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About andiesenji

  • Birthday 03/23/1939

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    Southern California

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  1. Solidified Brown Sugar

    Do you have a vacuum sealer? When I was doing a lot of baking, I had a bunch of vac-sealed bags in a larger container in the freezer. Most were 1-cup, some were 1 1/2 and a few for huge recipes were 2 cups. When I would get prepped to measure out dry ingredients for several batches of holiday cookies I would take the big container out of the freezer and the brown sugar was always soft. I don't buy it in big batches now so just use my smaller Cambro for the stuff I am going to use up within a few weeks. For long term storage of brown sugar, the freezer is best. To rapidly soften it, chisel out some and put it in the microwave - nuke it on HALF-POWER for 8 seconds - check it and if still hard do an additional 8 seconds and try sticking a fork in it to break it up more. If you have a couple of days, throw in some marshmallows, they will soften it better than bread or your wetted clay bear.
  2. Expiration date about dark tea?

    Many teas are deliberately aged. If kept in airtight containers, with absolutely no moisture, tea can last for years. I have numerous teas from many different vendors/brands and none have expiration dates, not even the ones that contain dried fruits & etc. I have black teas, oolongs, greens and whites. Single varietals, blends, blends with flowers or spices, herbs and fruits. I have a Russian Caravan tea that I purchased in a large tin about 25 years ago and it is still good. Consider that at one time it took years to bring tea to markets in Europe and the Americas. The tea survived that so it can pretty much survive anything if care is taken to keep it dry and away from the air.
  3. Pollination has already taken and she has fruit of varying sizes to protect.
  4. Nurseries in the area have been selling out their citrus and will not stock more until after the problem has stabilized. A friend who lives in Downey and has several dwarf trees has bought fine nylon tulle (went to the garment district and bought two bolts-heap) and has shrouded all her trees to protect them. It lets the light through but insects can't get through it. I think it is brilliant for a homeowner with a few trees. It's 108 inches wide so it is easy to cover small trees. She said an elderly Japanese man who lives on her block suggested it. He helped her lay out her garden when she moved there about 15 years ago.
  5. ABC Channel 7 in Los Angeles is reporting that Inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture were going home-to-home inspecting trees after a devastating citrus disease was detected in southland and there is a quarantine area. The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) is a pest that acts as a carrier or vector spreading "huanglongbing" (HLB), a devastating disease of citrus trees. This bacterial disease is transmitted to healthy trees by the psyllid after it feeds on infected plant tissue. Anyone in the region who has citrus trees should read up on preventing the disease and how to keep the insects away.
  6. Bay leaves

    This site has a few spice blends that include ground bay leaves. Many Garam Masala blends include ground bay leaves. Several online vendors sell ground bay leaves. Years ago, when I was still prepping wild game for the hunters stationed at Edwards, one of the guys who entered barbecue contests used a lot of ground bay leaves in his "secret" rub. He would come and prune my bushes for me and haul away a huge bundle of stems and leaves. I sure missed him when he was transferred to another post. His wife was not a cook, didn't want to learn but liked gardening. I got her started growing herbs and gave them a couple of scions from my bays.
  7. Bay leaves

    I sometimes cut out the center rib and put them in the dehydrator sandwiched between two of the "fruit leather drying sheets" until they are crumbly. I put them in the spice grinder and grind to a fine powder and add just a tiny amount of corn starch. This can then be "bloomed" in hot oil or butter to toss with vegetables or add to stews, etc. There are commercial spice blends that use it, so why not make your own.
  8. Bay leaves

    I use them fresh all the time. I have two huge bay "bushes" which were supposed to be "dwarf" and not grow taller than 8 feet. Ha! I have had then trimmed when they reached 20' and again near that. The aroma and flavor is exceptional. One is a true Laurus Nobilis and the other is a Canary Island Laurus variant but has similar flavor and aroma. Both were given to me by a friend who worked at the Huntington Gardens when I first moved up here in 1988. I pick leaves and put them in a wire colander on my kitchen counter until they are completely dry and then I vac seal them and send them to friends. They are evergreen so I have a supply of fresh leaves all year although the aroma and flavor is strongest in the late spring. I lightly crush two or three leaves to simmer in milk or cream for a custard base - or when I want to make a cream sauce for vegetables. The flavor is exquisite. I also save the straight stems when I prune the bushes and use them for skewers and they too impart flavor to meats, chicken, vegetables, etc. The original "trunk" is behind the oldest scions. it is more than 8 inches in diameter just above the ground. When first planted it was barely an inch in diameter. This one has again reached 20' in height and is in the branches of the shade tree. This is the Canary Island variant - which was not supposed to survive our winters at this altitude (2800 ft) and the hard freezes but it has survived temps down to 5°F. Although I protected both the first few years. You can see that the leaves are slightly lighter, a bit more yellow in the green and they have "hairy" flower clusters. They also produce a lot of very large leaves.
  9. What is this cooking vessel?

