And The Winners Are…

Real Simple Magazine December 2010 coverStupidly Simple Gift Selection 2010
Today is the day! Last Friday, I shared my Stupidly Simple Gift Guide and hosted my first holiday gift bag giveaway compliments of Real Simple magazine. The rules were as follows: You had to live in the States and had to name your favorite Stupidly Simple Snacks video. It wasn’t a competition, but it was fun to see which videos were most popular. It was a close race between Sweet Potato Fries and Wine Cocktails with Joe Campanale. All comments were assigned their chronological number, duplicate entries counted as one, and ten winners were selected with the help of random.org. Without further ado…

1 Connie, 4 Alexis, 9 Hali, 11 Nicole, 15 Kenny C, 18 Kevin, 21 Renn, 28 Brian Lew, 33 Sonia, 34 Emily

The winners have been contacted by email. Thanks to everyone who entered and happy Friday, guys! amy • december 17, 2010

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December 17, 2010. Holiday, specials for abc readers. Leave a comment.

STUPIDLY SIMPLE GIFT GUIDE + GIVEAWAY

Stupidly Simple Gift Selection 2010

I BOUGHT JASON A CHRISTMAS SWEATER YESTERDAY. I didn’t set out to get one, but the opportunity to make him look ridiculous presented itself and I couldn’t resist.

In the spirit of last minute gift shopping, I present to you my Stupidly Simple Gift Guide. (See my Reading Wish List too.) Nearly everything here can be ordered online, so you needn’t leave your apartment for anything. Plus, I’m hosting a Real Simple magazine giveaway because you deserve gifts as well. See what you win and read the rules after the gift guide…

1. CHAMBRE DE SUCRE {fancy sugar}
I don’t add sugar to my tea or coffee, but your sugar addict of a friend might. These handmade sugars are beautifully packaged and imported from Japan. They’re the perfect complement to a gift of coffee beans or box of Kusmi Tea. FIND THEM online.

2. BREW-IN-MUG {no fuss mug + infuser}
I prefer tea brewed from loose leaves over teabags, but loose leaves are a hassle when you’re not brewing a whole pot. With this mug, you essentially brew a mini pot for one. It’s understated, easy to clean, and, truly, the vessel of choice for smart tea drinkers. It comes in many colors; mine is red. FIND IT at Sur La Table.

3. LIDDABIT SWEETS {chocolate + candy}
Liddabit‘s candy creations are masterminded by two culinary school friends who make their concoctions out of a Brooklyn kitchen with a small army of sweets makers. I just learned how to make caramel sauce this year (watch the video), but Liddabit lollipops, candy bars, brittle, and more are made with local and seasonal ingredients for a sweet snack that’s hard to recreate at home. FIND THEM online and in stores.

4. FOODZIE.COM TASTING BOX {surprise food package}
After seeing photos of these tasting boxes on Foodspotting, I wanted them for myself. Each box contains hand-selected food samples from Foodzie producers who are hand-picked themselves for producing superior products with care. If you love an item in the tasting box, you can visit Foodzie.com to order the full-size version at a discount. FIND IT online.

5. CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA BOOTCAMP {learn to cook in 5 days or less}
In the fall, I was invited to experience culinary boot camp for two days at the Culinary Institute of America. While it kicked me in the ass, I picked up some chopping skills and learned to make burrata! In addition to boasting graduates like Anthony Bourdain, the institute offers a wide range of courses for those who wish to expand their kitchen skills without committing to longterm training. Ranging from two to five days, boot camps ran the gamut from PastryMexican Cuisine to Flavors of Wine Country. Plus, there’s no denying that scenic Dutchess County, where CIA is located, is the prettiest setting for a food-centred weekend getaway. They also have locations in St. Helena, CA and San Antonio, TX. LEARN MORE on their website or call (800) 888 7850

6. TELL TALE SOCIETY {treats from a soon to open San Fran shop}
To prepare for their Spring 2011 store opening, Tell Tale Preserve Company is inviting food lovers to join Tell Tale Society to receive monthly deliveries filled with “seasonally influenced preserves, confections, cookies and cakes, both sweet and savory” to get a taste of what’s to come. Take a peek at the December bag. Given shipping costs, it’s pricey, but the presentation and artisanal goodies will win over anybody. FIND IT online.

