food media

Dancing DeerSo, there’s a lot going on in this blog post today. Let’s start with:

Dancing Deer Brownies (@DancingDeer) Tagged Me

First and foremost, I was tagged to talk about comfort food and home. Which you know I think I might just be able to do! But I’ll get to that in a second.

Dancing Deer Tagged Me For a Good Cause

Dancing Deer CEO Trish Karter is going to be riding her bike 1,500 miles from Atlanta to Boston in order to raise awareness for family homelessness, in particular this cause (see: She’ll also be recording stories from the women she meets along the way asking them about their experiences. One question she’ll ask them are what foods remind them of home.

And I Get to Eat Brownies

I could not be more excited that for the next two weeks, I am going to be writing about Dancing Deer brownies everyday and doing what I can to help raise awareness about family homelessness.

Then Share The Recipes With You

Dancing Deer was great. They gave me more brownies and cookies than I have ever seen in my life, so stay tuned for some recipes made from some of the most AMAZING brownies, cookies, and cake in the world. (Seriously, I’m not just saying that.) We’ll be featuring brownies baked in phyllo, ice cream sandwiches, brownie ice cream, trifles, and who knows what else I have up my sleeve.

Even better, all the recipes are made from cooked brownies which means no baking for people like me!! Cooked brownies FTW.

Okay, with that said, I’ve been tagged and it’s a sacred obligation.

Foods that Remind Me of Home.

More than anything, the food that reminds me of home is Cincinnati-style chili. If you don’t know what that means, apparently Cincinnati started what you might know as chili mac, or taking macaroni or spaghetti noodles and covering them with meaty chili, cheese, and raw onions.

Let it be known that for years, I despised Cincinnati-style chili. And I blame my father.

See, at first I liked it just fine, but as a young boy, WE NEVER HAD SPAGHETTI WITH MARINARA AT HOME. We only had spaghetti topped with chili. I would beg my father to make regular spaghetti… but no. It had to be chili. And half the time it was chili from a can.

(At this point I’d like to thank Dancing Deer for dredging up painful childhood memories. ;))

So fast forward a few years to my adulthood. See, when you fly back from Columbus, OH to Kansas City, MO you have a layover in Cincinnati that is usually long enough to grab dinner. A very tired me is in search of dinner when I happen to come across a giant mural that reads “Cincinnati Style Chili” with a hunger-inducing image of a big steaming bowl of noodles, chili, cheese and onions. And I start to drool.

At that point, all I can think about are all the great times I’d had as a kid eating Cincinnati-style chili with my Dad. I guess sometimes travel delirium makes it so you only remember the good times. And there for a few minutes in a busy airport after I’d been traveling for several days, I knew that I had found a little piece of home a nice person could serve me in a bowl.

With that being said, I still vow to never serve Cincinnati-style chili in my own home, but at least I have something to look forward to when next I travel.

And I Choose to Tag

Okay you Stupendous Seven, here’s who I am going to tag:

  1. Anna Bassham @ShoeSmitten
  2. Kristin @DineAndDish
  3. Gourmet Girl @TheGourmetGirl
  4. Cook Local @CookLocal
  5. Anne Coleman @Anniepooh
  6. Rachel Ferrucci @RachelFerruci
  7. Courtney Ferrucci @cferrucci

**And the rules**
Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share what food reminds you of home
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know that they’ve been tagged
*Please Copy and paste the description below:
Dancing Deer’s Sweet Home Initiative raises money for scholarships to help educate homeless women and end family homelessness. As a part oft his initiative, our CEO, Trish Karter, will be riding her bike 1,500 miles from Atlanta to Boston visiting family shelters in each city to raise awareness about this cause (see: ). She’ll also be recording stories from the women she meets along the way asking them about their experiences. One question she’ll ask them are what foods remind them of home.

Good luck! Now, come back tomorrow for my first recipe. You won’t regret it!

It’s 8:30 AM… The time has come to introduce something new… (cue the theme from 2001 please.)

The world of food is all about pairing things that go together: peanut butter and jelly, surf and turf, fried and lean pockets.  All timeless, all delicious.

The world of food is also about pairing food with other great things.  Food + Competition = Top Chef.  Food + Wine = a necessity of life.  Food + Sex =

What is

You want the scoop?  Here’s esteemed Food Blogger Gabi Moskowitz to explain:

Interview with Gabi

In other words, the recession has hit us all, but so what? We gotta eat.  We gotta drink.  We gotta be merry (and by merry I mean something a bit more adult), right?


First off, you get food like this:

  • A great meal under $20 that looks and tastes like you paid $200.
  • No food from a box with a talking glove on it.
  • Tips on stocking your bar on the cheap
  • The Chef Challenge: 1 big name chef + $20 + 2 blocks + 1 hour = Dinner?

