Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fun on the Web April 29 '10 - en Papillote

With school coming at me I'm looking for ideas to cook in a flash but still get something delicious.

From the archives of the LA Times

Scissors, paper, flavor
You can cook almost anything in parchment, especially now.
June 23, 2004|Regina Schrambling, Special to The Times

My kitchen stove is one of those gorgeous 1950s Wedgewoods with serious pilot lights that keep the whole room pretty close to incubator temperature all year round. If I'm going to turn on one of the ovens in the heat of summer, I need four good reasons: What I'm putting in it has to be quick and it has to be easy. And what I take out has to be radically transformed, with no slaving over a hot sink afterward.

Not that I have a weakness for vintage, but to me the best solution is actually one of the most traditional in the French kitchen: cooking en papillote. Anything sealed in baking parchment with a little liquid will emerge as something almost magical in less than 20 minutes, less time than it would take on a grill if I owned one. And it's about as close to carefree as you can get without breaking open a package of paper plates. There are no pots or pans or even baking dishes to scrub; you can just wipe a cookie sheet off and call it a night (some of us Luddites do not have dishwashers).

Cooking en papillote is a great idea no matter what page is open on the calendar, but it suits summertime surprisingly well. Typically, it's most often used to cook fish: With just a little butter or oil for moisture and a few herbs for perfume, it's a foolproof path to juicy fillets.

But it's even better applied to foods that need barely enough exposure to heat to qualify as cooked, like those June-July specials of sweet scallops and corn off the cob, or to peaches and other ripe fruits that need a little something extra to qualify as dessert.

Baking in paper last went through a big revival in the '80s, when spa "cuisine" was all the rage, which in my mind took half its French appeal away. Undeniably, it's the next-best thing to steaming for most ingredients, because it imparts flavor where fat would normally have to do the heavy lifting. But there are far better imperatives for indulging. This is a technique that stands on its own.

Nothing could be easier, as long as you have a roll of parchment paper (still easier to find than that other artifact, kitchen twine) and cut it into the proper shape. "Papillote" is derived from the word for butterfly, which is a hint of how to proceed: You fold a long sheet in half crosswise and scissor out butterfly wings -- a piece that looks like half a heart or, when you unfold it, a valentine. As the food inside cooks, the fat top will puff perfectly while the skinny end captures the juices.

Look for recipes on my Cooking Blog

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fun on the Web April 27 '10 Eating Healthy

I have been trying to eat more healthy foods and rely on less meat in my diet. To that end I have been exploring more oriental style cooking lately but now I realize I have missed other cuisine that will take me away from standard American meat and potatoes.

Mexican food at home does not have to be just Taco Night or Nachos. I'm actually trying to do Tamales right now but that is a post for another time. I found a big store that caters to ethnic food so now I can get fresher tortillas and tostadas that come in a huge bag. Often they are topped with just about anything found in the produce drawer plus some salsa for a satisfying snack, lunch or dinner. If there is leftover meat a little can go a long way.

Mediterranean and Italian Cuisine do lean heavy on pasta. If you make it full of vegetables and a little more sauce than pasta and/or use other than white flour pasta it still can trend more to the healthy side than white spaghetti with marinara.

This week my cooking blog is exploring food from other lands to highlight some of these dishes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fun on the Web April 25 '10 Facebook Games

If you play games on Facebook you will want to check out this site with tips and tweaks to make your game better,

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fun on the Web April 22 '10 - tanstaafl

tanstaafl aka tanstafl is a quote out of Robert Heinlein

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

It is also a website leading to other websites most of which have free programs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fun on the Web April 20 '10 The Constitution

Been a busy few days when I stumbled on this site during a political discussion. Everyone should learn more about the constitution and it's amendments.

Of particular note are things not in the constitution that everyone assumes are covered.

BTW Happy Earth Day
How have you changed in the 40 years we have been doing this? Do you recycle? Do you walk more? Do you use alternative energy in your home or car? Do you buy local?

