Trust Me—Giant Water Bottles Live Up to the Hype

The new year is here, but I am the same me, which means that I’m probably definitely dehydrated. There’s so much iced coffee to drink! Why would I bother with water? But in 2022, I am finally allowing my parched organs to be quenched because I have se…

The new year is here, but I am the same me, which means that I’m probably definitely dehydrated. There’s so much iced coffee to drink! Why would I bother with water? But in 2022, I am finally allowing my parched organs to be quenched because I have secured a series of giant—no, positively gargantuan—water bottles.

I blame my brother for my fixation on an increasingly large water bottle. It’s not news that they’re popular—Jonah Hill was an early adopter in 2018 when he hauled around a 64-ounce Hydro Flask (which is four years ago in real time but about two decades in pandemic era time). Since then, there’s been a rash of large water bottles on the scene, including giant jugs that have inspirational sayings at each ounce mark to encourage you to get your H2O in from morning until evening. But none of them really appealed to me until I spent the Fourth of July with my brother, when he lugged around a half gallon of water everywhere.

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What Is Podi & How Do You Use It?

What is podi? If you haven’t encountered it before, you should know that it’s a spice blend popular in India, one that is sprinkled on food to spike the flavor profile of a dish. But for most fans, you can say podi is an emotion. Podi is usually a comb…

What is podi? If you haven’t encountered it before, you should know that it’s a spice blend popular in India, one that is sprinkled on food to spike the flavor profile of a dish. But for most fans, you can say podi is an emotion. Podi is usually a combination of lentils such as split Bengal, black gram, sesame seeds, curry leaves, spices like chilli, black pepper, and cumin, but podi mixes vary widely from one tradition to another.

According to Sangam literature (ancient Tamil texts), the concept of podi originates in Southern India. It was popularized by the Vijayanagar dynasty, a south Indian royal family that became prominent around 1336 AD to 1565 AD. The empire was located on the banks of the Tungabhadra river (present-day Karnataka), and gradually spread over the entire Deccan region. “So even today, podi is popular in the regions of central and northern Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka,” Chef Regi Mathew told me.

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Two New Ways to Eat Your Collards & Black-Eyed Peas for the New Year

New Year’s Eve gets all the attention—Champagne and pigs in a blanket, sparklers and velvet dresses—but growing up in Alabama, it was New Year’s Day that I looked forward to the most. In my family, New Year’s Day meant a giant feast, one that was diffe…

New Year’s Eve gets all the attention—Champagne and pigs in a blanket, sparklers and velvet dresses—but growing up in Alabama, it was New Year’s Day that I looked forward to the most. In my family, New Year’s Day meant a giant feast, one that was different from our Christmas celebrations just a week before. And no matter what, we’d have the holy trinity of Southern New Year foods on the table: black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread.

Black-eyed peas and collard greens are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day across the South, to symbolize luck and money in the forthcoming year. Like so many of my favorite Southern foods, they came out of the African diaspora. Black-eyed peas are native to West Africa, a region from which many enslaved people were forcefully taken. And the style of cooking collard greens most associated with Southern food— cooked down until they’re silky and salty, thanks to the addition of a ham hock—also stems from West African cooking traditions.

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A No-Stress Way to Make the Smallest Gathering Feel Special

Much is uncertain about this holiday season, deep as we are in the second year of a pandemic that has thrown a wrench into social gatherings of all kinds. Omicron is racing around, and it’s looking like a lot of the “going out” plans are suddenly turni…

Much is uncertain about this holiday season, deep as we are in the second year of a pandemic that has thrown a wrench into social gatherings of all kinds. Omicron is racing around, and it’s looking like a lot of the “going out” plans are suddenly turning back into “very much staying in” plans. Whatever you’re doing, like death and taxes, one thing in life is certain: There will be a lot of dishes to deal with.

If you’re having a cozy New Year’s feast for two, or a smaller at home dinner party rather than your big holiday plans, you can still have it be special and different. This year, rather than worrying about dusting off your fine china, or doing the same old same old linens, why not…rent your party tablescape? It might sound opulent, like we-only-do-that-for-weddings, but in fact a number of companies have popped up that offer just that service. You rent your plates, cups, forks, knives, tablecloths, and napkins, then scrape off your plates, dump out the champagne flutes, and return it all. Like Rent the Runway, but for your kitchen. No muss, no fuss—all your party pieces get dropped off to your door and returned the same way. And you don’t even have to deal with the dishes.

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The Last Minute Food Gift I’m Getting Everyone On My List

If you are someone who expects a gift from me this holiday please stop scrolling. Yes, you Brendan! I’m serious. Everyone else, well, come with me. It’s now deep into December, meaning that holiday shipping deadlines are whizzing past, and with supply …

If you are someone who expects a gift from me this holiday please stop scrolling. Yes, you Brendan! I’m serious. Everyone else, well, come with me. It’s now deep into December, meaning that holiday shipping deadlines are whizzing past, and with supply chain issues, who even knows if that would matter anyway. I smugly sorted out my big presents early early, but then I was hit with a number of people I just plumb forgot about. Like my superintendent, and my sister-in-law’s mom, who, without fail, will make me an incredibly thoughtful jar of pickled blueberries. Maybe you, too, haven’t figured out something for the little-but-important gifts that you need to give people in your life, like the sweet UPS lady, or your dog walker, or that neighbor who always takes in your trash bin for you. I can just see you cursing under your breath, and pacing the aisles of a grocery story this week, scanning for something acceptably festive. Stop, and let me let you in on my trick. Get them a bar of chocolate.

