#TravelTuesday – Alberta, Canada

Categories: Travel

12-30-14

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Alberta, Canada courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Calgary Stampede: Calgary goes Western during its world-famous stampede, kicking up its (boot) heels for ten rodeo-filled days in July. Rodeos have been a part of Calgary summers since 1886, soon after the city was founded as an outpost for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

  • When: 10 days in mid-July

2. Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks (pictured above): Spanning the crown of the majestic Canadian Rockies are Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks, collectively known as the Rocky Mountain Parks. Banff was Canada’s very first national park and is now a 2,656-square-mile giant and Canada’s No. 1 tourist destination. The park’s pride is a pair of shimmering jade green lakes: the stunning Moraine Lake, nestled beneath soaring 10,000-foot peaks, and Lake Louise, known for its dramatic setting at the base of Victoria Glacier.

  • Where: Banff is 80 miles/129 km west of Calgary.
  • Best Times: April-June for wildlife; September-October for pleasant weather, foliage, and smaller crowds.

3. The Canadian Rockies by Train: When railroads first crossed Canada in 1885 (“an act of insane recklessness,” read the headlines), they did not more than bring settles: They opened up western Canada to tourism.” Traveling by train through the Rockies is still one of the best—and most relaxing—ways to explore this massive and inspiring country. VIA Rail Canada, Canada’s national passenger rail network, offers a year-round 4-night, 2,775-mile trip between Toronto and Vancouver. It passes through Jasper National Park, over the Continental Divide, and past the Canadian Rockies’ highest peak, 12,972-foot Mount Robson.

  • Best Times: April-June for wildlife; September-October for pleasant weather, foliage, and smaller crowds.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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Wednesday Cute: Red Panda Edition

Categories: News, Wednesday Cute

Today’s installment of Wednesday Cute was written by editorial intern Rachel, who is dreaming of a white Christmas. (Please read the previous sentence as though it were sung by Bing Crosby.)

 

Hey readers, I don’t know if you’ve realized this, but tomorrow is Christmas.

“But Rachel,” you’re probably saying, “yesterday it was May!”

I know that better than anyone. But it’s true. Tomorrow is, in fact, Christmas. I was going to just compile a bunch of pictures of animals wearing Santa hats. But then I happened to watch a video of a red panda playing in the snow, so we’re going to do that instead.

 

Hi, friend!

Hi, friend!

Red pandas are actually not very closely related to regular, old giant pandas. They have previously been classified as part of the bear and raccoon families, but they are actually the only living species in the Ailuridae family, and are part of the same super family (Musteloidea) as weasels.

Also they’re REALLY cute.

Curled Up Baby Red Panda

I dare you to stop looking at this picture.

They’re only found in the wild in the temperate forests of the Himalayas in western Nepal and eastern China.

Here seen in the guise of a monorail.

Here seen in the guise of a monorail.

Since they live in such a small area of the world and they are classified as endangered, it’s difficult to see red pandas in the wild, but as of 2006, there were more than 800 individual red pandas found in zoos around the world.

So majestic.

So majestic.

It’s not exactly known how many red pandas can be found in the wild, so a major goal in keeping red pandas in captivity is to build a genetically varied population in case the wild population goes extinct. The red panda is quite adaptable to living in captivity and they are found in zoos worldwide. Even NYC’s very own Central Park Zoo has a few!

SO MAJESTIC.

SO MAJESTIC.

Because it is (somehow) Christmas tomorrow, I’ll leave this off on a wintery note of red pandas playing in the snow:

I definitely did not watch this three times in a row just now.

 

High five for red pandas!

High five for red pandas!

We hope you have the merriest of Christmases!

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#TravelTuesday – Barbados, Lesser Antilles

Categories: News, Travel

12-23-14

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Barbados, Lesser Antilles courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar.

More than 300 years of British rule have left their mark on this beautiful isle of pink and white sand beaches. Although independent since 1966, Barbados has retained a veddy British atmosphere. Afternoon tea is a tradition, cricket is the national sport, and most of the tourists are Brits, many of whom flock to “the Platinum Coast,” named for the ritzy hotels and condos found along this western shoreline that faces the Caribbean sea. it is home to the calmest waters and best beaches, and there is snorkeling with sociable well-fed sea turtles just offshore.

The best times include November-April for nicest weather; July-August for Crop Over Festival.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

1000_Places_To_See_210_266_709780761178170_225_263_70 9780761179375_3d_235_240_70

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Teeny’s Pear and Goat Cheese Tart

Categories: Baking, Cookbooks, Cooking, Recipes

This post was written by editorial intern Perry, who was enchanted by the combination of cheese and fruit in this pie.

