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  1. My daughter Jeanie says a good cook is someone who is cooking with love. I think she may have something. I think it's important to shop with your eyes open for good, quality ingredients. You don't have to buy the most expensive ingredients but when you do, you can buy them in a smaller quantity. You can save money by keeping away from processed foods, buying in season, and favor local foods, farmers markets and so forth. When you start with good ingredients and you have learned just the basics of cooking (leave restaurant food to the chefs for the most part) and you pay attention to what you are cooking, I think you end up with dishes that are true to the food itself. Then learn to add a few seasonings, spices and create your style of cooking. I know people are rushed during the day so it's best to make a simple meal if you don't have the time. The process of cooking should be as enjoyable as that of eating.
  2. Growing up, we purchased olive oil by the half gallon and used a slightly lower grade for cooking and the higher grade for salads etc. My mom also used vegetable oil when appropriate and a combination of olive oil and butter for some dishes. We purchased our olive oil at a neighborhood import store and, I think, the quality was pretty good. I'm at a loss as to what to expect from olive oil today, I know that generally it does not taste as rich as what I had growing up. Again, maybe it's old age and my "taste" has changed. I can't totally break with the old ways and I sometimes can't resist frying in olive oil. But I generally try to use grapeseed oil because I believe that it has a higher heating point, so it is safer. I buy a variety of olive oils but prefer the cold pressed organic out of California. I love to get it at the first of the season when it is really fresh. My understanding, and I probably shouldn't say this because I can't prove it, is that the imported olive oil tends to be older, maybe a year old before they ship it here. Anyone have solid information on this? Olive oil goes downhilll quickly. That's why they drink it by the glass just after the first pressing and I don't think anyone here would open a bottle of olive oil and try that here. Ugh! I guess I'm suggesting not to use a cheap olive oil for cooking but you are better off with grapeseed, certain organic vegetable oils or butter. with certain foods and on low heat...that type of thing. Then get a really nice green olivey olive oil for finishing your food, salads, raw applications etc.
  3. For all you Upstate people, I just picked up some iberico bellota jamon at putnam market here in Saratoga Springs. I've been looking forward to try this for some time. At $99 a pound, I only purchased a nice "sample".
  4. I had a problem with my chocolate chip cookies spreading too much when I switched from margarine to butter. I scoop the dough into individual balls and freeze them although chilling is an excellent option as well. (I prefer to make a few cookies at a time.) I also use parchment paper because I understand that may help. It certainly makes for a nice cleanup.
  5. What do you think of adding a pan of water under the bread to help with steam?
  6. I agree with you WiscoNole; Salmon's dish was much more appealing because of the herb trick. I thought the judges were pretty excited about it. If the ribs normally take 4 or 5 hours, I wonder how tender they were after 90 minutes. I think they fell in love with the grilled cantaloupe because it makes a great picture and is different. I believe the ribs were cooked in the oven and this was supposed to be an issue on grilling albeit with a twist. (I probably should keep my comments to myself until I see the July issue of Bon Appetit.) I'm getting sick of the Food Network; I certainly won't waste any more time with this show.
  7. Although I have never done it myself, I would also dry the oregano. I would put it in a bunch and hang it upside down. I don't know if it is sentiment or real, but I prefer oregano that has been dried and kept on the branch. My dad always had some in a paper bag that he would take out to sprinkle over garden tomatoes or into lemon/oil/garlic mixtures for broiling chicken etc. Now, I purchase the ones on the branch as well. I have stored mine in a paper bag, plastic and now I'm using a plastic container. I'm thinking of going back to the bag; maybe the stuff "breathes" better. Or, again, maybe it's sentiment.
  8. I did a triple tour of the produce section and there wasn't an artichoke to be had. I wanted to celebrate the start of the season. I love your idea for the baby artichokes. I wonder if the egg white is absolutely needed -- it's a binder, right?
  9. Torrone comes to mind. You might find it in a good Italian bakery.
  10. I miss spinach, too. But I like to use a sturdy green such as kale in these soups. Green cabbage is another good option.
  11. We have a case here in Schenectady and another in a nearby county. I've lost my appetite for baby spinach quickly sauteed in olive oil. Never thought that would happen.
  12. Maybe it's an especially deadly type of bacteria, so the normal washing won't help. The hospitalization rate is close to 50%. I picked this up from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: FRIDAY, Sept. 15, 2006, 2:28 p.m. By Karen Herzog UPDATE: 30 E. coli cases in Wisconsin The total number of E. coli cases in the state of Wisconsin is up to 30, including 17 hospitalizations and one death, according to Paul Biedrzycki, the Milwaukee Health Department's manager of disease control and prevention. He said that an E. coli outbreak usually results in having 3% to 8% of people who are affected hospitalized. However, the latest outbreak of the bacteria linked to bagged spinach has resulted in a hospitalization rate closer to 50%. Click here for more information from the state on the E. coli outbreak.
  13. I just read an update of the story. Again, it was suggested to throw out the spinachn since they don't know the brand, area spinach originated etc. But if you must eat it, one person suggested you wash it in warm water. Warm water? That surprised me.
  14. THURSDAY, Sept. 14, 2006, 8:09 p.m. Not much more info here. By Associated Press E. coli outbreak kills one in state One person has died from the latest outbreak of E. coli to strike Wisconsin, a federal health official said today. David Acheson, of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said the outbreak, which has been linked to prepackaged washed spinach, has sickened 50 others in Wisconsin, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. Eva Robelia, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, said there have been 20 confirmed cases of E. coli sickness in Wisconsin in seven Wisconsin counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Ozaukee, Dane, Manitowoc and Outagamie. City of Milwaukee health commissioner Bevan Baker said there have been 11 confirmed cases of E. coli in the city.
  15. I understand the temptation because I love new toys in the kitchen, and this one is beautiful to behold. But just think...do you really need to make 30 toasted cheese sandwiches in an hour. You probably will get more real enjoyment out of the machine you already have.
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