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Posts posted by stevea

  1. I prefer refrigerator pickles to the canned ones, but I don't have enough space to store what I want in the fridge. (Talking cucumber pickles here.) Last year I tried the standard recipe from the USDA (I think) website. The pickles turned out MUCH too salty, pretty limp, and a bit on the gray side.

    I've looked at the pickle-cook-off thread, but wasn't sure I saw a consensus. So if anyone has any great canned pickle recipes, or resources such as books or websites that you'd recommend. I'd greatly appreciate it.

    TIA, Steve

  2. Thanks much for all the suggestions. We're not trying to establish any empirical data set, just have fun with friends. So I really like the bread and butter, melons, and tomato ideas. Especially since my garden is now brimming with tomatoes. I hadn't thought about caramels before. Intriguing idea.

  3. We were given a gift of three high-end salts:

    Cyprus Black Lava Salt

    Chocolate Salt

    Sal Marina aux Deux Piments

    We know nothing about these salts, but we think having some sort of tasting would be an interesting idea. They have different textures (the black lava salt are almost "chunks." Any suggestions on what medium to use to best show off the salts and any differences between them? I assume we should sprinkle them on something instead of cooking with them, but I would appreciate any thoughts on what to serve them on.

  4. I'm on my third bread from this book. The third, the transitional rye hearth meteil is in the oven now, so I don't know how it tastes yet. The other two, the traditional hearth whole wheat and the potato rosemary bread tasted really good, especially the potato rosemary, which was like having a meal in a loaf -- very savory and delicious.

    The only problem I've had with the breads is that instead of getting any oven spring, I seem to get a bit of "oven collapse." The loaves just aren't as big as I think they should be. As a result, the crumb is a bit tighter than I'd like. Any suggestions?

    Also, it would be good to get some hands on training so that one can tell the difference between sticky, tacky, and very tacky dough. It's hard to tell that from pictures.

  5. Regarding tomato (and other) varieties suited to the northwest, Oregon State University does a series of vegetable variety trials every year. There's a lot of information here, perhaps a bit overwhelming if you just want someone to recommend a tomato type or two. But when I go out to buy tomatoes every year, I take a copy along. Here's a link to the 2006 trial results:

    Oregon State Extension 2006 trials

  6. I'm relatively new to growing peppers, but mine seem to be doing well too. What's weird is that the sweet peppers seem to be doing the best, and the hot peppers (thai) not very well. I thought the hot varieties were supposed to do better in the northwest.

    As for growing vegetables in the front yard, my wife has been doodling up a plan to rip out all the plants in the front yard (no lawn, but jam-packed with flowers and shrubs) and replace them with a series of brick raised beds. The brick would match our house, which is also brick. I like the idea because I could put in a row of asparagus. But I'm concerned about how the yard would look in the winter. Perhaps with the appropriate ground cover around the beds? It sure would be nice to plant more varieties of vegetables.

  7. I recently returned from a short trip to San Francisco with a couple of breakfasts under my belt.

    First, a ham and cheese turnover at Acme Bread in the Ferry Building was out of this world good. So rich it almost ruined me for the entire day.

    Second, a Sunday brunch at the Rex Cafe. Very underwhelming.

  8. Out here on the west coast, A-B several years ago invested in Red Hook Brewery of Seattle, and also took a position for a while in Widmer Brewing of Portland (I think Widmer eventually bought back that position). From what I can tell (not being an insider in either company), A-B did not interfere with the hands-on operations of those companies. However, the Widmer and Red Hook brands had much better distribution, especially at events where A-B had the exclusive rights to sell beer. Not only did these events serve the traditional A-B crap (er, product), but also good micros from Red Hook and Widmer. Hoopefully, this will be the case here too.

  9. So has the chef change at clarklewis had any troubling impact? (Please forgive if I'm missing a topic here; a quick search turned up a few pages but none on clarklewis itself.)

    I've been there for lunch since the chef change, but not dinner. The lunch menu is about half the size it used to be, and not as interesting. The food was good, but did not have that special something that I used to recall (especially the simply dressed salads that used to be out of this world).

  10. I think the whole "imperial this" and "imperial that" beers being made are just a bunch of crap from people who cant think of  a better term for "hopped out the ass", which admittedly wouldn't look that great on a bottle label.

