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MelissaH

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Everything posted by MelissaH

  1. MelissaH

    Grapple

    These were in one of the grocery stores near us a few months ago. They smelled like fake grape flavor, and we didn't get any. But I did take a close look at them inside the clamshell, and thought I saw "needle tracks" where flavor might have been injected! MelissaH
  2. To answer highchef's question about what's on the other side of the wall, I've put together a quick sketch of the entire floor of the house, sans windows: The kitchen and dining area are what I've previously sketched. The only transition between the two is the change in flooring. As I alluded to earlier, the deck is on the south side of the house; the door out there is a slider so we don't need to worry about leaving clearance. The wall between the dining/kitchen and living room really needs to stay put because it's a load-bearing wall. The living room has the same cruddy carpet that's in the dining room and all the way down the hallway. It was also on the stairs from the entryway up, but we took it off to reveal hardwood underneath. There's a wood-burning fireplace at the west end of the living room (on the right side as this picture is oriented) that we view as a prime candidate for a gas log at some point in the future. (There's another fireplace downstairs that's been outfitted with a wood-burning stove, and we use that quite a bit in the long winter season here.) You can probably see, based on the position of the stairs, why we hesitate to close the opening from the hallway to the kitchen. That set of stairs goes down half a story to the house's entryway, and the coat closet is at the level of the entry. The closet we use as a pantry sure looks like it was intended to be used as another coat closet, but we decided that we needed more storage space for kitchen stuff than for coats. The closet's close enough to the kitchen that it's not too big a deal, but it would be nice to have room in the kitchen. Another reason for not closing off the kitchen-hall link: that doorway breaks up what would otherwise be a very long wall. Having that doorway there keeps us from feeling like we have a bowling alley or tunnel running down the center of the house. My husband, who likes to build things and is very good at it, plans to make a sideboard to go against the wall in the living room. Then we'll have somewhere to store the set of china his mom's been saving for us since before we were married. The gray square below the pantry is the entryway, which is open to the ceiling level of the top floor. I'm not entirely sure what's in the space between the stairwell and the living room wall; I suspect that this is empty space that's closed in so the entire wall is flush, with the fireplace recessed to the depth where it meets the stairwell wall on the other side of the insulation. The linen closet's door is just opposite that of the spare bedroom. The other closet marked is the office closet, so the office counts as a true bedroom. And we don't plan to change anything major in the bedroom side of the house. My mom was just visiting here for a couple of days, and she (of course!) had a few suggestions as we talked things through. And she realized something that neither my husband nor I had considered: as things are currently set up in the kitchen drawing, you can't have both the dishwasher and the fridge open at the same time. So we started rejiggering things a bit (haven't redrawn them yet, sorry!) and realized that the only reason we'd both been stuck on putting the DW to the left of the sink is because there's a DW-width cabinet there now. So we're thinking that the way to go may be to put the DW to the right of the sink instead, and put the cooktop at the end of the kitchen, about where the current cooktop is. We'd still be able to vent to the outside, because this is the top floor of the house and we can go up through the roof. (Any thoughts on the merits of venting straight up vs. out the side?) Something else we discussed with my mom (who's absolutely terrific): how much room do you need in front of an oven? We're talking about a normal open-at-the-top pull-down oven door. This came up as we were discussing whether it would be realistic to even consider putting an oven anywhere other than at the end of the kitchen...which would mean that multiple ovens might be out of the question should the cooktop wind up there. We don't view this as a tremendous issue, since we aren't the kind of cooks who tend to bake at more than one temp at a time anyway. We also spent an inordinate amount of time talking about surfaces, both floor and counter. My mom's a big fan of ceramic tile floors, but I'm not. Then again, she loves ceramic anything, and I'm more fond of comfort while I cook. Fifi, if you can find the CVT link, I'm quite interested. As for the countertops, as my mom pointed out, we'll have a lot of them in the new kitchen. (I counted something on the order of 20 linear feet of counter space in all.) While this is wonderful to work in, fifi notes above that lots of counter can create a big problem for the budget. And fifi, you must have been talking with my mom because she also suggests a stone tile (laid tight together, no grout lines) as an alternative. Those