Countdown: The Top Ten Alcoholic Drinks of Summer

There's nothing better than an ice cold alcoholic beverage on a hot summer day. Here are the top ten cocktails and mixed drink recipes that will ease your pain and beat the summertime heat.

10) The Tom Collins
You can skip the overpriced (and overly sweetened) store bought Tom Collins mix. Instead, try making one the old-fashioned way. You'll love this thirst-annihilating combination of lemon juice, powdered sugar and gin.

Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 oz gin
Shake with ice, strain in a highball glass
Add several ice cubes, top off with carbonated water and stir
Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry

9) The Fuzzy Navel
It may not be the manliest drink around, but on a really hot summer day it's okay to bend the gender rules a bit and enjoy this easy-to-make thirst-quencher.

3 oz Peach Schnapps
3 oz orange juice
Combine and pour over ice in a highball glass.

8) The Tequila Sunrise
Here's another refreshing orange-juice based cocktail, but this concoction packs a more powerful punch with tequila as its alcohol base. And not only does this drink quench your thirst, it offers attractive visual effects too. Don't forget to "stir to complete your sunrise!"

1-2 shots tequila
4-6 ounces orange juice
1/2 shot grenadine

Pour tequila and orange juice over ice.
Gently pour in grenadine and let it sink to the bottom of the glass.
Stir to complete your sunrise.

7) The Mint Julep
No drink is more venerated than this signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. Best with shaved or crushed ice, never ice cubes.

5 fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
About 4 ounces bourbon
Crushed or shaved ice
Mint sprig, for garnish

Place sugar, mint leaves and about one ounce of the bourbon in the bottom of chilled glass. Muddle or crush the mint to create a thick, green paste in glass. Add crushed or shaved ice. Place a short straw all the way to bottom of cup, into the green mint paste.

Pour the remaining 3 ounces of bourbon over the ice. Add more crushed ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

6) Hard Lemonade
Lemonade, in addition to being the perfect thirst quencher, is a great blank slate for a wide variety of alcoholic additives. Try adding 1-2 shots of rum, vodka, or even Southern Comfort to an eight-ounce glass of lemonade with ice. Stir and enjoy!

5) The Strawberry Daiquiri
Have you ever tried making a strawberry daiquiri with freshly picked strawberries? Pure heaven.

3 ounces light rum
1 ounce lime juice
2 tsp powdered sugar
2-3 ounces fresh strawberries

Place ingredients into a blender with 1 cup of ice, pulse until smooth.
Pour into a highball glass. Serves 2.

4) The Mojito
Cynics might argue that the mojito is getting a bit too popular these days, but there's no denying that this is simply a great drink. The mix of mint, rum and lime juice is truly refreshing. For a related drink that's not quite as well known, see the Caipirinha.

Several mint leaves
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 1/2 oz light rum
Club soda

Crush the mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass. Add the sugar, lime juice and rum, stir well. Top with ice and a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lime slice and a mint sprig.

3) The Margarita
My wife would say that margaritas are great drinks all year 'round, but I think they are especially delicious during the hot summer. Be sure to avoid those horrible fructose-laden "margarita mixes" and go for the real thing. And drink it on the rocks with extra salt.

3 parts tequila
1 part Triple Sec
2 parts lime juice

Rub rim of cocktail glass with lime rind, dip rim in salt. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into glass.

2) Sangria
There are as many sangria recipes out there as there are people who make it, but I'll share with you a solid, simple, and not-too-sweet red sangria recipe:

2 oranges sliced, plus the juice of a third orange
Any other chopped or sliced assorted fruits you have handy (recommend: limes, lemons, apples, peaches or pears)
1 bottle inexpensive red wine
1/8 to 1/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on taste
1/4 cup triple sec
Add everything to a large pitcher and stir.
Chill for at least a few hours, or preferably overnight.

Cook's Illustrated apparently did a series of sangria taste tests, using red wines of varying price and quality. They found that the cheaper the red wine, the better the sangria! Now that's my kind of drink. (On a separate note: does anybody know if Cook's Illustrated is hiring?)

And of course you don't have to stop at red sangria. Try white sangria (using white wine), or if you have some Blue Curacao, you can add it to white sangria for an exotic-looking blue sangria.

And the very best summertime mixed drink is.....

1) The Gin and Tonic
Just listening to the clinking ice and gentle fizz of a gin and tonic is a cool, relaxing experience, and when that gin starts to enter your bloodstream, it's pure anesthesia. Welcome to the most elegant drink of the summer.

1-3 ounces gin, depending on your preference
Lime wedge
Squeeze lime wedge into glass
Add ice cubes, fill with tonic water.

I'm sure there are plenty of other drinks that could be great for a hot summer day, but I really need to finish off this post and make myself a drink.

What are your favorite summer drinks?

Related Posts:
Countdown: Top Ten Low Alcohol Drinks
Countdown: The Top Ten Best No-Alcohol Drinks
The Gimlet
The Gin and Tonic

How can I support Casual Kitchen?
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Cooking Like the Stars? Don't Waste Your Money

Is celebrity chef branded cookware worth the extra money? This was the subject of a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

The article raised two thought-provoking questions:

1) Is it worth it to pay up for a cookware set endorsed by celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray or Emeril Lagasse?
2) What do you really get for your money when you buy chef-branded cookware?

The surprising answers to these questions were 1) no, and 2) surprisingly little.

"A star endorsement doesn't mean stellar cookware."
The anecdotes from the article are depressing. The silicone handle on Rachel Ray's frying pan catches fire during a test use. Emeril Lagasse's 8-inch frying pan bends "like an accordion." And Marcus Samuelsson's 10-piece set, while of solid quality and design, retails for $500.

Tales like these make me want to crawl into my cupboard and hug my humble Revere cookware.

Neither I nor the WSJ mean to pick on these great celebrity chefs who collectively have done so much to bring great cooking to the masses. But let's be reasonable about the relative value of the products they hawk.

If you're trying to cook on a budget, or if you're trying to build out your kitchen at a reasonable cost, don't trip yourself up with a large capital outlay for overpriced cooking gear. And, most importantly, don't pay up for suspect merchandise. If you buy poor quality cookware, or pay too much for what you do buy, it can suck all the fun out of cooking for years.

Instead, stick to a basic but high-quality set of cooking gear that doesn't include extra branding and advertising costs. In our kitchen we've been overjoyed with the quality and durability of our reasonably priced Revere and T-Fall cookware, which we've been happily using for nearly two decades.

You don't need the stamp of approval from a celebrity chef to cook exceptional meals at home.

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Mastering Kitchen Setup Costs
When High-Fat Food ... Can Actually Be Healthy For You
The Crockpot: A Siren Call for Single People
How to Modify a Recipe

How to Create Your Own Original Pasta Salad Recipes Using The Pasta Salad Permutator

All this talk about summer pasta salad recipes over the past couple of weeks has given me the idea to take the pasta salad concept a step further.

Sure, it's great to publish your favorite pasta salads recipes on your blog, but what if I could create a tool that would help my readers create original pasta salads of their own? It would be the equivalent of Choose Your Own Adventure for pasta salads!

That's exactly what I created for today's article. Let me introduce to you the Pasta Salad Permutator. With the Permutator's unpatented six-step process, you can have the basic tools and building blocks to compose your own original pasta salad recipes.

How to Use the Pasta Salad Permutator:
Step 1) First, start with the sauce base, the basic chassis of your pasta salad. Most pasta salads sauces fall into these fundamental categories:

olive oil-based
lemon juice-based
vinegar-based (red wine vinegar, white, cider, balsamic, etc)
mayonnaise-based (shudder)
asian-style or other sauces (tamari, hoisin, soy sauce, oyster sauce, tahini, etc)

Choose any one, or employ a combination of two or more.

Step 2) Then, add your vegetable inputs. Here is a partial list of choices ranging from common to the not-so-common:

peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)
onions (and red onions)
tomatoes (cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, green, plum, etc)
snow peas
olives (various kinds)

sundried tomatoes, etc.

You can limit your choices to a few or several of these, depending on various factors. What seems interesting to you on that day? What's in season? What's reasonably priced? Which items might go well together? You get the idea.

Keep in mind, there's no need to constrain choices to veggies here. How about considering some fruits too?

mandarin oranges

various dried fruits
apple or pear chunks, etc.

