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eG Foodblog: C. sapidus - Crabs, Borscht, and Fish Sauce

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#1 C. sapidus

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:45 PM

Greetings from Frederick, Maryland, USA! Frederick is a historic town of 50,000 nestled close by the Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Mountains (hills, to those of y’all that have “real” mountains).
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Located about an hour (depending on traffic) from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Frederick features an uneasy mix of historic buildings and high technology, corn fields and shopping malls, housing developments and dairy cows. Yes, we still have cows within city limits.
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But the housing developments are winning.
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#2 Pan

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Posted 13 January 2007 - 11:52 PM

This already looks great, Bruce. Whoever hasn't been hanging out in the Dinner and various Asian "food at home" threads now will get an introduction to your beautiful photography and great cooking! Have fun.

Edited by Pan, 13 January 2007 - 11:52 PM.


#3 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:10 AM

Abra immediately guessed the style of food from the teaser picture. Dejah and alanamoana guessed the blogger’s secret identity (alanamoana, the plate is new). :biggrin: Kouign Aman correctly identified the wok and mortar . . .
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. . . but the spires and rooftops seemed to throw folks off the trail.
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Frederick’s clustered spires were immortalized in the John Greenleaf Whittier poem The Ballad of Barbara Fritchie. The poet probably treated the facts with, um, poetic license, but the clustered spires grace the city logo and the local golf course. Here is the logo on the Community Bridge, a rather amazing trompe l’oeil painting downtown. More information can be found on the Community Bridge web site (click).
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Tomorrow morning: menu plans and grocery shopping. Goodnight!

(and thanks for the kind words, Pan).

#4 SuzySushi

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:06 AM

Welcome to the world of blogging, and oh my goodness, the mountains really do look blue! Looking forward to a wonderful week!
SuzySushi

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My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

#5 hzrt8w

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:07 AM

But the housing developments are winning.
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Just like Sacramento! A cow town where the real estate developments are everywhere.

Nice to see you blog, Bruce. I want to see how many Asian dishes you cook up this week. :biggrin:
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#6 nakji

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:13 AM

I can't wait to see what you cook - Those flavours look Vietnamese, too!

Have fun blogging!

#7 Chufi

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:29 AM

Bruce, you know I love your food, and you've inspired me many times to cook a style of food that does not come natural to me, but that tastes so delicious when I do make it! So I am really looking forward to this week.

Which brings me to my question...
How did you become interested in lemongrass, ginger, chillies and szechuan peppercorns? Did you grow up with those flavors, or did you 'discover' them yourself?

Edited by Chufi, 14 January 2007 - 04:29 AM.


#8 Lori in PA

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 08:26 AM

Which brings me to my question...
How did you become interested in lemongrass, ginger, chillies and szechuan peppercorns? Did you grow up with those flavors, or did you 'discover' them yourself?

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I wonder about this too -- please give us your food history, Bruce. I'm very much looking forward to the week.
~ Lori in PA
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#9 Dejah

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 08:45 AM

Glad to see Alanamoana and I were right on the guess!

Hubby and I were supposed to go to a conference around your area last fall. Now I wish we did.

Looking forward to seeing lots more of your cooking and photography! :biggrin:
Dejah
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#10 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 09:44 AM

I usually make coffee on the weekend, mixing equal parts caffeinated and decaffeinated. I often mail-order coffee from Peet’s, Counter Culture, or Intelligentsia, but we have a Starbucks a block away. This morning’s grind:
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We have a very old blade grinder. I would love to get a burr grinder, but until then we enjoy a little extra plastic with our coffee.
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The coffee station is conveniently located next to the fridge and sink. We compost the grounds, which go into the white ceramic container until their trip to the compost bin. I use the stainless steel thermos during the week – more about that later. The silver container labeled “coffee” actually holds sugar. Mrs. C gave it to when we were dating – I think it was her first present to me. Mrs. C also made the trivet – she makes stained glass, glass mosaics, and mosaic stepping stones when she has the time.
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I usually start the coffee maker while warming the pot with hot water. This lets the coffee grinds get thoroughly wet before I put the pot in place and let the coffee flow.
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I take coffee with half + half and sugar. Mrs. C drinks hers black with two ice cubes.
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We feed the dogs twice a day. To control their weight, we cut their dry dog food (“active maturity”) with green beans. Remind me to tell you a story about the boys and green beans. Yellow dog also enjoys a delicious glucosin-chondroitin pill with her breakfast. More about the dogs later.
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Next: pancakes for breakfast and planning the week's menu.

