Janet K. Keeler, Times Food and Travel Editor

Janet K. Keeler

Janet K. Keeler is the food and travel editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She is an adjunct instructor in the Journalism and Media Studies Department of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, from which she holds a master's degree. Keeler is also the author of Cookielicious: 150 Fabulous Recipes to Bake and Share. She joined the Times in 1992.

Phone: (727) 893-8586

Email: jkeeler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @RoadEats

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  1. Readers share packing and money-saving travel tips

    Travel

    Thinking about going on a trip is exciting. For many of us, getting ready is not. • There is an avalanche of decisions to make. How many shirts and pairs of pants? Which shoes are the most comfortable? Checked baggage or carry-on? What kind of electronics to bring? How much money to take, and in what form should I get it? • Last month, we asked readers to share their travel tips, from ways to save money to packing suggestions. What a resourceful bunch you are — and sometimes picky and even a bit worried, especially about being ripped off. The reader who suggested that travelers should not go out at night lest they risk getting mugged, or worse, has had some terrible experiences, I am betting. • The suggestions reminded me of how differently we all look at preparing for a trip, and how what's important to one person might be left to chance by another. For instance, Anita Faye Glock of Tampa never travels without flip-flops to use as slippers in the hotel, as relief from walking shoes that give her blisters and for trudging through wet weather if it's not too cold. I only travel with flip-flops if I think I'm going to get a pedicure. Different strokes, as the saying goes. • Here's a selection of other reader tips, all of which obviously come from experience....

  2. What do we think of most when we travel? Our underwear

    Travel

    Now we are going to mention unmentionables. In a word, underwear.

    It's something travelers think about more than you'd think. Especially women. Multiple pairs take up precious space in luggage, they say. Dirty ones even more (unless you're a member of the Thong Generation).

    A recent article in the New York Times travel section suggested that you pack no underwear at all, and buy new undergarments on your trip. The company Exofficio (exofficio.com) markets a magic pair of undies, suggesting that just one might suffice for a long trip. One!...

    [iStockphoto.com]
  3. Easy weeknight meals: Grilled Lemon Chicken With Tomato Salad and more

    Cooking

    Mon | Meatless meal

    Simple White Bean and Fennel Soup comes together so quickly it won't heat up the kitchen much on a hot summer day. To make it, saute 1 diced onion and 1 small sliced fennel bulb in oil until tender. Add 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 (14-ounce) can each drained cannellini beans and diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until fennel is tender. Discard bay leaf. Add 3 cups spinach and cook until wilted. ...

  4. #CookClub recipe No. 20: Cherry Tomato Focaccia

    Cooking

    I know I might be asking a lot of you, but #CookClub recipe No. 20 calls for making your own bread dough. With yeast. It needs to rise for an hour. Twice.

    But Cherry Tomato Focaccia is worth the effort. It's gorgeous and delicious, plus there's plenty of room for tinkering. You'll know what I mean when you read the accompanying recipe.

    (If you're nervous about using yeast, watch this week's #CookClub video at tampabay.com/cooking. I show you how to make sure the yeast you're using is still good. Dead yeast = flat bread.)...

    #CookClub recipe #20 is Cherry Tomato Focaccia made with homemade dough.
  5. 25 ways to dress up corn on the cob

    Cooking

    There may not be any other food that screams Fourth of July cookout more than corn on the cob.

    It goes with everything — burgers, steaks, chicken, hot dogs — plus it doesn't require utensils, unless you count those cute cob holders. I simply use my hands and just have extra napkins at the ready. Toothpicks, too. It could also be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal, piled high with grated cheeses....

    Better corn on the cob, from top: garlic and Old Bay seasoning; Tuscan blend of rosemary and sun-dried tomato; Jamaican sweet corn rolled in coconut; and Oaxacan-style with queso fresco.
  6. Easy weeknight meals: Rosemary-Peach Chicken Kebabs With Orange Glaze and more

    Cooking

    Mon | Meatless meal

    Gnocchi With Pesto is a fine celebration of summer and can be served hot or at room temperature. If you're lucky enough to come across a fresh bunch of basil or two, make your own pesto. If not, buy some at the store, usually stocked in the aisle with the pastas and sauces. Garnish the dressed gnocchi — Italian potato pasta curls — with lots of Parmesan cheese. This dish begs for a veggie-ful green salad on the side....

  7. #CookClub recipe No. 19: Jalapeno Chile con Queso

    Cooking

    I'll admit it. When it comes to spicy food, I am a bit of a wimp. For my delicate taste buds, a little heat goes a long way.

    So when the recipe for Jalapeno Chile con Queso called for an entire diced jalapeno pepper, I only put in half. Mistake. Use the whole pepper, because the other ingredients in this decadent party dip can stand up to the heat. In fact, if you are a pepperhead, add 2 minced jalapenos. Wash your hands after handling them. Accidentally rubbing your eyes or touching your lips will be painful if you don't....