And we are talking some great meals like veggie lasagna in under 40 minutes, red wine beef stew, and salmon/spinch burgers with cilantro brown rice…

Then you get a twist.

Once you’re done with your meal, it’s time for sex, sex, sex.

Well, kind of.   But if it is, go for it.  Seriously.  You can read blogs later.

Either way, what you you’re gonna get from is sex and advice from Violet Blue, writer for (O) Oprah Magazine and Forbes, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s weekly sex columnist.  Every other week, you’re going to learn how to take the heat you made in the kitchen and move it into the bedroom, the living room, the chimney if there’s room… Oh yeah, it’s going there.

Oh, and did I mention they are launching TODAY.  Like right now.  They wouldn’t let me tell you about the site until it went live.  So go.  Now.

What?  Need More Reasons to go to

Okay, how about this.  This recipe will be featured on a future post on  See the price sheet?  See the delicious?  Good…go see the site!!

Kale Soup from

Kale-Cannelini Soup with Garlic Crostini

This delicious, hearty soup is a great way to show your dinner companion a little love. From the heart-healthy olive oil to the fiber-rich beans and kale, this soup is full of healthful, whole ingredients, so you can feel good about what you’re serving. The crostini is the perfect sponge for sopping up the rich broth and also works nicely served as a large crouton atop the soup. Also, since the soup is a one-pot meal, whomever you’re cooking for can spend less time doing the dishes and more time—ahem—thanking you for all your hard work.
    3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the crostini—pantry item
    4 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 1 clove cut in half for the crostini—pantry item
    3 stems fresh oregano—minced—$2
    1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste—$1
    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar—pantry item
    2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed–$3
    4 cups water—free!
    salt and freshly ground black pepper—pantry item
    1 small bunch kale, cleaned and chopped (stems removed)—$3
    1 mini baguette–$2


Total Cost of Recipe: $11

Heat oil in a large pot. Add garlic and oregano and cook no more than a minute. Add tomato paste and vinegar, and cook another minute. Add beans and stock and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Add kale and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. Season, to taste, again with salt and pepper before serving.

Preheat oven to 375. Slice baguette on a heavy angle to create long slices and drizzle with a little olive oil. Lay the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Rub on both sides with half of a garlic clove and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve alongside the soup.


I hope you’ve seen why is the only Broke Ass Eating/Sex site I personally recommend with my BlogWellDone seal of approval.  Seriously, though give it a look when you’re not at work.  And enjoy me saying ass.  It’s the only time I’ll ever swear on my blog.  Ass.

Okay, enjoy!!  Ass.

Don’t worry, Part 2 of How to Make Tofu That Doesn’t Suck is coming, but I didn’t realize I had never posted my Omnivore’s 100:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

That’s 65 out of 100.  And frankly, were I not vegan I’d probably finish out the rest.  If I could find dog somewhere.   (And for the record, I have four at home, so it’s not that I am a dog lover.)  Now snakes, like Indiana Jones, I don’t much care for them.

Chinese cooking has long been an topic at which I have turned up my nose. For many years, I was awash in a sea of Panda Expresses, crab rangoon filled with Philadelphia cream cheese, and MSG-laden Chinese buffets.

A lot of that had to do with college. During those four years, I looked at Chinese cooking as a cheap alternative to dorm food. I could get a complete meal for $5 or I could drive to the buffet and stuff myself silly for $6.

Frankly, when that is all the Chinese cooking one eats, well, one can get a distorted view of the treasures Chinese cooking has to offer.

My re-engagment into Chinese cooking is actually due in a large part to a restaurant here in Kansas City called Andy’s Wok. Andy’s Wok has no buffet and is anything but cheap. Instead, it reminded me that there is a skill and an artistry to good Chinese cooking and it made me want to learn it on my own. But, if Andy’s Wok got me started, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop fanned the flames. Her travel memoir of time spent in Sichuan province learning the food, leaning Chinese cooking at one of their gourmet academies, and learning the culinary history of the nation really got me excited to tackle Sichuan and Chinese cooking.

Since reading her book, I have invested in a number of new items:

  • Fuchsia’s Chinese Cooking book on Hunan-style cuisine
  • Sichuan Peppercorns
  • Sichuan chili bean paste (sadly it’s not as hot as I had hoped)
  • And a hotpot in a box kit in anticipation of throwing a hot pot party

A lot of my culinary explorations in Blog Well Done will focus on Chinese cooking over the next several months. There is a whole country I need to cook.

To get things rolling, this is a recipe for a sauce I used tonight. Use it for your next stir fry.

