Friday Things

I missed the past two weeks of Thursday Things and instead present you with Friday Things:

1. Chalkboard Wall Planter, $129.95 from Williams-Sonoma. Bring your wall to life with a stunning vertical herb garden that attaches to the wall. Fill the cells with the herb of your choice, water as needed through the top irrigator and watch things grow.

From here: “Vertical gardening” (not to be confused with vertical farming) offers terrific, small-scale solutions to the home gardener who is challenged by space, loves to experiment, may have physical limitations that make crouching and digging in the yard difficult, or who wants to incorporate eye-catching, conversation-starting four-season food-growing as a design element into his or her home decor.”

2. If you have any lingering Halloween candy, check out the Huffington Post’s feature, Halloween Candy Recipes: What To Do with your Halloween Loot with 18 recipes to help put any remnants from your sugary stash to use.

They featured my Mounds Bar Chocolate Coconut Cake Mix Cookies on Slide 5

And my Snickers Bars Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies on Slide 14

3. This article on Chow, although a few years old, explains why I never buy salted butter. When comparing one tablespoon of salted butter from seven popular brands, the sodium ranged from 45mg to 115mg.  That’s a huge range in one singular tablespoon.

In doing the math on a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), that’s up to a 560mg difference. I would never want cookies, cakes, or even potatoes baked with 560 extra milligrams of sodium, let alone any that I didn’t put in myself, which is why I only purchase unsalted butter so that I can control how much, if any, salt goes into my food. I would cringe at the thought of putting time, energy, and other valuable ingredients into a recipe only to have it emerge from the oven tasting like a salt slick from the butter.

It’s the same principle as self-rising flour; I have no idea how much baking powder or baking soda is in one cup, or if within the same bag it’s even distributed, which is why I don’t buy that either.

4. I recently received this 8-piece cookware set from BlueStar. Scott and I got married almost 12 years ago in Vegas and I never had a bridal shower or a wedding registry. For the past decade-plus, I’ve been using a piece-mealed set of cookware and so it was especially nice to receive this professional, restaurant-grade stainless steel set that performs beautifully. The four pieces all have lids and everything even matches, something new for me.

One feature I especially love are the ergonomic handles that stay cool when cooking on the stovetop. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve burned my hands on my old cookware, thinking the handle couldn’t possibly have been that hot, but it was. It’s all dishwasher safe and is manufactured to complement BlueStar’s high-heat professional quality cooking ranges, broilers, and stove-ovens and can be used in up to a 500F oven.

Fresh cranberries made an appearance in my local grocery store and I made a batch of this Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney in the 2-quart saucepan and it turned out perfectly. And even after a lengthy simmering, the handle stayed nice and cool.

5. Harry and David Pick 4 Appetizers, $31.80 would make a nice hostess gift.  There’s a Merlot-Laced Artichokes spread that I have my eye on.

6. I love America’s Test Kitchen and the work they do. As part of the Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country family, ATK is dedicated to making every recipe the best it can be. They stop at nothing in perfecting, testing, and trialing ingredients for something as simple as a potato salad recipe. What kind of potatoes to use; red, Yukon gold, Russets; how long they should be boiled, peeled first, peeled later; what the mayonnaise-ish mixture should be and should it be mayo, sour cream and how much; what herbs to use and in what ratios; it goes on and on, with every single recipe.

The complexities of testing something like say cinnamon rolls, with a yeast-based dough, filling, frosting, it makes my head spin with the combinations and permutations. They do the testing, trialing, and experimenting, making every dish hundreds of times so you don’t have to. They’re much culinary heroes. Here are their Top 10 posts on their site.

Imagine my delight when I saw their recent tweet to me after seeing my Chocolate Chip Cookies and review post. Seriously, it made my week.

One of my favorite and most-used cookbooks is The Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition

7. If you’ve been making as much bread as I have, then recipes to re-purpose it come in handy.

This Bread-and-Butter Pudding with Caramelized Pears fromWilliams-Sonoma uses just four eggs instead of a dozen. And I love seeing pears amidst the sea of pumpkin this time of year.

Yes, this sea of pumpkin but only two eggs in the Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter – A perfect make-ahead recipe so there’s no work in the morning you just bake it off, perfect for lazy weekends or holiday gatherings

8. Voting ended in the SkinnyScoop contest and I was voted one of the Top 25 Recipe Blogs

Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to SkinnyScoop for the award.

9. If  you needThanksgiving recipes, here’s a free download for the e-book, 8 Classic Recipes for the Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes eCookbook. Two of my recipes are featured in it, including this soup and this side salad

I still don’t know exactly what I’m making for Thanksgiving but I will likely skip the pumpkin pie and this Pumpkin Bunt Cake with Chocolate Ganache instead. It’s one-bowl, goofproof, unfussy and it trumps pumpkin pie for me

Or skip, I may pumpkin all-together and cut to the cranberries with Cranberry Bliss Bars. They’re a Starbucks copycat recipe and one of the best things I’ve made this fall, and perfect for a holiday dessert.

10. How cool is this Woodgrain Pitcher, $398 Anthropologie. To make this nature-inspired pitcher, the artist applied white porcelain to clay slabs, then stretched it to crack and open the brushwork strokes. For that price, it better pay my water bill all year for me, but it sure would make a great conversation piece sitting on the table.

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.

