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Everything posted by mizducky

  1. Another chicken-frying newbie here, trying to figure out the cooking-vessel thang. I'm going to opt for the pan-frying technique, probably using thighs with skin on. The only object in our kitchen right now that looks even vaguely appropriate for the task is a cast-iron item abandoned by a previous housemate, sans lid I'm afraid--sort of an extra deep skillet, 3" deep by 10-and-a-smidge inches in diameter. Lodge calls a pot of those dimensions a "chicken fryer." Aside from someone upstream aways in this topic who mentioned owning a Magnalite chicken fryer, I hadn't heard that term mentioned before, nor a pan of this depth, taller than a standard skillet but shorter than a Dutch oven. Is this a for-real standard pan designation, or a marketing concept of some sort? Oh, and the missing lid issue: can I just substitute a universal lid (non cast-iron, not a tight seal), or should I just stick to a method that doesn't require lidding the pan with anything fiercer than a splatter screen? I'd be totally up for just buying and seasoning a whole new cast iron skillet, except for the fact that I've just had a whole bunch of work deadlines dumped on me. Alas, it's now going to be hard enough fitting the chicken experiment into my schedule for the next couple of weeks without adding a full CI-seasoning session to the agenda. So I'm seeing if I can make do with the tools at hand.
  2. Cool. Guess I'll be finding out if the staff at the local 99 Ranch also get the heebie-jeebies when a customer starts snapping photos ...
  3. Thanks to those of you chiming in that finding decent lamb meat, or any lamb meat at all, was a pain for you too. I was beginning to think I was going nutz. Well, that's not to say that I'm not, but my inability to locate lamb meat in a store is at least not a symptom. Wasn't lamb once a helluva lot more common in American supermarkets, or am I just hallucinating that too? I swear I used to always see chops and stew meat available ... As to the next dish: I could really go for a venture into fried chicken. It's not a dish I grew up with at home (unless you count take-out--anyone remember Chicken Delight?) and my sole attempt so far at teaching myself how to do it came out edible but definitely sub-par. But I'm sure I'd be happy with most anything y'all go for.
  4. I am heartily enjoying this blog also. Geez, I wish I could have one or both of you knowledgeable women along with me when I go into the local Asian markets here--I've done a lot of self-educating, but there's still so much wonderful-looking *stuff* there that I don't know a thing about.
  5. I am trying in vain to remember the name of the locally-distributed sodas my folks used to get when I was a little kid in the suburbs of New York in the 1960s. They had a wonderful array of fruit flavors, some of them quite unusual especially in that time period (I want to say they had a pineapple flavor, but memory is fuzzy on that point). It wasn't in supermarkets; we had to go to some distributor-place to pick it up; it only came in big glass bottles, I'm guessing quart-sized, which we regularly recycled back to the distributor whenever we came back to pick up another case or two. Does any of this ring a bell with anyone?!? Obligatory on-topic comment: these days, my favorite brand, like others here, is Hansen's--their diet flavors taste better than the norm for diet, and use Splenda rather than Nutrasweet. If no Hansen's is available, I'll go for a Diet Dr. Pepper. And I have a nostaglic fondness for Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda--the optimum beverage to accompany yer overstuffed deli-style pastrami on rye.
  6. I wish I could remember where I picked this info up, but my understanding is that poultry that comes to market a bit on the young side, or that has been brined, will naturally retain some pink at the bone--I think at least with the brining it's supposed to be due to a little leakage from the marrow??? Anyway, the point is that oftentimes a little pink at the bone is totally natural and does *not* mean the bird is undercooked. But I still have at least one friend who won't eat such chicken. I could assure her up and down that the bird's well past the "done" internal temperature, the meat could even be falling from the bone, but if there's any hint of pink she's still all "EEEWWWWWWWW!!!!" and won't touch it. We did all used to kid her about such reactions, but only gently; some food preferences are learned so young or indoctrinated so intensely that they just don't yield to rational analysis. And hey, if she doesn't like it, she doesn't like it--no point in forcing someone to eat food they just don't like. (Besides, it meant more chicken legs por moi! ). Edited to add: okay, found one official reference, at any rate: From the USDA website on chicken safety: Pink Meat When chicken has reached 180 °F as measured using a food thermometer, it should be safe to eat. The pink color in safely cooked chicken is due to the hemoglobin in tissues which can form a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more in young birds.
