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Posts posted by stevea

  1. This thread has been very helpful. Thanks all. I'm going to be in San Diego next week for a few days, staying in the Mission Valley area. Is there anything in that part of town that I should not miss? Or anything new that looks interesting?

    Based on this thread and my research so far, I'm thinking of Region and Parallel 33. But one of the folks I'm traveling with wants Mexican too. Any suggestions in that area?

    Thanks again.

  2. In the small print on this website, it says:

    Dawn Power Dissolver is not intended for use on copper pots, varnished or painted wood, appliance lettering, scratched nonstick surfaces, oven hoods, and dishwasher doors. Please check the back of the bottle for more information, including a full list of appropriate and inappropriate uses

    Should we be using this on stainless steel oven hoods? Or are they referring to the enameled kind?

  3. I haven't had this brand before, and I'd be interested in knowing how strong of a horseradish taste the vodka has. I made some myself (just soaking a few slices of horseradish in vodka), and even diluting two to one with regular vodka gives that horseradish-up-your-nose effect when drinking it straight. It's great when used in a bloody mary, but only as an additive, not as the only alcohol.

  4. Thanks also to Steve for the info on schnapps recipes.  I'm a home gardener with an abundance of herbs and especially lemon basil and there's only so much pesto a girl can eat.  My mind is simply swimming with possibilities....


    I would love to hear about your experience with basil schnapps. I'm hoping it would be something one could use when cooking, to give a basil flavor when the fresh stuff isn't available.

    But now that you all have reminded me, I'm going to have a glass of lemoncello. Right now!

  5. Are there regulations relating to food and drink that drive you up the wall? Here's one I ran into.

    The other day, my wife put together a package of books and recipes and asked me to send it to her brother in Florida. When I went to the post office to mail it, they told me they couldn't take my package. Why? Because the packaging was a wine box. "We won't accept alcohol or take anything in an alcohol container." But, I protested, there's no wine in the box. Lift it and shake it if you like. "It doesn't matter, you'll have to cover up the box with paper first."

    I said I had never heard of anything like this before. They said it was an old regulation that they hadn't been enforcing. But they started again after 9/11. So terrorists send wine to each other, I asked? They just apologized and repeated the regulation.

    OK, I said. But I think it's a really stupid rule. I know you don't accept alcohol, but if I were going to sneak some by the USPS, the last thing I would do would be to pack it in a wine or beer box.

    Here's the postcript to the story. I took the package down the street to a mailboxes place to send it via UPS. But I told the clerk about my post office experience, in case it made a difference with UPS too. "What, they didn't cover it up for you?" she said. Then she whipped out a few large white adhesive stickers and quickly covered up the "offending" language. Apparently, SHE wanted my business.

  6. For broccoli, I think Bittman's stir-fried broccoli (from How to Cook Everything) is terrific. There's nothing in it but broccoli (about 1-1/2 lbs), 2 Tbs peanut oil, a teaspoon of sugar, salt to taste, and a cup of stock. Break the broccoli into florettes and thinly slice the stalk (I agree, the best part). Then saute in oil for five minutes, with the sugar and salt, add the stock and cook uncovered until the stock has evaporated.

    Tonight I'm making a white bean gratin, to which I'm adding kale and broccoli spigarello that have amazingly survived the winter so far (it's Oregon, so no big freezes yet, but unending rain).

  7. This thread reminds me of the time several years ago when my wife and I vacationed in France with a winemaker friend of ours (also from Oregon). Our friend knew a winemaker in Alsace, and we spent a couple of days in the B&B associated with the winery (unfortunately, I can't remember the winery's name now). The winemaker invited us to dinner one night at his residence, and after a very fine dinner he brought out a selection of eau de vies, all produced in his winery (I guess you'd also call it his distillery). I'd never had eau de vie before, so I asked him for a recommendation. "If you are a woman," he said, "you should have the framboise. But if you are a man, you should have gewurtztraminer marc."

    Needless to say, I had the gewurtztraminer marc. And so did my wife. And it was absolutely fabulous. Ever since, I have searched for gewurtztraminer marc. The American ones I have had are usually harsh and unappealing. The Alsacian brands seem to be unavailable here in the States. And even those French bottles I've purchased from duty-free shops on various other trips seem to be lacking something. But a really good bottle of gewurtztraminer marc, purchased at a store in Alsace, is a thing of beauty.