7. GROVE BAMBOO {iPhone 4 case}
People gravitate toward Jason’s Grove Bamboo iPhone 4 case like moths to a flame, so I’d be remiss to not recommend it for the iPhone nut in your life. Jason becomes a pseudo celebrity when he takes his phone out at brunch (for Foodspotting purposes, obviously) and when he plays Angry Birds on the train. Everyone asks: Where’d you get that? The case is slim and lightweight, so it’s not clunky like most plastic cases can be. The best part? You can customize the etching to show off your own artwork or favorite quote. FIND IT online.

And now… for you! Enter my Real Simple gift bag giveaway and ten randomly chosen winners will receive:

Stationery from ABCD Design
Sugar gifts from Chambre De Sucre
Assorted caramels from Liddabit Sweets
Real Simple 869 New Uses For Old Things book
Real Simple Best Recipes: Easy, Delicious Meals book
Essie “Real Simple” nail polish
Pottery Barn frame and more…

The rules are simple: 1. Live in the States and 2. Tell me which Stupidly Simple Snacks is your favorite and what other snacks – or guests! – you’d like to see. Leave your comment in the comment box below. Ten winners will be chosen at random and announced on December 17. Good luck and happy holidays! amy • december 10, 2010

CLICK FOR MORE HOLIDAY CHEER…
Amy Blogs Christmas Reading Wish List
(video) Holiday Reverse S’mores & 2010 in Retrospect

Photos from, in order: Chambre De Sucre / Puritea Lounge / Liddabit Sweets / Valentina Vitols on Foodspotting.com / me / Tell Tale Preserve Company / Grove

December 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Holiday, specials for abc readers. 41 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.

FRESHDIRECT From Wickham’s & Satur Farms

FOUR YEARS AGO, I LIVED ON THE UPPER EAST SIDE OF MANHATTAN on an avenue called York – a stone’s throw from the East River and a million miles away from everything else, like my work place on the west side, the subway, and affordable groceries. Even then, I didn’t cook much since supermarkets were pricey despite mediocre offerings, like picked-through produce and prepared meals you nuke in microwaves. Thus, by default, my diet consisted mostly of gyros from a tiny Middle Eastern place called Pyramida and pizza from across the street.

Relief came in the form of FreshDirect, from which I ordered everything from ravioli to ice cream; beer to broccoli. Nowadays, I don’t miss the Upper East Side, but sometimes I reminisce about Sunday morning FreshDirect deliveries.

Fast forward to summer 2010. I still don’t own a car and am living in a supermarket-less zone once again. (Midtown.) But no matter where your or my address is, the rules of the food game has completely changed so that frequenting greenmarkets and buying into customizable CSAs gains you greater karma and awesome points than attending the latest restaurant opening. Given the warm public sentiment toward seasonal, organic, and local foods, eating healthy and preparing meals yourself is not only socially acceptable, it’s nearly obligatory.

Admittedly, it’s a good trend, and the commercial push for fresh, local food is much easier to support than fad diets or cosmetic surgery. So, naturally, when FreshDirect invited me to join them on a tour of two Long Island farms with whom they work closely, Wickham’s Fruit Farm and Satur Farms, I was excited. I even asked if they’d mind inviting photographer Jennifer Causey along to capture the day on her bad-ass professional camera. (I know Jennifer through her blog Simply Breakfast and I’m a huge fan of her food photography. While I took my own photos, I’m featuring Jen’s today. You can see more of her farm photos here.)

Our first stop was Wickham’s Fruit Farm on Long Island’s North Fork. They’re a 13th generation farm that’s been around for over 300 years. Name any fruit and Wickham probably grows it: peaches, rhubarb, apples, nectarines, ten different varieties of plums, and even kiwis (for fun, not for sale). They’re growing melons too, like cantaloupe, specially for FreshDirect.

