Category Archives: Food For Thought

Favorite Food Quotes

Favorite Food QuotesI was going to go all alliterate on you and title this “Favorite Food Quotes for Fathers”, but two things occurred to me. First, food quotes are not just for fathers anymore. And second, that would pigeonhole this timeless little gem of a post as something seasonal and we don’t want that, do we? No, we don’t. We want to be able to refer to its wisdom time and time throughout the year as our whims dictate.

But Father’s Day is just around the corner, so I wanted to throw in the seasonal shout out. Yo, Dads out there! Fire up the grill and get your grill on.

Is it fair that Dads and guys in general get the grill stereotype thrown at them all the time? And what about us feministas? Can we not throw a little sizzle on that shizzle? If the Enjoli girl could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan back in the 1970’s, can’t we bring home a Porterhouse and throw it on the grill after marinating it in a nice balsamic glaze in glorious 2015?

Hells yeah, we can!

Okay, so back to the food quotes.

Whilst perusing my favorite time suck pastime of late, Pinterest, I found a bunch of inspirational and tantalizing quotes that I think speak volumes for us all in our communal love of food, and I wanted to share some of them with you.

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You can’t properly enjoy your meal if you’re distracted by life. I said that. 😉

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That’s how I cook too. I always liked that W.C. Fields.

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Also, try standing on one foot and eating a pizza. That works wonders for strengthening your core.

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It’s true. And I can say that because I just came from Burger King.

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Who are we to disagree with this logic?

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Or this?

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Oh Julia, we love you so…

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So much that you get two quotes and the last word. Because cake.

And this is a bakery blog, after all.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there and happy eating from Alecia Bakery NYC!

Favorite Food Quotes - Alecia Bakery NYC Blog

Fond and Not So Fond Memories of Dining Out on Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is notoriously the worst day of the year to dine out, and yet, most of us know we’ll end up doing it anyway. Mom deserves a night off, right? In many cases, it’s dear old Dad at the helm, or grill, as it were. But 9 times out of 10, he’s going to opt for something a little fancier and easier on him as well. After all, he’s worked his tail off all week; he deserves a break too!

I’ve been a mother for 15 years now, and I remember my first Mother’s Day fondly. My father-in-Law treated me and my sister-in-law and our families to a cook-out at his house. It didn’t matter that the burgers were the standard hockey puck variety or that my sister-in-law admonished my child at the dinner table right in front of us. When my father-in-law presented us both with matching T-shirts from Sears, that didn’t matter either. It was the thought that counted, and being pampered for a day, told to just sit, relax and enjoy the glass of wine that accompanied my crunchy entree was enough.

The following year, when my decision to enjoy a quiet day with my little nuclear family clashed with my husband’s plan to take my father-in-law out for Indian food erupted into World War III, sure I pouted, but I also remembered what a nice first Mother’s Day I was given the previous year, and so I relented. All was forgiven over Chicken Korma and Mango Lassi’s at our favorite Indian eatery.

What followed were both planned (by me) and impromptu Mother’s Day celebrations, all memorable in one way or another. There was the year we decided to wing-it and head to the Cape May zoo with no dinner plans whatsoever. That was the time I found myself at an Arby’s with a beef and cheddar in one hand and a red carnation in the other, courtesy of the roast beef empire, of course.

Another year we ended up at Pizzeria Uno for a second red carnation, a divine deep dish, a glass of wine for me, and a headache for my husband, as we wrangled our kids through a day they’d rather be spending in front of video games. The celebration aimed at all things motherhood was kind of lost on them.

Still another year, we took a long Sunday drive to New Hope for some antiquing and a fight over stale pizza on an over-crowded day in what is becoming one of the most overrun quaint towns on the East Coast. What were we thinking? That’s easy – we weren’t.

As we travelled further and further outside the confines of handprint-laden pottery and “I Love You Mommy” homemade cards and into “Why do we have to go out to dinner” territory, the husband decided it might be a good idea to go out without the kids. That was the year I walked into a Macaroni Grill with a heavy heart and an empty stomach, only to experience some of the most bizarre customer service known to man, juxtaposed with funky atmosphere, while being seated at a table directly adjacent to a guy dressed in a wife beater, black knee socks, a gold chain that would make Flavor Flav blush and his wife, sporting a luminescent, yet transparent mu-mu and bedroom scuffs. Hey, this is Jersey. Whaddya’s want?

I couldn’t believe I was spending Mother’s Day without my kids. Not even two bottles of wine and molten lava cake ala mode could console me. Still, my husband had good intentions. If his wish to give me a celebratory dinner unencumbered by complaint and overpriced, uneaten mac and cheese went mostly awry, at least I know his heart was in the right place.

