We’ll Always Have Pancakes! A LOVE STORY

Pancakes at Clinton St BakeryEgg Sandwich at Clinton St Bakery photo by amyblogschow.comI LOOKED UP “AFFAIR” TODAY. There are at least eight definitions, but the one I was looking for said this:

af·fair [uh-fair] -noun 6. an intense amorous relationship, usually of short duration.

I’ve never understood why people say they have “a love affair with food.” If affairs are fleeting, then I suppose my relationship with what I eat is more like a marriage, except I’m in the honeymoon phase and I’m never leaving.

In a week or so, I will be switching over to a new site design. I’ve been bugging my friend Bryan, who owns a marketing design company called Colossal, to revamp Amy Blogs Chow for a while now and, at last, it’s finally happening! I’m all about purging the old and welcoming the new, especially around the holidays. Change is the only constant thing, after all, and I look forward to it, usually. (Click here for a preview.)

While Amy Blogs Chow has seemed calm – static, even – on the surface, I’ve been taking on the food world by blogging, tweeting, and producing videos for my awesome new job as Head of Social Media at Foodspotting and filming new episodes of Stupidly Simple Snacks for Next New Networks every week. The last few months have been at once exciting and exhausting. I was even mentioned in New York Magazine!

Through these various career upgrades, one thing has remained the same: My dinner date. Earlier this month, Jason and I got brunch midweek at Clinton Street Bakery. He works in Connecticut now, so I rarely see him during the day. He’d taken the day off, however, so it was a treat to go for pancakes together on a weekday at one of the best brunch spots in the city. (This is not just my opinion as the two-hour long lines will attest.) Jason may not be perfect, but he waits patiently as his food gets cold while I try to take the perfect shot of it. In the battle between boyfriend and buttermilk biscuits, the latter will always win. It’s nice to be with someone who knows this. amy • november 29, 2010

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November 30, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Lower East Side. 6 comments.

MY UNCONVENTIONAL SNACK SHOW

The Art of Non-Conformity cover“Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss, You’ll Land Among The Stars.” – Mary Poppins, The Musical. (I saw it twice in London. Don’t laugh at me.)

After following Chris Guillebeau‘s blog for two years, I finally met my hero at his book launch in New York this fall. Chris is a traveler, writer, entrepreneur, and now book author of The Art of Non-Conformity with the goal of visiting every country in the world by April 7, 2013.

I’ve been following Chris online since 2008 when my best friend Jenna Meister, whom you may remember from my ceviche video, introduced me to his site. While Chris updates his blog everyday, it’s his thoughtful newsletters that I find most valuable. Like clockwork, an email from Chris arrives every Monday and Thursday with a gem of advice exactly when you need it. (My latest favorite is “Who You Are And What They Say.”) Sharing insight on travel hacking to advice on how to think for yourself, Chris covers more ground in a week than I do in a month. Surely, no one’s perfect, but Chris is my reminder that everything will be alright as long as you give it your best and, whenever possible, do something extra ordinary. Or take on a task that scares you senseless. Taking this to heart, I emailed him to ask if he’d like to guest star on Stupidly Simple Snacks. He did.

The day after we met at his book signing, Chris and his lovely wife Jolie stopped by before they had to jet to the next stop of Chris’s Unconventional Book Tour through ten Canadian provinces and 50 states.

In my excitement, my brain skipped this step in the recipe: Keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet. Into the same bowl everything went before I realized my mistake. On my own time, I forgive myself – generously – for oversights, but to screw up with a guest and limited time is a catastrophe. (No, not really.) There was no time for a redo, so we improvised and remained optimistic. Chris named our honey, oat, and rice krispie concoction Unconventional Snack Bars, though “snack blob” would have been more fitting…

Later, I re-shot the video and tweaked the recipe taking inspiration from Mark Bittman’s almond-apricot granola bar recipe. According to Jason, this is my best Stupidly Simple Snack to date. I think it’s one of my best-edited videos too. It wouldn’t have been the same without all those mistakes. amy • november 29, 2010

To keep up with Chris, follow @chrisguillebeau on Twitter and sign up for his email newsletter. I have been subscribed to The Art of Non-Conformity for two years and have cherished every story he’s shared. Also, buy the book here. It’s the best gift you can give for under $10 this Christmas.

UNCONVENTIONAL SNACK BARS

SERVES 4 or one Jason

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup instant oats (Quaker oats work great.)
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

MUSIC Julian Bachlow • Stars in the Moonlight / YouTubeFacebookMyspaceTwitter

November 29, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Blogs, people, Stupidly Simple Snacks, Travel, videos, YouTube. 3 comments.

