Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
When you schedule an interview with a prospective employer, agree to an interview time that is good for both of you. Try to pick a time when you know you'll be at your best. If you're not a morning person or you're unsure of the travel time, do not schedule an early morning interview. If you're unsure of your availability, tentatively accept a time, but arrange to confirm the appointment at a specific future time. Make sure you aren't going in during the restaurant's lunch rush or towards the end of service. You want to be at your best, but you also need to make sure the employer isn't too tired or distracted to give you their full attention.
Friday, October 3, 2008
A New Helping of Food Magazines
A new batch of magazines is about to test America's appetite for more food publications.
In recent years, an increase in the number of home chefs -- or at least people armed with gleaming All-Clad pots and good intentions -- has prompted a flurry of magazines and Web sites devoted to cooking, recipe swapping and epicurean lifestyles. There will be 336 such magazines published this year, nearly a third more than in 2003, according to the National Directory of Magazines. Many of those titles have shown brisk circulation growth.
Now, the category is about to get even more crowded. In its first foray into food, Hearst Corp. recently started the Delish Web site in partnership with Microsoft Corp., and next month, Hearst will launch a test of the Food Network Magazine. Rodale's Prevention magazine is adding a new brand called Cook!, and Hoffman Media, publisher of Southern Lady, will roll out a magazine tied to TV cooking personality Sandra Lee.
In addition to lots of rivals, the new magazines will be up against a gloomy ad market. In the first half of the year, magazine ad pages fell 7.4% from a year earlier, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Stalwarts in the food category haven't been spared: At Condé Nast Publications' Gourmet, ad pages fell 18.5% in the first half. Time Inc.'s Cooking Light and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's Everyday Food were off about 14% each.
U.S. ad forecasts for this year have already been lowered several times. And that was before the current crisis on Wall Street, which many economists predict will have a profound effect on corporate and consumer spending.
Many publishers believe that as long as a new title has a distinctive point of view, there is enough consumer interest and ad dollars to go around. But not everyone is so sanguine.
"There is a lot of food content available, and there may not be enough magazine advertising support for all," says Robin Steinberg, director of print investment for MediaVest, a media-buying firm owned by Publicis Groupe.
Though advertising from food-related companies has held steady, the food magazines aren't necessarily benefiting. The travel industry, which has been hurt by the cooling economy, is Gourmet's top advertiser. And the housing slump is hurting Cooking Light, which has 100 fewer advertising pages this year for paint, building materials and other housing-related items, according to publisher Chris Allen.
While the ad market has been hurting, food magazines have been buoyed by other factors. Tighter budgets are encouraging more people to cook and entertain at home, feeding demand for recipes and advice. Everyday Food's newsstand sales rose 8.9% in the first half of the year, while sales of Everyday with Rachael Ray gained 6.2%, and Gourmet was up 3.5%, even as overall newsstand sales for consumer magazines fell 6.3%, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Consumer interest in food information on the Web also has been holding steady. Overall U.S. traffic to food sites grew to 42.9 million unique visitors in August, up 6% from a year earlier, according to comScore. Sites with interactive and community features -- such as those allowing consumers to create their own digital recipe boxes or find a dish that uses ingredients already in their pantries -- are growing at a faster clip.
To increase their odds of success, some of the new cooking-related titles are linking up with an already successful brand: the Food Network. Food Network Magazine, the new publication from the Scripps Networks Interactive cable channel and Hearst, plays on the chef-as-celebrity theme that has served the cable channel well. The line "Cook Like a Star," graces the cover of the first issue.
Hoffman Media, which already has a hit with Cooking With Paula Deen, the Food Network chef known for her liberal use of butter, hopes for a repeat with another TV personality, Sandra Lee, whose Semi-Homemade magazine is slated to launch early next year. (Cooking With Paula Deen increased its ad pages 31% in the first half.
In light of the tough economic climate, some publishers are hedging their bets. Prevention, a magazine about fitness and other healthy pursuits, is introducing Cook as an insert in the magazine and as an arm of its Web site and book-publishing business. Hearst also is proceeding carefully. It has committed to just two issues of Food Network Magazine.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I'm sitting here, at the station, watching Food Network. The usual. Then a commercial for a new show comes on. The Chef Jeff Project.
Apparently, this chef is going to take a crew of misfits landed in jail, kids stuck in juvie, that sort of thing. People way down and low. K, cool. Then he's going to give them a culinary experience on par with cooking school, turning them all into chefs. Nice.
Here I am. A Master's Degree. Decent salary. But not enough to pay for my own culinary education. But because of the degree and the salary, I don't qualify for assistance either. Nice.
So basically, society likes to award those that do nothing with their life, yet punish those that have stayed clean, done their best and just want to change. Gee, why am I doing the "right" thing, then? Pathetic. I should just go rob wally world or something, so I can land in jail and get the training I want...for free!
Sorry, had to vent...
