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Everything posted by MelissaH

  1. MelissaH

    On the Cheap

    This thread reminds me of my graduate school days. Some of my fellow students were vegetarians of various flavors; I'd sometimes call myself a "financial vegetarian." I was also somewhat limited in my shopping capability, since my only modes of transportation were the bus (not a great option since they quit running at 6:30 PM) and my bicycle. This limited my capability to roam for less expensive products, and it also limited my capability to bring home more than I could eat. It was always interesting when I needed to get more T.P. My general rule was that I'd never get any more than would fit in a handbasket, because I wouldn't be able to get it home otherwise. I always got kind of a strange look when I asked if I could bag my own groceries, and proceeded to stuff them tightly into my panniers (and backpack, if need be). I'd always be very careful to "pre-bag" anything potentially spillable or cold in a plastic grocery bag before it went into a pannier, both to protect my panniers from spills and condensation, but also so I'd be sure to have a steady supply of plastic grocery bags to use in my kitchen garbage can. The T.P. was something I'd plan ahead for, and only bring home on nice days because it could only get home if I bungeed it to the top of my rack, over the panniers. One thing I did that helped on both cost and transportation fronts was to have my milk delivered. I very quickly learned that milk is (a) heavy, (b) bulky, © spillable, and (d) perishable. Because it was heavy, it had to be carried in my backpack rather than in one of the panniers I'd hook to my rear rack because it would unbalance me. But that didn't leave much room in the backpack for the other things that also traveled better in the backpack, like eggs (too big to fit in the top of a pannier, where I knew they wouldn't be crushed). After a few incidents with © and finally realizing that plastic jugs leak when their sides are compressed, I got sick of having to wash my leather-bottomed backpack after every shopping trip. And the backpack, pressed against my hot sweaty back on the hot summer days after work, when it would be 100+ degrees F, always made me nervous about (d). So finally I called the local dairy, and they came out and brought me a milkbox to go next to my front door. Every Monday and Thursday, a half gallon of fine moo juice would appear in the box, usually arriving between 3 and 4 AM. Much to my surprise, the price of milk delivery wasn't much different than the grocery store milk price. They delivered twice a week, so I always had plenty of milk (and occasionally had to call and ask them to not bring me any more for a week or so, until I had caught up.) I didn't have to haul milk home from the store, so I'd have more room in my backpack on my other shopping trips for the fragile things like fruits and vegetables in season. And I discovered that my food cost went down, because I no longer went to the grocery store for milk and came out with a bunch of other stuff that I didn't really need. I liked to shop at the co-op for some of my food, not so much because it was organic but because I could get stuff in bulk and get only the amount I needed. Also, it would pack smaller that way because the only packaging was a bag. Grad school was when I first learned about the joys of oatmeal. And then, there was the farmers market. I always knew that summer was about to end when the chile roasters came. They'd bring a big truck with a drum roaster mounted on the back. You'd tell them what you wanted, and they would either have them ready to go or they'd tell you when to come back. My favorites were the Anaheims and the poblanos. In either case, I'd get a big bag of roasted chiles. The chiles would come out of the roaster and get scooped into large plastic bags, then twist-tied shut. The plastic bag would then be put into a paper grocery bag. Despite the insulation, I'd always feel the heat against my back. The chiles would always be the first place I'd stop at the market (to place my order) and the last place I'd stop (to pick up my chiles). In between, I'd roam through the tables and pick up other goodies. I don't remember getting fresh lettuce by the time the chile roasters came (too hot) but we'd get peppers, tomatoes, Olathe sweet corn, and other yummies. They always went into the panniers, so they wouldn't get roasted by my chiles before I got them home. Then, when I got home, I'd first thing line a baking sheet with foil, pull on a pair of latex gloves I swiped from lab (after destroying a brand-new pair of contact lenses the first time I tried it) and skin and otherwise clean my roasted chiles while they were still warm. I'd lay the cleaned chiles on the baking sheet in a single layer and freeze them, then bag them to use while they lasted into winter. Sometimes I'd even make a second trip to the market for another round of chiles. My biggest summer treat was an ice cream cone from the shop downtown. I lived a little more than a mile away, and on a hot summer night I'd walk there, get a cone, and enjoy it as I walked back home. Getting a container at the store was out of the question in summer, because on the days when it would have tasted really good, it was too hot for me to get it home still frozen. Sometimes when I went shopping after work, especially if I didn't have stuff that needed to be kept cold, I'd get a roasted chicken from the store. That first night I'd eat some of the chicken, and pick the rest of the meat off the bone. The next day, I'd simmer the bones and skin in a pot of water and veggies for a few hours (sometimes in a crockpot while I was at work all day). Then, all I needed to do for dinner was strain out the bones, skin, and spent veggies, skim off as much of the fat as I could, and add back the meat, some more veggies (sometimes frozen ones from a bag), and pasta or rice, and let it cook a little bit longer. Voilà! Chicken soup for the next two or three days. I'm glad I don't need to bring home pizza on a bicycle any more. MelissaH
  2. MelissaH

