In a clever appeal to the seemingly growing interest (or at least conversation) among some Americans about moving to Canada if a certain person with small hands becomes president, Air Canada has launched a campaign inviting Americans to “test drive” their country now. 

“If you’re thinking of moving to Canada, it might make sense to #TestDriveCanada first. Try things out for a weekend or two and discover beautiful destinations while enjoying great value for your dollar.”
My friends in Canada tell me that immigration offices there have been swamped with inquiries. Many people are finding that although Canada is a very welcoming country, Americans may find that moving there permanently may be about as easy as winning a Stanley Cup.

But I certainly see why it may be tempting.

Air Canada’s “test drive” sale fares are available at

One of the bonuses of visiting the San Francisco area is a chance to go across the bay to Oakland or Berkeley for some of the best barbecue in the United States. I know that’s a tall order, but Everett & Jones, with locations in Berkeley, Oakland and Hayward, stands out from the crowded barbecue field for many reasons.

I first discovered Everett & Jones in 1980, when I was in college at nearby UC Berkeley. My friends and I would walk down to San Pablo Avenue where the family’s Berkeley location had opened. The ribs, links, or chicken are served with a scoop of potato salad – and back then, a couple of slices of Wonder bread. And a choice of hot, mixed or mild sauce. When one of us would ask for hot, the kind people behind the counter would question whether we knew what we were doing. Times have changed and so have my taste buds. I go with the hot sauce all the way. And there’s no more white bread: it’s wheat bread all the way.

But look at this serving of barbecue link sausage that I had a few days ago.


Everett and Jones is one of the only places that I know of that has their own sausage for barbecue. There’s nothing like the texture of fresh sausage made from all kinds of meat that I don’t want to think about.

The ribs, beef and chicken are also quite credible. Each location has a brick smoker with plenty of hardwood to fuel the slow cooking that makes this authentic barbecue.

Especially when you add the sauce.

Everett & Jones’ barbecue sauce is hearty, and peppery, and filling. It is a moderately sweet tomato-based sauce, with hints of fruit for sweetness and plenty of crushed hot red pepper to get your attention. And, it is absolutely reminiscent of barbecue sauces from Alabama, which happens to be where the Everett family comes from.

Probably good that I’m usually 3,000 miles away, but it’s great to enjoy this classic American barbecue place every now and then.

Everett & Jones Barbeque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Michel et Augustin cookiesWhen French bakery Michel et Augustin arrived in the United States in 2014, its founders brought with them what they describe as a “kooky” idea: Invite people to visit, send them away with cookies to share with friends.

It’s not really all that kooky. Lots of businesses grow by giving away samples. But for these people, it’s practically a religion. If you go to one of the monthly open houses at their modern space in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, you leave with a bag, several packages of cookies, and instructions on what to do with them:

“In your hands? 18 cookies to share. There’s 1 for you and 17 for your friends, family, roommates, neighbors, colleagues, grandma, cousins, bus driver, poney club…”

French cookie maker Michel et Augustin welcomes the public to its Brooklyn, NY, home at monthly open houses. Guests leave with bags of cookies.

Odds are, giving one of these cookies to someone will make them a fan. The cookies are really good. Few other baked goods found on grocery store shelves have this much rich butter flavor. Even a commercial baker friend that I shared the cookies with was impressed.

“We want to bake very indulgent cookies,” says Antoine Chauvel, who heads the Michel et Augustin’s sales effort in the United States. “We try to use the best ingredients in the market, very simple ingredients, basic ingredients you can find in your own kitchen – fresh butter, wheat flower, intense chocolate. No weird chemicals.”

Decadence like this is not cheap: a package of eight cookies sells for $7 or $8. And the company has found some grocers reluctant to stock their products because their cookies have a shorter shelf life (about five months) than cookies with highly processed ingredients.

So far, Michel et Augustin cookies can be found in supermarkets in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut Tri-State area, including Fairway, Gristedes, Westside Market, and CVS stores. The company’s dark chocolate and lemon meringue squares also are sold at Starbucks stores nationwide. (For an interesting account of how the Starbucks deal happened, check out this article from AdWeek.)

“If they like the cookies, they will tell their friends,” says Chauvel. “We believe in word of mouth.”

Perfect pickles in 30 minutes from Doug Levy on Vimeo.

Although pickles have a history as a “slow food,” a way to extend the life of fresh vegetables long past their harvest, sometimes there’s a need for pickles right now, not after days or weeks of curing in brine. Enter kitchen chemistry, or “molecular gastronomy,” and you can have real pickles in about a half hour.

The process actually is quite simple. Using a whipped cream canister, you can force the brine into the vegetables in minutes instead of waiting for the brine to be absorbed organically. Food grade nitrous oxide pushes the brine into the vegetable cells without influencing the flavor, same as it does when making whipped cream.