Today, dear readers, I bring you a winter pie to warm your bellies during the cold days ahead. This recipe appears in Teeny’s Tour of Pie, my new favorite cookbook. Teeny Lamothe wanted to be a lady pie baker and so set out on a year-long tour across the country, “hopping from pie shop to pie shop, spending a month or so at each bakery, and soaking up as much experience and advice as possible”. The result was a wonderful cookbook centered around seasonal baking. I looked through the chapter on winter pies and settled on a lovely Pear and Goat Cheese Tart.

Pie A

Pear and Goat Cheese Tart alla Teeny © Sara Remington

I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the up-coming pictures – I was baking this at 2 am and I still have not replaced the burnt out light bulbs in my kitchen!

First, I made the crust. Now the original recipe calls for Teeny’s Whole Wheat Crust but I prefer a regular butter crust, so I gave Teeny’s All-Purpose Crust a try. I mixed my dry ingredients together, and then cut in the butter and shortening. Then I added in my liquid ingredients and worked the dough until it came together into a big ball.

There are two very important things to note here. Firstly, if you want a flaky crust, you need to keep your butter cold. When a pie goes in the oven, the cold bits of butter in the dough melt, forming tiny air pockets full of steam. These air pockets are what create a flaky texture. If your butter is already warm when it hits the oven, it will not leave a big enough air pocket and you will have a lame, non-flaky crust. None of us wants that. So if you chop your butter and don’t mix it in right away, stick it in the freezer. When you add your liquid ingredients, make sure that you are using cold water. It’s a simple rule, but it makes all the difference.

Secondly, this is a vodka crust recipe – some of you may have experienced the benefits of such a crust, but I had not, so I did a little reading. Vodka has very little water in it as it is mostly alcohol – by replacing some of the water in a pie crust recipe with vodka, you are able to use the same amount of liquid while technically using less water. This is important because when the proteins in flour interact with water, they create gluten. If the gluten in pie dough is worked too much from excessive kneading or rolling, the dough becomes tough. Using vodka in the dough means less water overall, which means less gluten, which means you don’t have to be as careful with how much you are handling the dough. And don’t worry about how the vodka will affect the taste of the pie – all the alcohol will burn off in the oven, so no one will even know you used it.

Science – it’s a magical thing. Anyway, back to the recipe!

Since it was super late at night, I completely forgot to take pictures of the crust-making process, but I ended up with this disk of perfect, lovely pie dough.

Pie 1I wrapped it up in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

While the dough was resting, I prepared the pear filling.

Pie 6I mixed my dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set it aside. Then I sliced up my pears – I would suggest you try and find red Bartlett pears, as they would have been much prettier, but all I could find were green ones.

I tossed the pears in the sugar mixture and then took out the chilled dough and rolled it out into a circle. My rolling pin broke recently, so I ended up using a big bottle of rum instead:

Pie 5

Pro Tip: A partially filled bottle of wine or rum can be used as a rolling pin in times of emergency!

Once the dough was rolled out, I arranged the pear filling in the center of the pie dough, leaving a 1 inch boarder around the outside, and dotted it generously with bits of goat cheese. Then I folded up the edges into rustic french pleats and threw the tart in the oven!

Pie 4

The tart before baking…

40 minutes later, I had a yummy 3am snack. The pears were subtly sweet and paired really well with the tangy sharpness of the goat cheese. And the crust was flaky and buttery and very rustic looking.

Pie 2

…. and after baking:)

Over all, I really liked this tart! It was very simple to make and used an flavor combination that I ended up really liking! Pears are a very underrated fruit and I’m glad I finally have a way to showcase them.

If you would like to try more recipes like this, you can check out Teeny’s Tour of Pie, just in time for the holidays!

 

Buttery All-Purpose Crust

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Chill Time: 1 hour

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes: One 9-inch double crust or four 5-inch double crusts

Ingredients

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold vegetable shortening

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold vodka

6 tablespoons cold water, plus extra as needed

1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and sugar until everything is thoroughly combined. Add the butter and shortening and cut the mixture together using a pastry cutter until it forms small pea-size crumbs coated in flour.

2. Pour the vodka over the dry ingredients a few tablespoons at a time while using a rubber spatula to press the dough together. Similarly, add the water, and continue to press the dough together to form a large ball. The dough should be fairly wet and sticky; if for some reason it seems particularly dry, add a little extra ice water a tablespoon at a time until everything comes together easily. (Be careful to work the dough as little as possible, otherwise the crust may be tough.)

3. Divide the dough into two equal balls, press each into a 1-inch disk, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling out.

