Monday, July 21, 2014

Spatulicious! With a giveaway.


Here is another quick product recommendation, and this one with a fabulous giveaway!

First, a little backstory:

I am a spatula girl.  And by spatula, I mean a slab of silicone on the end of a stick that I can use to make perfect scrambled eggs, or fold cake batter, or scrape something sticky out of one vessel and into another.

I am also, it should go without saying, a lazy girl, which means that while I am turning my kitchen into a disaster area, I require multiples of nearly every utensil so I don't have to stop and wash something, and everything goes in the dishwasher.

This is particularly complicated when it comes to the spatula situation, since the really good ones have wooden handles.  This means that you really have to be careful about cleaning, since stuff can get into the seam and be really disgusting.  You can pull the silicone head off of the wood to avoid putting the wood in the dishwasher, but after a few times, you find that the wood and silicone decide not to love each other nearly as much as they once did, and then the head of your spatula falls off into the egg whites mid-fold or flops off into the quiche filling spraying you with liquid eggs and you get powerfully in touch with your inner vulgarian.

So when I saw the Get it Right Spatula line at the Housewares show?  I was more excited than someone should probably be.  In fact, I think they may have questioned my sanity.  But these people, much like their name, have in the simplest possible terms, gotten it right.

Their spatulas are a single piece of silicone that is heat proof to 464 degrees, and heat resistant to 550!  The weight is perfect, the flex is strong enough to work with stiff cookie dough but soft enough to make perfect eggs.  The whole thing goes right in the dishwasher, and since there are no seams, it cleans like a dream.

They have four sizes, a regular size called the ultimate, which will be your go-to for almost every application.  Then there is a long one with a slimmer head that is a total game changer for getting things out of jars.  Charming Suitor is a peanut-butter on english muffin for breakfast EVERY DAY kinda guy, and this skinny version is his new best friend.  Then there is a mini version, which is like Honey I Shrunk the Ultimate, and I love it for little jobs like scraping homemade salad dressing out of the mixing bowl and into a container. The Pro is a serious and massive version that is great if you do a lot of large batch baking.

Even cooler?  They come in a dozen awesome colors.  So you can match your decor, or buy each size in a different color so they are easy to spot in the drawer.  I have a Pro in Magenta, an Ultimate in Teal, a Skinny in Orange, and minis in both Gray and Lime.  But for your kitchen, they also come in White, Black, Lavender, Sky Blue, Pink, Red and Yellow.  There is even a set that is striated to look like BACON!

And yes, I do, in fact, wish I had one of each size in every color, despite recognizing that having four dozen spatulas is insanely ridiculous.  But sometimes you are feeling lavender, and sometimes you are feeling yellow, and that is just how things go.  I own it.

Because I love you all, and because Get it Right is such a rockstar company, I have THREE SETS of spatulas to giveaway to three lucky Chickens!  You will get a set of three spatulas, an Ultimate, a Skinny and a Mini, and even better, you get to custom pick your colors!  Three different colors, all the same, your choice.

Just comment below to enter, hopefully telling us why these spatulas will absolutely change your life and cooking, by 11:59 pm CST on July 31, and on August 1 I will announce the three winners!

In the meantime, check out their website for more info and to dream of the colors...  GET IT RIGHT

And if you can't wait, you can buy one  HERE

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Glamorous Life of the Foodie Writer on Deadline: Perceived and Actual


I may have mentioned that I am currently doing the rewrites on my new novel:

 With a cover this cute, and what with it being all available for pre-order and everything, it seems that I ought to make sure I get the actual thing, you know, finished.

People often ask me about process, and about what my days look like as a full-time writer, and I realized that there is usually the idea of what this life is like and then there is the reality.