of you who have done this, do you find that the junctions of the tiles create a problem for anything, either in using or cleaning? Am I correct in thinking that I'd want to put in a solid marble or other stone area for my baking area, so I have somewhere to roll dough without a tile grid imprinting itself? (I found this for soapstone tiles, at the very bottom of the page.) I suspect an undermounted sink would be out of the question if we're doing stone tiles instead of a solid surface, but one way to remove the obstacle of having a horrible sink lip to clean around might be to use one of the styles of sink with built-in drainboards. My mom also suggested concrete counters, but I just don't like the way they look! We're all definitely getting into the idea of a swing-up or fold-down piece of counter to bridge the doorway when necessary. No consensus on which would be the better way to go. But we all agree without a doubt that we'd want something to make it very obvious that the counter was folded down (flags? traffic cones? giant stop signs?), so nobody gets hurt trying to come through the doorway! Edited to clarify comments on edited drawing. MelissaH
  3. My husband looked through this thread last night, and he had some good ideas. He thought the baking area would be better located opposite the cooktop. For one thing, it would then be much closer to the oven. And for another, if I'm baking when guests are over, we wouldn't have an up-close view of the entropy I tend to create anywhere I go. And we'd also have counterspace to act as a "landing area" for when we're setting out the food, or clearing the table afterward. This sounds reasonable to me. We'd then have a full complement of drawers, cabinets, etc. to store our dishes and other eating implements, and since this is all in the near vicinity of the dishwasher it would be convenient. But then I think about the ovens in the last two houses I've lived in, and their resounding lack of insulation. That's resounding, as in the yells of everyone who leans up against them when they're on. And I can't imagine trying to roll out pie crust on a counter preheated by the oven underneath. Those of you with ovens younger than 40 years old: have insulation techniques improved since then? The more interesting idea came from the discussion on closing off the side door. If the whole motivation for closing off the door stems from getting more uninterrupted counter space, there might be a way to do so without wrecking the traffic flow of the house. We're currently thinking that we'd have counter on one side of the doorway, and a tall pantry cabinet of some sort on the other. So here's the somewhat kooky idea: how about a swing-up or fold-down section of countertop? It would be attached to the pantry right next to the doorway. When you need the extra counter space, you'd simply swing up or fold down the section, which would be carefully aligned to the same height as the rest of the counter. It would block the doorway, but only when you needed the extra counter space. When it's not needed, it's out of the way. My initial thought was something that folded down, because then it would be easy to support on the other side of the doorway with a lip on the existing counter. My husband's initial thought (and he's far more construction-minded than I am) was for something that swings up, because he thinks it's easier to swing up than to fold down. And after thinking this through, I came up with another reason why swing-up might be better. In a fold-down, the working surface would be hidden from view in the "resting" position. For a swing-up, though, when it's not being used the working side would be out. And with the working side out, it would be easier to attach a second small piece of something with a piano hinge, to act as a backsplash so you don't push things off the back, through the doorway, and onto the hall floor. (We envision the backsplash attached to the working side, just far enough in from the edge that when you're using it and fold it up, the work surface itself holds the backsplash upright and you won't be able to push it forward.) However, I haven't been able to come up with a good way to support the swing-up section when you're using it as a counter. (We don't necessarily see this 30-inch section as a heavy-duty work area, but rather as a little extra counter space that could be useful to have.) Has anyone done anything like this? Any thoughts on fold-down vs. swing-up? Or can you not envision what I'm talking about at all? MelissaH
  4. To answer some of snowangel's questions and comments: Highchef also suggested closing off this doorway. However, I hesitate to do this because I'm afraid we'll wreck the traffic plan for the house. We actually use that side door more than the dining room entrance to the kitchen. What the kitchen drawing doesn't show is that if you walk out the "side" door of the kitchen, in front of you just to the left is the staircase leading to the entryway and down to the first level and garage. (It's a split-entry house.) All the groceries that we bring in come up those stairs and straight into the kitchen. If that doorway isn't there, we'd need to walk up and go around to the end through the dining room to bring them in. I'm concerned that this would be inefficient and make us grumble. Before I committed to doing