  7. Yep, I'm fine if the establishment is honest about the ground-rules and wait times, whatever those may be. I may decide, based on what they tell me, to go someplace else instead, but I'll leave with a good impression of the place because of their honesty. What really gets up my nose, however, is when the hostess (or whomever) has been saying "ten more minutes" for the past forty-five. Gives the impression that they're either prevaricating on purpose, or are so disorganized that they don't know what the heck is happening in their room. I understand that Crap Happens when restaurants get slammed--fine, then tell me that there's an unexpected problem, and make some kind of sincere-sounding apology noises. I may still decide not to wait, but again I'll respect the place for their honesty. But if they're screwing up and not showing signs they even care that they're screwing up, I won't be back.
  8. Trichinosis used to be a problem in pork. However, it has been almost entirely eradicated in farmed pork, so is not the concern it used to be. However, if you are ever served Wild Boar (or other carnivorous or omnivorous game,) you should insist it being cooked to at least 150. Erik ← Moreover, the recommendations that still appear in many cookbooks to cook pork to an internal temp. of 170-185 deg. F was always, literally, overkill. The trichinae die at 137 deg. F--most authorities now round that up to a recommendation of 150-165 deg. F, as eje mentions, to allow a margin of error for inaccurate thermometers, etc. Taking pork all the way to 185 would result in dry overdone meat--the moreso now that commerically-produced pork is that much lower in fat.
  9. If I've got the right fruit, I believe it's called a cherimoya in English-speaking countries. I've never seen one in real life--I ID'ed it from pictures in a couple of books. Some more info here and here.
  10. It's been fifteen years since I moved away from Boston, so I don't know about new developments. But I'd like to suggest that you venture across the Charles into Cambridge for some of your exploration. I used to love to hang out in Harvard Square--a straight shot on the T's Red Line to Harvard Square Station. I understand that, sadly, a lot of the bookstores that used to make this a bookworm's mecca have closed or merged or something. But there should still be a lot of interesting shops, plus the lovely Harvard campus (fascinating array of architecture both old and new, plus a couple of different museums). The slew of restaurants mainly aim at students' tastes and budgets, with a few fancier joints mixed in. I'd recommend Bartley's Burger Cottage or Grendel's Den (assuming they're still up to what they were when I used to hang there). As to other restaurants not already mentioned--I have an abiding love for Durgin Park. It's an experience out of a different era--nothing fancy, just huge portions of classic Yankee cooking served by curmudgeonly waitresses. And it puts you right near Haymarket and the North End (probably best visited before Durgin Park, because after eating at D-P you'll want to just waddle back to your hotel and hibernate Bob the Chef (soul food in the South End) used to be fabulous. But since I left Boston, the original Bob has passed on and the restaurant was sold to someone who apparently gussied it up a lot, so I have no idea if it's any good anymore. Current Bostonians: did they ruin it? Break it to me gently, now...
  11. I have met women who get the horniness symptom alone, but I alas am not so lucky. I get the whole schmeer--cravings, horniness, water retention, mood swings ... plus some additional weirdnesses due to my other current health weirdnesses (for instance, the water retention seems to set off my osteoarthritis and gout--presumably because the retained water makes the joints a little more swollen than otherwise; mind you, every single doctor I've laid both that symptom and that theory on has only gone "duhhhh" and offered more diuretics and NSAIDs ). Of course, the foods I crave at this time of month tend to be heavy on the salt, which certainly doesn't help matters, but just try and reason with that kind of craving. I also go nuts for the grease and animal protein--burgers and fries, loaded burritos, fried chicken, any kind of pork product--basically anything that's neither "healthy" nor nailed down. Oh yeah, and as I creep towards menopause, my PMS is if anything getting worse. I seem to now be missing every other period--one of my ovaries crapping out before the other?--and when a period finally does show up, it's like two periods' worth for the "price" of one. Two full weeks of the PMS Symptoms From Hell, followed by a couple of days of concentrated gory agony a.k.a. the Menses From Hell. And I can tell from the trouble I had this morning putting my rings on my fingers that the ramp-up to the Menses From Hell are on their way again. Time to check my stock of drugs and country-style ribs ...
