Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Ode to the Princess

In times of tumult, the people look for reprieve - not necessarily for a visionary to guide them out of their troubles (although that is also much-needed), but a glimmer of hope, an ideal of what life could look like, a beacon of beauty.

Enter: Kate Middleton. With a name that rolls off the tongue and speaks to her humble upbringing, this image of youth and beauty glides in with impeccable timing to do just what we need her to do. She's for the most part silent, but when she does speak, the masses (and the media) hang onto her words, hoping that in some way she can impart just a bit of that vigor, poise and grace. In a manner reminiscent of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in the White House of the 1960s, Kate Middleton displays a savvy sense of style and etiquette that makes her welcome in any and every setting, but with just enough sass to keep the powers that be on their toes. With charm, and wit, and a sweet smile, Kate Middleton has soothed the nay-sayers and endeared herself to the world.

And so we tip our hats to you, Her Royal Highness, Princess William of Wales, not only because you have made it fashionable for us gals to once again don hats, but because you embody all that we want to be: beautiful, poised, elegant in every situation and, well, a princess. May God bless the Queen - and may you be the future queen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Reader Question - Invitation Etiquette

What is the etiquette when sending invitations to a shower? Do I send the invitation to the guest of honor, as well?

The short answer is yes.

Whether it be a bridal shower, a baby shower, or really any other event you are hosting to honor someone (dissertation defense party?) you should send an invitation to the guest of honor also. If your friend is anything like the Muses, she’s a modern girl that has 110 things to remember each day...sending her an invite is a thoughtful way to give her all the details about the event so she won’t need to text you every 2 weeks saying “what day is the luncheon again? At 2 or 3?” Also, if the event is in honor of a major life event an invitation will be a great keep sake.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What to bring to a food swap

So you’ve decided to attend a food swap. Sounds exciting, why not, right? But comes the hard work of deciding what the heck you are going to bring. Don’t panic if you aren't a culinary wiz...or, maybe you are such a god(dess) in the kitchen you can't narrow all the options down. As promised, here are some musings of things we'd be happy to see at a food swap.

Remember Rule 1: think of making things that last.


Cranberry Nut Granola

Fig Butter (forget the scones in this recipe, just bring the filling. Yum!)

Scones (remember, we are making things that last so don’t try to trade one scone for a bottle of vodka, cheap-o!)
Bacon and Date Scones (um, yeah, those sound aaamazing!)
Flour Bakery's Currant Scones ...remember that their chef, Joanne Chang is one of the four nominees this year for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Award.

Homemade Vanilla
Vanilla Extract




Soup Mix

Spice Rub

Infused Olive Oil

Preserved Lemons
Olive Tapenade
Basil Walnut Pesto (you gotta trust Lidia)



Infused Alcohol
Bacon Bourbon #nevertoomuchbacon
Jalapeno Tequila
Skittles Vodka (please God, no one should make this...but it had to be seen. cringe.)

Alright kids, that should last you for a while. Get cookin' and get swampin'

Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Swap FAQs

Food Swaps – they are all the rage, people. Do you think you are a cool food-nerd urban professional because you are part of a CSA? Do you think you have pioneer woman type I-make-my-own-butter cred. just because you live on a ranch and grind your own wheat? Let us tell you, you are/have neither until you have participated in a food swap. Farmer’s Markets and Grocery Co-ops are a thing of the past – now we’re food swapin’

“Waaaiiit”, you say, “what is a food swap anyway?”

What is a food swap?
A food swap is a laid-back gathering of people (either friends or total strangers) who get together to exchange their homemade food items. Maybe you are just terrible at making jam, you can benefit from another friend’s canning skills while they get to take home some of your tasty homemade brew. Depending on arrangements made by the organizers, people either bid on items by using tickets or freestyle mingle and exchange.

Is it similar to a potluck?
Nope! Though there may be some hors d’oeuvre-type snackies or samples to munch on while browsing, the event isn't actually a meal. Also, the idea is not to come away with a complete balanced dinner but to get a number of unique items that may not necessarily be eaten together. You might walk away with some mushroom pâté, a tupperware of soup, and some homegrown tomatoes

There is an A-maaazing bakery down the block from my house. Can I bring their delicious strawberry-lavender scones?
Food swap blasphemy! You absolutely need to bring homemade goods....your homemade goods. That means no farmer’s market finds and no store/bakery bought items and no regifting lemon curd your neighbor gave you at Christmas (which is probably bad by now anyway, seriously just throw it out).

I’m not really much of a culinary wiz, should I just sit out?
Definitely not, food swaps are all about free exchange and sharing. You should be able to participate whatever your culinary level is. We encourage you to try to push yourself just a little. Don’t make mixed party nuts by mixing a bag of almonds and a bag of pecans and then taking someone else’s bottle of homemade wine. Play fair. We will be posting some ideas of (easy) things to make if you aren’t sure how or where to “push yourself”.

I have dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, peanut allergy, cilantro aversions, no meat sacrificed to idols...), can I still play?
Absolutely! A good host will ask people to at least consider that many people have these restrictions. You probably will not be able to eat everything that people bring to the food swap, but the glory of the food swap is so many different people with different ideas and culinary gifts come together. There will be an array of things to choose from so you should be able to find a number of things that fit your diet.

What type of thing should I bring to a food swap?
Try to think about bringing things that last. That doesn’t mean they need to be non-perishable but the longer your item lasts (or the more uses someone can get from it) the longer the joy of eating your item will last for that person. Hummus, for example, is usually something you can snack on for several days whereas a cookie will last about 30 seconds. If you are going to do something like cookies, put them in a batch of 10-12. (Again, we will post more ideas and recipes later.)

How expensive of an item should I bring?
This is a tricky question because it will really depend on who else is participating – but you won’t know that until you get there. We’d say try to bring an item in the $5-15 range.

How many items should I bring?
Ask your organizer because this may depend on the number of people participating. Bringing 10-12 items for a mid-sized group is probably a safe bet.

Should I bring samples?
Ooo yummy! Yes yes! People would love to try a little hunk of your homemade bread before they commit.

We hope this little list of FAQ’s has calmed your nerves about going to (or hosting) a food swap. It’s really just a great even all about sharing delicious food with friends and/or strangers. And please, if you’ve got more questions, give your Muses a holler.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lemon Rolls: they deserve another shoot out

Tart, sweet, creamy, pillowy soft. All words that describe The Kitchn's lemon rolls with cream cheese glaze.

Last year, both the Muses made these for Easter brunch. Upon discussing menus for this year, they realized that they are BOTH making these luscious rolls again. Seriously people, if you didn't try them last year, you need to do it this time. And please don't be turned off if you aren't celebrating the Risen Christ. While they definitely are not appropriate for Passover (quite the contrary) the recipe is worth a try another time when trying to (impress) delight your friends and family.