Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Working Out: Makeup Free

Most mornings, I head out for a run or power walk after breakfast. I first go to the bathroom and apply a little concealer, then a tinted moisturizer with SPF30. My husband mocks me for wearing make up to exercise.

I may be able to eliminate the concealer. I’ve been testing a new Lancome skin correcting serum, DreamTone. The interesting thing about the serum, which comes in fair, medium and dark skin tones, is that it actually fixes those dark circles over time.

You can use DreamTone at night, and in the morning you don’t look like a raccoon (the recommended dosage is twice a day for the first 7 days; after trying the product for a week, I cut back to once a day).

I also found the serum to be slightly drying, so I increased the amount of moisturizer I use. The dryness could also be related to the sudden onset of cold weather in NYC, though I don’t remember my skin being that much drier in previous years.

Above, I am ready for spin class, workout sans makeup. And this means I won’t be wiping sweaty makeup into my eyes today.

Note: I received a full-size LancĂ´me DreamTone, valued at $98. Opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Free Fun: Working out at Lululemon

The only thing I like better than a great workout is a free great workout. Lululemon has various free classes and even though I’m pissed that they abandoned Park Slope, the new Smith St. store is a beauty.

I heard about a free boot camp, run by BCL Fitness – ironically, a boot camp that is regularly held in Park Slope. But Cobble Hill isn’t that far and on a drizzly Sunday morning I hopped on the F train to exercise.

The hopping was a theme; the BCL founder, Melissa, had us hopping over our partners while they held planks. This was interspersed with fun stuff like speed skaters, fast feet into burpees, squats and sprints.

We started out in the store, but then headed outside where our group of 8 attracted curious passers-by. They all looked like they were headed to brunch – Smith St. might be the foodie capital of Brooklyn –but we felt virtuous and empowered.

And just maybe a little forgiving.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Low Salt, Full Flavor

While I am avoiding the chocolate covered bacon bandwagon, I can understand the appeal of sweet and salty. But I worry about overindulging in salt, particularly in the holiday season when we go to a lot of holiday parties and dinners.

So I was eager to try LoSalt, a low sodium salt made from potassium chloride. It has 2/3 less sodium than regular table salt, with no artificial flavors.

LoSalt, which comes in iodized and original versions, can be substituted one for one in recipes and at the table. One of my kids routinely salts her food before tasting – we don’t put salt on the table, but she’s old enough to get it herself – so this an ideal way for her to reduce her sodium consumption.

I tested LoSalt in homemade bread, and in salted fudge brownies, and in everyday cooking, and couldn’t discern any difference.

Here are the brownies. They are not low fat, low sugar or low in calories, so indulge wisely:

Salted Brownies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
 2 cups sugar
 3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon LoSalt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square metal cake pan with foil, draping the foil over the edges. Lightly butter the foil.

In a large bowl, microwave the butter with the unsweetened chocolate. One at a time, whisk the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter and swirl in using a butter knife.

Bake the fudge brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft; a toothpick inserted into the center should be coated with a little of the batter. Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate an 1 hour. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel off the foil.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Holiday Cooking, Texas Style

Dotty Griffith had me at pecan pie. I have been the Thanksgiving pie maker since I could turn on the oven, and pecan pie is my specialty. My ‘secret’ has always been to cook the sugar and corn syrup till the sugar dissolves, then melt the butter in. I don’t remember know how I came up with this idea, but I’ve never seen it in a recipe until the Texas Holiday Cookbook.

And this pared down recipe doesn’t add rum or any other nasty flavors to muck up the pie; Griffith even ‘allows’ you to use light or dark corn syrup. I’ve always used whatever was on hand; it’s nice to have that choice validated.

The cookbook has recipes for Thanksgiving through New Year’s, with Hanukkah and Christmas in between. And though the book is big on meat, there are some things in here for vegetarians.

There are latkes made with sweet potatoes – and rolled oats. And special Christmas breakfast idea, like kolaches (sweet rolls) and migas, Tex-Mex scrambled eggs/

If you like to give homemade food gifts, there is a chapter on making things like peppermint fudge, chili powder or black-eyed pea relish, to name a few.

There are also a lot of drink recipes to put you in the holiday spirit. Texas tea is perfect for a holiday party; the drink includes tequila, rum, vodka, gin and bourbon. In fact, this drink might be better in New York City than in Texas; our guests can walk or take the subway home.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tarry no More: Work Out at Tarrytown House Estate

The Tarrytown House Estate is just 25 miles from Manhattan, but it seems worlds away, Set on 26 acres, just over the Irvington – Tarrytown border, the hotel has tons of recreational opportunities.

We were there on a recent cold weekend, so tennis and basketball were out, and the outdoor pool is closed for the season.  But there is an indoor pool, a racquetball court and a fitness center.

The fitness center has 2 levels, one with treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical machines, and then, down a half flight of stairs, and area with free weights and weight machines.

What it did not have was much floor space, and there was just one mat and 2 under-inflated stability balls. There were also no towels on our recent visit.

But the equipment is in good shape and you can see the Hudson River from the large windows. Not a bad place to be.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Cake Bible: a Classic for a Reason

There are cookbooks that endure, and cookbooks that fade with the latest fad (how many quiche cookbooks do you have?)

The Cake Bible is in for the long run. The hefty tome, in its 50th printing and celebrating its 25th anniversary, deserves its own cake.

And what a cake it could be. Author Rose Levy Beranbaum divides the first half of the book into “simply delicious foolproof cakes” and “showcase cakes,” in case you want to make your own wedding cake, or outshine everyone at a casual potluck.

Then there is a whole section on decorating, with piping techniques, cutout molds and flowers, borders and more. This is where the neophyte baker might throw her hands up and head back to the beginning.

I love the secondary way the book is categorized: there are recipes for using up egg yolks, and others with just egg whites; low or no cholesterol cakes and cakes without flour, for Passover or the newly gluten free member of the family.

Most importantly, it is a book to savor and pass down, to your son or daughter, recently married cousin or next-door neighbor. It is a book that couples can tackle together, and triumphantly replicate the color photos stacked at the beginning.