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Posts posted by Sony

  1. There's actually some pretty good info in the vanilla extract thread on alcohol-free extract. Two key terms to search for are "glycerine" and "paste". Good luck! (Edit: I suspect you already searched, but "glycerin" doesn't turn up any results, whereas "glycerine", spelled thusly, does.)

    Aha! Thanks for being a personal spell check, mkayahara. :)

    I might clarify that I'd like to make something that incorporates the vanilla beans if possible....but will keep the lovely suggestions of crystallized ginger and candied peels in my pocket, just in case. (as well as other great suggestions on the artisanal gifts thread).

    I realize that vanilla foodstuffs are typically going to be sweet, but somehow feel weird giving a present of sugar to a person who has diabetes. (Though I know full well that she manages her condition well and enjoys her sweets on occasion, she doesn't like to partake a lot and she's mentioned before that the overwhelming array of sweets during the holidays is challenging to her.)

    Sorry I wasn't more clear before about incorporating vanilla and the consideration of the sugar idea. Will definitely look more into using glycerinE as a solvent....

    Another idea I just thought of was using the vanilla pods to permeate some good coffee beans ? She does grind her own beans in batches, so she would use the gift several times, I think.....

  2. Hello all,

    Have placed an order of vanilla beans to start making homemade vanilla extract for holiday gifts. (Will be my 1st time trying this out! But that's a story for the homemade vanilla extract thread....)

    One of my colleagues has a spouse who is a recovering alcoholic (which means traditional vanilla extract recipes are out). She herself is a diabetic, and though she does use sugar, I feel like this isn't the most useful gift for her.

    Has anyone made non-alcoholic vanilla extract using food-grade glycerin? Might give that a shot....

    Vanilla salt is probably a little out there for their tastes.

    What other ideas do you have? Would prefer to give something shelf stable that can be used over time (instead of a cake or batch of creme anglaise). Thanks!

  3. I would sear and slow cook the oxtails first with some bay leaf, thyme and other aromatics, then definitely chill and skim off fat before continuing to make the stroganoff sauce with the broth, mushrooms, etc. in a saucepan. Would finally fold in shreds of meat (or the whole tails) at the end....

    My main concern is that fear you might end up with a grease-slicked sauce by cooking oxtails in a sauce that you can't really "skim" at the end. Just my 2 cents....maybe someone else has done this successfully.....

  4. Congratulations! Some ideas that come to mind immediately are:

    herb vinaigrette-tossed new potato salad (maybe fresh thyme, basil and/or mint) with steamed asparagus tips or fresh peas thrown into the mix

    Pasta tossed with steamed green beans, sauteed zucchini and olives and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes

    spinach-stuffed mushrooms

    chipotle-infused sweet potato gratin

    Good luck- please let us know how things turn out!

  5. Went ahead and bought the Kuhn Rikon- LOVE it! Only downsize the the handle coming off makes storage slightly awkward (Picture here.) I just stuck mine on top of my fridge.

    The spinning mechanism with the handle is smooth and fast, water doesn't splash up from the bottom, even with fast RPM, the clear bowl is definitely attractive enough as a serving bowl.... and I love the button brake! We'll see about durability- have only had it for a month- but I'm considering it a decent investment so far....

    ETA link to picture.

  6. It might not be a bad idea to check out the efforts that are already being made in your community and seeing if there's a way to connect with/discover community needs instead of automatically designing a brand-new resource for a target audience (like a class series). It's a common issue in public health, where the same "tool", like a curriculum or a class series, might be re-created and duplicated in many different venues, and the resources used in doing so might be better used to bolster existing efforts...

    You may want to check out if there are:

    1. any free Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) class series through your local Cooperative Extension office- which are designed specifically for low-income families/households with young children, or

    2. also through Cooperative Extension, any free class series through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed....formerly known as the the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program).....anyone who receives food stamps and their family/household members are eligible, or

    3. through Share Our Strength, any Operation Frontline class series. This series uses uses a well-designed curriculum and a base of nutritionists and local chefs to teach about meal planning, food budgeting, and cooking skills.

    In NYS, EFNEP and SNAP-Ed class series are delivered through 58 Cooperative Extension offices all over the state, and I know good volunteers for classes are always in HIGH demand! The class series will typically cover topics like budgeting, meal planning, balanced diets, and food safety, and are built to be interactive sessions that develop/reinforce cooking skills. Plus, the classes use reliable curricula that have already been reviewed and tested (for accuracy, ease of use, etc.....)