There was the hungover Mother’s Day following a fabulous soireê at a friend’s New York loft, where my family met me that sunny Sunday morning for a walk through Central Park and overpriced deli sandwiches, and my favorite Mother’s Day to date; the one spent at the art museum, followed by dinner at an out of the way Mom & Pop Italian restaurant in the village called Rocco’s. The waiters wore tuxes and spread a table cloth out under my then, 4 year old son to catch stray pasta. They treated him like a prince and me like a Queen. Afterwards, we strolled through Washington Square Park and stopped by the fountain to watch a troupe of fire-eating sword swallowers do their thing. Now that’s my kind of Mother’s Day. Offbeat, unexpected, totally unpredictable and delightfully twisted. Because while I appreciate life’s finer things, I’m also offbeat, totally unpredictable and slightly twisted myself.

I’m no precious snowflake.

This Mother’s Day, I don’t know what’s in store. I have no plans, nor do I have any particular inklings, food wise or otherwise. I might just spend the day out in the garden drinking margaritas or taking a nap in the hammock. The one thing I do know is that thoughtful handmade gifts from my children are to be cherished, meals and time spent together is memorable, and the joy of motherhood is a treasure.

And no two Mother’s Days are the same. Kind of like mothers. And snowflakes.

Here’s wishing you and your Mothers a Happy Mother’s Day too!

Cookbook Review: Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson

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If you’re not familiar with Joy Wilson, the talented writer, photographer and self taught baker extraordinaire otherwise known as Joy the Baker, then you’re in for a treat when you check out her blog of the same name. Featuring beautifully photographed, decadent and imaginative desserts, beverages and savory tastiness, you can’t help but feel…well, joy when you read her words and take the culinary journey with her.

Her first book, Joy the Baker Cookbook which I reviewed here, has been thus far, my favorite cookbook ever. Filled with 100 recipes from the classics, to the new, fun and imaginative, it’s one of those books you want to make every single recipe from. My personal favorite is the bourbon banana bread. Fab.

With her newest cookbook, Homemade Decadence, Joy spreads her creative wings, beginning with an exhaustive brunch section which includes doughnuts, scones, breakfast rolls, dark chocolate croissants, blueberry pancake muffins, breakfast nachos and an inventive breakfast sandwich of braised kale and egg. There’s a variety of homemade toast spreads and a variety of cocktails to accompany it all. A maple bacon syrup and a quick and easy homemade vanilla quick jam tops your Lemon Poppyseed pancakes and all the rest deliciously.

Joy credits her parents with the inspiration behind her passion for baking. She cites her father with giving her the pie gene, and her mother, the cake gene. Working out of a small apartment with what she describes as an oven so small, it requires specially sized cookie sheets, Wilson’s emphasis in this book is on the ability of the home cook/baker to feel confident with the outcome of their culinary efforts no matter the size or bells and whistles of the home kitchen. She lets us know that passion and fresh ingredients are all you need to delve into the pursuit of deliciousness. Her enthusiasm is infectious and the results both whimsical and scrumptious. You feel like you’re in the kitchen baking cookies with your best girlfriend.

Check out the recipe that graces the cover; chocolate peanut butter pretzel cake. It’s a salty,sweet marriage made in heaven. Standouts in the savory category include a french onion quiche and a breakfast grilled cheese made with brioche, brie, ham and cherry jam. I loved the bourbon banana bread so much, I can’t wait to try the banana biscotti dipped in chocolate.

There’s something for everybody’s taste and culinary skill level here, and as the title suggests, it’s a compendium of “irresistibly sweet, salty, gooey, sticky, fluffy, creamy crunchy treats” that you’ll return to again and again.

Be sure to also check out Joy the Baker’s Homefries podcast, as well as her original web series Bonkers Awesome.  And also, I’m free for brunch anytime. Call me.

Freaky Food Fads and Far Fetched Fodder

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Photo by undress / CC BY 

I grew up eating a number of questionable things, but the one that sticks out in my brain the most is the tuna casserole my mother the recipe for from a woman’s magazine which shall remain nameless. My mother put it on the dinner table excitedly exclaiming that the dish du jour was fish and chips. This was not the fish and chips we were expecting, but rather tuna casserole topped with crushed potato chips.

To this day I tease her about it and she doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about. It was tuna casserole covered in chips. “What’s not to get about that?” she wants to know. I tell her it’s funny. It’s a play on words, and blame it on the magazine, but not for nothin’, it was awful.

It all sort of made me think about some of the weird, sometimes downright unappetizing foods of the past. You know, the ones photographed in stunningly horrid bleak color palettes that did anything but tempt your palate?

Here are a few freaky food fads that make me happy as a clam that trends and photography have come a long way since then.

