Still stumped on what to get mom for Mother's Day? If she's a wine lover — and really, who isn't? — show her how much you care by indulging her enological tendencies. Read on for five ideas.
This month, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is celebrating year 12 of food, cocktails, celebrity chefs, and outrageous parties. We'll be bringing you along with us to the tasting tents and demonstrations, so stay tuned for all of our on-the-scene coverage. In the meantime, see how much you know about this delicious and star-studded festival.
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Every so often, I find myself feeling a little restless with some aspect of my life or another: my wardrobe, my apartment’s décor, my Friday night routine. The problem is, if I bought an entirely new wardrobe or redecorated my crib every few months, I’d be broke. So, I’ve come up with a few savvy ways to change things just enough without ending up penniless. Read on.
Thanksgiving is almost here, and spending time with family can be the best — and worst — part of the holidays. Cramped quarters, conflicting personalities, and childhood baggage mean tensions can run high, especially when you don't have any time to yourself. But with a little creativity, you can find ways to squeeze in alone time, and avoid a meltdown. Here are a few:
- Offer to be the errand-runner: If you're craving a little time to yourself, speak up when your mom mentions she's out of sugar. Even a few minutes in the car blasting music (or just sitting in silence) can be enough to pull you back from the brink.
- Go for a walk: Can't take another second of togetherness around the fire? Suggest a brisk after-dinner walk. True, you usually can't get away with doing this one all by yourself, but even the most grating of family members can be more palatable outdoors in the crisp air. And if all else fails, walk fast.
- Put on your dishwashin' gloves: Offering to take on clean-up duty is a double whammy. You'll earn brownie points for pitching in, and since only so many helpful hands can tackle a sink of dishes, you'll get a little QT with just you and the suds.
Need more ideas? Keep reading.
We're just kicking off Summer, and there's still plenty of time to throw your biggest grilling bash yet. Prep your backyard, secure a spot at the park, or haul your ice chest down to the beach. Follow these tips for a seamless Summer soiree that you'll actually be able to relax and enjoy.
- Choose an adaptable menu. Chances are, your guest list will include a variety of eaters, some of whom will want meat and some of whom will not. Choosing a menu that can be easily tweaked to suit different tastes will ensure that you don't spend your entire barbecue cooking up five separate meals. Sausages (pork, chicken, and soy), burgers (beef, turkey, and veg), and kebabs (meat and veggies on separate skewers) are versatile and delicious options.
- Add a signature detail. If you're feeding a crowd, it's probably not the time to tackle labor-intensive dishes with pricey ingredients. Instead, keep the majority of your menu simple and easy, but add one signature detail or dish that will make your party stand out. If you're known for your seven-layer dip, take the time to whip up a fabulous batch, but serve it alongside premade hummus. Into canning and preserving? Make your own pickles and relishes to serve atop of store-bought 'dogs.
For the rest of my suggestions, read on.
Ever noticed how asparagus has a more robust, nutty flavor when you roast it in the oven with olive oil than when you blanch or steam it? I'd always assumed that was just because, well, roasting makes everything taste better, but it turns out there's actually a scientific explanation behind the difference.
According to Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal, the flavor molecules in asparagus are water soluble. When you blanch the spears in boiling water, the flavor "leaks" out of the asparagus and into the water. When you cook it in fat, the molecules remain intact and stay where you want them — in your asparagus. So, instead of blanching your next batch of asparagus, cook it in a little olive oil or butter for a more flavorful result.
Since learning this fun fact from Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Cookbook, I haven't cooked asparagus any other way, and he's right! The flavor and texture are miles better. But don't get too carried away with this technique: although veggies like asparagus and carrots have water-soluble flavor molecules, the molecules in others, like broccoli and green beans, are oil-soluble and should be cooked in water for optimal flavor.
Have you ever tried this method of cooking asparagus?
Source: Flickr User bongo vongo
There's nothing worse than being elbow-deep in an exciting recipe, only to realize it calls for an ingredient you don't have. But there is a way around the situation that doesn't involve keeping your kitchen stocked with items you won't get much use out of. Read on for five slightly unusual ingredients many recipes call for and an easy substitution for each.