#11 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 09:59 AM

Mrs. C and elder son made pancakes this morning. Apparently she slipped when adding the vanilla, so it had about a quarter cup. No complaints from me! The recipe:
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Ingredients (Penzeys Vietnamese cinnamon not pictured):
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Pouring the first pancakes:
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Elder son deep in concentration. This was his first time making pancakes, and he did a great job.
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He made one huge pancake, just because (that is a 12-inch skillet).
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He also made some pancakes with chocolate-caramel chips.
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Ready to eat. Toppings included cinnamon sugar, honey, and a variety of jams. I had mine with butter – they didn’t need anything else.
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Mrs. C started Weight Watchers recently. She says that the pancakes were three points apiece.

I'm off to play volleyball. Menu planning and grocery shopping afterwards.

#12 judiu

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 10:00 AM

OOOOOH! This is gonna be FUN! Blog on, Bruce! :laugh:
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#13 Dasha

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 10:30 AM

I'm really looking forward to this blog! The pancakes make me wish I'd made some for breakfast this morning. Oh well, there's always tomorrow! :biggrin:

#14 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 12:52 PM

Thanks, all, for the kind words and encouragement. If anyone has any questions, or wants to see something in particular, just shout it out and I will try to accommodate.

Bruce, you know I love your food, and you've inspired me many times to cook a style of food that does not come natural to me, but that tastes so delicious when I do make it! So I am really looking forward to this week.

Thank you, Klary - that means a lot, especially coming from you.

Which brings me to my question...
How did you become interested in lemongrass, ginger, chillies and szechuan peppercorns? Did you grow up with those flavors, or did you 'discover' them yourself?

Excellent question! The first time I tasted chilies and garlic, it was like when the Wizard of Oz changed from black and white to glorious Technicolor. I think it was canned green chilies on a frozen Totinos pizza, but it was an epiphany nonetheless. Before discovering chilies I used to coat all foods with a thick layer of black pepper, trying to find a flavor that I did not yet know existed. According to an Indian gentleman of our acquaintance, folks in India did a similar thing before chilies migrated from the Americas.

I also had the good fortune to grow up in a very diverse neighborhood just outside Washington, D.C. Even before I was old enough to drive, a short bicycle ride yielded restaurants specializing in Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, Mexican, Salvadoran, and of course Chinese food. At home we mostly ate standard British-American food, but Mom occasionally threw in an Indian curry or Ghanaian ground nut chop. One time Mom made shepherd's pie with chilies. We all loved spicy shepherd's pie, but she never repeated it.

Of course, during the past year I learned a ton through eGullet.

#15 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:09 PM

After making coffee this morning, started the week’s menu and grocery list. Planning meals increases dinner diversity and reduces the amount of wasted food. After reviewing the week’s activities, we decide who is going to cook on what night. Mrs. Crab is the better short-order cook, so she usually feeds the family on the nights when we have to be in three places at the same time.

I have been trying a lot of new things lately, so it takes me a while to plan the week’s dinners. Usually, this involves a comfortable chair, a cup of coffee, a pad of paper, and a large pile of cookbooks – something like this:
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Here are the cookbooks that we will probably use this week:
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Mrs. Crab found a clever weekly menu planner with a detachable grocery list. The pad mounts on the fridge with a magnetic strip, so everyone can see the week’s dinners. Things do not always go according to plan, but here is this week’s dinner plan and grocery list:
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#16 Susan in FL

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:36 PM

Way cool, the meal planner and list thingie... Back in the day, when the boyz were in high school, I used to plan meals in advance like that. I had a calendar of menus on the fridge, and everybody would look to see what was planned, including my sons' friends. They all got a big kick out of it, and chose certain times to get themselves invited to dinner. Nice memory. Great blog!
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#17 SuzySushi

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 01:50 PM

Mrs. Crab found a clever weekly menu planner with a detachable grocery list. The pad mounts on the fridge with a magnetic strip, so everyone can see the week’s dinners. Things do not always go according to plan, but here is this week’s dinner plan and grocery list:
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View Post

Very nice! I'm not big on planning menus ahead more than one day in advance except for special occasions, so I'll be interested to see how this works. How often do you do your grocery shopping for the week?
SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."
My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