Here is the NY Times take on this:

CORRECTION: Apparently my hippie days are over since I don't even know when Earth Day is anymore. BTW Earth Day is April 22.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fun on the Web April 18 '10 Roald Dahl

This is always a fun website but now there is even more fun with a Splendiferous Summer Sweepstake with winners bagging a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge and runners up getting Roald Dahl books. While your there check out the games, e-cards or activity pages.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fun on the Web April 15 '10 - Vinegar 1001 Uses

Well Tax day is here. Are you done? I'm at one down and one to go, but I did get the signature that I needed yesterday afternoon so it won't be long and I can put it all away till next year. Going to try for sooner rather than later since it will be in the eighties this afternoon so I won't want to be out there. I'm just not equipped for 80's in April.

In keeping with the bitterness of taxes we are talking about vinegar today. I always used vinegar for washing windows and to hold colors in fabrics, which tend to run, soak them for a few minutes in white distilled vinegar before washing particularly with any red or vivid pink items.

Who knew vinegar could be used for all these things? 1001 Uses

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fun on the Web April 14 '10 Crafty Ideas

Amazing use of craft materials and previously used boxes:

More craft ideas:

OK I didn't count them but 1200+ Crafts here:

Links to tons of sites with projects, patterns, and articles:

Even more crafts of all types FREE

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fun on the Web April 12 '10 Ethnic Food Festivals

Obviously I have just brushed the surface but if you have a favorite please put it in a comment.

First and foremost, in my mind, for Ethnic Food is Summerfest. Located in Milwaukee WI and billed as the Worlds Largest Music Festival with 11 stages over 11 days and over 500 bands (this year they say 800) this may not be an exaggeration but it also has an Ethnic Food Court plus other areas featuring not just multiple Italian and Mexican places but several German, a few Barbecue Joints, Creole, Thai, and Greek Food.

Plenty of fruit and salads are available for those who want to be good too. This is truly a special Festival since Martinis are there if you know where to look. (I drink neither beer nor wine so this was a great addition for me.) Great food, great music and a cocktail: does it get any better?

For links to these and others in Milwaukee

That venue has a different ethnic festival booked virtually every summer weekend that isn't during Summerfest at the same location along the lake starting with Polish Fest June 18-20 and running to Indian Summer Festival September 10-12.

There are of course other Summerfests like this one in California

Milwaukee also offers
Bastille Days

Greek Fest

Asian Fest

And in November we have the Folkfair

Ethnic Food Festivals by state

In New England

Rutland Vermont Ethnic Festival

Grecian Festival in New England

The Folk Festival in Lowell

Caribbean Carnival in Cambridge, MA

Cambridge Riverfest

There's a Ukrainian festival (with food) from 10-4 Saturday at Holy Trinity Church on upper New Hampshire Ave in North Silver Spring.

DC & Baltimore area Thai Festival

Ukrainian Festival

Taste of the City

Annual Parade of Nations and International Ethnic Food Festival at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fun on the Web April 11 '10 Unclutter

Anyone who knows me knows I have issues with clutter so I saw this and wondered: can this possibly be true? Has anyone read this? Going to order it from the library since books are a no-no expenditure right now. But I sure do order from the library regularly and go there every week. They provide me an unending supply of books, music, crafting instructions, AND movies.

The whole web site is chock full of ideas so I just managed to put away all the games in the house. (Except of course Scrabble which is going to the cookbook bookcase once those are gone since there is so much Scrabble related materials.)

Based on how successful I was I may just read an article now and then to get ideas!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fun on the Web April 10 '10 Pollen Forecast

This time of year it's not the weather that is the worst for me but the pollen. If you have pollen allergies get that forecast here:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fun on the Web April 7 '10 WI Politics

Well I had a thought about checking for elections yesterday since it was the first Tuesday in April which used to be election day. Imagine my surprise when I found an 18 year old running for Governor. So in the interest of informing us all about who is running, check out this site: