This is not, nor shall it ever be, a baking blog. But I do bake.
Coming up to Christmas I make sugar cookies based on a recipe given to me by my girlfriend’s aunt in Evantson. I also make gingerbread men from Delia’s recipe online. I could lie and say that I do this for the kids, but the truth is, cookies and gingerbread men are great and especially at Christmas.
We also undertake the rather more grueling task of 144 mince pies, made with our own mincemeat (always fun) and my girlfriends pastry (buttery, crumbly goodness).
Whereas I’m a messy kitchen hand, others in the house are not, so I tend to make my cookie dough in advance of baking and I did that tonight (along with wrapping some gifts it really made the night PRETTY Christmassy) and I thought I’d share a gallery for the fun of it!
They are both sitting pretty in the fridge right now waiting for tomorrow (or maybe even Thursday) when I break them out, roll them, cook them and ice/sprinkle them! Even more fun on the way!
One of my favourite US Food sites, Serious Eats, has a sub section dedicated to burgers. It makes for pretty compelling reading if you, like me, happen to love burgers though eat them considerably less than you THINK about eating them.
Today’s post is a classic of the type and worth linking to for that alone:
Needless to say, he jumped at the excuse to hit In-N-Out. $120 in overnight delivery fees later, the UPS man showed up at my door at 9:30 the next morning, golden package in hand.** Inside were two regular Double-Doubles, two Animal Style Double-Doubles, two plain cooked beef patties, two packets of Spread, and one large chunk of dry ice to freak out Dumpling with.
I knew that the flavor of a frozen-then-thawed burger could never compare to the freshness of the original, but nevertheless I felt compelled to resurrect them—not a minor feat in and of itself!
After a totally failed attempt at reheating one whole, I realized that the best way is to separate it into individual components, and reheat each individually, tossing the veg and replacing them with fresh ones. Within the hour, I had my lunch of Zombie In-N-Out burgers:
I normally run a recommendation post for fiction and non-fiction books every Christmas. This year I’m having a tough time narrowing the field down so I’ve decided to do it a bit differently, I am going to suggest 3 books for each of the following categories:
This section is an easy choice because three books stand head and shoulders above everything else either released by an Irish company or written by an Irish author. These three should be on my shelf by 26th December if all goes to plan 🙂
Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking
What more can you ask for? The Allen’s are cooking royalty, Rachel is storming the charts this year as she did last year and Darina brings the years of experience and knowledge to bear in this very handsomely produced tome.
Donal Skehan’s Good Mood Food [DOI: I commissioned this]
Donal is incredible. His blog is always fresh and exciting, his recipes are hearty, homely and importantly for those non-professionals out there (Like me) relatively easy. The book is a riot of colour and features some of the best food styling and photography you’ll see in an Irish published book this year.
Eat Good Things Everyday
Carmel Somers’ book makes me drool, an unattractive image I can accept. I’ve not eaten in the Good Things Cafe, in Durrus where Carmel cooks every day, but on reading this, I know that I really will have to, and soon. It also has an excellent, simple and attractive cover.
Daily Finance “looks under the hood” of Jane Friedmann’s newish outfit and what she may be up to:
A publishing executive who preferred not to be quoted by name said that the wholesale consolidation and downsizing in the book business over recent years has created the perfect conditions for a venture based on snapping up and monetizing forgotten books. “A lot of editorial intelligence and institutional memory has been laid off or merged out of existence,” he says. “There’s a lot of owned intellectual property that’s radically underexploited.”
Rumour has it that Amazon is launching the Kindle in Europe very soon. I am not so sure.
Interesting thoughts on the future of the publishing industry from Douglas Rushkoff in Publisher’s Weekly. I’m not sure I agree with everything, but some of it makes sense:
Publishing is a sustainable industry—and a great one at that. The book business, however, was never a good fit for today’s corporate behemoths. The corporations that went on spending sprees in the 1980s and ’90s were not truly interested in the art of publishing. These conglomerates, from Time Warner to Vivendi, are really just holding companies. They service their shareholders by servicing debt more rapidly than they accrue it. Their businesses are really just the stories they use to garner more investment capital. In order to continue leveraging debt, they need to demonstrate growth. The problem is that media, especially books, can’t offer enough organic growth—people can only read so many books from so many authors
The site and the book will appeal to anyone who ever wanted to write their own cookbook but never had the time. But it won’t be a free-for-all. Hesser and Stubbs will make editorial decisions with give-and-take from the site’s members. To guide the community, every week two themes will be presented which will act as a call for recipes. This week’s themes (they are really assignments) are “Your Best Grilled Pork Recipe” and “Your Best Watermelon Recipe.” Anyone can submit their favorite recipes, along with photos or videos. Then Hesser and Stubbs select the most promising ones, test them, and choose the best two for each theme. They present these back to the Food52 members, who get to vote which one will make it into the cookbook.
“There is a huge tradition of community cookbooks, but none of them are user vetted,” says Hesser. Users can take part in creating the cookbook by submitting their own recipes and helping to edit the submissions through comments, ratings, and votes. (Recipes can be flagged if someone tries to pass one off as their own that is actually from another cookbook). Anybody who submits a recipe selected as one of the two finalist recipes each week will get a free copy of the book along with cookware tailored to their recipe.
The iterative process should bring hardcore foodies and fans of the authors coming back every week. By the end of the 52 weeks, Hesser and Stubbs will not only have the recipes for their cookbook, but also a built-in and built-up audience already sold on the book. It won’t be just a cookbook, it will be an artifact of their participation.
But it’s still in beta
I’m not keen on announcements and PR in advance of a website opening to the general populace. When will people stop doing that, wouldn’t a page of text explaining the site be better, especially when there is so much information already out there? Maybe a picture of the authors, a short bio, some links and scary concept but given that it’s a video site, maybe a video? I mean seriously! Still even a google search reveals some more juicy morsels.
But what really caught our eye today is that Hesser and Stubbs seem to have quietly started uploading to a Vimeo account, which is full of what appear to be test videos—along with a couple great nuggets: an introduction to the Food 52 concept, and a video tour of Amanda Hesser’s envy-inducing kitchen—complete with the now-customary refrigerator-baring.
The entire project has a nice sense of buzz about it in the publishing world too, coming as it does with a book published by super-hip Harper Studio.
All told, I see good things coming from this. Having crowdsourced the content for a book published by Mercier last year, Our Grannies’ Recipes, I can guess at the problems they may encounter. Whereas Ourgranniesrecipes.com was very much a no money, seat of the pants endeavour, I like that food52 seems likely to be well funded and have the opportunity to expand the social and user content features that small investments allow.
Best of luck to them, I watch this space with interest. Eoin