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Everything posted by therese

  1. No sugar in cornbread. None. If you put sugar in something that might otherwise qualify as cornbread, you have made cake.
  2. And I'm reading this thinking to myself "She's going to cook these? What kind of weirdo stuff has that woman gotten up to now?"
  3. Congrats, Fabbie. Give our best to the Captain. And as for the new arrival, I'm thinking something along the lines of Gerard. As in Depardieu.
  4. Most definitely not the spongy stuff from tins, and when I'm describing it too people I use that example to illustrate the difference. The canned item is pink, flabby, and waterlogged. Country ham is dark, firm, and fine-grained. There are two ways to serve country ham: sliced (like a steak) and heated in a skillet (which will make it buckle and curl). You don't need to add any fat, of course, but I typically rinse the slices in water to remove surface salt crystals, and that moisture helps in the skillet. The resulting texture is quite firm, a bit like the meaty part of strip bacon, or Canadian/peameal bacon. The flavor is strong, and usually fairly salty. If you find it's too salty you can soak the slices in water for few minutes before cooking, but be careful you don't turn it into waterlogged mush. Country hams may also be baked, resulting in a much more tender but still very highly flavored product. The slicing thin aspect of serving it has to do with the fact that it is so highly flavored that a little goes a long way, and none of wants to waste something so lovely. It is also fairly salty, and I tend to undersalt whatever I'm serving with it, and make a point of serving contrasting flavors like bitter (greens), sour (pickles), and bland (grits).
  5. Actually I can think of one exception, a French woman about 10 years my senior, who absolutely will not hear of my paying or of our splitting the bill, ever, when dining with her (generally in Montpellier, where she lives and works). She sees herself as my host (because I don't live in France, obviously) and wouldn't dream of making her guest pay to eat. We've never dined together in the U.S. So I just make a point of bringing her a really nice gift whenever I see her.
  6. Ah, sorry, didn't quite read the question through. When dining with colleagues and/or friends from France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, and Denmark (and probably some others that I can't recall) we have generally split the bill, whether we are dining in the U.S. or somewhere in Europe.
  7. We split the bill equally (generally by using two credit cards and asking the waiter to do an even split), and pay no attention whatsoever to what anybody ate or drank, figuring that it will even out in the end. We eat out with friends a lot, and could alternate paying, but that would require that somebody keep track of who paid last time, and that's not something that I care to keep track of. If there's a more complicated split, I'll usually pay (by credit card) and trust the others to cover theirs with cash. As my friends are generous sorts I typically end up making money on that proposal.
  8. Yes, I make cheese straws using a recipe that calls for 8 tbsp of butter, 8 ounces of grated cheese (sharp cheddar usually my choice), and 1 1/2 c flour. No egg, and I vary the seasonings depending on my mood. I find that I can vary the final product quite a bit depending on how thin I roll the dough and how long I cook them (at 350F, for 12-15 minutes). Shorter cooking time with thicker dough gives something like a savory shortcake, longer cooking time/thinner dough gives a very crunchy/crispy, somewhat more oily cracker. They are gone in seconds, no matter how many I make or how I cook them.
  9. I like everything I've got from OXO, including the measuring cup mentioned up thread (but then I've got a dishwasher). The vegetable peeler is great. I don't have arthritis, but I do have an injury (sliced an extensor tendon with a scalpel many years ago) that makes gripping things tightly a little uncomfortable, and OXO handles work really well for me.
  10. 1. Have your tablecloth and napkins laundered and pressed at the cleaners. 2. Hire a cleaning service to come in and lay waste to the place (possibly while you're out shopping). It won't be perfect, but it will be a very good head start. Consider it a Christmas present to yourself. Do not pre-clean those rooms.
  11. I vote for a souffle: impressive, light (as air, indeed), and lovely with champagne. I wouldn't use either the apples or walnuts, though. Souffles call for whimsy, and apples and walnuts are lacking in whimsy.
  12. Excuse me? We're being short-changed? I demand more! We'll all just have to come up with some virtual equivalent of the eager audience that won't leave the hall but instead stands and claps and whistles and stamps their feet until the performers return, grinning sheepishly, for more.
  13. Tripe's a very traditional hangover food. Sounds like Abra was thinking ahead.
  14. And here I thought I'd be doing something other than reading a food blog this week. Hah! Blog on, ladies.
  15. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, keep Hot Browns in mind. Use a recipe that calls for ham, not bacon. I dice country ham and add it to cold salads (said cold salads being made of whatever you'd like to make them from---I use fresh peas like lady peas or zipper peas in late summer, but move to black-eyed peas later in the year). And don't forget, you're going to need some ham on New Year's Day, for luck (along with black-eyed peas). And greens, for wealth. These items are often served on New Years Eve "breakfast" buffets (served at about 2:00 AM, a last snack before one heads off to sleep off ones hangover, with country ham being a really great part of the cure).
  16. It's a real boat (and so not a "floating box"), and at one time could have been used to navigate the canals, but is now permanently moored. We did look at one boat that is moored in Amsterdam but wants to remain usable for touring, and so is apparently required by law to take one trip, even if a short one, per week. I decided against it in part because the mooring in Amsterdam was perhaps a bit too central: hard up against the train station, along Prins Hendrikkade. The boat does not come with bikes, so far as I know, but my husband and the children may well rent them. I have a back problem that precludes my riding one for any length of time, but even I may do a little riding. Particularly if there's a meal waiting at the end of the trip.