this, I'd tape some cardboard to the wall and temporarily close it off, to see how we feel about losing the door before doing anything irreparable. My aunt and uncle have a faucet that looks like one you'd find in a restaurant, with a huge sprayer. I think it would be fun to have! What do you do when you're cooking pasta, snowangel, with a large pot containing an enormous amount of water? Is it difficult to lift out of the sink to get to your stove? That's my only concern about going to a very deep sink. If we put a pot filler in at the stove, we wouldn't have that problem, but I'm nervous about having a faucet with no drain underneath. (That lab background again.) We'll probably do some of it ourselves, but not all of it. We'll certainly let the plumber and electrician do a good chunk of the work, and we know good people to install the various appliances. (That's one great thing about life in a small town.) My husband is great at building things, but he's not going to be able to devote all of an entire summer to kitchen cabinets. So, we'll probably be looking for someone to do at least some of that. The short answer: however much we can manage but still keep the project to a reasonable time- and financial scale, we'll do. I like to cook to music, if it's just me in the kitchen. I particularly like to do dishes to loud obnoxious music, but once we remodel that won't be as big of a concern. We currently have a radio and CD player in the living room, and the sound goes quite nicely into the kitchen from there. We can always put a second set of speakers in the dining room, to project the sound more directly into the kitchen. Time for me to turn off the computer. We've got a bit of a thunderstorm coming through! Lightning over the lake is so cool to watch! MelissaH
  5. We thought about it. Should we have another issue with needing to let air out of that baseboard, I'll be revving that Sawzall! However, our nearest Ikea is a 5+ hour drive away if you limit yourself to U.S. stores (Ottawa's closer than New Haven, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, or anything in NJ) and we don't know of a good source for similar stuff any closer than that. If we can find a nice cart, we may not even wait until we have air in the baseboard. On another note, we're considering Ikea cabinets, although we aren't yet sure if they'll have the right sizes for what we want. MelissaH
  6. My husband and I are both old-school science types. We like the idea of soapstone countertops, just like the indestructable ones we've used in every lab we've ever worked in. However, I have no idea (yet) whether it would blow the budget (whatever that winds up being). I'm also a little concerned that soapstone might be a little dark for the kitchen. Another possibility is one of the composite stone materials now on the market. I'm not as fond of corian and the like, and while I like butcher block for removable and replaceable cutting boards, I'm not so fond of it for countertops that I'd never feel comfortable were clean unless I'd just drenched them in bleach. My parents built a house in 1988, and at that time they put in laminate countertops. Their logic: it's relatively easy to change out countertops, so put the money into something that's less easy to change later, like good cabinets and a more-than-adequate septic system. A couple of years ago they did the upgrade, to granite kitchen countertops with an undermounted sink. They also changed the bathroom counter from laminate to stone, although there they opted not to undermount there due to the added cost of cutting openings for both sinks and their faucets. (And I admit that even without the undermounted sinks in the bathroom, it's still a huge improvement over what it was before. The kitchen, of course, is wonderful, and so easy to clean!) While I would very much like an undermounted sink, I'd be willing to view this as an upgrade for later should the budget run tight. My husband would like a farmhouse-style sink; I'm not sure if farmhouse, undermounted, and stainless are mutually exclusive because I haven't looked too hard yet. We did have a Lowe's store open in town a few months back, which may help initially in some of the looking. (It's about an hour's drive to Syracuse, the nearest big city, where we might be able to find other places to browse.) Something we've thought about doing is using multiple counter surfaces. I was sort of thinking of the counter next to the fridge as my baking space, where my mixer and food processor could stay out all the time and maybe my flour etc. could live underneath, and I'd want a stone surface there. But if I also want an undermounted sink then I think we're pretty much forced into using the stone all the way around. But I'm not stuck on that idea either. If we decide we need a second sink, it's pretty much got to go at the end of that counter section by the dining room. But I don't think this is a great place for a sink, and it would also be a pain to get water and drain to that location (underneath is our family room and the ceiling is finished with tiles of some kind), so that's probably not going to be an issue. Have any of you used multiple counter surfaces in a single run? How did you handle the transitions? MelissaH