  8. Thanks Katie. Your explanation does make sense, especially in light of how my lemoncello turned out. Instead of doing what one logically should do, add vodka and simple syrup by taste, I followed the recipe slavishly and dumped everything together. The result, to my taste, was a bit too sweet and not quite tart enough.

    This is not an easy problem to remedy. However, if I make a lemoncello "martini" and add a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, the resulting drink is outstanding.

    So, the question now is, can I just add lemon juice to my bottle of lemoncello? Will it keep without going bad? Will it lose the tartness over time? Or would it be better to just add fresh juice every time I make a drink?

    BTW: If anyone has guts enough to make the horseradish schnapps, I'd love to hear about the results.

  9. I've really enjoyed reading this thread. Thanks for the tips and inspiration. I've got a half batch of lemoncello (Katie's recipe) ready to strain. I'm really looking forward to trying it.

    A question though. I'm a lazy guy, and I'd rather do one step than two. Instead of diluting the resulting lemon-infused vodka with unflavored vodka, why couldn't one infuse all of the vodka with the lemon (i.e. twice as much vodka to start)? Any advantages/disadvantages? I guess if you mixed 100 proof with 80 proof, the result would be 90 proof, and therefore not as good at infusing. But it would free up a bottle to use.

    Also, a friend of mine recently came back from a trip to Denmark and introduced me to Danish schnapps. There's a Danish Schnapps website out there that has a bunch of recipes. I've got a Christmas schnapps almost ready to taste (orange peel, bay leaf, vanilla bean, honey, cloves) and some apple schnapps and pear schnapps infusing.

  10. This is perhaps too late for the original poster, but after reading about them in Friday's A&E, we stopped into Foster & Dobbs Authentic Foods (2518 NE 15th). They have wines, cheeses, olive oils, vinegars, pestos and other sauces, pickled vegetables, chocolates, and some very interesting looking dried italian pastas. We picked up (but have not tried yet) some very interesting spanish anchovies packed in oil. Interesting because these are not packaged in a tin or a jar, but rather in a cardboard container with plastic top and must be refrigerated. They look beautiful.

    Prices are not low here, but the selection is different than I've seen around town.

  11. Glad your trip was a success - I can't believe this place is still there - though I would be sad to hear it wasn't. I stayed there some 30+ years ago and thought it was so special. As I recall, our rooms were on the low side, near the river, and had a dorm like or servants quarters feel to them, but we were so happy to stay there anyway.

    That's the part of the hotel we stayed in too. I'm sure the rooms have been renovated since you've been there. It's now very lush and old fashioned feeling, with four-poster beds and wood credenzas. But there's a lot of emphasis on the past and mention of all the movie stars who stayed there (which seemed to have ended about the time of Clark Gable :smile: )

    The video library was also a kick. There are several pages of VCR tapes that you could check out, but I didn't see any made after 1990. We watched one that had trailers of movies coming to theaters in 1989. However, there were plenty of classics from the 40's to watch, which is a plus in my book.

  12. We returned from the road trip to Sonoma yesterday, and we had a great time. It's a beautiful drive down the coast (101), and the drive back on I-5 was speedy and uneventful.

    Thanks to a suggestion in this thread, we had dinner at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in Talent (just outside of Ashland), and it was fabulous. As reviews point out, it's very hard to find the building, especially in the dark. From the outside, it looks like a shack, with just a blinking arrow above the front door. As my wife said, it took a leap of faith to open that door. Inside, however, was a lovely restaurant with only about six tables.

    The food was terrific. They have a fixed price dinner, but we opted for the ala carte selections. For appetizers, we had 1) a breaded and fried green tomato with some kind of smoky pepper sauce, herbed gnocci, and sauteed shrimp; and 2) Fresh mozzarella over perfectly cooked polenta with anchovy broccoli florettes that were delicately crisped (how they did that I can't imagine, but the broccoli was a revelation).

    For main courses, we had 1) roast quail served over a tomato sauce with sauteed mushrooms and sausage and home made ravioli stuffed with collard greens. (the ravioli were unbelievably good; and 2) trout with a dill sauce (has a name but I forgot) served over the most delicious kale I've ever eaten and fingerling potatoes. The kale is inspiring me to try some greens of my own this evening.

    The prices are about what you'd pay at a high-end Portland restaurant and the quality is every bit as good as the best of them.

