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Everything posted by mizducky

  1. And I'm using Typepad for my food blog, and am very happy with it so far. I also use LiveJournal for more personal journalling, but somehow I find it more suited to on-line community-building than blogging at the world in general. In fact the same company owns LiveJournal and Typepad, and it seems like that company does position those two blogging products that way (LiveJournal for friends informally hanging out and sharing, Typepad for more formal, even business-y, public blogging.) Blogging websites do tend to have a bunch of premade formats you can pick up and customize in various ways, plus tools to help you do that with (hopefully) a minimum of technical knowledge. Some blog sites (like Typepad) charge a monthly fee; some (like LiveJournal) have a free basic option, plus more bells-and-whistles options that cost a monthly fee. Your best bet is to try a couple out--Typepad, for one, offers a two-week free trial period in which you can give it a spin.
  2. Oh dear. I confess that, after a few too many run-ins of this sort, I have developed an allergy to going out on any holiday devoted to mass public drinking. I refer to them as the "Amateur Hour Drunk" holidays. Not that seasoned practiced drunks can't also perpetrate rude and even dangerous behavior, but at least they have some experience in how to handle the stuff. When I was doing support for my buddy's band, I of course had to work holiday gigs they got booked for. I remember one St. Patrick's gig in particular--this Irish bar located in a suburban shopping center had a big celebration, with a number of bands performing on a stage set up in a corner of the center's parking lot. Towards the end of the evening, I swear that whole area was awash in about an inch of bad (green) beer, and at least one female patron had become posessed of the "girls gone wild" shirt-removal social virus. In a suburban shopping center parking lot. Oh well. I can only hope the hangovers provided sufficient negative reinforcement against future exhibitions ... but somehow I doubt it.
  3. Digging your style. Ernie is delightful--I love the shot of him grabbing the bowl. Always up for some corned beef, nomatter where it leads one. And some serious New York atmosphere.
  4. Heh. Nice Jewish girl from the suburbs of New York right here, been eating Chinese restaurant food literally as long as I can remember--my very first and earliest memory, dating from shortly before age 2, is that of my parents taking me to the local Chinese restaurant for the very first time. Which would put that event around 1958 or so. Even the restaurant's name and decor are etched on my memory: China Pearl, in Pearl River, Rockland County NY. A little creative Googling shows that, while this restaurant is long gone, a a succession of other Chinese restaurants have occupied its former site. Interestingly, I never encountered that roast meat-on-garlic bread combo Mr. Schwartz describes so vividly. I suspect that, when my parents took me to Jewish deli restaurants, they trained me to fixate in on the pastrami and beef tongue sandwiches almost to the exclusion of everything else. "What, we go to the trouble of taking you to a deli and you order something other than proper deli food?!?" For that matter, I don't recall us eating chow mein all that much either when I was growing up. My family's favorites when we "went out for Chinese" were lo mein, moo goo gaipan, egg fu yung, and shrimp in lobster sauce (the dietary laws had already been ditched back in my grandparents' generation). But yeah--American Jews and Chinese food. Just something about that combination. Thanks for the memories!
  5. Oh yeah! Not to get too indelicate in a food-related forum, but for the peace of mind of other beet-novices, I'll just observe that beets' deep blood-red color is apparently relatively unaffected by the digestive process. Beets also have a diuretic effect, so depending on your individual condition, you may notice an increase in volume and/or frequency of fluid output, as well as that startling color change.
  6. I realize it's a bit off on a tangent, but I couldn't help referencing here the classic (from the 1980s, I think) slamming a competitor's processed chicken offerings. The "parts is parts" line has become inextricably stuck to all chicken-nugget type products in my mind. I have observed certain friends' offspring being exclusively stuck on chicken fingers with the same misgivings as many of the rest of you. However, I also recall my brother going through a similar fixation when he was very young--if chicken fingers had been invented in the early 1960s, I supposed he'd have been stuck on those, but instead his monodiet was hotdogs. One night baby brother was in his high chair chowing on his hotdog, while the rest of us at the dinner table were having steak, which he had up to that point refused. Suddenly, though, he looked at us feasting happily upon big chunks of real beef, then looked at his hotdog--and then flung the frank across the room, started wailing, and wouldn't be appeased until he got some steak too. And thus was the monodiet spell broken. I dunno if/when other kids wise up about the wonderful world of food, or whether any do it quite so dramatically, but just sounding a note of hope that it does happen.
