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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. Why do restaurants put so much shmutz on the tables? They have these tiny little tables that would just hold two plates maybe, and they shmutz them up with flowers, candles, salt and pepper, little advertising cards and placards and "tents," a bread basket, a butter dish, an olive oil dish, and olive dish, an olive pit dish, various glasses you aren't using, unnecessary flatware, bottled water if you order it, and other things I'm sure I've forgotten. Can't they figure out that these tables won't hold two dinner plates if they already have twenty other things on them? I would like all restaura
  2. I reallly like the illy coffee too. And the decaf is equally good--not something most can boast. But admittedly, since FG started roasting his own I must (sheepishly) admit--it's hard to drink much else.
  3. I must admit, I'm especially impressed by the shadows at "Peephenge." Did everyone note that some of the shadows actually look like ducks? Remarkable.
  4. Suzanne--the recipe does specify blending with a mixer for 45 seconds--first in the bowl with the sugar, egg and butter (I didn't--I mixed by hand) and then again when the moist mixture is added to the flour and baking soda and powder mixture and again at the end with the addition of the final ingredients. But it does specify that each go with the hand mixer should be short--approximately 45 seconds. As much as I ever follow a recipe to the letter of the law (I hand mixed rather than used a hand mixer)--I did so this time because I knew exactly what I was after and I wanted to end up with the
  5. Claire's site is http://www.clairescornercopia.com/index.htm and I have filled out the feedback form for info.
  6. I'll check out Cooks Illustrated. I should have bought the giant bag of walnuts at Costco because it looks like I'm in for the long haul but I didn't think I'd be experimenting with the cake--I figured I'd make it, enjoy it and on to the next thing.
  7. I was so frustrated, I tossed the cake--it actually wasn't bad it's just that I had one thing in my mind's eye (the cake it was supposed to be based upon my 20 years of eating it at the restaurant) and it wasn't what I ended up with--so out it went.
  8. ummmmm, Peeps. I like Peeps. In my home, we treat Peeps sort of like exhibits in a museum--Peeps are kept from one year to the next marking the passage of time. "These were the Peeps from the year that Michael graduated from the Academy" or "these are the Peeps from the year that grandma died."
  9. One of my favorite cakes, and that's a favorite among a long list of favorites because I love cake, is the Lithuanian coffee cake served at Claire's Corner Copia in New Haven, Connecticut. It so happens I have the Claire's Corner Copia cookbook. I decided last night to make the coffee cake, from the recipe in the book. Silly me. What I baked was quite unrelated to the version served in the restaurant. It was tasty, mind you, just not the thing. I am going to assume that the recipe as printed in the book is just completely out of whack. But let me describe it: It's a basic batter cake, with the
  10. Priscilla it's not just tires that Costco has taken out of the realm of stressful and overly significant-seeming purchases. It's everything. I was walking down the aisles today loading my cart with various essentials--a 128 ounce jar of pickles, 2-dozen rolls of toilet paper, a 20-pack of soap--and then I saw a VCR for like $79 and just threw it in my cart like it was a six-pack of Diet Coke. It's the Costco way. Costco is saving civilization I believe. I also like how after you go to Costco and you go to another store all the packages of everything look really puny and you say, "Oh how cute!"
  11. That commercial is SO appealing. I think it's the free gifts that really draw me in. After all, the pricing seems so reasonable for 2 pounds of coffee -- if you factor in the current gifts of the coffee maker and some other essential life or death "but wait, that's not all" present. Good thing I've never been by a phone when the swanky, debonnaire Wall Street-type actor struts across my screen.
  12. I really am glad to hear that so many of you are also Costco addicts (I thought there was something wrong with us, though FG has always insisted that really, there isn't). We're hoping to drag FG's mother along with us today and introduce her to the apple pie. It is a fine day when Costco is sampling pies. It is indeed a rare day that I should happen upon say, an apple pie, but I'll happily settle for a berry variety. A cheese cake is clearly sloppy seconds (I'm not a cheese cake fan).