  12. To be sure, I don't think I've ever seen any mirepoix show up in any Northern mac'n'cheese I've ever had, either.
  13. As prime Peep season has once again arrived, I'd like to share these photos of Peep Treets I made a couple of years ago: I'm especially proud of the decapitated Peep head garnish.
  14. I'm far from an expert on either Chinese or Vietnamese food, but an additional difference I've noticed is the apparent absense of cornstarch in Vietnamese cuisine. (Or am I totally off-base here?)
  15. Pressure cookers are also fabulous for cooking beans and brown rice, two long-cooking food items that really profit from the cooker's ability to speed things up. In fact, if you have a stainless steel or other heatproof bowl that can fit easily inside your cooker, and one of those folding steamer basket contraptions, you can cook the rice and beans together-but-separately in the cooker (learned this trick from Diet for a Small Planet , back in my twenties when I was trying my best to be a macrobiotic granola-head ). 1. Put a cup of dry beans (cleaned and washed) in the bottom of the cooker. Add water until the level is an inch over the surface of the beans. Add any seasonings you want to cook into the beans (bay leaf; piece of kombu; whatever). 2. Insert the steamer basket. 3. Place the stainless steel bowl in the steamer basket. 4. Place a cup of brown rice plus about 1.25 cups water into the bowl. Add any seasonings you want to cook into the rice (a little soy sauce, etc.) 5. Lock on the cooker's lid, bring up to pressure, cook at pressure for about 30-35 minutes (experimentation will teach you how long it takes your cooker to handle different kinds of beans--chickpeas take a little longer than average, black beans take a little less than average). 6. Dump steam/depressurize according to your cooker's directions, unlock the lid, and taa-daa--almost-instant complete protein. Dunno about cooking risotto/arborio rice in the cooker, though. I'd be concerned it would get all gummy, and maybe also gum up the steam-release mechanism. At least with the admittedly cheapo cookers I have owned, the directions have warned againt cooking anything very starchy for that reason (like split peas or farina, for instance). Since your cooker is marketed as a risotto-maker, they either must have solved that problem--or perhaps proven it's an old wives tale? What says your cooker's instruction book?
  16. Well, I still wanted to play the lamb curry game, but it was getting late, I was getting hungry, and I felt too tired/lazy/whatever to run out and shop for the remaining ingredients for what I had in mind. So, I used what I had on hand and came up with the following non-standard pressure-cooker lamb-potato curry (alu gosht kari). Ingredients du jour: 2 lamb shanks, about two pounds total 2 huge russet potatos several tablespoons canola oil 2 medium onions 6 garlic cloves 1 chunk of gingerroot 1 jalapeno chile 1/2 tablespoon turmeric 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 14.5oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice salt, black pepper, garam masala to taste Method: 1. Peeled and chopped the onions. Peeled and minced the garlic and ginger. De-seeded and deveined and minced the jalapeno. Put several tablespoons of oil in a non-stick skillet on medium/low heat, added the onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, and let sweat for several minutes, stirring occasionally while I prepared other ingredients. 2. Cut the potatoes into rough dice (didn't peel them because I like to eat them with the peels), and left them submerged in cold water while I moved on. 3. In my big pressure cooker, seared the lamb shanks on all sides in a little more oil. Meanwhile, added the cumin and turmeric to the onion mixture, which tightened it up a lot, and stirred and fried it a bit more. 4. Removed the browned shanks from the cooker, drained the potatoes thoroughly, then put them in the cooker, tossing them with the remaining juices from the lamb. 5. Added the canful of tomatoes and juice to the onion/spice mixture, breaking up the tomatoes and stirring all together well. Then added the onion/spice/tomato mixture to the cooker and stirred all together till well combined. 5. Returned the shanks to the cooker, turning them to coat in the spices and juices, then digging them well into the potatoes. Locked on the lid, brought the cooker up to pressure, and cooked for 45 minutes, with a goal of getting the meat to fall-off-bone tenderness. 6. Dumped steam and unlocked the cooker--fall-off-bone tenderness had been achieved: 7. Removed meat from bones, stirred meat into rest of curry, and dished it up: Flavor is quite nice (not overly hot in the spice department, but due to GERD I can no longer enjoy the nuclear-heat spiciness I enjoyed in my youth). Texture is probably a little too soft--next time, if I do the shanks and use the cooker, I'll give them a head-start, go a little shorter in the overall cooking time, and use waxy potatoes instead of the easily-disintegrating russets. The curry got a little scorched on the bottom--gotta ramp up the heat more gently on the cooker next time. In summary, for a quickie curry this was quite pleasing.