 

Pear and Goat Cheese Tart

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Bake Time: 20 to 40 Minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Makes: 2 tarts (serves 4 to 6 each)

Ingredients

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 to 3 pears, preferably Bartlett, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped (equal to 2 cups; see Note)

2 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 disk dough from the All-Purpose Crust

Up to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, for rolling out the crust

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch in a small bowl until combined.

3. Place the pears in a large bowl and pour the sugar mixture over them. With your hands or a large spoon, gently toss the fruit to coat evenly. Set aside.

4. Roll out the crusts: divide the dough into two equal pieces and form each into a 1-9nch thick disk. On a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one piece of dough into a rough 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough circle to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough disk, placing it next to the first dough circle on the baking sheet.

5. Give the pear mixture one final stir and arrange 1 cup of pears in the center of the first dough circle, leaving a 1-inch edge all around (if your pears are very juicy, you may wish to strain off half of the liquid first). Crumble half of the goat cheese evenly over the fruit filling.

6. Starting on one side, fold the edge of the crust up and over the edge of the filling. Make your way around the circle, folding up the extra crust and pleating it as you go. The crust should not meet in the center; the edges just have to be tucked up toward it. The look you’re going for by the end is a very rustic tart.

7. Repeat the filling, topping, and folding with the remaining pears, goat cheese, and dough circle.

8. Bake until the crusts are golden brown and the cheese has browned on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: If you prefer your pears skin-on, you can skip the peeling and cut them into roughly 1/4-inch slices.

*This tart will keep for up to 3 days, covered, in the refrigerator.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Powell’s

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Sunday Cookie Swap: Spicy Linzer Bars

Categories: News

This blog post was written editorial intern Rachel, who has eaten approximately twenty cookies already today.

 

cookies on table

Spicy Linzer Bars

The holidays are almost upon us! (Or already upon some of us. Happy Hannukkah!) This past Wednesday, we had our annual holiday party here at Workman. Included in the festivities were delicious food, live music from members of the Workman family, and, of course, the cookie swap! Every year, we all bring in a batch of homemade cookies, put them out on a table, and then everyone can put together a box of assorted cookies to bring home!

cookie swap

cookie swap 1

You’re seeing two whole tables of cookies there!

In honor of this delicious tradition, we’ve been posting a cookie recipe every Sunday leading up to Christmas to give you inspiration for your own cookie swaps and holiday parties!

This week, I made spicy linzer bars from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies.

Cookies - Cookbook

Linzer gets its name from the city of Linz, Austria. It consists of a crumbly, nutty dough—usually hazelnuts, but I used almonds—and a fruit preserve filling, with a lattice design on top. Linzer is often found in torte form or as individual cookies—often called sablés—but these bars turned out wonderfully chewy and delicious.

I started, as every baker should, by gathering my ingredients. (For a full list of ingredients and instructions, read to the end of this post.)

ingredients

You will also need a food processor for this recipe, as well as a 9-inch square metal baking pan. I started by putting all my dry ingredients (almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves) in the food processor…

dry ingredients

…and then spent several minutes trying to figure out how the food processor worked, because I had never used it before. Once I found the instruction manual—miraculously I had not yet thrown it away—then I pulsed until the almonds were finely ground.

dry ingredients mixed

Next, I prepared my wet ingredients (butter, egg yolk, orange zest, lemon zest, and almond extract). For this part, there were a few more involved steps.

1) Separating an egg. This can be a little nerve wracking if you’ve never done it before, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Gently break the shell and hold each half in one hand. Then carefully pour the yolk back and forth between the two halves, letting the white fall into a bowl below. That’s all there is to it. Just make sure not to break the yolk!

2) Zesting an orange and a lemon. If you don’t have a zester, you can just use a cheese grater. Just try to avoid the rind—that is, the white, inner layer of the peel.

Once that was all taken care of, I put it all into the food processor with my mixed dry ingredients…

wet ingredients

…and pulsed again until just blended.

cookie dough

The next step was to make the lattice that went on top of the bars. I spread some flour on the counter, pinched off about a tablespoon of (very delicious) dough, and rolled it out into a thin, 9-inch long rope. Or tried to anyway. The dough is pretty crumbly so a lot of my ropes (the recipe requires 10 of them) kind of fell apart when I tried to move them. But it was all ending up in the same place in the long run, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I put my ropes onto some wax paper on a baking sheet…

lattice pieces

None of these are in one piece.

…and put them in the freezer until I needed them later.

The next step should be to put the rest of the dough in your baking tin, but it was at this point that I realized that I had the wrong kind of baking tin and had to run to the store to get one. I did, however, clean off the counter in case my roommate got home before I could get back, because, well:

Baking's no fun unless you make a huge mess.

Baking’s no fun unless you make a huge mess.

