Main Archives About kitchenMage My Cookbook Shop Connect:    RSS icon   email icon   twitter icon   Pinterest icon   flickr icon   kitchenMage's Recipes @Feastie

How to Shape Christmas Tree Bread

From the archives...

I really dislike posting a recipe I have only made once. What seems to be a simple bit of culinary magic one day may fizzle on second try. Even well-tested recipes can run into problems when moved from one region of the country to another: the moisture level of flour changes noticeably from a wet climate to a dry one, for example, and altitude screws with baking and boiling, not to mention your alcohol tolerance. (My brother-in-law who works as an EMT a mile up in the mountains tells great stories.)

There are, however, a few writers whose recipes I trust enough to go with a single pass at a recipe when I am short on time and I turned to one of them for the sweet roll dough I used for the tree. Modifications were made, of course: I zested an orange, toasted and ground cardamom, sprinkled in cinnamon, and tipped in a splash of vanilla; milk became buttermilk; sugar was reduced a little bit - there was a LOT of sugar. Ten minutes after I put it in the oven the house was filled with a heady mix of spices and I was regretting not putting an extra 'tasting' loaf in the oven. (After I took photos, I tore into a golden ball of dough; I can report the flavor lived up to its aroma-vertising.)

The crumb, sadly, did not. Dense and chewy, not tender and light. Totally wrong.

Continue reading "How to Shape Christmas Tree Bread" »

Wordless Wednesday: Beet Geodes

beet geodes

The first step in drying beets is cleaning and peeling to reveal the beauty beneath.

Buy Nothing Day: Give the Gift of Knowledge

knitting hands

Black Friday.

Buy Nothing Day.

One day. Two entirely different views of how to spend it.

Black Friday, at its sanest, can involve a hot drink and a warm computer. If we are being honest, I am a big fan of this kind of Black Friday shopping. Give me a search engine and a burning lust for a new toy lens, sweet knives (last year's indulgence) or a tablet PC for the kitchen (this year's desire) and I am a happy mage indeed.

But the stores? That's another thing entirely. I think you have to be a wee bit crazy to want to go to an actual store today. People have died. That's not hyperbole. People have died. For cheap TVs.

Buy Nothing Day sits at the other end of the spectrum.

Continue reading "Buy Nothing Day: Give the Gift of Knowledge" »

Paula Deen's Paper Towels

Happy Saturday from the confluence of two of my favorite things, food and comedy.

Cooks Source Statement: Slightly Corrected


To Unknown Cooks Source Source,

After waiting days for you to emerge and say something, I read your statement. I am really disappointed in you. In addition to some glaring errors, it has quite a few problems with style and substance. I have taken it upon myself to make some edits, gratis. Corrections are inline below, deletions are strikethrough and additions are red. Notes to consider when rewriting are red and parenthetical. (In case you haven't read it, the black text is the actual original.)


We are sorry. So sorry.

We do not know how the hell that happened. I mean, we thought we hired a professional editor and we got...well, you know what we got.

We have cancelled lost control of our Facebook page on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 at 6:00PM. It has since been since been hacked by unknown parties and now someone else (I think this is a known unknown, not an unknown unknown.) unknown to us has control of it. Their inclusion of Cooks Source issues and photos is used without our knowledge or consent. (Really? You're going with they used your content without your consent? Really? Might I suggest you STFU instead.) Please know that none of the statements made by attributed to either Cooks Source or Judith Griggs were made by either our staff or her. On the other hand, that arrogant and ignorant email she sent to Monica Gaudio? All Griggs. Yeah, I know. We don't get it either. What do we get? That we are sorry. Very sorry.

Continue reading "Cooks Source Statement: Slightly Corrected" »

Cooks Source: Now For Something Completely Different

Update: Cooks Source issued a statement. It needed a little cleaning up, so I did: Cooks Source Statement: Slightly Corrected (10.9.10)

If you care about food, writing, law, scandal, chicanery, hypocrisy and/or Internet drama — which may define my readers, by the way — you have no doubt heard about Cooks Source, but just in case you are none of the above, welcome and a summation:

The tl;dr version of this post: My 2005 Ice Dragon entry, called "A Tale of Two Tarts" was apparently printed without my knowledge or permission in a magazine and I am apparently the victim of copyright infringement.
             from Illadore's House o Crack - Copyright Infringement and Me

There is, of course, more.

It is the kind of 'more' from which grand Internet dramas are made: Clueless editor, arrogant responses, google reveals the magazine seems to be built on lifted content, class action suits are suggested (after someone finds Martha Stewart, NPR, and Disney amongst the victims; it's corporate money they want to use for lawyers)...and the pile-on begins.

We are now at less than 20 hours and there are dozens of posts, a Facebook pileon, thousands of tweets, fake twitter and Facebook accounts, the Cooks Source site has been up and down and there's just a whole lot of poo being flung around by the flying monkeys. It's only going to get messier - there's apparently a Travel Source magazine which seems to also be full of infringing material (check for your stuff here).

Illadore's article has the full story, which has now been rehashed all over the Internet, it is well worth the read it if you are interested in what is going on.

I want to talk about what is not...

Continue reading "Cooks Source: Now For Something Completely Different" »

Wordless Wednesday: Red, err...Magenta Velvet Cake Batter

red velvet cake batter

I am experimenting with Red Velvet Cake this week and fell in love with this color. So much so I hated to bake it. More soon...

The Saddest Swag: DIY Swag for BlogHer Food '10 Pity Party

Swag-bhf10pp Yesterday, we drank a little lot and made the saddest swag bag.Today we conjure up the swag to go in it. Go grab your swag bag and let's get started. (Mine? Um, printer didn't, migraine did, can't find card for camera. Pity me.)

