Blog Posts by Maggie Nemser, Shine staff

  • 11 Things everyone wants to tell their boss (but can't)

    I recently had dinner with a friend who's sick of breaking bread with her boss. She can't decline a work dinner because she's nervous about job security and "now more than ever, kissing rear end is super important." She wished her boss would simply stop inviting her to after-hour meals that she can't afford to refuse.

    She's not alone. While there are some who like to party with their boss like it's 1999, it seems that most employees would rather eat a Big Mac on their own time and dime than have sushi with their boss. To help spare her and others who share the plight, I've collected food-work complaints common among many employees. Here's everything you've always wanted to say to the big wig about working meals, but were too afraid to get canned.

    1. Don't invite me to breakfast. Work should start at 9 AM and finish at 5 PM, period. Breakfast, although free, is not a bonus before 9 AM.

    2. Never ask me to lunch. I enjoy getting a little space from you so that when you make me feel

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  • What frugal hipsters are eating: Bibimbap

    The "kids these days" have a stealth way of taking a relatively under-the-radar recipe comprised of inexpensive ingredients and making it cool.

    Bibimpap, a popular Korean dish has all the frugal hipster criteria: It's cheap, tasty, culturally savvy, not on mainstream menus and slightly healthy but not considered diet-friendly. Last month I couldn't even pronounce it (BEE-beem-bop) and now I'm addicted.

    Bibimbap combines warm white rice with egg, veggies, meat and sometimes fish to create a delicious bowl of healthy comfort food. Some popular combinations are mushrooms, spinach, sunny side up egg, ground beef, zucchini, lettuce, carrots, but it's a dish that begs for creativity so throw in whatever you want (or have). I've even seen eclectic versions calling for edamame beans and fried calamari so the sky is the limit. This dish is delicious warm and at room temp so it's a good party or dare I say a "potluck" dish.

    The New York Times' Rice cooker bibimbap with salmon and spinach


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  • Why I hate a good potluck

    I am not a fan of potlucks. I find them annoying at best. Why is that? It's because there seems to be about nine different kinds of potlucks and only one of them is good. The rest are lose, lose situations.

    The eight kinds of potlucks

    The host is nuts potluck
    When it comes to potlucks, the line between comprehensive and crazy can get a little murky. If there are more than five e-mails re: one dinner, then Houston, we have a potluck.

    2. The diet-derailing potluck
    You wanted light tonight yet somehow managed to graze your way into the Doritos, have a bacon cheeseburger and walk out wearing a Chipwich on your new shirt. It's amazing how forced schmoozing, centered around bad food, can make a person feel fat. Oh well, at least it was good going down (or not).

    3. The I'm still hungry but someone ate all my food potluck
    You manage to scrounge up three "homemade" chicken nuggets while Geoff ( pronounced Ge-off), a dude you've never met, laps up your lasagna.

    4. You look like a jerk

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  • Who should wash the dishes? (and how our parents screwed us up)

    Last night I went grocery shopping, cooked and then I really wanted to wash the dishes. This statement is a little weird for me for several reasons.

    You see, I used to think that my grandmother made out like a bandit. She cooked brisket once a year and and the other 364 days she made tuna fish sandwiches or ate out. She never washed a dish and my grandfather told her she was beautiful every single day.

    My mother did things a bit differently. She did the shopping, cooking and cleaning. As I loaded the dishwasher I used to make "notes to self" about how I when I grew up I would do things differently. I now sometimes wonder if my mom's need to do everything was a result of rebelling against her own mother or simply because she enjoyed it.

    But last night I was loving the dish duty. There was something about the simplicity and clear resolution of cleaning plates that felt soothing last night as I listened to McCain and Obama debate intricate and sticky issues. There was another reason

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  • Is there a breath mint that actually works?

    My dentist just told that I can never chew gum again. Apparently I have TMJ so there will be no more apples, hard foods or chewing gum for me. I'm ok without apples and can do my best to avoid hard foods but the no gum thing is not going to be easy to kick.

    I know that smacking your lips and chomping on chewing gum is neither attractive nor classy but there's something about a stick of Trident every once in a while that really hits the spot.

