All Wrapped Up to Go

Almost every culture does the same thing, but each does it differently. They all enclose portions of food in edible wrappings in order to make the contents go further, but the choice of wrap makes each variation distinctive.

Some people eat burgers between the two halves of a bun or pastrami between two slices of rye. Others wrap their food in lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, grape leaves, banana leaves, palm fronds, or corn husks.

Morsels of food are enclosed in plain pastry, puff pastry, wet noodles, or various papers–rice paper, parchment paper, even newspaper.

A bewildering variety of meats, fish, cheese, vegetables, nuts and fruit turn up inside blintzes and buns, burritos, cannelloni, chimichangas, crêpes, dumplings, egg rolls, empanadas, fajitas, knishes, kreplach, quesadillas, ravioli, spring rolls, strudels, tortellini, turnovers, and won tons.

And an entire fortune can be contained inside a single cookie.

Excerpt from Great Food Jobs 2: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Job Hunt.

Diabetis One Mentor

street video cameraVideo cameras on every street corner. Astonishing advances in forensics and astounding powers of detection can lead to the arrest of ‘persons of interest’.

It doesn’t take great powers of deduction to realize that every one of us is a person of interest. We all have a unique story to tell. The goal is to maximize that singularity and — as Martha Stewart would do — monetize it.

Here’s a baking and pastry student. A charming young woman. She’s missed several of my classes. (Am I being boring? Does she hate me?)

I worry about me. I should be worried about her.

She pulls up her pants leg to reveal a large, angry-looking bluish bruise on the front of her leg. “I’ve got Type One diabetes,” she explains. “It’s uncontrolled. I don’t know what to do. I won’t be able to get a job when I graduate. I can’t stand up for very long. No restaurant is going to hire me.”

She will soon be receiving her Bachelor of Professional Studies degree and she knows more about what was previously known as juvenile diabetes than many food professionals. And she’s lovely.

She comes from a large family and likes being around little children.

She Googled ‘Type One Diabetes Medical Centers.’ Immediately up popped the Mayo Clinic and several other medical centers located throughout the country. She applied for a job. Got it!

Now she teaches children how to cook and how to manage their insulin-dependence.

She is superbly qualified for her work. Has access to the best medical care for herself. And her days are filled with laughter.






Share A Cookie Share A Poem

It is predicted to snow here in upstate New York where I live. Lots and lots of snow are forecast. I’ve just made some soup to keep away the cold, ready to watch and wait–relieved and grateful I do not have to travel home from the holidays today.

And I can happily respond to a reader, who sweetly asked for one of my recipes from my Edible Christmas book. I am always delighted when this happens. I do this, with pleasure. Here it is, followed by a fitting poem. I invite you to share a recipe and a poem as well.

Gingerbread cookies by cosmo cookie

Gingerbread cookies Courtesy of

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 16 5-inch-tall cookies

This mildly spiced dough makes soft, puffy cookie folk. If you like your gingerbread cookies thin and crispy, just roll out  the dough to a 1/8″ thickness.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Piping Icing

2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons half & half, approximately
Optional: currants, raisins, candied fruit, candies, licorice strips and colored sugars for garnish

To make the gingerbread cookies: In a  large bowl, using a hand-held electric mixer set at high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and continue beating until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and egg. Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Gradually work the flour mixture into the creamed mixture to form a soft dough.  Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap completely. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter two baking sheets. On a well-floured surface, roll out half the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies. Gather up the scraps of dough and work into the remaining dough. Repeat the process until all the dough is used. Place on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until just firm when pressed in the center with your finger, about 8 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.

To make the piping icing: Stir the confectioners sugar and half & half together in a small bowl. You may have to add more half & half by the teaspoon until you get an icing of piping consistency.

Transfer the icing to a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip, such as Ateco Number 4. Pipe the icing onto the cooled cookies, decorating as desired with the currants, raisins, candied fruit, candies, licorice strips, and colored sugars.

And now, the promised poem…

The Runaway Cookies
By Anonymous

The cookie jar people
Hopped out one night
When the cookie jar lid
Was not on tight.

The gingerbread man
Opened raisin eyes
And looked about
In great surprise.

The frosted bunny
Twinkled his nose
And danced around
On his cookie toes.

The sugary duck
Began to quack
And shake the sugar
Off his back.

The cinnamon bear
Could only grunt
For he was too fat
To do a stunt.

The coconut lamb
Jumped up so high
That his little white tail
Flew toward the sky.

They were all so happy
To be at play
That they danced and danced
And danced away.

They danced away
So very far
That they never came back
To the cookie jar.




A Bread Baker’s Food Gift

Bread in a Flower Pot courtesy of BBC Good Food magazine

If you are a baker, consider giving a gift of bread in a flower pot for the holidays. Use a regular red clay garden flowerpot, wash it in hot soapy water and let it dry.

