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A New Way To Frosé (Without A Blender!)

I’ll admit, I was a little proud of my heat tolerance when I moved to New York. Winter temperatures literally brought me to tears, but I was confident I’d thrive in warmer months. Not that my northern European heritage gave me a leg up… but 22 summers in sticky, inescapable Louisiana heat had to count for something—right?

Wrong. I forgot that despite surviving heat indexes of 100°F, I had the aid of central air conditioning. Here, I walk more than a mile to and from work. At the end of the day, I need to cool down. Fast.

And what’s more refreshing than an ice-cold boozy beverage? Nothing, that’s what. And one I can enjoy minutes after opening the door? It’s a summer miracle.

Rosé ice cubes are the answers to my prayers. It is as simple as picking, pouring, freezing, and waiting. Yes, really. They’re perfect for uncomplicated party cocktails or impromptu movie nights, Or, you know, just to cool off.

Start with fruit

Pick a fruit, any fruit. Whether it’s a half-eaten carton of cherries in your fridge or the farmer’s market raspberries you’ve been flirting with all week. We went with the classic flavor combination of strawberries and lime, but you might want to try melon and basil, lemon and blackberry, or peaches and tarragon. Really, you can’t go wrong. Just make sure it’s ripe and free of mold.

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The Rosés You May Not Be Drinking Just Yet (But Should Be)
by Leslie Stephens

The rosé

Rosé is a misunderstood wine. It might be ultra trendy, but good quality rosé exists and can be extremely affordable. Don’t go crazy picking anything too complex, though—the cubes are only a component in the cocktail and a more refined wine can easily get lost.

The container

When making flavored ice, you want a tray that is easy removal and won’t spill in the freezer. We used our ice cube trays from W&P Design, which have a stainless steel frame that runs along the top of the tray so they won’t slosh or spill on the way to the freezer. Plus, the frame gives something to press against when popping out the cubes. But feel free to use whatever you have at home.

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Your Ice Cube Tray is Good For a Lot More Than, Well, Ice Cubes
by Sarah Jampel

Serving

After filling each cube with fruit and rosé, chill until frozen solid—our cubes took 6 hours—then top with prosecco (or any sparkling wine). The result is a refreshing, flavorful cocktail that tastes like summer.

Serve With Style

The Reason Why People Aren’t Using Meal Kits

“To me, meal kits sound like cheating, not cooking,” Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen wrote in the opinion pages of The New York Times last month. Cohen expressed some healthy skepticism over meal kits and their profusion in American homes, insisting they were too scientific to encourage experimentation, guided by recipe cards that were more constricting than freeing.

Though I saw some grumbling over Cohen’s piece, I’d say she was pretty even-keeled in her assessment of meal kits, her piece almost acting as a summary of the varying opinions that meal kits have inspired. Are they a hindrance to really learning how to cook, or necessary aids for those of us who’d like to feel more confident in the kitchen?

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This Company Wants to Be the Blue Apron of Indian Food
by Mayukh Sen

Earlier this month, Morning Consult, a company that measures customer satisfaction through surveying, polled 2,191 adults across the country to better understand their relationship to meal kit services. The company released the results earlier this week. Morning Consult asked respondents if they’d ever tried a home delivery meal kit service—say, Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, Sun Basket, Martha & Marley Spoon, PeachDish, Green Chef—or if they, at the time of polling, still subscribed to one. Among those surveyed, 19 percent (419) had tried a meal kit service, and, of those 419, 62 percent (260) had canceled their subscriptions for one reason or another.

Of that group of respondents who no longer used meal kit services, an overwhelming majority cited the price point as the main reason they didn’t continue. Of those who’d previously subscribed to a meal kit, 49 percent canceled their subscriptions because they found the kits too expensive. (For reference, a family meal plan from Blue Apron sets you back $8.99 per serving. A family plan from Hello Fresh is $8.74 per serving. Quite a wad of capital!) The second most common reason people canceled their subscriptions was that they didn’t like the recipes offered (13 percent).

