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Everything posted by jgm

  1. I think just plain mushrooms is what you want, but no harm in adding other flavors, as long as they're compatible with what you want to use it for. FYI I've also heard of pulverizing dried mushrooms, and using them as a flavoring ingredient. Might be another avenue to try sometime.
  2. I don't see what the big deal is about Better than Bouillon. If I'm making a dish that has other strong flavors, i.e. sausage, tomatoes, etc., I see no reason to use "good" homemade stock or broth, unless I have an abundance of it. Most of the time, the homemade stuff is reserved for soups and other dishes where the flavor can be appreciated. Along that same line: frozen wine. Of course it loses its nuances, but up against beef, mushrooms, etc., who's going to notice? No one in our household has a palate that will allow them to tell the difference. Otherwise: cayenne and nutmeg, in very small amounts - not enough to be detected - but they make a real difference in a lot of dishes.
  3. We have had ours for a few years, and I have to tell you that if the house catches fire, the husband, the dog, and the cats are on their own; I'm going to grab this appliance before I worry about anything else. That's how much I love it. Since the economy ate our new-house-building plans, I now am looking at a future in a small galley kitchen, which, short of a $15,000 renovation, will never hold two standard ovens. This unit functions as our second oven, and on that alone, I have to highly recommend it. It's also a smaller oven, and it's what we use in summer when we want to bake something but don't want to heat up the kitchen with our main oven. I never use the combination feature, which would involve using the standard oven and the microwave at the same time. I'm not interested in learning yet another way to cook. It's probably not as involved as I think it is, but I'm happy using either the microwave or the convection oven feature and letting it go at that. The convection oven does a better job of browning piecrust than our standard oven does, and turns out the best-looking pies I've ever baked. And I can't tell you how thrilling it is to turn a bowl of cookie dough into cookies in far less time than it would take to rotate pans in and out of just one oven.
  4. I have recently purchased my first bento box, and am looking forward to using it. I'm trying to figure out how to get more vegetables into it, and in a way that conforms to the bento 'standard' of being attractive and inventive. I have the idea of making some faux-sushi rolls with fresh vegetables, using wide carrot strips (or maybe lettuce or cabbage leaves) to roll everything in, and matchsticks of celery, cucumber, and other vegetables in the center, with perhaps the occasional halved grape tomato. The idea is to dip these into a little bit of dressing, but I wouldn't be opposed to a solution that carries the dressing inside the roll. The hurdle I'm contemplating right now is how to make everything stick together; I don't plan to use rice - but I haven't ruled it out. A cream cheese concoction would likely work, but its high-calorie nature would pretty much cancel out the low-calorie benefits of the vegetables. Anyone have any ideas? I have a feeling the solution is right in front of me, and I just can't see it...
  5. Although I've had GERD for many years, I've managed it just fine until this summer. This has been "one of those years" for our family, when the anticipated loss of some elderly friends and relatives has come to pass, and since there was plenty of time to prepare, I weathered the storm pretty well. Unanticipated, though, was the illness and subsequent death of a much younger relative, which sent the entire family into a tailspin, including me. It was one of those deals where an initially dreadful diagnosis was followed by disaster after disaster (about 2/3 of those were induced by irresponsible physicians and hospital staff) and I spent a week unable to eat until my physician gave me a nerve-calming medication that allowed me to start functioning again. As a result, all kinds of things are now off limits: most citrus in any quantity (a couple of bits of orange in a fruit salad were fine), and anything with even a whisper of heat, including my favorite coctail sauce for steamed shrimp. Because of the necessity of eating most meals in the hospital cafeteria, during the entire summer I had ONE fresh tomato, which was wonderful, but the pain it caused wasn't. There are hints that the situation is resolving, and in a few months I may be able to eat more normally again. Good thing I like tapioca.
  6. I think Bourdain is at his finest when describing food, the process of preparing it, and the people who passionately do so. The description of the guy who cuts up fish at Le Bernardin was spellbinding, and I would love to read much more of that. Those stories are out there, and I hope he'll consider doing more of them, since he does them better than just about anybody. Most of the rest could be classified as rant or updated rant, and I took that the same way I take my friends' rants: sometimes entertaining, often self-serving or slightly off the mark, but that's a human being for you. Sometimes it's best just to sit back and listen, not take most of it too seriously, and enjoy the enjoyable parts. The other kinds of writing - the character sketches of people who cook, descriptions of food and how it tastes, well, the man is a master. Wow. Makes me hungry for what he's describing, and hungry to read more about it. For that reason, I'll buy his next books, too, whether I agree with what he's ranting about or not. Edited to add: I appreciated what he had to say about dining at Alinea. I still aspire to do that one day, but he's right when he talks about considering how we feel after the meal in our assessment of the meal itself. Too much food is too much food, and we need to stop glorifying gluttony. Tasting menus are a great way to enjoy "the best of" a chef, but knowing when to stop is a valuable culinary skill.
  7. Your local extension office might also have information that would be helpful to you. There are so many canning books out there, I think it would pay do an extensive recipe search before you consider any tweaking. You may well run into recipes that are very close to things you'd like to try, anyway. The cautions in this thread previous to this post are extremely important. Of all the areas of cooking, this one is probably the most dangerous from a food safety standpoint, and the easiest to screw up without knowing it. If you have a piece of roast chicken that is still pink inside, it's obvious it needs to be cooked more. But as runwestierun pointed out, you won't always know when a canned item contains deadly bacteria. Sometimes it will cause gas to release, and maybe even mold formation, but you can't count on those telltale signs. One of the most important things I've learned from others on eGullet is this: when food goes bad, it's not just bacteria production that's the problem. The bacteria produce toxins. Simply bringing the food to a certain temperature threshold again doesn't take care of the problem; it may kill some, most or all of the bacteria, but it won't remove the toxins they produced while performing their life's work. Always err on the side of safety.
  8. jgm