  17. I'm "quacking" up at the brand-name on one of your ducks ("Quack on a Rack"?!? ) (As one can surmise from my handle, I do have a thing for ducks ... including what I guess could be called figurative "cannibalism"... ) Many thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to blog in such detail!
  18. Because the weather in LA was being so freaky with the low-visibility rain squalls, and because I have a thing against trying to find my way to new places when dogged by bad weather (simple lack of trust in my fellow drivers ), I decided to keep it simple and head right for my destination neighborhood. So I went and checked out Little China, and found it was indeed better than decent. Had a nice dish of chow fun with beef, chicken, and shrimp--love them soft-but-springy noodles, great comfort food. Alas, while I was in the restaurant, and my car was in the little parking garage underneath the strip mall in which the restaurant resides, some noodnik came by and wrecked my driver's-side rear-view mirror. Ever try to find a replacement rear-view mirror for a seven-year-old car at 6pm on a Friday? I hit three gas stations and an auto parts store--no luck. Fortunately, my drive home was at 1am, so navigating the freeways minus one mirror was not as scary as it might have been at, say, 1pm.
  19. mizducky


    I am trying in vain to remember my mom's potato kugel recipe, probably because she didn't make it very often. I'm pretty sure she would have used the grater, because that's what she used also for latkes (and yeah, it wasn't the real deal in my family unless you skinned your knuckles--we used to joke that the faint pink tint of the oxidizing grated potatoes was actually a little of the grater-weilder's blood ). I'm pretty sure she put in an egg or two to hold it together. I clearly recall her cooking it in the same pan as roast beef--kugel in the bottom of the pan, roast suspending on a rack above, not unlike an old-school Yorkshire pudding. I'm not recalling whether she had the kugel in there for the entire roasting period, or put it in when the roast was partway done. I suspect the latter. Some time ago, a cooking buddy and I compared notes on our respective families' noodle kugels, and came up with a version whose sweetness came from golden raisins only, with no added sugar--not that we had anything against sugar as such, but we both did have a thing against overly-sweet non-dessert dishes. I'm not remembering the exact proportions right off--it was one of those "put stuff in till it looks right" recipes. In with the noodles went cottage cheese (whole-milk, if you please!), an egg or two, and the golden raisins. Once loaded into a buttered casserole, we'd generously dust the top with cinnamon before baking in a medium oven for something like a half-hour to 45 minutes.
