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Electric Kettle

I love my electric kettle. Sure, lots of people have these but I always figured "whatever, I have a pan" and never bothered. Wrong! It is an incredibly versatile piece of kitchen gear and worth every inch of countertop it takes up. Of course mostly I use it to make coffee or tea, but it's really great for other things and I keep finding additional uses for a quart of boiling water in a hurry. For instance, I just made rice to go with the homemade chili I cooked (more on that later). I'm terrible at making rice on the stovetop and I know I'm not alone in this.

Quick Quasi-Moroccan

I just made this quasi-Moroccan dish:

1 cup beef stock (low sodium)
.5 cup water
1 cup quick cook couscous
.25 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
20 roasted almonds
4 dried apricots, julienned
6 sun dried tomatoes, julienned
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf

Italian Fennel

I had an old friend over last night, someone who's another NYC transplant. We played some music together (we are both amateur musicians). I cooked dinner, which included one of my favorite ingredients since moving to NYC, Italian fennel. I think it was available in the Midwest but it wasn't on my radar. With the large Italian-American influence here, Italian fennel is broadly available in supermarkets and most fruit stands, too. It is versatile as a vegetable. The traditional Italian use for it is as a palate-cleanser between courses. Just slice it up raw.

A Neato App for iPhone Users Wanting to Recover From All the Good Food You've Been Eating

If you like food a lot---and if you don't why are you here?---a nasty side effect often arises, aka more weight than you would like. I've been on a post-grad school loss regimen but had stalled out, for various reasons (moving disrupted my routines, I hurt my back during the move, the holidays...).

Two Kind of Odd But Easy Dishes

I really need to go shopping but am too lazy to do so right now, so I've been "making do". That also helps clear out items that would otherwise go to waste, so not so bad. Anyhow, making do often forces you to a bit of creativity. Without further ado:

By Contrast, I Love Mushrooms

Since Stuart just hated on the 'shrooms, I feel obligated to post a contrary view. I love 'em. Not all of them of course, but they are highly fungi-ble (hah!) in cooking. I won't call myself a mushroom expert but I think they're a versatile ingredient.

Raw mushrooms seem fairly pointless most of the time. Maybe as a little sponginess in a salad with a hint of earthiness perhaps. A lot of the more flavorful mushrooms are simply too tough for easy chewing.

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