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FL Heat

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  1. My boyfriend's mom is definitely in this category. She shared with me some of her German mother's recipes for slaw, cake, potatoes, raving about how great a cook her mother was, how much she'd like that her grandson is dating a girl who likes to cook. Then she took us to a restaurant that was, quite honestly, awful. She raved about the burger, the fries (it was a Mexican restaurant. . .), and I was just like. . .wtf? How can she go on and on about her mother's cooking and then say that pile of meat sludge on a mass market bun is WONDERFUL??? She smokes. A lot. I can't help but wonder if that has something to do with it. I grew up with a mom who grew up on a farm and grandparents who still tended to it. And another set of grandparents who were qualified food snobs. Mom & Dad would make easy foods, but weren't the least bit afraid of telling the grocery store manager that the corn wasn't good, the tomatoes were crap. . .so I got to grow up kinda picky :) Diana
  2. I'm not Dave, but after reading the great suggestions for small spaces, especially pegboard, I wanted to share what you all are responsible for creating. . . The "baking/mixing/barbecue implements" station: And the "prep" station (the stove is immediately on the right, you can chop, turn, half step, be at the stove): Stupid toaster. It doesn't belong there. The backsplash will be the same tile as the countertop, with a few red pieces for accent.
  3. FL Heat

    Chicken Breasts

    Last night I used our sweet barbecue rub, lightly covered & rubbed both sides. Dropped in rings of sliced onions on the bottom of a cast iron skillet, then set the chicken on top of the onions & let the whole mess cook about 30 minutes on 375. Sprinkled some cheddar over the chicken & onions and let it sit under broil for about 3 minutes (just until the cheese got gooey & bubbly), then plated & served. The basic idea I got from a Martha Stewart recipe. I think her recipe called for a bit more high-class seasoning (cumin, oregano, chili powder, but the same general idea as barbecue), and was for bone-in, skin-on chicken, but I didn't have those on hand. Diana
  4. My boyfriend is a better fighter than I am. I always lose, and it ends with me crying, so when I know he's wrong now, especially in the kitchen, I just let him be wrong, but gracefully withdraw from the process. Recent brownies from a new recipe. I told him to be sure to use a little more flour than what's called for, since the White Lily flour is a little lighter. "I will follow the directions," he says. So I ceased any helpful comments, and didn't say a word when the brownies didn't hold together and came out of the oven a goopy, molten, eggy-tasting blob. And he didn't think pegboard was a good idea for the kitchen walls (that idea spurred by a thread about remodeling a small kitchen). So I told him that I'd pay for the pegboard, I'd paint it, I'd do the measuring. If I did all that, would he just cut it for me and help me carry it? So last night we got the first piece put up. And he loves it. And is taking part of the day off work today to get the rest of it put up. Yeah, it's smug, but I love being right. When he leaves a dish unrinsed that has, oh, egg or cheese that hardens and is difficult to scrape off, I sweetly ask something completely passive-aggressive, usually, "Do you not love me anymore?" "Why would you ask that?" he responds. "Because you left your omelette plate on the counter and the egg & cheese dried on it and now I have to spend time scraping it off. I'd only do that to someone I hate." Usually there's a loud sigh from him followed by a conversation between him & the dog in which he complains about how I overreact. :) Diana
  5. I've never been very good at dealing with strong emotions. When terrible things happen to family or friends, other than holding their hand and listening and letting them cry, I don't feel like I can do anything other than nourish them. So when my brother was sent to Iraq, I made a lot of his favorite cookies and sent them. And I sent some to my mother as well, since she was upset by it more than anyone else, I think. When recent tragic news came in my life, my boyfriend brought home everything I needed to make cookies and asked me to make them. Not because he's insensitive, but he knew that if I needed something within myself to cling to, and that's what the process of cooking & baking gave me. Marlene said it very well: Diana
