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Everything posted by Jujubee

  1. I'd buy it. Ok, before you write me off as a total nut, hear me out. I've done more than my fair share of travelling for work and eating on the road. It is REALLY difficult to find good looking fresh fruits and vegetables at convenience stores and the like. Often, the only choice is a sorry looking basket of apples, bananas, and/or oranges, and I almost never pick the banana. Why? Because bananas have a very limited amount of time between too-green-to-eat and so-ripe-I-would-only-use-it-for-babana-bread and these venues don't have very high fresh produce turnover. So I think some sort of special packaging (special controlled air-flow plastic something, I would assume) to keep the banana at optimum eating ripeness would increase sales and cut down on waste. With all the lamenting about poor eating habits in the U.S. (and increasingly, the world), we have to be willing to embrace some of these "stupid" ideas as making the best of a less than ideal situation. In a perfect world, I would pack pristine fruits and vegetables in my car or suitcase for every trip, bought for the best price at the peak of natural freshness from my local farmer's market. But in the real world, when I run into a convenience store because I'm hungry and just need something - anything - to eat, it's nice to have a reasonably healthy alternative. And 99 cents isn't too much to pay for a fresh piece of fruit on the road, considering I'd spend that much on a bag of chips or whatnot anyway.
  2. This is a different recipe than the one you followed, but in this picture the cream cheese part is a little sunken. Maybe this type of cupcake is meant to sink a little in the middle? Is this what yours looked like? http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipes/coo...ck_bottoms.html
  3. Well, I don't know about variations on this recipe, but my absolute favorite pound cake is the Cream Cheese Pound Cake from Rosie's Bakery All Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar Packed, No Holds Barred Baking Book.
  4. I've gotten delivery from a bunch of places that poke holes into the tops of containers of fried food. Not as good as fresh, but takes care of the soggy condensation problem.
  5. Yes, that was brought up before. I don't think my software is accurate--I did not double the quantities. And the RDA vs. DV figures are vastly different of course, and the software is different than the website values, so . . . nevah mind! ← Sorry about bringing that up again! I realized after I posted that it had already been pointed out. Not trying to beat a dead horse...
  6. Um, are you sure those are for the same serving sizes? Because I know for sure that 8 oz of skim milk and 8 oz of whole milk both contain 30% of the RDA of calcium. Looking at that list, it seems that the percentages are roughly doubled in a lot of categories for the whole milk. I'm not saying that whole milk should be banned and baked cheetos allowed, but I don't think this data is accurate.
  7. Finally! Not that I wish you any ill will Ling, but I was really wondering if you even had a limit. I covet your metabolism.
  8. I thought it was common knowledge that you shouldn't leave poultry to defrost out on a counter, but when my mother-in-law was staying with us, while I was pregnant no less, she would cook dinner for us sometimes and she would always take whatever meat she wanted out of the freezer in the morning and leave it to defrost at room temperature all day. This was also the middle of the summer, though I would have found that vile summer or winter. I did get frequent mild stomach upsets after eating her cooking, but I didn't want to insult her since she was there to take care of future first grandchild by taking care of me (I was on bedrest). Kind of makes me wonder about the Thanksgiving turkey I'll be eating at her house in a few days...
  9. This is what my parents do and I love it. Unfortunately, for the past 7 years I've spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws so I haven't had the cooked-in-the-turkey version for a while. (My parents will make some outside of the bird when I'm home for Christmas. Still great, but not the same.) My in-laws do a bread-based stuffing, which can be very good, but my MIL always skimps on the butter. For example, one year she tried a recipe that called for 2 sticks of butter, but she cut it down to 2 tablespoons for a huge pot. It was still tastier than her mashed potatoes though, because not only did she cut the butter down to 2 tablespoons for a 5 lb bag of potatoes, she didn't use any milk, cream, or even broth to loosen it up a bit, and she didn't use SALT. But I suppose that's for another thread.
