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quiet1

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Everything posted by quiet1

  1. I ate at a place over the summer where I did wonder if maybe skipping desserts might have been a better plan. Small place, small kitchen, really good Italian food, overpriced decent but not spectacular purchased desserts that just did not stand up well to the quality and care of the rest of the food, so the meal ended on a bit of a down note instead of everyone going home raving about the meal. That said, I can see how there would be a demand for something to finish off the meal, so how to respond to that if making proper desserts in house isn't an option?
  2. Just read this thread and bumping it to ask - do places not really do special events aimed at kids around family oriented holidays anymore? Was that a unique quirk of where we lived when I was a kid? That's how I got my earliest experience with proper behavior in nicer places - various restaurants or organizations would host special meals like brunch for kids around Christmas and Easter and we'd get all dressed up and go to those when I was quite small. Since it was specifically a kid friendly event that usually took up most, if not all, of the seating, it wasn't the end of the world if a kid did act up a bit and the parent needed to remind them of proper behavior. Maybe it didn't work for most kids, but for me it was quite effective in exposing me to something different than just family friendly places and served as a trial run for going on a normal night for an early dinner or what have you. I ended up going to multiple nice places probably from about age four with no dramatics, and I really do think those training opportunities made a big difference. (I mean, I'm sure there were nights when my parents couldn't be as leisurely as they wanted over the meal because they could see I was getting tired, but there are no "oh, we had to whisk you out because you started screaming!" type stories, and I have asked.) Though perhaps if people don't realize there's an issue with how their kids behave in general, maybe there wouldn't be the market for such a thing anymore? (I do have to add, re a comment about the parents going to a buffet and choosing for the kids, I am not convinced about that as a general approach. Buffets are an excellent place to try a small amount of new things, and sometimes what you like isn't what you'd expect or what your parents or siblings like. Unless there's a rush to get finished, why not let the kid have some say? Kid and adult go up together, kid picks what he wants to try, adult serves suitable portions and prevents kid from sticking hands into the food, you get socially acceptable behavior at the buffet and a learning experience for the kid.) (I admit I have a pet peeve about parents telling kids that they won't like something they've never tried before because the parent doesn't like it, though. Your kid is not you! You have different preferences! Let the kid try things unless there's an issue like allergies.)
  3. Until quite recently it didn't occur to me to tip for takeout. I've been thinking about it more recently after someone mentioned it to me, but it still seems pretty weird in the usual take out situation I find myself in - walk in, get handed bag of food, pay, leave. When I do tip, it's usually in situations like ElaineK pointed out, where the order has been handled in such a way that it makes my life a little less hassle/a little more enjoyable. I suppose I'll have to try to remember to think about it a bit more - if I noticed, I'd probably tip some in situations where it was someone on the waitstaff who depended on tips to get a proper wage, just because they are doing something that takes time away from the tables they have and might reduce the tips they get there. Might have to ponder that.
  4. If that bothers you I suggest you never eat in a restaurant again.The pretense of the employees putting on gloves and then dirtying the gloves in plain view while making my sandwich just ticked me off. If you're going to bother to pretend to be sanitary, then keep up the charade completely until I'm gone or why bother? I've unfortunately seen this in some health care staff, too. (Not nurses or doctors, but aides working at nursing homes and that sort of thing.) As far as I can tell they think the gloves are to protect THEM from touching things, not to also protect you/other things from cross contamination. And some people seem to be completely unable to grasp the concept. Drove me nuts when I was dealing with it all the time. As far as other pet peeves - similar to not telling me if a dish isn't available promptly, not telling me promptly (or at all!) if a dish can be prepared the way I asked. MSG is an instant migraine trigger for me in anything other than tiny amounts, so I have to ask about it in places that traditionally are heavy with the MSG - I am perfectly fine with the concept that some dishes have to be marinaded or sauces prepared ahead of time and so there's no way they can prepare it without the MSG if they usually use it, just tell me that's the case so I can pick something else. Don't wait until everything else is ready so that I'm stuck sitting there, the lone one from my party with no food.