  6. I grew up in Texas, with substantial family (and spent summers) in Tennessee & Mississippi. Dad's a huge barbecue freak and loved that his daughter was/is, too (that'd be me). Mom made a lot of traditional southern dishes, but loved the Cajun culture and cooked gumbos & seafood a lot, too. And I adore Tex-Mex food. . .so yes, when I'm seeking comfort, I make cheese enchiladas or fried okra. I'd say the southern food traditions influence me nearly as much as the Tex-Mex ones, and I don't think it's strange at all to have leftover gumbo on the side of tamales. I do eat differently in one main aspect. . .that much fat & frying just isn't sensible for two people. When we have friends over, though, you can bet we fire up the smoker, heat up the deep fryer, and bring out the salsa. I moved around a lot after college and really got a kick out of making "my" dishes for people who hadn't had them anywhere but chain restaurants (if at all). At the same time, I learned a lot about different cultures & food from those same folks and incorporate it into my cooking now. There's always a lot of vegetables on the plate, that much I picked up from the Southern cooking traditions. And I probably branch out more and try more things when it's just me (or just me & the boyfriend) than if we're entertaining. . .I definitely fall back on certain dishes that I know and love when it comes time to feed a lot of people. Diana
  7. I get pretty frequent cuts. . .I'm a home cook, without any training (except for the extraordinarily helpful EGullet Culinary Institute knife skills class), and get cuts mostly from "newbie" mistakes. . .like, I only had to try to catch a falling knife once. And then the time I didn't try to catch it, I didn't jump out of the way fast enough. And when the dog bumped into my leg while I was drying my knife and I got jostled & sliced through three fingertips. . . Plus I have easily cut & bruised skin, keep my knives as sharp as I can, and practice a lot. So all my scars are straight, even lines. I use a lot of pressure and elevate til I get to the bandaids, then wrap the bandaid tight enough to hurt a little bit. Change it after I finish up what I'm doing. Diana
  8. We have that bar! And those chairs! (Check Lowe's, the one here was having a clearance on that style, so we also got a small side table & two low chairs for 1/2 price). I love entertaining on them. Our bar sits next to the grill & smoker on the deck, and we have 4 chairs (one behind the bar, 3 in front); the tall height is so great--feels casual, but not picnic-table casual, it's just such a wonderful set. Diana
  9. Hilltop Herb Farm (outside Cleveland, TX) might also have good information on Kaffir lime trees--they have good information on just about everything else grown for flavor. The restaurant there has some information available on the web, but there isn't much about the place itself, except some small blurbs on other websites. It's been about 7 years since I was last there, but it's really a neat place. Diana
  10. I'm so excited to read a (sorta) neighbor's blog; can't wait to see what you all do with the wonderful, fresh stuff we get this time of year! Diana
  11. I have a good chunk of my Grandmother's church cookbooks from Texas/Tennessee from years back. Nearly all of them (I went to check) have a "Veg-All" casserole (you know, the stuff that comes in a green & white can, already chunked up carrots & onions and other. . .stuff?), there are lots of variations on tomato casseroles, as well as squash, zucchini, and green bean casseroles. ("Vegetable Casserole" in my mind brought an immediate picture of the Veg-All casserole & then of me having to pretend to like it because Grandma ALWAYS SERVED IT and it was rude not to eat it.) So, being a child of only 31, the vegetable casserole seems prevalent in my grandparents' cooking time. But just because it's prevalent doesn't mean it's good. If I don't ever have to look at another Veg-All & Ritz cracker casserole again, it'll be too soon. Diana
  12. I did this for my brother for his birthday this year. Called some relatives, got some recipes, gave him some of my favorites, and included tips and changes I'd made. Slid the recipes into sleeves (which he likes because "crap wipes off them easy") and included plenty of empty ones. He's a bachelor and kinda on his own for the first time, so the recipes were geared toward that specifically. I also included things like how to make a basic salad dressing, things that are easy that really impress people (Hollandaise sauce, for example), and what to look for when picking out meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables. Also included was a page that listed things he needed to acquire for his kitchen, very basic, simple things (10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet, pre-seasoned; small food processor; non-stick cookware with oven-proof handles) that will serve a young man on his own well. I think my point was something like this: because he can keep adding to it, because he can pull the pages out and write his own notes on the recipes, because it was made the best that I could make it, he really enjoys it. I included silly & stupid pictures on some of the recipe pages. A chicken running away from a hand holding a large cleaver on one of the chicken recipe pages, a guy dressed up in a garlic costume on the Chicken w/ 40 Cloves page. Just enough to make him roll his eyes. Diana
