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mizducky

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Everything posted by mizducky

  1. When I was a kid, I was making a vinaigrette dressing for that evening's dinner salad, a frequent chore for me. I wedged a peeled garlic clove into the press as usual, squeezed and--the clove somehow shot off into space, and disappeared. I looked all over for that damn clove, with visions of it rotting and turning nasty somewhere behind the fridge. We never found it. It became the stuff of (humorous) family legend--The Clove That Never Returned. Otherwise, I loved our family garlic press--but it did seem to make some really acrid garlic flavor. I remember going "ah-HA!" when watching that episode of Good Eats that gave a rationale why. I confess I had viewed all that pre-peeled garlic in the markets with suspicion, due to iffy encounters with previous-generation products in which the peeled garlic cloves were bottled in a preservative solution that left a noticeable aftertaste. Indeed, I squinted hard at that datasheet from Christopher Ranch, not quite believing that those things weren't packaged in some kind of preservative liquid. Assured that there isn't any, I'd say that if I had some future cooking project where I was making a dish with a whole lotta garlic and/or for a large group of people, I'd probably happily resort to the pre-peeled stuff. But for my everyday use, I've gotten fast enough with the smash-clove-pop-peel method that I don't feel the need. I should add that, yeah, I'm another one of those danged Californians who has regular access to good quality fresh garlic. Edited to add: According to Wikipedia, elephant garlic is in fact not a true garlic, but a relative in the onion genus, a species variant of the leek--though tasting more more like mild garlic than leeks.
  2. mizducky

    The Egg Sandwich

    While I have fond regard for the traditional egg over/yolk-broken/crusty roll formulation, when I've made egg sandwiches for myself at home I mostly find myself making a thin omelette and then sliding it into a whole wheat pita. This may have more to do with the fact that I somehow feel more reliable at making a good omelette than a good fried egg, yolk broken or not. (And that I eat a whole lotta whole wheat pita.) But a fried egg is a glorious thing. At the risk of topic drift, I must sing the praises of those com tam combos at my favorite Vietnamese restaurant that include a (perfectly) fried egg with runny yolk--the yolk and some bi mixed into the hot rice is a thing of beauty. I also live in The Land of Breakfast Burritos. Eggs scrambled with machaca and wrapped in a super-fresh flour tortilla is another thing of beauty.
  3. mizducky

    Rice Salad

    Okay--I realize this one is technically not a salad, but you were asking for sweeter rice dishes, so ... I adore this Thai black sticky rice pudding recipe. It's gotten raves whenever I've served it. Because of the distinctive nutty flavor of the black sticky rice and the light hand with the sugar, this recipe is only mildly sweet. I follow the first method in the recipe that gives a firmer drier texture, as opposed to the wetter, more "pudding-like" texture of the second method. Black sticky rice can be a little hard to find, but it's worth it--larger Asian grocery stores should carry it.
  4. Whuh. That does sound like a hell of a lot of canned salmon. Are they the big cans (14-ish oz.) or the small cans (like the size of tuna fish cans)? The latter would be a little less fierce. Personally I do like canned salmon, but I know it can be way salty and strong-flavored. If the recipe doesn't already specify it, I'd suggest not just draining the salmon thoroughly, but giving it a good rinse in a colander. Otherwise that combo of salmon and canned soup is gonna pack enough sodium to make a bull moose keel over with a heart attack.
  5. Wellllll ... I can see your point if the cilantro/chilies/lime combo is being slapped onto just any old dish, thoughtlessly, in a flavor-of-the-month-that's-outstayed-its-welcome kind of way. However, at least here in San Diego where I live, cilantro/chile/lime is not a johnny-come-lately affectation, but in some communities a way of life. There are food traditions here (not just SoCal/Mexican, but also Vietnamese, to name just the couple I'm familiar with) that were doing cilantro/chile/lime long before it became fashionable, and will probably still be doing it long after it's been supplanted by the fashion flavor of the next month. So ... I guess I'm saying I'm personally far from tired of 'em, but then I'm not experiencing them as over-intruding where they wouldn't otherwise belong.
  6. My current default setup is to post to my Typepad blog, which I have set up to automatically post to both Facebook and Twitter. That way, people on those latter two services get the quick summary of my blog post, and can follow the link back to my blog for the full story. For a couple of weeks, I had been rockin' out the joys of posting photos and text regarding cheap-eats experiences directly from my cell phone to my blog, and then having summaries flow on to Facebook and Twitter ... until my mobile blog posting mysteriously stopped working a few days ago. I have a trouble ticket filed with the nice folks at Typepad support, and am anxiously awaiting a response. I feel like an addict cut off from my fix ... Nawwww ... I can still send photos and text to my Google Mail account, and then post them to my blog when I get home. It just lacks the thrill of immediate gratification.
  7. mizducky