  20. All-time favorite cold remedy: my mom's recipe for chicken soup, with *big* chunks of meat and vegetables (more like a stew than a soup). Unfortunately, when I'm in the worst throes of a cold I really don't feel like cooking, let alone making a trip to the supermarket for ingredients, so I usually wind up making it once I'm on the mend. Canned chicken soup is just not an acceptable substitute for me--just way too salty. Another memorable cold remedy learned from my mom was a concoction she called a guggle-muggle. This is apparently a well-known old-country Jewish cold cure, although the version my mom made was a lot tastier than some of the formulas I've found on the web. My mom's version: a mugful of hot milk, to which is added some honey to taste, some cinnamon and maybe nutmeg, a little vanilla extract ... and a nice stiff shot o' booze. You were supposed to drink this down quickly, as soon as it was just cool enough to manage without burning yourself, and then jump into bed under a whole bunch of blankets so you'd sweat the cold out. I doubt this had any actual theraputic value, but hey, at least it was sorta fun. (The more common recipes I've seen for this often omit the booze, and often include a raw egg ... sort of an Ashkenazic eggnog?) More recently, I've become enamored of making a recovery broth/tea of fresh mashed gingerroot and garlic steeped in hot water, or sometimes kombu broth, a trick picked up from a short-lived adventure in macrobiotics in my twenties. Spicy foods, like hot-and-sour soup, are great for temporary relief of clogged sinuses, but I find that for me the effect wears off too soon--five minutes after I've finished the soup and I'm totally stopped up again.
  21. Cool thread!!! What was your family food culture when you were growing up? --Mix of basic suburban American mid-20th century fare, New York metro-area variant (i.e. with ethnic add-ins from a whole bunch of different cultures) and Eastern European Jewish. We were majorly non-religious, so did not keep kosher--in fact, we all loved our traif as well as our Jewish chazerei. Was meal time important? --Heh. Almost too important. We all had a tendency to overeat and overweight; there was much angst, handwringing, and ill-advised dieting (remember Stillman? The no-carb fad before Atkins? Oy.) But when we weren't driving ourselves or each other crazy with food/weight guilt trips, we all definitely enjoyed our food. *Nobody* missed dinner. Ever. Sunday brunch was, if anything, even more important. Was cooking important? --Oh yes. My mother especially had definite opinions on cooking and food. We had some convenience foods around the house, and I don't recall my mom ever making a baked good totally from scratch rather than a mix, but otherwise food was pretty much cooked from scratch. What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table? --We'd get the "Ellen Ellen big and able, keep your elbows off the table/ this is not a horse's stable, but a proper dining table." But said with a wink and a laugh (as well as substituting the perpetrator's name for "Mabel" or whatever the more standard version of that rhyme is), so I don't think we kids ever took it too seriously. Who cooked in the family? --Mom did the bulk of the cooking. Dad would occasionally help with things like salad (we had a tossed green salad with almost every dinner, another stab at trying to think "diet"--didn't work, but the salads were nice). As I got older, say past eight, I started helping in the kitchen too. Major holiday dinners were a team affair between my mother and me. Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions? --Somewhere in-between. My whole family enjoyed restaurants--mostly non-fancy places like diners, pizzarias, Chinese restaurants, etc. When we'd take vacations by car--which we did fairly often--we'd go nuts for seeking out all kind of interesting dining experiences. I have especially fond food memories from trips to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country and to Cape Cod and Rhode Island. Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over? Not as a general rule, although when we went for big family gatherings that overflowed the host's dining table, we'd sometimes stick a card table at the end of the dining table and put the kids there--more because they'd be more comfortable at the lower table than anything else. When did you get that first sip of wine? Around twelve or thirteen--a sip off my folks' (not very expensive) champagne as we watched the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration on TV. Was there a pre-meal prayer? In my immediate family--nope. Occasionally when we went to have holiday dinners with my mother's sister and her big brood in Brooklyn, her husband/my uncle would do that corny "Rub a dub dub/thanks for the grub/Yay, God!" thing before we dug into dinner. (Everyone in my family had to be a comedian. ) Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)? Not really. Sunday brunch was the most predictable meal--we'd alternate between scrambled eggs vs. bagels and lox. How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life? My mom's pressuring to the contrary, I pretty much chose not to settle down and raise a family. My mom passed away in 1987 when I was in my late twenties, and with her went the main person who'd regularly summon my immediate family together. So nowadays I only get to enjoy the family-meal dynamic when I get invited to join a friend's family for a holiday meal, or on the now extremely-rare occasions that the extended family has a reunion ... or when I've shared food and cooking with my surrogate family of friends and associates. I still treasure and occasionally prepare a lot of the recipes I learned from my mom. In fact, my love of cooking pretty much was born from my early experiences of watching and helping my mom cook, as well as from my family's general adventurousness in exploring new and different foods. Alas, also among my family's food legacies was a whole pile of residual angst and neurosis about food--or more specifically, about dieting and weight. It's been a, well, *interesting* process over the years to pry that crap out of my head and return to the innocent enjoyment of food. (As in the ancient curse "May you live in *interesting* times." ) All I can say, folks, is ... if you happen to have an offspring who has any kind of issues about food and weight, please try to be as gentle with them as you possibly can when addressing said issues--you'll save them, and yourselves, a whole lotta aggravation (not to mention therapist bills when they grow up).