Butter the interior generously, covering the hole with a small piece of buttered foil. Coat the sides of the pot with toasted breadcrumbs.

Make basic yeast bread dough, and put it in the pot three-quarters full. Oil the top of the dough and set it in a warm place to double in size. (One rising will be enough.) Remember you can add rosemary and a touch of olive oil or cheese or raisins and holidays spices to tweak this basic recipe if you’re feeling in the festive spirit.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes if you are using a large pot, 15 minutes if in a small one.

The bread cooks quickly as a result of the additional heat from the clay pot. The bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped and its top is golden brown.

Leave the bread in the pot for 15 minutes to cool before removing it from the pot to cool completely.

While the bread is cooling, consider sprucing up the flower pot as well. To decorate the pot, tie or glue a pretty fabric ribbon around the lip or simply attach a bow to the front. Set the baked bread back in the pot and wrap it with cellophane.

Food Gifts for the Holidays

An Edible Christmas by Irena Chalmers‘Tis the time of year to be jolly but if you are a bit short of cash this year, perhaps you’d like to consider a handmade gift.

Ages ago I wrote Edible Christmas: A Treasury of Recipes for the Holidays. It is a dopey title but was well-intentioned at the time. I gathered heaps of absolutely brilliant recipes; the photography cost the earth. I just checked it out on Amazon and see you can buy it today for exactly One Cent! (A single penny!)

How depressing.

Cookbooks have a shelf life of somewhere between milk and yogurt.

Chapter One: Gifts in Jars includes these goodies:

  • Four-Pepper Relish
  • Five-Alarm Salsa
  • Sweet and Fiery Red Pepper Chutney
  • Coriander and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
  • Golden Peach Butter
  • Blueberry-Lemon Jam
  • Microwave Lemon Curd
  • Ginger-Pear Marmalade
  • All-American Barbecue Sauce
  • Onion-Thyme Marmalade
  • A Crock of Simmering Potpourri Spices
  • Rosemary-Lime Vinegar
  • Walnut-Herb Olive Oil
  • Several flavored vodkas
  • Apricots and Prunes in Brandy…

Let me know if you would like to have any of these recipes. I’ll send them FREE!




What Can I Do?

When culinary students (and professionals) people ask me, “What can I do?,” I try to listen to what they are saying. Perhaps, of greater importance is hearing what they are not saying.

Often, there are little clues that momentarily hover in the air. It is a joy to make connections between a person’s true love, (something they love to do), with their unique personality — and their culinary experience.

There is nothing more satisfying than charting your own journey and sailing to your personal port in the storm. Having a sense of direction is infinitely less scary than being lost at sea. There are so many destinations from which to choose.

You could be a private chef and travel with an international super star or a diplomat or with an athlete who is competing on the world stage.

Have you considered cooking on a small luxury yacht? You’d be responsible for preparing three meals a day but you won’t need to worry about car payments or the rent for an apartment. Nor will you have to pay taxes on your income when you are three miles off shore.

Many major restaurant and fast food chains and catering companies including Aramark and Sodexo have branches in several countries, as do hotels and food processing companies. Check into employment as a hotel chef at Kimpton or W hotels and other worldwide boutique and resort hotels as well as the familiar names of hospitality companies. Would you like to work at a spa?

Employment in the U.S. can lead to many travel opportunities abroad. Supermarkets and food processing companies engage experts, who travel throughout the world to buy coffee, tea, cheese, chocolate, olive oil, pasta, cookies, and other prepared foods and raw ingredients.

Would you like to design vegan wedding cakes, (for such clients as Chelsea Clinton), or create butter sculptures or ice sculptures? Locate your hero and beg for an intern opportunity from which, with any luck, you may ascend to a permanent position.

Would you prefer to be a caterer or an event planner, a food scientist, or own a bed & breakfast or become a TV star or a food cartoonist or sign up to become a literary agent or a restaurant designer, a recipe tester or flavor maker or become the curator of a food exhibit or study to be a culinary librarian? Or develop a food game show?

Are you interested in humanitarian causes? Have you thought about developing policy for a hunger relief program or helping to develop agricultural or sustainable fishing policy? Perhaps you would consider working for a foundation or food-related charitable cause. Or, you may want to work for a local soup kitchen or a national organization like Share our Strength or Meals on Wheels that provides food for the frail elderly. Go to Google to investigate

It’s admirable to volunteer but there are many surprisingly well-paid positions to be found developing programs to counter cooking illiteracy, and new initiatives are constantly being designed to develop wellness programs for school children.

Clearly these are vastly different career paths but if you are able to narrow your options, it becomes considerably easier to focus your research.

If you are interested in science and technology, you may be able cross off art and design from consideration.

If you want to cook, explore the dozens of opportunities that are open to you in restaurants and foodservice. Similarly, (or oppositely), if you yearn to become a writer, you may need to seek sustenance employment wherever a salary check can be found.