    Another restaurant of note is the Waterfront Depot in Florence. We were visiting friends in Florence the next day, so we stayed overnight and had dinner the night before. The Depot isn't in the class of New Sammy's, but compared to what one expects to find at the coast, it's a godsend. It's an attractive and comfortable little place on Bay St. with only a few tables and a long bar. The menu is on a chalkboard and consists of a regular menu and a tapas menu. Prices are very reasonable. We opted for the tapas and had several well-prepared items. Breaded and fried oysters were very good. A shrimp with lime tapas was interesting, but slightly overdone.

    We also stayed at the Benbow Inn in Garberville and had dinner there one night. The hotel is nice and so are the amenities (free tea and scones at 3:00PM, happy hour tidbits at 5:00PM in the bar, and a decanter of sherry in the room). But the food in the restaurant was basically fancy but uninspired hotel food that is overpriced.

    In a non-food related note, listening to the local radio station in Garberville (KMUD, I think) was quite interesting. One morning they had a duo who could have inspired the Saturday Night Live skit about really, really, boring public radio hosts (they had a long conversation about whether there was frost that morning). The station also had something that I think was called "civil liberties alerts" in which someone would call the station telling them that a drug enforcement vehicle had been seen on such and such a road, heading in such and such a direction at such and such a time. And the station broadcast that info.

    Sonoma was fine too, but we mostly cooked with friends. We attempted to go wine tasting the friday after thanksgiving, but the crowds got to us so we went home and drank wine instead.

    Thanks again to those with suggestions. I'm sorry I didn't get to try them all.

  13. Since the gas prices are so reasonable :biggrin: my wife and I decided to take a road trip from Portland to Sonoma (to visit friends on Thanksgiving). We're taking a few extra days and doing the leisurely sightseeing thing, stopping to see friends at Florence and to stay at the Benbow Inn in Garberville, CA along the way. Any restaurant advice (lunch or dinner) would be appreciated. We'll probably go down much of the way on 101 and come back via I5.

  14. To stevea who started this thread, I'm not sure you should've told him "you done good" since he didn't.  Then he thinks this is the way he's suppose to make it and the next person who orders the same may not be so nice.  IMHO, it would've be better if you showed him the right way to do it and he probably would've appreciated it even more.

    Technically, you're right. I should have better educated him, though I did try. However, he was a kid who seemed a bit nervous behind the bar and there were three or four people behind me waiting to place orders. Plus, this was, excuse the expression, a hick bar in a miniscule town in rural, rural, rural Minnesota. They serve beer, rum and coke, and whiskey sours there. He may never be asked for a martini again in his life. So, at the time, I figured praise for the attempt was the better route.

  15. I just returned from a trip to southern Minnesota where a group of us took my mother and father to dinner (it's my mother's 80th birthday) at the Hi-Lo Club in Lakefield, a spot my parents used to frequent when they felt more comfortable going out, but a place I'd never been before. We got there very early (if you knew my family, you'd understand) and our table wasn't ready, so we went downstairs to the bar.

    My wife and I decided we wanted a martini, and since there was no table service, I went to the small bar to order. There was only a single bartender, a young man who looked barely old enough to drink. I asked him if he could make a martini and he said yes. But he reached for his Old Mr. Boston drink guide and then asked me "What's in a martini?"

    I told him gin (or vodka) and vermouth, and he went back to the wall of bottles to search for the vermouth (which in a green bottle stood out clearly). Finally I had to point it out to him and he returned with it. Then he said, "Do you serve this with ice?" I responded that I preferred mine mixed in a shaker with ice, then shaken and poured in a glass. His eyes started roaming the bar area, and I could see him wondering where in the world a shaker would be. "But," I said, "I'll have it on the rocks this time, so you can skip the shaker."

    Then he pulled from a rack two martini glasses that had so much dust and grime that they probably hadn't been used since the Reagan administration. He dumped some ice in them and would have begun adding booze until I stopped him. "Just use the same kind of glasses the other fellows at the bar are drinking from," I said.

    He got the glasses, poured in the ice and booze, and then started dumping in the vermouth, glug, glug, glug. "Wait," I said. "Just a little, maybe just a teaspoon." So he went a little lighter, but not much, on the next one.

    He handed me the drinks, charged me $5.00 (that's for both of them) and with a kind of proud smile, said, "Those are the first martinis I ever made."

    "You done good," I said. "You done good." I didn't bother to tell him about the olives.