    JANET K. KEELER   |   Times
Jalapeno Chile con Queso is a hot dip perfect for gatherings. It's not your typical Fourth of July fare but will be gobbled up just the same. Serve with vegetables or tortilla chip
  8. Easy weeknight meals: Roast Chicken Panzanella and more

    Cooking

    Mon | Meatless meal

    It's too hot to cook, so how about a tasty Caprese Salad as tonight's main dish? Alternate slices of ripe tomatoes with the same width of fresh mozzarella slices. Scatter ribbons of fresh basil over all and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For a protein-packed twist, add slices of avocado. Serve with a selection of green and black olives, plus sourdough bread....

  9. Despite steep prices, London is a wonderful family playground

    Travel

    LONDON

    It's dripping buckets, though that is hardly surprising. It's London, after all, where it rains on average 10 days of every month.

    There are three of us and only two umbrellas. Not perfect planning but the 18-year-old is spry and can move quickly between drops. It's a lucky break for him, though, because he won't have to carry it later.

    The taxi drops us in front of the British Museum, and he sprints across the plaza toward the Greek Revival building. We are not the only ones who think this repository of 8 million historic artifacts is a good place to spend a dreary day. Students from grade school to college along with their animated tour guides, tourists from around the world and even locals converge on the museum in lousy weather. (There's a healthy crowd there on nice days, too.) ...

    Elizabeth Tower, known more famously as Big Ben, has the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. The tower was completed in 1858.
  10. Easy weeknight meals: Caesar Artichoke Bake and more

    Cooking

    This Stir Crazy column first ran on June 15, 2011. New Stir Crazy columns will resume June 25.

    Mon | Meatless meal

    Open-Faced Provolone and Tomato Baguettes is a simple concept made sophisticated with a side salad of baby greens, thin shallots and toasted almonds dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Don't forget the ice-cold pinot grigio. Split the baguette lengthwise, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dried thyme and coarse salt. Toast lightly in a 350-degree oven. Remove and layer on thinly sliced tomatoes and slabs of provolone. Return to oven for another 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Slice and serve with salad. ...

  11. When life gives you lemons, say 'hallelujah!'

    Cooking

    When life gives you lemons, you can make so much more than lemonade.

    A sprinkling of zest over strawberry shortcake adds punch to the berries and cream, plus creates an appetizing feast for the eyes.

    Add a squeeze or, better yet, chopped preserved lemons to broccoli, green beans or roasted asparagus and the kids might even ask for seconds. Fresh lemon juice mixed with mayonnaise makes a lighter dressing for summer salads....

    Lemon Chicken Piccata features pan-fried breast medallions topped with a buttery sauce with capers and parsley.
  12. Easy weeknight meals: Creamed Spinach Bake and more

    Cooking

    Mon | Meatless meal

    As the weather heats up, salads are an appealing dinner choice, especially when they include summer's juicy stone fruits. White Bean, Bulgur and Nectarine Salad starts with ½ cup of bulgur wheat cooked according to package instructions. Drain, then spoon into a large bowl and cool. Add 5 nectarines (or peaches), pitted and cut into wedges, 1 cup of torn fresh basil leaves, a can of drained and rinsed white beans and finely diced red onion to taste. Make a dressing of 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more if you'd like) and a minced clove garlic. Feta or goat cheese crumbles would be a tangy addition....

  13. #CookClub recipe No. 18: Mediterranean Rice Salad

    Cooking

    Click here to join our #CookClub chat, every Thursday at 7 p.m. on Twitter.

     

    Eating in the summer is different than eating in the winter. We want to use the oven and stove less. We want lighter fare. And when it comes to salads, especially for parties, we avoid mayonnaise dressings that don't travel well and can't be without refrigeration for long....

    #Cookclub recipe #18 is Mediterranean Rice Salad.
  14. A roundup of books that will make you a better home bartender

    Books

    A liquor cabinet's worth of new books might just be enough to turn you into an expert mixologist. Cocktails from a historical and logistical perspective, plus guides for Mad Men-style parties and kicky ladies-who-lunch gatherings, have recently hit the shelves. � Time to break out the shakers — and the reading glasses.

    Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor...

  15. Plan a festive gathering without the alcohol

    Bars & Spirits

    Teetotaling party guests are a lot like vegetarians, especially if the host is neither.

    They end up being a bit of an afterthought in the party-planning process. The vegetarians must forage for nibbles from the crudite platter and hope that the white bean dip isn't made with chicken stock. Likewise the nondrinker, who sips uninspired soda or maybe fizzy water garnished with a tired wedge of lemon. Not so festive....

    Cool off with a Non-Alcoholic Apricot Raspberry Shrub.