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BekkiM

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  1. I have a Miele (can't remember the model) which has a 3rd rack at the very top for cutlery. It's a little finicky to load (though with my control issues, I don't mind), but it gets everything very clean since the spoons can't, well, spoon. On the plus side: * it's very, very quiet (with the exception of the gurgling when it drains, I'd call it silent) * the controls are all hidden when the door is closed * the only indication that it's running is a red light that shines (very subtly) on the underside of the counter * the middle rack (which would be the top rack in most dishwashers) raises and lowers to accommodate taller plates on the lower rack (though we have to remove it completely to stand up our big 12" C&B plates) * it gets everything very clean On the con side: * it takes FOREVER to run - like 1 1/2 hours (this is a big deal and if I'd known about it before I bought it, I might have considered a different manufacturer) * as everyone else has said, plastic just doesn't get dry (we were warned about this ahead of time but thought it was funny until we had to manually dry each and every plastic tub and lid)
  2. BekkiM

    Using the iPad in the Kitchen

    I use my iPad quite a bit in the kitchen and have 2 apps (in addition to the always-useful Google) that I really like. 1) Paprika What I love about this app is that it lets me import recipes from anywhere. I used to tear out and file recipes from cooking magazines every month (I have bulging paper files and a lot of pages that have never been filed and consequently can't be found when I want them), but nowadays I have my iPad handy and when I find a recipe I like, I browse to it in Paprika, save and tag it. Very, very handy. Once I've tried a recipe, I can record notes, ingredient changes, etc. I can also email the shopping list to myself so I can have it with me in the grocery store (yeah, I could do this from the iPad, but I don't like the idea of leaving my iPad in the shopping cart when I'm sorting through produce--that seems like a recipe for theft.) 2) How to Cook Everything I wish I could edit the recipes in this iPad version of Mark Bittman's book, but other than that I can't think of a single mean thing to say about this app. It's the first I've seen that really takes advantage of the technology instead of just showing shiny pages - the integrated timers are flipping genius. And the recipe information, including notes, variations, and tips on technique are great information. I have a charging stand that allows the iPad to stand upright (no picture, sorry), which works well for me. I just set it up out of the reach of splatters and refer to it like I'd refer to any other cookbook.
  3. Filo dough Injera (though I have made Ethopian stews that have turned out pretty well) Puff Pastry (tried to once and it wasn't worth the effort -- on the other hand, I frequently make croissants mostly because I love the feel of the dough as you're turning it) Cured meats Cheese (other than ricotta) I do deep fry from time-to-time, but the mess and the hot oil small just aren't worth it.
  4. I had dinner last weekend at Bones (Frank Bonanno's new venue, nestled between Mizuna and Luca D'Italia) with my family and we all really enjoyed it. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs prepare everything on a stove not much bigger than my own (okay, so theirs has 10 burners and mine has six, but still--I only feed 3 people most nights). We started with the Hamachi Tataki--thinly sliced, with edamame and avocado, then drizzled with blood orange. It was stellar. We also had the steamed buns with pork belly (mmmm... bacon) and the lobster pot stickers, both of which were excellent. The folks next to us had the roasted bone marrow and I really wish we'd ordered it. Oh well, there's always next time. The entrees were fine, though messy (I haven't really mastered the art of slurping noodles with an Asian spoon and chopsticks--at least, not without dripping a fair amount of broth down the front of my shirt). I had the Udon with pork and a poached egg--it needed something, but I'm not sure what. My husband had the Egg Noodles with roasted chicken and lemongrass-chili broth. The chicken was outstanding--moist and flavorful, with crisy skin. And my son had the Ramen with lobster, which was okay, though he thought the lobster was a little too chewy (take that with a grain of salt--he's not big on anything chewier than white bread and peanut butter). We'll definitely go back, but I think next time I'll make a meal out of the appetizers, which were definitely the stars of the show. Edit to add a link to their web site: Bones Denver
  5. BekkiM

