Kim Ode, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Somewhere along the line, vanilla became synonymous with bland or ordinary. Which is just plain wrong. Blame it on a world of Chubby Hubby ice cream and Candy Cane Oreos, where "more" sounds like "better," where fake flavors bolster profits. It's true that vanilla's aroma, flowery and fragrant, usually gets top billing before its taste, generally described as rich, complex, woodsy or smoky. In any case, decidedly not plain.
Oh, pumpkin, we’ve done you wrong. We took what was a straightforward fall dessert — classic pumpkin pie — and blithely grafted its flavors onto cookies, breakfast cereal, dog treats, vodkas, yogurts, lattes, pasta sauces, bagels and so much more.
Apple strudel is a trifecta of desserts: It’s fun to say (“struuuu-dle”), fun to eat and — trust us — fun to make. Going out on a bit of a limb here, but strudel is almost easier than making apple pie. And no, we’re not using frozen phyllo pastry, which actually can be a bit of a headache because it dries so quickly and shatters when sliced. Homemade strudel dough is a tender marvel of kitchen chemistry, an extraordinarily extendible sheet of flour, water, oil and vinegar.
We love summer's fresh produce. We dream about it in January, wait impatiently for it through May, then revel in the embarrassment of riches come August. Then, sometimes, we kinda panic. How many ways can we deal with zucchini? The cherry tomato plant resembles a scarlet tornado, it's so prolific. And here comes the next CSA box with, yup, more beets. Consider quick breads as a tasty solution.
There’ve been a lot of references the past couple of months to the childhood tale of Pinocchio, whose nose grew when he lied, or the schoolyard chant of “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Our political landscape is rife with charges and countercharges of lying. Yet Jeff Hancock says it’s important to remember that most of the time, people do tell the truth. Honest.
"Rich People Problems" by Kevin Kwan; Doubleday (398 pages $27.95)
There’s a reason we call it the “f-bomb.” Like a bomb, the particular profanity beginning with “f” can be a powerful weapon. Yet in offices, hallways, conference rooms and cubicles, people are dropping the f-word into daily banter with no more ill will than lobbing a pencil. Mostly, this is driven by young people who’ve grown up hearing it in movies, music and cable TV and reading it on social media. They don’t consider it a BFD to say it, and are surprised when others do.
Some foods are made for a crowd. To consume them, yes, but also to make them. Empanadas are one of those foods. These filled pastries are popular in South America, joining a long list of such handheld pastries that are a part of many cultures: Think pasties, calzones, turnovers, Hot Pockets — you get the picture. Empanadas likely originated in Portugal, but are believed to have been influenced by India's samosas, so they've circled the globe.
"Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition" by Paul Watson; W. W. Norton & Company (384 pages, $27.95) Some books come with a soundtrack. With "Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition," it's hard not to hear the arching baritone of the late Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers keening about "the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea."
The "bread-in-five-minutes-a-day" juggernaut launched nine years ago by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François continues with the recent release of "The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day." It's an updated version of their 2009 book, which followed their 2007 debut cookbook, "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." We asked Hertzberg who, like François, lives in Minneapolis, whether he imagined he'd still be writing about dough.