  7. Hope you feel better! My favorite sick foods are reminiscent of favorites already listed: --congee or broth loaded with lots of garlic and ginger --hot and sour soup--or for that matter, just about any seriously spicy dish. Really empties out those sinuses! Of course, the effect is short-lived ... but after several days of being stopped up, I find that experiencing clear sinuses for even fifteen minutes is a pleasure. --this concoction my mom used to make for me when I was sick, called a Guggle Muggle: hot milk flavored with honey, vanilla extract, and warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, etc. alone or in combination), plus a good stiff shot of booze. The idea was that you were supposed to drink it down as quickly as possible while it was still quite hot, and then immediately jump into bed under a bunch of covers, to sweat out the evil humours or something.
  8. I know nothing about confections (other than how to eat them ) but I'd suggest trying powdered green tea (matcha) somewhere or other in these creations, both for color and flavor.
  9. Heh. I always go back and spot embarrassing numbers of typos in my blogs too--and yeah, the window in which you can go back and edit posts slams shut pretty darn quickly, doesn't it? But don't sweat the typo thing, just think of it as part of the wonderful world of blogging your week's worth of food in realtime. Thanks for a great blog!
  10. You could also take the organo-hippy granola-crunchy route. Not only granola, but also rolled oats, dried fruit/trail mix, and other things that we now consider health-food staples (or cliches) began creeping into popular food culture around that time. Though I admit that chocolate fondue or tiedye cheesecake sound more invitingly decadent...
  11. See, I've found this to not be true. The author of the book above, even says it doesnt really hurt to lift the lid and give things a stir. I do that frequently, and I dont notice any loss of taste or texture. ← Oh I guess I should clarify--no, lifting the lid doesn't harm the taste or texture of the finished dish at all; it just slows the cooking down even more because it takes a good while for the cooker to return to temp after losing heat when the lid was lifted, which can really throw a monkey wrench into one's planned dinner time. Or at least, that's what's happened to me with mine. So I guess my point should be amended accordingly ...
  12. I have discovered that just about any braised recipe can be successfully done in a crock pot, once you realize that any preliminary browning/searing/sweating/sauteing of ingredients needs to be done beforehand in a separate pan and then loaded into the crock pot for the actual slow-cooking portion of the program. Never fear that you're abandoning any fond left in the bottom of that separate pan--you just deglaze, and then dump the deglazing liquid into the crock pot along with everything else. So for instance: with a stew, just sear off all your stew meat and place in crock pot; sweat all your aromatics/mirepoix/etc. and place that in the crock pot too; deglaze the pan with your booze/broth/stock/etc of choice, and into the crock pot with that too; add your herbs and seasonings, and remaining liqud per your recipe; and then just slap the lid on the crock and let it go until it's done. You might have to adjust recipes to decrease total liquid--there isn't that much evaporation in such a closed-lid system, and often, in fact, a net gain of liquid as your ingredients, especially the vegetables, release some water. I also tend to season relatively lightly at the start, especially if it's the first time I've tried a recipe in the crock, and then correct seasonings as needed at the end. By trial and error you'll discover how much evaporation to expect with your particular slow-cooker, and then you can make adjustments accordingly. The main thing you have to watch with a crock pot is to resist the urge to take the lid off unless/until absolutely necessary. Any lid removal lets heat escape, and at the low temps they run at it takes a long time to build up to cooking temp again, so lid-lifting even to stir will slow things down significantly--and adding cold ingredients, or even room-temp ingredients, will really slow things down. So I try to get everything in at the beginning, and then try to not budge that lid until the dish is approaching its estimated "done" time--and then I try to get the lid back on as soon as possible.