  22. First item on this page has some notes on the various names for this dumpling, and where they come from (as well as a bunch of other useful info and links on Ukrainian cuisine).
  23. Heh. Another word--same dish, only Ukrainian: Varenyky. Although I for one believe one can never have too many of these, whatever you call them. Not sure if you've already found this site on your own--it has a couple of different recipes for piergie/varenyky, with a bunch of different fillings, including mushroom as well as cabbage, sauerkraut, potato, meat, etc. (click through the "breads, noodles, dumplings" link on the front page). I haven't cooked anything from the above site myself, but it looks like it's got a whole bunch of recipes with buffet possibilities. In addition to the things they have under the appetizers/canapes and the dumplings/etc., I'd be tempted to try and produce hors d'ouvre-sized stuffed cabbage rolls (golubvci). There's also a bunch of desserts on this site. My understanding is that chicken Kiev is not an authentic Ukrainian dish--as explained here. But hey, chicken Kiev is cool, so why not? (Unless the goal is high authenticity...) Don't have any bright ideas about how to stick mini-Kievs together, other than perhaps a well-placed toothpick? Not totally certain whether caviar, blini, or smoked salmon are authentically Ukrainian (as opposed to Russian) either, but again, they're cool so why not? And of course, there's always the ever-popular chocolate salo (probably not advised if you want your buffet guests to keep their dinner down) Edited to add: Simul-posts R Us
  24. Erm ... I realize I should be avoiding wandering too far off-topic from food as such. So--I will (happily!) accept any further opinions as to LA traffic, preferred routes, etc. via PM rather than public posts to this topic. Thanks muchly, folks!
  25. San Diego reporting here: 1. *If* I get rice, I'll go for either white or fried rice. But I usually get some kind of noodles instead. 2. When I do get rice, I put it in a bowl and top it with various of the other dishes. (I understand that's not the traditional way, but I like the sauce-soaked rice effect--see below.) 3. I use chopsticks until I'm down to the little bitty bits that I lack the patience and/or skill to grab, then wimp out and resort to a spoon. (Still, I love chopsticks, and own a bunch to use while eating Western as well as Eastern foods.) 4. I eat *everything*. (Okay, not the remains of the dried red chilies, if I can find them before they find me... but everything else that's meant to be edible.) If I did get rice and have some left over, I pour any leftover sauces on it and save it for late-night snacks. (As I said, I like that sauce-soaked rice...) 5. I usually don't bother with chicken wings at all. Nothing wrong with 'em, but just not what I want to expend tummy-space on when craving actual Chinese food. 6. If it's a new place with some interesting offerings, I'll experiment, but once I figure out my favorite dishes at any given place I tend to stick with them. 7. Current favorite place: the take-out deli at the local 99 Ranch Market (Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Kearny Mesa). Big extremely-busy steam-table/heat-lamp setup in a big pan-Asian supermarket--as an Anglo I'm in a distinct minority both at the take-out counter and the store as a whole, a fact that I love. Given that it is a steam-table operation, the food is pretty danged good. They have a broad selection, including such non-standards as a bitter melon dish (I'm a wimp who doesn't care for bitter melon, but I appreciate that they have it); szechuan eggplant made with Asian and not the big European eggplants; and an excellent mapo tofu which I get nearly every time I'm there. Least favorite: any Chinese takeout associated with an American-style supermarket (Von's, Albertsons, etc.) -- sometimes a grease-and-salt overdose can be kinda fun, but the nigh-inevitable 3am heartburn is ... *not*.
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