Broth is an ingredient used in kitchens all over the world to create delicious soups, sauces and gravies, and to add flavor to cooked grains or beans. While broth can be made from meat alone, it is traditionally made from leftover bones. Although this practice may have originated as a way to extract more value from a commodity during scarce times, it also extracts flavor and nutrients from something that might otherwise be thrown away. The result is a tasty, nutrient-filled liquid that makes an excellent addition to many recipes.
Properly made bone broth contains measurable amounts of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and other minerals, as well as collagen, gelatin and amino acids. These nutrients are beneficial for bone and joint health, for muscle strength and action, and for maintaining connective tissues and the gastrointestinal tract.
The gelatin in bone broth has been shown in some studies to stimulate digestion and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It also is thought to improve digestion of milk, beans, meat and gluten-containing grains. The gelatin also contributes texture to the broth, lending what chefs call "mouth-feel" to any dish.
Making bone broth is simple, though time-consuming. Bones can be purchased fresh at the grocery store meat counter, or use leftover bones from chicken or beef. Place bones in a pot, cover with water and a splash of vinegar (or lemon juice) and slowly bring to a simmer. The vinegar helps leach more minerals from the bones.
Allow the broth to simmer uncovered 2-4 hours, skimming the top of the broth throughout the cooking process. When the broth is done, strain it through a fine sieve. Discard the bones but save any meat for another dish. The broth will keep for three days in the refrigerator, and for several months in the freezer. One substantial batch of this broth, safely reheated to boiling, will enhance the nutrition and taste of several future meals.
-- Carol White, B.A., and Debra Boutin, M.S., R.D., associate professor with the School of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University
USDA has standards for organic foods
You've decided to make our Baked Apple recipe. Should you buy conventionally grown apples or organic? Both supply vitamins, minerals and fiber, and both have no fat, sodium or cholesterol. The conventionally grown apples cost less, but the organic apples have a label that says "USDA Organic."
But does the term "organic" mean anything, and are organic foods safer or more nutritious?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic certification program requires that food labeled "organic" be grown, harvested and processed according to standards that include restrictions on pesticides, hormones and antibiotics.
- Food labeled "100% organic" must have no synthetic ingredients and can use the USDA organic seal.
- Food labeled "organic" must have a minimum of 95% organic ingredients and can use the USDA organic seal.
- Meat, eggs, poultry and dairy labeled "organic" must come from animals that have never received antibiotics or growth hormones.
There is no definitive evidence that organic food is more nutritious than conventionally grown food.
Expect to pay 10% to 100% more for organic foods. More expensive farming practices and lower crop yields drive prices up.
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization protecting public health and the environment, says peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes are most susceptible to pesticide residue.
Papayas, broccoli, cabbage, bananas, kiwifruit, frozen peas, asparagus, mangoes, pineapple, frozen sweet corn, avocadoes and onions have the least pesticide residue.
One thing nutrition experts do agree on -- eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or not. The health benefits far outweigh any potential risks from pesticide exposure.
HEART SMART is a registered trademark of the Henry Ford Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute. Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, is program contact; for questions about today's recipe, call her at 313-972-1920, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays.
I intend to test this theory at the new apartment, too. I will move the bare minimums in – furniture, pots and pans, toiletries. The required items. Then, I will slowly go through every box at the storage garage and only items I deem worthy of my new life will travel to the apartment. If it stays in the garage, it will be boxed and marked for future sale or gift. We’ll see how this suits life.
Some good has come from all of this mess, though. Having nothing else to do, I have been forced, arm behind back, to read more. (haha) Currently, I am about three-quarters of the way through Gordon Ramsay’s “Roasting in Hell’s Kitchen,” an autobiographical piece that relates, thus far, the toils of his youth to why he is the way he is now. While it’s not mind-blowing material, it does put an interesting twist on my view of him. I’ve seen the first two seasons of “Hell’s Kitchen” from TV, and at that point, I thought of him as some pompous bully in the kitchen, trying to prove he’s the best. Granted, I think he’s a fantastic cook – I’ve seen the reviews, I’ve watched him cook on television, and I will one day dine at one of his establishments. Having read most of the book, I now see that there is so much more behind him than just a hellish façade. A very interesting read for those that like to know the life outside of the restaurant.
Another fantastic read, as far as my lowly opinion is concerned, is the September 2008 issue of “Gourmet.” It’s a collector’s issue, focusing on Paris restaurants. Having been and longing to go back, this issue has become a laundry list of places to go, things to see, and menus to taste. If you didn’t get a chance to see it, I highly recommend ordering a back issue. I know it’s got me planning my next trip across the pond.
So for now, I sit here in loneliness, reading my foodie books and mags, and wondering what the future has in store for me…at least I have something constructive to keep me occupied.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I had been looking at some townhouses, feeling that owning would give me a better sense of self-worth, but they are expensive, and my parents are right - I don't know that I want to lock into living in this area for the long-term. Who knows what might come to be. However, cheaper living arrangements DOES mean there should be extra money for buying food...so I expect my cooking to pick up drastically once I get settled into the apartment.
I will be more active here when things have settled down. Until then, keep those knives up.