Always Use the Right Tools

Everyone has a story about their Thanksgiving disaster. Mine happened about 20 years ago. I was making a cranberry cheesecake to take for dessert, and the recipe said to blend the ingredients in a food processor.  I didn’t have a food processor, but I thought a blender would work well enough. After all, I was just mixing a few things together.

I put the cream cheese in the blender jar, followed by the eggs, vanilla, and other ingredients, and turned the blender on High. After it ran for a few seconds, the blender bogged down because the cream cheese was too thick. No problem, I thought, I’ll just grab a spatula and push some of the liquid down by the blades.

Did you notice that I didn’t say anything about turning off the blender? Yeah, I forgot that part. As I pushed the spatula down through the layers of liquid and cream cheese, the blades came unjammed and began spinning. One of the blades caught the spatula and started it spinning, too. Then VWOOM! a volcano erupted out of the blender, splattering batter over everything. There was even batter dripping from the ceiling.

After I wiped the ceiling and cabinets clean, I poured the remaining batter into the pan and baked it. Nobody asked why the cheesecake was so small, and I certainly wasn’t telling.

That Monday, I put a food processor on my Christmas list.

Share your own Thanksgiving disaster in the comments!

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Restaurant Review: Umami Global Bistro

After a few false starts, I finally made it to Umami in Catonsville. The first time I tried to go there was on a Monday. Guess which day they’re closed? Yep, Monday. It seemed like the only time I ever thought to go there was on a Monday, so it took a few weeks for me to get there. I finally went this week, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Umami is tiny, seating about 20 or so inside and a handful outside. A pair of pretty screens divide the seating area from the entrance, but otherwise the decor is sparse. The menu has the usual Mediterranean offerings: falafel, kabobs, hummus, and gyro, along with a handful of Indian dishes. You order at the counter and find a seat, and the food is brought to your table. (I’ve never quite understood that system. The person brings the food to your table and cleans up, so why not just order at the table? Are you supposed to tip the same as in a sit-down restaurant? It just seems like an odd hybrid.)

Anyway, I ordered baba ganoush and the lamb kabob platter, along with iced mango chai. I had just gotten myself settled when the food came. The baba ganoush was delicious: garlicky and smoky, it was served with hot naan and would have been enough for an entire meal by itself. The kabob platter consisted of chunks of grilled lamb, seasoned basmati rice, salad, and more naan. The lamb was tasty, although it and the rice were a little spicy. The dressing for the salad was an unusual blend of oil and vinegar and something else that I couldn’t place, some sort of greenish puree. It wasn’t as vinegar-heavy as some vinaigrettes, and it complemented the salad nicely. The mango chai was refreshing and came with free refills. My bill came to $21 plus tax, and there was enough left over for lunch the next day.

So would I eat there again? Yes, indeed. I’d like to try their hummus and kefta kabob, and the Indian entrees sound good. If you’re on Frederick Road in Catonsville, give Umami a try!

Umami Global Bistro, 712 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228  http://www.umamibistro.com

Feast Your Eyes on…Flavored Water!

Although this summer hasn’t been especially hot so far, I’m always on the lookout for something interesting to drink besides plain water. I drink water most of the time these days, but even though it is good for you and doesn’t have any calories, it does get a little boring. I’m inspired by this blog post from Nancy Creative to try some flavored water. She says that the water is best drunk the day it’s made, but I think I could make a big pitcherful and strain or spoon out the fruit when it’s ready so it will keep longer. Do you make flavored water in the summer? Share your ideas in the comments!

I’ve always liked drinking my water with a slice or two of lemon–that extra little touch of flavor just makes water more appealing to me. There are a lot of other ways you can flavor water naturally. You can get really creative with it! Here are some ideas…

  • Add a slice of your favorite citrus to a tall glass of ice water…try lemon, lime, or orange slices. Or combine them…slices of lemon and lime…orange and lime…or try all three together!
  • Fresh mint is always a great addition to a glass of ice water.
  • Combine lemon slices with fresh herbs in your water…try lemon with mint, rosemary, thyme, or sliced ginger root.
  • Cucumbers are great in water, too! Slice up a large cucumber and add it to a pitcher of water…it’s really refreshing. You can also try cucumber with some fresh thyme added in. Or cucumber slices with lemon or orange…

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