    As a disclaimer, I am a public health dietitian working with the Cooperative Extension nutrition programs for low-income audiences in NYS, so I hope that what I say doesn't come off as "territorial" or agenda-pushing. My job is reviewing the curricula that are used by community educators across the state, and conducting in-services on effective teaching methods and actual nutrition topics themselves (like diabetes, food allergies, etc.). Happy to receive any additional questions or connect people to Cooperative Extension programs in their communities via PM.....

    It's good to know that there are so many others who are moved by the plight of food insecurity in the US, not to mention the world. Look forward to reading about other ideas and resources.....

  7. Eating a Ruston, LA peach right now.

    I'll go change my shirt and wash my face later.

    Best peach I have ever eaten.

    Hooray, it's finally time for the damn peaches (now)!

    Well, not for me- I'm in upstate NY. But the strawberries and early cherries are enough to tide me over, I think. I hope that the rainy season hasn't negotiated the quality of this year's crop.

    Unlike most other fruits, I tend to prefer peaches room temperature....seems to let more complex flavors shine through, IMHO.

  8. But just suppose, for the sake of argument, that at said restaurant today, I bite into the sandwich, and it's okay but not at all wonderful?  The practical aspect of the situation is this:  I can't go anywhere else, and even if I could, I can't afford two lunches today.  I can't go hungry all afternoon; my blood sugar will dump me and I'll be extremely crabby and feel like s***.  So I'll gulp down something really unsatisfying, or try to find a machine for something (hopefully not too awful) to just fill me up.......Suggestions are welcome.

    jgm, this happens to me a lot....I travel a great deal, and on a schedule that can get off track or have me starving in what some may consider a culinary wasteland. I'll often keep a little trail mix, crackers, and a tin of sardines on me when I'm on an uncertain schedule, whether it's on the road or at my desk. This wouldn't have helped with you car situation- sometimes, your priority has to be to simply eat.

    My approach to it is to go ahead and proceed with getting food in my stomach (instead of becoming a grumpy, rabidly-hungry freak).....but choosing the lightest meal I need to get to get me by till I can eat something I'd really enjoy. For example, if a sandwich is really crappy, I'll simply eat the insides and leave the bread, (which can save a lot of undesired calories, especially if it's soaked in some sort of greasy condiment that isn't absolutely delicious.) If the chicken skin isn't absolutely crackly crisp and delicious, off it goes. This flies in the face of the "clean plate" life I'd been brought up with, so I try to order accordingly. If I have a sense that the establishment I'm at is not really going to excite my tastebuds, then a cup of the lightest soup they have and a side salad (with dressing on the side) it is.

    The alternative I might also find is to simply get to grocery store and pick up some fruit, a granola bar, even a prepackaged salad, and have that tide me over.

    I'm a big fan of eating only what is truly delicious, and in a quantity that leaves you feeling satiated, not overstuffed. However, particularly in a restaurant, this can still lead to me putting on a few undesired pounds. (The calorie-density of restaurant-prepared foods can be staggering!) I am eating out much more frequently than I used to because of my job, so I'm always trying to balance the meals out of home with light and delicious meals in the home. I'm so grateful I actually like the way most fruits, vegetables and leaner protein choices taste and try to capitalize on that as much as possible. I also try to capitalize on the fact that I like home cooking, and that I hate feeling overstuffed. Re-setting what my body senses as "enough" took a while, and it wasn't easy, but it was worth it. Wansink's suggestion of eating on smaller plates helped me tremendously.....in restaurants, what I've done is hold onto my bread plate, and serve myself from my entree dish if it looks like a huge quantity. It's amazed me how little it takes to actually feel satisfied- often, it's less than half my entree (which was my old standby, to only eat half of what you're served in a restaurant.)

    Anyway, at the end of the day, it does seem like the abundance of food, especially calorie dense ones, in many of our environments means that there has to be more consciousness about what to eat. My best approach has been to capitalize on the food tendencies I have that are naturally healthy, indulge sparingly in the tendencies I have that aren't so good for me, but to never stop loving or appreciating food.

  9. ---Full disclosure- I was contracted to provide services to Wegmans at a single local event in 2007, so the company has paid me. And I've become acquainted with the company dietitian and the local store manager through my line of work. But in general, I'm just a regular customer in the crowd.---

    Wegman's store brand is generally just as good, if not better, than the brand name product for a decent price. (Regular purchases for me are premium OJ, canned tuna, light mayo, extra virgin olive oil, everyday balsamic, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, bagged organic lemons, yogurt, and cheese, both the fancypants and pedestrian kind. Every once in a while, I'll pick up their frozen tater tots, which bake up beautifully in the toaster oven.)