#18 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:31 PM

While I was playing volleyball, Mrs. C was busy getting groceries. First, she stopped by the Common Market, an organic foods store.
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The store recently moved to a much larger location.
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Their produce looks very good . . .
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. . . and they carry fresh galangal and turmeric - woo hoo!
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After Common Market, she picked up a few things at Sam’s (no pictures). Crab meat is expensive, and Sam’s has the best prices. If things go well, you should see the crab meat tonight. :wub:

#19 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:33 PM

I had a Caribou chocolate mocha bar for a post-volleyball snack. They are a bit sweet for me, but they fight the post-exercise sugar crash. I also had an apple and a banana when I got home. The apples have been really good lately – crisp, tart, and sweet.
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#20 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:48 PM

Sorry, I’m posting things out of order. Among other things, Common Market also has an olive bar . . .
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. . . cheese . . .
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. . . and lots of bulk food:
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#21 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 02:53 PM

Mrs. C and the boys made lunch while I was out. Younger son enjoys cooking and making tea. He helped with the grilled cheese . . .
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. . . while elder son sliced cucumbers. The boys eat as many cucumbers as we can lug home from the store.
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Hey, he was listening when I taught him about knife technique!
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Lunch for the boys:
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Younger son also had some sardines in oil. He loves sardines, and loves breathing on family members after eating sardines. :biggrin:
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Mrs. Crab fried a portabella mushroom burger in Pam, and made a sandwich with whole wheat English muffin, TruLime, celery hearts, and a yogurt drink. Four WW points, she tells me.
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OK, I need to start making dinner. Please feel free to chat amongst yourselves.

#22 snowangel

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 03:21 PM

Bruce, I notice that you have "In the Vietnamese Kitchen." I don't own a Vietnamese cookbook, and in the market. Comments, please!
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#23 Pan

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 03:35 PM

Tell us about TruLime. I've never heard of it.

#24 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:21 PM

Bruce, I notice that you have "In the Vietnamese Kitchen."  I don't own a Vietnamese cookbook, and in the market.  Comments, please!

View Post

Susan, the stories are quite touching and recipes are very detailed (in a good way). I be trying my first recipe from this book on Tuesday.

#25 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:28 PM

Tell us about TruLime. I've never heard of it.

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I have never used it, but the ingredients are citric acid, maltodextrin, lime juice, lime oil, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). A quarter teaspoon of TruLime is supposed to be equivalent to one tablespoon of lime juice. It tastes sorta tart, but doesn't have the wonderful fragrance of freshly-squeezed lime juice.

We usually have limes on hand, so I prefer to just squeeze a lime.

#26 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:31 PM

Very nice! I'm not big on planning menus ahead more than one day in advance except for special occasions, so I'll be interested to see how this works. How often do you do your grocery shopping for the week?

Making a meal plan works very well for us. You will see why when we go back to work on Tuesday. We try to shop once a week, but I often make a second trip to the Asian supermarket or regular grocery store for produce.

#27 C. sapidus

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 04:34 PM

Way cool, the meal planner and list thingie...  Back in the day, when the boyz were in high school, I used to plan meals in advance like that.  I had a calendar of menus on the fridge, and everybody would look to see what was planned, including my sons' friends.  They all got a big kick out of it, and chose certain times to get themselves invited to dinner.  Nice memory.  Great blog!

Thanks, Susan! Having hungry boyz in the house definitely forces the grownups to be more organized. :biggrin:

#28 prasantrin

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 05:44 PM

Do your children have a say in the meal planning, too? They seem to be very involved in cooking at your house--an unusual sight! I don't think I've seen young boys so involved in food/cooking since Snowangel's foodblogs!

I want to see dogs! I'd rather see cats, but dogs are OK, too.

#29 scubadoo97

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 06:12 PM

Great blog so far Bruce. Your food photos are always fantastic and get me in the mood for more Thai and Vietnamese food. Wonderful to see your kids are involved in the kitchen.

#30 racheld

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Posted 14 January 2007 - 06:13 PM

I'm so gladddd it's you!!! What great kitchen apprentices you have, and their plates look like mine---more cucumber than anything else. I'll be SO GLAD when we have them in the garden again; it's lovely to walk out five minutes before dinner and pick one (or six).

Your page numbers on the calendar look like my hymn list used to look when I was pianist for our little church for so many years.

(And I guessed it was you. You just don't have to tell anyone that I guessed it for November).
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