Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Return to Domesticity: Vinegar, biscotti, consume and the art of kitchen forgiveness

By way of getting cozy with the dark days of winter now that the holiday hullabaloo has subsided, I'm returning to the domestic arts.  This week is all about homemade: biscotti, vinegar and clarified chicken broth, which from my days as a waitress at the Somerset Club in Boston I recall is also called consume.

The vinegar was darned easy.  Nothing about this is exact. 
  • Mix some leftover red wine with a few cups of unpasteurized, unfiltered vinegar from the health food store.
  • Put it in an open glass container (don't use metal).  I used old mason jars.
  • Tie cheese cloth over the top to keep out bugs and dirt.
  • Put the jug somewhere kind of dark with air temperatures that hover between 70-80 degrees (f)
  • Stir it once in awhile and taste.  
  • After a few weeks or months, when you're happy with the taste, pasteurize it by boiling it at 170 degrees (f) for about 10 minutes.
  • Store it in glass bottles or jars
Biscotti is the most forgiving cookie.  The recipe I used combines "Gourmet" with something from the internet.  The same basic recipe conjured up Apricot Biscotti, Chocolate Chip biscotti, and Spicy chili pineapple biscotti.

The key to clear consume is egg white!  Whip 1 or 2 egg whites mix that with the egg shells and about 1/4 cup water.  Stir it into the cloudy chicken broth and heat to a slow boil for about 10-20 minutes.  Strain it through cheese cloth.  There are a number of workable approaches to this basic idea.  Julia Childs recommneds 4 egg whites... maybe.  Some people add julienne carrots to the mix to add more flavor to the broth.  Others only heat one side of the pan hoping to increase the roll of the boil.  One of the Iron Chefs reportedly repeated the boiling and straining process about 4-5 times with the same batch of soup.  Anyway you look at it, it seems to work.  Another rather forgiving kitchen art.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Improves Useablity

Learn a language online for free?!!  That's the LiveMocha promise.  These guys and gals from Seattle have made it possible for anyone anywhere -- even in the Uni-ligual States of America -- to get a little bilingual going in their lives.  I've tried both Rosetta Stone, Learn Spanish and Livemocha.  Livemocha delivers almost as much for free as Rosetta Stone delivers at a much higher cost.  I love that Livemocha integrates the efforts of people around the world.  Not only can you learn from other but you can act as a lesson reviewer to earn points for more classes.

Sing Hallelujah from the BBC and More

Just in "thyme" for the festive season the BBC comes to the rescue!  For the holidays they give us a handy set of youtube videos to teach the parts of Handel's Magnificent Hallelujah Chorus. You can also find the Karaoke version on Youtube.  Sing Hallelujah indeed! This could have saved me many an anxious  moment Monday night if only I had found it before the festive event itself.  Next year eh? That's one of the beauties of the Messiah honey, it rarely changes (anymore).  Let's take BBC's Sing Hallelujah event global next year.  Why should the UK have all the fun?  Write to the BBC now and ask them to sponsor an event in your area.

Enery Bars Savory *Not* Sweet

I'm on a quest for an energy bar that is more salty than sweet.  Yeah, it's fun to nosh on double fudge chocolate lemon bar but really, it gets kind of old.   If you have any ideas ... comment! 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wishing You a Sing it Yourself Messiah and Other Musical Escapades

Music is transcendent.  My high school used to host a Messiah sing for students and alumni in the days when we still referred to the activities of the season as Christmas Vacation and The Christmas Concert.  And while I'm all for tolerance and respect the changes and diversity tolerance has brought into our lives, there are days when I wax nostalgic for what seemed like simpler times... hey I was pretty simple back then.  I was 15.  Anyway.  Tonight a friend and I went to sing the Messiah with about 500 like minded amateur singers.  And the magic happened.  We were not all in tune all the time and we certainly didn't all sing the right notes all the time, but when a group of people come together to make music the world resonates with joy.  If everyone who ever was in a high school choir or played in an orchestra or band would take out their instrument and find others to share music with them, the world would be a better place.  You gotta make it yourself or it doesn't work. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bag that Genius Before it Gets Away: Bagster

Getting Rid of Junk Before Bagster
How did I live so long with out this new product from  When you unfold this bag it's as big as a dumpster.  Who doesn't need a dumpster every now and then.  Bagster ( sells for $29.95 at home-improvement and hardware stores as well as Fill it up then go  online or call Waste Management to pay for and schedule a pickup for $79 to $159, depending on the area -- 50% to 70% less than a dumpster rental.  Really, in the age of consumerism how did we ever get through the go-go 90s without this.