  • 4 tablespoons broth
  • 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of garlic*
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger*
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon of Sichuan chili bean paste
  1. Mix ingredients well in a bowl.
  2. Stir fry meats and vegetables.
  3. Add noodles (if desired)
  4. Stir the sauce to make sure none of the sugar, garlic or ginger has settled to the bottom
  5. Add the sauce to the wok. Stir until the sauce thickens.

* Yes, I know I should use fresh, but my son was hungry and I had to think fast. 🙂


(Sorry, this should have gone up Sunday night, but I had Internet woes…)

I started watching a special on healthy recipes on the Food Network that aired last weekend that I got me thinking.  It was a clip show taken from seven different shows that purported to offer healthy meals for the home cook.  Unfortunately, I have to say that I was pretty disappointed

Even on a good day, I am pretty anti-clip show, but this one was worse than normal.  The opening dish was Ina Garten’s breakfast yogurt parfait made with fruit, honey, and toasted almonds.  Okay, sounds pretty good, despite the fact it was not exactly something that could be thrown together before running off to work.   Unfortunately, the coup de grace for this special struck about three minutes into the recipe and the whole thing got erased from the DVR after Garten toasted the almonds.  Adding heat to almonds breaks down their 14 grams of heart healthy fats in the nuts into 14 grams of their unhealthy counterparts which pretty much defeats the purpose. The SmartEM organization can help you do your research about your health and help you stay worry free.

I make this point not to be critical of Garten or the Food Network.  But rather as a warning.  The first is to be aware that toasting almonds makes their fats go bad (I wasn’t aware of this until recently.   I found out the morning I had an article due and had to rewrite an entire recipe because of it).  Secondly, when someone says a recipe is healthy, it may mean different things.  I have found this to be especially true of Healthy Appetite on Food Network.  The show’s host, Ellie Krieger, often makes recipes in which she hides nutritous ingredients in her recipes, but does not necessarily make them low cal or low fat (which is what I need when I eat healthy.)

To key here is to remember that eating healthy means different things to different people and so that the health-concious eater still needs to read labels and look at what is being put into the food he or she eats.  Especially when it comes to low fat foods, which often replace fats with more sugar.

Anway, this week is dedicated to helping everyone keep their resolutions to lose weight.  Come back tomorrow for my take on healthy eating low fat style.

**** Spoiler Alert: I will talk about who wins.  Please read with caution.

Well the Limited Series that was The Next Iron Chef Finale has come and gone in the throes of Battle: Swordfish.  This was an interesting battle between Chef John Besh and Chef Michael Symon, two chefs that took very different paths to the top.  Besh won the first challenge and established himself as the early favorite in the competition while Symon struggled mightily in the beginning only to steadily improve every week.

It came as no surprise, then, that Symon emerged victorious.  In fact, I think it was almost anti-climactic.  While I was cheering for Besh (this has to do more with my predicting him to be the final winner than any disdain of Symon’s cooking), I had this suspicion that Symon was going to win.  By the time the Iron Chefs were tasting each’s dishes, there was little doubt that Symon was going to be the winner.

And I think, based on that one meal, that Symon deserved to be the winner.  His dishes appeared to be more innovative and avant garde than Besh’s (ie more like what an Iron Chef would make), though this is easily attributable to Symon’s cooking style which is far more modern than Besh’s down home country style.

I did learn one thing from this show though.  If I ever had to make broth from swordfish bones, I need to roast them first.  This is a very important culinary tip…

Anyway, congratulations Chef Symon.  You passed the survival test that was The Next Iron Chef.  I expect big things out of you because you were born to cook.

Oh, and I hope there’s a rematch between Symon and Besh.  I would like to see the results.

I finished watching tonight’s episode of the Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef and I have to say that I find myself a little underwhelmed. Frankly, there is a lot to like about this show and only a little I find compelling.  Sadly, the part that I find compelling is just compelling enough to keep me watching.

I think I just find the whole concept rather silly.  Despite the fact I am familar with the work of Chefs Sanchez and Symon from previous Food Network shows (primarily Melting Pot), I am finding it hard to take these chefs seriously.  While the show is free advertising for each of the chefs’ careers, I have always looked at reality TV to be the domain of the amateur the up-and-comer, and the money-driven.  I also think that through the magic of editing, a lot of the chefs are going to get reputations they may not want.  (The series has made Aaron Sanchez look both apathetic and whiny, Michael Symon incapable of taking anything seriously, and Chris Costentino look like a real jerk.  Though his jerkdom appears to be eclipsed by that of judge Michael Ruhlman, though I think that has more to do with editing.)

Also, despite my love of all things Alton Brown, episode 4’s homage to Good Eats was out of sync with the melodramatic seriousness for which Iron Chef is famous.  If we are to believe this show is the passion of a reclusive billionaire in love with food, why is he allowing Brown to have his moment of silliness where he talks about about food preparation while dodging the behinds of airline food workers?