    Actually, around here (Oregon), the term "imperial" usually means "malted out the ass." That is, a beer whose malt factor and alcoholic content is higher than one would usually see for that particular style. So, an IPA would be highly hopped, and usually have higher alcohol content too. But an Imperial IPA would amp up the malt and acohol factor even more. Of course, the higher malt profile means the beer could stand a higher hop profile too (bitterness and flavoring). So, sometimes Imperials have more hops too. But the key to the term Imperial is more malt and alcohol.

  11. Many microbreweries produce holiday beers each year, releasing them around Thanksgiving. Virtually every such beer that is released in bottles is also labeled with the year. This, at least to me, serves a couple of purposes. First, it assures me that the holiday beer I'm buying is this year's beer, not something that's been left lying around for a year. And second, for those beers that are worthy of aging, it allows me to keep track of which is which when I'd like to compare the 2005 bottling with the 2006, for example.

    Two beers that do keep wonderfully are Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale and Hair of the Dog's Doggy Claws. In my neighborhood of Portland, Or, one restaurant/bar usually has a vertical tasing of Celebration Ale each year, with as many vintages as it can find, sometimes five or six. And I've heard Alan Sprints, the head brewer of Hair of the Dog (also in Portland) say that he prefers the taste of his Doggy Claws after it's been in the bottle a year. At their dock sale this year, they had several vintages for sale.

  12. The December 2006 issue of Bon Appetit had an interesting recipe for gazpacho bloody mary that turned out quite nice. It used canned tomatoes, a cucumber, lemon juice, cilantro, prepared horseradish, worcestershire sauce, celery salt, and hot sauce. Blend until smooth and serve with vodka and ice. Quite tasty. The only thing I'd change next time is that I'd try to find low- or non-salt canned tomatoes. The celery salt seems to add enough.

  13. I've still got tomatoes hanging in there, hoping to get ripe. Also, the runner beans are still blooming, but the actual beans have tapered off. The chard is still going great too.

    My planting for the fall includes some snap peas that are now up and blooming, bok choy, spinach (lots of spinach since it'll be hard to find or risky to use from stores), arugula, other salad greens, kale, collards, and some turnips (for greens only). I usually plant the garlic in early October.

    pupcart -- you say you have potatoes in the ground. Are they this season's crop, or have you recently planted them for a winter or early spring crop? If the latter, do you need some sort of cover for them?

  14. It is a good year for tomatoes. I even had several "volunteers" start near my tomato bed. Usually I pull them up when I notice them. This year I just let them alone and only occasionally watered them. Even they are thriving with tons of little cherry tomatoes. One of them grew on the other side of my fence and into my neighbor's yard. She had her gardener build a little fence around it and I tied it up to the fence, and it's got dozens of tomatoes on it. Who knows what kind of crossbreeding went on and what kind they really are, but they're quite tasty and we really appreciate this little bonus.

  15. Rather than harvesting our larger tomatoes, I've been watching their tops whiten and slowly crack.  I can't figure out why this is happening and I have no history to tap into as this is a new garden.  We are at 900ft. elevation, but it's HOT, HOT up here.  I know it's been a particularly warm summer and I can't shake the suspicion that this is sunburn, but the smaller tomatoes are doing just fine.  Any ideas?

    It could be a sunburn, especially if the tomatoes are not shielded by their leaves. I have noticed this start on some of my green tomatoes. That is, a whitening and sometimes leatheryness of the portion of the skin that is facing toward the sun. When this happens, I drape a bit of that white gauze row cover material over the affected tomatoes to give them a bit of shade while they ripen. It won't reverse the damage, but it will minimize future damage.

  16. Since I have more cucumbers than I can eat this year, I tried this pickle recipe I saw in the Portland Oregonian Foodday section. However, after reading some of the pickle threads here, I'm confused.

    The recipe in the paper calls for a combination of brine and vinegar (1 TB salt and 2 TB vinegar per quart of pickles). Yet it says to leave the jar out in the open for bubbles to form, implying fermentation. I did that, yet no bubbles have formed. It's been about four days now, with no perceivable activity. So, my questions to the authorities here:

    1. Is this article mistaken when they say bubbles will form?

    2. Could I have done something wrong?

    3. And most importantly, because I haven't refrigerated my pickles, will I kill myself if I eat one?

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