Step 3) Now, move on to your protein inputs. There are obvious choices, such as:

various types of cheeses

...and so on. But you can also consider less obvious choices, like:

seafood (shrimp, salmon pieces, crabmeat, etc)
various types of nuts
grains (bulgur, cooked wild rice, barley, etc)
very firm tofu

There are no limits here! Choose just one or several, again basing your decision on your budget, your dietary restrictions, or what sounds interesting to you.

Step 4) Next, consider adding some leafy greens to invigorate your recipe!

Fresh parsley, basil, mint, dill, spinach or rosemary are all fragrant, interesting and healthy possibilities. You can also consider more sturdy greens like kale and swiss chard here, but keep in mind that tough leafy greens like these should probably be blanched in boiling water briefly before adding.

Step 5) We're almost done. Next, add your spices. Here's where things can get really fun. Choose from these categories:

Hot spices: Tabasco, cayenne, chipotle, jalapeno
Mild: black pepper, white pepper, oregano, paprika
More exotic: cumin, curry, nutmeg, massala spices
Other/weird: lemon zest, grated orange peel, fennel seeds, cinnamon

Step 6) Finally, choose your pasta shape, being mindful of the nature of your sauce. A thinner sauce might require a pasta with nooks and crannies that will hold more sauce (e.g., shells, rotini, penne rigati). A thicker sauce, like our Thai Pasta Salad, might need a broad pasta with a lot of surface area, like linguine or fettucine. And of course it's always fun to pick cool-looking shapes for visual appeal (wagon wheels, cavatappi, etc).

Congratulations! Now that you've seen each of the six steps, I'll walk you through a specific example of how I might use the Permutator to create my own original pasta salad recipe:

1) I'll start with hoisin sauce with olive oil for an Asian-style pasta salad.
2) Then add garlic (maybe I'll simmer the garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, then add in the hoisin sauce) and hmmmm... how about mandarin oranges and dried apricots?
3) Then fresh spinach, and basil for greens.
4) Let's have this salad be meatless, so I'll skip this step.
5) Cayenne or red pepper flakes for spiciness.
6) And for the pasta, let's try rotini.

Presto, I've just created a delicious original Asian pasta salad! I hereby name it: Spicy Singaporean Pasta Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Dried Apricots. How easy was that?

As you can see, this isn't rocket science. Almost all pasta salads have the same six building blocks in common. The Permutator is just a simple tool to help you create some really interesting combinations. Roll some ideas around in your brain while you walk through the six steps and see what original recipes you can invent.

You can make your choice from the specific list of ingredients I have above, or add additional ingredients of your own choosing in each category. Let your mind really go and come up with some crazy, exotic ideas--you might surprise yourself with something truly unique and delicious!

Before I set you free to devise your own pasta salads, I'll take you through one more example:

1) Lemon juice and vinegar as the base.
2) Cucumbers, celery, feta cheese, sundried tomatoes and olives (we're going a bit Greek here)
3) Some chickpeas for protein.
4) Fresh parsley and mint (now leaning more towards Turkey)
2a) Let's back up for another pass at step 2) and add something interesting: pineapple chunks.
5) And now let's get truly interesting with spices: a few dashes of ground cinnamon (to taste) and then add Tabasco (to taste).

Voila: Sweet and Spicy Middle Eastern Salad with Pineapple Chunks. Also--did you notice something unusual about this "pasta" salad? Yep, it doesn't even contain pasta. Don't create a box for yourself and think that any rules have to constrain you. Sometimes the best and most creative recipes manifest when you truly throw out the entire rulebook.

Try out my Permutator and I guarantee you'll come up with some creative and original pasta salads of your own. In fact, I'd love to hear reader submissions of their own pasta salad creations--leave yours in the comments section below! I'll come up with a suitable prize for the best sounding recipe. And heck, just for some extra fun I'll give out a prize for the most revolting recipe too (here's a sample title: Spicy, Curried Wagon Wheels with Mayonnaise, Fennel Seeds and Cilantro).

Let's get going dreaming up those recipes!