Then I got distracted and also bought more Christmas lights while I was out. By the time I got back, roommate Michaela was home and happy to give me a hand, despite the fact that I had left a food processor full of cookie dough on the counter with no explanation.

Now that I finally had the correct equipment (better idea would have been to check before I started, but c’est la vie), I lined the tin with aluminum foil and greased the sides. Normally, there wouldn’t be this many non-stick methods but the jam gets really sticky. Aluminum foil makes it easier to remove from the tin and greasing the foil makes it easier to separate from the edges of the edges of the bars.

I pressed the dough into the bottom of the foil-lined tin.

dough in tin

Okay, so the only tin I could find was technically meant for poultry.

After refrigerating for an hour, I spread the raspberry preserves evenly over the dough and then placed the frozen lattice pieces on top.

I swear it looked better after I baked it.

It looked better after I baked it.

I baked for 50 minutes, let cool completely and voila!

See?

See? Sort of better-looking!

Removing this from the pan was a whole other process.

Jam is sticky.

Michaela is a foil-removing champ.

We lost a whole corner trying to remove all the aluminum foil. “Lost,” in this case meaning, “it fell off and we ate it.” We also used a knife to cut the edges so they’d be even and then we ate those parts, too.

Once we got all the aluminum foil off, we cut the bars into even pieces and put them in a container in the fridge to avoid another mouse incident. (See last week’s post.)

Look how pretty!

Look how pretty!

These cookies were seriously delicious. A perfect combination of buttery, rich, tart, and sweet. And look how nice they look on the Workman cookie swap table!

cookies on table

 

If you want to make these beauties on your own, follow this recipe. And if you’re interested in the book they came from, see the links at the very bottom of this post to get your very own copy of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies!

Ingredients

3/4 cup (3.75 ounces) whole almonds, or a mixture of almonds and toasted skinned hazelnuts

1 cup (4.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, slightly softened

1 large egg yolk

Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

Grated zest of 1/2 orange

Scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup (8.25 ounces) raspberry, blackberry, or apricot preserves

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) [I did not do this, but feel free!]

 

Equipment

A 9-inch square metal baking pan, the bottom and all 4 sides lined with foil

Food processor

 

Recipe

Grease only the sides of the foil (to prevent jam from sticking).

Combine the almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in the food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add the butter, egg yolk, grated zests, and almond extract. Pulse just until blended.

Make the lattice first: Pinch off about 1 tablespoon of dough. On a floured surface, with well-floured hands, roll the piece of dough into a pencil-thin rope (the lattice expands in the oven, so it must be very thin to start with) about 9 inches long. If the rope is too delicate to lift, roll it onto a sheet of wax paper. Repeat with 9 more pieces of dough, rolling each piece onto the wax paper. Slide the paper with the lattice strips onto a tray and freeze until needed.

Press the remaining dough evenly and smoothly over the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Spread the preserves evenly over the dough. Place 5 lattice strips over the jam, parallel with one another, at even intervals. Lay the remaining 5 strips on top and perpendicular to the first five.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until deep golden brown. After 30 minutes, check to see whether the dough has puffed up from the pan. If necessary, lift the edge of the pan an inch or so and let it drop to settle the dough. If the dough is getting too brown too early, tent it loosely with foil to finish. Remove the foil tent. Cool in the pan on a rack.

When the linzer sheet is completely cool, lift the edges of the foil to remove it from the pan. Peel away the sides of the foil (with the help of a sharp knife if the jam sticks). Slide a metal spatula under the linzer to detach it from the foil. Cut into 25 or more squares [or fewer if the corner falls off]. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar if desired.

Linzer squares are most delicious served within 3 to 4 days, but they are still remarkably good after a week (0r more!) stored in an airtight container.

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies is available now from any of the following online retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Workman

Cookies - Cookbook

 

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Friday Link Round-Up: Charity Edition!

Categories: Holiday, News

Happy Friday! With the holidays right around the corner and the spirit of giving in the air, we thought it was the perfect time for a charity-themed link round-up! We asked our coworkers to share with us the charities that are the most important to them and below are nine of  our favorites!

1. Kiva

From editorial intern Perry Minella

Kiva

Kiva is a non-profit, microfinance organization that lets individuals loan as little as $25 directly to a person in poverty. These loans can be for anything from business supplies, to home improvements, to education costs. That money is then paid back over time and can be lent out again and again. I put $50 into my Kiva account a few years ago and I have used that exact same money over and over again to make over 40 loans to date.

2. Pearl S. Buck International

From Michael Rockliff, Director of School & Library Sales and Marketing

Pearl S Buck 2

While this charity has many arms, its primary purpose is to sponsor Asian children in need. It was started 50 years ago to help biracial children abandoned by American service men in Vietnam, but the organization has since broadened its scope to include  many other nations around the world. Through the Opportunity House child sponsorship program, you can help a child receive health care and an education for only $30 a month.