    I like that often, their "club pack" meats are already frozen into separate portions, so I don't have to mess around with labeling freezer bags....

    I go to the same store as pax (hi neighbor!) and like that they seem to carry some assortment of local produce when it is in season. Corn, strawberries, lettuce, even locally-raised freezer beef are also reasonably priced (or have been in the past).

    Customer service at every level is generally top-notch. For example, I once dropped a comment card off as a plain old customer (remarking about the packaging of store-brand eggs), and got a phone call from the local manager the very next day! They really do listen to their customers.

    Every now and then, they will have clearances in certain sections, which can produce some great bargains in pantry items and even cookware.

    Have fun exploring your new food destination!

    ETA disclosure.

  10. I LOVE Triscuits, have since I was a wee gal. I remembered thinking they would be horrible because I begged my mom to buy Shredded Wheat biscuits only to find that I hated how those tasted.....but I loved Triscuits from the 1st bite!

    (And yes, I realize that a child begging mom to buy shredded wheat biscuits is a little odd, but I digress.....)

    My favorite varieties these days are the rye and the "hint of salt". (The rye variety is particularly good with homemade herbed neufchatel and topped with smoked salmon.) The plain Triscuit Thins are pretty tasty too! Not a huge fan of most of the flavored versions. My FAVORITE part are the edges that get a little dark- lots of times, I break those off and eat the first, then toast the remnants so that my entire Triscuit experience is fully toasty and well-browned. One of the joys of living solo....:wink:

  11. Has anyone ever used the Kuhn Rikon salad spinner before? Any comments or reviews? Saw a couple at my local TJ Maxx and thought it might be a good buy, but only want to purchase if it works well. I guess I COULD just buy it and try it out, but would prefer to hear your experiences! Thanks!

  12. Just walked in today for a late lunch at the bar at JG.....I called maybe 1 hour ahead to confirm walk-in availability, and could have sworn they said that either menu could be served at the bar....however, when I sat, I was only handed the Nougatine menu. I was intrigued enough by the offerings to just go with it.

    Couldn't decide between the snapper with lily bulb-radish salad, white sesame and lavender and the cod with carrot, peas and asparagus, so decided I'd simply have to try them both. Bread came along, was hardly two bites in before the snapper arrived.

    The snapper is one of those memorable dishes where I think I'll be able to remember the 1st bite for a long time.....crisp skin, moist flesh, fine slivers of mild ginger mixed with the crunchy radishes, lily bulbs, and what I thought were sea beans (?), all resting in a creamy pool of sauce (rich, but fortunately balanced with some acidity). Only complaint is that I initially found it a tad too salty, but my taste buds adjusted.

    After such a great start, it seems nearly inevitable that the second dish didn't live up to what I was hoping for.....it was solid, but not nearly as innovative or pleasing as the 1st dish. Nicely cooked piece of pink cod rested in a wide pool of creamy carrot sauce, vibrant green peas, and slices of tangy artichokes (soaked in lemon water, perhaps?) In any case, it seems like something I might be able to find elsewhere- as I said, maybe my expectations were inflated too much by the 1st dish (and the hunger at that initial point :wink: .)

    Finished with flourless chocolate cake, which I rarely have. I know molten chocolate cakes get a bad rap for being pedestrian, but damn, it hit the spot. After paying the bill, and was chatting with one of the bartenders about the main dining room menu, and inquired what petit fours were being served post-meal. She kindly offered to bring me a plate of them. Six adorably tiny macaroons (my favorite was what I think was apricot) and a few chocolates. It was a lovely gesture that I hastily had to tuck into a bag (had completely lost track to time).....but sampling the macaroons this evening was a treat. What can I say, I like cute food.

    I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to lunch like this again, but next time, with a little planning, I hope to make it to the main dining room and order off the full JG menu. The hospitality and the extraordinary nature of the the snapper have me looking forward to the visit!

  13. I felt like eating something sweet last night....and discovered a 1/2 pint of frozen lemon curd in the freezer. I stuck in in there last week to cool off rapidly, and it was a happy mistake that I forgot about it! When I spied it, I figured it was a loss, because I made it with less sugar and butter than the recipe called for. Thought the texture would be grainy...

    Best frozen lemon dessert I've had in a long time- smooth, dense, perfectly tart and sweet all at once. Scooped a spoonful next to some fresh blackberries, and was thoroughly happy. :)

  14. I'm thinking some sort of dairy (milk, cream, etc.) is going to be used to make a custard base with the eggs for the bread pudding? Don't mean to sound like a smarta**, may be so basic you didn't bother to list.