Sugar cookies and peppermint bark are a dime a dozen during the holiday season, but this year, we've been bringing you some deliciously out-of-the-box edible gift ideas with our fourth annual 12 Days of Edible Gifts series. Haven't had time to whip up one of our easy, tasty ideas yet? If you've got 15 minutes and a handful of fiery peppers, we've got your answer: homemade hot sauce.
This recipe is so easy it almost can't be called a recipe, but your lucky recipients don't have to know that. It's also completely customizable: use whichever peppers you prefer (or whichever are easiest to get your hands on). Last year, I used a combination of green jalapeños and habaneros; the result was tangy, herbaceous, and blazing hot. This year's batch was made with ripe red jalapeños and red serranos, and while it still packs some heat, it's much milder and sweeter.
If you can't bear to give away all the fruits of your labor, you're in luck: the vinegar that rises to the top of the hot sauce as it cures can be skimmed off, bottled separately, and kept for yourself as a homemade Tabasco substitute.
Get ready to spice up your life — and get the recipe — after the break.
Need a glass of vino, stat, but don't have the time or patience to wait for a bottle of Chard to chill in your fridge? Luckily, you don't have to! Here are five ways to chill a bottle of wine in 20 minutes or less.
- Just add salt: You probably already know that putting wine in a bucket of ice and cold water, rather than just ice, will chill your vino faster. But did you know that adding salt to the mix further speeds up the cooling time? Salt reduces the freezing point of water and allows it to become colder without turning into ice, which in turn more quickly chills your wine.
- Give it a spin: If even the water/ice/salt method isn't chilling your Sauv Blanc fast enough, keep the bucket nearby and gently spin the wine bottle in the ice water every couple minutes. Spinning the bottle moves around the contents inside, allowing more wine to come into contact with the cold glass, and chilling it faster. Keep in mind that this method works best for nonsparkling wines; try this with a bottle of Champagne and you're in for a shock when you pop open the bottle!
Keep reading for three more ways to chill out!
Wine tasting can be quite a production: between vying for a space at the bar to begin tasting, paying high prices for comparably tiny pours of wine, and figuring out how to safely get from winery to winery without someone having to miss out on all the tasting, it can feel like more trouble than it's worth.
I recently visited Clif Winery's new tasting room in St. Helena, CA, Velo Vino, where the vibe was decidedly more relaxed. The tasting room in general is inviting, warm, and impeccably wine-country chic, but I was especially impressed with the large communal table where the winery hosts its special Yellow Jersey tasting. On my visit, the table was already set for a tasting, and it gave me a few great ideas for hosting a fun, informal wine tasting at home. Want to host your own? Here are a few tips!
- Set the scene: The point of a wine tasting is to enjoy each sip and chat with friends, rather than to power through as much wine as possible, so make your guests want to stay awhile. Set up your tasting somewhere comfortable, and lay out everything your guests will need during the tasting, including glasses, paper for taking notes, a pitcher of water, and a bucket for pouring out unwanted tastes.
- Move from lighter to heavier wines: This may be a wine tasting cliché, but that doesn't mean it isn't true! Each wine affects how the next one tastes, so start with lighter wines, like whites, sparkling wines, or Pinot Noirs, and transition to heavier reds like Cabernets and Syrahs.
- Provide small bites to pair with each taste: It can be overkill to serve a full meal alongside a wine tasting, but having small snacks on hand that pair nicely with your wines will enhance the overall experience, and keep your guests from getting too hungry! Clif Winery offers a variety of paprika-spiced almonds, dried cherries, and roasted pistachios that pair perfectly with different varietals.
More wine tasting tips after the break!
Stocking up on spirits the other day, I noticed that the makers of my favorite bourbon, Bulleit, have now added a rye whiskey to their repertoire. Naturally, I had to try it, and had to find something delicious to make with it!
I wanted something that would bring out the flavor of the rye, be easy to drink, and preferably use in-season produce, and I found all that and more in the Easterner. The drink uses freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for tartness, and maple syrup and grenadine for smoothness. For optimal flavor, use your own grenadine; I tried it with both store-bought and homemade syrups, and the homemade won by a long shot. Kick your evening up a notch, after the jump.
