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    Germantown, MD
  1. It was a project three years in the making. (I had a son and ran out of time last year). Yesterday I took a baking pumpkin and did a side-by-side test with fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin in a pie-off. The recipes were identical and I used store-bought crust to take away any potential advantages. The recipe was off the back of the Libby pumpkin. No reason to get fancy here. Then I had my family taste it and I brought it into work today to have some co-workers taste it. The result? Split. My family overwhelmingly liked the fresh pumpkin. At work they were split down the middle. My guess is because people are used to the canned taste. My preference is fresh. It had a much richer, complex flavor that I found to be far superior. The taste evoked the things pumpkin pie should--freshness, spice, and generally just that taste of fall. By comparison the canned pumpkin was flat and flavorless. I can't post a pic, but the fresh was a lighter yellow color, which I found more appealing as well. It's thinner because one pumpkin only gave me a cup of pumpkin instead of the two needed for the recipe. All in all, totally worth it. Honestly the hardest part was splitting it in half. That's discussed more here:
  2. So had a trip to the wife's family last week. Her grandmother is downsizing and knew that I like to cook, so she had me go through her cookbooks. The history buff in me immediately reached for the oldest, Helen Cramp's The Institute Cookbook from 1913. Turns out it was her mother's (my wife's great grandmother) only cookbook. The thing is really cool. Old illustrations about the perfect kitchen, recipes for oddities like Terrapin soup, and lots of family hand-written recipes. I was really touched that she let (actually made) me keep it. Got me thinking... What's your oldest cookbook and how did you come to acquire it? Any special stories? What are the good recipes?
  3. Good suggestions all. Thanks. Jeff, I like the squirt bottle. So simple, but yet important. I cheaped out and bought the 99 cent version. It stinks. I'll have to invest in something else, I think. I'm curious what Reinhart has to say about this. I seem to recall he goes through some of this in Apprentice. I'll have to check it out.
  4. Good advice. It's interesting how much crap they sell getting people to believe it's required. I'm surprised no one even mentioned a proofing box - homemade or otherwise.
  5. Hey all, Working on improving my bread skills. I'm now thinking of upgrading my equipment list to hopefully make things a bit better. I realize that you can make pretty great bread at home with minimal tools, but I was wondering what everyone's opinions were of the required equipment. Obviously we can assume an oven, etc. But aside from that, what are the top needs? For example, do I really need a special loaf pan for baguettes? Thanks.
  6. By the way, how do you guys take such beautiful food photos? I must be missing the set up. Any tips? I'm sure there's a forum dedicated to this, but the search function of egullet and I don't always agree on what's relevant.
  7. Now there's a banana bread I might eat.
  8. We went apple picking last weekend, which here in MD, is on the late side. The pickins was slim. But, I found a few tart pink ladies and granny smiths, so I decided to try out a new recipe and go for an quick apple strudel from Cooks Illustrated. First lesson, check oven before timer with new recipe. I turned the crap out of the phyllo. ugh. My wife still ate it though! Maybe I'll just go with the old standby next... uuummmmmm ppppiiieeeee
  9. I'm starting to branch out a bit and get in to lattes and other non-press coffees. I've found that I enjoy lattes, but when I make them at home, I don't make a true latte. I've been using a Bialetti stove top for the coffee, and then heating an equal part milk in the nuker, frothing it with a cheap handheld device, and then pouring in the coffee. So, two questions at this point: 1. If I order out, what do I order that is equal parts milk and coffee? Lattes are 3:1 milk to coffee, correct? 2. How can I get a better froth without spending a ton of money? Thanks!
  10. Home cook, obviously. Is the classic shallot sauce, like that served at Les Halles and other bistros, simply demi-glace, red wine, shallots and butter? Or am I missing some serious ingredient. I'm going to shoot for the stars this weekend and make a demi-glace. Laugh all you want
  11. Now I have to try a side by side test. There's just no way around it. Next step is finding the right pumpkin. Have no idea where...
  12. This may be a bit late, but I'm thinking of using a left over Halloween pumpkin for a pumpkin roll or a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I've never used "fresh" pumpkin. Any thoughts on how to prep it? Do I have to bake it first or can I just process it in the Quizinart? And is it worth the effort? Will the taste be that much better? Thanks....
  13. You mean, you have to cook your eggs before using them as an ingredient in baked goods? Federal law bans the interstate sale of unpasteurized milk. Some states ban the intrastate sale of unpasteurized milk, and some don't. However, if you are using milk as an ingredient in baked good, the ingredient is no longer sold "raw." In most cases I imagine the baked goods will achieve temperatures during baking that pasteurize the milk. So I wonder if the federal and state laws apply to use of raw milk as an ingredient in baked goods, or just to the sale of raw milk itself. ← I thought about that. Since you're essentially pasteurizing the milk and eggs during cooking, what risk is there? But, also, what reward? Since you're cooking or baking with it, how much difference would it make in the end product? Of course, there are numerous other environmental benefits, but how much would taste be affected?
  14. This is going to be an unfocused question, but.... I'm reading On Food and Cooking and it has just been fascinating. And it got me thinking about how far one can actually go to get local, fresh ingredients, especially given government regulations. For example, if I was so inclined, could I open a bakery and use raw milk, eggs from my chickens, butter from my cows, and maybe even my own cheese? It seems like maybe that's not even possible. Furthermore, is it even a good business model? Do consumers really care that the basic ingredients came from land within 100 miles from that bakery? I assume in places like maybe Vermont and N. CA, it might be possible. But I imagine no one really cares in Missouri, etc... What does everyone think? What's worth it and what's not? Is taste from local fresh ingredients even the biggest issue?
  15. Wow Busboy, you've hit a nerve. Two pages of detailed posts already. My thought is this...everyone that Tom responds to in this column are whiners. I used to read it, but I've given up, as I never seem to have the problems these poor people are having. Sure, the reservations are lost and service is poor, but usually it's something trivial like this.
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