Category Archives: Food & Drink

Best Group Deal Sites?

  1. LivingSocial – Online marketplace with deals for restaurants, personal care, trips, events, and shopping.
  2. Groupon – Connects local merchants with people looking for deals on shopping, travel, spas, and activities.
  3. Woot! – Daily deals and limited time specials for electronics, sporting goods, accessories, computers, tools, wine, gifts, and original t-shirts.
  4. Tee Fury – The best in pop culture t-shirts, hoodies, skirts, and posters. Features daily specials for new limited edition designs.
  5. Deal Flicks – Movie tickets up to 60% off.
  6. Fab – a design focused company offering fun and unique products including clothing, jewelry, gadgets and adult toys.
  7.  Gilt – Membership shopping site for luxury designer label merchandise.
  8. Slickdeals – Online community that shares, reviews and rates coupons and other online sales deals.
  9. Yipit – When you don’t have time to visit all of those individually, use this to search and browse every deal, coupon and discount in your city from Groupon, LivingSocial, Yelp and 800+ others.
  10. Restaurant.com – Save up to 50% off at participating restaurants in the U.S.
  11. TravelZoo – Global travel deal site with specials on airfare, hotels, cruises, car rentals, tours, and activities.

Most Popular Donut Flavors?

  1. Glazed donuts are the best sellers, perhaps because they are so good for dunking in coffee.
  2. Chocolate Frosted yeast donuts are the second favorite. (But my #1!)
  3. Chocolate frosted with custard or cream filling comes next in popularity.
  4.  Next are glazed donuts with jelly filling. (Mmmmm, raspberry!)
  5. Fifth are donuts with sprinkles. These are always a favorite with kids and the young-at-heart.
  6. Powdered cake donuts are next. These may be popular because you can buy them in tasty bite-sizes at groceries and convenience stores.
  7. Cake donuts coated with cinnamon and sugar are next. These are for the people who really wanted a cinnamon roll but couldn’t find a Cinnabon.
  8. Chocolate cake donuts are the next most popular. These may just be glazed or may have a double choclate glaze.
  9. Blueberry cake donuts are the ninthfavorite. They’re like dense blueberry muffin.
  10. Tenth are maple glazed donuts. (These might rank higher in the northeast US where maple flavoring is more popular.)

Best Cookbooks for New Cooks?

What’s best depends on what you want to do and learn. Do you want to know why a recipe works so that you can learn to improvise your own or do you just want dependable instructions for your favorite dishes?

sci of good cooking

If you want to know the “how and why”, The Science of Good Cooking by Cook’s Illustrated is an excellent choice and one of my favorites. There are 400 recipes and each describes not just what to do, but why doing it that way works best.

The 400 recipes are used to teach 50 basic concepts beginning with “Gentle heat prevents overcooking” to “Cocoa powder delivers big flavor”. In between you learn that salty marinades work best, fat makes eggs tender, how to “bloom” spices to increase their flavor, and why you should put vodka in your pie dough.

Continue reading Best Cookbooks for New Cooks?

Best Hot Chocolate Recipes?

It looks like a lot of the U.S. is in for some chilly weather on Sunday. Here’s just the thing to warm you up!

French Hot Chocolate

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This one is thick and not very sweet. (I love it, my other taster who prefers sweeter hot chocolate thought it was too bitter without lots of whipped cream.)

1 4-oz. bar of bittersweet chocolate (not semi-sweet)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
whipped cream

Break up the chocolate bar into small pieces. Set aside.

Heat milk, heavy cream, and powdered sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. When the milk mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and whisk in chocolate pieces until they are melted and the drink is thick and smooth.

Pour into small cups (it’s very rich, you don’t need much) and top with whipped cream. Serves 2.

Continue reading Best Hot Chocolate Recipes?

Prayers for Thanksgiving?

You’re going to be spending your first Thanksgiving with your Significant Other’s (SO) family and have been warned that you may be asked to say a prayer before the meal. This is their way of making you feel welcome and included in their family but, while you appreciate the sentiment, you’re at a loss for what to say. Maybe the prayer in your family has always been done by an older family member, or maybe your not religious and have no clue what will be expected of you.

Don’t panic. Here are some short prayers to give you an idea of what you might want to say. I’ve included ones that are specifically Christian, others that are non-denominational, and others that simply offer thanks (which would work for someone who is a humanist or an atheist).

Prayers that thank God and/or Jesus

The first is the third verse of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson (click the link for the whole poem):

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

The next is by Harry Jewell:

Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.

And here’s a few short ones. Some families might prefer something longer (ask your SO about their family), but the hungry among us appreciate brevity!:

1.Bless this food to our use
and Us to thy service.

Amen

2. Good and Gracious Lord,
Give us true and and thankful hearts

for the many blessings we are about to receive.
In Jesus name, Amen.

3. Jesus, thank you for loving us; And providing food, shelter, and each other. Every moment of our lives is a gift; And we appreciate all the time You have given us. Thank you for all our good fortune.
Amen

4. O, heavenly Father:
We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.
Amen

5. God, we thank you for this food, this day, and for each other, and we ask your blessings on the sick and the needy, and all our loved ones.
Amen

This next one is a traditional Catholic prayer:

Bless us, oh Lord,
and these thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from thy bounty,
through Christ, our Lord.
Amen

If you want, you made do the sign of the cross after you say “Amen”.

