Monday, December 19, 2011

Rigging up eco-friendly gift wrap

In the 450 billion dollar industry that is the Christmas season, I've wondered what portion of that goes towards straight up waste, or as others call it, wrapping paper. This is the third year that I've strived to only use reusable or reused materials for wrapping gifts, and I thought I'd share some of the things I've used myself.

I'll be the first to acknowledge that this can add a little more to your holiday budget, but with some creativity and a little planning ahead, most of the things I ended up wrapping with cost far less than a paper gift bag. I got a lot of my materials from dollar stores, discount stores like Big Lots, dollar bins at big box stores and craft stores, and thrift stores. If you live in or near a big city with a Chinatown or fashion district, that's a great place for things like accessories that can be used as reusable wrap or embellishments.

I hope you'll consider making your gift wrap more eco-friendly this holiday season and throughout the year. Share your ideas or what you're going to do in the comments! And, without further ado...

Monday, December 5, 2011

The project formerly known as "25 by 25"

A little more than a year ago, following the lead of a friend, I decided to start a "25 by 25" list, which had an accompanying, short-lived blog. This list of 25 things I wanted to do before turning 25 including some items that were things I’d never done, some that were things I’d attempted and not been able to sustain, and some that were things I hadn’t done in many many years.
The cakes I baked for our family birthday celebration
Last month was my 25th birthday, and while I didn't do everything on my list, a lot more than I could have imagined has happened or started to happen in the last year.

I also realized that I don't need a list or time limits to do things- if there's something I want to do, I should do it when the opportunity arises, or make such an opportunity myself. Still, with closure in mind, I thought I'd post that list here with a bit of an status update on it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let's try this again...

In the last two-and-a-half-months since I last updated this blog, quite a bit has happened. In addition to far more important and interesting current events, I said good-bye to friends in D.C. and moved across the country to California, where I’ve already visited my grade school, reunited with friends, celebrated my birthday with my twin sister for the first time in eight years, started personal training for the first time, agreed to finally learn to drive, and felt thankful for all of this last week for Thanksgiving.

For someone who never really anticipated returning to Los Angeles for an extended period of time (it’s been six weeks as of today), it’s definitely been an interesting and sometimes difficult transition of going back to my roots. Still, I’m thankful to have the opportunity and support to be transitioning at all, and plan on sharing more about that transition here.

On the theme of transitions, I’ve also made a decision about this blog: I’ll be transitioning cooking related posts to a separate, new blog. I’ll still likely post links to those posts here, but I’ve been thinking about it and it seems best to separate the two. So here’s where I can use your help: any suggestions for a name for a new cooking/food blog?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Farmers' Market Friday : peach & blueberry cobbler

One of my favorite cakes I've made features caramelized peaches with a buttery cake textured with the addition of cornmeal. I've made it as is with just peaches, or added blueberries to the peaches, or switched them out for nectarines or plums. It's delicious, but a little time consuming to make, so I was looking for a way to get the same flavors together in an easier format, when I came across this recipe for peach cobbler with cornmeal biscuit topping, from the website for the same farmers' market from where I bought my peaches and berries.

I've adapted the recipe slightly--the one on Fresh Farm's website sounds great as is, but I love the combination of peaches with blueberries (and I like to make cobbler topping with powdered sugar for the texture). I made a large version for a Labor Day BBQ to say goodbye to summer; I had to leave before the cobbler was served, but I was assured it was "scarfed down"... which is exactly what I did with the individual portion I ate for breakfast this morning. (NB: don't miss the bonus recipe at the bottom!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Seven year itch

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. 
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat," if you only walk long enough."
                    -From Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

WWII Memorial in Wash., D.C.
A couple years ago, I wrote in the aforementioned-now-extinct LiveJournal that I no longer felt temporary in D.C. It was a few months after finally moving off-campus into my first apartment, and I remember walking home from the train station, late summer or early fall, and it just felt right. I felt like I belonged in D.C. Very right place, right time.