Related Posts:
Thai Pasta Salad
Fattoush! A Middle Eastern Salad Recipe
Chickpeas, Pasta and Tomato Salad
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions

Penne Pasta Salad

We're still in summer pasta salad mode here at Casual Kitchen, and today I bring you another healthy, easy and inexpensive pasta salad recipe to try. It's been a staple in our kitchen for years.
Penne Pasta Salad
(modified slightly from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta)

2 lbs fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
4 Tablespoons white vinegar
a dash of salt

1 lb penne (preferably penne rigati)
1 cucumber, pared, halved and sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped red onions
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers

1) Combine the chopped tomatoes, olive oil, basil, vinegar and salt and let stand for a few minutes in a large bowl.

2) Cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, chop the cucumber, onion, and roasted red bell peppers.

3) Combine everything and mix well. Can serve immediately (while the pasta is still warm), or can serve chilled.

Serves 6.
Along with last week's Chickpeas, Pasta and Tomato Salad, our Thai Pasta Salad recipe and today's Penne Pasta Salad, Casual Kitchen now offers three simple and delicious summer pasta salad recipes. Try them all and let me know what you think!

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Fattoush! A Middle Eastern Salad Recipe
Grilled Tuna Steaks: Casual Food for the Grill

The Rice Shortage?

Just a quick update following my rebuttal of a recent New Yorker article on the coming collapse of the world's food system.

Remember all those media articles about rice shortages just a scant two months ago? Since then, in my grocery store in suburban New Jersey, there were signs posted next to the rice warning that customers could buy only two 20 pound bags of rice at a time because of these shortages.

I just have to tell everyone that yesterday we saw those signs replaced by a 50% off sale on--you guessed it--20 pound bags of rice.

It seems some systems can become recursive in very short order.

Now that rice is two for the price of one, we discovered that we couldn't even carry two 20 pound bags out of the store at one time.

Chickpeas, Pasta and Tomato Salad

The weather in the northeastern US finally started to get warm over the past week or two, and it finally feels like summer might come this year.

And summertime, of course, means it's time to break out some trusty pasta salad recipes. Today's recipe will provide you with a light and nutritious meal that's simply perfect for a hot summer day.
Chickpeas, Pasta and Tomato Salad
(modified slightly from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta*)

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chickpeas, drained and well-rinsed
2/3 cup olive oil
5-6 Tablespoons lemon juice
6 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
A couple of dashes of salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or more to taste)

4 cups pasta (suggest tubetti, elbows, penne rigati or medium shells)
4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1) Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, oregano and black pepper in a large bowl. Marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour.

2) Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, chop the tomatoes, celery and red onion. When the pasta is done, add it and everything else in with the marinated chickpeas. Toss and serve immediately.

Serves 8 easily.

A few quick recipe notes:
1) The original version of this recipe called for tubetti, which is a tubular-shaped pasta like ditalini, only longer (ditalini is the kind of pasta you typically find in a minestrone soup). Of course we couldn't find tubetti, or anything close, in our grocery store that day, so we just picked the coolest looking pasta they had--cavatappi. But the bottom line is you can choose any of a wide variety of pasta shapes for this salad. Have some fun with it and experiment.

2) Close readers of Casual Kitchen know by now the predictable reasons why we love pasta salads: they're laughably cheap, really easy to make, and very healthy. This particular recipe delivers a balanced mix of protein (from the chickpeas), complex carbohydrates (an efficient source of energy from the pasta), and fiber and antioxidants (from the vegetables and greens) for roughly $1.50 per serving. You can't beat that with a baseball bat.

3) There are plenty of pasta salad recipes out there that go for the easy "wow" factor by blasting your palate with a too-strong vinegar or vinaigrette sauce base. In contrast, this recipe is quieter and more modest. With its simple yet elegant mix of lemon, fresh parsley and black pepper, this salad is just perfect. A keeper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

* Full disclosure: if you enter Amazon via a link on my blog and buy something, I'll get a small commission on that purchase. Please think of it as my "tip jar"--and thanks so much to those readers out there who support me!

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On Writing for Casual Kitchen, Part 2: Keeping Track

This is an off-topic post discussing my approach to writing for Casual Kitchen. If you haven't already, please take a look at Part 1.
The 30 Minute Method:
1) Set a goal of spending a minimum of 30 minutes each day writing content.
2) Keep track of the days you meet and miss this goal.

Last week we went over Part 1 of The 30 Minute Method. Today, we move on to Part 2: Keeping Track.

