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Posts posted by ninetofive

  1. Did anyone get Rocco's bizarre corporate-speak answer when Tom C. turned to him and said, "Let's talk about today's challenge." It was something like, "Bertoli's frozen pasta dinners are the wave of the future." Bleah. What a tool.

    I loved when one of the contestants was describing how hard the quick-fire challenge was and said something like, "There's Padma, looking all sexy, and then there's that *sshole next to her." :raz::laugh:

  2. Ktepi, you should check out Battambang Market on Church Street in Lowell, which is Cambodian-owned and HUGE -- packed to the rafters with every Asian food you can imagine. The meat section alone is jaw-dropping; I don't think there's a part of a pig or cow they don't sell.

  3. Simply gross: I had a roommate who thought it was perfectly fine to dump kitty litter into our kitchen garbage "because it clumped."

    The most alarming: I have a friend who is a wonderful cook, but she leaves the handles of her pots pointing out into the kitchen. It scares the bejeezus out of me, because she's really into deep frying -- there always seems to be a pan of hot oil bubbling away on the front burner. She's also got two young children. I mentioned it one time, and she said, "Oh, they know they're never supposed to get near the stove." :unsure: And she doesn't understand why I won't leave my son for playdates ....

    Its grossness affected me for life: I cannot stomach butter from a butter dish. I must use a fresh stick of butter, which has been stored in ziplock freezer bags, if I'm spreading it across bread, corn on the cob, pancakes, etc. My grandmother never covered anything in her 1930s-era fridge, which barely kept the milk chilled. Her butter always tasted of onions or just vile, unclean fridge. She'd spread that butter thickly across my pancakes and force me to eat. Every. Last. Pancake.

    35 years later, and I still gag thinking about it.

  4. No one's mentioned this, so I'll throw it out there: the folks on America's Test Kitchen. I don't always agree with them on what constitutes "best" and I think their take on ethnic dishes is too Americana, but I've learned a heck of a lot over the years watching Chris Kimball and his team -- from how to build a two-level charcoal fire and brine a turkey, to how to pan-saute a lobster and make a frozen souffle.

  5. Wow, I'm fascinated by your coffee roasting -- I thought there was a lot more to it.

    I wish I could roast my own beans, but DH hates the smell of coffee. As it is, I make my Melitta drip coffee out in the garage. I'm assuming you can really smell those beans as they roast ... ah.

  6. Darren, I use one of those enamelware canners with the rack, although I've also used a stockpot on a round cake rack in a pinch. I was taught that it was important for there to be clearance around each jar during processing -- 1/2 inch to an inch around the bottom, and a couple inches of boiling water over the top with minimal contact among the other jars; the canning rack helps with that. So I'd at least invest the $3 or so on that.

    I use the Ball jars with screw-type lids simply because they're cheap and i can buy them anywhere. I love the Leifheit jars, but the lids are impossible to find.

  7. Like others here, foraging was an enjoyable childhood activity for me. I used to gather mussels and crab with my maternal grandfather, who was Norwegian and who lived on the Connecticut shore. Ugh, I hated crab back then - what I wouldn't give for a table full of those crustaceans now. He also used to take us out to pick blackberries and wild blueberries. I remember coming home with buckets that my English/Irish grandmother would turn into a crumble -- or we'd eat them with cream. He used to pick mushrooms, but we weren't allowed to touch them.

    My paternal grandparents lived in Vermont, where I spend much of my early childhood and summers. We tapped the sugar maples on the property every spring -- the town had a sugaring station, so every year we'd get a couple gallons of syrup in return for our sap. We picked wild strawberries in a meadow owned by my father's best friend, and I remember turning my nose up at a salad made with dandelion greens. My grandfather was a hunter. There were always plenty of game birds, rabbit, and venison on the dinner table. I never acquired a taste for hunting, though. However, I was telling my five-year-old this weekend, during a trip to the fish market where he watched the guy behind the counter clean out a branzino for us, that it was my job to scale and gut the rainbow trout we caught while fishing. I must have been eight or so.

    I'm a fairly avid forager today -- I adore dandelion greens, as well as lamb's quarters, purslane, and nettles, which grow like crazy around here in eastern Massachusetts. During the spring and summers I keep cardboard flats in my trunk, along with baskets, bags, and pruning shears, in case I spot something yummy growing alongside a back road. A couple weeks ago I came across an amazing stand of elderflowers. I picked a bag full then came home and made two quarts of elderflower cordial. I'll go back in September and get berries for elderberry syrup, which my son likes better than cough medicine. I also make elderberry jam. I like to look for mushrooms -- I've found morels around here in the spring, and right now it's puffball season.

    I'm sure all this foraging will rub off on my son. He can already ID a bunch of wild plants and knows that purslane growing in the garden is not a weed, but an appetizer. :raz: When my husband was ready to kick over some mushrooms, my son instructed him not to because he thought they could be fairy ring mushrooms, and indeed, he was right.

  8. I love Russo's. It's a bit out of the way for me so I don't get down there as much as I would like. The prices are excellent, agreed. My only complaint with the store is the parking. I'm wondering if it's always a zoo. :hmmm:

  9. I was down in CT yesterday getting some dental work, and I asked the technician, "So, what's new around here?" She told me there was a new Stew Leonard's down on Berlin Turnpike and I just about jumped out of my chair in excitement.