 

The next one was written by Abigail Van Buren (advice columnist Dear Abby):

O Heavenly Father
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service.
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.
Amen

Bless this food we have before us, O God. Let it provide the nourishment we need.
Bless this family and our friends gathered around this table. Let us be nourished by our love and care for one another.

Bless those who have less than we have. Let our eyes be open to their needs.
Bless us as we bless your holy name on this day of thanksgiving. Let us praise and thank you always in Jesus’ name.
Amen

Here’s one for the Book of Common Prayer. It’s part of the Thanksgiving Day church service, but works well at the table too:

Almighty and gracious Father, we give thee thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we beseech thee, faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.
Amen

Here are some Goldilocks prayers, not too long, not too short, they’re just right!

1. Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family. Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness. Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives. Thank you for friends, for health and for grace. May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.
Amen

2. Father all-powerful, Your gifts of love are countless and Your goodness infinite. On Thanksgiving Day we come before You with gratitude for Your kindness: open our hearts to concern for our fellow men and women, so that we may share Your gifts in loving service.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen

3. Bless this food we have before us, O God. Let it provide the nourishment we need.
Bless this family and our friends gathered around this table. Let us be nourished by our love and care for one another.
Bless those who have less than we have. Let our eyes be open to their needs.
Bless us as we bless your holy name on this day of thanksgiving. Let us praise and thank you always in Jesus’ name.
Amen

4. We thank you, Lord our God, you – who gives food to all, who heals the flesh of all, creates wonders in this world, who forged mankind in great wisdom and who gives refuge beneath the shadow of his wings.

God, from your wisdom grant us wisdom, from your love grant us love, from your understanding grant us understanding. Feed us when we are hungry, give us strength when we are weak, raise us up when we are bent over, set us free when we are enslaved.

Just as our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were blessed in all, from all, with all – may the Lord bless all of us together with a complete blessing: of peace, of strength – with the blessing of being thankful.

This one is also from the Book of Common Prayer. It’s a bit longer but you have the option of reading it directly from the prayer book:

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things..

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.
Amen

Non-religious statements of thanks

We are thankful for the food on this table.
We are thankful for this time together.
Our thoughts go out to family and friends;
We hope that they are safe and well.

and

For the meal we are about to eat,
for those that made it possible,

and for those with whom we are about to share it,
we are thankful.

You can memorize one of these, or you can just use them for inspiration. Think about the things your are thankful for and talk about that. Say that you are thankful for your SO and his/her family, for friends, for having a job or being able to go to school, and of course, don’t forget to say you’re thankful for the food you are about to enjoy and for the people who prepared it.

Personally, I’m thankful for computers and smart phones, for modern medicine, my pets and chocolate. I could probably work being thankful for my pets into a prayer, I’m not too sure how gratitude over electronics would go over, though.

If you want, you can mention those less fortunate than you and ask that others keep them in their prayers (or thoughts, if you want to keep the offering of thanks secular). This can include the homeless, someone you know who is ill, victims of natural disasters or terrorism…pray for France.

french flag

 

Hard Root Beers Like?

 

We tried two brands of hard root beer that are available in my area – Not Your Father’s Root Beer and Coney Island Hard Root Beer.

When we poured the Not Your Father’s Root Beer (NYFRB) into the mug, the head disappeared within a few seconds. It had a nice vanilla scent and flavor, followed by light spices. It tasted like root beer. There was a light alcoholy after taste, but that problem was solved by taking several more swigs.

NYFRB has a 5.9% alcohol content. It’s very smooth, not too fizzy, but it still made me burp, so there had to be some carbonation left, right? It is made by Small Town Brewery and distributed by Paabst. Although the location finder they have on their site showed on a few places near me where it’s available, I’ve seen it in my local grocery and liquor stores.

To another taster, NYFRB tasted like sasparilla with alcohol. A fourth said it tasted like bubblegum. (He’d been drinking other alcoholic beverages before the taste test so he might not be the most reliable judge.

The head on the Coney Island Hard Root Beer (CIHRB) also disappeared quickly after pouring. It had a spicier flavor, kind of a wintergreen. (My other taster compared it to the smell of Icy Hot patches, but in a good way.) We didn’t notice an alcohol taste at all with this one.

CIHRB is 5.8% alcohol. It’s brewed by Coney Island Lager which is owned by Samual Adams. It has a sweet syrupy taste, but one taster compared it to A&W with hairspray. He had also been drinking beforehand and I don’t know how he knows what hairspray tastes like anyway.

2015-10-25 22.32.02

The four of us were evenly split over which of the two was better. Kind of. One taster liked the CIHRB best but only in limited quantities – having one with a pizza, for example. If he were going to drink a lot of hard root beer, he would go with the NYFRB since it is less sweet.

If I find other hard root beers in my area, I’ll add tasting notes for them too.