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What—and Who—Are Meal Delivery Services Good For?
by Caroline Lange

Pricing was also a deterrent for those 1,772 respondents who never even subscribed to a delivery meal kit service in the first place—59 percent claimed the price point was the main hindrance, while 15 percent said these meal kit services didn’t deliver to their areas.

I’d read the survey results in full to find some other compelling nuggets, particularly about the demographics of those people surveyed. I’m wary of extrapolating too much from this poll, but, at the very least, the results point to where this slightly confused industry may be headed, or confirm moves that’ve already been made. Take a look at Martha & Marley Spoon’s Dinnerly, the just-launched $5 per serving meal kit box that’s billed as “the only affordable meal kit on the market.” Maybe Amazon will change the game.

Do you use a meal kit service? If you did but no longer do, why did you quit? Let us know in the comments.

The Key to Fruity Ice Cream That Actually Tastes Like Fruit

Summer is ice cream season. (Though, if you’re me, so is winter and fall and spring.) Homemade ice cream is not only a fun project to tackle, but it means you can create exactly the flavor you want. Do you like more fudge ripple in your pint? Add it in! Prefer a pinch of salt in your caramel cone? Throw it in your recipe!

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Photo by Posie Harwood

With that philosophy in mind, I set out to create a strawberry ice cream recipe that tastes really and truly of the fruit itself. This recipe uses no eggs, so the fruit really shines. It’s still luscious and incredibly creamy, but the strawberry flavor is more pure and strong, since the base isn’t cooked. But strawberry ice cream alone wasn’t what I was craving. Happily, our garden this summer has yielded a bounty of fresh basil, and I’ve been dropping it in as many dishes as I can. Strawberry and basil are a match made in dessert heaven: Basil adds an interesting herbal note to the fruit, taming the sweetness and giving each bite a slightly peppery, aromatic taste.

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How to Actually Use Up an Entire Bunch of Basil in 1 Week
by Sherrie Castellano
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To get maximum basil flavor into your ice cream, you’ll infuse some heavy cream with chopped, fresh herbs. This just means combining the fresh basil and cream in a saucepan, bringing it up to a simmer, then turning off the heat and letting it sit for at least 20 or 30 minutes before straining the cream. It’s best to do this step the night before, which allows you to fully chill the infused cream. Homemade ice cream is best made from all cold ingredients, which will speed up the churning process.

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Photo by Posie Harwood

The infused cream step is a nice technique to play around with. You could use mint, or bay leaves, or even rosemary to create other flavor profiles. For example, swap the basil for rosemary and the strawberry puree for some lemon zest (or a ribbon of lemon curd!) and you have yourself a delicious lemon rosemary ice cream. Blackberry puree and thyme-infused cream would be nice together, as would raspberry and mint.

Start with the recipe here, and play around to your heart’s content. Summer is long and hot, and we have many ice cream-eating nights ahead of us (and not just in summer).

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Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

By Posie Harwood

  • 2
    cups heavy cream

  • 1/2
    cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

  • 1
    cup whole milk

  • 3/4
    cup sugar

  • 3
    cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

  • 1
    cup sour cream

  • large pinch of salt

View Full Recipe

An Essential Summer Recipe, Spun into 5 Ready-in-a-Flash Dinners

This week, you’re going to spend less time frantically cooking and more time leisurely eating (but no, that doesn’t mean popcorn dinners or carry-out). You’re also going to win the lottery.

How? Make a giant batch of roasted tomatoes and onions over the weekend. While those burst and sizzle (it’ll only set you back 45 minutes!), prep a few additional ingredients (like soft-boiled eggs, cooked beans, and salad dressing) to keep stocked in your fridge.