    I spent about an hour in the store (spending $85, although I didn't really *need* anything). Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. I'm outside Boston, and while I do have family in the Hartford area, I could see myself making a special trip to the store if I needed fixings for a party. I bought one of those insulated bags at the store to keep my cold stuff cold and even with a couple stops back to Boston, everything stayed nicely chilled.

    My husband used to argue with me that we couldn't leave Boston because we have a Whole Foods, a Trader Joe's, and Target, all stores that weren't in the Hartford area, but now are. I need to revisit that battle. :raz:

  10. I make mozzarella and it's super easy. All you need is a gallon of pasteurized milk, citric acid, and rennet, all of which I found in a local health food shop. I make it with 1 percent milk -- it's best eaten warm, though. I haven't made it with higher fat milk, but I'm guessing the low milkfat content makes it tough when it cools.

    The only thing difficult the first time I made it was that I didn't have heat-proof gloves -- you've got to stretch the cheese by hand when it's about 130 degrees F. Ouch! Now I have a pair of rubber gloves set aside specifically for mozzarella stretching.

    Yesterday I bought cultures for chevre at a wine and beermaking shop. Can't wait to try it!

    I recommend Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. It has all they whys and hows, plus dozens of recipes. I believe she owns New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and was featured in Barbara Kingsolver's new book.

  11. Just adding to the library of knowledge here -- I had this problem earlier this week and came to this thread for guidance. I was doing everything right: not overbeating the eggs, folding in the butter and thrice-sifted cake flour gently, baking in a calibrated oven, etc. but still got sunken middles.

    The culprit? I was using a smaller pan than called for. Going from an 8" to 9" pan resulted in a perfect genoise with no sinking or doming. The pan was also a bit darkened, which I think helped to set the center along with the sides.

    Hope this helps someone down the road!

  12. I am loving this blog. My gr-grandparents were from Halifax (my gr-grandfather was president of the college there) and we keep talking about going for a long weekend to visit some of the sights.

    I'm curious about the cultural influences in your area. Is it mostly Scottish/English? I ask because it looks like my family migrated to NS from Scotland and England (the Brits via Boston -- um, some of my ancestors weren't very revolutionary) and I don't see many French names in the family tree.

  13. I agree, Pastryelf. I've been canning for years, following the latest guidelines, and the process couldn't be more simple (cooler, perhaps, but that's a story for August).

    I worry more about cavalier handling of raw chicken and salmonella, to be honest, which kills more people than botulism. Not that I'd want botulism, of course, but it's not the death sentence it was 100 years ago. From the CDC's website: "Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. However, in the past 50 years the proportion of patients with botulism who die has fallen from about 50% to 8%."


  14. No matter what I do to onions or garlic -- slow roast, saute, etc. -- the smell of them sticks with me for days. The smell not only permeates my breath, but it comes out of my skin, especially on the palms of my hands. Seriously. I was horrified last night taking a shower and the whole stall reeked of onions from a curry I'd eaten at lunch. I taught a class last night, and now I'm thinking I must have killed my students. I remember a garlic and clam pizza from Wooster St. in New Haven lingering with me for almost a week. Thank God most days I work at home.

    I've eaten these foods with other people, yet they don't suffer the same symptoms I do -- maybe a little onion breath for a couple hours, then it's gone. Two of my ex-boyfriends could eat raw garlic. Their breath didn't smell great for awhile, but the smell was gone by the next day. My husband, who isn't as fond as garlic and onions as I am, also has a similar problem to mine, but he's happy staying away from alliums in general.

    There must be some body chemistry stuff at play here. I'm wondering if ethnicity has anything to do with it -- my husband and I are both from English/Scottish/Irish stock. Maybe we're just not genetically engineered to cope with alliums. (The two ex's I mentioned were of Italian ancestry.)

    At any rate, I'm curious if anyone here can get to the bottom of this stinky business and tell me if there's anything i can do to cut the stench. Besides stop eating them, that is, because I can't imagine a life with alliums. I brush my teeth, eat tons of parsley -- nothing really helps.

  15. But if you have a bread machine, fresh bread is really really easy, even if you bake it in the oven.  I made a freeform cheddar loaf yesterday with a total of 5 minutes of active involvment.  I've not purchased a cheese bread I like better, and it's definately cheaper.

    You don't even need the breadmaker if you have a heavy-duty mixer.

    Ease is definitely in the eye of the beholder. I can make bread in my sleep. Stovetop rice? For the life of me, I can't get it right. (Well, now I can, thanks to a rice cooker!)

  16. It's really hard to quantify ease -- take fruit leather, which my preschooler devours. I could easily buy it every week when I'm at Trader Joe's. But if I want it cheaper, better tasting, and I want better control of additives, I can make it home simply by pureeing fruit and letting it dry out in the dehydrator. Same goes for beef jerky, which my husband likes. I also dry herbs and spices in the fall so I never have to pay $5 for a bottle of dried sage.

    Another one is butter. We use a lot of heavy cream around here, so when I've got a couple containers going, I'll dump it all in the KitchenAid mixer, let it beat for awhile, and voila! unsalted butter. The leftover liquid/buttermilk goes into our bread.

    Last spring my husband went on a bender to eradicate every weed in our lawn by digging them up. We don't use chemicals on our lawn, so I told him to bring that basket into the kitchen for the night's salad. Hey, people pay $2.99 for a puny bunch of dandelion greens at Whole Food! Ditto for lamb's quarters and purslane.

  17. I marinate salmon fillets in miso, mirin, toasted sesame oil, and chopped green onion for a couple hours, then use a cast-iron grill pan to cook. Very nice. Recipe came from John Ash cookbook.

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