Random things I have learned recently in my kitchen:
• I have never liked leftover pizza because it gets all mushy in the microwave. But not long ago, I read somewhere that if you heat leftover pizza in a skillet, it will stay crispy. Boy, is that an understatement. The reheated stuff was the best pizza I ever ate -- and this was a junk frozen pizza from the grocery case. Next time I make homemade pizza, I'm baking it in a skillet in the oven and then finishing it off over the stove burner. Yum.
• This is a no-brainer, but I'll say it anyhow: The Internet is not a good source for health information. Neither, therefore, were my pantry and crisper drawer when I had a nasty summer cold earlier this month. I was so congested one night that I searched the Internet at 2 a.m., desperate for any solution. Anyone spying through my windows must have wondered why the lunatic in the bathrobe was doing jumping jacks. (No lie -- jumping jacks were one "cure" mentioned by some Web quack.) I also tried drinking hot water with apple cider vinegar (gross, and the snot didn't budge, either). My last resort was to squirt lime juice up my nose, which did nothing about the congestion but burned the bejeebers out of my raw skin.
• The price of coffee these days gives me a headache, but going without caffeine in the morning gives me a worse one. So I have learned how to make the lowest-priced coffee taste like the high-end stuff. When you put your ground coffee in your coffee maker, shake some spices on top. Cinnamon and nutmeg work great. Pumpkin pie spice would be a winner, too, plus maybe ground cloves (they're strong, so just a smidgen) or ginger. Some morning when I need an extra kick in the pants, I think I'll try a pinch of cayenne along with the cinnamon.
Terribl(y Awesome) Twos: Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District celebrates its second anniversary with sales, live music, classes and a duck pond with prizes this Saturday and Sunday. For the full schedule, go to facebook.com/pittsburghpublicmarket, and look for the announcement.
Farmers@Firehouse Tenth Anniversary: The mostly organic/certified naturally grown farmer's market celebrates its 10th anniversary Sept. 8 at 2216 Penn Ave., Strip District. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with chef demos, prizes and music. An after-party will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at Bar Marco, featuring a cocktail hour and appetizers at $20 per person, benefiting the Market's SNAP/EBT (food stamps) matching funds program. To register for the after-party, e-mail email@example.com.
Pineapple Classic 5K: Sign up for a chance to embarrass yourself. Participants will run this Hawaiian-themed obstacle course race while carrying pineapples. There will be prizes for the fastest teams in all categories, the individual who raises the most money and the team wearing the best Hawaiian costumes. Afterward, there will be a luau with food, drinks and steel drums. 9 a.m. Sept. 15 at Hartwood Acres in Hampton. Register online at pineappleclassic5k.org/wpa and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Church cookbook sale: Members of the Mothers and Daughters Guild of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Homestead have penned a cookbook containing 371 recipes, including recipes from the late national church leader Metropolitan Nicholas as well as favorite dishes from the church's liturgical seasons. Copies will be sold from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sundays at the church or by calling 412-466-7103 or 412-271-6907. Proceeds will benefit St. Nicholas Church projects and local Orthodox Christian charities.
Locavore Dinner: A smorgasbord of local foods: Boyd and Blair vodka and Wigle whiskey, plus aged ham from Crested Duck, polenta-dusted scallops, butter lettuce salad, dry-aged venison loin and brown-butter blondies with ginger ice cream. 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 6, at Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar, Shadyside. $85 per person or $150 per couple benefits Springboard Kitchens, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit. To register: http://sbkpgh.org.
Pig Roast on the Patio: Something about pig roasts always puts me in mind of "Lord of the Flies," but if you can set your heebie-jeebies aside, this menu sounds delish: a huge beer-basted whole roast pig, baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, fruit salad, tomato salad, cornbread, dinner rolls, chocolate cake, beer from Full Pint Brewing, wine and soft drinks. 6:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at The Pines Tavern, Pine. $58 with beer or wine; $38 with nonalcoholic beverages. Reservations suggested: 724-625-3252.
Pittsburgh Irish Festival: All things Irish -- including food, beer and whiskey tastings -- from 4 p.m. to midnight Sept. 7, 11 a.m. to midnight Sept. 8 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at Riverplex at Sandcastle, West Homestead. $12 for adults. pghirishfest.org.
Wine Time at the Colony: Pennsylvania wines, food and artisan and gift items. Noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at Penn's Colony, Saxonburg. $20 admission includes wine tastings; $10 for non-tasting admission. No attendees under age 21. winetimeatthecolony.com.
Rebecca Sodergren: firstname.lastname@example.org.