  10. I think it's important to keep in mind that these articles are written to generate controversy. Before I became a mom (a whole 3 months ago), I was paranoid about taking my child out in public. Articles like these made me convinced that anytime I stepped out, I would get glares from child-free adults. But what I have found is most people, parents and non-parents alike, are reasonable adults. So if I'm out and the baby starts to cry, most people understand that babies cry sometimes and they either ignore it or give me a sympathetic been-there-done-that nod or comment. And on my side, I'm busy trying to comfort my child as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. And, as a reasonable adult, I don't take my baby to five-star restaurants, and, as reasonable adults, so far no one has given me a problem about bringing a baby into a casual restaurant or a coffee shop. I also wonder where they find these entitled, rigid people, both on the store owner side and the parent side. I belong to a mom and baby group (yes, it's probably made up of "former cheerleaders and beauty queens," to quote the article) and even when it's only us moms, we try as hard as possible to not having our screaming child bother everyone else. I think if we were to come across a store with a sign that was not welcoming of children, we would mention to each other to avoid it, not because we were trying to "win" by organizing a boycott, but because most people don't really want to hang out somewhere they are unwelcome and uncomfortable.
  11. While I personally don't see breast-feeding as a problem... ...don't owners of stores, cafes, and other spaces have the right to set certain ground rules on their own premises without "the neighborhood" getting involved? Since the spokesperson here is the alderwoman --an elected official -- this sounds like it spiraled to a much larger, organized issue beyond new moms exercising their right to boycott a cafe. ← Well, for breastfeeding in particular, the general rule is if it's a public place that would normally allow a woman and a baby, then breastfeeding is fine. The main point is that breastfeeding is not indecent exposure. So in this case, the woman should be able to breastfeed in a bookstore. If it were, say, a private club or a bar, i.e. a place where a baby wouldn't be allowed anyway, then they can set rules such as no breastfeeding.
  12. I just got this book in the mail today and tried the braised cauliflower with bread crumbs, capers, and lemon. Very good, definitely better than steamed, though I think I still like roasted cauliflower better. I ground up my bread crumbs pretty fine, but I think they would be better left a little coarse; during the course of dinner they became a little bit wet from the cauliflower and weren't as crispy anymore. I think coarser bread crumbs would have mitigated that. BTW, if anyone doesn't have the book yet but wants it, I got it for $10 at zooba.com. It's a membership club, but you only have to buy 3 books at $10 each.
  13. I love homemade ranch dressing. I think it's the tang of the buttermilk, as I also love coleslaw made with buttermilk dressing. I don't mind being low-brow as long as it tastes good.
  14. Ooh, I second that. We bought a 12-pack of cheapo batteries for a buck (Dynacell, or something cheesy like that) figuring, hey, it's only a buck, who cares if they run out faster? Problem was, they also leaked everywhere. Ick. I will pretty much try out all the generics at least once and I find most of it is fine if I'm going to use it as an ingredient in something else. So I'll buy generic canned and frozen vegetables, milk, unsalted butter for baking, etc. But if I'm going to use something as a highlighted ingredient, I'll buy the better stuff. So I'll splurge on specialty butter for spreading on bread, interesting cheeses, and the like. And for some things I always buy the brand name. I guess they've got me suckered in: Coke, Hellman's, Jif, Ocean Spray Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice... mostly these are things where I've tried the generics and, while the quality is fine, something about the taste is just slightly different. As for major brands packaging private label products, the answer is that many of the companies that package name brands also package private labels. Sometimes it is the exact same product with a different label slapped on, sometimes it's the same packing plant but a slightly different formulation. Some companies allow their "recipes" to be sold through private labels, some don't. Generally though, because grocery stores always make more money on the private labels than on the brand names, they take care to make them of comparable quality. A lot of grocery stores also have several different "levels" of private label quality. You just have to try them and see for yourself. I'd say the "purer" the product, the more likely the private label will be just as good because the buyer only has to match quality and not a specific taste.
  15. For those days you aren't already lighting a grill, this is a great place to use a panini maker. The doughnuts get kind of flat and squished, but crispy and evenly marked.