  13. Oh dear--the ham slices remind me of a story a foodie friend told me a long time ago. He, or someone he knew (it's been a long time since he told me this story) happened upon an elaborate but delicious-sounding recipe for a ham loaf and decided to try it out. He set to work chopping the ham and adding all the ingredients and doing all the other carryings on ... the house smelled fabulous as the loaf baked ... then he pulls it out, dishes it up, cuts himself a slice, tastes it--and comes to the realization: "Oh my god--I've just made Spam!" Despite this story, I'm wondering if there isn't a way to make a tasty ham-based meatloaf from all that frozen ham (as opposed to having it come out tasting like glorified Spam).
  14. Just a little more beet lore here: I like to bake my beets in a lidded casserole--it's actually the same principle as wrapping them in foil, I just find the casserole is a lot more leakproof than my sometimes-wonky attempts at foil packets. I sometimes put a little water--at most a half-cup--in the bottom of the casserole to add a little steam to the cooking, which makes them cook a little faster and stay a little moister. If the beets come with greens attached, I trim them off leaving about an inch of stems on the beets--that cuts down some on beet-juice leakage. I don't trim off the root until after cooking, and scrub the beets fairly gently so as not to break the skin, again to cut donw on juice leakage (some will leak regardless). Then into the casserole, lid on, and into a preheated 400 deg. F oven for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on size (all other things being equal, smaller beets are better IMO, tending to be sweeter and less prone to woodiness). I test for doneness by seeing how easily I can stick a small sharp knife into them--when the blade can slide through the center fairly easily, they're done. (I try not to poke them too much, though!) Peeling beets--as everyone has noted here, they peel much more easily after cooking than before. I would add that they peel a lot more easily while they're still fairly hot from cooking, than after they've cooled down. When hot, the skins will literally slide right off with just a little pressure. I grab them with my hands protected from the heat as well as the juice by a couple layers of paper toweling, and then rub them between the toweling until all the skins are off. Usually I'm way into eating the skins of vegetables, but I just don't find the coarse texture and slightly bitter taste of beet skins worth salvaging. Cold cut-up beets in a vinaigrette are wonderful on their own or added to a salad. I also love to make borscht using both the beet roots and greens--here's my recipe in RecipeGullet.
  15. Oh god, don't get me going about American commercial strawberries. Surreally large lumps of vaguely berry-flavored cellulose. Even when I've bought them at a farmer's market or a U-pick farm, all I get is slighly fresher, slightly more flavorful lumps of cellulose. And the goofiest thing of all is that I keep buying 'em.
  16. Okay, inquiring minds want to know: how does one get nattou into a deep-fryable form? Make little balls and coat them in panko, like a dumpling or croquette? (I understand that korokke are big in Japan ... )
  17. mizducky

    Canned Chicken

    I have always wondered about those danged canned chickens. I see them in the store, in with the other canned meats and fish, and have been torn between curiosity as to what the contents were like, versus dread over what I expected them to be like. Now I'm glad that dread has always won out! The canned whole chickies I've seen have been a different brand, but now I can't remember its name. I'll have to snap a photo of the can the next time I see one in the supermarket. (Nope. Not buying one now, even for a photo-op. Maybe someday as a gag gift. Emphasis on "gag.")
  18. Oh yeah. This one bugs me too. Not only does this downsizing business throw off recipes and stuff as you all have pointed out ... the odd-sized packages make doing price comparisons that one little bit more tedious. It's annoying enough when the store puts the unit pricing in the wrong units, like unit pricing per ounce on items usually bought by the pint, but then the danged item isin't even a full pint any more. And then they make the large size of the same product not an straightfoward multiple of the small size ... I'm stubborn enough that I'll stand there in the store aisle and figure out which item is the better buy. But I just know most people won't bother, and wind up getting ripped off.
  19. I vaguely remembered seeing something similar here in the US regarding the changing autumn leaf colors in New England, where the "leaf-peeper" tourism is a really big deal. In fact, when I went Googling to refresh my memory on that point, I found this website (though the interactive maps on this site are not currently active at this time of year). Interesting to compare and contrast analogous practices in different cultures, isn't it?
