Friday Things | April 5, 2013e


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Time for an installment of Friday Things:

1. Cook’s Illustrated tasted real white chocolate alongside “fake” supermarket brands to determine if real white chocolate was worth it.

white chocolate

Image from King Arthur’s Merckens White Chocolate Bars

The Results – “Our winner turned out to be not real white chocolate at all but an artificial white chip: Guittard Choc-Au-Lait White Chips. Tasters raved over a creamy texture akin to “crème fraîche” and a strong vanilla flavor. In mousse it was “not too sweet” and “remarkably smooth.”

It was the second-cheapest brand in the lineup, costing just 27 cents per ounce, and beat out a real white chocolate from the same manufacturer.” It’s also interesting to see who came in dead last.

List of white chocolate brands

List of white chocolate brands

2. Lori created this post Food Bloggers: 150+ Links for Everything You Need to Know and truly it is, everything you need to know. She did not miss a trick from working with brands, monetizing your blog, food photography and styling, dealing with copyright infringement, to blog conferences; there is truly not a stone unturned. Bravo to Lori for compiling it and to all those whom she linked for writing their posts and sharing their expertise.

Food Bloggers: 150+ Links for Everything You Need to Know

3. Pie Carrier from Vonny, $64. I love the print and although I have no need for a pie carrier, the retro chic of it speaks loudly to me.

Pie Carrier from Vonny, Open pie carrier with pie inside

4. Dear Chefs, Are You Trying to Kill Me? from Bon Appetit – Are high end restaurants serving too much fat?

“Look, I love bacon, lard, butter, duck fat. They make bad food taste good, and good food taste great. I was an early supporter of the bacon boom. But now we’ve reached Baconageddon: bacon on brussels sprouts, bacon on steak, bacon on dessert, and in (and on) pretty much everything. It’s become a culinary crutch. Don’t know how to make that chicken dish thrill? Add bacon! Next you topped everything with a fried egg. Then pork belly became your meat…”

This is an interesting discussion because patrons vote with their wallet and clearly, fat has been winning. If it wasn’t winning, menu options would change nearly immediately. Restaurants exist to make money, not lose it, and adapt their menus quickly to accommodate what’s working and what’s not.

I notice the same thing on my blog. In general, the more ooey-gooey, decadent, and indulgent recipes outperform healthier ones. Sometimes by a decent margin; and sometimes by twice the views, and sometimes by ten and twenty times the views. I want to give my readers what they want and you all vote with your clicks. And it’s not the healthier options that are as popular.

5. I think this idea could be down-sized to even fit an interior cabinet door half the size in case you don’t have a tall pantry or cabinet door. I think hanging my measuring cups and spoons, or other utensils, would be handy and keep my drawers less cluttered.

Measuring Equivalents Chart

Mason Jar Salt & Pepper Shaker Set

7. As of July 1, 2013 Google Reader is no longer going to be available. I’ve been using Google Reader as my feed-organizing go-to for 5 years and although it’s not perfect, it’s been what I had been used to. I had never tried BlogLovin’ or any of the other services out there.

Ali posted a Tutorial on How to Move From Google Reader to Feedly. Amanda mentioned it and so did Heidi in item 4. It’s very easy to migrate and takes just minutes, but don’t love it. There was just too much going on and although I dismantled incoming Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and incoming news feeds coming, it just wasn’t for me.

I’ve also heard that RSSOwl is a good one and that Feeddler (for iPads and Macs) is also good. If you’d like to read what others are doing, The Kitchn has dozens of people chiming in the comments of this post. But I am loving Reeder and have found my solution to the Reader disappearing act.

I decided to give Mac’s Reeder a shot and although it’s a $4.99 app and for Mac users only, it’s hands down the best thing I’ve tried and I even like it better than Google Reader. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks now and love it. I wish I would have switched ages ago to it but I didn’t even know about it.

There’s the option to view feeds within the Reeder, as well as an option to shows what the person’s post looks like on their actual blog (because someone what Google Reader shows you and what you see on that person’s actual site are very different).

Reeder takes the guess work out and you can seamlessly click off to comment, totally effortlessly, and much less cumbersome and clunky than clicking off Google Reader to comment. I highly recommended if you are a Mac user and need a Google Reader replacement.

