Tag Archives: video

Kitchen Tool Talk: 3 More of My Favorite Things, Digital Edition

Gentle Readers, what a long strange week it has been. There is so much going on, it’s easy to forget things. More and more I rely on my digital brain (it takes many forms, including the popular cloud version) to organize my kitchen life. Pictures have become a way of taking notes for me, from where I park in the airport to which kind of lotion to buy.

http://instagram.com/p/VmpP4yHsPj/

In honor of what may seem like a dependency on devices and the cloud, here are 3 More of my Favorite Things:

1. My phone. It’s a camera, and my means of recording the steps in cooking a recipe, the shot in the restaurant, and random grocery store finds. But it’s also my gateway to remembering my grocery list and what I put on the weekly menus. Yes, I have to look myself up sometimes. Incredibly convenient.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn't half bad either.

I love bacon this much. And coffee isn’t half bad either.

2. My iPad. A larger form factor, this serves a different purpose in the kitchen. Tablets sit nicely in cookbook holders, and they’re ideal for looking up recipes without squinting. Safely ensconced in a protective cover, I get far less powdered sugar and bacon grease on the tablet than the phone. Bonus!

My New Sous Chef: the iPad.

My New Sous Chef: the iPad.

3. YouTube. A video can be worth well over a thousand words. I plan to get back into the business. Just the other night, as I destroyed my beloved jar opener attempting to loosen a particularly tricky salsa lid, I thought back to a vintage piece I did on 3 ways to open a jar. I went through two of them to free the salsa. Thank you digital brain.

How do you bring technology into your kitchen? Post a comment, send a tweet. I am here. Promise. Only a little virtualized.

Send your kitchen tools, actual questions, and random cheers to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Potato Chip Tasting: Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips vs Sriracha Potato Chips (with video)

Gentle Readers, somethings must be tried to be believed. As a well-documented fan of chicken and waffles and sriracha, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to at least try these little gems. Full disclaimer, I’m not a huge potato chip fan, so I don’t have religion about brands. I love the fresh cut ones, though, which follows my mantra of when you eat Fried, eat only the best Fried there is to offer.

The Contenders: Lay's Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips vs. Sriracha

The Contenders: Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips vs. Sriracha

However, I’m not afraid to try new things (that aren’t full of hazelnuts or licorice of course). We tasted both kinds of chips plain, and dipped in maple syrup and/or sriracha. There was some cross-dipping, as my co-tasters, The Practical Cooks Junior, are notoriously experimental with mixing and matching. Roll the tape:

Perhaps it was the preparatory 6 mile bike ride, but we all liked them both, and agreed the Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips were best. They taste mainly of maple syrup, but if you eat more than one you build up the pepper coating taste too. Not much chicken, very little waffle. I wouldn’t buy these regularly, but it’s a great conversation starter for a party.

The Sriracha Potato Chips were good, but at an unfair advantage as I had eaten fresh cut ones tossed with sriracha and gorganzola a few days earlier. They are good, just not that special.

We opted not to taste the garlic and cheese bread chips, as they didn’t sound that special. What do you think? Have you tried them? Share your opinion in the comments box below!

Send your crazy chip ideas, extra maple syrup, and spare lattes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Friday: Meeting Smitten Kitchen, a Cookbook Review

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Weekly Menus: Week of 4/8/2012 (with Bonus Video)

Gentle Readers, for those who celebrate, Happy Easter. For those who don’t, I hope you’re sleeping in. The Practical Cooks Junior have determined that we will be up at the crack of dawn, though I suspect they are in it for the hot cross buns. But I digress.

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

The Juniors have also greatly influenced this week’s menu. I’m encouraging them to own their culinary destiny. Here we go.

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Leftovers
Ham ham ham. It multiplies in the fridge.

Monday: Nachos
Still working through the pile of black beans. Add some sweet potatoes and cheese, and you’ve got nachos for the dinner guests we’re inviting over. (Including a small one with a love of spice.)

Tuesday: Salad Bar
Planning on using whatever is in the fridge atop greens. Necessary after Meatapalooza.

Wednesday: Salad and Pasta Bar (or Beans)
This will either be a salad and pasta tossed with ham and green peas in a creamy sauce or beans with ham. Catching a theme here?

Thursday: Lasagna or Ham Loaf
I’m hoping for lasagna, not going to lie.

Friday: Dine Out!
We’re changing up this week, dining out a different day.

Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner
Could be grits, could be biscuits and gravy. We shall see.

How do you use up ham? Post a comment below.

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

And now, my thoughts on Peeps, the Easter candy that looks back at you. Roll the tape:

Send your challenges, ideas, and actual food questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, Three New Chocolate Things Reviewed. Again, because someone has to.

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The Best Bacon: Bacon Brackets Winner Declared, Stunning Upset (with video)

Gentle Readers, the smoky haze is clearing, the fat has been rendered, and a winner has been declared. The Practical Cook can now resume purchasing and consuming bacon in rational rather than rasher quantities. So who won?

Bacon Smackdown!

Bacon Smackdown!

Let’s roll the tapes:

That’s right, out of all the fancy pants brands we tried, the victor is Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon, sold at a reasonable price at your local grocery store. The results are so shocking, I plan on doing a blind taste with some local food talents, just to confirm or deny. If you’re interested in running your own test, or participating, let me know.

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Winner of the Grocery Store Round!

Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion, Best Bacon

You see, the favorite going in, by far, was Nueske’s. I thought it would win, easy. The fabulous Wonder Woman surprised me with a 3 pound sampler pack of the stuff, and having mowed through the two more unique varieties, I spared the standard hickory smoked for the Bacon Brackets. I couldn’t eat it.