    Microwave Over Range

    My two cents... The original kitchen had the microwave/vent over the range and I HATED it. For one thing, the vent was completely underpowered for my gas cook top. For another, anyone who wanted to warm up a snack (the only reason the microwave gets used in my house as I don't cook in it) while I was cooking had to get in my space. For a third, it was way too high up for my son, the primary snack-heater in the house and I really didn't want my 8-year-old leaning over a lit cooktop anyway. For a fourth, I think microwaves are pretty close disposable--at least they're not the longest-lasting of your kitchen appliances and to install one in a cabinet specifically sized for an appliance that will likely have to be replaced long before the kitchen needs to be redone seems like borrowing trouble to me. And last, but not least, I think microwaves are ugly (though Cali's kitchen is beautiful). Our solution was to buy a cheap, stand-alone microwave and stash it in a panty cupboard. We had outlets added to the pantry cabinets for just this purpose. Now it's behind closed doors when it's not being used, it's at the right height for my son to access, and it's out of my way. And when it fails, we'll just buy another one and won't have to worry about what size it is.
  6. I hear you on shopping at Whole Foods. Even though the milk/eggs/butter I like are actually cheaper there, I can't go in and just buy those things b/c the trip takes me past the cheese/meat/veggie departments--and that's death to any willpower I thought I had. Now that I think about it, though, my husband is immune to the siren call of Whole Foods--I bet I could send him in and he'd come out with just what was on the list. ...delivery meals. I'm making a concerted effort to eat out of my own pantry/freezer. In fact, I've embarked on an inventory project to make sure I know what I have on hand so I can consult the supplies before I head to the grocery store. ...can't give up the wine, though. It's making my stress level manageable.
  7. My parents make maple syrup every spring and gave a pint to a house guest this past Christmas. Luckily I heard her mention that she was going to put it in her carry-on luggage (to prevent it getting lost) and reminded her that it would almost certainly fall afoul of the liquids ban--it would be tragic if that golden deliciousness ended up in the rubbish bin! On the other hand, my husband was travelling in Saint Petersburg and received a very fine bottle of vodka as a gift. Since he couldn't put it in his carry-on, he packed it carefully and reverently in his checked luggage. When he arrived in Moscow, however, the bottle was gone--and no note either. Some baggage handler evidently decided to appropriate it. So I guess you're not sure to arrive with your precious, edible, cargo any way you slice it (get it, slice it? he he).
  8. While I don't live in a small town in a small state, I feel your pain! I grew up in Vermont and can only return to visit now in very small doses--and a lot of the blame is the grocery shopping (to be fair, it may be my mother's shopping habits, and not the stores themselves--Hannafords in Rutland actually looked pretty good the one time I was there). Now I live in a reasonably sized city in a reasonably sized state (I tell everyone that Denver is as rural as I ever want to be again), but I still have issues... I live in a fairly affluent (and new) neighborhood which was specifically planned to have a central "town center" (modern urban planning), but the Albertsons that won the bidding to be the "market" is just plain B-A-D. Many of the complaints you raise about your little local store: * Meat and fish selection is spotty (never, to my knowledge, literally, but there's always tomorrow) at best. And the fish is usually mealy looking, when it's not stone-cold frozen. * The produce section is a joke. Miles and miles of apples and out-of-season red rocks, er, I mean, tomatoes, but not a sprig of Italian parsley or rosemary. Every so often I find a shallot that's as surprised to be there as I am to find it, but that's rare. * At least six months ago they "reorganized" the store, but they haven't bothered to change the aisle signs, so I have to wander all of them to find what I'm looking for. * Why, oh why, isn't taco seasoning with the other "Mexican" foods? * If there is a sun-dried tomato to be found, I haven't stumbled across it yet. * Someone really needs to explain to me the logic of cookies and soup in the same aisle. It just irks me that I live in this great urban neighborhood, and no one bothered to put a Whole Foods or a Sunflower or even one of the new, upscale Safeways in instead of a floundering Albertsons. Craziness. Luckily for me, unlike you--you poor thing, I have several ethnic groceries and a couple of Whole Foods (heck, even the Super Target has better prices and selection) to choose from and only have to resort to the local store when I'm desperate (or desperate for Doritos).
  9. BekkiM