And if you’re a BlogLovin’ user, I set up my blog and you can Follow Me on BlogLovin’

8. I think Christopher Kimball, founder of America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated, and Cook’s Country, is one of the most fabulous people in the whole wide world.

I would love to meet him one day, but for now, this interview was excellent

Photo of man with caption How I Work

My favorite Q & A was this:

Q: What’s your best time saving trick?  A: Have over 4,000 unopened emails. Ignoring email saves a lot of time.

And he shares his personal fluffy pancakes recipe, called Cloudcakes, in the interview. I wonder if he would approve of mine?

9. Strawberry and Sprinkles Buttermilk Pancakes

Strawberry and Sprinkles Buttermilk Pancakes stacked on plate

10. Cake Enhancer, $7.95 from King Arthur – We discovered this “miracle ingredient” in Europe. And 2 to 4 tablespoons added to our cakes and soft sandwich breads – including gluten-free – haven’t been the same since.

And what IS Cake Enhancer, exactly?

It’s rice starch, polyglycerol ester, and mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids – complicated looking words, but nothing to be afraid of. These fatty acids come from vegetable fats, and act as emulsifiers, allowing fats and liquids to combine more easily. They also serve as stabilizers and texture enhancers. Widely used in commercial baked products, they keep baked goods fresh and soft, and help cakes stay light and fluffy.

Box of Cake Enhancer

In my opinion, it’s probably not that far off from adding a couple tablespoons of cornstarch and reinforces why ‘Pudding Cookies’ and ‘Cake Mix Cookies‘ always turn out so soft and stay fresh for a long time. One of the first ingredients in pudding mix is ‘modified food starch’, generally either corn or rice.

And it’s why cornstarch does wonders for these cookies Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies

Soft and Puffy Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Cookies

Soft and Puffy Peanut Butter Coconut Oil Cookies

And cornstarch in Soft and Chewy M&Ms Cookies. But I’d still like to give the Cake Enhancer a try to see if it’s that much different than cornstarch because I’m very intrigued.

Soft and Chewy M&Ms Cookies

What are your Friday Things?

If you’ve made anything, done, seen, or bought anything fabulous recently, feel free to link it up in the comments.

What are you doing for your feed reader service if you currently use Google Reader?

Thoughts on fatty restaurant food?

Cake enhancer or using cornstarch in recipes? White Chocolate brand that you swear by?

Thanks for the entries in the Canon Rebel T3i Camera Giveaway {$580 value}

Have a great weekend and check back for two great giveaways!

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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  1. Averie, I love everything you put on here! But, I especially love how you put all the white chocolates on. Because, my hubs think I’m crazy for purchasing all different kinds of white chocolate for every and any kind of recipe I do. (you should see my baking pantry…yes, one pantry JUST for baking stuff! Another for regular food!) Now I can prove to him that I’m (always) right …especially when it comes to my addiction to buying sweet things like this! Happy monday, Averie!

    1. White chocolate is so finnicky that yes, from chips to bars to blocks of coating/candiquik…depending on the recipe dictates what’s needed! I understand. And what I wouldn’t give for a baking pantry. I literally keep baking stuff in the coat closets. I have a small urban condo and we are maxed out!! with storage space here!

  2. Dude, I really need those strawberry and sprinkles buttermilk pancakes as a midnight snack!

  3. That’s so interesting about the white chocolate, I wouldn’t have guessed it!

  4. I have seen the Choc-Au-Lait White Chips at Ocean State Job Lot. I almost bought them a few times, but I always want to try everything new in the baking aisle. Thank you for posting this! Please let us know about the cake enhancer…I have had that on my “To-Buy” list as well.

    1. Haven’t bought it yet and not sure if I will, but will blog about it if I do!

  5. I’m not a fan of white chocolate, but the results from CI’s taste test are interesting! I’ll give Guittard’s Choc-Au-Lait White Chips a try – their likeness to crème fraîche has made me curious!

    Love the pie carriers too!

    Lori’s post is bookmarked – wow! Some great reading that will have to wait for a time when I don’t have a headache. :D

    1. And I’ve been looking for those Guittard’s Choc-Au-Lait White Chips ever since I read this & can’t find them. LMK if you do!