  17. Heh heh. Again, no kitchen. Yep, it's a boat. And a very nice boat so far as I can tell. Not cheap, but in comparison to Disney everything seems very reasonable (and ever so much more pleasant). Full kitchen, washer/dryer, sufficient indoor and outdoor space, everything that makes family travel pleasant. Perfect. Feel free to volunteer your neighborhood favorites. We like, well, everything.
  18. Um, no. So far as I can tell those apartments are not available for extended stays, and don't necessarily feature full kitchens.
  19. Yes, I really did think it was great, and I think my kids are going to enjoy it lots. When we told my daughter (who is 14) that we were considering Disney World at Christmas her response was "Okay, fine." When we told my son (who is 17), he responded with a look of horror and wanted to know why we couldn't go "somewhere cool". "Like where?" I asked. "Like Stresa" he responded (we spent two weeks in Piemonte last summer). So I considered the options, and decided on Amsterdam in April. Great food was one of the most important criteria. My son and I both recall the very slim pickings at Disney (and he was only about 10 at the time, I think). Hmm, another hint. Well, you can see it from the terrace at Cafe Dantzig.
  20. Oh, and to understand just exactly how excited I am about this trip, you need to understand two things: 1. This trip is instead of a possible to trip to Disney World the week after Christmas. I'd initially agreed to it, thinking that it would be cool for the kids, but the more I looked into it (how much? for a single room? with all of us in there together?) and the more I contemplated eating Disney food (they've got a meal plan now, by the way, just in case you're feeling masochistic) the more despondent I became. So I'm pretty happy. 2. When I said that we rented an apartment I wasn't giving you the whole scoop. Yes, it's an apartment, but it's an especially cool apartment. Can anybody guess why?
  21. Well, our family spring holiday is booked, and this year it's in Amsterdam. I was there a couple of months ago for a weekend prior to a meeting elsewhere, and enjoyed it so much that I decided that my family would also find it entertaining. We'll be there for a week, in April, and I've rented an apartment so we'll be able to eat breakfast at home and do some cooking if I'm not too lazy (a full kitchen, from what I can tell). The apartment's near the Waterlooplein, which I gather features a flea market but not necessarily a food market. So, marketing and restaurant suggestions in that area, or others worth a trip all very welcome. I know for sure that we want to have rijstaffel one evening, so let's start with that. I know that Chufi's got a favorite, but don't know the name.
  22. Simplify. I can, just barely, imagine doing this meal in my kitchen, but then I've got two ovens, six burners, an extra fridge downstairs as well as an extra freezer, as well as a large gas grill outside, plus years of experience hosting large dinner parties. And 10 guests aren't going to be able to eat anything like this amount of food unless you make single recipes, and then you're going to have to consider storage of leftovers. And MelissaH's query about sufficient dishes is an excellent one---even after paring down this meal you're going to need lots of dishes. Don't plan on washing between courses unless you've hired in help. My first big Thanksgiving was for 25, and I rented tables, chair, dishes, and glasses.
  23. You're serving it for breakfast? Or for supper? Because biscuits would be most appropriate for breakfast. Generally you serve whatever happens to be fresh from the garden (or if it's winter then whatever you've put up or would have put up if you were the sort of person to put things up). So it will vary with where you live and what season it is there right now. If you've still got summer squash, make squash casserole. If winter squash is ready then serve it however you like. If okra is still available, serve okra. If kale or collards are coming in, serve one of them. Too late for fresh tomatoes for most people, but scalloped tomatoes (which are made with canned tomatoes) are very nice, and the sour note contrasts nicely with the ham's saltiness. Cornbread (no sugar, ideally including buttermilk) is appropriate for supper, though I tend to make grits instead. Get coarse ground, and don't bother adding cream or butter or whateve---good grits taste rich without any additions. Dessert would be apple pie (made with apple sauce, not sliced apples) or something with pumpkin (again, depending on what's ready in your neck of the woods).
  24. I also use OpenTable routinely, so routinely that a restaurant that's not on OpenTable is significantly less likely to get my business: not because I particularly care one way or the other, but because it's so much more convenient to use it than to look up the restaurant's phone number, figure out whether the restaurant is likely to be staffed at the particular moment that I'm calling, decide whether or not the restaurant is likely to be too swamped with customers at the moment that I'm calling (who wants to call during the lunch rush?), remember to call at another time if there's no answer, assess the English skills and general reliability of the person who answers the phone and takes the reservation, and finally hope that the reservation was actually made correctly. I'm not a member of OpenTable, so unless OT tracks me by my email addess(es) it does not know whether I'm a repeat customer (apart from my self-reporting, as it asks you if you've been to particular restaurant before) at a particular establishment. So I don't earn points, but I'm not interested in dining points in any case. On rare occasions (typically when my party is too large to book via OpenTable) I call the restaurant directly, but otherwise have very good success using it. I also routinely make special requests (particular table, heads up about a birthday, etc., heads up re making a theatre curtain) and have never had them go unacknowledged.
  25. I routinely buy fish at Dekalb Farmer's Market and am generally happy, but then I make a point of deciding what I'm going to get after I get there and get a look at what's on offer. I don't mind fish that's been frozen as long as it's very recently thawed (or still frozen), as we're far enough from the coast that it may as well be Ohio from a freshness point of view. No question, ever, of purchasing fish from a grocery store here. Even my local upmarket Publix is out of the question.
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