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November, 2011

  1. Crockpotting: A Domestical Post

    November 22, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    Being savvy means balancing work and life — and trying to make the most out of the 17 or so hours we're awake each day.

    Sometimes I make a nice it-took-me-an-hour-plus-to-make-this meal, and other days it's takeout from Las Brasas, Garlic or Noodle. And then there are the days in-between: crock pot days.

    The folks over at Robert Rose Publishing must have known I dabble in a crock pot or two when they offered to send me a copy of The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes: Second Edition*. So I gave a few of the recipes a whirl**.

     

    Naturally I chose recipes that required the least amount of prep work and ingredients I wouldn't already have at home. The "Tuscan Chicken with Sage" recipe spoke to me because other than dark meat chicken and sage, it didn't call for anything I didn't already have laying around my kitchen. In the book, this dish is described as follows: "This simple, yet delicious, chicken gets its distinctive slightly peppery flavor from the addition of fresh sage, which has a pleasantly pungent flavor. In many ways, it's an Italian variation of coq au vin. Serve with a basic risotto, a robust green vegetable, such as broccoli or sauteed rapini, and hot crusty bread to soak up the sauce."

    (like those zexy counter tops? They will be one of the first things to go when we renovate our kitchen. Whew!)

    So here's the recipe.

    Ingredients:

    2 tbsp olive oil

    2 onions, finely chopped

    2 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp cracked black peppercorns

    1/2 cup fresh sage leaves

    2 cups dry robust red wine (such as Chianti)

    3 lbs skinless bone-in chicken thighs (I only found skinless/boneless at my Kroger, so that's what I used)

    Prep:

    1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns and sage and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.

    2. Arrange chicken evenly over bottom of slow cooker (recommend using medium to large slow cooker — about 3.5 to 5 quart-size) and cover with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a fork. Serve immediately.

    SERVES 6. (I served mine with jasmine rice).

    I let the slow cooker go overnight for about 7.5 hours (if I let the food cook while I'm at work, it would be at least 9.5 hours before I could come home and turn it off. Why do these recipes have a suggested timeframe of 6 hours?) I found this dish to be simple yet flavorful, and I don't usually get dark chicken, so that was a nice change of pace. And the chicken was super tender/shredded. I really enjoyed the sage flavor. Next time I would probably add whole mushrooms into the pot.

    The husband's comments: "Good texture. Like the sage. Hearty but not too soupy (like a roast can be). Light flavors but the sage still stands out." All-in-all, he said he would let me make this for him again.

    My overall complaint with slow cookers is that 95% of recipes call for you to do 15-20 minutes of prep work (chopping veggies, browning the meat, etc.) before you can dump the ingredients in, turn that sucker on low and walk away. I want more recipes that require no chopping or browning of meat and 2-or-less minutes of prep work. (If I am going to be a lazy cook, I want to be a SUPER lazy cook).

    But I do look forward to exploring more recipes in this book, including veggie lasagna, french onion soup, Chinese style braised pork and lamb korma with spinach (an Indian dish).

    Do you have a go-to slow cooker recipe? Or do you forgo crock pots in favor of more manual cooking?

    *I was provided this cookbook gratis.

    **What have I become, blogging about slow cooker recipes? Either I've become more savvy with my time/resources, or I'm this much closer to being old and busted.


  2. Savvy Tip: Poorman’s Latte

    November 16, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    I shudder at the idea of paying $4 or $5 for a caffeinated beverage. That's just too much. That's as much as a beer, and a decent beer at that! Mostly I brew my own 'joe at home.

    But on the infrequent occasions I visit Starbucks, I ask them to conjure me up what I call the Poorman's Latte:

    – a Tall Pike's Place blend (milder than their usual drip but still caffeinated)
    – 2 pumps of my syrup of choice (usually Pumpkin Spice)
    – room for milk
    – (then I add my own 1 Equal and some 2% milk and half-and-half)

    I get outta there for $2.16 versus the typical latte's $4.00 (or north of that).

    Voila!

    Photo from Hirotaka Nakajima's Flickr Photostream.

    Update 4:32pm: Apparently my savvy/poorman's latte has actually spawned quite the controversy in the barista world. Hat tip to Emily for pointing out this Wikipedia article, which discusses the ethical dilemma of using coffee house dairy condiments with reckless abandon.


  3. Photography Giveaway Winners’ Pics

    November 14, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    Back in May, Lindsay of Atlanta-based LH Photography was awesome enough to give away not one, but nine, discounted photography sessions here on Savvy in the City.

    A few of the winners cashed in their deals, and I couldn't help but want to share these sweet moments with y'all. I'm also partial to these particular kiddos/couples, as they are both good friends.

    Aren't those sweet pictures?

    p.s. if you're looking for holiday gift ideas, Lindsay is offering Savvy in the City readers a photo session for $250 or photography lessons for $75/hour. Check out Lindsay's work on her site (LindsayHooten.com) or on her Facebook page.


  4. Eyebrows – and Keeping Them Tamed

    November 11, 2011 by SavvyInTheCity

     

    I can't not do anything about my eyebrows. They're so serious that they call for a double negative from this journalism degree holder. They've been likened to twin caterpillars.

    Plucking is no fun, and it can go mad wrong (you pluck too much, you can systematically misshape your eyebrows, etc.). Waxing is ideal. Thing is, I am a cheap bizzo… and getting your eyebrows waxed at even a strip mall nail shop can run you $10-$12 every 2-3 weeks. 

    About five years ago, my friend Marnie told me about the magic art of eyebrow threading. It's a method of shaping/editing eyebrows that's rooted in Indian culture but has taken hold in all types of salons across the U.S. It's called "threading" because the technique uses the tension of two pieces of thread to pull out individual hairs (watch this video to see what I mean).

    Proponents of eyebrow threading say the technique:

    – Is less irritating to pores (because they isolate hairs to pull, versus covering the whole area around your 'brows and exposing all nearby hair follicles)
    – Allows for more control in shaping your eyebrows

    I like it because:

    – I spend $4 plus tip versus $10-$12 plus tip
    – I can re-enter society within 30 minutes with no redness around my brows (compared to hours, post-waxing)
    – (I am not going to
     

    Here's my younger bro Paul getting his arches sharpened (he leaves still looking manly in the brows, just with a few less stragglers)

    And moi:

    If you regularly need your eyebrows tamed, I recommend you check out threading. I am a big fan of Natural Identity Beauty Architects in Decatur* (in Patel Plaza).

    1707 Church St
    Decatur, GA 30033

    (404) 292-6230

    *I've been a paying customer at Natural Identity since 2006 — but they did offer me a gratis threading last week when I mentioned I was going to blog about their offerings.