  20. I salute your efforts, gfron! I think the closest I've ever come to this experience is eating a fish I caught and cleaned myself, which I readily admit is not in the same league. It does at least put one personally in touch with the whole killing-living-critter thing ... but there's no denying the creatures closer to us on the foodchain are more capable of stirring the emotions, especially the mammals. I had an acquaintance who raised rabbits--she not only used their meat for food, but their fur for spinning into wool, which she then turned into knitted and woven items. Now that's dedication. (And pretty darned cool, I thought.) Two words I learned right quick when I arrived in San Diego: chivo and birria. Yum. Goat meat does rule. I love meat that actually tastes like something on its own, and actually stands up to strong seasoning rather than presenting a blank canvas. And offal also rules. More meat that actually has a distinctive flavor--as well as a wealth of distinctive textures. Edited to add: Goat drive-thru!
  21. Great blog so far! I can totally appreciate the concept of struggling to grasp the little nuances of an unfamiliar culture's everyday cooking that we so take for granted with the styles of food we grew up with. I've begun to absorb some basics about various Asian cuisines' meal protocols, but it still doesn't come anywhere near as fluently as the Euro-American cookery I grew up with. About that bright-pink chirashi-sushi: I can't help thinking of various young girls I've known here in the US who have had a real thing about the color pink. Some go through this phase where seemingly everything has to be pink--backpacks, bicycles, you name it. Oh, and the pink birthday cakes, oy! (With Disney princesses in pink-on-pink frosting!) So I'm imagining a Japanese girl in a similar phase would totally be into pink sushi for Girl's Day. (Me, I somehow missed the whole pink thing. I was more into purple. )
  22. I succeeded in getting a former partner, whose Midwestern mother boiled all vegetables to death, to actually say she liked brussels sprouts by presenting them gently cooked and dressed in a maple syrup/mustard vinaigrette. The vinaigrette does not so much mask the sprouts' flavor as complement their "nutty" undertones. Ex-partner admitted that the sprouts were not ever going to become her favorites, but now at least she knew they did not have to suck. These days, I'm continually working to expand Mr. E's extremely narrow food preferences, mainly by presenting various fresh foods cooked pleasantly. He's another one whose mother apparently was a very poor and limited cook, to the point that when I arrived on the scene it was easier to enumerate the foods he would eat than the bazillions of foods he was convinced he disliked. Since his very short "likes" list included almost no vegetables, I had to do something if for no other reason than to keep me from dying of boredom in the kitchen, let alone keeping E. properly nourished. My main strategy is to present these envelope-pushing dishes as an option, not a compulsory event. I usually say something like "okay, this is an experiment. If this dish doesn't agree with you, that's totally okay, you can eat the other stuff instead, and the experiment won't go to waste because I'll eat it." Using this no-pressure approach, I've actually gotten him to try eggplant and zucchini, two vegetables he swore he detested; almost always, when he finally gets over his hesitancy and tastes the "detested" food properly cooked, he finds it much less objectionable than he'd previously imagined. I also don't give up after a single refusal. I've discovered E's tastes are capricious: there's been numerous instances where we've had conversations like: "Ellen, why don't you ever cook (food X)?" "Um, because you told me you didn't like it." "When did I say that?" "Um, just a few weeks after I moved in with you." "Oh really? I don't know why I said that -- I like [Food X]!" The first few times this happened sorely tempted me to emit an "AUUUUURRRRRGGGG!!!" that would have done any Peanuts character proud, but eventually I not only got over it, but learned to take any and all of E's announced food preferences with several grains of salt. Mind you, though, I consider these kinds of self-persuaded food preferences a whole separate kettle of fish from actual allergies and other health-hazard based dietary needs. For instance, since E is on Lipitor, I would never dream of bringing grapefruits or grapefruit juice into the house, as there is a chemical in grapefruits that interacts with that med. Further, if the person has given the food item a good-faith effort in a variety of settings and it just doesn't click for them, I let it go--harping on it after that just gets tiresome to all concerned, and it's not necessary for everyone to like everything. And personally I'm against "tricking" people into eating things (by hiding it, by telling them it's something else, by any other method that plays fast-and-loose with the truth). I just don't like the idea of messing with people's heads that way. Cooking for someone is IMO an act of love and trust, a trust I don't care to violate. So there are some food boundaries of E's I will not challenge. He's dead-set against even the slightest spice-heat in his food, a preference confirmed over many instances that I've witnessed. Even black pepper can put him off, I have discovered. So I watch it with the seasonings now. I've discovered he's okay with milder seasonings, like garlic, ginger, and herbs, so it's not like I'm making super-bland food for him. But I do keep my hot-sauce bottle at my place at the table, to heat up my own portions as desired.
