Monthly Archives: April 2012

5 packing lessons I learned…from being in an LDR

Photo credit: Jamie Davis via Etsy

I recently returned from a five-day trip to Taipei with nothing but a weekender bag. “That’s the true sign of a jetsetter,” my editor said.

Actually, that’s the result of busing to and from Boston once or twice a month as I’m in a long distance relationship. Because I’m a starving journalist, traveling via bus means trekking to the subway and running up and down the platform stairs instead of catching a cab. Given my 4’11” frame, I’m obviously not keen on hauling luggage twice my size with me–so here’s what I’ve learned about packing light for weekeend trips. (Thanks, LDR!)

1. Good hygiene doesn’t mean all new jeans.

By every means, please continue to take showers daily. But you don’t need a fresh outfit every day. If you’re on a weekend trip, there’s absolutely no reason to pack (or wear) more than one pair of pants, and keep in mind that denim is particularly thick. Ladies, unless it’s wintertime and super cold where you’re going, leggings are great space-savers. This rule also applies for outerwear and middle layers.

2. Invest in a pair of quality all-purpose shoes.

Find footwear that is waterproof, easy to walk in, and compliments a dressier outfit. For me, this translates into a pair of closed-toe black flats with some metallic accents. They don’t get soaked if it’s a little rainy, and the extra details make them work in more formal settings. If it’s colder or stormier, I have heeled leather boots that I can walk over an hour in–these are hard to find, but they do exist. (Mine are from A.S.O., a shoe store in Taiwan.) To be fair, this is easier for girls; when I tease the boy about the giant duffel he brings to New York, he always cites his dress shoes as the culprit.

3. Pack day-to-night outfits.

In the same vein, you don’t need a separate outfit for going out unless you’re going somewhere super fancy. I love dresses for this reason. They already look nicer, plus they contain less material and don’t require top-and-bottom coordination. Again, opt for the extra details, and some structure is always nice. You also can’t go wrong with dark colors–good news for New Yorkers who already own a bajillion black outfits.

4. Buy travel-sized versions of skincare musts–once.

This means face lotions, cleansers, and other special amenities that you can’t forgo for a few days. This doesn’t mean your favorite shampoo or body wash–soap is soap, at least in the short-term. Save the bottles for re-use, or better yet buy empty containers that are cheaper.

5. If you must work, learn to type on a tablet.

Admittedly, this might not be the most budget-friendly tip, and the iPad I work on actually belongs to the boy. But here are some advantages of learning to use the touchscreen like a keyboard as I have: a tablet isn’t as heavy nor as cumbersome as a Macbook, you’ll never be limited by airport bookstore selections again, and, if you’re traveling domestically, you don’t need to panic when cheap bus WiFi fails right before your deadline.

What are some of your favorite long weekend packing tips?

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Bacon peanut butter truffles

There aren’t many ingredients I love more than bacon, so it’s not a huge surprise that I turned to The Bacon Cookbook for my next culinary project. Though I was looking for dinner dishes more than dessert, as someone who loves sweet-and-savory concoctions, I couldn’t resist some bacon peanut butter truffles.

These did turn out a little messier than I’d prefer. Part of this was probably due to substituting some of the butter with bacon fat, following The Wicked (Awesome) Whisk’s adaptation, for a stronger flavor of bacon. The chocolate coating didn’t set and harden perfectly, since the recipe doesn’t call for tempering, and I opted to skip the cocoa powder. I’m guessing it didn’t help that I used chocolate chips instead of bars, which are better for tempering, or that I might’ve been a little impatient and heated up the chocolate a little too quickly.

Some other notes: I didn’t have a food processor, so I chopped the peanuts with a knife. Because the peanuts weren’t ground as finely as they would have been if they were put through a blender, the truffle filling was slightly lumpy. Next time, I’d up the peanut butter and use fewer peanuts. But because I let the bacon get nice and crispy, it was very easy to handle.

Despite the messiness, these truffles are amongst the most delicious things I’ve ever made, if I may say so myself. Nope, bacon never ever fails to please.

Bacon and Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles Recipe

adapted from The Bacon Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices lean streaky bacon
  • 4 oz salted peanuts (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • six 1-oz squares semisweet chocolate

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat until crisp, drain on paper towels, and let cool completely. Reserve 2 tbls of the rendered bacon fat and let cool.

In a blender or food processor, combine the bacon, peanuts, and sugar and grind to a fine texture. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the peanut butter, and stir until well blended and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and chill about 1 hour.

Roll the mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter, place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap, and chill about 30 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, reserved bacon fat, and chocolate in a small sauce pan and stir over very low heat till melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until slightly warm.

Using a fork, coat the balls completely in the melted chocolate. Set them back on the baking sheet and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes more). If there is melted chocolate left over, give the balls a second coating. Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve. Or eat them all now. It’s your choice….don’t think it’ll be an easy one.

via The Wicked (Awesome) Whisk

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