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Meghan Rodgers

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Creamy Fig Almond Smoothie mixes up fall breakfasts

As much as I adore pumpkin flavored foods, autumn has so much more to offer — namely, fresh figs. I don’t think I had a fresh fig until my dad decided to test his luck on a potted fig tree. With the crazy cold Pittsburgh winters, it ended up more like the fig tree testing him. If you’re not lucky enough to live in the Mediterranean or other mild, semiarid climates like California and Oregon, you’ll probably just have to buy them at the store. Fresh figs are super fragile and often bursting with juice to the point they split open. Because of this, some stores stock figs that have been prematurely picked. So beware. You may find a variety of dark and light figs. Black Mission, Adriatic, and Brown Turkey are three common varieties. Each will have a slightly different flavor, but any will work well in this creamy…

This is why Starbucks’ drink sizes are Tall, Grande, and Venti

Forget small, medium, and large. If you frequent the coffee mega-chain Starbucks, you know these sizes aren’t a menu option. When you’re ordering at Starbucks, you better know your tall, grande, or venti. So what’s the story behind this unconventional naming convention? Well, it all started in Italy. On a fateful trip to the coffee-loving country in 1983, Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks, became “captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience,” the Starbucks website says. So much so, in fact, he wanted to emulate that experience in the United States with his own coffee shop, Il Giornale. You may have never heard of Il Giornale, but it was a mini-coffee chain Schulz started in 1986 — a year before he purchased a tiny Seattle brand called Starbucks and turned it into the coffee behemoth we visit today. In her book, Grande Expectations, author Karen…

6 different salts you should keep in your kitchen

Salt has been a culinary commodity throughout history, and for a good reason. Is there any ingredient in the world that seasons our vastly different diets more universally than a sprinkling of salt? In the times before refrigeration, salt meant that we could preserve foods for a long winter or have sustenance when we went went exploring distant corners of the globe. Egyptians used salt as part of religious offerings and it became a valuable trade item in the ancient world between the Phoenicians and their Mediterranean empire. The earliest record of salt was by the Chinese back around 2700 B.C., but salt was used long before the beginning of recorded history. Despite its long history with humans, it wasn’t until recently that ordinary people started to give the types of salt a second thought. Today, we have seemingly endless options of salt, each lending its own characteristics to a…

Football whoopie pies are a total touchdown for game day desserts

Football season has officially kicked off, so bring on the food! These football-shaped whoopie pies will score points for being delicious as well as adorable. They’ll be the MVP of your tailgating table. Note: If you’re making these in the off season, or if you’re shorter on time, you can, of course, make this recipe without forming cookie batter into footballs.  Football Whoopie Pies Makes about 48 cookies, or 24 gobs Ingredients For the cookies 2 cups all-purpose flour 2/3 cup cocoa 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup hot water (in a large glass) 2/3 cup milk 1/2 cup shortening 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp butter flavoring For the filling 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup shortening 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp butter flavoring 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 tbsp milk (if necessary) Directions Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a…

Can you store open tin cans in the fridge?

I’m willing to admit my dark kitchen secret because I know you’ve done it too. I, on occasion, leave food in its open tin can and pop it back in the fridge. Not proud of it. It happened just last week. I was done baking for the day and found myself with half a can of pumpkin puree left over. I was already mentally done for the day, and in childlike resistance, I just didn’t really feel like transferring the gloopy pumpkin substance into plastic. “It’s in a container already!” I reasoned. But I had heard that storing food in open tins cans is never good, so I set out to investigate exactly why. After scouring the internet for far longer than it would have taken me to just put my leftover pumpkin in plasticware and get on with my life, I found an official vote of confidence for my occasional…

How to pick the best butternut squash

Fall has finally arrived and winter squash are stocked on the shelves — acorn, spaghetti, and of course, butternut. Butternut squash a must-have fall vegetable that dates back nearly 10,000 years ago.  It’s true. Archaeological evidence suggests that squash was first cultivated in what is now known as the Isthmus of Panama. Squash was one of the three main crops (known as the “Three Sisters” — maize, beans, and squash) planted by Native Americans. If you’re looking for authentic North American fall foods for your Thanksgiving feast, squash certainly qualifies. (Read more at: How Americans Became so Obsess with Pumpkins) The most noticeable difference between winter squash and summer squash, like zucchini and yellow squash, is the exterior skin. Summer squash have thin, flavorful skin you leave on and eat, while winter squash have a tough, inedible outer shell. It’s because of this shell, however, that winter squash can be…

Love working at coffee shops? This coffee chain has the fastest Wi-Fi

By now, we know coffee shops are for more than just coffee. We might go there for a group meetings, for a date, or just to hang with friends. And just about everyone has used a coffee shop as a temporary office at some point. Besides a good cup of Joe, knowing a shop has reliable Wi-Fi can be the deciding factor in which shop you choose. So which coffee shop has the fastest Wi-Fi in the United States? PCMag looked at nearly 100,000 Ookla Speedtests results taken from smartphones over the past 12 months. Coffee chains with at least 100 tests over that period were considered for the final analysis. In the end, 11 chains were included: Caffe Nero, Capital One Café, Caribou Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Dunkin’, Joe & the Juice, Krispy Kreme, Peet’s, Philz, Starbucks, and Tim Hortons. And the coffee shop with the fastest…

Why do we give apples to teachers?

These days, it’s more likely for a teacher to be seen with an Apple iPad on her desk than a Golden Delicious. But it wasn’t that long ago that giving a crisp, shiny apple to a teacher on the first day of school was common practice. But where did this tasty tradition start? The true origin is mostly a mystery, though we do know that the apples have long served as a symbol of knowledge and education. From Greek references to a divine fruit that helped Hippomenes win a race for Atalanta’s hand, to Adam and Eve’s lesson of right and wrong, apples have been at the core of human history for a very long time. So how did they wind up on the desk of teachers in America? Gifting fruit has long been associated with surviving hardships throughout history. In the 1700s, poor families in Denmark and Sweden gave…

8 reasons you should eat more apples

“An apple a day” isn’t just a cute saying. There are some real research-backed benefits of eating apples. Apples are grown in all 50 states, so you’re never very far from a freshly picked apple. And that’s a good thing because they can greatly improve your overall health and reduce your chance of disease. But let’s get down to the juicy details. Here are eight reasons you should incorporate an apple into your daily diet: 1. Apples are nutritious First and foremost, you should eat apples because they’re just generally good for you. One medium apple has just 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 14% of your daily vitamin C, and other beneficial amounts of potassium, vitamin K, manganese, copper, and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6. A medium apple equals about 1.5 cups of fruit (two cups of fruit daily are recommended for a 2,000 calorie diet), so you’re…

8 ways you might be seen as rude at the grocery store

We’ve all witnessed some pretty bad behavior at the grocery store. You know — the guy who grabs a quick snack from the salad bar or the woman who leaves her cart in the middle of aisle. It doesn’t matter what store you shop at or what time of the day you go, running into rude people is inevitable. But anytime you step into public you’re at risk for your own little social blunder, as well. Whether you realize it or not, if you do any of these things, you will be seen as rude by others: sneaky Snacking Everyone know that grocery shopping hungry is never a good idea. Shopping on an empty stomach means you’re more likely to buy highly-processed, fatty food items to your cart. But it also means you might be tempted to sneak a snack. When you “sample” items from the bulk bins or salad…