Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Homemade soda

My sister Megan has a cool seltzer-making machine called a Penguin (you can read more about it on the Sodastream website). I admire it deeply, but with limited counter space I'm currently content to go to her house and drink her homemade sparkling water.

However, I did stumble across this cute little gadget called U-Fizz. It's really more a mini science experiment for kids than a serious way to make sparkling beverages, but it's only $9 (from Scientifics), so what the heck?

To make a sparkling drink with U-Fizz, you put the juice or water to be carbonated in one bottle and screw the cap on. Then in a second bottle, you combine vinegar and baking soda and screw that cap on. The chemical reaction of the baking soda and vinegar produce carbon dioxide, which escapes through a tube into the awaiting juice/water.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


I confess that I like using devices for cutting bagels. Some people of my acquaintance consider this wussy behavior. ("What? Not willing to hold a bagel in your hand as you slice toward your palm with a really sharp knife? Sheesh.")

I currently use a wooden thingie that looks sort of like a paper napkin holder, but it has seen many years of service and I've been looking for a replacement. This is how I stumbled across the Bagelpod. I have resisted writing about it because I've never actually used one. However, the engineer dude who invented this is so incredibly earnest and detailed about the process he went through to create this bagel-cutting device that I just had to pass it along.

The Bagelpod sells for $26 from Amazon.

Here's a (maddeningly soundless) video of a person I suspect to be the inventor demonstrating the use of the Bagelpod.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Linguistic bloviation

There's got to be a term that describes words that evolve through the linguistic game of telephone. Here's an example of what I mean. In France, back in the day, if you wanted to let a girl know you liked her you would give her a flower, or donner une fleur à. This evolved into the verb fleurter (to flower). The English language picked this up and changed it to flirt. In modernday French, the verb for flirting is flirter and comes directly from the English word flirt. So, game of telephone.

This brings me to the parfait. In France, the word parfait means perfect, but it also refers to a frozen dessert. In this country, round about the turn of the 20th century, we adopted the word parfait and used it to mean ice cream layered with other ingredients (like syrups or fruit) in a tall soda-fountain-style glass. The concept then evolved to mean anything that was served in layers in a tall glass (object being, of course, to show off the layers).

Flash forward to now: For the past couple of years, chi-chi caterers and restaurants in this country have adopted this cool, new presentation idea from France: the verrine. It's layered ingredients presented in a glass so you can see the layers. Hmmmm, wait, that sounds familiar...

So again, language has moved on. To try your hand at parfa....verrines, you could check out Terrines & Verrines from chef Franck Pontais.