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Everything posted by Jujubee

  1. Unfortunately, I've lost my taste for cheese. Before I had my daughter, I used to love it. One of my favorite parts of having a dinner party was shopping at the cheese store beforehand; it was a great excuse to try cheese after cheese and buy a nice variety. I especially loved the sharp, aged varieties but any cheese had its merits. After my pregnancy (strangely, not during the pregnancy) it completely lost its appeal. For a while, the mere smell of it made me want to gag. Eventually I was able to put a tiny bit in my mouth before gagging. Now I can swallow a little nibble, but it has so little appeal that I never bother to have more. I'm hoping, with time, cheese appeal will return. I miss liking it.
  2. I have A New Way to Cook too, and I also very rarely use it. On the occasions I have, though, the food has actually been pretty easy and surprisingly tasty. So why don't I use it more? My theory is that books that are written to look more novel-y and less cookbook-y seem harder. I include books like Zuni Cafe and Chez Panisse in this category. Somehow, in my brain it seems like something I have to sit down and study, and less easy to read a couple of sentences at a time while puttering around in the kitchen. Seemingly insignificant things like numbering the steps and generous use of boldface, italics, and blank space really help to make the recipe seem more user-friendly to me. I think subconciously if it looks like a recipe I think "do" and if it looks like a lot of text I think "read and learn." Also, even if a cookbook technically employs a traditional recipe format, sometimes the look and feel of the book (paper type and color, width and height, etc) can make me subconsiously relegate it to non-usable status. Shallow? Yes. But as much as I try to get over this, I can't.
  3. Jujubee