    Caponata

    Really? Jarred caponata (usually called "antipasto" in Winnipeg) often has carrots in it, and I've had homemade caponata with zucchini, too. Of course, the addition of zucchini has always led to my confusion of caponata vs. ratatouille. I always thought they were pretty much the same thing based on my experience with them in Winnipeg. ← Heh--this thread is giving me a food-memory flashback: one of the little treats my mom turned me onto when I was a kid were the little cans of Progresso's version of "eggplant appetizer" (it said "caponata" in small print underneath). I dunno how authentic it was, and suspect it wouldn't have held a candle to fresh-made, but it was intense-flavored, oily, salty, tart and sweet simultaneously, and I loved it. I was sad when, years later, I discovered Progresso stopped making it. But then, even later than that, I set about making my usual ratatouille one day, got a lazy-attack, and decided to roast the vegetables rather than saute them. I let the onions and red bell peppers especially get really caramelized. When I put everything together and tasted, I had a sorta Proustian flashback to those little cans of caponata. I think it was the sweetness and texture of the onions and peppers that did it. From these admittedly random experiences, plus the linked recipes and others I've seen, I'm theorizing that the difference between caponata and ratatouille could be described as partly one of degree: caponata would seem to have more water cooked out of the vegetables, and thus a denser texture and more intense flavor. It also looks like some of the traditional recipes for caponata involve some texture contrast (celery, pine nuts, etc.), a boosting of the sweet, salt, and sour components (sugar, vinegar, olives), and more oil--often a lot more. I don't know that I personally, these days, would want to make caponata with hugely more oil than I use in ratatouille, but I would enjoy the saltiness of the olives and a little celery contrast. Mmmmm ... now I know what I'm cooking this weekend!
  8. Another frequent potluck burn victim here. Sometimes it can be so darned capricious as to what will go vs. what won't. Even when I've known my audience and sworn something would be a hit, I can be unpleasantly surprised. Though sometimes I do hit it out of the park. Ironically, I brought a big platter of home-made spring rolls to a fundraiser cocktail party where all the org's staff pitched in on the cooking. I took some shameless pride in the fact that my offering was one of the very few with no leftovers whatsoever, and I had several guests going "those aren't storebought? You made those yourself?!? WOW!" This was admittedly a crowd I thought would appreciate them--but the raves really blew my mind (and made my night). Meanwhile, I'll reinforce what everyone else has said, GR, that if I were at your potluck I would have totally tanked on your dishes. I might have even indulged in some evil gloating that I had them to myself because those poor suckers didn't know what they were missing.
  9. I've gotten even more creative with my slow cooker than I already was before. I scour the meat departments of my local supermarkets, as well as local ethnic grocers, for inexpensive cuts of meat that profit by slow cooking, and then match those with a larger volume of beans and/or vegetables, sometimes sorta-following a recipe, sometimes nearly completely on whim and the contents of the vegetable bin and pantry. Some combos turn out more successful than others, but that's just part of what makes it interesting. :-) So no specific recommendations here, more like a strategy and invitation to experiment. I do other exercises in stretching a little animal protein with a lot of carbs as well. I have, for instance, worked out a flexible chicken/rice casserole that is adored by the elderly gentleman I take care of, and is so dirt simple I hesitate to call it a recipe--in an deepish ovenproof baking dish, place about a cup of raw rice; then add enough flavorful liquid to just cook the rice if you were doing it by itself in a separate pot; then place pieces of chicken on top (I like bone-in skin-on thighs the best for this); add other seasonings to taste; lid securely and bake in a medium oven until the rice has absorbed all liquid and started to get GBD around the edges (around an hour or so). Optionally take the lid off for the last 15 minutes to let the chicken get GBD too. The rice will be very soft, sort of heading towards risotto land, and the whole thing is total comfort food.
  10. mizducky