You’ll have all the puzzle pieces to a week’s worth of summery, ready-in-a-flash dinners (or lunches). Read on for a shopping list, a weekend prep checklist, and to see how all of your hard works pays off in five distinct meals.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

Your Shopping List

Organized by when you’ll be using the ingredients throughout the week

  • 3 pounds spring onions, pearl onions, or other smallish onions (enough for a 3-times batch of the recipe)
  • Scant 4 1/2 pounds cherry, grape, and/or Sun Gold tomatoes (enough for a 3-times batch of the recipe)
  • 1 loaf of toast-appropriate bread
  • A dozen eggs
  • Ricotta
  • Shrimp (or go with tofu, tempeh, or a different type of seafood)
  • 1 red onion
  • A couple ears of corn (get extra if you’d like to serve it alongside the bean salad; otherwise, pick up some small potatoes)
  • Basil
  • Corn tortillas
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Parmesan, pecorino, or other hard cheese for garnishing pasta
  • Salad greens
  • 2 white onions
  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplant
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3 summer squash

We’re assuming you’ve got garlic, olive oil, kosher salt, cider vinegar, sugar, dried pasta. If not, stock up on those as well.

Your Weekend Prep

  • Roast those tomatoes and onions! They’re your stars. If you’re feeding a big family, consider quadrupling (rather than tripling) the recipe. Do be sure to get all of the juices into the storage container, too (to ease this process, line the sheet with parchment paper before you start cooking).

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Roasted Tomatoes and Onions on Toast

By Kenzi Wilbur

View Full Recipe

  • Blend the basil oil, which should last for about 3 days.
  • Prep your favorite (or your easiest) salad dressing.
  • Cook beans, if making from dried.
  • If you bought potatoes for the bean salad, boil those, too (or roast them, if you’d prefer).

watch it come together!

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

More details:

  • On toast: On Monday, gently rewarm the roasted vegetables on the stovetop. Meanwhile, toast or fry your bread, then use a peeled, halved garlic clove to give it a good rub-down. Smear ricotta over the bread, then spoon the warm tomatoes and onions over top. Perch a halved soft-boiled egg on top, followed by torn basil.
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Photo by Bobbi Lin

  • Tacos: On Tuesday, sauté or roast shrimp (or prepare tempeh, tofu, or fish); strip the kernels from the corn (use it raw or sauté with a couple tablespoons of butter or oil); and warm or char the tortillas. Along with the pickled onions, basil oil, and leftover tomatoes and onions (brought to room temperature), you’re all set for tacos.
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Photo by Bobbi Lin

  • Big ole’ bean salad: On Wednesday, mix the roasted ‘maters and onions with your cooked beans. Coat with basil oil, then add extra raw tomatoes to freshen things up, along with whatever crunchy vegetables you have in the fridge (cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, radishes). Serve with boiled, steamed, or grilled corn (if you have some leftover from last night); the boiled or roasted potatoes; and/or lightly-dressed greens.
  • Pasta: On Thursday, get out the blender! Blend a cup or two of the roasted vegetables to make a sauce, then transfer to a saucepan over low heat and add a couple tablespoons of butter. Meanwhile, boil pasta! When the pasta is al dente, add it to the roasted tomato sauce, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water, and toss together. Mix in lots of fresh herbs (leftover basil from earlier in the week; mint or parsley if you have those in the fridge) and shower with cheese. Serve with a green salad on the side.
  • Cheater’s ratatouille: On Friday, you’re more than halfway to ratatouille. Use Alice Waters’ Genius Ratatouille as your guideline: Cook the eggplant and set it aside, then soften the onions, peppers, and squash. When the recipe instructs you to add tomatoes, use the roasted tomatoes and onions you have leftover. Then finish as directed. Serve with toasted bread and remaining soft-boiled eggs, or orzo, if you prefer.
  • And one last freebie if you’re still looking at leftovers (lucky you!): Make spicy and soft Turkish-style eggs: Follow this recipe for menemen, but replace the tomatoes with your roasted tomatoes and onions.
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Roasted tomatoes and onions—and all of their prosperous children.
Photo by Bobbi Lin

You’ve just done such honor to the summer’s cutest tomatoes and onions—and to the constraints of your time-crunched weeknights.

Ready for more recipes to big-batch over the weekend?

Here are a few more of our favorites:

How do you prep on the weekend to outsmart the pressure of the week ahead? Tell us in the comments below!

Is Activated Charcoal the Cure-All It’s Said to Be?