Do you grow herbs indoors? Salted or unsalted butter? Do you know what you’re making for Thanksgiving – or are you just showing for the eating part without the cooking?

It’s one meal, one day, and we have a family of three so I’m going to try to keep things on a small-scale. Try at least.

Have a great weekend and stay tuned for a couple giveaways over the weekend.

42 comments on “Friday Things”

  1. I love ATK too! Heh, the thing I justed posted on my blog is from their Best Lost Recipes book which is really fun.
    Eek, I’m lusting after your cranberry bliss bars…

  2. Thanks for the insight into salted butter. I had no idea, but it totally makes sense that the differences could effect your recipes. Happy Friday!

  3. Very cool herb planter. I grow mine outdoors. I’m not sure my windows get enough sunlight throughout the day to try inside. And I love that your recipes are gaining more and more attention. Now…when is your cookbook coming out ;-)

  4. Ooh I’d love to have that vertical garden!

    Also, congrats about the America’s Test Kitchen – that’s awesome!

  5. Every week this post gets me in trouble… must buy that chalkboard wall planter!!!

  6. The chalkboard herb garden is genius! Congrats on the Top 25 – so happy to be on the list with you! Have a wonderful weekend, Averie!

  7. Wow that chalkboard wall planter is freaking cool—it would go perfect in our kitchen!

  8. That wall planter is SO cool! Occasionally I use salted butter, but usually unsalted. That sodium range is amazing

  9. Two features in one article?!!? An blog award? AND two recipes in a cookbook? Awesome!!!

    I’ve seen and pinned a bunch of DIY vertical gardens. I like the idea of the herbs though, because you can grow those inside all winter long. I’m looking for some lights and heaters to start a mini greenhouse in my house and may have to make something like that myself!

  10. LOVE the fresh herb idea! This is AMAZING! Have a great weekend!

  11. That herb garden is AMAZING! Awfully steep price, though…

  12. I never thought about the wide variances in sodium content of salted butter or how much leavening is in self rising flour. I buy unsalted butter because I never feel the need for any extra salt and most recipes seem to specify it (especially cookies, cakes, etc). I was excited to make the parsnip fries so I had some for lunch. They were sooo good (perfectly crispy on the outside). I’ll be happy to make another batch along with that kabocha tonight to share with my hubby! I saved some balsamic reduction to drizzle on salads but also like the creamy version . Congrats on making the top 25 list and on your featured recipes!

  13. Yay for Friday Things! And for HuffPost features and new pot sets and MOS DEF for that AMAZING wood pitcher! Dang! You’re going to break my wallet in half, girl!!!

  14. Congrats on all of the features, that is SO exciting and an amazing accomplishment. :)

  15. I was wandering how many Thursday things I have missed and looked through your blog in search. Now I know… I need one of those indoor planters as I don’t have my garden (deep sigh) anymore. It wasn’t big but I had around 15 herbs I could use in my cooking… (another deep sigh). Oh, well, I’ll grow another one some day… :)
    Butter? Unsalted, definitely.
    ATK rocks, I love them, I even subscribe to one of their magazines. They never stop testing indeed. I found some of the DVDs in the local library, watched it trough the night! :)
    Thanksgiving has a very special meaning for our family and we keep it very traditional. I always cook traditional dishes for my family and friends. Over the years I developed an easy “schedule” to have everything without burning anything and burning out myself… :)
    What I am up to? well, with unpacking half way through (all those little things need more attention than a big ones), I started to cook more. Come see what I baked … :)
    Have a beautiful weekend, Averie! :)

  16. I love that vertical planter! Congrats on the Huffington Post features, have a great weekend!

  17. I love that planter! I did grow some herbs both indoors and outdoors this year, and they turned out quite well.

    Thanksgiving is over for Canadians like me, but I went to 2 family dinners, and didn’t have to do any cooking :-)

  18. I love America’s Test Kitchen too!!!!

  19. I am in love with that herb garden wall! The chalk board feature is just the icing on the cake. My holiday wish list is going to be long enough to turn into a novel at this rate!

  20. I love everything you picked this week. The chalkboard is adorable! I want those pots & pans! I am in need. I almost broke down and bought a set from Williams & Sonoma, but I didn’t. It’s on on Christmas wish list! Your bliss bars are on my Sunday list to make! I’m holding off till Sunday otherwise I’ll eat it all before Monday! Have a great weekend!!!

  21. That little chalkboard vertical garden is brilliant! Aside from the convenience of on-hand herbs, a pop of green in the dead of winter (it coming!) is always a welcome site.

    Congrats on the America’s Test Kitchen Twitter mention! (I’m not at all surprised. That was an excellent post!) :D

  22. That vertical garden is too cute! I need to save up some money so I can get that ASAP! It’ll bring so much life to my depressing closet-sized kitchen! Oh and congrats on the huffington post features!

  23. I’ve seen that herb planter and think it’s very interesting but it’s probably a lot of work. Totally agree on not buying salted butter or self rising flour ever. My Thanksgiving will just be my parents and me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ll have prime rib and I’ll probably try a new recipe for the blog. It should be a lovely day.

  24. Congrats on the features! Funny that you mention the difference in butter. I was just thinking about that this week at the grocery store.

  25. The tips for what to bake with the halloween candy is great- reminds me of Milk (the cookbook/bakery – not the bevvie.) Cheers!

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