Orangette blog

Like a lot of foodie wannabes, I’ve given up most of my cookbooks for online recipes. But sites like foodnetwork.com aren’t nearly as interesting to me as Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette blog. For over a decade, this Seattle writer has been posting recipes along with her personal narratives and some really lovely photographs. Cocktails, salad dressings, desserts: There isn’t a culinary area that she doesn’t cover, and her recipes are deceptively simple yet complexly rewarding. This time of year, I turn to her banana bread recipe at least once a week, which adds parchment paper and a brown-sugar sprinkle to set this version of the baking standard apart from a slew of generic banana bread recipes. (But I add chocolate chips to it, too. I’m only human.) [Gwen Ihnat]

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Koval whiskey

I recently made the happy discovery that not only is there a whiskey distillery a few miles from my home, but that it produces some of the most delicious liquid bearing that title I’ve ever had the good fortune to consume. Founded in 2008, Koval distillery is the first of the new generation of whiskey makers to set up shop in Chicago. The owners, Robert and Sonat Birnecker, come from a long line of whiskey distillers in Austria on his side of the family, and whatever familial secrets got passed down to him, they’re working. Smooth without being dull, these spirits are almost eerily delicious. It’s rare that I enjoy whiskey neat—I’m an ice cube man, myself—but I make an exception for Koval. There’s a variety of flavors, and each one is as single-barrel pure as can be. There’s whiskey from spelt (my favorite), millet, oat, rye, or a four grain (as well as just a good ol’ bourbon, if you prefer), and each one brings out a completely different flavor, with nary a dud in the bunch. The white rye might be my second favorite, despite the rumor that it’s being phased out because America’s whiskey drinkers apparently don’t like their poison clear. The conclusion: You should pick up a bottle of each one, because who knows which labels will still be around in a few months. They also make a damn fine gin, if that’s more your style. [Alex McCown]

Activeon CX camera

Like so many people, I spent years wanting to own a GoPro. But even after I got one last year, I was a little afraid to use it. I’m not mountain biking down cliffs or anything too extreme, but those things are expensive. What if I broke it? Sure, they say the casing is waterproof, but is it really, or do they just mean “waterproof for rain, but don’t take it in the ocean, dummy!” That’s why I love my new little Activeon CX camera which—full disclosure—I was just gifted by the company. (I still mean every word of this.) I’m not an action sports person. I just want to put my silly camera on my dog and see what he sees in our apartment. I want to mess around with it on my parents’ boat, and I want to use it for the occasional A.V. Club video. The Activeon camera does basically everything the GoPro does, but at a much lower price, so I don’t feel as constantly terrified about breaking it. If there are features it doesn’t have, those are features I don’t really need, because, come on, it’s me we’re talking about. I don’t need to drop this thing out of an airplane. Simply put, it’s my favorite new toy to play around with, and something I’ll hopefully be using on trips and walks around Chicago for years to come. Hey, Activeon even sponsors Cirque Du Soleil’s touring Kurios show, so you know the camera can take a little rough and tumble action, or a little makeup splatter. [Marah Eakin]

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