Activated charcoal is in your water filter and your lemonade, your face wash and your ice cream, your toothpaste and your cocktail. With its dramatic color and purported health benefits, it’s just the combination of beauty and brains that makes for marketing gold (er, black).

But is it the all-purpose detoxifier (and “clean skin miracle”) it’s chalked up to be? Should you be ingesting as much as possible, slathering it onto your face and gulping it down after every work out? Before you rush out for a black-tinged juice, read more about where activated charcoal comes from, the health claims surrounding it, and the risks of consuming too much.

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Photo by James Ransom

So what is it?

Charcoal, the byproduct of slowly burning wood, peat, bamboo, or coconut shells in the absence of oxygen, is “activated” when it’s heated with a gas or activating agent. This expands the surface area and opens up millions of pores between the carbon atoms, making the charcoal highly porous, nonpolar, and capable of adsorbing carbon-based molecules. (In adsorption, the molecules accumulate on the surface of the material; in absorption, on the other hand, the molecules permeate the bulk of the substance, penetrating its center.) Because activated charcoal has such a huge surface area (the millions of pores!), it has countless bonding sites that will ensnare certain chemicals that pass near its surface. (Once those bonding sites are full, however, an activated charcoal filter will need to be replaced.)

Chemicals that are not attracted to carbon—like sodium, fluoride, ammonia, and nitrates—will not interact with the activated charcoal, meaning that activated charcoal water filters will remove some, but not all, impurities.

Even if activated charcoal is a relatively recent addition to juice shops and cocktail bars, it’s no new medical treatment: It’s administered in emergency rooms to treat specific types of drug overdoses and poisonings within an hour of ingestion (though it’s not effective in treating alcohol, cyanide, lithium, or iron poisoning, among other afflictions). Regardless, if you or someone you know may have ingested poisonous substance, immediately call the Poison Control Center (in the U.S. 1-800-222-1222) and follow their instructions. Do not attempt to self-treat with activated charcoal.

Thousands of years ago, activated charcoal was used in Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine to cleanse the body (as far back as 1500 B.C.E., activated charcoal was used to “adsorb unpleasant odors from putrefying wounds” in Ancient Egypt).

But outside of the ER, for everyday “cleansing”? As an article in Consumer Reports put it:

People have tried to translate the very limited success of activated charcoal in the ER to their everyday lives, assuming that if it can adhere to and remove certain drugs in the emergency room, it can sop up all kinds of toxins, making an already healthy person even healthier. But this logical leap is not based in science.

What are some of these health claims?

Claim: Relieves gastrointestinal distress
Verdict: Maybe

There is some scientific evidence to support claims that activated charcoal is an effective stomach aid. According to Consumer Reports, a study of 276 patients with indigestion found that activated charcoal in combination with magnesium oxide offered relief. This study hasn’t been replicated in larger groups, however, and according to the Mayo Clinic, activated charcoal “has not been shown to be effective in relieving diarrhea and intestinal gas.”

In fact, its side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation, the very ailments some say it cures (and, to me, that makes consuming activated charcoal a bit of a GI gamble).

batman 🌒 pineapple mojito w/ activated charcoal!

A post shared by JIMMY rooftop (@jimmyatthejames) on

Claim: Prevents and/or cures hangovers
Verdict: Nope

Dr. Michael Lynch, the medical director for Pittsburgh Poison Center and assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told TODAY that activated charcoal does not bind to ethanol because of its chemical structure. That said, you’ll find plenty of testimonials claiming that the pills really get the job done (“I don’t know why they work, but I do know I’ll never head to a cocktail party without them again,” writes Deven Hopp).

A cheaper, more surefire hangover prevention tool? Plenty of water. While the mechanisms behind hangovers aren’t entirely understood, but many scientists agree that good old H20 will help mitigate symptoms of dehydration.

Claim: Treats cholestasis, whitens teeth, cleans skin, reduces odors, leads to weight loss, reduces cholesterol, etc.
Verdict: Unclear, but not scientifically proven

According to WebMD, there is no scientific evidence to show that activated charcoal can treat cholestasis in pregnancy (in which the flow of bile from the liver slows or stops) or lower cholesterol. There are also no studies regarding whether activated charcoal can fight odor as a breath freshener or deodorant, or whiten teeth (Consumer Reports even referenced an unpublished experiment that noted that the charcoal powder could, counterproductively, darken teeth by lodging in cracks and small holes), or work miracles on dirty skin.

