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Posts posted by ghostrider

  1. I bought a specifically designed kitchen floor mat - thick carpet on top of a foam base, nonskid backing, washable - from Vermont Country Store about 10 years ago. Shaped like a capital letter D so it goes up against your counter wth no annoying corners to catch your foot. It's been terrific, like standing on a cloud while you prep / cook / wash dishes, & sturdy.

    Sadly, they no longer seem to carry them. But you might email the store & ask, if you're interested; they've been known to reintroduce old products if folks want them.


  2. After several weeks of shelled shrimp, my local WF is back to the unshelled variety @ $5.99 / lb.

    I am back to my earlier instinct that they have better flavor if you shell them yourself immediately before cooking.

    I have gotten better at it thanks to johnnyd's tips above, though I'm still no speed demon. I find that if you give the shell a gentle little wiggle before attempting to strip it, this helps loosen it & greatly increases your odds of being left with a whole, untorn shrimp.

    A few more weeks to hone my technique. The season is waning but it's been considerably better (for me) than last year's. No intestinal virus in January, that's always a plus. :smile:

  3. Forget the question of social niceties & family interactions & all that. Whatever group you're with, how do you walk into a restaurant & occupy a chair & not order anything? I can't conceive of that; it's simply not done, no matter what the circumstances. You have to order something, even if it's just a cup of poorly made tea.

    Brngng the family back into it, the post below caught & held my eye, remindng me very much of my visits with my mom, who turned 90 this year. I won't add more because it'd just be redundant.

    Also, she says that they were visiting a "retirement community."  Restaurants in retirement communities have to cater to an elderly clientele that often has various dietary requirements that necessitate blander menus.  My own father, now 86, has probably eaten a meal in every country on the planet.  He used to love "gourmet" food.  Now he's reduced to a bland, low-salt, low-sugar diet. 

    Is the Senior Citizen Early-Bird Special at Golden Corral my favorite dining experience?

    Uh, no.

    But the day my father is no longer available for me to take him there, will be a sad day for me, indeed.

    In fact, so sad that I can barely manage to contemplate it.

  4. From a UN Food and Agriculture Organization report titled "The Italian mountains"

    "The fauna of the Italian mountains is characterized by a large component of endemic species."


    Now that I've had time to look at more of these links, I should amend my earlier comments to say that I consider the usage above to be correct. The report deals pretty comprehensively with all of the Italian mountains, from the Alps to Mt. Etna, making its title quite appropriate.

    The report also mentions that 35% of Italy is mountainous.

    If only Ms. Severson (or her editor), havng already located us in the Abruzzi, had simply said, "I had driven through the mountains with an interpreter to find Ateleta", none of this tangential discussion would have occurred. Maybe that's why she did it. :wink: Or maybe she was going for the notion that she was in those singularly Italian mountains, the Apennines, as opposed to the Alps which Italy shares with five other countries, and an editor cut something key and botched the concept.

    In any event, I'm a bit envious of her heritage, chicken thighs or not. Now let's get back to those meatballs.

  5. Also, Park and Orchard in East Rutherford

    Funny, we need to be in East Rutherford in a couple weeks so we will certainly try them out then. I think they would enjoy the dinner menu a bit better (as terms of selection). The only thing that would concern me, is the post about the butter. But, I guess, its something to ask about before ordering. If there is a place similar to this a bit closer for this week during lunch/early dinner, we could probably go for it.


    P&O's default accompaniment to things like grilled fish is brown rice that's been drenched with butter. I don't think anything else is available as a substitute side but you could ask. It's a curious approach they have - they don't serve red meat but have no problem loading some of their dishes with butter.

  6. I could dissect each of those usages & explain why I think they're variously lazy, inaccurate or inappropriate, but it seems a pointless exercise. Different things irk different people, that's just the way it is.

    I will add that the first citation uses "mountains" synonymously with "Alps", which is what the phrase normally conjures for me. The first paragraph of Severson's piece has us in the Abruzzi, the second has me wondering how we got there. I expect more precision from the Times. Perhaps I should expect less.

