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    Minneapolis, MN
  1. For ice cream storage, we've been using the 32 oz deli container shown here. They seal really well, almost always hold the whole batch (and what they don't hold, is a treat for the ice cream maker!), and work well in the freezer. We also have a bunch of the 16oz for soups and stuff. Love them!
  2. Has anyone used their homemade marshmallows for toasting over a fire? I made a batch of raspberry marshmallows, lovely shade of pink, in hopes of dolling up smores at the cabin this week. When I tested my theory at home the marshmallow melted more than toasted. Are these just too delicate? Was it too fresh? I'm bringing them up anyway and plan to try again with a larger and more "aged" mallow. Any tips? I was going to do a batch of classic vanilla as well but I'm running out of time before we leave so if it's not going to work, I'll probably skip them.
  3. I just wanted to pop back and thank everyone for the great suggestions! We are going to try some cocktails at home this summer but I also appreciate the tips on what to look for and ideas on what to try when I'm out. I certainly don't mean to imply there is anything wrong with a frillytini from time to time, but I do actually enjoy scotch and whiskey so my goal is to find alternatives to the pink drinks for when I'm not out with the girls. They don't reflect my personality or my tastes these days. (Not to mention sweet tends to lead to a headache in the morning.) Years of migraines and social anxiety kept me out of the bars during the years when my friends were figuring this stuff out. This has been my year to "come out of my shell" and silly as it may sound, for me this is just part of the learning process. Honest to goodness, I used to avoid work events because I was scared of the moment the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink. No more floundering, flubbering and looking to my coworkers for help. I *will* figure out what I like.
  4. Heck, these days it's not even just the international smuggling that gets confiscated. Flying out from Minneapolis to visit my brother in Montana, my mom had an unopened and plastic wrap sealed jar of cranberry chutney (commercial, not homemade) confiscated from her carry on. Too liquid. Last March I was astounded out in Vegas to watch one poor gal who was trying to carry on some goodies from the Jean-Philippe Patisserie at Bellagio. They confiscated tortes, cake slices, mousses, etc. Again quoting the "liquid/gel" rules but I think they went a bit too far that time. I sure hope those didn't get burned!!
  5. I'm not totally sure if this is what you mean by testers but I'm actually a "Friend of Cook's Illustrated" i.e. a recipe tester. I get recipes in my email every few months, try them, and fill out a survey. Anyone can do it, I read about it on the forums over there once upon a time. Just imagine if we got more eGulleters on the test force!
  6. The Simply Recipes website has got to be my new favorite resource. We found this Chicken Peanut Curry recipe and liked it so much that my husband made it a second time in the same week. Not for dinner mind you, just for the left overs. (One of those weeks when we were lucky to have five minutes to kiss each other goodbye as one got home and the other left for work.) We definitely kicked up the pepper ratio, and it got hotter as it sat in the fridge. Yum yum! The Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce was also a true winner. We always brown our meat a bit, but this recipe reminded us to really REALLY brown the meat. It made all the difference in the world.
  7. Alas, I didn't get a chance to try a sidecar tonight - the restaurant is known for having a great bartender and uses fresh local ingredients so I had high hopes but I got caught in a swirl of people and never got a drink. It was a short visit. As for gin, it was the accompaniment to a horrible event years ago and the smell alone brought me back to that night for years. However just tonight I realized it's the first year the anniversary of said event passed without me realizing until weeks later. In light of that, I am ready to give gin a second chance. It's the -tinis that I'm trying to avoid. So many women of my age and in this particular circle seem addicted to the things and they aren't my style.
  8. I've searched through and found a lot of threads on mixing for beginners, and one with a few tips about "If you like this, you might like that" but I'm really starting from scratch. I think my only dislike is gin but I'm willing to give it a second chance. My job often lands me attending lunches or networking events in great restaurants and bars and I usually either let a colleague choose for me (ending up with a sweet and colorful house specialty) or I default to wine. I admit to liking sweet as a default but would like a few drinks in my back pocket that I can order when I don't have a trusted colleague on hand and don't end in -tini or involve various shades of pink. *What are a few basic, well-balanced drinks that will make it look like I'm not a clueless idiot or an overgrown sorority girl?* I've become a heck of a lot more daring and varied in my dining, it's time to take more control of my drinking as well!
  9. My husband and I are feeling the economic pinch as well and last week I discovered something I can't give up to save a buck, organic milk. I don't know how they make nonfat organic milk taste so much better and creamier than it's standard nonfat counterpart, but I can't go back. I just cringe every time I see that it's $2 more per gallon. Oh well. We'll have to save it somewhere else.
  10. Here's another crafty bag idea that I've been dying to try: Turning plastic bags into sewable fabric It uses up a lot of bags in one go and people have made some adorable and more durable bags out of the "fabric." As for practical habits, I have a new car after my beloved Jetta was totaled and I've put my grocery store reuseable bags in the trunk grocery organizer. Not sure if it will work yet as it's not been a full week. We'll see!
  11. On the biodegradable note, look for these: BioBags I can personally attest that these do break down. We keep a small bin inside for collecting bits to go to the compost heap and use these bags as they can get composted. If the contents are damp, the bags start to break down within a couple of days so we have to plan accordingly. As for the bagging, not only does Trader Joe's actively encourage reuseable bags but I'm convinced they are better trained on bagging. I never seem to leave there with more than two bags, no matter how much I buy. It's either magic, or really good bagging skills.
  12. If it was a company owned store (i.e. not in a Target, etc) then odds are it closed.
  13. Of course all the inspiration and retraining means nothing if managers let things get too slack. A lot of people feel that the new standards are also a way of "weeding" the troops, getting rid of people who think it's just an easy part-time job. (Yes, it's part-time for me, but I actually have a lot of respect for the company after seeing how my husband's been treated. A few years ago I thought they were an evil empire.) It probably sounds cheesy but as a barista I honestly do want to make a great drink and get to know my customer. I was a daily customer in my store before getting hired and always felt like a celebrity when I walked in. Now I try to pass that on from the other side of the counter. At the end of the day it's JUST coffee. But I was always taught that whatever you job, you do it the best you can. I think that's really what they are trying to reteach us, and perhaps hoping to get rid of those who don't agree in the process. I hope it works.
  14. Well, I'm back from training. There were several videos from Captain Howie, he's actually pretty inspiring. We were all taught the new standards for espresso shots. This includes calibrating the machines more often, using shot glasses so we can visually inspect each and every shot, and only pulling double shots, not singles, as the machines are meant to be best calibrated for double shots. We were also retaught how to steam milk properly. We had to taste un-aerated milk as well as properly steamed milk, there is quite a taste difference. I still can't quite believe the financial investment this evening must have been for the company. Just paying all of us for three hours was probably a couple of million, not to mention 3-6 hours of lost business. Even though this is a part time gig for me, while the real estate market is down, I like knowing we are getting back to basics. Howard's main message to us was that quality and customer connections are the top priorities for us as a company and should be priorities to each of us as individuals.
  15. My husband and I are both Starbuck's baristas part-time. From what we've been told, the three-hour closure (some stores will reopen afterwards, some won't) is focusing solely on espresso beverage standards. There have been a lot of standards changes lately. Since I'm new, they are pretty easy for me but hubby has been with them for three years and his habits have been harder to break. This mandatory training is meant to get everyone back on the same page. So far I'm expecting a brief review of the new coffee and milk standards, a letter or video from Captain Howie, and then our manager making us demonstrate our new skills. If there's anything more fabulous than that, I'll report back.
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