Twecipes: Micro-recipes on Twitter

Recently, a food news blog I follow had a short post about twecipes, which are recipes posted on Twitter, so they must be complete in fewer than 140 characters. I have a Twitter account and follow several people, mostly friends, but I wasn’t aware that there was a new fad about food spreading across Twitter.

I found myself wondering how a person could fit an entire recipe in such a short space and still allow for all the measurements, directions and complexities that recipes call for. I did a couple of searches and found a few examples:

fresh corn on the cob,Mix- butter, lime zest, Beyond the Border, butter corn, wrap in foil, grill

quesadilla – skillet @ med heat, butter 1 side tortilla – on pan butter-down. layer:colby-jack cheez, diced cooked chicken. @ 1min_fold_1min.

I guess the argument for twecipes could be that they have to be very simple since only a few ingredients and instructions could be listed. If I were to cook one of these on my own, I would most likely do a Google search to find a full recipe, just to make sure I didn’t leave any ingredients out or make any mistakes.

*The Observer also did a report about twecipes and challenged top chefs to boil down their recipes into just a few words.

*iPhone just launched a Twecipe app, where you can send a few ingredients @twecipe, and you’ll get a tweet back with some suggested recipes.

April 19, 2009 at 9:59 pm Leave a comment

Homemade: Southwestern Macaroni Casserole

One of the things I’ve been trying to do recently is eat out less. I’ve started packing my lunch most days, and attempting to make large dishes at the beginning of the week in order to have dinner already made for the next couple of nights. It’s worked out alright so far, and it’s nice to know that for each meal I eat, I’m saving anywhere from $5-$10 – especially since I use a lot of ingredients I already own, and I’ll spend less than $10 on ingredients that will feed me for a whole week. My most recent endeavor was a macaroni casserole.

Close-up of theingredients, which included seasoned bread crumbs, salt, chili powder, onion powder, a box of the Publix version of Easy mac, black beans, tomato sauce, ground beef, corn, black pepper and shredded cheese.casserole1

I made a huge mess (as usual) stirring together the black beans, corn and ground beef seasoned with onion, chili and garlic powder:

casserole2

My favorite part: the macaroni and cheese:

casserole3

All assembled before putting into the oven:

casserole4And the final product:

casserole5

I think it might have been a little overcooked because it was slightly crispier than I would have like. It was still tasty, though, and it lasted me (and my roommates!) three nights.

March 23, 2009 at 3:42 am Leave a comment

Homemade: Enchiladas

I always wish there were more hours in the day so I had more time to cook. I spent my entire freshman year perfecting the art of Easy Mac, and I can now “cook” it without using a measuring cup for water. Unfortunately, common sense told me that living on powdered cheese and microwavable macaroni wasn’t going to cut it for the rest of my adult life.

About two years ago, I got really into cooking and baking. My Google Reader has about two dozen food blogs that I follow religiously, and I have a list of recipes that I’ve been wanting to try. This past weekend, I grabbed my boyfriend so we could try to cook enchiladas by combining two recipes: this one from the Food Network and this one from one of my favorite food blogs.

First we had to gather up some ingredients:

For the filling we had boneless chicken breasts, green chiles, onions, corn and a couple seasonings. For the sauce, we just used canned enchilada sauce spiced up with a bit of salt, paper and a little bit of chicken broth. For sides, we used yellow rice and cooked some cheesy refried beans. Everything was topped with tons of cheddar and jack cheese and a bit each of cilantro, sour cream and scallions.

These are the enchiladas right before they went in the oven:

And after they came out:

These seven in the blue-and-white dish are actually the leftovers. We had a 9×13 baking dish that was stuffed to the brim, which means we made about 18 enchiladas. For two people. Needless to say, we had tons of leftovers to feed my roommates and for the next day’s lunch. If I were doing this dish again, I would definitely cut down on the amount of filling but up the ratio of corn. I’d also have to figure out a way to keep the corn tortillas from cracking while we were filling them.

I think my next projects will be Key Lime Pie, DIY Truffles or Baked Mac and Cheese.

February 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm Leave a comment

Going Green

In wake of the current economic crisis, the eco-conscious trend of using everything from recyclable products to energy-efficient light bulbs to save money has overflowed from individual homes to  large businesses. The food industry has also hopped on the bandwagon in an effort to create products and establishments that can entice customers with the promise of “green.”

Restaurants now have the option of becoming Certified Green through a number of options, including the Green Restaurant Association, which issues certificates to restaurants that follow certain service and building guidelines. I think becoming officially certified is another way in which a restaurant attracts customers. Going green is trendy, and restaurant-goers like to feel that if they’re going to drop cash on eating out, they can feel good about their choices.