Michael’s wife has been a charter sponsor for 50 years and is one of the longest continuing sponsors. They have both found their relationships with these children very gratifying and sometimes heartbreaking.

3. We Need Diverse Books

From Elise Howard, Editor/Publisher with Algonquin Young Readers

photo-2
We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) is a group that is “dedicated to advocating and supporting non-majority narratives in children’s books and creating tangible change in the publishing industry.” Through donations and volunteers, this group is able to bring diverse books to schools in need and provide children with  “windows into different backgrounds and cultures so they can increase their empathy and understanding”. WNDB also sponsors the Walter Dean Myers Award & Grant Program, which recognizes “outstanding diverse contributions by authors in Young Adult and Middle Grade literature and provides funds to help develop new diverse authors and artists.”

4.  Friends In Deed

From Marilyn Barnett, Director of Gift Sales

Friends In Deed 3

When faced with a life-threatening illness, the focus from doctors is usually on the medical problems at hand, with no one to look after the emotional and spiritual needs of both the patient and their loved ones. Friends In Deed, also known as The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness, was created to help fill this void in our medical care system. The Crisis Center is there to help anyone who has recently been “diagnosed with a life-threateding illness, [is] exhausted from caregiving, and heartbroken over the death of someone they loved.” They provide many programs including group therapy, one-on-one therapy, crisis counseling, physical therapy, and yoga and meditation. If you are dealing with a health crisis and need a safe space to recharge, Friends In Deed will be there for you.

5. Cucu Foundation

From Nathalie Le Du, Senior Editor

Story-Telling-2-940x400

This organization “searches and sponsors projects in developing countries that have as their goal to improve the lives of children.” They mainly focus on projects that will help improve education,  medical care, food availability, cultural development, and general well-being. A few recent projects have included buying rain boots for children in Nicaragua so that they could walk to school; funding the education of 20 children in India; and funding and managing a children’s library in Ghana. Cucu foundation is staffed entirely with volunteers, including their board members, and 98% of the money they receive in donations goes directly to their varies projects. With your help Cucu can continue to find and support worthy projects around the world.

6. Reach Out Worldwide

From Randall, Director of Online Retail Accounts

background

Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW) was founded by actor Paul Walker after assisting in Haiti as part of a relief team responding to the 2010 earthquakes. Paul “saw a gap between the availability of skilled resources and the requirement for such personnel in post-disaster situations.” ROWW was created to help fill this gap.

“ROWW is a network of committed professionals with first responder skill-set (including project management, logistics, heavy equipment operation, EMT, paramedic, firefighting, and healthcare, etc). The volunteers provide their expertise when disasters strike and augment local resources with the goal of accelerating relief efforts on a worldwide basis. ROWW has developed Standard Operating Procedures that facilitate arriving quickly, clearing access, providing basic necessities and medical assistance to ease the survivors’ pain and bringing hope in the bleakest of circumstances.”

Since its founding, ROWW has been able to provide relief and assistance in the wake of many disaster situations including the 2010 earthquake in Chile, the 2011 typhoon in the Philippines, and most recently the tornado that hit Arkansas in April of this year. Since their founder’s death last year, ROWW has been working diligently in his memory.

7. Donors Choose

From Kendra Poster, Director of Foreign Rights

Donors Choose

Donors Choose is an incredible site that helps improve our public education system by enabling individual donors to support projects submitted by public school teachers – sort of like a Kickstarter for teachers. And the best part is that no matter the size of your donation, you will receive pictures of the project you helped make possible as well as a thank-you note from the teachers!

8. B*Cured

From editorial intern Perry Minella

bcured

B*Cured is a non-profit organization whose goal “is to help find a cure for brain cancer through research grants.” Co-founded by my best friend’s mother, Melissa Salamé, and Debbie Needle, after they both lost a parent to the disease, B*cured has raised over a million dollars towards this goal. Metastatic brain tumors (cancer that has spread from other areas of the body) effect as much as 15% of cancer patients, and since there are over 12o different types of brain tumors, finding effective treatment can be difficult. So far, B*Cured has awarded 10 grants to innovative researchers at nationally ranked universities and hospitals to help fight this disease and your donations will help them continue this important research.

9. Simply Smiles

 From editorial intern Perry Minella, via her mother

Simply Smiles

Simply Smiles is an organization that focuses on providing “bright futures for impoverished children, their families, and their communities.” Working mainly in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation and in Oaxaca, Mexico, their holistic approach to alleviating poverty seeks to create empathy between volunteers and the people they help  and focuses on creating long-term solutions to the many problems that plague the impoverished communities where they work. Simply Smiles has helped to provide emergency food aid and fund scholarships; they’ve built new homes, schools, and community centers in communities that desperately needed them; and they’ve made the preserving ad celebrating of traditional cultures an important part of their work.

