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Top Six Websites for the Holidays

By Lari Robling - December 16th, 2010

King Arthur Flour
Here’s a place for last minute gift ideas, tips and recipes but, even better, there’s a live online chat to answer your baking questions. Thanks to Tara I got my substitution equivalent for pastry and all-purpose flour BEFORE I started the recipe.

101 Cookbooks
This popular site will give you an overview of cookbooks (blogger Heidi Swanson has over 100, hence the name) as well as recipes by ingredient or dish. There’s an emphasis on natural, healthy foods and a travel section, too!

Serve a little kitsch with your holiday meal. CHOW marries the demise of Kodachrome with retro Christmas magazine shots. A fun diversion when you are stressing out that the big day is almost here and you have a to-do list longer than Santa’s wish list.

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2010 Holiday Cookbook Gift Guide – (Lari Robling’s pics)

By Fit Staff - December 9th, 2010

With any luck, give a cookbook as a gift and you’ll get a dinner invitation. Lari Robling would be happy to find any of these under her tree…

  • Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
    by Dorie Greenspan
    I’ve been cooking my way through this book with delightful results. Known for her baking books, Dorie Greenspan moves into the world of savory with 300 recipes from her experiences living in Paris.
  • The Southern Foodways Alliance Alliance Community Cookbook
    edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge
    Sure, there’s pimento cheese and other extravagances in a southern cookbook, but there’s also generations of recipes that used meat sparingly and marry flavor with beans and vegetables.
  • The Perfect Shape + The Perfect Sauce = The Geometry of Pasta
    by Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand
    As any Italian knows, it’s pairing the sauce with the shape that makes pasta exquisite. You’ll want to frame the black and white graphics.
  • Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert
    by Eric Ripert
    The advanced home cook will enjoy the challenge and no one knows fish better than Chef Ripert of Le Bernadin in New York City.
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Top Five Ways to Keep Holiday Weight Gain at Bay (according to Lari Robling)

By Lari Robling - December 6th, 2010

    1. We know we are going be downing extra calories this time of year, so start early to increase your activity. Even at a modest pace, most people can burn 100 calories or more by walking a mile. Park your car and get out and finish the ride on foot, get off public transportation a stop or two early or take a couple laps around the mall before you start to shop. Those extra burned calories hopefully balance the extra calories of your holiday treats.
    2. Have a plan. A lot of damage can be done without even thinking about (or enjoying) what you put in your mouth. If you know a neighbor makes a great cheesecake, then plan to savor that at the open house. Nibble on the carrot sticks, hummus and healthier options and enjoy that cake without guilt.
    3. Bring something low calorie and low fat to the party, that way you know there is something you can eat. Chances are, several people there will appreciate it as well.

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Beans… More than a Children’s Rhyme

By Lari Robling - November 4th, 2010

Dried beans are known as a superfood — a nutritional plant powerhouse of proteins, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, they fill us up which makes them a great way to use a little meat as a flavor agent instead of a main dish, or a perfect ingredient for Meatless Monday.

Canned beans are an easy staple to have in the pantry — just rinse and drain before you add to your dish. Don’t overlook starting from scratch with dried beans, though. It takes a little more planning but the texture and flavor profile is worth it. My grandmother used to cover her beans with water and soak them overnight, but I find the quick soak method works well, too. Cover the beans with water and bring them to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to re-hydrate for about an hour or so. Drain and follow your recipe from there.

And, about the children’s rhyme about the gassy nature of bean eating? In her book, “Beans,” culinary educator Aliza Green notes that it is the complex sugar molecules known as oligosaccharides that can cause our musical bean interlude. Human enzymes don’t easily digest oligosaccharides so the job is left to intestinal bacteria which ultimately give off the gas.

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Romaine-ing the Stove

By Lari Robling - October 28th, 2010

One of the nice things — that makes up for shoveling snow — is that when you live where there are four distinct seasons, your daily menu changes along with your wardrobe. While I miss the fresh corn and tomatoes I will appreciate them when they make their reappearance at the farmer’s market. And some changes are in the technique rather than the ingredient. Take romaine lettuce, for example. In the summer it is a salad staple, but don’t think it has to relegated to Caesar salad all winter. Have you ever tried braised romaine? It’s a delicious way to eat your greens, but far more comforting as our taste moves from light and fresh to heartier fare. I think it tastes a little bit like fresh asparagus.

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Caring for Your Cast Iron

By Lari Robling - October 3rd, 2010

Properly cared for, cast iron pans are virtually non-stick and can be used stove top or in the oven. Search garage and tag sales for an old one and you have an instant heirloom (who needs to know whose aunt it belonged to.) One of my cast iron treasures came from a friend whose mother was making a move to smaller quarters. She was a dairy farmer in Georgia and that was a well-seasoned pan!

Purchasing a new one is a fine as long as you look for a name brand (this is not the time to shop the dollar store). Cast iron pans are pre-seasoned these days, but they still require a little extra care in the beginning. Here are some tips:

  • Never wash with soap. A good wipe with a paper towel is often enough — with the occasional scrub with a little kosher salt, a quick rinse, and set on a burner over medium heat until dry.
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Photo by Flicker user Yolise / CC BY-NC 2.0

About Lari Robling
Lari Robling's food career had its early beginnings as a home ec teacher for the visually impaired. Later, she decided to become a food professional and worked for caterers and restaurants. Lari landed her first job in a test kitchen for a small health food publication, Delicious! magazine. From there, she began a freelance career as a food stylist and food consultant. She is also the author of Endangered Recipes: Too Good to Be Forgotten.

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