I'll admit up front that suggesting that you keep track of the days you write and don't write might seem a bit condescending, perhaps even insulting. Please don't take it that way. This part of the process is really about keeping track of your performance and conditioning yourself to observe that performance without negative judgment.

This is what really holds The 30 Minute Method together. Let me explain.

What Gets Measured Gets Done
There's a great expression from the business world that applies perfectly here: what gets measured gets done. The corollary to this expression is: if you aren't measuring, then you can't know if you are improving.

Are you writing more consistently this month compared to last month? How about this year compared to last year? Do the habits and patterns in your daily life lend themselves to you building a consistent writing habit, or do you need to make some changes in order to reach this goal?

Understand that you can't possibly know the answer to any of these questions unless you keep track of the days you write. Calendars
How should you keep track? Fortunately, this is the easy part. Print out a one-page, full-year calendar (you can get a free one at and keep it next to your computer. I put an X in that day's box on the days where I meet or exceed the 30 minute minimum. If I miss a day, I'll leave that day blank on the calendar.

Once again, let me reiterate: Do this as best you can without negative self-judgment. Your goal is not to berate yourself for missing a few days here and there. Your goal is simply to track the data series so you can observe the consistency of your writing.

Now, let's talk about the benefits of this process.

Scooby Snacks and Streaks
I'd love to go on and on about how satisfied you should be with the simple ritual of marking an X in a box at the end of your daily writing session. If putting a lousy X in a box--the psychological equivalent of a Scooby snack--is all it takes to motivate you, you are truly lucky.

But what is highly motivating is getting a long streak of X's going--not only is it satisfying to look back on all the steady effort, but after six or seven days of X's, you simply aren't going to want to break that streak. For example, I finished the entire month of May with only three blank days, and recently I had a streak of going 30 days without a blank day. You had better believe I'm not going to miss the 31st day.

Let me summarize: This process is all about consistent effort and dispassionate measurement of that effort. Those two factors are crucial inputs that drive your writing output. The 30 Minute Method is simply a basic measurement and documentation tool to help you build that habit of consistency--without negative self-judgment.

Give The 30 Minute Method a try for a few weeks and you might surprise yourself with significant increases in your writing output.

Final Thoughts
Let me leave you with a few final words of encouragement. It's not easy getting up the energy, the inspiration and the motivation to write. And this can be especially true if you're just starting out in your blogging efforts--it's easy to feel like nobody reads you, and nothing you write matters.

If you start thinking about this too much, it becomes easy for procrastination, emotional baggage, or plain old discouragement to drag you down. So, I'll say it again: don't think so much. Instead, concentrate on discipline and do your best to develop habits like The 30 Minute Method that will help you write consistently. You'll get there.

And those of you out there who have considered starting a blog, or have an urge to try your hand at writing, do it! What have you got to lose? I cannot say enough about how much I've learned, and how satisfying it has been, to create this little corner of the blogosphere with my own hands. You can do the same.

Related Links:
There are lots of blogs out there geared toward helping you write. Here are a few sources of advice and information that I've found particularly helpful:
1) Copyblogger: Particularly useful for making your writing more attention-grabbing. See for example the series on writing headlines.
2) Write to Done
: A blog by the founder of Zen Habits. Great advice on many areas of writing and blogging.
3) The Simple Dollar has a great series on how to build a better blog.
4) A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech is one of the more highly-regarded books on how to maximize your creativity.

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On Writing for Casual Kitchen

On Writing for Casual Kitchen

This is an off-topic post on writing.

I've received a few inquires recently about my approach to writing Casual Kitchen, so I thought I’d dedicate two posts on this subject. These posts will be geared for the new or part-time blogger interested in increasing his or her writing output, as well as for those readers interested in starting a new blog or other writing project.

I'll start by sharing a preposterously simple method which has boosted my confidence, cured me (mostly) of procrastination, and helped me build a habit of consistent, regular writing. I call it The 30 Minute Method. It has two parts:

1) Set a goal of spending a minimum of 30 minutes each day writing content.
2) Keep careful track of the days you meet and miss this goal.

That's it. Seriously. Employing these two simple habits has done more to increase the consistency and quality of my writing than anything else I've done.