  7. I think that Kim S stumbles badly in her second paragraph when she writes "I had driven through the Italian mountains with an interpreter to find Ateleta...", as if Italy has only one mountainous region. 

    The sentence does not state or imply that Italy has only one mountainous region. It simply means that she drove through the mountains, Italian ones. Whether or not to provide greater specificity is the kind of judgment call writers (and editors) make in just about every sentence. Since this article is not directed at people planning to recreate the trip, the names of the particular mountains are not necessarily relevant. Often, authors include too many details and editors, trying to improve flow and space efficiency, remove the ones that don't need to be there. For all we know the writer included three sentences about the trip through the mountains, naming every individual mountain, and an editor crossed it all out and said "the Italian mountains." Happens all the time, for good reason.

    Sorry, but I disagree on the implication of the phrase. It's like calling the Adirondacks "the American mountains," as if the Rockies etc. don't exist. It's an inclusive phrase.

    I suppose one can use that and not be totally wrong but my immediate thought, in both cases, is that the writer doesn't know very much about where he or she is. If an editor was responsible for the phrase, then he or she is putting the writer in a bad light. Either way, it makes me question why I'm spending my time with her.

  8. it may seem obvious, but the rule of thumb i give my cooking students is that "heavy for its size is a good indicator of freshness."  produce is mostly water weight, and as the produce sits around, in the warehouse or on the shelf, moisture evaporates through the skin. we have a natural "scale" in our heads, that tells us how heavy that artichoke or lemon will feel when we pick it up. if it feels heavier than we expect, chances are good that it is fairly fresh. if it feels a lot lighter than expected, it has probably been sitting around too long.  that's my method, anyhoo...

    It's called "density," of course, and I think you've articulated the concept extremely well.

  9. I use basically the same procedure as Mr. Shaw, except I use no salt, for dietary reasons. I don't miss it. Either basil (fresh) or oregano (dried). A Roman-born friend, one of the best cooks I've ever known, once told me that a real Italian would never use both in the same dish since they occupy a similar aromatic range.

    This time of year I tend to use Muir Glen salt-free tomatoes, though I recently found some imported Italian tomatoes (canned, forgot the brand, but I know where to find them) that may just be worth the premium. Further experiments are necessary.

    Sometimes I sprinkle in a handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley during the final toss of pasta & sauce in pan.

    In season, I use ripe plum tomatoes from my local greenmarket. That's the best.

  10. I think that Kim S stumbles badly in her second paragraph when she writes "I had driven through the Italian mountains with an interpreter to find Ateleta...", as if Italy has only one mountainous region. I distrusted her from that point, although she eventually got me back with some of the details about her family & its history.

    But I don't get the bit about not being able to duplicate her mother's sauce because mom can't or won't tell her how she does it. Why would she even expect that to work? Seems obvious that she should be watching what her mom does, again & again, if she really wants to learn. So why isn't she doing that?

    An intermittently charming & goofy piece, though it has a good deal of heart.

  11. I bought a cheese with an orange rind from Urban Fare - it was called something like "Chaumes".  Smelled like, gosh, I don't know if there is a description for something so horrible.  Tasted like heaven.  Most of my guests refused to try it, fearing it might taste like it smelled.  Their loss.....I thought it was delicious.

    Old thread, old cheese.......

    I recently discovered Chaumes at my local Whole Foods. It's actually rather mild in both aroma & taste. Was googling eG to see what others had to say about it. Sounds like the piece above was, err, very well aged.

  12. Thyme is almost unique among herbs in that its dried form is as useful (in a different way) as its fresh.

    Thought I'd try again, since I honestly don't understand this statement. I use herbs frequently & am genuinely curious about what this means.

    Does anyone have an answer, or even a guess?