    Toast toppings

    Peanut butter with melted chocolate (I just nuke a few chocolate chips). Peanut butter with cinnamon sugar. Butter and jam. Sweet and buttery. This isn't exactly a toast topping, but I like to cut a hole out of the bread, crack an egg into it, and then fry it up in garlic oil. It's one of my favorite get-home-late, too-tired-to-cook dinners. Ripe avocado smushed into a spread, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.
  4. Where did Ilan slam Harold? I watched the aftershow stuff on bravotv.com but missed it.
  5. I think they look kind of cheap too. I think it's a combination of the light weight and the shape. However, Corelle seems to be trying to address that: http://www.corelle.com/index.asp?pageId=75 I am intrigued enough that I might actually go hunt these down in a store and check them out in person.
  6. Try Costco. My local warehouse had oversized, white porcelain sets for a very reasonable price. (There are also some online at costco.com, but they look different and are more expensive than the ones at my local store. However, it looks like you can buy the dinner and salad plates without buying a set.) I don't actually know how well they hold up, but the good thing is that Costco will take anything back if it doesn't meet your expectations, even years later, so your risk is pretty low. I would skip the Chinatown route. My plates and bowls from there seem to chip like crazy, and the plates themselves weren't uniformly made to begin with. I bought some plain white porcelain dinnerware from Target for my brother to use in the dorms, and I think if I hadn't been pressed for time I would choose something different. For the size, they are very, very heavy. Plus, they have a crappy return policy. Each piece is about $4-5. Actually, for almost the same price as Target, Williams-Sonoma (online only) has their everyday restaurant line. You can buy plates only. Again, I haven't tried it, but they also have a fantastic return policy. Since they are so expensive on most things, I don't feel guilty returning stuff years later that didn't meet my expectations , and I have never had a problem doing so. I bought some plates at Crate and Barrel outlet about 5 years ago, and the porcelain stuff has held up to daily use without a single chip or crack. I was surprised. I always thought Crate and Barrel was more about looks than quality. The stoneware stuff has not fared so well though. It was all on clearance even at the outlet, so each piece was about $1-2. I've never owned Corelle (not a fan of the shape) but it seemed like growing up half of my friends' moms had it, and I can't recall a single chip or crack in any of the pieces. In fact, I remember weirdly thinking that they felt like they could... bounce, or something.
  7. So I went back and actually read the article (as opposed to just the eGullet thread) and I can appreciate that it is trying to providing busy moms with some easy prepared meal options that offer a reasonable amount of nutrition. However, this piece falls into the category of articles that I think *create* the perfect mom pressure and competition. The whole premise is that the author is going against the pressures of being the perfect (and fibbing) nutritionist mom. But seriously, where is she finding these "terrifying" stay-at-home moms? When I first ventured out as a new mom to uppity "mommy and me" groups, I readied myself for hyper-competitive, judgemental, breastfeeding-is-best, organic-food-only, my-child-was-doing-differential-equations-at-6-months, three-year-waiting-lists-for-preschool moms, and I only hoped to find one other soul that was down to earth that I could relate too. But I never found those moms. I have, however, heard many a mom sheepishly admit to doing, well, just about everything we're not suppose to do. But the judgement certainly isn't coming from the other moms in the room. I think we've just all read the same articles about what we're suppose to be doing and we feel a universal sense of guilt. Damn media.
  8. I disagree. I find some green beans more delicious than pizza and some green beans less delicious. And all pizza isn't equally delicious either. Salty, spicy, deep fried szechwan style green beans? I'll take those any day over pizza. My 15 month old daughter loves them too. (She loves pizza too, though she is too young to articulate which she likes better.) I do think the preparation method matter, and frankly, most standard American preparations suck. As a kid, my siblings and I loved stir-fried chinese water spinach. But mushy frozen spinach at my friends' houses? Yuck. And my mom would cook red beans and sugar together, and then coarsely mash them up. It was sort of a homemade, less-sweet rustic version of red bean paste. Yum. Reheated canned beans in the school cafeteria? Not so much. The stems of chinese broccoli with oyster sauce at dim sum? My siblings and I would fight over that too. I think the general American attitude towards vegetables and legumes is that you only eat them because they are healthy and somehow that means they must be as plain and bland as possible or else they don't "count." I think also that Americans are much more likely to use frozen or canned vegetables which really contributes to the mushiness factor. I'm not saying that kids will like any vegetable if prepared well, and I'm not saying they'll like it better than chocolate cake. But I think the seemingly universal American kid stage of hating your vegetables would be a lot less universal if the damn things just were prepared so they actually tasted good.
  9. I think the real "villain" this season is going to turn out to be Ilan. Marcel is playing the obvious "I'm not here to make friends" card, but Ilan strikes me as more manipulative. Plus, did you see the scowl on Mia's face when he won? You would think your fellow contestants would at least pretend to congratulate you on your win, especially since it's only the first episode.
  10. I'm really enjoying your blog! Your kids are absolutely gorgeous. I also have a 14 month old and I am always fascinated by what other people feed their babies.
  11. Does anyone know about the nutritional information of grass-fed beef that is finished on grain? Is it lower in total fat and higher in omega-3s (like grass-fed and grass-finished beef) or does that final fattening on grain make it nutritionally more like grain-fed or corn-fed beef?
  12. I haven't made this particular recipe, but I had this happen with a pound cake recipe I had made many times before. The difference was I switched from using a hand held mixer to a standing mixer. So it might be that you incorporated too much air into the batter, or something like that. I tend not to think it was too much gluten because the crumb was still extremely tender and not all all rubbery.
  13. Oh, one more thing about the method I described above: I'm not sure if the salt does anything, i.e. is it required to get really, really thick yogurt, or is it just included because that happened to be a savory recipe. My feeling is that it is just because it is a savory recipe, but if you happen to try without the salt and are unable to reduce the yogurt down to 1/3 of its original volume, that would be interesting to note.
  14. If it is thickness that you are going for, it's definitely possible. Plan on draining the yogurt for several days, and change the cheesecloth/filter/paper towels/whatever you are using whenever it gets soaked and be sure to drain off the whey before it touches the bottom of the strainer. This will be once every couple of hours the first day and less frequently in the subsequent days. Also, stir in a pinch of salt after draining for the first day. If you start with a quart of yogurt, you can get it down to a little more than a cup. The resulting yogurt cheese is so thick you can roll it into little balls. Of course, if you don't actually want it that thick (Fage isn't) just don't drain it as thoroughly. I first tried this method for this recipe: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/coo...eese_balls.html I found that her draining times were way too short (maybe my yogurt had too mant stabilizers? I'm pretty sure I used Stonyfield Farms whole milk yogurt though), but I was intrigued by the idea of actually getting rollable yogurt so I stuck with it. Most recipes just tell you to drain for a couple of hours or overnight and leave it at that. Changing the liner frequently and just giving it time are key.
  15. Jujubee

    Top Chef

    Undergrads love to dismiss b-school students as money-grubbing intellectual lightweights. It was like that at Chicago. Just wait until a few years after graduation.
  16. Jujubee