Both my mother and my brother volunteered with Simply Smiles and went to work on the CRST Reservation. It was a transformative experience, not only due to the rigorous physical work of building a home, but also because of the time they spent getting to know the individuals of the community. I look forward to joining them on the next volunteer trip.

 

That’s it for this week’s link round-up! We know the spirit of generosity is alive and well amongst our readers, so please let us know in comments about your favorite charitable organizations! And if you are looking for a wider range of charity options, you can take a look at the Project For Awesome - this annual event features thousands of videos posted by people all over the world advocating for varies charities. It was started in 2007 by John and Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers (you may also know John as the author of The Fault In Our Stars) and this year raised over a million dollars. Though it  just recently wrapped up last week, all the videos are still available to view on their website and on YouTube.

Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday Cute: The Bento Box

Categories: Wednesday Cute

Today’s installment of Wednesday Cute was written by editorial intern Perry, who would totally eat her vegetables if they were cut into tiny stars.

If you have ever watched anything inspired by Japanese culture, be it anime, a Miyazaki movie, or even Pokemon, you will at some point have seen something that looks like this:

Bento 14

This is a bento box, otherwise known as the cutest lunch box ever. While every culture has its own version of the packed lunch, the bento box goes above and beyond in the cute department. Many mothers, hoping to make their child smile when they open their lunch, go out of their way to create tiny, edible works of art that are both nutritious and adorable.

Bento boxes can range from the simple…

Bento 21

… to the complex:

Bento G

Animal-themed bentos are quite popular…

Bento 13

Bento 6

Bento A

… as are bentos inspired by popular characters:

Bento 3

Bento 17

Bento D

Some bento boxes are silly….

Bento F

… some are pretty…

Bento 7

Bento 4

… but they are all definitely cute!

SONY DSC

Bento 2

Bento 1

These fabulous lunches are hugely popular and there are all kinds of specialty tools and accessories out there to help make these incredible works of art. There are molds to make hard boiled eggs into different shapes, seaweed punches to help make facial expressions, and tiny cookie cutters to make vegetable flowers and stars. And of course, there are the adorable picks to hold food together and squeeze bottles for soy sauce:

It’s shaped like a little piggy!

And the boxes themselves are pretty cute too! Styles range from traditional lacquered wood boxes to more sleek, modern designs. My favorite, of course, are the brightly colored ones covered in cartoon characters.

Maybe you’re on board with the bento boxes but worry that you don’t have enough lunch ideas to fill one? Fret not, we’ve got an e-book for that! Bring Your Lunch is full of great recipes, helpful tips, and easily bento box-able lunch ideas!

Available from the following e-retailers:

AMAZON KINDLE | APPLE IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | GOOGLE PLAY | KOBO

 

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#TravelTuesday – Queensland, Australia

Categories: News

12-16-14

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Queensland, Australia, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Cape Tribulation: Queensland’s Wet Tropics rain forest and the Great Barrier Reef come together on Australia’s northeast coast at Cape Tribulation. Protected within the Cape Tribulation and Daintree national parks and believed to have been the evolutionary cradle for much of Australia’s unique wildlife, the rain forest here contains trees that are 3,000 years old, including 85 of the 120 rarest species on earth.

  • Where: 70 miles.113 km north of Cairns.
  • Best Times: May-September for the “dry” season.

2. Fraser Island: Here on the world’s largest sand island you can swim in freshwater lakes, walk through the ancient Valley of the Giants rain forest, join rangers to track down some of the island’s 350 species of birds, or just enjoy the uninterrupted 75 miles of broad coastal beach—the world’s most unusual “highway.”

  • Where: 230 miles/370 km northeast of Brisbane.
  • Best Times: Weather is warm year-round; August-November for whale-watching.

3. The Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Sea: It’s often called the Eighth Wonder of the World, and that might be selling it short. The Great Barrier Reef is the only living organism on the planet that’s visible from outer space. Located between 10 and 50 miles off the continent’s northeast Queensland coast and stretching for more than 1,400 miles, actually it’s not one coral reef but an association of approximately 2,900 separate fringing reefs, with about 600 tropical islands and 300 coral crays sprinkled among them. The largest marine preserve in the world, it’s home to a stupefying profusion of sea creatures, including 360 species of brilliantly colored hard corals, one-third of the world’s soft corals, 1,500 varieties of fish, and over 5,000 kinds of mollusks.

  • Where: Cairns is 1,219 miles/1,961 km north of Sydney.
  • Best Times: May-November for ideal sea conditions and weather.

