet and mild as Amy Adams makes her out to be. Be prepared for a very profane, but still enjoyable account of what it really takes to work your way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.

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Source: Amazon

My Life in France, by Alex Prud’homme and Julia Child

Written in the last months of Julia Child’s life, this autobiography explains the timeline and fond memories of Julia’s career with food, and in greater detail than is shown in the film.

If you’re getting ready to study abroad and are already planning your cheese tour of Europe, you just might want to get some research done ahead of time with…

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Source: Amazon

The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz

Cookbook author and pastry chef David Lebovitz does a fantastic job describing French cuisine and French home cooking in many of his vignettes within this book, but the real gems are his hilarious stories when the language barrier make for some unexpected situations in stores and restaurants.

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Source: Goodreads

 Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

If there ever has been a justification for eating gelato twice a day while traveling through Italy, it’s in this book. It will make you want to book a flight to Naples and spend your mornings leisurely sipping cappuccinos and your days eating pizza.

If what you love most about cooking is how it shapes families, for better or worse, check if your library has…

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Source: Goodreads

Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, Not Becoming My Mother, and Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl

Former New York Times Restaurant Critic and Editor of Gourmet Magazine Ruth Reichl spares nothing with her memoirs. She manages to make all of her stories as enjoyable as the other, whether you’re reading about her disguises while reviewing restaurants or living in a Berkeley co-op.

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Source: Goodreads

 The School of Essential Ingredients and The Lost Art of Mixing, by Erica Bauermeister

There’s nothing jarring about these two novels that revolve around a restaurant and its cooking classes. People from all walks of life unite over cake, thanksgiving dinner, and homemade tortillas, while poignant vignettes tease out their life stories.

-Kinsey Drake

Cover photo source.

What April Showers Bring: Spring Produce in New England

spring_blossoms1New England is never particularly kind to the seasonal cook this time of year. Even well beyond the official demarcation of the season when New Yorkers are awash in ramps and the first abundance of asparagus floods the Californian markets, we too often face not-so-gentle reminders of winter in the  frosty mornings and sudden cold snaps that can make it hard to conjure up the same enthusiastic culinary response.

Yet however late spring really arrives, what it brings here is worth waiting for. Perhaps we owe some credit to the cold weather, since it makes the growing season shorter and more fertile and leaves us with some truly fantastic produce in the spring and summer months. Here’s what we think you should look for:

 Scapes, Ramps and Scallions

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Source: Two Sisters Garlic

Spring is a time to enjoy less hardy onion and garlic varieties. While their commercially widespread cousins can be found year-round, green garlic (the tops of garlic bulbs, also known as scapes), wild onions (also known as ramps), and scallions can’t be stored for a long period of time and are best enjoyed fresh. Scapes and green onions are widely used in Asian cookery and provide a fresh, sweet flavor that melts into the dish with none of the raw harshness of yellow onion or aged garlic. Enjoy them sprinkled raw over a dish or use them in sauces (pesto or aioli come to mind) and pickles (scapes are usually used in kimchi).

Ramps are arguably one of the most accessible foraged flavors this spring and are ubiquitous thanks to their appeal among the locavore East Coasters and the restaurants have chosen to fill their menus with them. While New England doesn’t get to enjoy the full extent of the harvest, their strong flavor (garlicky like a more potent shallot but with the shape and utility of a spring onion) makes them worth the attention. Any seriously garlicky endeavor, from aioli to pasta sauces, risottos, or Asian sauces, would be a worthwhile use.

Serious Eats: 7 Things to Do with Garlic Scapes

 Martha Stewart: Ramps and Spring Onions 

Fiddleheads, Morels and Nettles

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Source: Closet Cooking

Fiddleheads are a pretty unique local food. You’re not going to find these at most supermarkets but these foraged treats show up around April and May in farmers markets. They have a crisp, green flavor and a tenderness best treated with minimal cooking – try them steamed or sautéed; think in the realm of asparagus recipes when you’re trying to use them as they share many structural and flavor similarities. Leftovers can and should be pickled, since the season is short and fleeting.

Martha Stewart: Sautéed Fiddleheads

Saveur: Thai Fern Curry (Yum Pak Grood)

Nettles likewise only show up in farmers markets and foraging baskets. While most people think they’re weeds, a quick blanch will leech out the ‘sting’ and leave you with a tasty, bright reminder of the end of winter, perfect for warmer days and the lighter recipes they bring.

Salty Seattle: Nettle Gnocchi

Food and Wine: Garlic Cream and Nettle Pizza

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Source: Martha Stewart

Morels are a special wild mushroom prized in seasonal cuisine for their unique texture. Even among foraged foods they can be a rare commodity but present a very worthwhile purchase if you find them. Enjoy these “dryland fish” in Mediterranean preparations or bread them and pan-fry them for a unique taste. They’re best enjoyed fresh or cooked and frozen, though you can ‘flash freeze’ them by quickly soaking them in water to build up a thin layer of ice.

 Saveur: Morels in Cream Sauce

Nutmeg Nanny: Pan-fried Morels

Fresh Herbs

It’s not always easy to find local herbs outside of the imported clamshells in the supermarket. If you’re thinking of growing your own plants, spring is a great time to start a pot. If you’re not going to be here this summer, though, you should take advantage of the abundance of local mint, basil, parsley, and cilantro, which unlike some other herbs are best enjoyed fresh.

 Spoonful: Spring Couscous with Fresh Mint, Asparagus, and Peas

Simply Recipes: Fresh Basil Pesto

White on Rice Couple: Spring Rolls

Late and Early-Season Roots

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Source: Maine Today

After months of living out of the root cellar, the prospect of eating more parsnips, carrots, or turnips may be daunting. However spring provides the opportunity to enjoy root vegetables alongside spring produce and also to take advantage of changes in the chemical composition of the roots. Many roots are kept in the ground or in soil-lined storage cellars to mature throughout the winter, which encourages the development of flavorful exteriors and changes to their internal structure as they mature.

For instance, seek out spring-dug parsnips, which are kept in the ground during the winter and are particularly good during cold years. Freezing temperatures encourage enzymes to convert their structural starches and fibers to sugars turning these sometimes woody roots sweeter and tenderer, ideal for preparations like high-heat roasting but also great in spring soups that don’t have the benefit of a long stewing time

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, are also a hard-to-find gem of the late winter and early spring. These unique roots have the flavor of an artichoke and the texture of a root, making them an ideal bridge between lighter warm weather flavors and the substantial qualities one wants in cold weather food. Enjoy them roasted, gratineéd, or frittered, or puree them into a creamy soup with all of the texture and none of the starchy ‘weight’ of most winter crops.

AIP Lifestyle: Arugula and Parsnip Soup

Seattle Times: Parsnip Fritters

Simply Recipes: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

– Edmund Brennan

Cover image source.