    Deviled Ham

    I think I can count the times I've bought any Underwood product on the fingers of one hand, but I have fond memories of their TV commercials in the early 1970s featuring Mason Reese, the little red-head boy who mispronounced smorgasbord as "borgasmord." Particularly because he was the spitting image of one of my little cousins.
  11. I confess that the thing that I don't quite get about Japanese-style curry is the fact that it's served next to but not on top of the rice (I've had it at a local branch of Curry House that opened up in San Diego awhile back). I mean, there's this nice big pool of curry gravy, and the rice carefully arranged on the other side of the plate, and as an American eater whose previous exposure to curries has been with (admittedly Americanized) Indian restaurants, my first impulse would be to mix it all together. But if you don't mix them, how does one eat the curry gravy? Just with a spoon, as if it were soup? Just seeking to enlighten my cluelessness here...
  12. Oh dear. The un-iced oatmeal cookies are like a whole food group to the elderly gentleman I look after. Weaning him onto another brand of oatmeal cookie is going to be Not Pretty.
  13. Oh, I am (chile) green with envy! (I do have the remains of my stash of last year's green chile still in the freezer. I'm now getting inspired to thaw a little out and see if it's still good ... )
  14. My favorite congee seasonings tend to be chile-flavored fermented tofu, sesame oil, dark soy sauce, and century egg. I've also been known to sprinkle an ungodly amount of furikake on top. I also tend to cook my congee with lots of stuff in it -- like crumbled dried shiitake and wood ear, and/or kombu or other sea vegetables snipped into little strips; the long cooking softens this stuff up so that by the time the congee's ready all the dried stuff is nice and tender. I've gotten the impression that it's not really traditional to put as much stuff into one's congee as I do, but it sure tastes good.
  15. Sounds like fermented tofu to me. Wikipedia has a picture -- clikckie here. I love the stuff in congee, especially the chile-flavored type.
  16. I think the effective amount varies with the individual. My practice has been to buy good quality 100% pure cherry juice (as opposed to one of those juice-drink/blend things) from a natural foods store and have myself a couple of big glasses worth. Dried cherries have worked for me too. Again, I have no precise amounts to offer. There's nothing for it but to experiment and see what, if any, amount works for you.
  17. Oh yeah. The wonderful world of gout. I know it well. All my life I'd been an extreme carnivore; then, a few years back, I made a half-hearted attempt at weight loss via Adkins. Succeeded in provoking the king-hell gout attack of the universe, in the classic location, my big toe (why the disease likes the lower extremities: the precipitating uric acid crystals tend to follow the bloodstream and gravity to one of the lowest points of the body, till they wind up in capillaries too narrow to let them pass; they then collect there, the needle-sharp crystals start poking into things, and there you are with a throbbing toe). My doc slapped me onto a script for colchicine to knock down the acute attack, and then phased me onto allopurinol to keep the gout under control long term. I've been on the stuff ever since. I have discovered that, for me, the allopurinol works pretty well but is not an iron-clad protection. I can have about 10 ounces of animal protein daily without penalty. Pushing it much above that, though, or pouring too much alcohol on top, or overindulging in certain other foods from the purine-rich lists, starts this tell-tale warning tingle in my toes that, if I were to keep on indulging, could probably turn into a "breakthrough" acute gout attack. I've had no motivation to test that theory--ow. So I just back off and take evasive measures whenever the tingle starts. It was my pharmacist, when I handed him the script for allopurinol, who enthusiastically recommended cherry juice to me. I found that, for me, the stuff really does help head off an attack, and have used it from time to time when I start having one of those incipient breakthrough attacks. I also find putting my feet up helps (gets all those little crystals to quit jamming up in the toes). And yeah, drinking lots of water/fluids (which I'm still notoriously