  23. mizducky


    There's a whole bunch of everyday go-to mushrooms that I use copiously. This group does include the plain ol' supermarket shrooms (white button, crimini, portobello); when handled properly, even the boring white buttons can be quite tasty. Then there are king oyster or eryngii shrooms--great texture that stands up to long braises; enoki mushrooms--strong contender for the title of "cutest instant garnish in the world"; shiitakes fresh and dried; and other dried Chinese fungi--I love the crunch and texture of dried reconstituted wood ears. I also love the contrast in texture between the fresh and dried forms of all mushrooms--for instance, how fresh shiitakes become melt-in-your-mouth tender while reconstituted dried shiitakes have a firmer, more meatlike mouthfeel. Dried shiitakes have become a permanent staple in my pantry--they're so versatile and flavorful, I use them in many things besides Asian dishes, basically just about any everyday dish where I need a mushroom-umami hit.
  24. Ohh, 13 bean soup! Yummy, and even better if you've got a hunk of ham or a hock hidden away...! (Even a nice bit of smoked turkey!) ← Great minds think alike. Actually turned out to be 4-bean soup--adukis, pintos, black-eyed peas, and split green peas. I had a bunch of "pot liquor" left over from a batch of greens and ham hocks I'd made a few days before, so that became the broth in which I cooked the beans. That basically killed off the adukis and pintos altogether--still have some black-eyed and split green peas, as well as a bunch of garbanzos, though the latter get used rather more frequently for hummus and the like so I'm not so concerned about them. Mr. E also had boxes and boxes of mixes -- instant pudding, instant milk, brownie mix, cornbread mix, Kraft mac-n-cheese ... Those kind of things, specifically the unopened boxes, I'm more likely to purge the next time there's a local food pantry drive. But I might at least use up the corn bread mix tonight to serve with the bean soup. There's also half-a-box of Trader Joe's arborio rice ... Mr. E might get skittish about a risotto because it's unfamiliar, but then again he might get over that fast because it's got all his favorite food qualities--creaminess, cheesiness, and lotsa carbs! Anyway, an interesting experiment to try on him some evening... Yeah, canned sauerkraut has quality issues that make it less appealing in such applications as Reubens, but I think it still does pretty well braised with your favorite chunks of pork--when it cooks down and absorbs all that pork fat, it gets pretty darn good. Somebody else mentioned coconut rice, I think ... I made a wonderful Thai black sticky rice pudding about a month ago using this recipe. Of course now I have most of a 5-pound bag of black sticky rice haunting my pantry, which kind of defeats the point of this exercise. But I bet one could have fun adapting the recipe to other types of rices one might be needing to use up. Re: the oysters--when I was a kid, my family used to make a super-simple but super-good clam dip consisting only of softened cream cheese, canned minced clams, enough of their liquid to thin the mixture to a dippable consistency, plus seasonings to taste (usually involving a bunch of black pepper and garlic powder--nowadays I'd probably substitute real garlic, minced, for the powder). I bet the smoked oysters, minced, would do great in a similar dip. If there isn't enough liquid in with the oysters to do the job, I think you could use bottled clam juice, or for that matter any other kind of broth whose flavor would match well.
  25. Heh. I also have only a relatively small freezer and pantry space ... plus not enough patience or attention span to do the wonderfully detailed inventory some of you have posted. But I do have a mental list of things that are languishing and could stand to be used up--plus all you guys' enthusiasm about cleaning out! Off to survey the various containers of dry beans I have stashed away, to see what kind of interesting soup I can make from them ...
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