4. Heron Island: Unlike many of the other islands near the Great Barrier Reef, Heron Island, situated on the Tropic of Capricorn, is a coral cay—literally part of the reef itself.  There are 20 dive sites within 15 minutes of shore; snorkelers and those opting for a semi-submersible ride can catch their own glimpse of fish, turtles, mantas, reef sharks, and endless varieties of invertebrates.

  • Where: 40 miles/64 km northeast of Gladstone, which is 691 miles/1,113 km north of Sydney.
  • Best Times: June and July for clearest water; coral spawns typically occur sometime  between the 2nd and 6th nights following the full moon in November.

5. Sailing the Whitsundays (pictured above): It would be hard to conjure a more splendid destination for setting sail than these idyllic islands in the Coral Sea. Cradled by the Great Barrier Reef midway along Australia’s Queensland Coast, these 74 islands (of which only eight are inhabited) are a sailor’s dream and also offer glorious, deserted palm-fringed beaches, scenic bushwalks, and superb snorkeling and diving amid teeming coral reefs.

  • Where: Hamilton Island is 560 miles/900 km north of Brisbane.
  • Best Times: July-September for whale-watching; October-November for favorable sea conditions.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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Colossal Fun with Colossal Paper Machines

Categories: Behind the scenes, Crafts and hobbies, Live by the Book, News

Colossal Assembly Party_LORES_114

Here at Workman, we like to live by our books. And when it comes to paper crafting books, we’re especially enthusiastic. So when the editorial team sent out the call to help test-run the new book Colossal Paper Machines, we Workmanites rose to the occasion.

Colossal Paper Machines is a whopping over-sized book of interactive paper models to appeal to every kid who loves big machines—which pretty much covers all of them.These are the coolest big machines that kids love—each re-created in an oversize paper model that, once built, really moves (yes, you read that right, paper machines that roll, swivel, and spin!). The book has everything you need to pop out, fold, and create a full-color model of ten big machines. And perhaps best of all? This book was created by Workman’s very own Production Assistant, Phil Conigliaro, who is also an incredible gifted paper engineer and artist!

With the machine mechanics firmly in hand (mechanics are the final layouts of the books), we set out to test all ten machines to make sure the tabs and numbers lined up correctly and could be easily replicated by fans at home!

 

Full disclosure: while some of may have initially had our interests piqued by the promise of free pizza, by the end of lunch we were all rolling, chugging, and digging with the best of them.

Here are a few photos from our colossally fun afternoon:

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First things first: punching out all of the pieces.

 

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So many machines to build!

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Coleen tackles the concrete mixer.

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 Editor Daniel offers some sage advice on paper truck construction.

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 The concrete mixer comes together piece by piece.

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Phil, Danny, Steve, and Liz put the finishing touches on the front loader and dump trunk.

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Rachel and Sam find out what all the steamboat fuss is about.

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Page and Moira give the stamp of approval: this ladder truck is ready to hit the road (complete with swiveling ladder)!

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Author Phil (left) and Danny admire a beautifully-built front loader.

Having fun on the job — just another day at the Workman Publishing offices!

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Colossal Paper Machines is available for pre-order from any of the following online retailers:

AmazonBarnes & Noble | IndieBound Workman

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Sunday Cookie Swap: Chewy Gingersnaps

Categories: News

This blog post was written by editorial intern Rachel, who definitely recommends cookies as a means to christen a new kitchen, but advises you to keep an eye out for mice.

Chewy Gingersnaps

Chewy Gingersnaps

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, potlucks, gifting, Christmas lights (e.g. the ones all over my apartment), and, of course, cookie swaps. What is a cookie swap, you might ask? If you missed editorial intern Perry’s Bittersweet Decadence Cookies post from last week, let me catch you up a little: every year at the Workman holiday party, we all bring in a batch of homemade cookies, put them all out on a table, and then everyone can put together a box, providing families, roommates and (let’s be honest) ourselves with an assortment of homemade cookies for the holiday.

In honor of this delicious tradition, we’ll be posting a cookie recipe every Sunday from one of our cookbooks to provide you inspiration for your own cookie swaps! We’ll provide the recipes and talk a little bit about our cookie-baking experiences. Sound good? Then let’s get started!

This week’s recipe comes from the book that inspired our office tradition: Lauren Chattman’s Cookie Swap!

Cookie Swap

Lauren Chattman’s recipes have appeared in Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated, The New York Times, and Redbook, among others. This particular cookbook features over 35 cookie recipes, even savory ones (my roommate and I are clamoring to try to Savory Rosemary Pecan Sandies). In honor of the holiday season, I chose to make Chewy Gingersnaps. They’re not exactly “snaps” per se—hence the “chewy” name—but they do have the lovely spiciness of gingersnaps, so the name is still appropriate.

