Friday, April 3, 2015
Monday, February 2, 2015
Not counting tomorrow’s game, there have been 48 Super Bowls. That means 48 Super Bowl parties…and A LOT of chili! With each year, the menus at the parties I’ve attended have gotten more and more elaborate and over the top. This year, I say, “Enough with the fancy schmancy party food!” Back to the “basics” for me tomorrow—good, easy to manage food—with a little bit of a twist.
“Enough with the fancy schmancy party food!”
These brownies from Alice Medrich are just what I’m talking about. There’s no dark, 72% chocolate called for in this recipe—no melting, no fuss. They are the quintessential brownie—rich, fudgy—perfect for any game day. Toss in a handful of coarsely chopped nuts of chocolate chips if you must. A touch of cayenne and paprika adds a bit of heat that you won’t notice until you’ve finished your first bite, because on a cold day in February, everyone could use a little bit of heat.
ALICE MEDRICH’S COCOA BROWNIES
Makes 16 to 25 brownies
10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (105 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (start with less to see if you like the amount of heat)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3c. walnuts or pecan, coarsely broken into pieces
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8″ square pan with parchment paper so that there is an overhang on two sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, paprika, cayenne, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla, Once the batter looks shiny and well-blended, stir in the flour until no streaks remain. Vigorously beat the batter for 40 strokes. Stir in the nuts if using. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Sprinkle the sea salt lightly over the top.
Bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes Remove and let cool completely before lifting out of the pan and transferring to a cutting surface. Cut to your desired size.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Communication guru Marshall McLuhan asserted that "the medium is the message" so many years ago. I'm sure he had no idea how many platforms that message would be funneled through by the 21st century. I thought of him a lot when I read The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, the new book by information power players, Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick. And as I attempted to absorb all that was put before me in this fast-paced, coming at you from all angles at breakneck speed book, I realized that no one could have predicted what today’s message disseminators were going to have to deal with.
The first line of the book sets the tone as Kawasaki tells us the authors want us to “rock social media.” This is not “Social Media For Dummies”--if you are looking for the ABC’s, you will have to look elsewhere. In order to really appreciate what the book is about you must understand the basic concepts--meaning, no neophytes here, please. Only those who have already dipped their toes in the proverbial social media sea will benefit.
Kawasaki expects the reader to hit the ground running, and if you can keep up, you will find a huge storehouse of information about how to approach every social media platform and use it to its best advantage--for yourself, your business or a client’s business or organization.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, are all discussed in depth with content curation being a dominant focus. Where to find content that fits your niche, how and when to post, and how to respond to what will hopefully be many comments. Kawasaki stresses the importance of knowing your audience, building your network and increasing your fan base: “There are only two kinds of people on social media: those who want more followers, and those who are lying,” and his sharp wit often helps bring his point home. Of course, all of this is done with the ultimate intention of making money.
By often referring to his co-author, Peg, and providing both textual and visual examples of how she handles social media issues (she too is a thought leader in the field), the reader is actually getting a “two for one” deal. Kawasaki also uses a liberal hand when peppering his explanations with quotes and links from other industry smarties. (NOTE: I read the electronic version and found being able to immediately click on his links to be amazingly helpful.)
In addition to the “How To’s” (how to run a Google Hangout, how to take charge of an event, how to create a SlideShare presentation, how to organize a Twitter chat), the author has no problem telling us what not to do: “don’t be a pimp,” “don’t swear,” “don’t beg for shares and follows.” There are times when he does chide any naysayers--something I found to be a bit disconcerting--but he also goes out of his way to state that his “tips, tricks, and insights” should not be taken as gospel.
Whether you drink all the Kool-Aid or not, the book is so super-packed with information that you can’t help but take something away from it. It took me so long to get through it because I kept stopping to take notes! And, some of the most helpful portions appear after the conclusion...the list of apps and services is invaluable for someone like me who is often looking them up online.