As far as good goes, many restaurants have started offering locally grown products, a lot of them organic. Although buying organic can often be more expensive than purchasing mass-produced ingredients, I think there’s the idea that it will attract more customers and up a restaurant’s status, making up for the cost, if eateries can advertise their ingredients are locally grown. In Gainesville, there are dozens of restaurants that try to offer organic products from nearby businesses and farmes. The New Deal Cafe uses products from farms that practice sustainable agriculture, and Luca’s Pasta, a new pasta carry-out place in downtown Gainesville, offers biodegradable take-out containers. Additionally, the Book Lover’s Cafe offers a variety of menu items (all vegetarian, many vegan) uses locally grown food to support the area’s economy and encourage healthier eating.

Then there are the food establishments that take it to a new level. The Birdbath Bakery in New York City not only uses wind power to generate electricity, but their shelves and displays are made out of 100 percent recycled paper, their floor is made of reclaimed wood, the cups are made out of corn, and the take-out bags contain no wax lining.  This, and all of their ingredients come from within the state and are organically grown. Indeed, Birdbath Bakery makes their extremely eco-friendly attitude their trademark. Recently, a popular restaurant in Texas turned relaunched itself as a green restaurant. The newly named Ruggles Green recycles fryer oil and all of its glass and cardboard waste. The meat is all natural, meaning no added hormones. This Feb. 5 article describes how the restaurant opened only a couple months ago and is already planning on adding new tables because they’re always busy.

Many grocery stores have also started to do their part in the green trend. Publix offers reusable canvas grocery bags for 99 cents and their Greenwise Publix food section, which offers organic food products ranging from potato chips to soy milk, has expanded in the past few years. With the widespread notion of evolving into an eco-friendly nation, it’s easy to see why and how people can do their own part to help out the environment. I use Publix’s canvas bags and purchase fruits and vegetables from the Haile Plantation Farmers Market on a weekly basis. And while I don’t frequent just those restaurants that have sustainable ingredients, I do appreciate the change restaurants are trying to make.

Other related links/news:

February 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm Leave a comment

Food on TV

While an entire cable station has been devoted to food-related programming since 1993, it’s not until recently that food-centric shows have spread beyond the boundaries of The Food Network.

Due to the nature inherent to learning how to cook or watching others learn how to cook, early every food show I’ve come across is instructional or reality-based. A September 2008 article on TIME’s Web site mentions the origins of reality-based programming, citing the cheapness and easy of production for the currently widespread trend. This seems to be true of the popular TV shows on other cable and network stations. Bravo’s Emmy-nominated Top Chef is in it’s fifth season, and it gives thrills by placing strict restraints on competitions and by having it’s pretty host somberly announce at the end of every episode, “Pack your knives and go.” I think Top Chef appeals not only to the guilty pleasure a lot of people have at watching someone “get voted off,” but it also appeals to our taste buds with enticing food descriptions  (for example: Seattle Salmon Roll With Ginger-Blackberry Coulis and Sesame Apple Salad) and macro shots of carefully styled plates.

Food-based programming isn’t exempt from the schticks found in other reality TV shows. The aforementioned Top Chef plays a very Survivor-like/American Idol-style card by emphasizing competition. Taking a cue from the popular show The Apprentice, a very Donald Trump-esque Gordon Ramsay screams at scrambling chefs on FOX’s Hell’s Kitchen. The Learning Channel’s Take Home Chef emphasizes looks: The host, Curtis Stone, is a thirty-something beach blond Australian who combs supermarkets to find people (always women, always young) and offer to help them make dinner that night. What ensues usually involves a lot of flirting.These shows are continually renwed by their respective networks because their schticks succeed at being entertaining. Sure, you can watch these shows to pick up tips about improving your at-home kitchen skills, but playing up the drama and and emphasizing the exotic, elegant aspects of cooking keep bringing in the viewers.

Perhaps the increase in food television shows relates to the celebrity status many of the shows’ hosts have attained. Dining at five-star restaurants owned by acclaimed chefs has always been an upper-class custom, but with chefs like Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis popping up on TV screens in everyone’s home, people rush to celebrity-chef-owned eateries and buy cookbooks from Paula Deen and Sandra Lee. As a result of their on-screen popularity, these famous chefs have built lucrative empires. De Laurentiis currently hosts five shows on the Food Network, owns her own catering business and has four cookbooks to her name.

Just like with any TV genre, I think the networks will continue to develop Top Chef spin-offs until the interest (and thus the ratings) dwindles. For now, it’s fun to watch the different twists and angles executive producers can come up with to spin a new food show.