The royal madness isn't over yet! There's another new member of the royal family, and she may give Kate Middleton a run for her money. Yesterday, the Duchess of Cornwall adopted a rescue puppy named Beth from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, and we can see why: how could anyone resist that face? Beth is about 4 months old, and was left at the Battersea shelter last month. We're so happy that this rescued pup will now be living the good life!
Source: Yfrog user Clarence House
Unless you're currently living in your dream house, chances are you had to make some compromises when you chose your current digs. Maybe you sacrificed square footage for a dishwasher, gave up outdoor space in order to be right in the middle of the city, or put up with drafty windows and creaky floors in exchange for your home's vintage charm.
Once you've moved a few times, you get a sense of what you're willing to sacrifice for other benefits, and what you won't budge on. Everyone's dealbreakers are different; what are yours?
Photographs are an easy and versatile way to decorate any home, but your decorating inspiration doesn't have to be limited to the pictures themselves. The cameras, lights, tripods, and film used to produce those photos make for equally beautiful decor!
If you've got the photography bug too, first invest in a vintage-style camera (bonus points if you learn how to use it) and display it proudly. Then augment your shutterbug display with a photographer's floor lamp ($649), adorn your coffee table with a set of vintage camera coasters ($60), and keep your pencils in sharp focus with a camera pencil sharpener ($14). Need more lens love in your life? Shop the rest of the items above!
Decorating and arranging a new space is a pretty exciting prospect for any home decor enthusiast. But the act of physically moving out of one home and into another generally doesn't top anyone's list of favorite activities. While there are no real shortcuts to changing spaces, there are certainly things you can do to make the process as smooth and painless as possible. Read on for eight easy tips.
- Save your friends for later. Enlisting the help of friends and family when you move is to be expected. But instead of having your loved ones do the heavy lifting, consider saving their help for when you'll really need it. Hire movers to handle the boxes and furniture on moving day, then open a bottle of wine, turn on some music, and have your friends and family help with the daunting (but fun) task of unloading some of those boxes. As long as you're a little flexible with how your kitchen drawers are organized, you'll save yourself days of tedious unpacking.
- Move your most prized breakables yourself. The biggest drawback to using movers, aside from the cost, is fear that your possessions will be damaged in the move. Pack up a box or two with your most expensive and breakable items (your grandma's china, your Riedel wine glasses), and move just those boxes yourself.
- Label every box with its destination and contents. As you pack and seal up each box, write its destination room and a fairly detailed list of its contents on the top and sides. That way, the movers can deposit your boxes in the right rooms, and you'll know exactly where to find everything.
- Pack for a short trip. As you're packing everything you own into boxes or bags, set aside a suitcase and toiletry bag, and pack those as if you were going away for the weekend. Your new home may be a mess for a while, but at least you'll be able to shower and get dressed each day without too much hassle.
Keep reading for four more tips to make moving less painful.
August can be a tricky time in terms of decorating: we're trying to squeeze the last bits of inspiration out of the bright, warm days of Summer, but as September approaches, our thoughts can't help but turn to Fall colors. Orange is the perfect color to help bridge the gap between seasons; the vibrant, citrusy hue simultaneously evokes warm Summer days and crisp autumn afternoons. And it's surprisingly versatile — if you know what to pair it with. Read on for five perfect complements for this chameleon color.
I love movies, but sometimes it's hard to decide between trekking out to the movie theater and braving the crowds or staying in my own comfortable home. The lucky occupants of these five spectacular homes don't have to make that choice — they've got theaters built right into their houses! Whether they're built to seat a crowd or have just enough space for a couple friends, these are some seriously covetable cinematic spaces. Take a look!
Summertime is undoubtedly barbecue time, but depending on where you are in the US, that could mean any number of things! Barbecue styles, and who does it right vs. who does it wrong, may be one of the most hotly contested food issues in history. Let's take a look at some of the most popular types of BBQ in the US, and how they differ in their meats, their sauces, and their slaws.
Remember the phases you went through as a kid? The phase where you decided oversize t-shirts with puff-paint designs were super flattering; the Wilson-Phillips-on-continuous-repeat phase; and, if you're anything like us, the super-scary book phase. Sure, some of them may have given us nightmares, but the thrill of a good scary book — and how grown-up and daring some of them made us feel — was irresistible. Here are 10 that kept us up at night, and we love them for it.