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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Everything posted by Nancy in Pátzcuaro

  1. I don't know if this qualifies for this topic, but I have a collection of the menus from my voyage to Europe in 1969 on Holland America's Amsterdam. Here I was, a 21-year-old kid fresh from college, confronted by some of the most exotic (to me at the time) selections of "Continental" cuisine. Three meals a day and a midnight buffet, plus consomme and snacks all day long. The point being that if one's tummy was full and one was showing up for meals, one wouldn't suffer from seasickness. Seemed to work. That and liberal application of spirits, and I don't mean little gossamer creatures floating around in dark corners. Every now and then I take out those menus, which were printed on heavy paper stock with illustrations from Dutch country scenes, and reminisce. I stayed in Europe until the money ran out and I had to call my parents (remember those phone booths?) to send me enough $$ for a plane ticket. Flew out of Munich to London and then to Denver on BOAC, but the Munich leg took off late because the flight originated in West Berlin and the East Germans routinely hassled airliners, delaying arrivals. So we all stood in line in London to rebook, including Martha Raye, who was in her US Army uniform (she was a nurse). Boy, does this bring back memories! I wonder if meals on the modern ships are anything like the ones on the Amsterdam. Anybody know how the food is? Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  2. I think one of the reasons people dislike asparagus is because of how it makes your urine smell. At least that's what one of my husband's cousins said when we talked about it. I don't get it, so it must be some kind of genetic anomaly that only some people have. For me, hands down is brussel sprouts. And bourbon. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  3. Many years ago a friend and I spent 2 or 3 days examining the DU cookbook collection in Denver. She was interested in the history of food and how it changed (or didn't) over time. At the time I believe it was the second largest collection in the country, and the shelves went on for what seemed like a mile in a series of collapsible shelving units. We wore gloves and could only possess a pencil. Much of what we looked at were the little recipe books from church groups, women's clubs, fund-raising books, including recipes for products like baking powder or shortening (Crisco). These were almost always printed on non-pH neutral paper and some of the older ones were disintegrating. These recipes from our ancestors--handwritten, notes in their old cookbooks, clippings from newspapers--are like having your grandmother whisper in your ear as you make something from her recipe book. I still make my Nana's applesauce cake, though I had to make a few modifications to the recipe because there was no vanilla or salt, both of which I think are essential. And I add walnuts and sometimes the dreaded raisins (though I have no problem with them). Think I'll get some applesauce and bake a cake. That was a nice little trip down memory lane--thanks! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  4. liamsaunt-- Does your pre-dinner cocktail have a name? That looks darned tasty. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  5. I make yogurt by heating milk to the correct temperature on the stove in a heavy stainless steel pot, then cooling to the correct temperature, stirring in the starter, and putting the jars in a small insulated cooler with water that's about the same temperature of the cooled mixture. Close the cover, wrap the whole thing in a couple of thick towels, and leave it for at least 4 hours. I've left it as long as overnight (I forgot...). I also stir in a few tablespoons of dry milk--Nido is widely available here--which seems to thicken the final product a little more. Not as much as Greek yogurt, but more than the usual. Not complicated and pretty forgiving, but you do have to get the temperatures right. No equipment that you don't already have. I make it about every 10 days because we eat it on cut up fruit (right now it's mango) for breakfast most mornings. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  6. I'm late to this roundup but I remember many years ago, in the early 1960s when I was growing up in Boulder, Colorado, there was a delivery service that brought fried chicken dinners to your door. I still remember the slogan: "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!" I'm pretty sure they didn't have a restaurant per se, just a facility that cooked chicken to order. The delivery vehicle was a car with a lighted plastic chicken on top, so that all your neighbors could see that you were too lazy to cook. If I recall, the chicken wasn't that good, but I can't say that my parents ordered very often (we lived out in the country so probably delivery wasn't available). Thanks to this discussion I can't get that damned jingle out of my head! Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  7. Is it possible that over time the acidity of the mixture could change? That would be my biggest concern in terms of avoiding spoilage. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  8. I've had bivalve/shellfish food poisoning in the past--it's an experience I'd rather not repeat. That's why I asked. I am somewhat reassured...