February 3, 2009 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

Food as Pop Culture Icons, Part 1: The Cupcake

Food is something that everyone can talk about. Likes and dislikes, favorite restaurants and quick recipes are conversation topics anyone can freely discuss. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that certain food items have become iconic images splattered across clothing, turned into keychains and even spawned lawsuits.  

In today’s culture, the term “cupcake” has come to mean than just a term of endearment. There are dozens of upscale bakeries in New York City alone. Cupcake bakeries have popped up all over the country and not just in metropolitan cities.

There have been numerous books and Web sites devoted to cupcakes. Chefs and bakers publish books with decorating tips and fancy ideas for indgredients to use in cupcakes. Food magazines publish special issues with full-color photography and recipes submitted from all over the country. Blogs are updated every day with cupcake news and recipes.

Jennifer Appel, a former co-owner of Magnolia Bakery, of “Sex and the City” fame, and current owner of the New York City cupcake shop Buttercup. Appel launched a lawsuit in an attempt to shut down a rivalry bakery in Brooklyn, called Little Cupcake Bakeshop, claiming that the bakery is too similar to her own. The rivalry between the two bakeshops focused more attention on the growing fad. Cupcakes started appearing on clothing and accessories. Cupcakes were becoming stylish, and the lawsuit between the two bakeries intensified the trend.

Appel claims that while she did not invent the cupcake, she spawned the trend in the city. While the trend is definitely spreading thoughout large cities, some still believe that the craze is still young, and that it could blow up to monumental proportions. Buttercup managers have been considering franchises across the country, taking a stronghold in cities where bakeries are already popping up. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a modernist bakery in Beverly Hills, is spreading the trend across the West Coast.

Since so many people are turning to the internet to do their shopping, it’s no surprise that bakeries are trying to figure out a way to safely and efficiently ship their goods through the mail. An article in the Washington Post reported about cupcake shops trying to expand their business into the online realm by offering the option for customers to order cupcakes online and having them delivered. Nostalgia and ease make the cupcake a popular, trendy item to eat on an everyday basis or make the centerpiece of a party.

In other cupcake news, the AP recently released a video about how cupcake bakeries are faring in the economy. I think it’s an interesting commentary on how food factors in the current recession.

January 27, 2009 at 2:37 am 1 comment

Virtual Foodie (or, Foodie 2.0)

Food is expanding out of the kitchen and taking over technology in what some people refer to as a Foodie 2.0 movement: an evolution of creating an interactive and complete online experience when it comes to the food industry. Other industries like business and entertainment have exploded on the Internet in a very obvious way: news sites devoted specifically to those topics, huge advertising endeavors and   I think the food industry has evolved in a different and more quiet way. While I’ve always enjoyed cooking and baking as a hobby (something that’s been passed on from my grandmother), it hasn’t been until the past six months that I’ve really started turning to the Internet as a resource for all things chow. I’ve added a food blog category on my Google reader and started using Food Network’s video collection as a resource.

The newest technological development I’ve come across are food-centric iPhone applications. Mashable lists 21 food applications, including GrubOnTheGo, which let’s users enter what they’re craving and displays relevant eateries in the area, and CookBook, where you can type in what ingredients are in your pantry, and you’ll get a list of recipes that use those ingredients. If I owned an iPhone, I know I would definitely want these apps, which is why I like reading about what new technology pertains to food.

The Foodie 2.0 movement is very user-driven. Sharing recipes and restaurant reviews is at the heart of Web sites like RecipeZaar and Yelp. And with the popularity of TV shows like Top Chef and Ace of Cakes, I feel like there’s an increasing interest in researching restaurants and recreating dishes in your own kitchen. Just as journalism can no longer function without multimedia presentations and online forums, the food industry – from cookbooks to restaurants to magazines – can no longer function without reaching out to consumers over the Internet.

Makes everything from homemade meals to restaurant reviews much more accessible. You don’t have to travel to Rome to eat a straight-from-Italy dish. An online community is created for interactivity between chefs, food bloggers, amateur cooks, food photographers and gourmet enthusiasts. It also drives food trends at a quicker rate. If one restaurant becomes a hot spot in New York City, soon every kitchen across the U.S. can have access to their menu and recipes.

I think one of the most signifiant aspects of the massive online movement of food news and information is that it’s easier than ever to be encouraged to be an amateur cook. I know a lot of friends who made New Year’s resolutions to eat at home more in order to save money, and they’re starting to turn to cooking from scratch in favor of another night of EasyMac. My roommate has actually watched a lot of videos on YouTube to learn basic baking skills.

I  just find it interesting to see how different industries and companies adapt to the online world, and I find it especially fascinating with the food industry, since it’s really interactive.

In other kind-of-related-to-food news, the host of Top Chef actually saved someone’s life at party in D.C.

January 20, 2009 at 4:41 am Leave a comment


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