Heat up some hot toddy this winter and keep the cold away.
Heat up some hot toddy this winter and keep the cold away.
Family reunion, 1976. My husband’s Great-Uncle Bud takes the top off his hand-crank ice-cream maker and wows everyone with the marshmallow-studded pink-and-green-swirled ice cream inside…until they figure out that he’d just, uh, bought some fancified flavor at the store, scooped it into the ice cream maker and tried to pass it off as his own creation. Truth is, hand-cranking any flavor of ice cream is hard work: It takes a ton of elbow grease and approximately forever to make.
Play & Freeze™ ice cream ball. Here’s the scoop: It looks like a plastic soccer ball, but you pack it with ice and rock salt, fill it with cream, vanilla and sugar, and then play with it. Brilliant, right? No hours of tedious hand-cranking, just 20 to 30 minutes of tossing, kicking or rolling the ball around and voila, yummy sundaes. So I took the original ball (which makes a Ben & Jerry’s-size pint of ice cream) and the new MEGA size (which makes twice as much) along with the old hand-crank my hubby used as a kid to a barbecue last weekend to test them out. It started cheerfully enough. All excited, we filled up the makers with the ingredients and the ice and salt, got in a circle and started throwing the balls at each other while someone took turns turning the old-fashioned hand-crank. But after a few throws, we realized the balls were heavier than we thought. You had to fight the instinct to just plain get out of the way when someone tossed the MEGA at you—it’s hard plastic, after all, and weighs a good ten pounds when full.
Give your guests a warm welcome with luminarias that carry a greeting. Here’s all there is to it: 1.) Figure out what you want your message to say. Pay tribute to the guest of honor with "Happy B-Day, Bob!" Or blow a kiss to all your guests with a general message, like this one I made for an upcoming cocktail party: "Good evening / You look great." Just remember, the more letters, the more work it’ll be — each one takes about four minutes to make. 2.) Get enough lunch-size brown bags and white bags to make double-layered luminarias (brown on the outside, white on the inside) spelling out your message, making sure the white bags are the same size or slightly smaller than the brown ones so they fit inside. You can buy brown lunch bags at any grocery store. White bags are harder to find — I got mine at Smart & Final — but the white background will make your messages really light up and stand out.
Wine tasting is so … 2007, non? What’s new, what’s now:
wine-smelling, the very foundation of wine appreciation! Turns out it’s your
schnoz, not your taste buds, that’s responsible for most of what you recognize
as flavors — including those you find in wines. But if “notes of licorice,”
“undertones of bell pepper” and a “black currant finish” sound like a bunch of
pretentious doublespeak to you, meet the wine aroma wheel. Developed by Ann C.
Noble, a chemist and former professor from the esteemed viticulture and enology
department at the University of California, Davis, the wheel is a guide to help
would-be wine aficionados distinguish the aromas found in wines — so you too
can speak sommelier.
Skip the string quartet performing Pachelbel’s “Canon.” Instead, get your guests engaged in the occasion and save cash at the
If you find wine-tasting snobby and pretentious, the jelly bean wine bar is the wine bar for you: Just pop a handful of hand-picked jelly beans in your mouth and masticate to experience the flavors typically found in various varietals. Turns out the staff at Wine X magazine have analyzed the flavor components in a variety of vinos and matched them with corresponding jelly bean flavors, then put together kits containing the candy equivalents of syrah, say, or chardonnay.
In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada, Fat Tuesday is called Pancake Tuesday, since it’s customary on that day to carb-load with flapjacks. See, pancakes are made from rich ingredients like eggs, milk and sugar, all of which have to be used up before party-pooping Lent starts. But there’s no reason you can’t get a jump on things and use up all your rich ingredients a couple of days early. Bonjour, Mardi Gras pancake brunch! (Bonus points: Make your own version of the traditional Mardi Gras king cake by adding a dime to one of the pancakes as it cooks — whoever gets the coin will become richer than eggs, milk and sugar. Ch-ching!)
Although a Sunday pancake brunch may not be the beads-throwing
bacchanal you typically associate with Mardi Gras festivities, it does
offer the unique opportunity to host a traditional pancake race right
in your own backyard. Pancake race? You heard me.
Sports fan or not, everyone knows the best part of watching the Super Bowl® is the commercials. Score points even
Yes, Christmas Past is now just a ghost, but the spirit of the Yule log was alive and well at the Christmas tree burning party my friends Rob and Kevin threw Saturday night. Some 50 people gathered on Dockweiler Beach at sunset to set fire to the cut conifers that had reigned over their living rooms just days before. Now dried out and denuded of their decorations, each one lit up like a Christmas tree as pyro-happy revelers threw them one after another onto the party’s towering inferno of a bonfire. During the brief intermissions between trees, kids roasted marshmallows for s’mores and waved at the jetliners climbing into the sky from adjacent LAX while the drum circle around the bonfire banged on their bongoes (silent night it was not). With especially dehydrated trees nearly exploding into a mushroom cloud of smoke and two-story flames, the evening doubled as a lesson in fire safety for those tempted to skimp on watering next year’s Douglas firs till Santa Claus comes back to town.