  6. It’s not necessarily the fat in restaurant food that concerns me but the salt. But we’ve had that chat before ;) Thanks for posting that white chocolate thing. I typically use the Nestle chips because they don’t have cocoa butter but I’ll have to seek out the bar. Seems like it’s better.

    1. I’ve been looking for those Guittard’s Choc-Au-Lait White Chips ever since I read this & can’t find them. LMK if you do! And yes…the salt! And also for me, I hate garlic/onions and it seems that chefs think they can’t make a savory dish without using them. Such a turnoff for me!

  7. I love that the best tasting white chocolate turned out to be cheap! I love Guittard products. That pie carrier is adorable. I do take pies to homes for dinner, but I usually put it in my layer cake carrier. $60 is purty steep! It’s true that the unhealthier a food is, the more popular it seems to be. I really don’t think food needs tons of butter and fat to taste good…I’m into clean and healthy for the most part. I want to taste the food, not the butter! Cake enhancer? Nice! I love it. Mason jar salt and pepper shakers, love that too. Mac Reeder, I’ll try it. You’re a wealth of information as usual. Love your Friday things.

  8. LOVE your Friday things! Thanks for posting the 150 links. Also, those salt and pepper mason jars are pretty darn cute! Have a great weekend lady!

  9. I love that interior cabinet door idea! Also thanks for posting the 150+ links. I just started my blog and will be reading those helpful links =)

  10. Great list today, # 4 is very interesting and something I notice for a lot of the non vegan things my hubby orders when we dine out. I’m sad about Google Reader and have been using Feedly for a few weeks not and it’s okay, gets the job done, but also an adjustment from Reader. And I adore those This Is How I Work LifeHacker articles, lots of inspiration.

    1. I know you don’t use a Mac but if you did, Reeder is great. There’s one called “The Old Reader”. It’s still in a Beta phase of sorts and I signed up for it, there was a delay, I adapted to Reeder, but then they processed my signup. You could give that one a try! And yes to #4. It’s insane.

  11. I LOVE your Friday Things posts, but I always feel like I leave such long and rambling comments. Oh well, here goes. ;)

    Is it sad or cool that I already have all those conversions memorized and have for a really long time?

    I want to work at Cook’s Illustrated. White chocolate is akin to the chocolate vs. vanilla ice cream debate. I love chocolate, but I am a vanilla girl at heart. If I were to grab a handful for a sweet snakc, I’d pick white chocolate over regular every time.

    We’ve talked about the recipes and savory vs sweet many times. I’ve become much more cognizant lately about returning to blogs that I used as inspiration for food or crafts to leave comments. I’ve been blogging and using blogs for inspiration for years, so you’d think I’d been doing this all along. Nope. I suck.

    I LOVE Reeder. LOVE. I never used Google Reader though. I’ve used three others and this is leaps and bounds better. And I love the iphone app too – well worth the 1.99 price, if you want to scroll through blogs in line at the store or what have you. It syncs to your desktop, too so no need to scroll through it again.

  12. That cake enhancer has me curious! With all the bland cakes I bake, I kinda want to buy it and see if it improves my end result. Have a happy weekend Averie!

  13. I love Cooks Illustrated! Those people are amazing. And that pie carrier is so adorable.

  14. Cake enhancer! That is crazy! I have to order that off of Amazon! I loved this post. So fun and how cool is a chocolate taste testing? count me in!

  15. I didn’t like Feedly either. Thanks for the info on Reeder, I will check it out!

    1. You’re the only person who’s ever said that. Normally people say how much they ‘love’ it…and well, for me, I love Reeder :)

  16. I LOVE that kitchen cabinet idea!! I’m collecting ideas like that for when the.boy and I move!! And good to know about the white chocolate…those are the only white choc chips I’ll be buying from here on out!

  17. Wow – I’ll totally have to look into cake enhancer! That sounds wild.

    Also so fascinated by the chocolate taste-testing. Must try those chips! :)

    Happy Friday, Averie!

  18. Thanks for sharing the link to the “150+ Links” post. I’m guessing there will lots of valuable information for me there–I sometimes feel like I have a lot to learn. It’s almost overwhelming. But to have one place that consolidates a bunch of resources is very helpful. :)

    1. Even after 4+ yrs of doing this, writing a cookbook, writing thousands of posts and dealing with what I think it everything there could be to deal with, I am still surprised multiple times per week!