  13. Of course the test is silly. It's about as useful as your daily horoscope. (Well, probably more accurate than that.) That's why the BBC adds all those lovely disclaimers in the fine print. If you want a more unequivocal analysis, you need to click the link at the bottom of the results page & do this:


    The test has highlighted two interesting issues for me, though. First, I think that they should change the term to something like "hypertaster." Given that "super-" carries implications of "ultimate" & so forth, and knowing how keen my senses of taste & smell are, I was a bit miffed at first not to be considered a supertaster. Then I remembered that it really means "hypersensitive" more than "having a well developed palate."

    Second, was I the only one to think that Question 3 was totally nuts? "The waiter takes your order and asks you how you'd like it served. How do you like your meal to be prepared?" I've never had a waiter, in the US or the UK, ask me whether I want the low-fat alternate version, or the sauces on the side, or the dish as the chef actually thinks it should be prepared. Where does this come from? Am I frequenting the wrong sort of places?

  14. Thyme is almost unique among herbs in that its dried form is as useful (in a different way) as its fresh.

    OK, what am I not understanding about rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, tarragon.....?

  15. my 18 y.o. son has asked me to ask you what to do with the condoms when you're working 0730-0000 or later in the kitchen every day for the last 2 years :biggrin:

    or, as he put it, dreams are free

    Someone's going to make their culinary reputation by using them as pudding pop molds. Only a question of timing.

  16. I think that a goodly part off the discussion here has really been about the distinction between the strict clinical definition of "addiction" vs. the looser, more popular usage. Having been a nicotine addict, & having recently removed a major source of sugar from my diet (ice cream made with real cane sugar) due to incipient diabetes, I understand the difference. I also know that the effort it took to lose the ice cream habit wasn't substantially different from that required to quit smoking. I'm as likely to use one term as another in talking about that effort; "habit" doesn't seem to convey it as effectively as "addiction" even if it's techncally more accurate.

    A few pages back there was a discussion of the difficulty of finding bread without added sweeteners, be they HFCS or sugar. Yesterday I visited my local bakery & asked the nice lady who runs it if she used sugar in her rye bread and if so, how much. What a marvelous conversation! She went in back and brought out an ancient leather-bound notebook with yellowing handwritten pages, the original recipe book that belonged to her great-uncle who came over from Germany & opened the bakery 80 years ago. It was a thrill just to see that. Part of my town's history right there.

    So it turns out that she adds 1.5 oz of sugar to a batch of dough that yields 16 loaves. She says it makes activates the yeast & makes the dough rise more effectively. Doing some quick math, that means I'm consuming an extra .009375 oz of sugar with every sandwich.

    Let's even round it up to 1/100 of an ounce for ease of memory. I think I need to worry about the sugar I'll get from the carbs in the bread more than that smidgen of cane sugar.

  17. Actually I suppose the real ansewr lies in evolution, right? I mean, it's not as if homo sapiens were suddenly plunked down semi-lingual & all in the wild & had to figure everything out. Our ancestors ate what their ancestors ate, & so forth, back to before humankind was even conscious of what it was doing.

    Then once you've got fire, you start roastng things & if it smells good, it probably tastes good iin one form or another.

    The key, as implied above, would be passing the knowledge down the generations, particularly as it derived more from craft & less from instinct.

  18. I've often wondered the same. Not to get too far off the food track, but there is good archaeological evidence that humans were smoking cannabis sativa at least 60,000 years ago. (One might ask whether the resulting munchies led to further experiments with foodstuffs & fires.) Seriously, though, we've been at this for a long time.

    There's also the curious fact that we homo sapiens types are the last surviving species in our genus. We clearly had better survival skills than our fellow hominids. Some have speculated that we were simply nastier & more brutish & killed them off. Lately I've begun to wonder whether we (also?) had better instincts in our eating experiments back at the dawn of time.

  19. Had more of the peeled guys last night (they don't sit in pools of pink water here in Jersey). They were pretty darned good this time, marking a steady progression from yucky to decent over the weeks. Has WF improved its handling methods or is this still just luck of the draw? Stay tuned.

    I keep trying to find them at my new local fishmonger, it's annoying that WF is my only source, but every time I go they are closed. No signs, nothing to indicate their status or open hours. I just don't get that.

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