And this is bagster
Forget The real internet find is   Bagster 3CUYD Dumpster in a Bag.

Snaps to AdAge for finding this gem as part of the article America's Hottest Trends in 2010.

Heidi Klum Follows Through on Her Promise

On the season finale of Project Runway, Heidi Klum promised Michael Kors that she would wear Mondo's bubble dress, and did she ever.  She rocked the floor-length dress at a Los Angeles screening of "Black Swan," during the closing night of the American Film Institute's AFI Fest 2010. The NY Daily News has the details... 

Once a loyal Hulu watcher of Project Runway, I'm so over it.  My love for the show will never be the same since Michael Kors stole what should have been Mondo's win and gave it to that simpering woman who's name I can't even remember.   I just remember her whining.  And simpering.  And Mondo's brilliant designs.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello: Why do you think they call them clippers? has just released a study on couponing behavior and  guess who uses coupons the most?

"The study of 8,500 consumers, conducted by MyType, found that the people most likely to use online coupons include six-figure income earners, the highly educated, the highly imaginative, extroverts, and those who value social responsibility and the environment."

This confirms what Harris found in a couponing study published this spring:  Here is the Deals.coms profile of coupon lovers and haters.  You can read the full report here

Profile of a coupon "lover":

  • People with household incomes in excess of $100,000 per year are roughly two times more likely to be coupon lovers.
  • People who score as extraverted and imaginative on a standard psychological assessment of personality are respectively 47% and 25% more likely than others to favor online coupons.
  • Women are 67% more likely than men to be coupon lovers.
  • People who consider the environment of utmost importance are 37% more likely to be coupon lovers than those who are less concerned about the environment.
  • College-educated people are 78% more likely than the non-college educated to be coupon lovers.
  • Parents are 48% more likely than non-parents to be coupon lovers.
  • Northeasterners are 66% more likely than West Coasters to be coupon lovers.
  • Coupon lovers are 220% more likely than avoiders to highly value tradition, and 96% more likely to highly value self-direction.
  • People who identify social responsibility as the most important element of a good work culture stand out as 151% more likely to be coupon lovers than avoiders.
  • Devoutly religious people are 31% more likely to be coupon lovers and substantially less likely to be coupon avoiders.
  • Libertarians are 47% more likely to be online coupon users.

Profile of a coupon "avoider":

  • People who score as insecure or temperamental on a standard psychological assessment of personality are 33% more likely to be avoiders.
  • Detached, sophisticated, careless and procrastinating people are also each at least 20% more likely to be coupon abstainers.
  • Men are 27% more likely to be coupon abstainers.
  • Insecure, low-income men are the quintessential coupon abstainers, being 130% more likely to avoid online coupons. Though they have household incomes of less than $50,000 per year, they are only a fifth as likely as others to be coupon lovers.

How to Calculate the Value of Facebook Fans

Many marketers have assumed that a Facebook fans is of value, but now a company called Syncapse has put a number on it.  Somewhere about $136 give or take the change.  How did they get to this number? To quote the Syncapse report:
  • "The Syncapse model utilizes key research Findings
    across all five measured variables, specifically
    (1) Product Spending, (2) Brand Loyalty,
    (3) Propensity to Recommend, (4) Brand Affnity and
    (5) Earned Media Value. Averages and participation
    rates across multiple Facebook programs were
    then assigned based on Syncapse SocialTRAC™
    databases. It is important to note these values are not
    a simple reflection of Facebook marketing efforts and
    engagements. They are complex calculations that
    look to understand differences in audience values
    and declared spend levels."
To read the full report click here

Many thanks to blogger Jeff Bullas for bringing us info about the value of a facebook fan.  You can read his post