  5. Look at little miss fancypants with her real velveeta. Ill stick with my kraft mac and cheese with the mystery powdered cheese packet thankyou very much I like homemade mac n cheese the way I make it AND the Kraft stuff - I just don't consider them the same food item. But if I have a craving for one of those, having the other one won't do. (The Kraft is completely and totally a comfort food - my mom used to make it and cut up hot dogs into it, so I do the same. I buy slightly better quality hot dogs these days than she used, but the change from inexpensive to middle of the road hot dog isn't that significant in terms of the overall taste.) I think the thing to keep in mind is that you do need to use the right ingredient(s) for the dish - which are not necessarily going to be the absolute 'best' version of that ingredient if you sample the ingredient alone. Bread for example - the right bread for a dish is going to depend on various factors about the dish itself, including the role of the bread. In some things, the purpose of the bread is basically to be a vehicle and a bland foil for other tasty stuff, so a flavorful artisanal loaf is not actually going to work correctly with the other elements. Part of cooking well for me is understanding those relationships and being able to make appropriate choices based on what you intend as the final result. A lot of cooking failures (in terms of the taste and enjoyment of the dish) come from people using the 'best' ingredients in bad combinations because hey, it's the best, that means it should make everything better, right? (Yes, I am also firmly on the Heinz ketchup wagon. It is the One True Ketchup. And I've had some very good deli ham sandwiches, but if I want a ham sandwich like I remember from childhood, I have to pick up a pack of dubious American cheese in the individual wrappers, and Hellman's mayo, and the ham has to be chipped rather than a nice hearty slice.)
  6. Exactly. I'm going to share this with my mom because she has a type of blood cancer that means her immune system doesn't work very well, even though she's on treatment for it and doing, by medical standards, quite well. I know a lot of people in her cancer support group are very into the use of spices and herbs for their health benefits also, which means they're probably consuming enough to significantly increase their chances of getting a bad batch and getting sick from it. (Even if it's not something she'll choose to avoid, at least she'll know to mention to the doctor that there's a risk - the same way she usually tells them if she knows she's been exposed to someone who came down with this illness instead of that if she's showing early symptoms. It helps the doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment option.)
  7. I agree. The only change I might possibly support would be a labeling standard, and that only after some proper research and testing had been done to determine if there's a way to improve on what's currently in use to make things clearer to the consumer. (Random changing of labels because someone thinks it MIGHT be better is just a waste of everyone's time and money.) I don't eat a high sodium diet. I do feel certain things NEED salt to enhance the flavor, but I'm not one of those 'dump salt on without tasting it' types, and I tend to shy away from commercial foods (soups, for example) that tend to be high in sodium. Guess who still has high blood pressure? Yup. Guess whose mom had high blood pressure starting at the same age, in spite of what everyone would consider a healthy lifestyle? Yup. It's my genetics that are a problem, not the fact that I occasionally put salt on a baked potato.
  8. I like the taquitos as an after-class fast meal (I have classes from 6 to 9pm and so am normally dying for dinner by the time I get home) just microwaved (not ideal, but speedy) and then with the Trader Joe's guacamole to dip into. Best pre-made guacamole I've encountered. (Although I'm not terribly fond of the version with salsa in it. I like my salsa and my guacamole to be separate.) (Not as good as making it yourself, of course, but at least there's less messing about with if the avocados are ripe enough.) Chicken and beef are both v. good, so I tend to buy a package of both and then bag them up into mixed serving sized portions to keep in the freezer. As mentioned the pork carnitas is also quite good. I'm also guilty of buying the not-terribly-fantastic asparagus risotto - I think of it less as a risotto and more as a variation on 'comfort food' mac'n'cheese for days when I want something kind of unexciting that I don't have to put any real effort into eating.
  9. I wanted to add that the lamb topping for the "pizzas" works very well as a main dish with rice, pasta, or couscous, as well. (In fact, I normally make it and serve it with rice pilaf. :) Hmm. I feel like making some tonight. Wonder if we have any lamb in the freezer...
  10. With regards to the flowers isssue- I've been known to resort to just whipping out a bucket and plopping them in there temporarily. (We have a couple of buckets that hang out in the ultility area just off the kitchen, so it's pretty trival to grab one and put some water in, or even direct someone else to do so.) It's not as nice as arranging them and putting them out on the table, but I figure people should understand that I might have my hands full. :) If I have time after I've done what I was doing, I'll put them out as soon as possible, but I do like to take my time and get them arranged nicely. I always make a point of thanking the giver later, and making a comment about where they ended up. ("They really liven up the table." "The mantlepiece looks so bright and springlike with the flowers there." etc.) I've been known to pick up fairly plain vases when they're on sale, so I have some on hand for gift giving, with a bouquet.
  11. quiet1

    What to make with ?