    Their apple pecan chicken salad is really good. For lunch, when there's little time and I need to go to somewhere near the office, this is a great choice, and much better than the usual fast food fare. The salad also contains gorgonzola (I think) cheese and dried cranberries. The chicken is cooked through, but not to the point of dryness - it's actually better than chicken I've had in fairly expensive restaurants. The dressing is a pomegranate vinaigrette. I can't deal with diet dressings - too chemical-y for me, so I control calories by being careful about how much I use. Yes, it's more expensive than most fast food. I've had to change my mindset, though, in my attempts to eat healthier. Snack food is priced so that people will view it as an alternative to healthier food. When you consider that you're getting lunch AND nutrition, it is easier to pay that much when you look at what the usual burger and fries is doing for you.
  9. OK, my curiosity's getting the better of me here. Are you looking for this cookbook because you remember a particular recipe from it? Or is it just one of those things that haunts you in the wee hours of the morning, and you've decided to get to the bottom of it? Settling a bet? Inquiring minds want to know, you know.
  10. I suggest you start browsing used book stores in your area. Locally, they have a lot of cookbooks from that era. Good luck!
  11. I would add in a commercial pan with a non-stick (i.e. Teflon) finish, which I intend to purchase soon at the local restaurant supply house. I think the non-curling parchment is a great idea. It just prompted me to wonder: would Americans cook more from scratch if they had better equipment? Just a thought. A lot of equipment intended for home cooks is woefully inadequate, and especially in the instance of pots and pans, it can be so lousy that people become convinced they can't cook. But that's another thread.
  12. I wish I hadn't looked at this with 2 hours to go until lunchtime. I'm going to have to try that. Wow! Time to scrounge change out of the bottom of my purse and see what crap is in the snack machine today.
  13. I've had BLT's with avocado before, which I think is a divine combination. In Chicago, however, a restaurant called the Brown Sack has the SABLT: shrimp, avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato (click to image 8). While I would stipulate that the basic BLT is a classic for good reason, I don't mind riffing on it from time to time. What additions do you like?
  14. Several of the things I consider indespensable have already been mentioned. I would add metal tongs to the list, along with my little clear glass bowls; they are in graduated sizes and hold anywhere from about 3 or 4 tablespoons to about a cup. They're great for mise en place and just about everything else, including delivering that little dab of butter that has become an entitlement for the cat every morning.
  15. I have read that vegetable stock should be used within a couple of days of being made, and if it's frozen, it loses flavor pretty quickly. Anyone with experience want to weight in on that? edited to add: Many people will freeze leftover chunks of fresh onion, carrot, and celery to use in making meat stock. I am wondering whether freezing alters the flavor of the vegetables any, and in meat stocks it's not evident because of the flavor added by the meat. Can the same practice yield vegetable stock that's as flavorful as it would be if the vegetables are fresh? Also, does anyone use the leftover vegetables for anything else --besides compost, perhaps? I'm wondering if they could be pureed in a blender and with additions of herbs, etc., made into soup. I do know that carrots strained out of beef or chicken stock are among the best dog treats on the planet.
  16. If I had nearly unlimited time on my hands for a period of several days, I do believe I'd have to try out a few French bread recipes. I never have time, in regular working life, to do what needs to be done to the dough, when it needs to be done. Having that kind of time on my hands would be my definition of Nirvana.
  17. jgm