    I always eyeball bread pudding preps, but one tip a dear friend from Louisiana taught be for the BEST bread pudding is to add waaay more liquid than you think you need! When he was taking me through his mother's (sweet) bread pudding recipe, I thought we were going to end up with a hot mess on our hands when we put that sloshing pan in the oven. Instead, it was one of the most delicious, delicately-textured desserts I've ever had...

  15. Without being there, I suspect that she is just trying to get the order right. Perhaps if she changed her wording to, "Diet or regular?", there wouldn't be this issue to discuss. This whole thread is about "making assumptions"....well, isn't it an assumption that she is asking "diet" because she is concerning herself with your weight?

    I mean, she could say, "Diet, Zero, caffeine-free?", etc. depending on the restaurant's offerings....but I suspect there are 2- diet and regular- and she simply asks about the one that is more "specialized" than the "regular" option. I'd suspect that if the place carried "caffeine-free", she might ask that as well.....does that mean the customer appears to be a nervous, twitchy person who needs to lay off the stimulants?

    Some of the analogies that are being made seem to stretch us farther from the issue at hand, in my VERY humble opinion.....it appears she is simply listing one of the two sub-options to what she perceives as a bigger category that was raised by you, the customer. If she commented on your dining partner(s) without the issue being raised by you, yep, there are likely some sort of assumptions on her end that are prompting her to comment. If she brought up dessert and skipped you or automatically opted you out, I'd wonder what her deal was. But given the relative simplicity of this choice (diet or regular), versus the MULTIPLE options that are presented by plastic surgery consultation, condom purchasing, etc. I think she's going with whatever gives her the best accuracy with the fewest syllables. :wink:

    I respectfully submit these 2 cents as a person who often has assumptions made about her, but who figures out what's at the root of them before working to respectfully set the record straight if I'm to have continued contact with the party.....otherwise, I'm perpetuating the same disservice that they are (or are not) practicing. Even better, sometimes I find out that their questions were prompted by things that I would have NEVER guessed. :laugh:

  16. I'd say they are mildly sweet, and I quite like them dipped into a glass of milk instead of in a bowl with milk poured over. It you eat them dry, they do tend to produce fine flakes if you bite into them, because of the fine crumbly texture.

  17. Hi Pam!

    To the list, I'd add/reinforce:

    Pizza dough

    Stuffed shells


    Muffins (for easy breakfasts/snacks)

    Pesto frozen into tablespoon portions

    Onion confit frozen in small portions

    High-quality pie crusts, fluted and pretty and ready to go

    Individual or family-size shepard's pies, chicken & dumplings and quiches

    A line of great "simmer sauces". Could be sold individually or as sets- like rojo/verde/mole sauces, vindaloo/jalfrezi/korma, etc.

    French onion soup


    Homemade broths/stocks

    Homemade ice creams or sorbets

    Good luck!

    ETA some more ideas. :wink:

  18. Beef cheeks work wonderfully in Boeuf Bourguignon (which I make sans bacon). Amazing texture and flavor, and the sauce gets great body from the collagen breakdown. Great party dish because it's best made ahead of time.

    I can't imagine them cooked in any way other than slowly and lowly :wink: , but would be interested to hear if there's other successful ways to make them. It's one of my favorite cuts....

  19. Thanks for sharing everyone! For your consideration.....


    This raisin-caper salsa verde is INSANELY good! I have general disinterest in raisins, but they totally make this recipe click. To be honest, I've used it on much more than just lamb- also goes very well with chicken or any fish. It also makes a stellar vegan dish when stirred into a combination of cooled couscous and tender-cooked white beans. I have a semi-regular cooking buddy and we've made this 3 times within the past 2 months. We rarely repeat anything.....

    Do try it as is for unavoidable bliss! But if you're like me and utterly incapable of following recipes to the letter, I'll say that:

    - I don't bother with rehydrating the raisins if I don't have time

    -I'll often substitute good olives (chopped) for the capers because I have olives on hand more often

    -I usually substitute the allium component out of convenience (swap out the shallot for a lesser quantity of minced garlic or onion/chopped scallion or chives)

    -For fun, I throw in a finely chopped fresh chilie or a pinch of dried red pepper flakes

  20. I consider eating out a "special treat"....and what I usually do choose to eat is also supposed to be "special". (It's possible I'm in the minority in mainly home cooking, though.) To me, this means something that I typically don't make at home (either because it's a hassle or it seems like it would be better done by a professional).