  9. Thanks, Heidi, for the information about unopened shellfish. As for the kind of mussel, I don't know--I just know that the store has them but I haven't bought them yet. However, I now have confidence that the frozen ones will work pretty much the same as fresh. We'll get a supply the next time we go to Morelia. Thanks, all-- Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  10. We have always loved mussels and just discovered a source for them here in nearby Morelia. However, they are frozen and I have no experience with frozen mussels. I assume you let them defrost and then check to see if any haven't opened as you would with fresh ones. Or can you steam them without thawing? I'm looking forward to inviting our French friends for moules and I don't want to poison anybody! Thanks for your help-- Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  11. Many years ago when I was having serious problems with my stomach, I went on an elimination diet to identify which foods were the culprits. Turned out I was sensitive (I'm reluctant to say "allergic") to wheat, caffeine and red wine. (I know, I know.) After experimenting with alternative flours--buckwheat, barley, rice flour pastas--I discovered spelt, which is sort of a distant relative of wheat that seems to have a different molecular structure. I substituted spelt for wheat straight across and had excellent success. Later when I discovered white spelt flour it was another revelation. I like whole grain flour as much as anyone, but sometimes you want something a little less robust. I still can't tolerate caffeine or red wine (alas) but after all these years I can once again eat wheat. I did find that spelt seemed to have more gluten than wheat (in my not-very-scientific experience), which would make it unusable for anyone sensitive to gluten. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  12. Gardeners are true optimists. After swearing that you'll never plant that variety again, another spring comes around and once again you're seduced by the same plant. You think, "Maybe this year will be better." I know--I've been there. Black Krim is an attractive tomato (in my eyes) but in terms of flavor there are many better varieties. My sister's favorites are Green Zebra and Gold Medal, but my husband loves Prudens Purple. We grew them successfully in our garden at 7200 feet one year, but never again did I get much of a crop. Doesn't mean I didn't keep trying, though. Prudens is a big pink fruit with a fine flavor balance between sweet and acid. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  13. Can anyone tell me why it's so expensive to buy a replacement work bowl for the Cuisinart? Sometimes you want a second work bowl for a variety of reasons, not just because the original one is damaged in some way. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  14. Is it just me, or do all these lists of "things you can do with avocados" almost always involve several versions of salads and almost never something innovative or different? The most interesting recipe I've seen lately is a bean and corn pie with a crust that substitutes mashed avocado for butter. The photo of the crust looked a little heavy, so if you're hoping for a nice flaky crust you may not be happy. We live in avocado country here, and I can assure you that avocados picked for shipment could be used as weapons (if they weren't so danged expensive). I mean, they are rocks. They have to be harvested (by hand), hauled to the processing plant, dumped into refrigerated trucks, driven to the border where they may spend some considerable amount of time at customs before they head off to the distribution center and finally then to individual stores. They are shipped when they're mature but not ripe to protect them, and given the rough treatment they get at all points along the trip it's a miracle that they survive without massive bruising and spoilage. So give avocados a little more time, which doesn't help if you're trying to get dinner on the table. And I agree about the microwave ripening trick--I think I tried that once and vowed not to do it again. The only thing that works is time, unfortunately. However, you can store half-ripe avocados in the fridge, where they will happily wait until you take them out to finish the ripening process. That avoids the awful discovery that you've forgotten about them until it's too late, which is very disappointing. I've kept avocados like that for well over a week. Hope this helps--Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  15. I swear that the beans I cook in my clay pot (glazed on the inside) taste better than those cooked by other methods. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  16. As a child in Florida I grew up salting watermelon and cantaloupe. I don't remember when I stopped doing that--probably when my family moved to Colorado and we didn't eat melons as often as before. That, and the fact that no one in Colorado salted their melons. Is this a Southern thing? Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  17. It's also easy to plant 40 feet of bush beans in the spring, but then dealing with the resulting quantity of beans is something else. One's enthusiasm and optimism are endless but one's energy is not. I don't think I've learned that particular lesson yet. I am still guilty (see above) of buying a lot of strawberries or mangos to make jam, but when I'm confronted by the task my zeal is much reduced. In the case of mangos, they require some days to fully ripen on the counter so there's a little time to get used to the idea. But strawberries wait for no man (or woman). Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  18. Well, that was a surprise! If they are fresh enough you can do a spore print, which will help with identifying. Put the cap, gill side down, on a sheet of paper that ideally has both black and white areas. Put a glass over the cap and leave it for a couple of hours. If there is no print, put a drop of water on the cap and try again. The color and shape (you'll need a magnifier for that) will be a major part of identifying the critter. We've found that even the driest mushroom will sooner or later drop a few spores. Note also the gills--do they attach directly to the stem or are they one of several other options? (From the photo I think they are not attached.) Are they single strands or do they branch? (Couldn't tell.) Is the cap sticky or dry? That will go a long way toward ID-ing it. I haven't investigated any resources on the internet--we use books--but I'm sure there are plenty of sites that will walk you through the process if you're interested. I just realized that you probably have eaten them by now and that there's no way to do a spore print. Oh well-- Perhaps your friend from Shanghai will know at least the local name and maybe from that you can figure out the latin name. How did they taste? To me there's nothing as good as a sauteed wild mushroom. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  19. If those are boletes in the first photo, they will have tubes rather than gills. They do have the chubby stem of boletus edulis but the caps are very small. N in P
  20. I recognize the morels but what are the others in this post and the previous one? Nancy in Pátzcurao
  21. That is one of my pet peeves. Some of the recipes are only available online with an additional subscription. In my mind, a subscription to the NYT should include everything. I wonder if the unavailable-online recipes are in the print versions? As to the concept itself, I guess it works if you want something a little soft and creamy. I personally prefer my lasagna bolognese a little firmer than that, nice and bubbly and crusty. And you can make pesto with walnuts. In fact many people prefer it even if pine nuts weren't crazy expensive in comparison. A friend who started a brew pup/pizzaria in our small town in Colorado used walnuts exclusively in his pesto more for the taste than the cost. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  22. A couple of possibly unusual recipes-- Avocado Fudge 1/2 c. butter 1 avocado 1 tsp. vanilla 1 c. cocoa 3 c. powdered sugar 1/3 c. walnuts, chopped (optional) Melt butter and cool slightly. Puree with avocado in food processor until perfectly smooth, with no chunks of avocado left. Return mixture to saucepan over very low heat and add the rest of the ingredients, except the walnuts, adding the powdered sugar in several batches. Once all the sugar has been added the mixture should be thick and somewhat hard to stir. Add walnuts if desired and transfer to a loaf pan. Refrigerate until firm--don't rush it or you won't be able to slice it. Avocado Ice/Sorbet 1 c. water 1/2 c. sugar 2 small ripe avocados, mashed pinch of salt 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice 2 tsp. grated lime rind Heat sugar and water and boil until syrupy, and cool completely. Add to the other ingredients except lime juice and rind, blend until smooth, and pulse to mix in the juice and rind. Freeze as usual. Another recipe uses agave syrup, light coconut milk and twice as much lime juice and rind. Avocados are coming into season in a big way now. The last time I was in the mercado they were 20 pesos a kilo, though they have at times been twice as much. Around here it's not a party if there's no guacamole. Everybody has their favorite recipe, but ours uses cilantro and chile peron (aka chile manzana) and a pinch of kosher salt ground together in a molcajete, avocado, a small amount of diced tomato, lime juice and salt to taste. All mashed together in the molcajete and carefully taste tested by the preparer. No onion, no garlic. And served with totopos (chips), never chicharron (have you ever smelled that stuff being fried?). Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  23. I've found thicker crema in our local mercado--not a store brand like Lala. They tend to be from local cultures and are quite a bit more sour than the store brands. Generally they're sold in plastic cups in various sizes with plastic-wrap on top held in place with a thin rubber band. Store brands are handy but when I want something with real flavor I buy crema in the mercado. The vendors also sell cheeses. Look in your local mercado to see if you can find this, or in a supermercado deli section. Try that and see if you like the result. Nancy in Pátzcuaro
  24. OK--rounded up the camera, charged the battery, took pictures of the front and back of the packaging. I can take a closeup of the contents if that will help. Now I just have to figure out how to post a picture... Nancy in Pátzcuaro
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