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  • How to Char Vegetables Like a Pro

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockMichelin-starred San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou, author of the forthcoming cookbook Mourad: New Moroccan, adheres only slightly to tradition when making North African food, and that includes his baba ghanoush. Most recipes suggest baking the eggplant first, but Lahlou chars it instead-and, even more unorthodoxly, he chars the flesh, not the skin, which eliminates all bitterness and gives it a sweeter flavor.

    RELATED: Chef Tal Ronnen Prepares"Chicken" Scaloppini

    It's a technique that works for leeks, fennel and beets too. Though bitterness isn't usually an issue with those vegetables, they still get a huge flavor boost. To do it, make sure you turn the fan over your stove to high; in this case, there isn't much distinction between charring and burning, so be prepared for a strong smell. Set a large, dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.

    RELATED: Teach a Woman to Cook...And She Might Just Save the World

    Let it warm up for about five minutes; then char the eggplant

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  • How to Savor Your Day Like Your Kids Do

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Amy Shearn

    I used to work in Times Square, and I could always gauge how my day would go by my reaction to the swarms of tourists. Many mornings I stalked through the crowds like an ambulatory frown. Other mornings I'd emerge from the subway grinning, happy to help a lost tour group from Sheboygan, feeling as if just walking near a spunky pair of elderly travelers holding an upside map could make me see the city, the day, the world, with fresh eyes. Can you guess which days turned out better?

    RELATED: 35 Little Acts of Kindness

    I was reminded of this when I first saw the below video, which has been all over the Internet for the past few days. In it a little boy and his sister are watching "The Empire Strikes Back" for the first time. When they get to that famous, so-familiar-it's-hard-to-imagine-it-ever-seeming-new "Luke, I am your father" scene, the boy flips out. The look on his face is absolutely amazing. It's a throwback to the world before leaked spoiler alerts; a reminder

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  • "Curb Your Enthusiam's" Cheryl Hines 7 Favorite Indulgences

    Photo: Getty ImagesPhoto: Getty ImagesBest Meal
    Lobster, a margarita on the rocks, and red velvet cake. Preferably on the beach.

    RELATED: Cooking with Oprah

    Best Thrill
    I just learned how to scuba dive. I'd been scared to rely on one little air hose for oxygen, but swimming with all those fish is exhilarating.

    Best Spontaneous Decision
    While visiting Costa Rica, I was inspired to hear that someone had donated a playground to a local school. So when I returned to L.A., one day I just called the principal of a nearby elementary school and asked what I could do. Five years later, I've helped make over nine schools, repainting, renovating, and fixing up playgrounds.

    RELATED: You Make the World a Better Place

    Best Recent Read
    Nick Hornby's hilarious novel How to Be Good, which is about a woman whose angry husband tries to become a better person. I really admire Hornby's work, so when I was in London four years ago, I tracked him down and boldly asked if he'd like to get coffee-and he said yes. Now we're friends.

    Best Escape

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  • An Airbag for Cyclists

    Photo: HovdingPhoto: HovdingBy Corrie Pikul

    A few years ago, my husband rediscovered his old bike and started showing up at places looking tousled, flushed and exhilarated. His enthusiasm convinced me to import my own bike to our city, and soon I started showing up places looking tousled and flushed, period. I've dreamed of an invisible helmet that would protect my head without messing up my hair.

    RELATED: Non-Dorky Backpacks for Grown-Ups

    Two Swedish industrial designers had the same dream, but theirs was way more radical. They conceived of a helmet like a car air bag that would be triggered by sensors to inflate during a crash. When not in use (which, if you're lucky, would be pretty much all the time), the helmet would zip into a stylish waterproof collar worn around the neck. (Check out collar styles, read more about how this works and see a crash-test video of the helmet in action by going to the designer's website.) After more than six years of planning and tweaking, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have

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  • Love, Loss and G-chats

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Amy Sheam

    It is a strange side effect of today's constant streams of texts, tweets, and G-chats that we are now survived by our daily conversations. It's a phenomena Rebecca Armendariz understands all too well: as she wrote about inGood, she often searches her own Gmail account to reread her chats with Clark, her former boyfriend.

    RELATED: Deepak Chopra - 7 Stages of Love

    This young couple hadn't even been together a year when Clark was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma and given a bleak prognosis of 4-14 months to live. About a year later, he was dead at 33. As Armendariz writes, "My Gmail is a priceless hoard of us making plans, telling inside jokes... This is a history of our relationship that we didn't intend to write, one that runs parallel to the one authored by his uncontainable illness." (If you're not already misty, the last line of the essay is a total heart-breaker. )

    RELATED: Jenny McCarthy's Girlfriend's Guide to Dating

    It's not the eloquence of the exchanges that

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  • 3 Things Not to Wear to the Gym

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul

    All-Cotton T-Shirts

    Let's disregard the fashion statement you're making by wearing an old, stretched-out shirt. The most important reason to leave this beloved tee at home is that cotton absorbs sweat and doesn't quickly release it through evaporation. Wearing heavy, wet cotton against your skin can give you the chills and cause irritation. Opt for technologically advanced fabrics that hold moisture away from the body, like CoolMax, Capilene or Dri-FIT. If you aren't comfortable in the clingy fit of these stretchy fabrics, this Reebok double-layer top offers two shirts in one. A supportive tank made of Play Dry wicking fabric is covered by a looser cotton tee with flattering ruching on the sleeves.

