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.)

Few places in the world put food and dining on a level like New Orleans, where everyone has their own ways to make Cajun or Creole specialties like Gumbo, Jambalaya or “simple” red beans and rice.

Before I get into the serious eating, I warmed up my taste buds at P&G, a modest, almost nondescript, breakfast and lunch counter in the Central Business District. When I walked in, my eyes immediately gravitated towards the steam table where red beans were calling out to me. Simmered for hours, these beans were infused with flavors from sausage and chicken. Served over rice and topped with a poached egg, this was a perfect way to prepare for the culinary explorations awaiting me in the Crescent City over the next several days.

Red beans and rice as a breakfast centerpiece.
Red beans, rice, sausage, biscuit and poached egg at P&G in New Orleans

The accompanying link sausage had the texture and flavor of sausage made by someone, not a machine. Its ground pork with red pepper flavor proved perfect contrast with the mild spices of the red beans and rice.

And that biscuit. Fluffy, flaky, and buttery, I think I know now why this place is known for them.

Definitely a good warm up to the culinary adventures that await elsewhere in this food-obsessed city.

P & G Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While nearly all of the Lake County wineries in the fire-affected area have been able to resume operations or should be able to process fruit in this vintage, thanks to the enormous efforts of firefighters. Now, the hard work of restoring damaged lives is underway. 

Peter Molnar from Poseidon Vineyard & Obsidian Ridge Winery talking about the #ValleyFire and the 2015 harvest: “We feel very grateful for this vintage. It will be one we will not forget for a long time.”

Posted by Lake County Rising on Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association, and Lake County Wine Alliance are leading a fundraising campaign, using the social media hash tag #LakeCountyRising.

From their news release:

Individuals and businesses who would like to support this effort can do so by visiting the Lake County Rising page on Facebook and making a donation online. Checks can be sent to:

Lake County Wine Alliance

P.O. Box 530

Kelseyville, CA 95451

Make checks payable to Lake County Wine Alliance, memo “Lake County Fire Relief Fund.”

Other donation options include this Crowdrise fundraiser for the regional American Red Cross Disaster Assistance program. Trione Winery is matching donations up to $10,000.

  

While nearly all of the Lake County wineries in the fire-affected area have been able to resume operations or should be able to process fruit in this vintage, thanks to the enormous efforts of firefighters. Now, the hard work of restoring damaged lives is underway. 

Peter Molnar from Poseidon Vineyard & Obsidian Ridge Winery talking about the #ValleyFire and the 2015 harvest: “We feel very grateful for this vintage. It will be one we will not forget for a long time.”

Posted by Lake County Rising on Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Lake County Winegrape Commission, Lake County Winery Association, and Lake County Wine Alliance are leading a fundraising campaign, using the social media hash tag #LakeCountyRising.

From their news release:

Individuals and businesses who would like to support this effort can do so by visiting the Lake County Rising page on Facebook and making a donation online. Checks can be sent to:

Lake County Wine Alliance

P.O. Box 530

Kelseyville, CA 95451

Make checks payable to Lake County Wine Alliance, memo “Lake County Fire Relief Fund.”

Other donation options include this Crowdrise fundraiser for the regional American Red Cross Disaster Assistance program. Trione Winery is matching donations up to $10,000.

  

Master of Wine ExamAs the wine industry has become truly global, the need for experts to guide consumers has grown, too. There are many certification and college degree programs, many of which are very good. One program, the Masters of Wine is unquestionably demanding — much like an advanced college degree, right up to a dissertation-like research paper. Now, 19 new wine professionals have achieved the “MW” certification, bringing the total number of Masters of Wine to 340 worldwide.

Only one of the 19 is from the United States: New Yorker Mollie Battenhouse, who earned fame as head sommelier at Tribeca Grill and has become one of the best known wine educators in the region. In addition to frequent teaching, judging and guest sommelier engagements, Battenhouse is a sales executive for VOS Selections, a wine importer. Her dissertation topic for the MW was “Attitudes of the NYC Wine Trade Towards Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc.”

The others are from around the world, including two from Canada, one from Japan, one from Singapore, and three from Germany. MWs now hail from 24 countries.

“The general standard of the research papers was considerably higher than equivalent papers submitted in previous years,” said John Hoskins MW, Chief Examiner of the Institute of the Masters of Wine, in a news release. “We now have a strong pool of MWs with the experience to give students the guidance they need to tackle this last part of the exam, which for many had in the past proved to be the most frustrating.”