This book will serve as a helpful manual for anyone who handles social media for themselves or others and wants to learn how it can help grow your business. I know that I will reread it many times--each chapter is largely written as a separate entity, and can be easily referred to independently of the others. Algorithms will change and apps will come and go, but the philosophy and strategies that the authors so comprehensively share will continue to be pertinent for a long time to come.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
The last of the Baby Boomers turns fifty this year, and in celebration of that auspicious era when we first graced the world with our presence, PBS will be airing “The Boomer List” tonight to highlight just how unique we really are.
I am not profiled in the film, nor have I seen it, but I was lucky enough to be photographed by an amazing photographer who made me look as though I was one of the celebs in the film...
It all took place a few months ago while my friend and fellow blogger, Lisa Carpenter and I attended the AARP Life @50+ Conference in Boston. After a long day of meeting some terrific people and hearing about all the great benefits AARP members can get with their AARP card (shameless plug there), we headed out, only to be sidetracked by a colorful booth close to the Expo’s exit.
The last of the Baby Boomers turns fifty this year, and in celebration of that auspicious era
when we first graced the world
with our presence, PBS will be airing
“The Boomer List”
tonight to highlight
just how unique we really are.
Mary Ann Gatty, and her son Mike were taking photos in the booth that was promoting the upcoming film. I make no grand pronouncements that the only reason we stopped at the booth was because I was interested in the film...the beautiful photos of Billy Joel, author Amy Tan, journalist Maria Shriver, and others (taken by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders) did pique our interest, but equally so, we were lured in by a huge jar filled with Boomer candy, and the Turkish Taffy was calling our names.
Never a big fan of having my picture taken...or invariably of the finished product, I acquiesced to standing in line. At best, I would have a souvenir of the conference, and in the least, I could add another photo to the batch of duds at the bottom of my desk drawer.
Who was this insightful woman? I wanted to know her, so I came back the next day to hear more about her life and career.
Mary Ann thrust a bouquet of flowers in my hand, positioned my chin just right and told me to “think of myself.” When the photo came rolling out of the developer I was astounded--in the few minutes it took for her to look at me, have me pose, and snap my picture, Mary Ann had captured ME!
Who was this insightful woman? (I’m sure Mary Ann won’t be insulted if I describe her as “well-seasoned.”) I wanted to know her, so I came back the next day to hear more about her life and career.
Originally from Pittsburgh, and now living in Virginia, Mary Ann was a true BA50 when she divorced at 58 and then found herself at a crossroads at a time when the list of career and lifestyle choices for women was rather short. After taking a year off to recoup and reassess, Mary Ann realized she liked being alone and “eating pie in bed,” and then hit the ground running. Having already had a little photog experience under her belt (her ex-husband, also a photographer, spearheaded her career by asking her to go the Hill and take a picture of then Senator Ted Kennedy--how’s that for a Baptism by fire?!?), Mary Ann began doing more work in D.C. while she raised her son. Once Mike graduated from college, the two of them combined their expertise, and a business that has been thriving ever since was born.
While other women Mary Ann’s age are thinking about retiring (or have already done so), she’s too busy to even give it a thought. The week before I met her she had just finished photographing Magic Johnson, and she was getting ready to board a plane for yet another photo shoot once the conference was over.
To say that Mary Ann is a true inspiration for today’s BA50s, would be an understatement. And to use words such as “spry” and “feisty” to describe her would be insulting. She is a professional in the highest definition of the word--a businesswoman from a world and a time when women were not readily making their mark in the profession of their choice. “The Boomer List” chronicles a group of extraordinary men and women who were icons of a certain generation, but it is people like Mary Ann who were our role models. I am hoping some of the celebrities will give a nod to those women--their unsung heroines.
(Note: In addition to the film, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. will open an exhibit of Greenfield-Sanders photos on September 26. And a companion coffee-table book will be available on October 1.)
Ultimately, I wound up having much more than a great souvenir of the day. And the photo that I assumed would be stuffed into the bottom of my drawer...it’s now my Facebook profile.