Let's go over why this approach works. We'll cover Part 1 of The 30 Minute Method today and we'll cover Part 2 in a later post.

No Baggage
Do you often find writing to be discouraging, even confidence-shredding? I certainly do. What if what I write sucks? What if nobody likes it? What if I don't get any validation of myself as a person after my writing session today? And so on. It's enough to keep me surfing the web and reading other peoples' blogs all day long and never write anything of my own.

The 30 Minute Method simply eliminates this baggage. It's just not that big a deal to write for 30 minutes. So set the darn timer and sit down and get to work. If you make the process more habitual and don't think about it so much, you'll get rid of most of the psychological dead weight that can hold you back.

Pre-empting Procrastination
The writer's other demon is procrastination. It's so easy to turn the TV on for a few minutes, putter around the kitchen for a few more minutes, surf the web for a few more minutes, and before you know it, you've beguiled away your entire day's ration of writing time.

Once again, here's where daily application of The 30 Minute Method reduces the psychological stakes and ensures that at least some writing gets done every day.

Less Than Crap
Just in case you think that the 30 Minute Method causes me to deliver high quality content every time I sit down, I've got news for you: the volume and quality of my writing varies wildly and arbitrarily. Sure, some days I'll write decent stuff. But many days I'll write utter steaming crap. Heck, some days I'll start off writing crap and then have a phase of non-crap writing, followed by more crap.

But here's my point: if you don’t write at all, you know you’re going to create something that’s even less than crap. And before you know it, another year will go by and you still won't have fleshed out your new blog or your new novel--or whatever ambitious writing goals you hoped to accomplish.

What this means is two-thirds of the writing battle is just sitting down, getting your mind to shut up for a few minutes, and making a habit of writing consistently.

Getting into a Flow State
I'll conclude with the most powerful benefit of The 30 Minute Method: it gives you a regular opportunity to enter a creative state where you lose all sense of time and you become totally absorbed into the task at hand.

The term widely used for this mental state is "flow." Usually it takes 15-20 minutes of focused effort to enter a flow state, so a daily 30 minute minimum writing session will give you more than enough time to get there.

When you're writing in a state of flow, your output and creativity will be much higher than typical. And you'll be so deeply engrossed in your work that not only will you tune out distractions, you'll also tune out negative self-judgment. I've found that my productivity in this state is so far above my average productivity that the output from one flow session often exceeds the combined output of several other writing sessions. And these sessions are so satisfying that I'm always happy to trade five or six--or even ten--frustrating writing sessions for just one where I experience flow.

(An aside: this is another useful application of The 80/20 Rule. If you can maximize the number of "critical few" flow sessions you have, you should be able to massively increase the quality and quantity of your writing.)

If you're interested in learning more about this subject, I strongly recommend Flow by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. It's an exceptional (albeit densely written) book that's well worth reading. In addition, there are several useful posts over on Lifehacker that discuss the flow state in varying degrees of detail.

One final note on flow: Much like how the quality of my writing varies arbitrarily, the times when I enter a flow state can likewise be random and arbitrary. This may happen to you too. But when you do enter the flow state, you might not even hear the timer go off when your 30 minutes are up! Thus you might want to to think about scheduling your 30 minute writing sessions at a time when you can run a bit overtime. In order to take maximum advantage of a good flow state, you may want to be able to stretch your 30 minute session out to an hour, at times even longer. Being in a flow state can be wonderful, but it probably shouldn't be at the expense of being late for work, or inadvertently leaving your kid waiting for you to pick him up from a baseball game.

So stop thinking, set the darn timer, and just sit down and write. Every day. It's only for a measly 30 minutes. And every so often, one of those low-pressure, no baggage, 30-minute sessions will turn into a flow session, and you'll spend an hour or more blasting out ideas and articles and copy without any mind to the world around you.

Tune in a few days from now for Part 2, where I'll cover the second part of my preposterously simple approach to writing--Keeping Track.

Related Posts:
On Writing for Casual Kitchen Part 2: Keeping Track
How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Cooking
More Applications of the 80/20 Rule to Diet, Food and Cooking
FAQs of Casual Kitchen

* Full disclosure: if you enter Amazon via a link on my blog and buy something, I'll get a small commission on that purchase. Please think of it as my "tip jar"--and thanks so much to those readers out there who support me!