Honey, of course, he loved especially, slathered on bread and butter or crunched in the comb until the sticky goo ran down his chin. Nineteenth-century English poet Percy Shelley loved sweets, but boycotted sugar as many of his countrymen did because of its connection to slavery. An interesting look at some of the history of sugar from The Economist.

You have until this Friday December 22 at 6 PM PST to donate to Menu for Hope, our food blogging fund raiser for UN World Food Programme. We've raised over $30,000 to date. Instructions here on how to donate, and how to be entered to win the KitchenAid mixer I've donated.

How to deal with the traumatizing experience of dining alone and how to cope with the perils of being a giant loser. Buzzfeed indentifies the latest trend of dining alone, and offers links to help you deal. That is, if you want to jump on the trend bandwagon and dine alone.

From the reader mail bag:

I was wondering if you have any experience trying to make a good General Tso's sauce for either chicken or tofu. I have done some searching of my own but feel that the recipes seem a little boring. Granted, it is a very generic (though popular) food item on a Chinese menu, but I was just hoping you might have come across a recipe or tried one yourself which made the food a little more exciting. I tend to prefer the sauce a little less sweet as well, but that's just me. Any feedback, advice, or creative thinking would be appreciated if you have the time.

I don't. Does anyone else? I don't do much Chinese cooking at home.

Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your HomeToday's better-late-than-never gift suggestion is a book you should be able to pick up at your local bookshop: Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home. Surely you're looking for something for that person who's not sure how to organize his or her kitchen? Martha's "Golden Rules for Kitchen Organization" will solve that, and many other problems your recipient probably didn't even know s/he had. For obsessive homekeeping advice, Martha Stewart is your gal. $27 at, prices may vary at your local bookstore.

Grant Achatz has made the use of pure scents - complementing the taste of food with items used for their smells alone - a hallmark of his inventive cuisine. "This year, for instance, rosemary branches began appearing on Alinea’s tables as centerpieces, only to become aromatics when, midway through the meal, they were placed into holes in the restaurant’s specially designed terra-cotta serving pieces, which were heated to 400 degrees." When I ate there last spring, I was served black cod on a pillow that released the scent of orange as it deflated. It was spectacular.

Photos by Matt Armendariz
Photos by Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz explains how he creates beautiful food photos like those seen above. Of course he's got great gear, but he says natural light is best. This is my downfall: lighting. I never have enough good natural light when I need to shoot food -- usually because it's dinner time and I'm just about to eat it! His good tips will certainly help me.

For bakers everywhere, especially during the season of fruitcake and gingerbread, the distinct spicy, earthy flavor of unrefined cane -- the taste of cane syrup, brown sugar and molasses -- is irreplaceable. That rich sweetness is one of my favorite things about holiday desserts. Mmmm....molasses...

Weiner Dog Screen Printed Shirt
It's the last day for gift ideas from handycraft site Etsy and today's selection is this awesome Weiner Dog Screen Printed Shirt! Alas, there's only one in stock, but it looks like they'll have more so maybe this is one of those "gifts" you just order for yourself. Who wouldn't want a t-shirt with this worried little weiner on it? I know I'd love one. $19.00 from Etsy. And next week, gifts procrastinators can (hopefully) pick up locally.

Can an upstart fry pan that costs a quarter of the price of All-Clad come from the kitchen-supply shop and reach the top? Over at Serious Eats, I pit two frying pans against each other to determine whether expensive pans are necessarily better. I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, so please feel free to share at the end of my article.

What happens when you limit yourself to spending $30 on food, for the entire month of November? You lose 18 pounds in one month, drink only water, and learn a lot about yourself and other people. Evan went Hungry For a Month and blogged about it every day. Wow.

The chef and staff of Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon wrote their new cookbook over two years on Mondays, when the restaurant is closed. "That is also the day when they do their pickling and preserving, so they held editorial meetings while making enough cornichons and corn relish to last through the winter." They self-published and sold out their first press run of 6,000 copies in three weeks. It sounds like a crazy, entertaining cookbook. I'd really like to eat there on my next trip to Montreal, whenever that is.