bad at making myself do). Like many of these things, everyone's metabolism is a little different, so some high-purine foods that are triggers for some people might not set off others, and some folks might be able to tolerate a greater quantity of purine-rich foods than others. Myself, I've noticed I'm especially sensitive to turkey, though organ meats also push my limit. On the other hand, I've consumed numerous meals of sauted liver and mushrooms with no noticeable ill effect--as long as I keep my portion moderate. I too had read somewhere in the literature that there is a hereditary component, a heritable predisposition to the condition. My dad had had gout--duh! But another more insidious thing I found out is that some people with elevated uric acid blood levels can experience low-level aching joint pain for a long time before the get an acute attack. Duh again--I'd been suffering from that kind of chronic ache for literally years! I'd at first thought it was some form of arthritis; or maybe a fibromyalgia condition; and then came my first acute gout attack and at last I knew what it was. And I'm still teed off at the several doctors I'd had over the years to whom I'd told my chronic pain problem, but not a one of them appeared to think of testing my blood for uric acid levels. Grrr. Anyway, yeah, it was a sad day when I finally realized that I could no longer get away with tanking on meat the way I used to--but frankly, with my (much healthier) approach to weight management these days, I had kissed my extreme meataholic ways goodbye anyway. There are no foods I avoid now, but I do practice moderation--in other words, as someone once said, "Yes, you can have it all--you just can't have it all RIGHT NOW."
  18. Hi, it looks like we cross-posted just now ... Aha, so you're from Boston, where I used to live back in the 1980s. And my recollection from then is that Boston, even though it is a major tourist destination too, is a city with a full three centuries of established culture, including a long-standing upper class with high-class expections; plus those 40-plus colleges and universities encouraging a large population of intelligentsia. Those factors tend to be a lot more fertile ground for discerning gastronomy. Even as an impoverished student, I and my buddies tended to know and seek out the foodie thrills we could afford (my first experience of French press Vienna Roast coffee was in the old Coffee Connection in Harvard Square). As you may have noticed, San Diego ain't like that. This doesn't mean you can't still find some cool foodie things going on, even though, like I said in my previous post, they're in the relative minority. Personally, I'm fond of the ambitions and aims of The Linkery--I don't think Jay posts here, but he's certainly aware of eGullet; he seems to prefer doing all his internet working of the crowd through the blog on his restaurant's website, which he works very effectively IMO. And there are others with comparable aims in terms of putting the focus on the food first, with the atmosphere important, but in service to the food as opposed to the other way around. That's what I'd like to see more highly valued in this city's dining scene.
  19. Welcome, cjbleid! And thanks for stirring stuff up! Well, here's my theory, for whatever it's worth: A large proportion of San Diego's restaurant/entertainment business is aimed primarily at vacationers, conventioneers, military staff enjoying R'n'R leave, etc. Nothing against any of these worthy folks doing what they came here to do, but at the risk of massively overgeneralizing, I'd say such a demographic tends to see SD as a destination for partying as opposed to high culture. Many of the vacationers, in addition, are families with kids in tow and thus in need of kid-friendly food options. The restaurants that most cater to those demographics would tend to be chains, family-friendly joints, and other, well, less challenging dining experiences. Even--or especially--the Gaslamp, with all its flashy high-priced joints, seems geared to the hoards of vacationers and conventioneers and on-leave military more intent on partying than on serious dining. Not to say that there aren't serious dining joints in the Gaslamp--but they have to put the emphasis more on flashy than foody to compete for their proportion of the crowd. Of course there are restaurants that defy this theory--for that matter, there are certainly tourists, conventioneers, and on-leave military personnel who are foodies too--but hey, the bottom line has to cater to the majority of the demographic, so that's where much of the restaurant business will aim by sheer necessity. Anyway, that's IMO YMMV LMNOP ... P.S. Truth in advertising: I do confess to a certain prejudice against joints that go for the flashy, even if the food is also excellent.