Blind Tasting Bacon!

Blind Tasting Bacon!

That’s right, bacon I could not eat. It was so smoky, though I admittedly have a problem with high smoke, it was inedible to me. Improv Cook backed me up on this one, though she’s not as put off by smoke as me. I went and bought another sample, this time sliced to order. Better, but I loved the cherrywood smoked Nueske’s way more.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving. This is the Nueske's!

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.This is the Nueske's!

So the champion went down. I consolidated this final post, as the first place winner in the Mail-Order is hard enough to source, and not delicious enough to bother, in my opinion. So here’s the Final Four, ranked from last to first:

4. Applegate Sunday Bacon. This only won the Gourmet grocery store bracket by being the least unappealing. Not recommended if there are other options.

3. Niman’s Ranch. This was the barely named winner of the mail-order category. It was smoky, salty, and a bit chewy with some good fat, but neither Improv Cook nor I loved it enough to stake our bacon reps on it.

2. Bacon from Cliff’s Meat Market. Proving that butchers know what they’re talking about, the mysteriously labeled “Bacon” from Cliff’s in Carrboro, NC, was really good. I would eat this very versatile locally-obtained bacon any time.

1. Wright Hickory Smoked Bacon: Grand Champion. This bacon was flavorful, meaty, with some smoke, extremely versatile, and really just a pleasure to eat. And isn’t that what bacon is all about?

Thanks to everyone for joining us on this journey, and my comrade in tasting and the founder of this awesome quest, Improv Cook. Special thanks to Cliff’s Meat Market, Brinkley Farms, and John at Eco Farms for the great info and the bacon.

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

Keep your French Toast company with some bacon, and grits, and eggs, and . . .

And another special thank you to Neal’s Deli, for hosting the Bacon Summit that led to the Bacon Brackets. I’m coming in soon for another one of those pastrami biscuits, or perhaps the egg and garlicky spinach. I need a little bacon break . . .

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

Neal's Deli Biscuit with Egg, Swiss Cheese, and Garlicky Spinach: It's a Health Food Really

What a long salty trip it has been. So I challenge you to go try this bacon and post a comment! What do you think?

Send your fresh veggies, challenges, and actual cooking questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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We will meet again on Sunday, with Weekly Menus and a Bonus Recipe!

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Bacon Brackets, Round 2 Results: Gourmet Grocery Store (with video)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook has exciting results to share. This week’s Bacon Brackets involve the first of a series of upsets. And really, aren’t we in it for the Cinderella story? In searching for the best tasting bacon, Improv Cook and I just assumed, right or wrong, that the gourmet shops would have something up their porcine sleeves.

Let’s roll the game day footage:

We were wrong. Here are the contenders:

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

And here are the stunning results of the Gourmet Grocery Store Bacon Brackets:

1. 365 brand. $4.99/12oz Some shrinkage during cooking, low salt, crisp chewy, meaty but more like beef than pork. 4th place “not good” (Yeah, we said it.)

365 Bacon is not delicious

365 Bacon is not delicious

2. Wellshire market style. $7.99/16oz This bacon had moderate salt, some chew, some bacon flavor, okay texture, good on a biscuit. 3rd place with texture caveat  (as in if you have texture issues with thicker bacon at all, don’t buy this one)

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

3. Pederson apple smoked. $7.99/16oz This bacon was noticeably sweeter, had a slight chew, some smoke, good for salad or bitter greens, 2nd place, best to cook with this one instead of eating straight up

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

4. Applegate Sunday bacon. $4.99/8oz This bacon suffered shrinkage, but was bacony with moderate to high salt. However, it was not crispy, so we award it a  reticent 1st place.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

The big shock: the gourmet grocery store bacons got their porcine behinds handed to them by the plain old grocery store bacons. We tasted these back to back, and though I hope our finalist judges aren’t reading this, we agreed we wouldn’t go out of our way to eat any of these “gourmet” bacon contenders.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Up next week, Round 3, Local Bacon! I’ll let you gather your local bacon and test along. Do you have a favorite so far? Post a comment, even just to cheer us on or provide exercise tips. 🙂

Got bacon? Send your challenges, ideas, and vegetarian recipe requests to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Sunday, we’ll have Weekly Menus, Plus Another Bonus Recipe!

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Taste Test Challenge: Peanut M&M’s vs Pretzel M&M’s (with video)

Gentle Readers, how many varieties of M&M’s could there be? The Practical Cook just learned there are white chocolate ones, too. However, one must draw the line somewhere, lest the colorful candy shell envelop a Brussels sprout next. I digress. A Gentle Reader challenged me to taste the Pretzel M&M’s, and I accepted.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

After all, who doesn’t love a crunchy, salty, sweet snack? Silence, just as I thought. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

So the results are in, The Practical Cook still votes squarely in the traditional Peanut M&M camp. In fact, I had some plain M&M’s in trail mix the other day and was reminded how satisfying they were. Basically, it’s been a chocolate sort of month. To be fair, The Practical Cooks Junior prefer all new types of M&M over the old, while The Practical Cook’s Dad (a veteran taster), sides with me. There is apparently an age line drawn in the candy-coated debate.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

So what’s your stand? Plain, Peanut, Pretzel, Peanut Butter? Vote for your favorite M&M by posting a comment. Make your voice heard! Let us caucus over candy, if for not other reason than to give me the opportunity to use that verb. I can hear you out there.

Serious questions, knock knock jokes, and chocolate challenges can be emailed to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday, I’m eating veggies all week to prepare for Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store Edition!

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