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Everything posted by Philanthrophobe

  1. My anti-muse was my mother; I learned to cook in self-defense. My mother was a meal-assembler whose favorite kitchen tool was the can opener. She had a fear of "too much" garlic... wait for it...powder: a recipe for "chilli" [sic] calls for 1/4 teaspoon to flavor 3 quarts of canned tomato sauce, ground beef, and 2 cans of kidney beans. Basically, she was just one of those people for whom food just wasn't important, and except for me, she cooked for people (my father and sisters) who felt the same way. When I complained, she told me that if I didn't like it I could damn well cook myself, so armed with her Joy of Cooking and BG&H cookbooks, I gradually learned how to make what I liked.
  2. I dump the out-sized coffee table books with text that reads like the Williams-Sonoma catalog: "Chuck Williams was bicycling through the Provence countryside one autumn afternoon, when the aroma of freshly-baked cookware wafted from a charming 15th century gambling hut, hand-spackled by centuries of lame Flemish whores..." I really can't stand this sort of pretentious nonsense, but my SIL loves books like these; it's no wonder that she thinks she can't cook. I'll keep a book of unreliable recipes as long as it's still entertaining in some fashion.
  3. It bothers me not a whit that I have a ton of cookbooks that I haven't gotten around to cooking from. I love reading them, so yes, I'd say that I "use" all of them. The ones that aren't fun to read or to cook from, I give away. My favorite cookbook authors are Julie Sahni, Nikki and David Goldbeck (LOVE their American Wholefoods Cuisine), Maida Heatter, Diana Kennedy, Marion Cunningham, Madhur Jaffrey, Rick Rodgers, and all manner and forms of the Cook's Illustrated publications. I also frequently cook from Julie Jordan's Cabbagetown Cafe books and the Asian cookbooks published by WeiChuan.
  4. Velveeta Shells 'n' Cheese with Bac-Os. (Velveeta was the only cheese we had in the house when I was a kid, until my mother discovered cream cheese when I was 14.) Campbell's condensed soups, especially bean with bacon, with Bac-Os and a dash of Liquid Smoke. Trader Joe's version of fried Chee-tos. Queso in a jar meant for tortilla chips. Kosher pickles! And Clausen's pickles. I LOVE the brine as well.
  5. I can always find them in the produce section of Mexican groceries as well. Have you considered calling an Asian or Mexican restaurant and asking them for suggestions? I've done that in order to track down a variety of esoteric ingredients; everyone's been really helpful.
  6. Off-topic: I can't tell you all how happy I am to have stumbled across this site!! You guys are my people!! I currently have 673 cookbooks....my most recent additions are: Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher, by Joan Reardon Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, & Jewish Foodways in the Age of Migration, by Hasia R. Diner White Trash Cooking II, by Ernest Matthew Mickler Surreal Gourmet Bites, by Bob Blumer And for Christmas, my sweetie got me Norman Douglas's Venus in the Kitchen.
  7. I grew up in the area and still remember the first cheesesteak I ate at age four. A recent midnight craving prompted the creation of a fairly reasonable cheat: sliced deli roast beef (salt-and-peppered), a bit of onion, sweet Italian peppers (from a jar) fried in a bit of veg oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, then topped (while still in the pan) with a bit of deli-sliced provolone. Flung the whole mess atop a toasted English muffin, then under the broiler for about a minute. It did the trick.
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