  20. Hiya, SobaAddict -- I salute your resolve to live life to the fullest despite your diagnosis (I too have had many persons in my life who have found themselves dealing with HIV). I also salute your resolve to take full advantage of the pleasures as well as the health-giving properties of quality food. I have a crazy schedule this week so I don't know how often I'll get to post, but I'll definitely be reading along. Onward and outward!
  21. ETA: My guess is that is the New York Washington Square arch. ← Oh, it's totally the Washington Square Arch. In fact, if memory serves me right, the photo POV is looking southbound down 5th Avenue into the north side of the park--a particularly lovely way to approach the arch, and the park. No clue about the blogger, but that snippet of counter and woodwork reminds me strenuously of certain older East coast apartment/kitchen interiors I have known. (I was totally understanding--and patient--about the blogging hiatus, but there's no denying I'm glad to see a new blog on the horizon. I must confess this has become my all-time favorite feature of eGullet.)
  22. I don't have personal experience with this project here in the San Diego area, but to read the website it sounds like they're aiming high.
  23. What everyone just said. Susan, it blows my mind to think of all the stuff you successfully juggle in your life. Many thanks for your enthusiastic blog-wrangling, and I look forward to your future posts. Cheers, /the duck
  24. I highly recommend, on the leg of your trip north from Phoenix to Flagstaff, that you take the turn-off off the I-17 freeway onto the very scenic State Route 179, which will take you through the town of Sedona and the surrounding Red Rock Country. Sedona has got art galleries, shops of a new-agey stripe, and cafes and restaurants that follow suit--on my trip through there serveral years ago we had a nice lunch at The Heartline Cafe. The new-agey stuff may not appeal to everyone, but the countryside is unabashedly gorgeous. No specific recommendations for the other legs of your trip, but a general suggestion: to try a green chile cheeseburger while you in New Mexico--I think it's like unto the official state fast-food.
  25. I have a motley assortment of tote bags--actually, I did use to have more, but both of my old-school Trader Joe's canvas bags seem to have gone AWOL at some point. That leaves me a big nylon canvas bag I acquired from a local hospital fundraiser; an ancient cotton canvas Safeway bag; a soft-side cooler bag, of a size meant to hold two six-packs of beverage, I got as company swag when I was a Microsoft employee; and an insulated plastic shopping bag in which a mail-order food company once shipped me some perishables. Oh yeah, and I also have two different wheeled stuff-shlepping gizmos: one of those wheeled soft-sided shopping totes, and one of these wheeled folding file boxes, which is the most brilliant invention for hauling groceries longish distances that I've yet encountered. I have most of these either stacked in the kitchen or already in my car trunk. No special tricks for remembering them, other than depending on my little obsessive-compulsive streak. But I do need to get a few more, and since I no longer work for any outfits that hand out such swag it looks like I'm going to have to actually pay money for them! I think at least one of them is going to be one of those new-style huge flowered Trader Joe's bags, but for the rest I'm going to do some thrift-shopping, or maybe even some craft crocheting (thanks for those links, folks!). Even before I got so achtung with the shopping bags, I did make a point of reusing as many supermarket bags as possible, either as trash can liners or even to rebag leftovers and produce for storage in the fridge. I used to try and use them in the freezer, but they're just plain ol' not sturdy or airtight enough to prevent freezer burn. But for a head of lettuce in the fridge they seem to do just fine.
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