    Sonic Drive-In

    Steven, that was a Sonic next to the motel some of us stayed in last summer when we were in Kansas City for the Heartland Gathering; you and Kris and I sat outside and enjoyed limeades. [edit: You pointed that out in a later post. That's what I get for posting before reading everything. Sorry!] That's pretty much the best of Sonic, as far as I'm concerned. (I always order a diet cherry limeade, easy on the cherry - otherwise, it's too sweet.) Their tots are usually pretty good. If one must consume an entree, let it be the foot-long coney. They used to have a pretty good Frito chili pie, but now they've turned it into a wrap and it's dreadful. Chris, I sometimes do go there on my lunch hour, and sit in my car and eat if it's not too hot. Sometimes it's the only quiet time I get during my day. But I have to be in the mood for a coney and tots, because nothing else on the menu is worth ordering.
  18. If it doesn't firm up, call it a cold fruit dessert soup, and how would anybody know it wasn't perfect?
  19. I often buy wine for cooking in the small, individual serving bottles. They're strong for their size, and the caps screw on tightly. I've transported olive oil in them, and have never had a leak, but I've also not transported them under the conditions you're talking about. I would definitely put them inside a resealable bag under those conditions. Just an idea.
  20. jgm

    Celery Substitutes?

    Wow! What a great idea! Can't wait to try it!
  21. jgm

    Celery Substitutes?

    I think I'd just substitute parsley, fennel, or some other vegetable, depending on what else was in the dish. As for food dislikes being more psychological than anything else, I would agree. I am aware of two relatives who had strong dislikes for certain foods, but after developing Alzheimer's, forgot about it and consumed those foods with obvious enjoyment. Sometimes it's a matter, too, of the form of a food to which one has been exposed. Fresh asparagus was such a revelation to me. I still can't stand to even watch people eat canned asparagus, which was what we had available when I was growing up. Wonder if they'll catch me scarfing it down when I'm 85?
  22. My father used to give in to his granddaughter's requests for chocolate from his "stash", mainly because he knew she'd share it with him. One particularly memorable time when I watched the interaction between them, Julie played with the still-wrapped bar for several minutes, oblivious to her grandfather's growing impatience. Finally he asked her, "well, aren't you going to open it?", trying very hard to keep the irritation out of his voice. "I just want to smell it for awhile," she insisted. Then she looked up at him with those grandpa-killer eyes and said, "Know what, Grandpa? Sometimes I think of these in the night." It was another half hour before he got a bite of chocolate, but it was made more endurable since he was provided with a cute story to tell his friends.
  23. Would chocolate cookies work if each one was individually wrapped? I'm also thinking that from time to time, I've run across cookie recipes that consist of cookie dough completely encasing a piece of chocolate before baking; even if the chocolate melts, it would still stay inside the cookie. I have a friend whose son is stationed in Afghanistan; she regularly sends him jars of salsa. I wonder if whether liquids are allowable, depends upon where the package is being shipped.
  24. You haven't mentioned dishwashers. If replacing one or installing a new one will be an issue, be advised the current new models on the market have a cycle time of an hour or more. I'm not kidding. What you lose in noise, you gain in cycle time. If it's not an issue - at least, not right away, then good for you. Personally, I have my sights set on a used professional model with a less-than-5-minute cycle. It would require special plumbing, which should tell me that the whole idea is not a good one, but my head and my heart march to different drummers.
  25. A very worthy topic for discussion. A few years ago, to take my mind off a missing cat, I went to the grocery store to buy concord grapes for making jelly. After realizing it was going to cost me $20 to $30 to make the jelly (and I already had the jars and the rest of the equipment), I went home empty-handed. If I'd known for sure that the grapes were really good, a batch of homemade grape jelly might be worth that much. But since I didn't know the quality of the grapes, I decided not to do it. Fortunately, by the time I got home, the cat had returned. I think it's acceptable, when considering this question, to factor in quality and taste. If the flavor of the homemade product is significantly better than what's available in the store, it makes a big difference. I'll be interested to see how others weigh in on this.
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