    Fine Cooking has a new look

    Agreed on the recipes... I made the Poblanos Stuffed with Chicken and Cheese last night (well, sort of... I forgot to add the rice) and they were fantastic. Interesting flavors (next time I'll add a jalapeno to the tomato-onion puree for a little more kick) and quck and easy enough to do on a weeknight. It saddens me that FC is being subjected to this kind of pressure. For goodness sake, if you don't/can't/won't cook, why buy a magazine called Fine Cooking?? I personally love the mix of "accessible" recipes in the magazine (several are my personal, everyday mainstays--like the baked Parmesan chicken, the Tuscan white bean and kale soup, the oven-baked polenta, and, now, the poblanos) and the details on real cooking techniques (like boning chickens or making casoulet). I won't give up my subscription over the reformatting and I'm sure I'll get used to it, but I'll also revisit my back issues and moon over the "good old days"...
  10. Funny, I thought I'd learned that eggs should be room temperature for baking (unless you're separating them--then it's much easier to do cold). I always warm up my eggs in a bowl of hot tap water before using them for baking. Maybe that's why my cakes flop (and I avoid reading the Pastry forum to avoid being reminded of my shame)?
  11. So Fine Cooking has changed its look and I'm wondering how everyone else feels about it. My personal opinion is that it's too busy and too slick--I liked the cleaner, more utilitarian look of the old layout. But maybe that's just me and I'm resistant to change. I guess I'm afraid that they'll go the way of Food and Wine, which seems to have really dumbed down their recipes lately (I think they're ones that have the "simplified" chef's recipes which drive me absolutely nuts--I don't want recipes with the shortcuts, I want to know how to make it taste like the pros do it). I do like the "Cooking without recipes" section (that's been there for a little while), but I miss the old foldout section in the end with "everyday" recipes. I know the recipes themselves are still there, but they're no longer formatted to keep to one column, which was a lot easier to read, and, if I'm recalling correctly, actually run on between/across pages, which is one of my pet peeves about cooking magazines. I generally rip out the recipes I want to keep so they can be filed by theme and I hate having to staple pages together (who knows where the stapler is usually) to avoid pulling a recipe from the file with only half its instructions. Thoughts? Edited for clarity.
  12. I am in search of a great Denver Mexican market. I've got H-Mart for Asian, Bombay Bazaar for Indian, Internal Market (on Parker) for Middle Eastern, but I'm not sure what to do for Mexican. I see carnicerias all over the place, but how do I pick the right one? Does anyone have a good suggestion for me? I'd just like to be able to find authentic ingredients to augment the paltry selection at my local Albertsons. Thanks!
  13. I think you have the right strategy... Choose an established restaurant that doesn't have to cope with the double challenge of a huge influx of diners and half-trained staff. Where we've had the worst problems has been at new places that weren't ready for prime time even with a "normal" night's worth of diners. I'm sure Mizuna will be fabulous--don't forget to post your review! (I ate there years ago and have just remembered that we need to do it again. Thanks!)
  14. Thanks for posting the list. I'm of two minds about Restaurant Week... On the one hand, for a relatively low investment, I get to try a place that I've never been to. On the other hand, I've been to a couple of places that were so completely overwhelmed by the volume of diners that they performed incredibly poorly and I never went back (as the experience left, ahem, a bad taste in my mouth). What to do, what to do...
  15. BekkiM

    Butternut squash soup?

    This very basic recipe is adapted from Simple To Spectacular by J.G. Vongerichten and Mark Bittman: Start with a 2lb squash and about 4 cups of chicken stock. Peel and seed the squash and cut it into cubes. Simmer until the squash is very tender, then put the cubes into a blender with enough stock that the machine can run, and puree the heck out them. Mix back into the rest of the stock and season to taste with salt and lots of black pepper. ---- My best guess is that your texture issues come from not blending the squash enough. As for the flavour profile.... can you be more specific about what you're looking for? Fwiw, when I make it, I start by roasting the squash cubes with some garlic and olive oil, and I put about a thumb-sized piece of ginger in the soup, cut into a few large pieces while it simmers. I take the ginger out before pureeing. Hope this helps.... ← This is my absolute "go to" recipe for butternut squash soup. I don't have the recipe in front of me, so I can't remember if it actually calls for crushed red pepper flakes and thyme to be roasted with the squash--or if I added those myself in a happy accident--but I find that the little bit of heat from the red pepper really gives the caramelized sweetness of the roasted squash an edge that makes it a little bit more savory.
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