  7. To answer a few questions from Smithy and *Deborah*: As far as we know, nothing nasty is hiding. At least, when we tore out the soffit on the other side of the kitchen to make the new fridge fit, we didn't get any nasty surprises. We do have attic above the kitchen, so if anything needs to be relocated we may be able to do it from above. We're also not averse to tearing out the kitchen down to subflooring and studs, if need be. Yes, we will be going from one corner to two. I hadn't thought a whole lot about what goes inside the corner, but I do remember reading about Varmint's Magic Corner and I like the idea. Varmint, if you're reading this, do you still like yours? Whatever we do, it must be better than the current teetery and sticky turntables! We're planning to grab an idea from some friends who remodeled their kitchen a couple of years ago. Right under the countertop, in about the top inch above whatever cabinets or drawers are there, they added a power strip. It lies just about flush with the surface of the cabinetry, hides nicely under the overhang, and gives them an outlet every four inches or so the whole length of their large island. I'm sure you couldn't use them all without tripping a circuit breaker, but it would be so nice to not have where you use your appliances dictated solely by where you can plug them in. Well, for one thing, it rattles. And I'm also perpetually petrified of being in the middle of cooking something, and having hot something splash onto the glass and the glass shatters into whatever I'm making. I don't know if it's tempered glass (did they do that 40 years ago?) but it's certainly not laminated or coated in any way: it's about a sixteenth of an inch thick. I'm also concerned about bashing it with a pan handle, particularly on the right side of the stove where there's no room to work, and doing it in that way. And finally, as I've discovered, it's somehow possible for stuff to get behind the glass, where you can't clean it off! My husband discovered something interesting yesterday as a possible backsplash option: Frigo Design. I'm hoping the company has a showroom, because they're in our neck of the woods. At this point I'm leaning away from stainless appliances, but I don't think I'd mind it or another metal for a backsplash. MelissaH
  8. Here are some photos of the kitchen. This first photo was taken from the dining room area. Check out the faux brick walls and glass backsplash in the stove area! The semicircular shelves are just visible in the lower left corner of this photo. You can also see one of the two main sources of light: the circular fluorescent monstrosity on the ceiling. (Its twin is about where the semicircular shelf is.) What was the last year appliances were made in dark brown? Now, here's the view from the corner by the oven, looking toward the dining room. Here, you can see the two different floors, as well as the sliding glass door and the large window. We didn't choose the floral frilly window treatments. The big wooden thing at the bottom of the fridge is my pastry board, which lives in the space between the tall cabinet and the fridge. That's Lyon, crouched just inside the kitchen by the baseboard heater we'd ideally like to remove. He can also sometimes be found on top of the refrigerator...or curled up in the bathroom sink. Our kitchen sink. It's usually like this, the drainer half and counter to the left loaded with washed dishes in the process of drying. If it's really humid (we live about half a mile from Lake Ontario) we can sometimes accelerate things a bit by putting a box fan where the gigantic roll of plastic wrap usually lives. The fan is the only thing we've ever used that electric outlet for. There's a light hidden behind the wooden trim piece over the sink: one of two pieces that might be considered "task lighting" (the other is the lamp in the hood over the stove). We aren't big soffit people, and we'd like to take it out in favor of cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. And finally, the work area. It's usually pretty cluttered, as it's really the only counter space in the whole kitchen. My husband made popcorn last night, hence the large bowl and the air popper in this morning's photo. We also put the dishes that have been rinsed but not yet washed in this area, close to the sink, because I'd prefer to do dishes in as few batches as possible. We try not to put anything in front of the microwave, so we can open the door without a problem. (The one exception: the coffeemaker.) When I want to use either the stand mixer or the food processor, I first clean up whatever's in the work area, even if it means doing dishes a second or third time that day. Then I haul the machine out from whatever cabinet it lives in, and move the toaster oven to accommodate my machine, and go about making whatever. Then, when it's time to shape or roll, I put the body of the machine back in its cabinet, stash the bowl in the sink to maximize available counter space, slide the toaster as far left as I can, and bring out the pastry board from its home next to the fridge. In retrospect, it's amazing I bake as much as I do! (Although I admit that I use the mixer far more often than the food processor: it's just easier to wash by hand.) MelissaH
  9. MelissaH

    Bringing food to hospitals

    Also worth noting here is the chapter of Mimi Sheraton's memoir Eating My Words about her attempt to improve hospital food. That chapter alone is worth the purchase price of the book. MelissaH