  13. When we drove across Canada we would stop into almsot every Costco that we passed (you'd be surprised how many we found). We did pick up the Canadian "Costco Connection" publication and that's how we knew when to be on the lookout. It was remarkable to see the local products. In the western part of Canada we found giant jars of saskatoon berry jam, which in local stores (same brand) were similarly priced (or more) and 1/4 the size. Throughout the Canadian Costcos there were Canadian products (like the no tears waterproof sunscreen for athletes) that aren't available at Costcos outside of the c
  14. I actually grew up with a fairly odd family eating arrangement. My whole family would eat dinner--I'm guessing between 6:30 - 7:00--and I would eat between 7:45-8:00. No, I wasn't locked in the basement until everyone else had finished the most succulent selections, I was at swim practice and would eat when I got home. I've never been a late night sort of a person but I guess I did eat pretty late for a kid. In college, at least the first few years when I lived on campus, dinner times were dictated by the hours at the dining hall. Our dorm had the best hours--I think it served until 8:30—and I
  15. I ususually eat moo shu without the pancakes. I also enjoy vegetarian versions, particularly with mushrooms.
  16. Appetite management, mentioned by many here, is definitely a concern too. A big meal late at night does nothing to take the edge off hunger all day long. The big lunch is great from this perspective. The anticipation of the lunch helps limit morning appetite and afterwards only snacking is really necessary to get through to bedtime. Whereas, with a big dinner coming up, I tell myself not to eat much but it backfires. A small breakfast, a small lunch, and by late afternoon I'm so hungry I eat a pre-dinner dinner composed solely of dreck.
  17. I like to eat dinner by around 7:00pm. I just don't enjoy sleeping on a full stomach so I'll only eat later than that if I'm not the decisionmaker, for example if I'm a guest in someone's home and dinner is served at 9:00 or later, or if friends are going to a restaurant and the arrangements are for late. If I tell New Yorkers I like to eat by 7:00pm, they say, "Wow that's early." Implication: Loser. If I tell people in Kansas I like to eat by 7:00pm, they say, "Wow that's late!" Implication: Man you big city people live the night life. When do you like to eat dinner? What's the earliest you'l
  18. Wilfrid I would want to know what laws are being broken. Some laws are silly don't you think? The law hasn't done much to earn my respect lately and I speak as the victim of an incorrect parking ticket that will cost me many hours to fight and I'll still lose probably. We have so many laws that are the result of the regulatory state and have no moral basis and may actually be immoral because they regulate things that shouldn't be regulated like what kind of cheese I can eat (real example) and what kind of cookies I can bake (hypothetical example not far off). It doesn't bother me to see these
  19. Some notes from our Costco adventures this past year: The Costco in Brooklyn, NY, is two-stories high. You get from one level to the other via a double-lane escalator-type moving walkway--the carts ride in one lane and the people on the other. In Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, you can get a traditional lobster roll at Costco's snack bar. Outside the Northeastern United States, the pretzels at Costco revert from nice soft ballpark-style pretzels to nasty oily suburban shopping-mall style. At Canadian Costcos you can get french fries at the snack bar, and they're good. The 1/4 pound kosher be
  20. I've been in a few professions -- marketing; editorial; freelance photography -- and in all of them there have been They Who Went To School For It And Look Down On They Who Didn't and there have been They Who Learned On The Job And Think They Who Went To School Are Pretentious Spoiled Brats. Despite the dynamic, though, every experienced person in most any field save for those where government regulation requires education (law, medicine) most likely knows that school does not guarantee excellence, and that lack of "book learning" does not prevent it. So while I will be very interested to exam
  21. I recently saw both pasta-strainer ads on the same channel during the same show, and jotted down the Web sites: pastapro.com tvinventions.com I believe I am the first on the thread to discover the second one.
  22. I'm sure I could make some great s'mores on the radiator vent. It could be a combo chocolate melting on the heater vent and marshmallow melting on the coffee plate (on a piece of foil--lest we damage the hot plate for good). And don't forget that the same vent that heats, usually also cools, so if you're in a pinch for refrigeration (no substitute for things that would become perishable but could tide you over for a few hours) you can also cool things on that same hotel air cooler. Now the hair dryer . . . hmmmm, I'm very curious about how a marshmallow would "roast" on med. hot or the full he
  23. Jim obviously I'm totally with you (you got a belly laugh out of me on that one). Rollin is such an accessible guy--he'll go into the technical details of exactly how he produces what he does and then, with a Texas size smile and a twinkle in his eye he'll exclaim, "it's cooler than shit" or, in polite company, "cooler than snot." Where else are you going to get that kind of tasting notes? And Mamster I'm glad you liked it and the thing about it is I'm really just a person who appreciates (as in I like it) good wine. I'm not like Fat Guy--I don't retain the facts and figures of things in my br
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