So I thought this would be a good time to share:

The Life of a Foodie Writer on Deadline


8am- Awaken rested, ready to tackle a hard day at the computer
8:15- Make a large pot of organic decaffeinated tea to last the morning, and create a lovely energizing parfait of Greek yogurt, homemade granola, and fresh berries
8:30- Turn on classical music or jazz to provide soft background music, and settle into your office, which contains an antique library table used as a desk, wraparound bookshelves, and a fainting couch.
9:00- having skimmed over the outline of what is to be written today, turn on the computer and get to work
11:00- feeling good about progress, break for tea and homemade biscotti
11:15- return to writing
12:30- break for lunch-Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad made with baby greens, tomatoes, and green beans from the garden, baby new potatoes from the Farmer’s Market, and a homemade shallot Dijon vinaigrette using a technique picked up last visit to Provence- quickly post picture of lunch to Facebook
1:30- Skim over morning writing and pronounce it lovely, continue writing
3:30- break for tea and an energizing snack of homemade hummus and flax crackers with crudités
3:45- Continue writing
6:30- Break for dinner- Grilled baby lamb chops with black garlic butter, mint and parsley carrot couscous, steamed asparagus.  Peaches with honeyed mascarpone and candied sage for dessert.  Plate everything on vintage china and eat with grandmother’s wedding silver and a half carafe of perfectly chilled Cote de Provence.  Take pictures of everything for files.
7:30-  Quickly jot down recipe notes on dinner for use in blog post tomorrow
8:00- Return to office with wine and settle on fainting couch to read over today’s writing and make notes on outline for tomorrow
9:30- Indulge- watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi while editing
11:00- eat a single square of artisanal 85% dark chocolate while reading MFK Fisher’s The Art of Eating for the eleventh time.
12:00- sleep

6am- Awaken briefly to pee.  Return to sleep. Have bizarre dreams.
9- Awaken for real. Debate going back to sleep.  Lose debate due to need to take a dump.
9:15- Drink a diet ginger ale, and eat a Think Thin peanut butter chocolate protein bar, marveling that chocolate and peanut butter can actually taste like chalk and old socks.  Put on Fitbit.
9:30- Settle onto the living room couch with laptop on the ottoman and turn on HGTV to provide background noise.
9:45: Check email and Feedly blogs
10:30:  Grab iPad and use up all of your available lives in Candy Crush, Pet Rescue Saga, Bubble Witch 1 & 2, and Juice Cubes
11:30- feeling good about progress, break for tea and chocolate chip toffee cookies from the freezer that you were saving to bring to a friend next week.  Vow to make fresh cookies instead.  Nearly pull out a filling on frozen cookies.
11:45- Get sucked into the end of a particularly compelling Love it or List it.  They love it.  Despite still being one bedroom and two bathrooms short for their family of 11, and the other house being three times the size and in their beloved neighborhood for under their budget and never having had black mold in the kitchen. Wonder about the general intelligence of Canadians.
12:00- Realize it is nearly lunchtime and therefore there is no reason to begin writing quite yet.
12:30- Survey lunch options.  There are makings for sandwiches, quick pastas, or salads in your overstuffed fridge.  Eat the tuna salad you picked up at the deli yesterday right out of the tub with a plastic fork to eliminate washing.
12:45- Eat a fistful of cornichons and three Kraft singles
12:55- Eat three more frozen cookies since you’ve been really good about your lunch being carb-free
1:15- Skim over yesterdays writing and cringe at your use of the word frankly no less than six times in 1500 words.
1:30- Ipad tells you all your lives are back
2:30- Hildy has discovered that the foundation of the house she is working on is completely unsafe and that the house could collapse into a hellmouth any second.  She gets Fergus right on fixing it up to make the family safe.  They are enormously pissed at her, as it is clearly her fault they bought this house with no inspection off an ad on the internet, and now they won’t be able to afford their open-concept main floor with gourmet kitchen and dining room.
2:59- They love it.  Where do they find these people?  I’ve met many lovely and insanely smart Canadians in my life.  None of them ever seem to
appear on Love it or List it.
3:00- Feeling sleepy.  Maybe blood sugar is low.  Look in fridge.  There is fresh fruit, hummus, crudités, yogurt.  Put electric kettle on for tea.
3:10:  Decide against tea and use boiling water for Cup O Noodles instead
3:12:  Scald the ever loving crap out of your hand on overflowing Cup O Noodles
3:15:  Burn tongue on lava-like Cup O Noodles
3:30:  Still sleepy.  Decide on Power Nap
5:30:  Awaken groggy and barely able to open eyes.
5:45:  Get off couch due to need to pee.
6:00: Drink diet ginger ale and eat last two frozen cookies.
6:15:  All your lives are back
6:59: They love it. Yell at television and switch to Bravo.
7:15: Almost dinnertime, better not start writing yet.
7:30: Survey fridge for dinner options. There is a rotisserie chicken, baby lamb chops, six grain salad, plus all of the options you ignored at lunchtime.
7:35:  Make large bowl of popcorn for dinner.  Eat three more Kraft singles while waiting for it to pop.  And for protein.  Source online picture of summer pasta with burrata and heirloom tomatoes for tomorrows blog post.
7:59: Feel awfully good about yourself since you are a much better person than any of these housewives.
8:00:  Switch to Law and Order marathon.
8:15:  Start writing.
10:15:  Break to pee.  Eat fistful of mini gummi bears that you bought because they are 1/3 the size of regular gummi bears and therefore impossible to resist, as is all adorable food.  Plus they come in 12 flavors.  Which all taste identical unless you are really paying close attention to the color before you eat them. Decide to test your palate and pick out one of every flavor and close eyes and try to identify blind.
10:30: realize that once you have eaten the gummi bear blind you have no idea if you were right.  Pick out two of every flavor so that you can start over and use process of elimination to determine if you were correct.
10:45:  10 out of 12.  You are clearly a superior palate.
11:00:  All your lives are back.
11:45:  go back to writing
2:50:  Realize that you have actually done some good work and wonder why you waited all day to get to it.
3:00: Check FitiBit, you have walked 1213 steps, all of them between couch, kitchen and bathroom.
3:15: go to sleep and vow to do better tomorrow.