    I don't eat bacon....but I think that feeds into the "hassle factor" for some people. It splatters. The smell can linger. Folks may not deal well with a whole package once it's opened and it ends up rancid. Or they may not want an entire package hanging around for consumption, so it's an order-out treat.

    I've never made bibimbap at home....though I may start to because there isn't a decent place to get it in town. But GOOD bibimbap.....yep, I'm probably not adept enough to balance the flavors and get the delicious crunchy bottom that I love.

    All the suggestions upthread make sense....just wanted to add something else for thought in your particular cases.

  21. Passing by the corner of 39th and 5th, I remembered this thread and ducked into Szechuan Gourmet for a first try....

    The restaurant was fairly quiet at 4:30 PM- maybe 3 tables occupied. I set a to-go order of the razor clams with scallion pesto and the braised fish fillets with roasted chilies and napa. Their new menus do not list the razor clams- according to the person who took my order, their supply is not always consistent, so they decided not to put it on the printed menu. She seemed pleasantly surprised that I knew about it and she said it was no problem....

    I wish I could say that the razor clams were enjoyable to me, but alas, they were not. (and quite frankly, I figure it as my own damn fault :hmmm: ) I'd forgotten that the pesto was not just a scallion pesto, but a scallion- SZECHUAN PEPPERCORN pesto. I am particularly sensitive to 'ma la' sensation of szechuan peppercorns, and the amount used in this particular preparation overwhelmed me. The razor clams had a lovely, faintly chewy texture and looked beautiful even in a takeout container....but if you are very sensitive to that numbing sensation, I would caution you. (might seem kind of like a 'duh', but I like to state the obvious. :raz: )

    The braised fish, though......good gracious. It's a huge portion, a quart container filled to the brim with fresh-tasting fish, shards of vegetables and a deliciously spicy sludge (as a person who LOVES spicy food, I was slightly intimidated by appearance). But spooned sparingly over rice (thank goodness there are 2 containers of rice to dissipate the heat of that humongous dish).....that sauce has an amazing, roasty, intense heat. One of the most delicious Chinese preparations I've had in a LONG time. Even better when I took a bit more for a second helping ....the flavors seemed to have melded even better.

    I also ended up with a small container of what I guess were sesame noodles? Whatever they were, they were awfully tasty....nutty, spicy and slightly sweet. Not sure why they were included- I just ate them solo.

    It was just refreshing to get Chinese food on par with what I used to get when I lived in the Maryland outskirts of DC, not overly-sweet Chinese American dishes.....

    ETA: Daniel, if you and Miss K ate after 4:30 on 9/16, there's the possibility that the Szechuan peppercorn supply had dwindled after they prepared my razor clams...... :wink: I'd trade the clams for your sesame noodles if it was the same prep I found in my take-out bag.....

    Oh, and I just read on the menu that the sesame noodles (or wontons or hot and sour vegetables) are included with a min $20 takeout at dinner.

  22. Hello all,

    I hope there's someone out there with experience making goat cheese (soft or chevre-style).....is it possible to make this at home without rennet? I've seen a few recipes floating out there that use mostly goat's milk, some buttermilk, but all include liquid or tablet rennet.

    Please advise if it's not necessary and another coagulant (e.g. lemon juice, vinegar) can be used. I'd like to make cheese for a friend with dietary restrictions this weekend and am not sure I'd be able to get my hands on vegetarian rennet as quickly as I'd like.


  23. You may find Alton Brown's instructions online helpful as well (which pulls together many of the recommendations here)....you'd of course just switch your fill-and-fold to a half-moon method, which I think is simpler anyway:


    The 2 things in your description that jumped out at me were:

    1. the high heat (I'm a medium to medium-high heat person)

    2. no mention of stirring eggs, just covering

    If you like the flavor of butter but have excess browning with it, you may want to consider using clarified butter as your fat (since the milk solids are removed, they can't brown).

    Personally, I don't start with warmed/room-temperature eggs. More out of laziness than anything, I guess. If you're going for the gold, Alton's hot-water sounds like a good step to add.

    Also, if you find your eggs a little too underdone (or the cheese not thoroughly melted) on the interior, a nice trick I learned once (for someone smart but un-rememberable) is to put your plate on a heatproof surface (like a cold burner), put your omelet on the plate and put the warm pan as a cover on your plate. Provides the extra carryover heat to finish things off without additional exterior browning. Plus it warms your plate....sometimes a bit TOO effectively, but usually not. :smile: You may want to check the material of your plate to ensure that it won't crack....I use non-fancy stuff and have never had an issue.

    Good luck!

    ETA last plate-covering step.

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