    Top Chef

    An MBA from the Wharton School, the University of Chicago, Northwestern or Stanford might, depending on whom you ask... ← In the world of b-schools, the M7 (i.e. the most prestigious) is made up of Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg (Northwestern), Sloan (MIT), and Columbia. Among this group, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton are considered the most desirable. Many different publications rank business schools but it almost doesn't matter - these are the biggies. Even after Business Week ranked Kellogg #1 and Chicago #2 (great for those schools, to be sure), more people would still go to H/W/S, if given the choice. So, for prestige alone, a W/S MBA might equal a Harvard MBA, but exceed it? That would be a hard statement to back up. Of course, as for the quality of the education you get in the various programs, that's a whole other discussion.
  17. Our all time favorite heat and eat entree is Del Real Carnitas. I buy them in the refridgerated section at Costco (I've never looked for them anywhere else, so I don't know if they sell them at other stores). Really good. No apologies. I am quite partial to Stouffers Mac and Cheese, cooked longer than the package states so you get a nice brown crust. My husband isn't really into this. My husband is partial to Stouffers French Bread Pizza, either pepperoni or cheese, also cooked longer than the package states so you get a nice brown crust and the bread is pretty crispy. I'm not really into this. Also, Bertolli makes a skillet meal that is something like Linguine with Shrimp and Garlic. Surprisingly tasty, until that time I ate this for dinner and then got the flu that was going around. After spending the night puking it back up, I can no longer stand even the idea of it, but before that incident it was good.
  18. Jujubee

    Top Chef

    I know this isn't on topic really, but I can't believe that no one has refuted this. An MBA from Harvard looks a hell of a lot better than a BA. ← I know it's off topic, but I'm with you Bryan. To say that an MBA from HBS doesn't have the cachet of, well, just about anything, including a BA from Harvard College ... well, it just doesn't compute. It's like saying 100 - 13 equals 77.
  19. Jujubee

    Top Chef

    I completely agree. I think I read on Tom's blog that he really wishes he could provide more input at times, but as a judge he's not allowed to. It takes away from the show because they don't have the supportive figure vs. the judges. I also don't understand why folks are criticizing LeeAnne for being too ambitious with her menu. They didn't tell them when the wedding would be until after the Scotts had already chosen their favorite menu.
  20. Well, since you said it was a choice between GREAT cake or GREAT pie (and not the majority of cakes vs the majority of pies), I would choose great cake (though really, can't I have the pie too?). However, in most everyday situations, i.e. a choice between mediocre pie and mediocre cake, I would choose pie. It's less offensive. Maybe it's like investments. Cake is a high risk/ high reward stock. If it's bad, it's really, really bad, but if it's good, it just defies description. Pie is lower risk, lower reward. So it doesn't quite reach the heights of great cakes, but it never disappoints as much either.
  21. Funny, I never really had a problem with the smell. But the second I put that stuff in my mouth I immediately wanted to throw up, and that has truly never happened to me. As I am of the opinion that one should try everything once, I FORCED myself to swallow it, but it truly was one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life. Every single fiber of my being wanted to force it out. And I love stinky tofu! I love it so much that it no longer smells bad to me. When a hot order comes out of any restaurant kitchen I breathe deeply and enjoy.
  22. Holy moly! That is amazing! And Lord Balthazar, we should all have friends as incredibly generous as you!
  23. I'm also one of those that can't get into natural peanut butters. Too stiff and too grainy. And unsalted peanut butter - double ick! I'm a Jif girl. However, I would prefer not to eat hydrogenated vegetable oils so I have dutifully tried my way through many a jar of the natural stuff. For the standard natural stuff (as in, just ground peanuts and salt), Teddie brand is okay. However, the closest match to mass market peanut butter I have found is Whole Foods Whole Kids brand peanut butter. They add some sort of sweetener and then whiz it around so it doesn't seperate. The texture is smooth and creamy, though a tad bit looser than Jif, and the flavor is peanut-y and a bit sweet.
  24. Jujubee

    Feeding Baby

    At first I was going to make special "baby food," as in cooking up special stuff without salt, sugar, fat, etc and running it through the food mill. Then I decided I don't really buy into the idea that moderate quantities of salt, sugar, and fat are bad, for babies or for adults. Besides, I keep reading that special baby food is a pretty modern invention based on bland English nursery foods, and a lot of cultures around the world just feed their babies mushy regular food. It's even traditional in some cultures to start babies on meat, as it is considered a very concentrated source of nutrients. (And given that doctors are always pushing baby cereal because it is iron-fortified, maybe this isn't such a bad idea.) Anyway, this is a long way of saying I never got around to it, and I often just mush up whatever we're having for dinner and let my 7 month old daughter have a taste. I ran this by the peditrician at her 6 month check-up, and she said that was fine. She did ask that I still try to feed her some baby cereal though, because of the iron I mentioned before. To make rice or oatmeal cereal more palatable (my daughter hates it too), I mix it up with pureed fruit and then microwave it at 50% power for just a few seconds. Heating it seems to help it dissolve a little.
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