There are two ways of going about this, depending on your level of piteousness.

  • If you are alone and pitiful, the first set of options are for you.
  • If you have someone who is sympathetic to your BHF10PP plight, there are some thoughts at the end that might net you extra bling.

First, the universal options. 

  • Gadgets Reach in the very back of your gadgets drawer and try to identify things by feel. When you encounter a gizmo you can't identify, close yor eyes and slip it into the bag. Repeat until you run out of unidentifiable items or decide you have enough sadSwag.
  • Cookbook Obscure your vision temporarily - put on/take off glasses, smear a little dish soap on lenses, squint, whatever works - and go to your cookbook shelf. Stand at a distance where you can not read titles. Scan books and be amazed at how many you know without seeing words, right up until you see one that you can't place at all. Put that in your swag bag. Repeat a time or two.
  • Snacks Here is where we get truly pitiful. You know the stuff in the back of the cabinet/fridge? The things you can't see easily? (See where I am going with this? Getting scared yet?) Without looking, reach into the back of the cabinet and see what small items are hidden there. Stuff a few in your bag. Repeat with liquor cabinet but don't put it in the bag, start drinking it! The refrigerator may hold more treats but it is an advanced sadSwag topic and I leave it to your discretion.
  • Gift Certificates Get a small plastic bag, preferably one without any fancy zippers, too upscale for this. Reach into your change jar, pocket, wherever your loose cash lives. Grab a handful, put it in the container and slip into swag bag. This is your cash replacement for a gift certificate. If it's not much, use it to buy a tiny indulgence like a small amount of very good chocolate.
  • Got an Amazon Wish List? Go to your wish list page and see how many items are on it. Mine has 95. That's pathetic. (Actually, what is realy pathetic is that I have half a dozen more wish lists; apparently I want lots of stuff.) Now go to and let it pick a number, then hop back to your wish list and buy that thing.

If you hang out with someone who has taken pity on your piteousness, it's time for the big guns: pitySwag. Note that this swag may be of a high enough quality to make you not so pitiable, so talk about it with discretion lest we decide to no longer pity you.

You know best how to manipulate convince ask your friend for favors, so go with your strengths. Sweet-talking, tears, promises of sexual favors, whatever works. A couple of basic points to help you along:

  • You saved at least a thousand bucks by attending #BHF10PP instead of BlogHer Food. (In fact, maybe you saved enough to buy two items off your wish list if you are shopping for yourself.) You deserve at least a small percentage of what you saved as a reward.
  • Reinforcing staying at home instead of going to conferences could save a LOT of money in the long run. The blingier the swag, the greater the reinforcement.

Once you have a bag of sadSwag, hang onto it until the close of #BHF10PP and we can all break into ours together. Also, virtual swag tomorrow. Last call for donations!

Lest you feel like you are missing out on some insanely great swag by being at BHF10PP instead of BlogHer Food, don't. I asked a friend what was in the bag and she said "olive oil, snacks, chocolate, water bottle" - which is pretty much what is strewn across the kitchen counter I need to clean. And by strewn, I mean ground into the countertop until it is a permanent part of the surface that no amount of bleach and scrubbing will remove. I am sure there is more in the BHF bags, but it's not like the first yeat at IFBC when the bag was worth double the price of the conference.

What's going in your saddest swag bag?

The Saddest Swag: DIY BlogHer Food '10 Pity Party Swag Bags


One of the high points of food writing conferences is the swag. Oh sure, they may say they are there for the educational sessions but you know what they are really after: cookbooks nd gadgets and treats, oh my!

Well, we food writers are nothing if not resourceful and creative so why not make your own darned swag bag? After all, you can give yourself gifts; you're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like You!

So, DIY swag bag it is. I can do that.

But wait! What's that you say? If you make it yourself, there are no surprises. Pitiful! The reveal is half the fun. This DIY thing without surprises - truly piteous.

Well, fear not brave BHF10PPers, I even have that part covered. But not yet. Tomorrow.

First, you need to make your BlogHer Food '10 Pity Party swag bag.

Continue reading "The Saddest Swag: DIY BlogHer Food '10 Pity Party Swag Bags" »

Words, Words, Words... Let's Start with Foodie (extended)

Update: Suggestions for new words will be accepted until Monday, Oct 11th at midnight. Voting will begin on Tuesday the 12th.

44027839v1_240x240_Front_Color-AshGrey As a writer, I have the privilege of making up words and shoving them into books as if they belong there. I do this knowing that it gives the word a certain veritas to make it to the printed page; as a tyke in a bookshop said, "It MUST be a real word, it's in a book!"

Okay, the truth is this. When I heard this kid at the store, someoneElse and I had just been discussing terms we made up for a book we were writing and I cringed at the power authors were being handed. Now I embrace the ability to create (or reuse) a word that encapsulates an idea beautifully and set it loose in the world. 

Words like fruffle - a cross between fluffy and ruffled, coined for a very fruffly furling; Or entanglement - our term for what someoneElse and I are to each other.

Cute words for cute things. Who could object?

Other words float in from elsewhere and are not necessarily as universally welcomed. Words like...

Continue reading "Words, Words, Words... Let's Start with Foodie (extended)" »

I also write at:

Popular Posts

I also write at:

All content on this site is © Beth Sheresh (2005-2012). Please play nice and don't take things that aren't yours.
See something you like and want to use? Drop me a note, kitchenMage(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm pretty agreeable when people ask.