    Respect for your food

    I don't know the status of the non-familiar parts of the pig. By the time we got there, the pig was completely cooked. All I saw was two big foil-wrapped flattish chunks, the two halves of the pig. I don't know where the innards went. The head had already been lopped off, although I later found a thickly carbonized hunk in the firepit that was sort of recognizable as having ears and a snout. To be honest, that was my first inkling that something was wrong and we might be dealing with inexperienced amateurs, because I would have thought that the head would have been useful for something. At the very least, I would have thought the dogs might enjoy gnawing on a smoked pig ear like the ones you see in the pet stores. I come from an academic environment. On campus, academic freedom is prized more than just about anything else. And because I'm surrounded by this attitude, I hesitate to speak to children about their behavior when the parents are within earshot. My students' parents can't tell me how to teach, but I also don't tell them how to parent. I myself am not a parent, and I certainly don't feel any right to tell other people how to raise their kids. I also was so angered in this case that I wasn't sure I could be reasonable around these kids, so I decided it was better to just leave the scene. Is youth any excuse for behavior like this? Not in my book. Next time will I speak up? If I'm not again shocked into sickness, you bet I will!
  3. Oooh, I like that idea. Is it the same when the sauce hasn't been lacquerized by the heat of the grill? I think that's the part I like best. (What happens if you just try cooking the sauce a little bit more? Do you just wind up with a pot that's impossible to get clean again?) MelissaH edited to fix minor grammatical issue
  4. I looked up my recipe. It did, in fact, come from a Weber cookbook, but the newer Art of the Grill book. The technique is pretty much as I described above. The ingredients are: 1 Tbsp. brown sugar 1 tsp. honey 2 tsp. unsalted butter 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 1 Tbsp. soy sauce 1 Tbsp. olive oil 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger You melt the first three together, whisk in the rest, and let it cool before applying to the fish. This amount was sufficient for 2.5 lbs of salmon filet (the recipe says 0.75 to 1 inch thick). Now, if I could only find big pieces of salmon filet in town.... Come to think of it, this might be interesting in combination with Pam's granola idea. MelissaH
  5. I'm not a huge salmon fan. In fact, I didn't eat salmon at all until about three years ago, when our local market had skin-on salmon filets on sale that week. I'm still not totally sure what possessed me on that fateful day, but I marched up to the fish counter, asked when the salmon had arrived (that morning), and had them hold out a piece of it so I could have a sniff. They complied, happily, and I buried my nose and inhaled. Deeply. And I smelled---nothing. I took this as a good sign, and brought a filet home. And then I had to figure out what to do with it. My husband thought I'd gone off the deep end when I told him we'd be eating fish that night, since he knew exactly what fish was on sale that week. At the time I only had about 284 cookbooks, but since it was summer I decided to start with the grill-specific and fish-specific ones. The recipe I eventually went with came from the Weber Fish & Seafood cookbook, I think. I don't have the details here, but I remember it being vaguely teriyaki-ish, with soy sauce, sugar, and green onions. It may have also had miso and citrus. I can look up the recipe at home tonight, at any rate. More or less following the recipe, I made the seasoning mixture into a sort of paste, and rubbed and patted it onto the fish. Then I took a piece of heavy-duty Al foil, cut it down to about the same shape and size as the fish, and put the fish on the foil, skin side down. Fish and foil went onto the grill together and cooked without turning until it was done. (I'm a little hazy on that part, because I left the actual grilling to my husband.) Once it was cooked, the meat was easy to separate from the skin, which stayed stuck to the foil. Under the lid of the grill, the seasoning had merged into a sort of glaze, so you got some in every bite. Cleanup was a snap. And nothing smelled remotely like fish the whole evening. I know this because the cats never noticed a thing. Since then, I've eaten salmon semi-regularly. MelissaH
  6. I, too, will add my vote for Primanti's in the Strip District (18th St. just off Penn Avenue). No matter when you get there, Primanti's will be open. (Did someone say that the trains are always on time? ) Furthermore, it's going to be much easier to get there than, say, the South Side on foot. And the sandwich will be big enough that you'll be fine until you get to Cleveland. However, you'll probably have to go elsewhere to get that drink. I am unable to help on that front, largely because I moved away to go to college, well before I came of age. MelissaH
  7. I saw that this thread had been bumped up. I lived in Kent, about an hour south and east of Cleveland, for five years. For about a year and a half of that time, I worked on the West Side of Cleveland. My absolutely favorite place to eat was Phnom Penh, both for the food and for the drinks. And if you're going to be there on the appropriate days of the week, don't forget about browsing at West Side Market, if not buying enough to get you through a month or two. Oh, how I miss that place! MelissaH
  8. Our "secret" seasoning mix: onion soup mix, a chopped-up onion, and apricot nectar. (I prefer nectar from a jar rather than a can, if I can find it.) Put it all in with the meat and cook low and slow until it's so tender you could cut it with a spoon. I usually use my crockpot. When it's not Passover, we serve with egg noodles. Yummy! Anyone else out there do meat with fruit? MelissaH
  9. Won't walnut oil go rancid eventually? ← There's also an allergy issue with walnut oil: anything that touches the butcher block would then be capable of setting off a reaction in those allergic to nuts. Safer for many reasons to go with the mineral oil. MelissaH
  10. Upstate NY: We're just now getting to the point where the braver souls are cleaning out their flowerbeds. The low temp last night was about 35 degrees...and I live about ten minutes' walk from Lake Ontario. Our farmer's market starts in May, but the good stuff doesn't show up for another month. Last year we picked strawberries at one local farm in June, and blueberries in July at another farm. MelissaH
  11. I'm planning to try the madeleines this weekend, since my husband is enamored with the chocolate-lemon combination. I've even arranged to borrow a friend's madeleine pans, since I don't own any. My question: these pans are silicone. Do I need to butter them, or are they non-stick enough that I don't need to worry about it? Did they stick in a normal pan at all? MelissaH
  12. How about TIVOing it and watching when you have some time .. seems incredibly worthwhile ... ← Our local PBS station is running it at 5 AM on Friday mornings. I'm curious if they expect those of us without TIVOs to watch it at all, or just give them $$$ (in exchange for a DVD) when they come begging. MelissaH
  13. MelissaH