    RELATED: Joel Harper Shares 8 Common Exercise Mistakes

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockUntested Tanks

    Your tank top may look modest when you're standing up, but it becomes X-rated as soon as you bend over to do push-ups. To avoid flashing everyone at the gym, check your top view from a variety ofRead More »from 3 Things Not to Wear to the Gym
  • Design*Sponge’s Grace Bonney on How to Build Your Own Storage Bench

    Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio DPhoto: Marko Metzinger/Studio DBy Christa Martin

    Design*Sponge, the charmingly quirky home decorating site launched in 2004 by Grace Bonney, attracts more than one million page views each month-and among its many step-by-step tutorials are projects simple enough for anyone to master. Now the blog's singular style inspiration can also be found in Design*Sponge at Home, a compendium of all-new homemaking hints-which Bonney has in droves ("To make a small space seem larger, getting things off the floor is key"; "Leftover fabric makes a great placemat!"). The book is also full of creative furnishing ideas-like this sweet, functional, and endlessly customizable storage bench (completed version pictured above).

    RELATED: 11 Inexpensive Ways to Go Green

    Rolling Storage Bench
    Cost: Around $40
    Time: One hour plus

    What you need:

    • Wooden box (similar styles can be found at flea markets and thrift stores)
    • Four rolling casters
    • Mounting screws
    • Measuring tape or ruler
    • Scissors
    • Fabric (three inches larger
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  • A New Kind of Food Truck Hits The Streets

    Photo: Courtesy of Steve CaseyPhoto: Courtesy of Steve CaseyBy Leslie Goldman

    In 2006 a local study labeled Steve Casey's Chicago neighborhood a food desert-a term used to describe areas that lack affordable fresh produce (but are usually awash in burger wrappers and French-fry containers). "The scent of fried food is so thick here, you can smell it with the windows closed," Casey says. "There's not a vegetable in sight." Among other things, food desert residents-there are nearly 400,000 in Chicago alone-have a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

    RELATED: Michael Pollan's Food Rules

    But Casey, 45, a grant administrator and father of two young boys, had an idea. With a few other local activists, he raised $40,000 from investors and used it to gut an old municipal bus (purchased from the city for $1). He christened his new wheels Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market. "My goal is to be like the ice cream man, but with fruits and vegetables," Casey says. "We want people to get as excited about grapes in January as they are about

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  • 3 Products Beauty Editors Wear Down to the Nub

    Photo: Courtesy of Bobbi BrownPhoto: Courtesy of Bobbi BrownBy Amber Kallor

    While O's beauty department appreciates a great breakthrough-some things are worth revisiting (over and over and over again).

    Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks

    Want that post-workout glow without hitting the gym? Beauty director Valerie Monroe loves that these multipurpose cream blushes go on sheer and give her the same kind of flush she gets from exercising. If you're hesitant about which of the nine colors to choose, she suggests you try the pink and coral shades; they're especially flattering.


    RELATED: Fall's Most Fabulous Nail Polishes

    Courtesy of RevlonCourtesy of Revlon
    Revlon Colorstay Eyeliner in Black

    "I've never been good with eyeliner," admits assistant beauty editor Alessandra Foresto, "but this pencil glides on so easily, I can create a perfect line on the first try." And while the waterproof formula lasts for hours without smudging, she doesn't have to scrub to get it off.


    RELATED: 8 Alluring New Fall Fragrances

    Courtesy of FreshCourtesy of FreshFresh Sugar Plum Tinted LipRead More »from 3 Products Beauty Editors Wear Down to the Nub
  • 3 Things Your Unemployed Guy Isn't Telling You

    Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Caitlin Shettterly

    I remember it like this: It's January 2009 and our infant son is sleeping. We are sitting in our rented apartment in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive cities in America, where we had dreams of "making it" in Hollywood. My husband, Dan, a photographer, is out of work; every freelance job he had lined up through May has suddenly been canceled. We are in economic free fall. I turn to Dan and say, "I just want you to fix this."

    RELATED: Goldie Hawn and Oprah Talk About Relationships

    His face crumples like a smashed pumpkin at Halloween. "I can't, Cait. This goes way beyond what I can do with my own two hands."

    What has gone so wrong in our country, I wonder, that this man-this can-do guy-can't fix this? He repairs our broken chairs with dabs of Elmer's wood glue, and, when I was pregnant, he made and flipped the perfect high-protein pancake-for breakfast, lunch and dinner because anything else made me nauseous. He's got a huge toolbox, for crying out loud!

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