Improvised Life » food + cooking If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:12:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hands as Tools: Ethiopian Version Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:08:19 +0000 (Video link HERE.) State-of-the art eating in Ethiopia.

Made by hand, eaten by hand.

When I was there, I don’t think I saw a cooking utensil that wasn’t either wood or clay, a rough panga for chopping beef, and a cheap plastic cup here and there for pouring. No need for Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma or a fancy Wolf range to dine well there. (more…)

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Second Graders Discover Haute Cuisine Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:28:13 +0000

(Video link here.) Some brilliant soul at the New York Times had the inspired idea to see what second graders would make of a meal at Daniel, one of New York City’s fanciest, seriously haute-cuisine, restaurants. Six kids from P.S. 295 in Brooklyn were treated to a seven-course, $220 Tasting Menu.

Their reactions are captured in this beauty of a video by Oscar nominated filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz.  It is total charm and revelation to see
kids experience the elaborate creations with truly fresh eyes and unfiltered candor. (more…)

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Weekend Eats: Shakshouka (Spicy Tomatoes with Eggs) Fri, 10 Oct 2014 08:11:48 +0000

Susan Dworski sent us an email recently with images of a dish from Green Kitchen Stories: Shakshuuka with Hummus and Sweet Potato Chips,  and this note:

We eat Shakashuka for Sunday night supper at leasst twice a month. Or more.
My recipe is very similar to this one, but their hummus sounds great. And the chips.

TELL US ABOUT IT, we wrote back. WHAT’S SHAKSHUKA??!!! How do you like to eat it?

Here’s what she wrote:

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Clever Hardwood Board Uses (with Resources) Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:00:19 +0000


This clever bread board bird feeder reminded us of the endless odd permutations on the theme of bread boards we’ve written about before, and of the vast possibilities for using wood planks in general for household projects, from a ledge to perch on top of the back of the toilet tank to a low bookshelf bench set on stones… (more…)

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Non-toxic DIY Tip #10,833: PAM Fly Eliminator Thu, 25 Sep 2014 17:03:44 +0000

Susan Dworski

We have an infestation of flies in this Southern California heat. Particularly in the kitchen. Having no screens no doubt complicate the issue. But, hey, we haven’t really had to deal with this before.

In a fit of rage I started shooting them down this afternoon with PAM oil spray wherever they landed. Overjoyed to see each little black bastard expire, coated in a morass of 100% natural oil.

A quick swipe with a (biodegradable, recyclable) paper towel towel–avert your eyes as they writhe–and bingo! Fly toast.

This ranks right up there for me with pouring lines of cinnamon over ant trails to divert them. (more...)]]> 0 11 Strangely Clever Improvisations with Instant Ramen Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:00:16 +0000

(Video link here.)  If you ever find yourself having to cook dinner from a mini-mart, keep in mind these 11 clever improvisations on the theme of instant ramen, an iconically cheap, vin ordinaire instant ingredient.  Sometimes THAT kind of ingredients ia more challenging to improvise with than purist hi-brow ones.

Our favorite: gnocchi said to have been invented by the great chef David Chang.

Note: You need to BOIL the noodles first to make any of this work. We’d boil ‘em in salted water, not the msg broth.

via Kottke

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September is Fig Season! Riffs and a Recipe Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:00:14 +0000

Maria Robledo

We “awoke with a start” realizing it is full-tilt fig season when a reader wrote to say she applied our tomato drying technique to figs, which she has in abundance on her tree.

Oh my. It’s fig season! What is so grand about figs is that they are perfect unadorned or paired with the simplest of foods, prosciutto and raspberries being one of our favorites (recipe-ette, below). But figs also love salami or just about any cured pig product (even bacon), and cheeses from fresh ricotta to creamy robiola to Manchego. Look/listen to a fig and it will TELL you what to try pairing it with. (more…)

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Giglio’s 10 Wine Pairings for Junk Food Tue, 09 Sep 2014 22:00:58 +0000


One of the things we love about wine and spirits authority Anthony Giglio is his complete lack of pretention on matters of food and wine. So, of course, when asked to recommend wines to drink with pork rinds, pizza, Doritos and Dunkin Donuts (!!) and other humble junky foods we secretly love, he rose the occasion. You’ll find the complete list of his 10 favorite oddball pairings at Details.

Our favorite, for the story behind it as much for the brilliance of the combo is Popcorn + Chardonnay (check out our Popcorn Improvisations): (more…)

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Street Entrepeneur Crab Man Mike + Our Faux Aioli Recipe Mon, 11 Aug 2014 20:00:27 +0000

Sally Schneider

While on our NYC stay cation, we'll get a hit of the Maryland shore by stopping by legendary Crab Man Mike's stand in Harlem, where he cooks up batches of crabs, shrimp and lobsters on his rigged propane cooker. We love Mike’s seafood room temperature, dunked in our Faux Aioli (garlic mayonnaise), for an American South/French fusion. Here’s more about the amazing Mike and our recipe.]]> 0
Cedar Planked Salmon for the Grill Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:47:37 +0000

Sally Schneider

Our friend Holton Rower has been learning about cooking salmon on a cedar plank on his Weber grill through trial-and-error, a method we totally endorse.  His first go wasn’t completely successful but it was clear that the cedary smoke is a perfect marriage with salmon. If you don’t have wood coals to cook over, cedar planks are a great way to achieve woodsmoke flavor. Holton learned quickly and his recent try was a huge success. Here’s how he did it (and what he/we learned). (more…)

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Sea Shell Printed Cookies and Pie Crusts Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:29:10 +0000

Catherine Gratwicke

While putting together our post on Sea Shell Salt Cellars the other day, we stumbled on this lovely idea: impressing cookie or pie dough with a small ridged scallop (or other) sea shell. Then we wondered what to we recommend that we KNOW will take the impression? H-m-m-m.

Eh voila! Our friends at Kitchen Repertoire’s Sand Dollar Sables look just perfect… (more…)

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Cherry Season’s Perfect Desserts Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:54:15 +0000

Maria Robledo

We can’t remember a cherry season lasting SO long, with such an abundance of plump cherries. If we owned a restaurant, a bowl of iced cherries would be our featured dessert. (It’s also the perfect, surprising, understated end to a dinner party.) There is little better… …except perhaps (more…)

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DIY Fake Fingernail (Vegetable) Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:00:24 +0000

Holton Rower

Holton Rower sent us his latest off-the-cuff improvisation, done while making dinner: an inspired fake fingernail made of celery.

Hmmm. Wondering about that exact moment when Holton SAW the possibilities in an ordinary stalk of celery.


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Kitchen Repertoire’s Charming, Doable, Delish Recipes Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:19:19 +0000

Dana Gallagher

Our old friends from the food world Frances Boswell and Dana Gallagher have teamed up to create a lovely labor-of-love blog called Kitchen Repertoire. Their simple mandate is a breath of fresh air:

We are 20 year veterans of the magazine industry; a food editor and a photographer. We live real lives with kids and families and careers.

Time is short and finding inspiration in the little things makes the day easier.

We hope having a repertoire to pull from will help you find more joy in your day.


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