This last week I bought something I don’t know how to use, and by don’t know how to use, I mean that I don’t know what use it will be for me as a cook. Here’s how it all went down—
I was home on my couch mindlessly adding items to my Amazon cart when I remembered that I’ve been meaning to get myself a new immersion blender. So I toddle on over to the right page, pick my favorite color, add to cart, then decided that I would be interested to know what a cordless immersion blender costs. a few clicks later and I found myself here somehow…
(I should have probably prefaced this story with the fact that it was Amazon Prime Day–and that I had been on and off looking for some useful device). Anyway, Long story short, I bought the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker/Immersion Circulator because Ktams wasn’t home to talk sense to me (and in my defense I tried to text AND call him. Don’t tell me I’m not a good wifey). He and I have talked about sous vide for some time now, and we basically leave all discussions at “well it’s quite an expensive kitchen tool that we have absolutely no idea how we would use.”
I even got more money off with my Amazon Affiliate-ship. So all in all, it’s ok, right?
Right. So to explain what sous vide is – it is cooking an item while keeping it at a consistent temperature via a heated water bath (but under boiling) for an extended period of time to cook it through properly but to keep tenderness a top priority. I first learned about sous vide from another Portland Food Blogger (Kyle from Our Daily Brine) at an event I attended. First I was intrigued. The chicken’s texture we were dining on was unreal. I wanted to learn more. What better way to learn than to do it myself?
Then I had an even bigger “AH-HA” moment a day or two later. For months now I’ve been trying to muster up the courage to make my own yogurt at home (ever since attending a very sweet class by author Janet Fletcher for her book Yogurt and hosted by Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery). I’ve had trouble deciding how I would keep a controlled environment for the yogurt for the extended time it requires (we are talking up to 12 hours). Then while searching on Pinterest for sous vide recipe ideas, it hit me like a ton of bricks – sous vide yogurt. It’s too perfect. And thus begins the goal of my weekend.
Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Have you ever bought something you had no idea how to use?
I’ve been to my fair share of food in Portland, and over time have collected a considerable list of worthy spots I’d be happy to sit down to any night of the week. I even get so drunk in love with burgers in the last year that I’ve written them a poem. This is a 21st century love affair, one that cannot be satiated with any old burger. Any old burger just won’t do–I love something a little odd about a burger. Maybe it’s an unexpected tangy topping or a fresh pile of greens. While I will eat a classic, I always enjoy a little twist (perhaps it’s the dill mayo on one of the below items). My city has been very good to me when it comes to variety – I want to share my top five favorite burgers of the moment in Portland, OR. But first, some poetry:
Ode To The Perfect Burger
It must have a bite, and
It must have crunch;
It must be a tangy delight–dripping with juicy goodness and
It may be of beef or elk.
It may be of ostrich so long as it can be served–medium-rare.
It may have cheese–Oh, please let that be true
But above all things–
It MUST not be Bleu.
The Spicy Bee’s Top 5 Portland Burgers
- Imperial’s Flat Top Burger | 410 SW Broadway Ave | This burger is just so well-balanced. Made up of lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, bread and butter pickles, sharp cheddar, and dill mayo, it nearly sounds like an epic Krabby Patty (yes, I just made a SpongeBob reference, what!?). An easy choice for happy hour at only $6, I highly suggest washing this guy down with their Vieux Carre as it is an excellent bang for your buck. On Happy Hour.
- C Bar’s Chef’s Burger (rotational) | 2880 SE Gladstone St | This rings in at #1 because I’ve taken things so far as to replicate the burger at home (pictured above–ain’t she a beauty?). One of the sweeter burgers I’ve enjoyed, the Chef’s Burger packs in tangy chevre, crisp red onion, spicy arugula, and a sweet mango chutney (I find mine at Trader Joes). Be sure to check the menu at CBar as Chef is known to change things up seasonally (right now it’s listed as Piedmont Farms Natural ground beef, arugula, tomato, onion, chevre, bacon, house made apple jam and aioli, which still sounds lovely.) On Happy Hour.
- Lil’wares Burger | 4537 NE Fremont St | I am fairly certain I first met this burger at Smallwares before it succeeded to Lil’Wares just down the way, although I could be wrong. A beef burger with american cheese, kimchi, hoisin, pickles, red onion, and basil, this lil’ guy is not for those who are looking for a classic bite – but the adventurous lot should check this thing out. Kimchi is a fermented cabbage, so it acts as a crunchy lettuce replacement.