We stopped in Wickham’s tomato greenhouse to hide from the heat and picked sweet, marble-sized tomatoes from the vine. Later, we found shade under a cherry tree. Prime cherry season is over, but we arrived at the tail end so a few ripe, red stragglers were still biding time between the leaves. I think that was my favorite part of the day – plucking cherries from a cherry tree. Guess I’m not over the fact that my cherry hand pie baking effort ended so disastrously.

Afterward, we stopped by Satur Farms owned by husband-and-wife team Paulette Satur and Eberhard Müller, who opened Le Bernardin and was once chef at Lutèce, which closed its doors in 2004. Satur Farms is known as a salad specialist, especially mesclun, and grows everything from edible flowers, herbs, and micro greens, to “long, white leeks” of which Paulette seemed particularly proud. The couple supplies friends who helm some of New York City’s top restaurants, like Gramercy Tavern and Daniel. They don’t sell at greenmarkets, so FreshDirect is their only retail customer.

Motivated by the desire to offer their seventy farmhands year-round employment, the couple migrates to Florida every winter to continue their growing business while their North Fork-based operations cease temporarily. I can barely keep myself employed, so the thought of Paulette and Eberhard choosing to maintain their seasonally-dependent business throughout the year for the sake of their employees has stuck with me.

While Paulette led the tour of Satur Farms, Eberhard made us lunch: striped bass escabeche and several salads prepared with cauliflowers, beets, and arugula picked just that morning. For dessert, the couple served macerated peach and round, buttery shortbread cookies.

After lunch, the FreshDirect group thanked our hosts and said goodbye. I went to shake Eberhard’s hand and he asked me about my work, so I told him that I write and produce an online video series for those who don’t know how to cook. “Ah, then that’s a show for me,” he replied good-naturedly. Maybe, I thought, except that you and Paulette don’t own a microwave, which, for the most part, is essential to the Stupidly Simple Snack series.

Just kidding. amy july 22, 2010

FreshDirect is offering a 20% discount to you guys on everything in the local department. Secret code: SUPPORTLOCAL

* Limited time offer. Expires August 31, 2010. May not be combined with any other offer. All standard terms and conditions apply. Limit one use per customer/account. Residential orders only. Void where prohibited. Offer is non-transferable.

Photos by Jennifer Causey. Blueberry photo on homepage is my own.

July 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Healthy, Long Island, specials for abc readers. 1 comment.

HOLTON FARMS • Grocery Stores Are Dead To Me

Holton Farms CSA mapOliver the doorstop in my new homeHOLTON FARMS Family-owned farm run by eighth generation farmers who offer New Yorkers produce from the source. Buy from their roving farm truck or get first pick through a customizable CSA Select program.

I moved apartments last week – with Jason and all the furniture that came with him. It’s not easy to pick up and peace out when you’re trying to relocate with a bed and KitchenAid, though. Somehow, we managed and I only threatened to break up with him once.

The new Midtown apartment has a kitchen with a window – Think: Stupidly Simple Snacks with sunlight – and twice as much space! But it doesn’t feel like home yet. Admittedly, Midtown caters to commuters, tourists, and office workers, which is as far from that traditional neighborhood feel as you can get. There are few grocery stores and the closest market isn’t affordable by any standard. Oddly enough, however, there are three 99 cent pizza places within a two-block radius. So, to counter my Midtown blues and inevitable pizza addiction, I decided to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) to support a farm and bring fresh greens to me.

•  •  •  •

I randomly spotted Holton Farms massive white farm truck vending vegetables by Union Square last week. I loved that I’d just learned about them on Twitter and there they were! Like a food truck, but with fresh produce. To my happy surprise, I came home to find an email from Holton Farms offering Amy Blogs Chow readers a 5% discount on their CSA program. Top secret code: HFAMY.

That’s the story of how I moved into a new apartment and joined a CSA. I haven’t placed my first order yet, but their FreshDirect-like online ordering screen looks pretty nifty. Now, all I have to do is learn to cook everything… amy june 1, 2010

Follow @holtonfarms on Twitter.

Photos: (counter-clockwise) Holton Farms CSA Select Drop-Off Locations / My pig and a view of the Chrysler Building from window of new apartment / a zucchini photo from Holton Farms on Facebook

May 31, 2010. Tags: , , , . Healthy, specials for abc readers. 3 comments.