    To lesson the blow, I did a little CVS field trip to hunt for an enjoyable and effective gum replacement. First I tried the 3-Hour Breathsavers mint which gave me fresh breath for approximately twenty seconds and then it actually gave me bad breath. Next, I reached for some white Tic Tacs which had the same effects as the 3-Hour Breathsavers. I ended my mint survey with Ice Breakers and while they were the best of the three, there has to be a better mint out there.

    Any suggestions? What's your favorite breath mint that lasts longer than a few

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  • It's official: Men love frozen yogurt

    I'm not sure if you've noticed, but men are now obsessed with frozen yogurt. The same men who used to send non-fat soft serve jokes our way are now waiting in long lines at Pinkberry or Tasti D lite to get their fat-free fix.

    Guys, we understand your excitement. We know, it's really good and virtually guilt-free. We're also happy that the silly "Fro-yo is for ladies" stigma is finally gone, but you're starting to blur the line between dessert and addiction and while you're at it you're pushing us off the wagon too.

    Oh, and please don't make us drive an extra twenty minutes to check out the new self serve you just read about. It tastes just like the others. Trust us, we know.

    Related links:

    How to judge a dude by his booze

    Cheeseburger challenge: Is there anything better than cheddar?

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  • Do you make your own coffee?

    The other day I was talking to some friends about boycotting coffee shops for a month. We were discussing how much money and time we would save if we brewed our own joe. Some admitted that they don't own a coffee maker and rely on the Starbucks of the world.

    It got me thinking about how many people probably don't own a coffee maker because they choose to get it on the go. Many of us have grown so accustomed to going out and spending an extra few dollars on a latte, but times are changing and maybe we should be adopting a more DIY attitude towards those tasty beans.

    Do you own a coffee maker and make your own coffee or are you a coffee-shop junkie?

  • Which food personalities do you love or hate?

    We all have our favorite food personalities. Personally, I love Ed Levine's take on just about anything, Mark Bittman makes me feel like I can make just about anything. Both David Myers and Govind Armstrong get my vote for the best/most handsome chef combo. I'd do anything for even a two-minute cooking lesson from Thomas Keller or Anita Lo and if Marc Meyer personally made me banana bread french toast, you could stick a fork in me.

    Then there are the ubiquitous and highly recognizable food personalities (pictured). We often refer to these guys and gals by their first name and for some reason people seem to have very strong feelings, one way or the other towards these usual suspects. Who do you love and who could you do without?

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  • Is Gloria Estefan the new Mario Batali?

    These days it's hard to tell the difference between a chef, a celebrity and a restaurateur. So many actors are now clad in Crocks, critiquing foie gras, sharing family flan recipes or opening Hollywood hot spots so I didn't really flinch when I received a copy of Estefan Kitchen cookbook in the mail.

    Well maybe I flinched a little bit when I saw the cover. Hey, I get the whole love for board games thing. I love Scrabble, but I'll bet you a Z on a triple letter score that I'm not the only one who doesn't think a game of Dominoes screams "buy my cookbook" like beautiful shots of food could.

    Cover art aside, the recipes look really yummy. Sopa de platano, arroz con pollo, and her flan all look delicious but the one that I'm most excited about is her recipe for pudin de pan (cuban style bread pudding) And call me a dork, but the anecdotal introduction to her new cookbook is heart-warming. I think I teared up. Good for Gloria. At least she's not getting her foodie stripes by making

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  • Is it okay to make out at a restaurant? Discuss.

    We've all seen it before. The couples who can't stop kissing or cuddling each other while you're trying to eat peacefully or patiently waiting for your table. The ones who are so in love and/or inebriated that they lose sense of their surroundings and behave as though they think they're alone.

    About two weeks ago I was waiting for a table at a restaurant bar and sitting next to me was a man and a woman who seemed to be on a date. He apparently said something very funny, his date laughed so hard that she literally snorted and moments later they started passionately kissing for about a half an hour. What do you think of restaurant display of affection? Should we be able to enjoy a little restaurant smooch now and then or is it disrespectful and/or gross?

    Related Links:

    Restaurant wars: why couples fight over food
    He orders for you: Sexist or romantic? Discuss.

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