    Postscript: While waiting for the bartender to notice me, I was asked something I've never been asked before and don't expect to be asked again. A couple standing there turned to me and the man said straight out, "Are you a rural mail carrier?" (Apparently there were a group of them there for a special dinner.)

  16. I just returned from a short trip to Minneapolis and southern Minnesota. My thanks to those who post recommendations here. Based on what I read here (and my experience from a previous trip), I dined here:

    112 Eatery -- A terrific, bustling restaurant in a long, skinny space (reminds me of the Dahlia Lounge in Seattle). The menu was filled with interesting choices. We wanted to have them all, but we ended up with several appetizers. The top choice was the lardon/foie gras salad, which included a bed of greens studded with chunky lardons, a large piece of perfectly done foie gras (slightly crispy on the outside and melting on the inside), and an incredible egg -- poached and then quick cooled, dusted with bread crumbs, and then deep fried, so it was firm on the outside with a runny yolk inside. This was definitely one of those "omigawd" dishes that keeps one exploring new places. The sweetbreads were also terrific, but the lamb scottadito (little lamb chops that almost seemed to have been cooked in a panini press) were a little too midwestern (overdone) for our taste.

    Vincent (for lunch) -- Another great restaurant, especially for lunch, when the prices are a bit lower. We had perfectly done grouper, a salade chinois that we adored when we had it last year but whose dressing was a bit overtart and unbalancing this year, and a pureed fish soup with incredible saffron flavor -- another "omigawd" dish that may very well have been made from the previous night's fish stew (if so, my supreme compliments to the chef!).

    Alma -- Another return visit. We really liked this last year, but this year struggled to find anything we wanted to have. (Several items included butternut squash, which I hate.) The menu is really geared toward the three course fixed price, but we weren't that hungry. The tomato salad was misnamed -- only a couple of small pear tomatoes served with greens and thin sliced potatoes. The orzo was delicious, probably cooked in a fish sauce, and really showed what the kitchen could do. And smoked eggplant ravioli that really showed off the smokey eggplant filling. Although well prepared and with excellent ingredients, the dishes were small and to our notion, overpriced. The fixed price option would have been more economical, but even so, the dishes didn't seem to sing like those at 112 Eatery.

  17. PSA on cooking times: If your farro is "semiperlato," it only needs to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

    I've been getting "wheatberries" for the last couple months, which really need to boil for almost an hour, but last week I got some more farro (Umbrian, I forget the brand), and turned it into something resembling oatmeal because I didn't read the label. Not bad, actually, but not the firm texture you want for a salad.

    The whole spelt I have found also takes a long time to cook. Have not noted a dramatic difference in flavor between the 3 in unscientific testing.

    Ditto on that, badthings. The Italian farro I purchased (it's gone and I don't have the label) took only about 20 minutes to cook and was absolutely delicious. The spelt I have seems to take hours to cook and still has more of a "bite" than I'd like.

  18. I grow a lot of greens in my garden too. Kale, collards, chard, mustard, turnip. I've tried a lot of recipes, but I usually come back to something like this for everything but the chard.

    Clean and separate the greens from the stalks. I'm assuming you'll use a pound or so. Chop roughly.

    (optional) Finely chop a bit of pork product (bacon is nice). However much you'd like. Cook with a tablespoon or so of olive oil until most of fat is rendered.

    Add three or four chopped garlic cloves to oil and cook until fragrant (30 seconds or so)

    Add the greens, a bit of salt (a half teaspoon or so depending on the amount of greens) and a generous pinch of sugar. The sugar is really important to give a deeper flavor to the greens. Stir until all the greens are at least a little limp.

    Add a bit (half a cup or so) of stock or water to the pot and cover.

    Check back in a few minutes and test the doneness. Depending on the types of greens you use and how tender they were to begin with, the cooking time will vary. When the greens are almost done to your liking, remove the cover and cook down the liquid.

    (optional) Add a little red wine vinegar at the end to spice up the flavor.

    Add any salt and pepper at the end if needed.

  19. All of tomatoes are doing well and blooming, with the exception of the German Johnson, which has got a funny problem with its leaves curling up. In fact, the whole plant is kind of curling up, sort of like a fist. Weird.

    I'm also having a massive struggle with the snails and/or cutworms over the green beans. I plant, the beans break through the soil, and the critters eat. I've resorted to powder, slug pellets, and even nematodes, but I'm barely staying ahead after my second replanting.

    On the bright side, the spinach is marvelous, and the rainbow chard is ready to eat.

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