  16. Crisco has come out with a 0 Trans Fat Shortening. I haven't tried it myself, but I read a review in a food section of a newspaper and they had pretty similar results using regular Crisco and this new Crisco. http://www.crisco.com/about/prod_info.asp?...63&FlavorId=344 I have tried Spectrum Organic Shortening, which is also trans fat free, but only in recipes that originally called for shortening, not butter. It worked fine, though I didn't bother to do a comparison with regular shortening.
  17. I work for a grocery store corporation, and legally he is not allowed to charge you for that paper, no matter how small it is. The way it works in our stores is at the deli, for example, they put the paper on the scale, set it to zero, and then charge you for only the weight of the meat you are buying. And it does make a difference. We found that some of the stores were using a really thin sheet of paper to save on costs. Makes sense right? since they were just going to wrap it up in heavier stuff after weighing. Well, because the scales actually didn't weigh in that small of an increment and we legally cannot charge the customer for that sheet of paper, the employees had to set the scale to a very, very small negative weight instead of zero. So each customer was getting a teensy, tiny bit of their order for free. Assuming your average item in a deli is, say $6 a pound or so, it added up to literally millions of dollars a year for the entire chain. So we actually ordered the stores to buy the more expensive, heavier weight paper because it was cheaper to do that and not lose so much on every order. Obviously, the difference is not so striking for an independent butcher. But it does make a difference and it is illegal to charge you for that paper. However, before you call him on it, you should make sure that he's actually not subtracting the weight of the paper. I've done spot checks in stores, and sometimes since the clerks have done it so many times they weight the entire package, container and all, at once and in one motion also take off the weight of the packaging. I can tell because I'm watching them like a hawk and see that when they take the package off the scale it resets to a negative number instead of zero, but usually they set it back to zero so quickly that the average shopper would probably miss is. You just don't want to accuse your butcher of doing something illegal if he's not. Awkward, to say the least.
  18. Surely this principle applies to pregnant women also: first law of thermodynamics, "eating for two", and all that. ← Not sure what you're getting at here... that pregnant women shouldn't gain weight? That if they do they are ingesting more calories than they need? Sorry buddy, I have to argue against that. There's the obvious point that the baby itself weighs something, but pregnant women also increase their blood volume by about 1/3, the uterus itself increases in size and weight, the placenta weighs something, etc. Even if you're not ingesting extra calories (and thus storing it as fat), you're still going to gain weight. If you don't take in enough calories and nutrients, the baby will take it from your body (not just fat, but also things like leaching calcium from your bones) to get what it needs.
  19. I think one of the problems when you talk about mix vs. scratch is that mix cake (due to careful product testing by manufacturers) is a pretty consistent product and scratch cake can be all over the board. It would be so tempting to say "of course homemade is better" but frankly, I've had some pretty atrocious homemade desserts. Some of it is the quality of the recipes, some of it is the skills of the cook, and some of it is many people's tendency to not follow instructions exactly or make substitutions (especially in the name of health. No you cannot make baked goods without butter and expect it to taste the same!). But beyond that, there's also a question of what is meant by something like white cake. Again, white cake from a mix is pretty consistent, even from different manufacturers. My husband once made me a cake with from-scratch white cake, raspberry almond filling, and frosting with real butter. It totally blew away any white cake I've ever had from a box. But this cake had almond extract in it. Does that still count as white cake? It does in my book. But maybe for some people white refers not only to the color, but also to an absence of flavor. So someone might put parameters around the question and say, can you make a white cake from scratch that is better than a mix cake, but with the caveat that you can't add any flavorings. That's a harder question to answer, because then you're asking a home baker to create a better recipe and yet purposely remove flavor. And don't we often cook at home because the flavors are fresher, brighter, and give some sense of the personality of the cook? For example, when we have debates about the "best" mac and cheese, strong cheeses, unusual combinations, and other signature flavors from the cook are welcome. We don't say, who's got the best mac and cheese, but using only bland cheeses and coming as close as possible to Kraft-in-the-blue-box but somehow better. So I guess I can't really answer if I would choose mix or scratch for a "plain" white cake. I've never really had a desire to make one just for the sake of it. (A plain butter cake, sure, mmm butter. A plain chocolate cake with great quality chocolate, and plenty of it, sure. And those ARE better from scratch if you have a good recipe and good ingredients.) But to bake a cake and purposely try to remove all flavor from it, to homogenize it as much as possible? What's the point? Obviously, this doesn't apply to professionals. It's a business, you need to make money. Give the customer what they want and expect. But the fact that the majority of people prefer cake from a mix doesn't really prove to me that it's better. (If popularity proves that something is better, then New Kids on the Block was some of the best music to come out of the last few decades. This is coming from someone who loved NKOTB in their day - go easy on me, I was in elementary school - but even I recognize that a billion screaming girls do not make their songs timeless classics.)