  13. Sadly, then, maybe I just don't like pumpkin :( (I don't many squashes, either. . .) Diana
  14. . . .make a slurry with hot liquid, put a top on the (disposable) container in which I am making said slurry, and shake container at chest/face level. Hot juice & cornstarch BURNS when it explodes. And it's a <curse word> to get out of long hair. In retrospect, what the heck was I thinking? I know better than that. Diana
  15. Hee! I'll share anything with someone who quotes SlingBlade in their sig line. The basics (from the boyfriend's step mom) are canned pumpkin, sugar, and spices, whipped to a frenzy in the mixer, then folded in with <cringe> Cool Whip, poured into a pie crust, and refrigerated. I feel certain there must be a better way (I don't particularly care for the pie, it tastes like. . .well, like canned pumpkin.) Whipped cream as opposed to Cool Whip should make a world of difference. Real pumpkin vs canned pumpkin, I'll have to see, since all I knowingly have tried is canned pumpkin, and I don't like it one bit. If I can't get it right, I figure I'll go for a pumpkin cheesecake. The crust we've tried out is basically just ground nuts of some sort, a little butter, and an egg white, mixed together, smashed into the pie pan, and baked. It's not quite as hold-togethery as a SBD one I like better, where I use Voortman's sugar-free shortbread cookies, nuts, and butter. Cheesecakes seem to be fairly forgiving (though not nearly as good) when reducing sweetener amounts. Heck, maybe I'll just make both? Yessss....both.....and more...... (randomly, how about hearts of palm? My dad really likes them in salad, if they're good for Atkinsites, then I'll adjust the dressing just a bit to make it Atkins-friendly, too. The hearts of palm salad is hearts of palm, avocadoes, and dark leafy greens with a citrusy dressing) Diana
  16. For our kitchen, we plan to actually utilize a fold-down table, based on a picture we saw in Cooking Light, and it might work for you, time/space/budget permitting. . .where we have windows, we're going to extend the house just long enough for a fold-down table with a built-in bench on either side. Windows above the benches, a true "nook", as the benches & table will be the only pieces in the small area. If you do choose to take out the table, perhaps it can be used later in a similar way? Diana
  17. Thanks, NulloModo. "Yuba Sheets". . .got it. On my list of things to search out. There's an import/Italian market (since they make their own pasta, I'm going to guess I might not find them there), a produce market run by a Korean family (who has the best kimchi I've found), the surprisingly well-stocked Publix, and an Asian market not too far away. The folks at the Asian market have already helped me find other things that I'd never heard of, so maybe they'll know about this? I've been roasting sweet potatoes lately, do radishes roast well? Frying isn't really an option because of other health concerns, but hearing they came out well in the fryer kinda makes me want to see if I can pass them by the boyfriend (who until 2 weeks ago, didn't think he liked sweet potatoes). Oh, and a random thought brought on by the talk of small pumpkins--Better Homes & Gardens showed a cheese dip set into a small (cleaned out) pumpkin. Absolutely great look. We have an Atkins-adherer coming over for Thanksgiving. He's a very nice guy, understands the family tradition with cornbread dressing. I have a recipe for a pumpkin chiffon pie that's basically pumpkin, spices, whipped cream, and sugar. I'm going to try a few sugar substitutes in small trials and see how they taste, I'm hoping to have a dessert available that he'll be able to eat and enjoy. Would the amount of butter needed to help hold a crushed-nut crust together be a no-go? Or is butter okay on Atkins? Diana
  18. If you're able to entertain outside, a "make your own shishkabob" is a good alternative as well--marinated vegetables & meats (on different platters, of course), and sides of fruit and salads. Just be sure part of the grill is reserved for vegetables skewers only. Diana (add me to the "doesn't eat vegetables?" perplexed crowd)
  19. While not Chinese exactly, we had lunch at a Vietnamese place yesterday, and I had a wonderful salad--all kinds of shredded cabbage, topped with chicken, peanuts, and onions, with a sesame dressing--and the menu even noted that it was "sugar free, flour free, no MSG; exact ingredients available upon request." Are there alternatives to egg-roll-type wrappers? I've used large egg roll wrappers to make lower-calorie empanadas (via a Stephen Raichlen recipe), and I'd really love to try them again, in a lower-refined carbs way. Thanks! Diana
