Category Archives: How-To

Q: What’s the Best Way to Make Phillies Fans Sit Down and Be Quiet?

A:  Easy.  Hit a home run to tie the game in the 9th inning with 2 outs and 2 strikes on the board.  Then, go on to win the game in the 10th inning by a walk-off run, with bases loaded. 

The silence was deafening when this happened and it was glorious.

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I experienced a lot of firsts today!  First major league baseball game other than my home team, first time seeing National League teams play, first time experiencing a rain delay, and the first time experiencing a Philadelphia team in person.

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Nationals Park attendees were  90% Phillies fans and 10% Nationals fans today.  How this is possible, I have no idea.  I guess a lot of fans drive down from Pennsylvania for weekend games, and DC surely has a strong Philadelphia community, but I was still pretty shocked by how few Nationals fans attended.  Even though the team isn’t the best this year, the stadium is beautiful and has fantastic burgers at a concession stand called Shake Shack.  Those two facts alone should bring more people out, in my opinion.

More times than necessary, a roaring chant of “Let’s Go, Phillies!” erupted in the stadium which led me to pinch myself and make sure that I was still in the nation’s capital.  I think the City of Absurdly Fanatical Love is a more apt nickname for Philadelphia.

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It’s fun to have a new home team to root for.  I’ve got the Rays, Durham Bulls (for minor league), and now the Nats on my list to cheer on.

Some things that made me like the Nationals right away:

– They don’t have rude fans.

– There is a President’s Race during the game when past presidents are resurrected with humongous heads and race around the bases (see above picture).  It’s hysterical.

– An awesome saxophonist played the national anthem and “God Bless America” today — such a great musician and more unique than a singer!

– There are some darn good ball players on the team:  Morse, Zimmerman, Desmond, and Espinosa were my favorites.

– They won!  Maybe I was a good luck charm?

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Q:  What’s sweeter in life than beating the Phillies?

A:  Not much.

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Stumbling Blocks in Baking

“The only stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell’ attitude.”
— Julia Child

Not everything  I make turns out as I intend.  Usually, my kitchen failures involve baking.  Just ask my sister.

Last winter, between Halloween and the week before Christmas, it seemed as if I had lost all my abilities to bake.  I would send her photos of my botched cookies, breads, and cakes and then sit miserably, trying to determine where I had gone wrong. 

I wasn't kidding.

 

This was supposed to be a chocolate chip pumpkin loaf. And edible.

My baking experiment failures went on for a solid two months.  I think my problem was that I kept trying to adapt recipes I had never tried before.  Baking is extremely precise, so even my “extra dash of fill-in-the-blank spice” may have affected the recipe.  I truly did want to just throw in the towel and never attempt to bake another cookie in my life.  But, I knew that life would be very sad with no homemade cookies.

 

I somehow found my way back into baking around the Christmas holidays.  I’d like to thank a batch of perfect pumpkin muffins (yes, they were out of a box from Pelican Bay) to restoring hope in my personal abilities.  They were delicious on a snowed-in morning in the mountains of North Carolina.

 

Since then, I’ve gone on to bake many things and have shared many:  beer bread, cupcakes, donuts.  In my opinion, I’ve been doing pretty well.

 

And then today happened.  I woke up wanting to challenge myself.  I thought of all my past baking failures, channeled my inner Julia and give cooking a “What the hell” midset, and decided to make pizza dough from scratch. 

 

I really don’t know why I’ve been so nervous about this since millions of people make their own pizza dough, but I was honestly scared when I started activating the yeast today.  And of course I couldn’t just make your basic pizza dough.  Instead, I went with a recipe that calls for white wine, and then made a couple adaptations.  Go big or go home, that’s my motto.

 

Amazingly, it all turned out. 
 
 
White Wine Pizza Dough Crust
Makes 1 large or 2 smaller thin crust pizzas
1 packet of active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
¼ cup pinot grigio
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and wine.  Stir well to combine.  Then add in the salt and nutmeg, and stir again.

Add in 1 cup of all purpose flour and mix to create a paste.  Then add in the remaining flour and start to knead dough.

On a flour-dusted surface, knead dough for 6 to 8 minutes.  Then place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a dish towel. 

Let rise for 45 minutes.  (And if your kitchen is too cold like mine, warm your oven for a minute, turn it off, and then place the bowl inside.

After dough has risen, separate it into two equal parts if you’d like to make two pizzas.  Or roll out onto a ¼” thickness on a floured surface and make one giant pizza.  Top with whatever you desire, and bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes.



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How To: Personalize Your Hummus

Remember how I taught you how to make your own hummus, and therefore save lots of money by not buying the pre-made kind?

Well, now here are some of my favorite ways to add flavor to your hummus.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the classic version.  It’s just nice to switch things up now and again…

Pesto and Sundried Tomato Hummus:  To the original version, add 1 Tbsp. of store-bought pesto and 2 chopped sundried tomatoes to the blender, and mix to combine.

Lemon Pepper Hummus:  Add in 1 to 2 tsp. of lemon pepper seasoning, and an extra squirt of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavors.

Chipotle Hummus:  Add 2 tsp. of chipotle powder and 1 tsp. of paprika.  If you like more spiciness add in ½ tsp. of cayenne red pepper. 

 

I have more combinations up my sleeve, but those are a few good ways to get you started.  Have a great Friday!

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How To: Make Your Own Hummus

Have you noticed the rising food prices in grocery stores?  How could you not, right?  Lots of foods are getting more and more expensive each day, especially foods that are pre-made.  One such item:  hummus.

I love hummus!  Love love love.  In the traditional recipe, it’s made with garbanzo beans, olive oil, garlic, lemon, and tahini which is simply sesame paste.  Tahini is not difficult to find in stores nowadays, so just ask a clerk if you’re not sure which aisle to find it in.  It may seem expensive (usually around $5 – $7 for a 16oz. container), but that amount will last you a very long time.

In my local grocery stores, I’ve noticed Sabra and Athenos brands of hummus selling anywhere from $3.99 to $5.99 for a 10 oz. container.  That’s preposterous.  Because for roughly half the amount of money, you can make twice as much hummus, and it’s just as delicious.

In this version, I subbed out the garbanzo beans for navy beans simply because that’s what I had on hand.  If you’re looking for the traditional hummus, then use garbanzos.  Enjoy with fresh vegetables or as a spread on sandwiches.

 

Navy Bean Hummus

1 – 14.5oz can of navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic
squirt of lemon juice
1 Tbsp. tahini
2 or 3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. cumin (optional)

In a blender, combine beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and water.  Blend on low for about a minute until spread is smooth.  You may need to add a little more water to get it to loosen up.

Add in salt, cumin, and oil.  Blend for another 30 seconds and adjust seasonings to taste.  Store in a tightly sealed container.

The best thing about hummus?  It’s extremely versatile.  Next week I’ll share some of my favorite hummus adaptations, so stay tuned!

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