    I found a link to the Burnay pots. They are used for fermenting fish paste, wines and liquors. If you Google "palayok clay pots, there are numerous image of the different shapes. Clay pots are used for cooking in many places, over charcoal braziers, on gas burners. I have several that are unglazed on the outside, glazed on the inside - like my tagines. They are designed for cooking. I emailed a copy of your photo to a friend who is an avid collector of clay pots - he said it could also be a Japanese "Donabe" clay pot. They were very popular with American tourists and military families in the '50s and '60s. They always had a vent hole in the lid, unlike pots made by other cultures. They ranged in size from shallow "rice cookers" to the deeper "stew pots" ... The early ones are plain, later they were decorated.
  10. What is this cooking vessel?

    This looks like one of the Burnay pots (palayok) from a particular area in the Philippines. I used to have one that a friend sent me while she was visiting family there. I had seen one at the local Philippine market that was for display only. Some are glazed and used for cooking, many are larger and unglazed, used to store water because the evaporation cools it. This is a photo of a Burnay pot, no lid.
  11. California botulism outbreak

    Any low-acid food can carry the clostridium botulinum. CHILE PEPPERS are often the culprit in cheese sauces that are not kept sufficiently refrigerated after opening - or when fresh chiles (not sufficiently processed) are added to the cheese sauce. A previous outbreak was also traced to a family picnic where nachos were served. A big can of cheese sauce, mixed with chopped fresh jalapeno peppers - not refrigerated sufficiently and then heated just prior to serving over the chips.
  12. I think I wrote about the Indonesian restaurant I frequented for many years, located in Inglewood, CA. from the early '60s through the 80s' till I moved up here to Lancaster and the trip was just too long. J.B.'s Little Bali was owned and operated by a couple from Indonesia and their extended family. The place was always full - one needed reservations for more than 2 and there were big round tables because most parties were 6, 8, 10. There were many patrons who were obviously asian, but there were also a lot of Dutch ex-pats who had lived in Indonesia for years, or decades. I'm nosy, I asked and in most cases, the people were friendly and willing, if not eager to share their stories. The set-price meal was the "COMPLETE RIJSTTAFEL" and it took a long time to get through all the "courses" - one is not supposed to rush eating - so there was plenty of time for conversation. "Bob" (the "B" of J.B.) explained every dish and the sideboys that accompanied them. Warned about the extremely hot SAMBALS and suggested how to add flavor to the dish without "inflaming it" (there were small containers of TOOTHPICKS on the table to dip into the sambals and then poke into the serving on one's plate.) Water or beer was served with the first round of dishes, 5, I think - included Gado-Gado salad, still one of my favorites. As we emptied those dishes, different ones would replace them - one was savory banana fritters, which I loved, and vegetables in a sauce with coconut chips that went so well with the rice. Bob explained there were always an uneven number of dishes because otherwise it would be bad luck. Then tea, black tea with a hint of vanilla along with some sweets, fresh fruits and some tiny cakes and dumplings with sweet fillings. Finally, a round of ginger tea to "settle the stomach." As far as I knew, this was a "pure Indonesian" restaurant. The dishes were all in my Indonesian cookbooks and were described in other books about Indonesia itself.
  13. Someone gave me one with the BliGli name as a joke gift some time ago. She picked it up locally in a Kitchen store in what is left of our "factory outlet" mall. They carry some cookware and a few appliances but mainly the store sells utensils and gadgets. I love to poke around in there and see what I can find that is interesting. They have an enormous selection of microwave cooking containers and accessories. For some unknown reason, I often see a lot of men in there - all ages.
  14. The Faire has always put a lot of stress on workers behind the scenes and it is a shame that the managers don't want to spend the money on more trained help. It was the same back in the early '70s when I had my booth there (at the Hope Ranch in Thousand Oaks). One of the cooks was a woman who had been recruited from a hotel and prior had been a cook in the Army so she had a lot of experience. I often met with her and we talked about our Army days. One of the organizers kept asking for extra meals for "VIP guests" that she was hosting, usually at the last minute, then "borrowing" one or two of the kitchen helpers to set up her table and serve her guests. I thought that was totally out of order but I was just a lowly vendor. I showed up one day to set up my booth and learned that Lou had quit. One straw too many. This reminded me that I found a stack of SCA publications from the '70s and '80s. Tournaments Illuminated and Crown Prints. I have been thumbing through them and remembering friends I haven't seen for decades and wondering if they are still living.
  15. Have you had a chance to try out the big melon-cutting knife? I got a watermelon last week and used my huge French knife with the 12" blade.