The entire U.S. has had one bizarre winter. In my state, it's been the sixth warmest winter on record, and the entire world began to bloom in mid-March, instead of the normal late April, seven weeks later.
And yet, it hasn't helped my sense of spring fever. Sure, I've been able to start bicycling earlier this year, and my garden is already planted, whereas normally we have to wait until Mother's Day. But that sense to get out; to leave the house behind, to explore and be at the mercy of things you can't control? Still as strong as ever.
And these unbelievable trailers by Cricket are not helping. One bit.
It's no secret here on ManMade that I'm eternally in love with the food and flavors of Mexico. I just think there's something about the flavors of chiles, corn, lime, and cilantro that simply meshes with my palette.
And while I love a tender, toothsome fresh tortilla as much as anyone, and I'll gladly give an unnecessary bodily organ for a slow roasted cochinita pibil, the defining characteristic of Mexican flavors, for me, is salsa.
Oh, romesco, you are the bestco.
I don't generally take pictures of my dinner or culinary creations and share them on ManMade. One, I figure there are thousands of food bloggers who are way better qualified; two, I usually cook in the evenings, and it's often too dark to take photos; and three, cooking serves as the creative thing I do where I don't feel required to blog about it. Which I like.
But, there are some things that just need to be shared, and I'll make an exception to preach the gospel of romesco sauce. This Spanish-standard is a showstopper, and tastes, well, like summer.
This straightforward DIY table has all the essential elements: upcycling, pallets, woodworking, plants, power tools, all wrapped up in a perfect mid-summer vibe.
Megan says, "Can you believe that our latest DIY project was once just a couple of junky pallets and some scrappy table legs? Crazy…if I didn’t have photos, I wouldn’t believe it myself. Not too long ago, we whipped out a coffee table sized succulent table out of an old shipping crate. Now we scaled it up."
Fresh outta last night's pyrotechnic displays (or, if you were the kids on my block, misadventures resulting into not two, but three visitis from the fire department), check out this fascinating video of a wide-angle camera mounted to the end of fireworks:
It's a holiday weekend, which means you've got an extra day to get creative and make stuff. Since it's summer, you could make all kinds of fun, vacation-y sorts of things, delicious foods made from summer produce, or, if you're super ambitious, DIY fireworks!
We're in the full swing of summer, and it's high season to run away for the weekend. And when it's not in the budget to be jetsetting around the world, there's nothing more festive or wallet-friendly then a trip to a local state or national park for a weeking under the stars. A couple bucks for site fees, a tank of gas, and a grocery cart full of roastables, and you're go.
Whenever I'm out and about, and opt to have a beer, my go-to move is to ask, "What are your seasonals." They way I figure it, the independent and micro breweries that craft seasonal beers do this as their profession. It's their job to match the flavors and textures of beer to those of the season - the weather, the ingredients available, the kind of food we eat. And while I have a few year-round staples, I've found I always get what I want by inquiring re: seasonals.
I've been scheming a DIY hammock for months. There's a set of trees in the green space near my building that's perfect for one, and I've been thinking through how to go about it? Sew a panel from outdoor fabric? Weave rope into a grid of knots? Then there's the supports? Wood? Does it need to be curved? Can't you just buy a kit somewhere?
A few weeks ago, we featured a few how-tos for making "bachelor's jam," a preserving method that fuses alcohol and fresh fruit. The technique there, basically, is to fill a jar with fruit and cover it with alcohol.
Last week, the New York Times featured a few more thorough recipes, designed to take advantage of complimentary flavors and general tastiness. "Perhaps the best example of following seasons in a boozy fruit mix is rumtopf — a German preserve that spans the entire growing season. Classic recipes have you start in June by mixing strawberries with sugar and rum. As other fruits ripen, they are added in layers, then the whole thing is left to mellow until Christmas.
It was only a matter of time, really...somebody was bound to think of this sooner or later.
Mexican-style lager pair with fresh lime and sweetened just a bit with natural agave syrup. We especially like this one cause you get to cut through the beer can with a knife or a hacksaw, late-night infomercial style.
We're huge fans of canning and preserving food, but the whole cooking via canning-recipe, jar boiling, and steam sealing isn't for everyone. But the abundance of fresh vegetables this time of year demand more attention than just putting in a salad.
And though there are lots of pickle haters out there, most of us love the sour crunch of pickled veg. So, this summer, try quick pickling - since the products never leave the fridge, there's no reason to worry about the delicacies of canning.
When I was a kid, my parents always made iced tea in this vintage sun tea jar, complete with big 70s yellow poppies and a broken spigot. I never really realized what they were doing by sitting that thing on the back porch...besides making us chase extra fast to grab missed catches and tags during our neighborhood kickball game.
It's a pretty clever idea, the sun tea...when its this hot outside, the last thing you want to do is boil a big kettle of water and cool it down for hours to make a cold drink. But know what's even awesome-r, and quicker? Simply making great ice tea in your refrigerator overnight.
I'm so crazy pumped for my camping and canoeing trip this holiday weekend that I can barely sit still. And, oh, buddy, you better believe I'll be making some smokey and toasty s'mores over the campfire. See, I live in the city, and city with very strict open flame laws (I think it's actually illegal to light a match on the sidewalk), so a blazing campfire is quite a treat. I get to be around one around once a year, which is about how many s'mores a year I can stand, so it all works out.
If you wanna join me on my trip, I'll gladly make you one with my reknown two level heat technique, but if you're staying urban this summer - don't worry. Here's two tricks for making great melty s'mores that are totally worth the calories, at home.
With July 4th on tap for this weekend, we're so deep into grilling season our tongs barely have time to cool down between uses.
Gratefully (ha!), Mark Bittman has assembled a massive collection of grilling recipes that can be prepared super quickly, with "vast majority [taking] less time to prepare and grill than it takes to watch your coals turn white. [Or] If you use gas, they’re still almost as fast as heating up the grill..."
Bittman begins with veggies and fruit, moves through meat, nails fish and shellfish, kills kebab, slays salads, bangs out burgers, sandwiches, and breads, and comes to a close where any meal should - with dessert.
The three things I love most about summer are, in order: 1) That it stays light outside until nearly 10 p.m., 2) Permission and reason to grill outside until nearly 10 p.m., and 3) the fresh local food that I grill outside until nearly 10 p.m. Okay, so perhaps my summer evenings tend to look mostly the same...but of course they do! All that fresh local produce deserves its time in the sun (boo...), and where I live, the two superstars are local sweet corn and crazy awesome tomatoes.
So, you might imagine I end up with tomato sandwiches and grilled cobs at least three nights a week. And most often, my tomato sandwiches are the standard BLT - why improve on a classic? But last night, I tried this vegetarian tomato sandwich from Country Living, and i gotta say... it's totally a keeper. Made with beefsteak tomatoes, rustic bread, smoked bleu cheese, and rosemary mayo, it gets it right on all accounts.
With Memorial Day behind us, it's OFFICIALLY grilling season, and nothing tastes like summer more than a well-formed, well-seasoned, and well-grilled hamburger. Many purists would argue that ground beef, salt, pepper are all that should ever go into a burger, but with some many resources, techniques, and traditions available to us, why not supplement that classic juicy beef patty with a few new options? Especially some that are so flavorful, you can keep the ketchup bottle in the fridge.
New York Times writer and author Mark Bittman explores the art of the best at-home burger - including beef, lamb, and pork - that starts with buying