    I tend to use them as a vegetable dish. My normal way of preparing them is to cut off the tops and bottoms, clean, then slice them into fine "noodles" lengthwise. Saute in a bit of oil and butter until tender. I've also done the same as above, but added shredded cabbage just when the leeks were starting to get aromatic, a bit of water, and boil/steam until tender. (If you get the water amount right, it'll boil away at just about the right time.) You could toss in a bit of bacon at the start with either of those, to liven up the flavour a bit. (Bacon makes me wheeze, so I don't bother.) Season to taste. The other night I made sauteed potatoes with leek, and that was quite nice. (Chop the leeks into thin rings/halfcircles, saute in butter+oil, add parboiled potatoes, saute until golden and yummy looking. ) That's just stuff I've kind of made up as I've had leeks to use up. I've seen baby leeks grilled, but I don't think it'd work so well with larger leeks, just because they'd tend to fall apart. Also, my sister-in-law adores leeks in cheese sauce, but I've never made it for her, so I don't have a recipe.
  12. One point to keep in mind about Cook's Illustrated is that a lot of times you really have to read the article to see how they're defining "Best" before you look at the recipe and compare it to others you use. Occasionally their idea of what something should be like is off from what my ideal would be. (Although in that case, you do tend to get tips in the article about how to get it to be more like what you want.) Personally, I have a subscription to the website, and haven't bothered with the paper copies. (But then, I live in the UK, so I'd have to pay international shipping. If I lived in the US, I might go for a normal subscription anyway. It is nice to have something to page through.)
  13. quiet1

    cooking w/ wine

    Since there's just me and the husband normally, and neither of us are big drinkers, I normally go for whatever's availible in half bottles- tends to be reasonably drinkable but not too expensive, and then we don't end up with a bottle hanging around half-full for ages. :) (There are some recipes which call for a full bottle, but most sauces only need a cup at the most, ime, and then you end up with the rest needing to be used up.) I'm told you *can* freeze wine for cooking with later, but I never seem to manage to be that organized. :)
  14. We're in Hemel Hempstead, which is just outside the M25 (first exit on the M1) and I'm told by my in-laws that there are several pick-your-own places around here, although we've only just moved up from Wokingham, so I haven't been yet. I don't actually see any listed in the local phone book, but if the distance is about right for you, I can make enquiries with the relatives and get back to you.
  15. I'm having to work from memory, since my cookbooks are currently in boxes waiting for us to put up shelves for them (we just moved.) Most of mine are reading books (rather than strictly recipe books): Nigel Slater's Appetite Nigella Lawson How to Eat & Domestic Goddess Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen (strongly considering getting his other one as a gift, as I think the somewhat logical approach to things might appeal to some of my geeky friends who get put off by "until it seems right" type cooking instruction. Anyone have an opinion one way or the other? I haven't had a chance to check it out in person yet.) I'm sure there are some others, but those are the ones that come to mind. For actual recipes, I do have a couple I always reach for: Good Housekeeping's Cookery Book (AKA How To Cook All Those Traditionally British Things People Request That You've Never Heard Of, You Silly American.[1] It does have recipes from other cusines, as it's a general book, but I tend to go to different sources for those sorts of things.) Delia Smith's Christmas (Delia herself annoys the heck out of me, but the recipes I've tried are quite reliable.) Just Desserts by Gordon Ramsay (mostly food porn, but I use it for the basic recipes, and for inspiration.) The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum (I've had mixed results- some of the cake recipes turn out as nothing special, for me, although some are quite good, but it's a never-fail reference for recipes for frostings, icings, fillings, and also a good read for the hows and whys of cakes.) I also have a few extremely well loved issues of Cook's Illustrated, that I refer back to time after time. If they didn't offer the website subscription option that lets you search for past recipes, I'd have the bound versions, so I'm putting them here too. -Kris [1]- I moved to the UK several years ago, and now have a british husband and therefore british in-laws. British in-laws who are picky eaters and prefer traditional food.
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