  20. I used to enjoy "Shape" magazine. . .they had women & men demonstrating exercises that looked like real folks, showed how to make a dish with no holds barred, then how to reduce the <insert whatever was "bad" that year ingredient>. Great ideas for ramping up your workouts, cute & quick lunch ideas, articles on fashions to highlight the calf muscle you've been working on. . . .but lately, it's one big "finger wagging", to quote Susan G. Fat's bad, not working out every spare minute is bad, enjoying your food is bad. . .for the love of all that's good & holy, if I wanted to hear that crap, I'd call my mom. Rather than the "DOOMSDAY APPROACHES" tone that was taken, the article could have been more helpful if they focused on how things are cooked (heck, give me the recipe for the potatoes in duck fat, please?), let the reader decide if that's good or bad, and then offered lower-calorie/lower-carb/lower-fat alternatives. I'm all for a small bit of "I'm sorry, I ordered these vegetables steamed and wasn't aware they'd come with butter--could I have a small salad instead, please?" if your expectations aren't met when you order something for dinner. But that goes for anything. . .I order ice cream and get yogurt instead, I'll be just as grumpy. Diana
  21. I have a "staple list" that doesn't change. Things I *always* need. Then I go through the coupon file and mark which staples I have coupons for, and add anything to the list that I know we need that I have a coupon for. Then I plan out a menu and write down what I need for each meal. Then put the list in blocks, one block per store and in order of how things are in each store. Because yes, I am that obsessive. There are only 2 of us in the house, though, and if something's gone, I know who did it. And wrath is swift and sudden. Diana
  22. My Mamaw & Papaw kept both butter & "butter-flavored spread" in the fridge. Butter was for cooking & baking, the spread was for. . .well, spreading. I have no idea why. It's even stranger, now that I think about it, because part of the "fun" we'd have when visiting was using the old butter churn to make butter. I hope someone has an answer. Diana
  23. Sorry, I forget that the words in my head aren't always loud enough for everyone else to hear--I feel like a dweeb because you all have such wonderful fantastic ideas and every time I read this thread, I do a Homer Simpson "DOH!" at something that sounds like a great idea but can't be incorporated into the kitchen at this time. Some of those racks that all kinds of things can hang from are definitely on the list, though, thank you whoever it was waaaaaay upthread for the Stacks & Stacks link. Should anyone else choose tile, though, Home Depot (and I'm sure some other fine retailers) now sell a "stain-proof" grout that isn't terribly expensive. We'll still seal it, but seeing "stain-proof" just made my heart skip a beat. The man in the orange apron explained that it's a bit thicker than other grouts, with fewer porous materials. . .blah blah blah, I stopped paying attention after that, honestly. He said there is no need to seal it. . .but that it shouldn't hurt anything if we do. Diana
  24. I haven't said much, because I feel like a total dweeb, as we're still mid-remodel on our kitchen (on the cheap, and a first house to boot). We chose tile for the countertops, because there is so. much. wood. in the house already and I couldn't find butcherblock that didn't make me cringe when put in the same room with oak hardwood floors and red cedar trim. We were working from less than nothing, though--to save money, the former owner bought the kitchen from a mobile home and cut it to fit in the house. The laminate might (?) have been white at one point, but it was just yellow by the time we got to it, and had been torn in enough places that the thin wood underlayment had begun warping. The cabinets were barely cabinets. . .anyway, enough. We shopped around and looked at everything and everywhere we could think of. The countertop tile was purchased from a tile closeout place. . .very nice-looking, neutral stuff for less than $1/sq ft. We've already laid tile in the bathroom, and haven't had much of an issue with laying it in the kitchen (other than a lack of time). I'll just put a link up, since I don't want to clutter this thread with pictures of another kitchen, of what it looked like as the tile was going down and what it looked like when sorta set up to see if everything still fit. We left a space for a cutting board where I was doing most of the work, and you aren't able to see a second work area on the other side of the sink. You can't see the ceiling, either, mostly because I'm still a little embarrassed by it (it needs paint, badly). At any rate, perhaps this will give you hope and encouragement--we've spent much less than $1,000 on the remodel (not including stove/microwave/fridge), mostly because we were willing to do it ourselves and because once the worst disasters had been fixed, we waited until the best possible deals came up. And yet our half-finished kitchen is where everyone ends up sitting & talking every time people come over. Go figure. Diana
  25. I did not know that, but now I do, thanks! (I can stop googling now) I moved here from Texas, and have only lived here for 5 years, all of those in the Tampa/St Pete area.
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