Hope this clarifies!

Also, if you now can't stop thinking about mini gummi bears, you can get them HERE.  You're welcome.

Back to writing.  Honest.

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A quickie


Here is just a quick new product recommendation!

I know that I often say that "one use" gadgets are not worth the storage space.  But I also believe that when you find a simple tool that does exactly what it claims to do, it is sometimes worth fitting it into you life, and your cabinets.

When I got the New Metro Cool Grip Microwave Caddy, I thought "Seriously?".  It looked like one of those As Seen On TV widgets that solve a problem you didn't know you had.  Don't potholders (or the sleeves of your shirt) work fine to get things in and out of your microwave?

And the answer is yes and no.

Yes, you can successfully accomplish the act of removing a plate or bowl from your microwave with any number of heat resistant objects you already have on hand.

But no, not nearly as easily or as well as you can with this simple device.

The functionality is pretty simple.  You can place either a bowl or plate in the center.  The channel around the edge catches any spillover, and the stay cool handles mean no more potholders (or sleeves) to get things in and out.  Which also means no more potholders (or sleeves) dunking in your soup or sopping up your sauce.  The handles make the shift from appliance to counter easy, especially for plates, which can be difficult to get your hands around when they are like touching the surface of the sun.

The plastic caddy is dishwasher safe on the top rack, and when it comes to that pesky storage issue?  I just keep mine right in the microwave.  It works with pretty much any size plate or bowl, I tested it with several shapes and it is very adaptable.  And since I am a total klutz, the slopover catchbasin has already saved me a bunch of cleanup.

It comes in red, white, navy, and a sassy orange and is only $15.  Definitely recommended.


Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Some quick recommendations...

Hello Chickens!

I have been hard at work on rewrites for my new novel, and can finally share one little teaser:

And while it doesn't come out till March 2015, if you are feeling so inclined, you are welcome to beat the crowds and pre-order.

The work on the house is in a lull right now.  The domino effect of construction...we have three spaces left to pour concrete.  Which we can't pour till we run new water service to the property.  This is a complicated procedure, so we are on the bubble until we can find the right company, and then get permits and coordinate with the city.  Until we pour the rest of the concrete we can't polish the floors, and until we polish the floors we can't start framing in walls.  And so it goes.  This is when we thank our stars that this is such a long project, because losing a couple of weeks here or there doesn't really matter in the scheme of things, but I can see how people on tight timelines get so frustrated!

Since my rewrites are due in a few weeks, I won't have a lot of time to pop back in and say hello, so I thought I would schedule some short posts on some new products and gadgets I am excited about!  Even a giveaway on the horizon.

I got some fun new stuff to test when I was at the Housewares show, and have finally finished doing my testing, so stay tuned for some cool new stuff!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Monday, June 23, 2014

Concrete Jungle

Well Chickens, I am back!  A little vacation does a girl a world of good, and also allows for there to be some progress in the house.

So this happened!

First there was a thin layer of plastic that went over the dirt floor.

Then a little blankie.

Yes, that is the technical term.