The process works, and works well, for just about any kind of pickles. (The technique is also quite useful for other infusing flavors in other recipes, too, such as quickly marinated meats or flavored spirits.)

A few words about equipment you will need:

  • A whipping siphon. Any whipping siphon will work. Consider purchasing one that is intended for both hot and cold use. The one I have cost about $35 on (affiliate link.) You can also buy a kit that contains a whipping siphon and small packets of agar-agar, xanthan gum, and gelatin for various other molecular gastronomy kitchen fun.
  • Nitrous oxide cartridges. Kitchen siphons use either carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrous oxide (N2O,) depending on what you are making. CO2 is used for carbonated beverages. N2O is for infusions, including fast pickles. There are many different brands of cartridges on the market. Cheaper ones are from China or other Asian countries. Others are from Europe and claim higher levels of purity. Here is an article on a website that sells cartridges that gives a good overview.  I bought 50 from Amazon for about 50 cents each (affiliate link.)

Here’s the recipe to follow.

Fast pickles using whipping siphon
Print Recipe
Using a whipping siphon may not be intuitive, but the same process that infuses cream with air also can be used to force brine into cucumbers or other vegetables to make real pickles in 20 minutes. This recipe is adapted from
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Fast pickles using whipping siphon
Print Recipe
Using a whipping siphon may not be intuitive, but the same process that infuses cream with air also can be used to force brine into cucumbers or other vegetables to make real pickles in 20 minutes. This recipe is adapted from
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 minutes 20 minutes
  1. Slice cucumbers evenly (a mandoline works great for this,) then place in colander and sprinkle salt over them. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients, then heat in saucepan while stirring. Remove from heat when sugar dissolves. Allow the brine to cool. (Place the saucepan in a larger pan with ice water to accelerate this.) Add the cucumber and onion to the brine, mix completely.
  2. Place the cucumber mixture into the chamber of a clean whipping siphon. Do not fill more than 2/3rds full. Close whipping siphon. Use one cartridge of nitrous oxide, following instructions that come with the whipping siphon. Shake the siphon and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, cover the nozzle of the siphon with a measuring cup or other container to prevent brine from being squirted on yourself or your kitchen. Depress handle to release the gas, then unscrew siphon top. The pickles are ready to serve.
Recipe Notes


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Cookbook author Katie Workman
Cookbook author Katie Workman demonstrated the coffee-making refrigerator at a media event hosted by GE.

Ever thought about pushing a few buttons from your iPhone while still in bed so that you can stumble into your kitchen a have a fresh cup of coffee instantly? You can do that now. A new GE refrigerator has a built-in single-cup coffee brewer and can be controlled from a smartphone app – from your bed, or anywhere else.

When I first saw the news release about this GE Cafe refrigerator with a built-in Keurig K-Cup coffee brewer, my reaction was that this is a bit much, maybe suited only for the luxury set or gadget-lovers. After I saw a demonstration, my tune changed completely. In fact, I started regretting that I bought my own new refrigerator a couple of months ago, before I learned about this fancy fridge, which I found pretty compelling.

The unit, which lists for $3,300 (and is on sale at Lowe’s for $2,969 through Dec. 1,) has all the features one would expect of a modern French door style refrigerator, including adjustable shelves, excellent lighting, touch-screen controls and Energy Star rating. But it also has the Keurig coffee attachment that slips onto the external hot water dispenser, powered by an instant-heating system so that there’s no concern about hot water affecting the refrigeration inside.

“This is the way people are thinking about coffee these days,” says cookbook author Katie Workman, noting that single-serve coffee consumption has doubled in the past two years. Workman was given one of the refrigerators and has been test-driving it for a couple of months and demonstrated it at GE’s media event in New York. She said the energy efficiency was one of the more noticeable features, and her family liked the convenience of being able to choose their own hot beverages and make them quickly, one at a time. (Workman, whose latest book is Dinner Solved, also is one of my cousins. Her 2012 cookbook, The Mom 100 Cookbook, earned wide acclaim and was named one of the Five Best Weeknight Cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light.)

Indeed, the National Coffee Association found in its latest survey that single-cup coffee brewer ownership has gone from 15% in 2014 to 27% of consumers in 2015. More than half of Americans drink coffee daily, according to Daily Coffee News, a trade publication. Keurig Green Mountain, the maker of K-Cups, has also responded to critics who cite environmental concerns with a plan to make all K-Cups recyclable by 2020 and pointing out that single-serve coffee brewing reduces wasted coffee and wasted water. For a thorough analysis of the environmental issues surrounding K-Cups, read this excellent article by James Hamblin of The Atlantic.

GE's new refrigerator has a built-in single-cup coffee brewer.
GE’s new refrigerator has a built-in Keurig single-cup coffee brewer. (Image courtesy GE.)