A REAL SIMPLE HOLIDAY & Me

Central Park in seasonReal Simple December 2010 coverStar light in NYCFestive standpipe photo for RSA few weeks ago, my friend Amy at Real Simple magazine asked if I’d be interested in guest blogging for them about the holidays. I still consider myself a blogging novice in many ways, so the invitation was especially flattering. I said yes, naturally.

Between Wednesday, December 1st and Monday, December 6th, Real Simple will be ringing in the holidays with their first-ever pop-up shop at Rockefeller Center. I’ll get to capture it all on camera and in my own words on their Simply Stated blog along with Jenna Park of Whimsy and Spice, Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Design, and Nichole Robertson of Little Brown Pen – all authors of gorgeous design and food-related websites.

On those days, I’ll also be hosting my very first holiday gift bag giveaway here on Amy Blogs Chow, which will include all things Real Simple like Essie nail polish, stationery from ABCD Designs, the prettiest sugars for your tea from Chambre De Sucre, and many more goodies compliments of the magazine. I will make up an easy contest to weed out the weak pick ten winners and will let you know what this easy contest is by Thursday when my participation in the Real Simple pop-up shop / guest blogging showdown officially begins.

To prepare you for all the awesome holiday-related musings I’ll be sharing, read my intro post about how my family used to celebrate Christmas when I was little:

“The idea of putting up a Christmas tree didn’t occur to my parents until my little sister demanded it some time in her teens. However, though we were pine needle-free for so many years, my mother got us all in the spirit by decking every surface with lights, garland, and wreaths. The windows were given special attention with multicolored blinking strands arranged in random squiggles and shapes, which, when one was inside, made telling night from day a guessing game. We were that house on the street.”

With that, my friends, I head to bed. Tomorrow, I will somehow write three blog posts and edit my next Stupidly Simple Snacks video with the wonderful Mari Tuttle of Mari’s New York. For Christmas, I think I’ll ask for an Amy Blogs Chow intern whom I can compensate with brownies. amy • november 28, 2010

For more info and to see a schedule of events, visit Real Simple Pop-Up Shop online.

(Photos by me : autumn leaves in Central Park / holiday light over Fifth Avenue / festive standpipe outside Bergdorf Goodman / Photo not by me : cover of December 2010 issue of Real Simple magazine)

November 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . event, Holiday, specials for abc readers. 3 comments.

EASY SHORTBREAD COOKIES By A Cook-Off Queen

I MET ROOPA ON THE MOST GRUELING DAY OF MY LIFE. I’m being dramatic, of course, but what began as a ploy to “get my blog out there” by participating in The Brooklyn Chocolate Experiment had me fleeing in the opposite direction of amateur cooking competitions for the rest of my days.

Roopa and I got lucky when the contestant assigned to the table between us never showed up. Opportunists that we are, we quickly took over the vacant spot with our trays. More room, after all, for Roopa’s Thai chili-lime chocolate ice cream with hand-rolled cocoa ginger Thai basil cone operation! For three hours that day, Jason dutifully replenished plates with Nanaimo bars while I explained to event attendees the chocolate creations I’d made. (More on my Canadian chocolate bars in my Chocolate Breakdown post.) Beside us, Roopa and her husband Matt doled out ice cream cone after handmade ice cream cone to the ravenous masses. I never stood a chance against the baker behind Raspberry Eggplant blog and neither did anyone else, really. To state the obvious, Roopa won the chocolate contest that day.

Afterward, I kept in touch with Roopa and, in April, I even got to try her signature buttercream cupcakes in flavors like pistachio rose and blackberry hazelnut. With all the shared food between us, it was just a matter of time before we made a snack video together. Still, I worried we’d never agree on a recipe which would represent Roopa’s intricate flavor preferences while staying true to the stupidly simple spirit of my snack videos.

Thankfully, Earl grey tea shortbread cookies turned out to be the key to Stupidly Simple Snacks with one of the most detail-oriented chefs I’ve met. For those without stand mixers, Roopa says a hand mixer will do the trick. Don’t have Earl grey tea bags? Make lemon shortbread using lemon zest instead. Even cook-off queens with an arsenal of complex recipes have shortcuts up their sleeve. amy • november 27, 2010

EARL GREY TEA SHORTBREAD COOKIES

SERVES 4

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 Earl grey tea bags
or
zest of 1 lemon if making lemon shortbread cookies

MUSIC Darwin Deez Constellation / Facebook / Myspace / Twitter

November 27, 2010. Brooklyn, Stupidly Simple Snacks, videos, YouTube. 1 comment.