  20. I agree that this study doesn't really prove any cause/effect relationship between diet sodas and weight gain. The article itself states that. But I do think it at least warrants a follow-up study, given that the difference between regular soda and diet soda drinkers is so large. Could the follow-up study just show that there is no cause/effect relationship between diet soda and weight gain? Sure, and that would be fine. But to write this all off as stupid statistics is just as narrow minded as assuming this one study means diet soda causes weight gain. I did weight watchers for over a year, and during that time one of the tips our leader gave us was if our weight loss was excruciatingly slow or had stopped, despite staying on program, to try cutting out artificial sweeteners. She didn't know why, but for some people avoiding artifical sweeteners made their weight loss go faster, despite eating the same number of points (for those of you that aren't familiar with the program, counting points is basically a method of counting calories). And for a lot of people on program while I was there, this worked. It didn't make sense from a mathematical perspective, after all, things like diet soda have no points, so theoretically it shouldn't affect weight loss. If it is really as simple as calories in minus calories out, this should not have had an effect. For myself, I know I lost more weight during weeks I ate my points in "whole" foods as opposed to weeks where I ate fewer vegetables, despite eating the exact same number of points. Now, of course this is all anecdotal, and doesn't prove a thing. But personal experiences like this, combined with interesting correlations (not causality) as illustrated by the study in the article, merit follow-up, not dismissal as automatically bunk science.
  21. Jujubee


    My favorite summer sandwich is shrimp (or crab), avocado, sprouts, and lots of mayo. It's easier to eat this in a pita, but I like the taste of good whole wheat bread better, even if it creates a huge mess. In the winter, crispy grilled cheese.
  22. I don't know the specifics for Target, but Costco employees are paid more and do receive health benefits. As a result, their turnover rates are much lower than industry standards. Not only that, but in a recent survey of supermarkets, specialty stores and warehouse clubs by Supermarket News, Costco actually edged out Sam's Club with slightly better pricing. I work in sourcing for a major grocery store holding company, and in the industry Costco is seen as both a shining star in terms of the way they treat their employees and a beacon of hope as one of the few players who has so far beaten Wal-Mart at their own game. One of the major criticisms of Walmart is their extremely aggressive labor tactics. Almost every attempt by any of their employees to unionize has been squashed. The most famous example is for meat cutters: when the meat cutters at one Walmart managed to successfully form a union, Walmart eliminated butchers from all their stores and went to prepacked meat. Also, stories abound about how if any particular store does try to unionize, the workers are called at their homes and harassed and threatened so they will not form unions. The funny thing is, I personally am not pro-union (some of my company's grocery chains have been through union negotiations in the past few years, and I'm not convinced the unions are doing the best for the workers they represent OR the company as a whole), but I do find Walmart's labor practices reprimandable. But like I said, I work on the sourcing side, so my knowledge of the labor side isn't as detailed. But on the sourcing side, Walmart is notorious among suppliers for strong arming them. I have heard from countless suppliers that Walmart flat out told them to move their production to China to lower costs or risk losing the contract. There are also cases where suppliers have been forced to sell their products to Walmart at prices below their costs. How does this make sense? When I first started in this job, I didn't understand why any company would sell at a loss. If Walmart wanted them to sell at below cost, wouldn't the producer logically say no, since they would lose on every sale? But it's not as simple as that. Walmart is THE largest retailer in the world. If Walmart says jump, you jump. If your product is not on a Walmart shelf, it basically falls of the retail screen. So suppliers will sell at a loss or at break even at Walmart just to keep market share and keep their brand name in the marketplace. Of course they have to make it up elsewhere, so other retailers can't get nearly as good of a deal, and thus Walmart's prices are even lower compared to everyone else. And so the cycle