    Pork Shoulder

    Or a method that I learned from Shirley Corriher a couple of years ago, when she spoke at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in NYC: Rub the pork shoulder with worcestershire sauce. Coat with brown sugar. Put in a slow cooker, and drizzle a juice box of apple juice down the side (don't get the meat wet). Cover and cook on low for a long time (at least all day or all night). (At least, I've always done it in my slow cooker. She mentioned that you could do it in the oven also, but my oven's pretty miserable.) I usually add a bay leaf when I make this. I also usually make it at least the day before, for easy defatting. MelissaH
  14. MelissaH

    Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen

    Well, some physicist friends and I just made some ice cream here in lab. The base was made from cream, half and half, sugar, natural cocoa, and chocolate syrup. I can't give you proportions because the only ingredients that were actually measured were the dairy products, since they came in and were used in increments of their specific-volume containers. Anyway, we mixed up the stuff in a big metal bowl with a wooden spoon, tasting along the way and adding more chocolate syrup and cocoa along the way until we got something that tasted chocolatey enough but a little too sweet. Then, one person stirred the mix while another poured the liquid nitrogen in, a little bit at a time. As it went in, it bubbled like mad (as you'd expect) and steam obscured the surface. The volume of mixture increased noticeably over the process. We'd also get some lumpiness, which would subside as the rest of the liquid transferred its heat into the frozen lumps. After a good bit of stirring (and liquid nitrogen) the ice cream thickened to about the texture of soft-serve. We kept on going, and eventually got a homogeneous mixture too thick to stir with our wooden spoon. At this point we waited a little bit for it to warm up, scooped it into our bowls, waited a little bit longer, and then ate. My verdict: Very smooth and creamy. The most even-textured ice cream I've eaten in a while: no large crystals of anything anywhere. Could have used some more chocolate flavor. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to do it again, unless I were trying to impress someone or I had extra liquid nitrogen to blow. But it was yummy! MelissaH
  15. MelissaH

    Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen

    I haven't tried making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. But if you want to try something else with food and liquid nitrogen that kids always go wild for: get yourself a bit of the cold stuff in a dewar with fairly low sides, and a bag of cheez puffs. (Not the ones like crunchy cheetos, for this you need the ones that are very puffy...as far as I'm concerned, the only good use for the puffy kind. ) Dip a cheez puff into the liquid nitrogen, and hold it there just until it gets good and cold. Use a big cheez puff, so you have something left to hold! Then pull the cheez puff out, and put it into your mouth. Hold it there, maybe chew on it a little bit. Voila: you've become a steam-breathing dragon! The puffy cheez puffs are mostly air, which warms up pretty fast, so you're in no danger of freezing your mouth. If you chew on it, it feels about like chewing ice cream: definitely cold, but not cold enough to be uncomfortable. It's a great trick, especially for Halloween costume parties. MelissaH
  16. MelissaH

    Fat-Free Munchies

    I'm starting to think about food for the Super Bowl, when we usually have a few friends over. However, one of our friends is scheduled to have his gall bladder removed shortly after the game, and until then he's trying to eat as little fat as possible. I've been trying to come up with munchie-type food that he might be able to eat without paying a steep price, and so far that list consists of: *Pretzels *Veggies *Salsa *Baguette Anyone got some other suggestions? Thanks, MelissaH
  17. MelissaH

    Fat-Free Munchies

    What goes in your wing sauce? Ours is about equal parts Frank's and melted butter, which is definitely out this year. MelissaH
  18. MelissaH

    Outdoor Fridge

    We put all sorts of stuff on our back porch when it's cold out. I restrict myself to only squirrel-safe foods, though: I can't even keep a suet block for the woodpeckers longer than a couple of hours if I don't stand right by the door to shoo them away. Right now, it's a whopping 10 degrees F out, about the warmest it's been in three days, but the wind chill is still about -15. Fortunately for us, it doesn't stay super-cold for very long, so you don't need to worry too much about things freezing quickly. Something else that usually works well in Oswego, if we need a little extra "fridge" space, is to gather some snow and use that instead of ice in one of our coolers. We've never had any trouble with wildlife molesting a closed cooler on our deck, and this time of year you don't have to recharge the snow often. MelissaH
  19. From this standpoint, The Passionate Vegetarian would be a particularly good choice, as many of the dishes are either dairy-free, or have dairy-free options. MelissaH
  20. This topic reminds me of the food court in the University Memorial Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder: the Alferd Packer Cafe! (To the best of my knowledge, they never served its namesake's preferred dish for blizzardy days. Some of us wondered about the dorms on campus, though!) MelissaH CU 1993
  21. MelissaH

    wusthof santoku

    Monday morning, our local Bed Bath & Beyond had a Farberware santoku for $9.99. We picked one up, more than anything to see if we liked it before shelling out big bucks. And for us, it would be really big bucks: I'm left-handed, my husband isn't. Ask me in a couple of weeks how I like it. MelissaH
  22. MelissaH

    Confit Duck

    Does anyone have experience cooking sous vide at high altitudes? I'm curious how the lowered boiling points of everything would affect the temperatures you'd need to hold. MelissaH
  23. I also do steel-cut oats overnight, but I don't use a crockpot or rice cooker. My method is to boil 4 cups of water in a 3-qt saucepan, stir in 1 cup of oats (might have to try toasting them next time I do this), put the pot's lid on, and turn off the heat. In the morning, all you need to do is heat through, stirring occasionally to be sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan. I haven't tried, but I suppose there's no reason a bowlful couldn't be heated in the microwave. MelissaH
  24. MelissaH

    recipe organisation

    My first time through a new recipe, I actually copy the recipe out of whatever book onto a piece of paper. For me, the process is a lot like "prelabbing" the recipe: by writing the ingredients and procedure, I have a better chance at embedding it in my memory. Once I've made a recipe and determine that it is indeed a "keeper," I type it into my computer (along with notes on the source and any comments about it) so I only need to print out a new copy. I continue to add notes over time. I figure these recipes I've collected would be a great excuse for me to figure out how to build an index or make a functional database, one of these years. MelissaH
  25. However, one thing to be aware of is that many of the slow cooker cookbooks seem to wind up on the bland side of bland. Many of the authors seem to be real wusses about spicy food, and soy sauce seems to be considered an exotic ingredient. Mable Hoffman seems to be particularly guilty in these respects, and she's got many cookbooks out. That said, one that gets more adventuresome (and more to our taste) is The Slow Cooker Ready & Waiting Cookbook by Rick Rodgers. (Here's an Amazon link.) Once you've played with your cooker a little, you'll also be able to figure out how to use it for some of your existing recipes. Have fun! MelissaH