Full disclosure, I moved into my apartment only two days before making these cookies, so this was my first real culinary attempt in this kitchen. Luckily, I had my handy assistant/roommate, Michaela, to help me. Michaela declined to be photographed for this project, but just know that she was there, reading out steps and reminding me that molasses does not taste very good on its own, so I probably shouldn’t lick that spoon.

As with any significant cooking endeavor, we started by gathering our ingredients (listed, along with the complete recipe, at the end of this post):

Ingredients

 

Pro-tip: read ahead in your recipe. This one calls for the butter to melted and cooled. This is most likely because you will be mixing your melted butter with your eggs, and if the butter is too hot, the eggs will cook in the bowl. You don’t want that. So melt your butter a little bit in advance so that it has time to cool down.

...or do what I did and just put in the fridge.

…or do what I did and just put in the fridge post-melting.

 

While the butter was cooling, we mixed together our dry ingredients—consisting of flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda—in a medium bowl.

Pretty!

Pretty!

 

Next, in a large bowl, we mixed the melted butter (again, make sure it’s not too hot!), sugar, and molasses…

molasses is weird, you guys

Molasses is weird, you guys.

…until smooth, and then added the eggs.

Wet Ingredients

 

The recipe says you should beat in the eggs with an electric mixer, but we don’t have one of those. A wooden spoon may take longer and is certainly more of a workout, but it worked just fine. Once the mixture is smooth, we stirred in the dry ingredients (just dump ‘em all in there at once) until just incorporated, making sure not to over-mix.

At this point, we needed to chill the dough for about ten minutes, but that’s all right because it gave us an opportunity to clean up the mess we had just made all over the counter…

you can't really tell, but there's molasses on everything in this picture.

You can’t really tell, but there’s molasses on everything in this picture.

…and to clean some dishes.

We do not own a drying rack.

We do not own a drying rack.

 

Once the kitchen was clean(er) and the dough had firmed up a little, we dropped batter by tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Well, okay, we ate some of the batter, and then we dropped some onto the baking sheet.

Note: this one turned out a little too big.

Note: this one ended up a little too big.

 

Make sure there’s enough space between the cookies, because they’ll spread a little bit.

Before oven

 

Then, pop them in the oven! The recipe says to leave them in for ten minutes, but we ended up putting them back in for a minute or two longer. When they are firm around the edges but still soft in the middle…

Looks something like this

Looks something like this

 

…take them out and let them rest on the baking sheet for about five minutes.

Another pro-tip: try not to touch the baking sheet when you’re checking how firm the edges of your cookies are. Otherwise, you will be walking around the rest of the night with a paper towel full of melting ice clenched in your fist. Not that I’m speaking from experience…

Anyway, after about five minutes, slide the parchment paper and the cookies onto a wire rack to cool.

Or, you know, the counter.

Or, you know, the counter.

 

This recipe should yield 36 cookies, but if you’re eating the batter while you’re making them, you’re going to get more like 32 cookies. Just putting that out there. They should keep for a few days in a dry container.

OR, if you have mice, you might wake up the morning after you bake your chewy gingersnaps and notice that the container is open on the counter and that there are bite marks in your cookies, even though you and your roommate only had a chance to eat three of them between the two of you. Sigh.

That’s right. These cookies are so delicious that the mice in my apartment pried the lid off a sealed container just to get a bite or two.

If you’d like to make these cookies for your mice (or yourself, I guess), follow the recipe below. If you’d like to see what other excellent recipes Cookie Swap! has to offer, follow the links at the very bottom of this post to get your very own copy!

Enjoy and let us know what you think in the comments!

(And also maybe store your cookies in the refrigerator to keep them safe from rodents.)

 

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses

2 large eggs

 

Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. (We only have one baking sheet, so we just baked in batches.)

2. Combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

3. Place the butter, sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the eggs and beat with an electric mixer on low until smooth. (Again, a wooden spoon works fine, but takes longer.) Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Place the bowl in the refrigerator, uncovered, to let the dough firm up, about 10 minutes.

4. Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto the parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie.*

5. Bake the cookies until they are firm around the edges but still soft on top, about 10 minutes. Let them stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then slide the parchment with the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Chewy gingersnaps will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days (if they don’t get eaten by mice first).

*The dough can be frozen at this point. Freeze the scoops on the baking sheet, then transfer to a ziplock plastic freezer bag. Frozen, they can be stored for up to 1 month. To bake the frozen cookie dough, transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake a minute or two longer than directed.

Cookie Swap! is available now from any of the following online retailers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Workman

Cookie Swap

 

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