Oh, and didn’t we already see airline food done in Top Chef

What I am loving is the dishes the are prepared.  I am constantly amazed by the quality and the creativity of the chefs.  Chef Costentino’s continued references to historical food has me drooling to do research on what the past can teach us about modern food.  I have enjoyed the stronger culinary points of veiw offered by Chef Morou and Chef Sanchez.  They are making things that are far outside of what I could hope to do given that time frame.  Then again, the impossible dish is one thing that Iron Chef brings to the Food Network.  Whereas Emeril, Rachel Ray, Brown, Sara Moulton, Bobby Flay, etc. are cooking things that can be repeated (with practice) in a home kitchen, Iron Chef is the domain of the unusual, the outlandish, and the delicious.

I am getting that with The Next Iron Chef and that is why I keep watching.  Even if my two favorite chefs have been kicked out of the competition.

I am in the process of watching the inaugural episode of The Next Iron Chef and I am not entirely sure what I think.  It is not that I am not enjoying the show, but I just do not have a good feeling for what the show is trying to accomplish.

Part of me wonders, what the chefs on this show want from being on it.  Is it really the pinnacle of chefdom to be on Iron Chef?  If so, where’s Thomas Keller?  Where’s Jacques Pepin?  Where’s Todd English?  Other the Alton Brown, are any James Beard Award winners on the show?  Also, every chef in the contest was, I believe, either an Iron Chef America competitor or a Food Network host which means that they are invested in being TV chefs, not necessarily chefs.  Not that this is a huge issue, I would gladly dine in Michael Symon or Aaron Sanchez restaurant any day, but again I ask what is the motivation?  Is being on The Next Iron Chef good enough exposure to increase their stature or is being an Iron Chef worth it?  I am not sure, but my guess would have been no until I saw Michael Ruhlman was a judge.

The second thing that strikes me about the show is that unlike most Food Network programs, this one is not geared towards the home cook.  I realize there is a lot of pageantry in Iron Chef, so this should not be too surprising, but it stands in sharp contrast to programs like the The Next Food Network Star.  Still, coming off Top Chef, I felt comfortable with dishes that take longer to list the ingredients than they take to eat.  

I’ll keep watching and hope that I get more into it, but I think ultimately, this show may be a miss.

Warning: In this post, I talk about who won the Top Chef finale. 

Another season of Top Chef has come and gone.  This was my favorite season right up until the finale.  It occurred to me that Season 3 was a lot like Season 1.  Both were loaded with talented chefs who did not exactly sparkle on camera.  I would rather watch Sam, Marcel, Ilan, or Elia, but I would rather eat a dish prepared by Casey, Brian, Hung, or Dale. 

To make matters worse, the finale was a hodge-podge of interesting ideas gone awry.  First, the live audience was largely window dressing and it was obvious Padma was uncomfortable.  Second, having three contestants did not work for me.  I think in terms of building a story line, having three square off was more interesting than having any two compete, but I did not like that the judges picked a winner for each course without taking into account the chef’s overall tasting menu. 

Third, the celebrity chef as sous chef motif fell flat.  Watching famous chefs chop garlic is not why I watch Top Chef.  I wanted to see the collaboration and synthesis that happens when two chefs work together.  Instead, I got random musings from Hung and Rocco Dispirito about how Hung had a plan and Dispirito was superfluous.  Last, the addition of the fourth course and previous contestants from this season was unnecessary and forced. 

Still, antics and story devices do not matter.  What matters is what went on the plate.

Overly complicated dishes seemed to rule the day.  There was not a plate sent out that had less than six flavors on it.  The finalists confused complexity with skill and got so wrapped up in showing off their skills, they almost forgot the basics. 

This is what happened to Casey.  The desire to produce something complex made her so nervous, she did not taste her dishes, she made some questionable choices, and allowed Howie to take too much control. 

Blind devotion to complexity is the only way I can explain how Dale married curry with lobster.  Why would one ever pair subtle, sweet lobster with a powerful spice blend?  That dish was bad enough to cost him the title of Top Chef. 

Then there were Hung’s dishes which were overly complex, though visually stunning.  Every plate (with the exception of his cake) was composed off a dizzying amount of ingredients and lacked basic seasoning. How many times did the chefs say “This needs acid”? 

In the end, the judges chose Hung, who may have been the best technical chef in all three seasons.  Also, for perhaps the first time all season, he added a little passion to his cooking.  Towards the end, I was pulling for Dale because I thought every dish but the lobster were fantastic, but when they said Hung won the prize, I was happy for him.   

Congratulations Hung!