Once the dirt was all tucked in, a wire grid went down.

And attached to that grid?  Plastic tubing that someday will fill with hot water and keep our feet toasty in the basement!  I cannot stress enough that if you are doing a basement remodel, especially in a cold weather zone like Chicago, go for the in-floor radiant heat.  Even if you aren't pouring a new concrete pad the way we were, you can do electric pad system that can go under a variety of flooring.

Look at all this cool tubing!  And the hairy arm of a contractor.  And lets be clear, great contractors are a little furry.  Those smooth skinned waxed and tweezed pretty boys on HGTV are not real.

This is Patrick.  He is one of our favorite people in the whole world, and we thank the universe every day that we are lucky enough to have him building our dream house.  (It doesn't hurt that his lovely wife is a great cook and sends him with all sorts of treats!)

This is the new copper water line, since the original line was determined to be not big enough.

Once everything that needed to be under the concrete was installed, then this was the scene in our alley!

And here is the concrete going in.  They covered our newly cleaned and tuckpointed stone walls with plastic to keep them pretty.

And TAAA DAAA!!!!!  Our new floor.  It is still curing, but once it is all completely hardened, they will bring in a polisher and make it smooth and give it a sheen, and it will be a beautiful and nearly indestructible floor for the rest of our natural lives!  

The other floor update is that they did some test removal of the horrific 1978 linoleum that currently graces our kitchen.  They pulled it up in the butler's pantry, and much to our delight the original oak is intact underneath and is in great shape, so it can be refinished when we do the rest of the floors on this level.  They also pulled it up in a section of the kitchen and while it too is the original oak, there is sadly a lot of dry rot so we will have to put a new floor in that space.  We were anticipating that this might be the case, so it wasn't a huge disappointment.

All in all, we are thrilled with the progress, especially since it is very gratifying to not be living over a dirt pit anymore!  Stay tuned as things really begin to take shape.

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hello Summer


I am writing to you from the lovely 70 degree humid-free environment that is now my home.

Let me be clear about this.  This is in the top five greatest things that has happened to me, following my own birth, my sister's birth, meeting my Charming Suitor, and becoming a published author.  And I am not exaggerating.  Air conditioning?  CENTRAL air conditioning?  Is a total lifechanger.

Luckily for us, since we had done the heating system this past winter, all of the ductwork etc. was in place, so we just had to install the compressors outside.

They are huge.  I went out when they were putting in the first one, which is about a three foot cube, and I thought "Damn. That is a honking AC unit."  And then they put in the BIG one!  We call them Lenny and George.  And I am madly in love with them.  They are Trane, same as our furnaces, run practically silent (we can hear it in the room where the big chase is, but that is the kitchen library, so we don't care).  The old window units sounded like small jet engines on constant idle.  This?  is so much better.

It is hot and muggy outside, and every inch of the inside is cool and comfy.  I swear when we came home Sunday after a couple of days away and walked inside to the embrace of the air?  I teared up a bit.

This means that the biggest infrastructure job is officially complete, and for anyone who has ever had to convert a 100+ year old house from steam radiators and no AC to a complete forced air system knows what a big deal this is!  The next big thing that is happening is we are finally getting ready to pour the concrete floor in the basement.

Have you any idea how annoying it is to live over a huge dirt pit?  Not fun.  As much work as has gone on in the past eight months, it just doesn't quite feel as real without a floor.  In general, it isn't ideal to pour concrete in Chicago until you are fairly certain of the weather, so now that the polar vortex has left us, we are good to go!  They are just gearing up to install the tubing for the radiant heat floor, and then it will be concrete time.  And this concrete is important.  Because we have decided to polish it and leave it exposed for the flooring in all but two of the rooms downstairs.

Since we are going for something of a 1907 industrial feel downstairs, leaving the stone and brick foundation and walls exposed, sandblasting and clear coating the steel beams, it was a natural fit to do polished concrete floors.  We will be having some sort of carpet tile in the exercise room for cushion and the media room for sound absorption, but since we are rug people anyway, it seemed silly to install flooring over the concrete pad just to lay rugs down.

In other news, I am going to take a two week social media cleanse, just to refocus energy and reinvigorate my brain and live in the moment with my Charming Suitor, so everyone have a great couple of weeks and when I get back online, I will have lots of house updates with pics!

Yours in Good Taste,
The Polymath