That might sound sort of weak sauce to you, and fair enough. But hear me out. I’m talking, here, about Compartes chocolate, some of the most consistently delicious and inventive chocolatiers around. At $10 to $12 a bar, they’re pricier than your usual drugstore cash register impulse buy, and hit that sweet spot of a very luxurious version of an ordinary item that people already enjoy. (Some of the best presents are just upgraded versions of everyday objects, IMHO.) Compartes specializes in the kind of flavors that sound like they might be wacky, or just gross—avocado? Peanut butter and jelly? But Compartes always manages to stick the landing. Every single flavor I’ve tasted, including the very suspicious-to-me apple fritter, was good enough that I went back for another bite. And they look fancy too—the bars are wrapped in loud, colorful paper, and rather than being divided in squares, they’re notched into triangles. (Like all millennials I cannot resist a triangle.)

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Kraft Will Pay You to Not Make Cheesecake This Christmas

“You can earn $20 by not making cheesecake,” sounds like an internet scam, but thanks to the current cream cheese shortage, it’s actually true. Kraft Heinz, the parent company of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, is offering a $20 digital reward to 18,000 sho…

“You can earn $20 by not making cheesecake,” sounds like an internet scam, but thanks to the current cream cheese shortage, it’s actually true. Kraft Heinz, the parent company of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, is offering a $20 digital reward to 18,000 shoppers in exchange for forgoing their usual Christmas cheesecake.

How does it work? On December 17 and 18, log on to spreadthefeeling.com at 12 p.m. EST, and make a dessert reservation. There will be 10,000 rewards offered on the 17, and 8,000 more released on the 18. Then the fun part: You need to buy a dessert—any dessert of any price—between December 17 and December 24, and keep the receipt. Then, between December 28 and January 8, upload the receipt to get your $20 digital reward.

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13 Holiday Classics Turned Into Cookies

If you look forward to winter holiday desserts all year long, you’re not alone. I have sudden cravings for a cold glass of coquito in April, and sometimes think about a croquembouche festooned with drips of caramel in July. Now that it’s finally Decem…

If you look forward to winter holiday desserts all year long, you’re not alone. I have sudden cravings for a cold glass of coquito in April, and sometimes think about a croquembouche festooned with drips of caramel in July. Now that it’s finally December, it’s time to dig into all those great seasonal goodies. But this year, we have a bit of a twist: Cookies Meet Classics, a baker’s dozen of your favorite holiday sweets as cookies.

We called up some of our favorite bakers, creators, recipe developers, and cookbook authors to shrink a banquet table of winter treats into a mailable cookie box. In other words, we cookie-fied the classics. That means that you can have the flavors of mulled wine in a two-bite snack, and a perfectly portioned Yule Log for one. These treats are ideal for sharing and dropping off at doorsteps, or just making into a festive platter for yourself. And if you have to dig out the recipes again in June, well, I’m not about to tattle on you.

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A Hosting Trick to Make Your Guests Feel Extra (Extra) Special

Like a James Bond villain or a Mad Men character, I love a good decanter. When people come over, they often remark on the little collection I have going on the top of my bar cart, each one filled with a different liquor and marked by a vintage pewter t…

Like a James Bond villain or a Mad Men character, I love a good decanter. When people come over, they often remark on the little collection I have going on the top of my bar cart, each one filled with a different liquor and marked by a vintage pewter tag that a dear friend found at a flea market and gave me as a housewarming gift (find a more modern interpretation here. There’s something particularly pleasing about serving someone a finger of Scotch or a tequila soda using a hefty glass bottle made for just such a thing.

But here’s my secret: I always put my least expensive liquor in my fanciest decanter.

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This $3 Bag Is the Most Functional One I Own

In September, I bought a house after a decade in a one-bedroom apartment. That has meant I suddenly care a lot about grout, came up with a solution for combatting grody toilets, and have spent a lot of time dissociating in big-box stores, specifically …

In September, I bought a house after a decade in a one-bedroom apartment. That has meant I suddenly care a lot about grout, came up with a solution for combatting grody toilets, and have spent a lot of time dissociating in big-box stores, specifically IKEA. On one of my many trips assessing options for house trappings that were both affordable and cute, I stumbled upon something that has been even more useful in my moving-house process: the perfect canvas bag.

That IKEA makes great catch-all bags is likely not news to you: its signature blue Frakta bag is a staple of urban life. I’ve been using one as a laundry bag for years, and several more are scrunched under my bed for any situation in which I need to haul an inordinate amount of things quickly. But the blue bag has its drawbacks. One, the material, though basically indestructible, is pretty crinkly, and difficult to wrangle back into its original shape without some Jiu-Jitsu. And the other is that it’s instantly recognizable as “that 99 cent bag from the furniture store”—so if you’re hoping to go incognito, it’s not the right call.

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Antoni Porowski’s Ideal Party Is a Casual, Cozy, Polish-Inspired Feast

If you know Antoni Porowski from Queer Eye or from his bestselling 2019 book Antoni In the Kitchen, you know that he’s a man who loves to entertain. In his new cookbook, Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner, Porowski turns his attention to all things having to do w…

If you know Antoni Porowski from Queer Eye or from his bestselling 2019 book Antoni In the Kitchen, you know that he’s a man who loves to entertain. In his new cookbook, Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner, Porowski turns his attention to all things having to do with, yes, dinner. That means vibrant, breezy dishes for your next turn hosting, whether it’s a smaller gathering or a whole banquet.

“Dinner parties are one of my favorite things ever.” Porowski told Food52. “I can spend weeks thinking up a menu. While I want to make sure every dietary need or preference is tended to, I love introducing my guests to dishes or flavors they’ve never tried before.”

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