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Photo by x-ray deita one / CC BY 

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this? Me, that’s who.

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Photo by classic_film / CC BY

Did I know it was this good? No. No I didn’t. The hamburgers I got at home were hockey pucks cooked to smithereens in a pan on the stovetop, placed on a bun, wrapped in foil and then “finished” in the oven to a crispy crunch. I love the part that says “Nourishing meat”.  I guess ground chuck has its moments of nourishment.

jello salad

Photo by x-ray dieta one / CC BY

If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, chances are one of these beauties adorned your dinner table. Especially during the holidays.  Ah yes, the Jell-O salad! I guess this was Jell-O’s way of making us feel like a packet of colored sugar with added…uh…sugar, could be a nutritious salad. Just add fruit, present it on a bed of lettuce surrounded by tomatoes (??) and voila! You have salad! Something the whole family will enjoy.  (Said no one ever.) In my house, it was usually lime green Jell-O with mandarin oranges…wait for it…served alongside spaghetti. Mm…mm…good! The one pictured above is particularly disturbing. Is it Pimento Salad? It’s got celery and green olives floating in it. Good God, and what are the triangular things? One can only imagine. “Don’t let a week go by without serving one!” And my mother never did.

corned beef hash loaf

Photo by alsis35 / CC BY

How about a nice, tantalizing corned beef hash loaf? Mmm…sounds scrumptious, does it not? Accompanied by vegetables with all the color, flavor and nutrients boiled right out of them, this makes for a meal to remember. (That you’ll spend years trying to block from your memory)

beef wellington

Photo by LP / CC BY

Remember that standard of upper crusty living that was Beef Wellington? I didn’t, until well into my twenties, a friend made one. It’s beef wrapped in pastry dough. And for some reason, I kind of liken it to the Turducken of its time, maybe because it was a food product inside another food product. You could be fancy if you ate this dish.

What weird concoctions do you remember eating growing up?

10 Ridiculous Fad Diets to Kick to the Curb

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Well, it’s the new year.  The holiday party is over.  I’ll tell you what I’m over; over eating. Don’t get me wrong, I still crave those cookies, but wow, did I want salad as soon as I slid the last big holiday dinner leftovers into the fridge.

Let’s face it, many of us have been putting this weight loss thing off as long as possible. After Halloween. After Thanksgiving. After Christmas. Oh hell, I’ve come this far, why not just throw in New Years so I can have the champagne and the pigs in a blanket.

Now is the day of reckoning people. But how to begin?  I’ll tell you where not to begin…

1. The Ramen Diet. My 15 year old loves ramen. Come to think of it, so do I.  But did you realize that ramen noodles are packed with sodium? Up to 3,000 mg! And they’re high in fat.  Besides, there’s plenty of time to binge on those babies in college.

2. The TV Dinner Diet. We’re not talking about Lean Cuisine here either.  I guess the concept is portion control combined with ease of preparation. But again, fat and sodium are the culprits.  Nice try, but put that Hungry Man back into the frozen food case and back away slowly.

3. Fruitarianism. What could be so bad about eating only fruit? Besides the fact that you’re not getting a well rounded diet, although fruit contains natural sugars, it’s still a lot of sugar if that’s all you’re consuming. And the diet itself restricts dieters from eating anything that while being picked, contributed to the damage of the plant or tree, or seeds, since they will become a new plant.  Some fruitarians won’t even eat fruit picked from a tree or plant; it must fall from the tree itself. At that rate you could become very, very hungry my friend.

4. The Cookie Diet. Sounds amazing! Sign me up! Snacking only on cookies which are high in fiber, delicious and so very capable of staving off hunger until that next meal? Sounds like a plan. Until you realize you’re eating most of your calories at snack time and getting very few essential nutrients. What a let down. I had such hopes for that one.

5. The Air Food Diet. The french swear by the “L’Air” diet. Here’s what you do: cut your food into tiny bite size pieces, then pick it up with your fork and pretend to eat it. Then eat your soup instead. What’s in the soup? Water and salt, silly. Oh, don’t worry, it’s supposedly full of minerals (is that only from the non-purified water?), quenches your thirst, and think about the money you’ll save on groceries!

6. Blood Type Diet. Type O? You’re a hunter, so you should eat only meat. Type A’s are vegetarians. It all depends on your blood type. But as with most fad diets, there’s little scientific research to back up the claims that it really works.