 

 

 

Smoke forecast
Smoke forecast shows heavy smoke through at least 6 pm Monday. Dozens of wineries are in the affected areas.

 

The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has been submerged since Saturday in a brown haze of smoke emanating from massive wildfires just south of the border in Washington state. 

Winery owners say this is the worst smoke here since a major wildfire near Kelowna, BC, in 2003. However, they are not yet saying the grapes are in jeopardy. That could change if the smoke conditions continue much beyond two days. At least one winemaker has sent sample grapes for lab work to detect smoke taint.
  
Adding to the concern is a fire near Oliver, BC, that once again is threatening several wineries. Tinhorn Creek CEO Sandra Oldfield says the same wind that brought smoke north from Washington state turned the Oliver fire back towards her winery, one of several put on evacuation warning by fire officials. 

Although the forecast calls for continued smoke conditions, the haze eased sufficiently to allow the Penticton Airport to resume operations, which had been suspended due to low visibility.

Thanks to one of my friends, I’ve discovered a clever parody chef account on Instagram @chefjacqueslamerde. Check out the chef’s creations. Or read more at thoughtcatalog.com.

Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez pictured.
Chefs had fun, too.
Marcus Samuelsson, Scott Conant, Al...
Charles' Country Fried Chicken
Charles' Country Fried Chicken served a traditional soul food sampler, with Charles' signature chicken.
Charles' Country Frie
Charles' Country Fried Chicken serv...
Co-Founder and host Marcus Samuelsson
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted guests arriving for the Harlem Stroll.
Co-Founder and host M
Chef Marcus Samuelsson greeted gues...
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style, from Sylvia's.
Sylvia's
Chicken and waffle, appetizer style...
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia Center was one of the most memorable bites.
Spring pea soup
Sweet spring pea soup by the Sylvia...
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with workers on his way out from the Harlem Stroll.
Co-host Bill Clinton
President Clinton poses with worker...
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was converted into the Harlem Stroll for two days.
The Stroll
Part of Morningside Park was conver...
Jerk Chicken, British Virgin Islands Style
Jerk chicken with sweet potato puree, promoting Caribbean travel.
Jerk Chicken, British
Jerk chicken with sweet potato pure...
Shaved asparagus salad
The Grange served an asparagus and prosciutto salad.
Shaved asparagus sala
The Grange served an asparagus and ...
Texas beer Shiner Bock
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular in Harlem.
Texas beer Shiner Boc
Apparently Shiner Bock is popular i...
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible at the Harlem Stroll.
Crowds around chefs
The stars were out, and accessible ...

First attempts to produce major festivals rarely go this well. The inaugural Harlem Eat Up proved what is possible when committed chefs and the community come together and invest professional resources — and lots of their own time to make a big event happen.

Harlem Eat Up is a four-day series of special meals, workshops, chef talks, and tastings celebrating the renaissance of culinary arts in Harlem. In the years since Marcus Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Malcolm X Boulevard near 125th Street, a long list of restaurants have followed.

The centerpiece, called the Harlem Stroll, consisted of tasting events on both weekend afternoons. Some of Harlem’s top-rated restaurants offered samples, along with dozens of beer and wine samples.

On the demonstration stage, chef Aaron Sanchez joked that he learned about herbs in Morningside Park when he was a teenager in the neighborhood. A lot has changed In those 20 or so years, including that Sanchez is a Food Network star, co-owner with John Besh of Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans and Baltimore, and chef/partner of Paloma, in Stamford, Ct.

Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.
Marcus Samuelsson and Aaron Sanchez having fun at Harlem Eat Up.

Fans of television food shows had plenty to satisfy their cravings. Throughout the afternoon, some of the most familiar faces from television kitchens were visible and accessible. Daniel Bouloud walked around, while Scott Conant and Alex Guarnaschelli were part of the peanut gallery as Sanchez performed a cooking demonstration emceed by Samuelsson.

“Why does it always have to be white beans,” declared Samuelsson as Sanchez pureed beans with fish to make a version of brandade. The two bantered back and forth with good-natured jokes about each other’s ethnic and culinary background, but they saved their biggest barbs for chefs who weren’t there. Clearly, it was all in good fun.

Next year likely will be even better, but this was a fabulous start.