continues. It's gotten to the point where some retailers have realized they can't make money selling at Walmart, yet if they pull out of Walmart they also go out of business due to the vast drop in market share. There have been some attempts to try to band against Walmart, such as toy makers several seasons ago joining together and all agreeing not to sell their "hot" toys at Walmart that Christmas, but these attempts are few and far between. At the same time, I don't have a "blame it all on Walmart, they're brainwashing everyone" mentality. Not at all. Walmart has succeeded because people consistently choose them over mom and pops, etc. And I've been in enough mom and pops to know that many of them aren't the wonderful, personal places we've romanticized them into. A lot of them were small, not very well kept up, had very limited selections, very high prices, and no customer service to speak of. That's why Walmart succeeded, because the competition couldn't justify their higher prices for the exact same items. Walmart strong suit is in rural areas, where in a lot of cases they are better than the local options. They are struggling in urban markets because people do have choices, and higher incomes too. And frankly, you have to give them credit where credit is due. Their supply chain is incredible. There is no waste at all in that company. I certainly can't say the same for my own. But they do intimidate and coerce their suppliers and their employees, and because of their sheer size they affect every single last bit of the supply chain, either directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, they do contribute to the homogenization of America (and, more and more, the world) but for a lot of people that can mean more variety at lower costs. Frankly, the buyers and negotiators at my company are very tough. You have no other choice in this marketplace. But we do consider quality, customer service, treatment of employees, etc when we evaluate a supplier's price. In an industry where suppliers are used to being beat up on price, Walmart is legendary as being the worst of them all.
  23. I only have this problem when I'm ordering chinese food. Growing up in a chinese family, my dad would always order for the entire family so we would have a nice balance of ingredients (meat/fish/veg/etc) and preparation methods (steamed/stir-fried/stewed/etc). When my mom cooked at home, there was always a variety of stuff including a meat, a seafood, maybe a tofu, a veg or two, soup, and of course rice at every dinner. It wasn't necessarily a large quantity of food, but it was a large variety. So now even though I live far away from my family and it's only my husband and myself, I feel the need to order a wide variety of dishes at chinese restaurants to get a proper sense of balance. We only end up eating about 2 bites of every dish, and the amount of food that sits on our table is absolutely obscene. But I don't know what else to do! Eating larger quantities of only one or two things at a chinese restaurant just seems to go against the spirit of balance in a chinese meal. I don't have this problem in other types of restaurants though, maybe because I don't have a deeply ingrained sense of what is proper.
  24. Oh dear, I never even considered that other people may be checking out my grocery cart. (I was never curious about what other people bought.) Since I tend to hit a bunch of different places for groceries (a great produce market, Trader Joe's, Costco, various ethnic markets) by the time I get to the regular grocery store, I'm only buying stuff I can't find at any of those other places. Usually this consists of specific brands of junk food that my husband really likes: root beer in bottles, certain flavors of chips, Stouffer's French Bread pizza (?!?!), etc. So if you ever looked at my basket in a grocery store, you'd probably think to yourself "tsk, tsk, that young pregnant woman is feeding her baby complete crap!" But really, I cook and eat (mostly) very well. I'm mortified.
  25. Thanks for bringing this topic up. I'm also planning on sending cookies to a friend in Iraq. (Funny enough, she actually sent an email asking us NOT to send her any more care packages because we had already sent so much that, even after sharing generously, it would take her a while to get through everything, but she was very careful to make an exception for homemade cookies. We should still send those. ) I've read on some websites that give tips for baking for the troops that you should use margarine instead of butter because it keeps better. I am loathe to use margarine, but I don't want the cookies to turn rancid because of the butter. What do you think?
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