- SlowBurger’s Jack & Dill | 2319 NE Glisan St| To be honest, I have yet to have anything but a great burger at SlowBurger, and I’m also a fan of their sister spot, SlowBar in SE and their happy hour. The go to for me is SlowBurger’s Jack & Dill. It’s pretty much got all my favorite things–Painted Hills Beef, Pepper Jack, applewood smoked bacon, jalapenos, dill pickle, sweet and sour iceberg lettuce slaw on a Grand Central brioche bun. You can tuck me in after one of those. I’m done for the night.
- Clyde Common’s Burger | 1014 SW Stark St | The newest addition to the list, and the catalyst for getting this post written, the “Olympic Burger” (they quoted it, not me, likely due to changes of lawsuit from the National Olympic Committee. We all know that story) at Clyde Common. This behemoth contains bacon jam, American cheese, fermented pickles, and fu manchu mayo. On Happy Hour.
Now go forth and find your perfect burger. Perhaps you’ve already found it? Tweet me – I’d love to put them to the test!
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Whether you’re planning your own registry or looking to purchase something for someone else, narrowing down the options for purchase are daunting. When I created our registries, I was overwhelmed by the amount of options I could consider and the range of products and prices for which I could register. Now when I think about what I would ask for with a new home vs. what I did ask for when I shared a 600sq ft apartment, a number of helpful items come to mind. With that I compiled this list of 6 items every wedding registry needs that involves work in the kitchen. I’m going to start with sharing what the kitchen starter could really use.
- Nesting Bowls – A set like these can be inexplicably helpful in a tiny kitchen. I am especially fond of my set with rubber bottoms to keep them from slipping or hopping all over the countertops. Metal insides are perfect for hand mixers, while glass nesting bowls are timeless looking, can be heated (in most cases), and any set that comes with lids are so important for pulling double duty in a small kitchen. While I prefer to have 2 sets of nesting bowls in my kitchen, I keep my metal bowls close at hand and my glass bowls in the basement for when I need them.
- Cast Iron Enameled Oven – If I were stranded on a desert island, a cast iron enameled oven would be the second thing on my list (right after a water filter). A 6qt oven is large enough to roast a chicken but small enough that it will still fit in most cabinets without issue. They can be quite beautiful too! Sometimes I just like to leave mine on the stove, as its orange color adds to my kitchen nicely. Be sure to try and match the couple’s registered items if possible (i.e. if they register for all blue dishware, sometimes a blue enameled oven is a nice touch. Other times it’s nice to contrast). Whether you go with a cost-effective brand like Lodge or a gourmet brand like Le Creuset, be sure to check the cookware for warranty info and any flaws in the glaze.
- Storage Containers – Glass is where it’s at. These Pyrex containers are mandatory for anyone looking to cook more at once or more often in general. The shelf life of this set with heavy use is about five years, which I find to be better than the snap on lids’ shelf life. The bottoms are oven safe (great for reheating food in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave) and the sets are dishwasher safe. Any couple would get use out of the set for storing leftovers, lunches, or fresh ingredients for prep.
- Cuisinart Food Processor – When storage is limited, some items have to be versatile. I have found Cuisinart to be just that. It’s great at blending things a blender can’t handle, and also has extra graters and add-ons to speed up the prep process. At around $100 for a 7-cup processor, it’s a good moderately priced gift option. Looking for a more affordable option for your registry? We have the 3-cup Cuisinart at home and it takes care of most small projects.
- Quality Kitchen Knives – A quality set should include a paring knife, a cook’s knife, and a shorter utility knife is always nice. Quality high-carbon stainless steal will last and last. The only other item that I love that isn’t in the above set is a pair of their Wusthof Kitchen Shears.
- Pepper Grinder & Salt Pot – I’m in a stage of my life at the moment where I want a salt pot instead of a shaker – but it’s nice to get back to my classic salt and pepper shakers when we have guests over. While many households may already have a table set for salt and pepper, having a go-to pepper grinder next to the stove can help food immensely! A salt pot also looks tasteful next to the stove, and mine allows me easy access to a large opening should I decide to measure my salt out instead of using my hands (albeit more times than not I’m just using my hands – and have you ever tried to measure teaspoons of salt out of those tall salt canisters?! Impossible.) Remember to include some fresh salt (Himalayan sea salt perhaps?) and peppercorns if you’re the one gifting! They add a lovely personal touch.
Just you wait–I’m compiling a list for kitchen pros as well 😉