7. Cabbage Soup Diet. Remember when Charlie Bucket’s family was so poor in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory that they had to live on a steady diet of cabbage soup? I’ll tell you what. If that were true, Charlie and his grandpa wouldn’t have had to rely on fizzy lifting drinks to summon the flatulence needed to become airborne; the soup would’ve done the trick. I have to admit, I thought for a moment about maybe, possibly trying this. After all, I live in a house full of males – what’s a little more flatulence? But this diet is rife with sodium, low in nutrients, especially protein, meaning you’ll feel weak. Claims have been made that the diet will help you lose 10 pounds in a week. But that’s unlikely, not to mention unhealthy. You’ll lose weight, but it’ll be all that water. And you know what will happen when you start eating solids again. *sigh*

8. The Cereal Diet. What could be bad about this? After all, didn’t Jerry Seinfeld eat a lot of cereal? For starters, it’s full of sugar. And as with any fad diet, if you’re required to eat only one type of food, what do you do when the diet is over? How do you acclimate to a diet filled with other foods? Not to mention that cereal portions are always measured, right? A quarter cup of this one, a half cup of that one. Hey! I have an idea! How about measuring other foods? You know, like fruits, vegetables and lean meats? What? “But the cereal can be measured too?” Never mind. You’re hopeless.

9. The Master Cleanse. I’m not sure which cleanse Gwyneth is doing, but this one sounds miserable. It’s lemon water with cayenne pepper and maple syrup. You still with me? You’re not eating anything. The question is not how much you want to bet me the weight will come back, but how fast.

10. The Russian Air Force Diet. Feeling tough as nails? How about the Russian Air Force diet? Breakfast is coffee, lunch is two eggs and a tomato, and dinner is a salad with a tiny portion of meat. You in? What do you mean, “Nyet!”? Yeah, I was hoping it was vodka too.

Believe me, I could go on. There are seemingly endless possibilities in the ridiculous diet category. But we all know that moderation, portion control, eating healthy foods and exercising are all key to success when it comes to weight loss.  So don’t worry, you can still have that cake, those cookies, that muffin for breakfast. Enjoy it! Just make sure you get in some exercise and balance it with healthy foods. Kick those fad diets to the curb as you jug alongside it.

Photo by Thrice 18/3 / CC BY 

Pumpkin Gets a Bum Rap

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Our old friend the pumpkin. Is it just me, or does anyone else here think he’s getting a bum rap?

I mean, sure things have gone a little overboard in the last several years. By the time September rolls around, we’re deluged with so much pumpkin that we don’t know which end is up.

Just to clarify, it’s the stem end.

I get it; we’re just one Venti pumpkin spice no-foam latte away from excruciating exasperation, but you gotta admit, it tastes so good going down. I don’t know about you, but I go all weak in the knees when I cross the threshold at Yankee Candle.  As soon as I smell the pumpkin pie votives. I scoop those babies up like the free cashews at the neighborhood bar. I realize they are tainted by the unwashed hands of humanity, yet, I can’t resist their allure.

Maybe it’s just that I have an addictive personality. Too much of a good thing is never really too much for me. I’m binge watching Orange Is the New Black while the sweet aroma of pumpkin incense surrounds me in a heavenly cloud, as I reach into a bag of pumpkin spice granola until there’s nothing left but pumpkin dust and unwatched Breaking Bad episodes.

So yes, I will have another slice of pumpkin pie.  And thank you very much, I would love a pumpkin whoopie pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pudding, ice cream, soup served to me inside a festive pumpkin bowl. I will happily go all Martha in fashioning a fleet of Pinterest worthy decorative pumpkins for my front porch. Hell, just to show you I’m serious, I’m going out now to get my hands on a pint of chalkboard paint in order to go all rogue on my happy orange harvest of pumpkin friends, so as to scribe my affections onto them forthwith.

I’m a go-against-the-grain kinda gal.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, don’t blame the pumpkin. Don’t smash all his little pumpkiny hopes and dreams. He comes to the party but once a year, so he’s gotta get the glory while he can. He’s not hanging out all year with the apples and bananas. He gets the shaft the other ten months. He just wants our love and attention now, in so many varied configurations. Who could blame him? He’s carved out a nice place for himself on the societal landscape.  Perhaps we were all just taking the pumpkin for granted and suddenly realized how much it meant to us, so much that we iconized it to death. Nobody gives the Kardashians this much grief. Or maybe they do, but at least the pumpkin has done something to earn our adoration.

Why do I feel so strongly about this, you ask? What’s up with the pumpkin lady that she feels it necessary to type out a 500 word missive in defense of one of the world’s most overblown fruits?

Consider me a pumpkin advocate. If nobody stands up now, what then? Will we start taking pot shots at egg nog? If we don’t do something now, by the time February rolls around, it might be a full on war with chocolate.

So don’t be afraid to stand up and profess your love of pumpkin. It may have taken on a plethora of roles, but it truly is the Jack o’ All Trades.

Photo by Bunnyrel / CC BY