  10. MelissaH

    Hell's Kitchen, U.S. Season 1

    I watched about the first half-hour of the show last night, and then had to leave to finish washing the dishes because I couldn't take any more. (I did come back for the voting-out, though.) I wholeheartedly agree with previous comments that some of the gimmicks are stolen from other reality shows solely for the sake of adding extra drama---which wouldn't be needed if the rest of the show had decent content. In particular, if the show really is "all about the team" as Gordon Ramsay claimed, then why are the producers having one team member choose two others to be on the chopping block, thereby hijacking any teamwork that may exist? My husband also commented that there was a lot of ego in that restaurant, even before Mr. Ramsay set foot inside. I think the big differences between this and Jamie's Kitchen are that the egos are definitely getting in the contestants' way here, and that Jamie's teens realized that they didn't know anything AND were willing to learn. Most of these contestants already know everything, and don't need anyone telling them anything, especially about life in a kitchen. And I think it was this attitude that bothered me most of all. MelissaH
  11. Bananas. I must be the only cyclist on the face of the earth who doesn't like bananas. Oook: the taste, the texture, and most of all the smell. If my husband wants them, he needs to bring them in to work and eat them there. However, fried plantains are fine! MelissaH
  12. Not sure if this is exactly the right place to put it, but I guess it counts as an adventure, of sorts, so here goes. Yesterday we attended a pig roast, to celebrate the end of the school year. The guest of honor had been brought home six weeks ago and fed up to ensure a good meal for all. A few people had camped out the night before, to supervise the fire and the roasting, which took place in a firepit in the woods. (I should probably add here that this is not really my sort of thing to begin with. I was raised Jewish, and still feel like a lightning bolt will descend upon my head every time I put a bite of pig in my mouth. I'm also a world-class mosquito magnet, as my pig-loving pig-deprived husband will attest.) Everyone who came brought a dish to accompany said pig. Our pot of barbecue beans were slurped up in a hurry, and we had some most excellent dutch oven cornbread as well. One of the attendees brought a couple of fresh pike. Fresh, as in just pulled out of the boat's live well. So far, so good. Among the attendees were several children, including probably four boys under the age of 10. And these boys were hanging around the person with the pike as he cleaned and fileted his catch. While he worked on the first fish, the second was hanging from a tree branch. This I'm also OK with. But the part that I'm definitely not OK with: these boys grabbed biggish twigs, and started poking the fish that was hanging from the tree. This fish had not yet been knocked on the head or otherwise dispatched, and although it had ceased to actively struggle, it was not yet dead. (Fresh, as in not yet dead.) The boys were poking the fish in the eyes, pulling up its gill covers with the sticks, and even in one case puncturing its skin with the stick so it bled a bit. And another part that I'm definitely not OK with: the parents of these kids didn't have anything to say other than "Danny, don't poke Billy" (or the equivalent). Not a word about leaving the fish alone. Now, I clearly knew this fish was doomed. And I normally have no problem with eating meat, fowl, or fish. But it bothered me immensely that neither these boys nor their parents respected this fish that was about to become their dinner. In fact, this nearly made me hurl, to the point where I took our empty bean pot back to the car, ostensibly to make room on the tables for more food that others were bringing out but really so I didn't need to watch the fish be abused. And then when I came back, I had to hear another story that I didn't really need to hear: this was a first try at raising a pig for the family that did so, and when the time came to slaughter the pig, it took four shots to do the job. By this point I'd really had it, and I practically grabbed my husband and ran out of there. Now: this pig made a lot of people very happy. Being eaten was its entire raison d'être, and I have no problem with it being eaten. I assume the fish also made people very happy, although we weren't there to see it and presumably this fish was raised in a hatchery to be both food and part of the lake ecosystem. But would I have been acting totally beyond good manners if I had pulled these kids and their sticks away from the fish, even if I had restrained myself and not followed through on my impulse to poke them in the eyes with sticks and flap open their gill covers? Do we all need to go back to the farm to learn where food comes from? Or have I just somehow exposed myself as a closet radical and shown that I need to go buy a farm and kill myself anything that I eat?
  13. 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
  14. 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!
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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