  19. Interesting on the white chocolate. I can’t even recall what brand I have in my cabinet right now. I tend to like the chips way better than the big blocks of bark (and I mean the cheap Kroger brand mind you).

    1. Those big blocks are good for candy-making but they can vary widely, brand to brand!

  20. Love your Friday Things – really interesting compilation. So interesting about the white choc chip taste test – Guittard’s products are so silky smooth. I saw that Bon Appetit article and thought it was interesting too. It is one of the reasons I have to eat at home more often than I used to. : ) Off to check out the recipes but great job, Averie!

    1. Was trying to reply to another reader with the tempeh reply…too many boxes open :) Anyway I love the Fri Things b/c I can share what I find interesting and have come across. Glad you enjoy :)

  21. I’m really surprised by the white chocolate results! I always buy good quality white chocolate and chop it up because the chips I’ve tried all taste kind of plastic-y. Will have to give those a try, though – Cook’s Illustrated has never failed me yet!

    Thanks for the encouragement on the cleanse, Averie! You’re the best!

    One of my favorite things I’ve made recently is my banana bread I posted today (and there’s a little link to your banana yogurt muffins as a banana recipe I’m dying to try!) :)

    1. plastic-y = YES!
      Most of them! I keep trying and trying…til I find something I love. So far….meh.

  22. I love that white chocolate comparison! Really good to know.
    I haven’t transitioned to Bloglovin’ yet but I need to….
    And finally, I NEED those strawberry and sprinkles buttermilk pancakes in my life. Right now. :)

    1. A love white chocolate so totally love their comparison too! Have a great weekend!

  23. The white chocolate review was RIGHT ON. I’m not really a huge fan of white chocolate, but I’ve been in a big fight with the Nestle’s every time I’ve used it!
    Still workin out the reader mess. Wamp wamp.
    Saw those salt & pepper shakers at the Mast General Store in Asheville for $4.99 each! Supe cute. Also– I have some chalkboard that’s going to live inside my kitchen cabinets like right now. Happy weekend!!

  24. I actually read the article you referred to in Bon Appetite last weekend at my mom’s house and thought it was interesting. We just don’t go out to eat a lot (I like to cook and like to know what all is in my food) so I feel a little “out of touch” with restaurant trends and menus, and I usually order fairly simple, straight forward dishes when we do go out. Tonight is dinner and a movie–at home! I like the comparison of all the white chocolate (and other comparisons from Cook’s Illustrated you’ve done). It’s always nice to know what products are worth the price!

    1. Eating out is something I do so little of! Wayyyyy too much food in our house at all times due to my job and eating out seems frivolous and unnecessary. Not to mention, it’s laden with things I dont want..from salt to garlic to fat to a high price tag!

  25. I love that chalkboard cabinet idea! It’s so cute and would probably act as a good reminder for me. I’m also off to check out that food blogger tips page. That sounds SUPER hepful.

    How a good Friday!

  26. so funny – we (my family and I) know Chris Kimball well because we rent one of his houses in Vermont every year for a week for Thanksgiving. The kitchen alone is gorgeous and absolutely to die for (the whole house is, but I mention the kitchen in particular because it’s a food/cooking lover’s dream!). It’s the exact house/kitchen where he films Cook’s Country. So cool and so fun. We look forward to it every year :)

    1. Hi Jamie! Good to hear from you! And how awesome that you not only know Chris Kimball…you rent one of his houses. Dream come true! I bet the kitchen is truly to die for!

  27. I’m half an hour soon at work so I take this time in my lockerroom to comment this :D
    I adore the pie carrier, think hang kitchen supplies is THE answer. I healthify almost every reciepe I make( funny note, I made yellow cupcakes with sprinkles in them like You did, and wondered why they ended up not showing the sprinkles at all, found out that here in switzerland the food colorings you have in food is illegal now) , an would never use that cake enhancer. They will taste like the ones you buy, but that’s not Good to me, why make it myself then? I want to taste the simple thing.
    Ok I’mma go now. Have a nice day!! :)

    1. Wow interesting info about sprinkles/food coloring in Switzerland. Makes me wonder and ponder things, even more so, now that it’s outlawed there!

  28. Love the idea for the chalkboard paint and hooks on the inside of the cupboard door!

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