Retro Half ApronLooking for something for someone who's Oh So Retro? What about this Oh So Retro Half Apron. It's red with white polka dots. "Half-length apron with a flattering, slimming style and a flirty, flared skirt. Long ties at the waist make it adjustable for many sizes." And machine-washable! There's only one in stock like this, but the seller has other awesome aprons to chose from. $25 from Etsy.

It's official, the end times are upon us. Erin McKean, Editor-in-Chief of American Dictionaries, appeared on the Rachael Ray show last week to present a Certificate of Recognition to Rachael. EVOO is going into the next edition of the Oxford American College Dictionary. That's extra-virgin olive oil, for all you non-Food Network, non-Rachael Ray folks out there. Now that's it's official, I'm shall start to use it, but I'll pronounce it "ee-vous".

The 'molecular' in molecular gastronomy has the same definition as it does in molecular biology. The similarity is intentional, because chemistry and physics are at the core of this discipline. Interesting paper by Hervé This about the science of cooking. Includes a list of New Dishes named after Famous Chemists, such as the Baumé, names after French chemist Antoine Baumé.

Over the weekend, my friend Leslie passed away. Even though Leslie and I both loved to cook, somehow we never cooked for each other. That seems so odd now, I'm not sure how it happened, and I so wish we had. There was talk of a shipment of Madeleines to my door at one point, but that's as close as I came to tasting her food. So instead of cooking for each other, we shared advice about food with each other.

For my tips on turkey brining, I received in return two full pages of New York City recommendations from someone who knew and loved the city better than almost anyone I know. When she returned to New York to visit, she insisted on taking me to Pastis, and introduced me to their green beans. I'll never eat them again without thinking of Leslie. She even had a VIP phone number for reservations at Pastis and tried to share it with me, encouraging me to use it while she was living in San Francisco and unable to take advantage of it. "How could I pass for you?" I asked her, "That's crazy!" They all knew her there, she was a memorable figure. There was no way I could walk in and give my name as Leslie.

Whenever I go to a Le Gamin cafe, I can hear her voice in the menu items. I can hear her articulating the deliciousness of Oeufs Gamin. I can hear her emphatically stating that the cafe au lait at Le Gamin is The. Best. In. The. City. I've never dared have one anywhere else since I moved here. Of course, she didn't share her food tips with me alone, she posted pictures and recipes of an entire vegetarian dinner with recipes to Flickr.

I've been looking for a good recipe for my Christmas cookies this year. Fittingly, Leslie's last advent calendar post contained a recipe for Simple Sugar Cookies. When I saw it, I noticed she hadn't posted a frosting recipe. I'd planned to email her about it. I'm certain the one she would have shared with me would have been the best. Leslie wouldn't have had it any other way.

Recipe CardsToday's gift idea: recipe cards! With vintage cookbook graphics, this set of ten recipe cards is perfect for your recipe-sharing gift recipient. Also included in your order: a set of 4 1" buttons made from old cookbook pages. Very cool. $5 from Etsy.

Speaking of coffee, all week Dethroner is writing about coffee, from grinder guidance to coffee maker musings. If you're looking to get up to speed on the roasted bean, it's a great place to start.

Does the purchase of Fairtrade coffee encourage the over-production of coffee? Is organic farming worse for the environment than using synthetic fertilizers? What about saving the environment by buying local? The Economist takes an interesting look at using food dollars as a form of political action.

Is a restaurant worth its conscionable weight if it never has enough capitol/care/time to offer its employees health insurance? "Do you ask the waiter if the chicken is free-range if you don't care whether he/she's making a living wage? Can you say you believe in immigrant's rights if you eat in a restaurant that hires undocumented workers because they're cheaper and won't complain about low wages/lack of healthcare/unbearable working conditions/boring, repetitive tasks/long hours without overtime? Can you preach the Organic values of a restaurant whose kitchen is 25% unpaid 'volunteer' workers?" Shuna asks if the public is ready for a transparent restaurant industry. I wonder if they're ready for the price increases that would accompany it.

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