Last month marked seven years that I've lived in the District (give or take a couple summers spent in Los Angeles). Next month will mark my last living in D.C., at least for now.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Farmers' Market Friday : figs & ricotta

One weekend's farmers' market bounties
So, the title of this post is a little misleading. My local farmers' market is actually on Sundays, but 1) posting this on Friday gives me time to cook, eat and write, and 2) I like alliteration. Here's something I put together using mostly ingredients from said market. Call it a tartine, a crostini, an open-faced sandwich--whatever you call it, it makes a tasty hors d'Ĺ“uvre, snack, breakfast or lunch. But first, a little bit more on farmers' markets.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"It doesn't have to be perfect, it does have to be you"

I set aside today to put my new life in order--figuring out a new schedule to use my time, adjusting my budget, and making a giant to-do list for the next several weeks. Instead, I read a bunch of marketing blogs, ate another grilled cheese sandwich with mayo, took a nap, and am now procrastinating a bit more by blogging.

When I procrastinate, it's actually somewhat productive, most of the time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Change ahead : advice welcome

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." -Albert Einstein 
I've been re-reading this quotation a lot over the past few weeks. You see, yesterday was my last day at my now-previous job. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick tip: grilled cheese (& a question)

Busy week, so here's just a quick cooking tip that's new to me: when making grilled cheese, coat the bread with mayo instead of butter.

Ok guys, is this as novel as I seem to think it is? Because I've only started to hear this recently--the first time I heard about it was my sister's boyfriend, and to be honest, didn't really give it a lot of merit at the time. However, as it kept popping on food tv and blog circles, it started to make more sense: mayo is mostly oil, so it will brown and crisp like butter, but the emulsification with eggs lowers the burn/smoke point so your sandwich gets sufficiently melty inside but not burnt on the outside (and for those mayo-haters, it does NOT make the sandwich taste like mayonnaise).

I'm pretty sure I'll be making all my grilled cheese sandwiches (including grilled ham, egg and Jarlsberg sandwiches like pictured above--yum) this way from now on.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday eggs with swiss chard and ricotta

One of my favorite things about living in D.C. is the access to beautiful produce at local farmers' markets, especially in the summer. The one I most frequent happens to be today, on Sundays. Really I should call this "Sunday scrambled eggs with garlic swiss chard and ricotta on fried potatoes," but that's a little wordy, isn't it? Plus, I think these eggs would be just as delicious on potatoes as they would with some rice or a nice piece of crusty bread (hell, even some spaghetti... I don't know why but in my mind the only noodle that would work is spaghetti).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Never is a promise

I read several blogs a day (thanks, Google Reader!), and one of my favorites is author Seth Godin's simply titled Seth Godin's Blog. His entries are some of the shortest on my blog roll, but also some of the most thought provoking. This post from last week particularly stood out to me:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nothing says "welcome" like the smell of bacon.

One day, I'll have a blog named "Bakin' with Bacon," and it will all be recipes that include my favorite porcine product, and when it makes me wildly famous, I'll get to spend quality kitchen time with Kevin Bacon, because in this fantasy he loves a pun as much as I do. That day is not today, but that doesn't mean pig candy can't make a guest appearance here every now and then. And what better grand entrance than with bacon chocolate chip cookies?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Introducing a blog as random as I am.

Once upon a time, I blogged regularly... at least when I was on LiveJournal, you used to be able to call that blogging without getting a sideways glance. Those were the days when I thought, naively, that my day-to-day life really was so interesting and those moody song lyrics I posted really were so deep, that others actually cared about any of it.

(For anyone curious, the LiveJournal has officially been deleted to protect... myself.)

Fast forward a few years, and I've been tinkering with the idea of starting a blog for a while now, predominantly struggling with what to write about. I know that I'll write about some cooking adventures, marketing trends and ideas, and some general positing. Believe it or not, that's my version of narrowing things down. We'll call it eclectic. Actually, I'm calling it "Bettina writes."