And if you do feel more svelte after ingesting activated charcoal, it might be because the charcoal is cleansing the intestines and reducing bloat, but not actually fomenting true weight loss.

Claim: General “detox” (AKA the natural removal of toxins from the body)
Verdict: Activated charcoal does remove toxins in the stomach…

…but, as Consumer Reports points out, not in the blood. The body “already has organs such as the kidney and liver to filter out impurities” and, what’s more, charcoal does not bind to the heavy metals that some detox-ers are trying to expel.

yeah baby 🎀🖤🏳️ via @glamourmag 📸: @emilymkemp

A post shared by Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream (@morgensternsnyc) on

“I don’t see any true health benefit of popping charcoal supplement pills,” Dr. Shana Kusin, assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University’s Hospital & Health Systems, told the magazine. That said, a lack of scientific evidence does that mean that many people don’t swear that activated charcoal makes them feel better, especially when you consider that there’s little incentive from the pharmaceutical industry to investigate.

So while one or two charcoal pills (or a 16-ounce activated charcoal lemonade) may not scientifically “detoxify” anything (and it’s an insignificant dosage compared to what’s medically administered), it’s unlikely to harm you either—but there are some serious caveats to consider.

What are the risks?

Activated charcoal can interfere with medications, adsorbing the molecules and rendering the drugs ineffective. Most companies that sell activated charcoal, according to Eater, recommend waiting at least two hours between consuming a supplement and taking a prescription medication, like birth control (or one of the over 200 other drugs with which it interacts).

Many people also recommend consuming charcoal on an empty stomach, so that it doesn’t interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. In the case of black ice cream, “the charcoal sucks up the calcium, potassium, and other vitamins that would be found in the milk,” writes Amy McCarthy for Eater. “This prevents the stomach lining from absorbing those nutrients, which means that the body eliminates them as waste alongside the charcoal. (And doesn’t that make the stylish charcoal ice cream less nutrient-dense than mint chocolate chip?)

•it's time for another Sundae Fundae• tag a friend to make plans to stop by @little.damage! 📸: @kell1na

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How does it taste?

Activated charcoal treatments are known to be, well, vile. Gastroenterologist described the activated charcoal administered in hospitals as “this really nasty looking drink. You have [the patient] swallow it, and you hope they vomit.” Juice Generation founder Eric Helms told Time Magazine that it was a challenge to make the store’s lemonade good-tasting. The flavor of activated charcoal is often masked and muted by other ingredients (like lemon, coconut, and ginger) to make it tolerable.

At Baba Cool Café in Brooklyn, they whisk activated charcoal powder with tahini, then toss it with cauliflower that’s been roasted with turmeric-ghee. The activated charcoal makes the dish a bit gritty and perhaps the slightest bit smoky (or am I imagining things?), but the true flavor comes from the earthy, bitter turmeric, which is offset by sweet goji berries.

It’s a recipe I like—but next time, I’ll skip the charcoal.

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Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Activated Charcoal and Goji Berries

By Sarah Jampel

For the turmeric ghee and the activated charcoal tahini:

  • 1
    pound unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1/3
    cup finely grated fresh turmeric or ground turmeric

  • 1
    cup tahini

  • 1
    tablespoon activated charcoal (like Solaray Activated Coconut Charcoal Powder), optional

  • Lemon juice and salt, for seasoning

For the finished dish:

  • 2
    heads cauliflower, cut into small florets

  • 1
    tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/3
    cup turmeric ghee (from above)

  • 1/2
    teaspoon salt, or more to taste

  • 1/2
    teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste

  • 1
    tablespoon activated charcoal tahini (from above), or more to taste

  • 1/3
    cup goji berries

View Full Recipe

Have you tried any activated charcoal toiletries or foods? Tell us in the comments below.