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Everything posted by sugarsugar

  1. Favorite spice is cinnamon - I use it in savory and sweet preparations. I don't like a heavy hand with it, but do love the taste of it. Apple pie is my specialty, and it just isn't the same without some cinnamon! My favorite herb is cilantro. I know a lot of people hate it, but I love it and look for ways to add it to whenever I can. I make a wicked tomato relish for curries that uses a load of cilantro - I add it to my curry, too, as well as asian turkey burgers, fish cakes, anything Mexican, salads, etc.
  2. I think it might have more to do with how tastebuds change as people age. They tend to develop an almost obsessive love of "very salty" and "very sweet" tastes, and certainly foods made with the likes of tinned soups and commercial frostings, etc. will fit the bill more readily than quality foods made from quality products. My grandfather was a shining example - his whole life he ate very well, but by the time he was elderly enough to need to be in a home, all he had much time for were those thick, gloppy "cream of" salty soups (with salted crackers), and Twinkies. Man, he loved twinkies!! He could never get enough - and they're not anything he would ever have bothered with before. He complained that other foods just "didn't have a taste". I really wouldn't take it personally. I don't think it's worth fighting to change an inevitable decline in taste - especially for those late in life - , but what you'll need to decide is if you can continue to do this job and give them what they want, or if to do so goes too against your thoughts and beliefs about food and the cook that you are (I hope that makes sense!!)
  3. sugarsugar

    Dinner! 2008

    Wow! Lasagna AND mashed potatoes at the same meal - a girl after my carb-loving heart!!
  4. I agree with the others - with an 8 year old helping, I'm thinking something where you can let loose a little with the decorating is definitely in order! The best birthday cake of my life so far is the one my 4 year old decorated with his daddy!! What about something like layers of genoise with fruit/cream filling? You could make a SMBC or IMBC to ice it, then color the remaining buttercream different shades. Fill some piping bags with a couple of different tips, then let the 8YO go to town! Or, as others have suggested, go more the sheetcake route - there are some great recipes in The Cake Bible that, even though they aren't proper tortes, are still very tasty and light. Cupcakes can be a great option - to "fancy them up" a little, you can always fill them. White cake with a fresh lemon curd filling and some IM or SMBC would be delicious!!
  5. Thanks for your help - I'm getting really excited to try it. I've taken a look at both the Cradle of Flavor and All About Braising links, and I think I'm going to go with Molly's recipe this time. I appreciate the heads up on the longer braising time, and snowangel - thanks for warning me about how nasty it'll look at first! That's a very helpful tip for a novice!!
  6. I have an upcoming dinner party for some curry loving guests this weekend, and was thinking of taking the plunge with beef rendang. I have both "Cradle of Flavor" and "All About Braising", and wonder if anyone familiar with both recipes could make a recommendation on which one I should go with? I'm a good cook, but still pretty amateur and could use any advice you might want to throw my way! Also...and this may be THE stupidest question on earth, but does the rendang have a very strong coconut flavor, or is it quite mild? It's only my husband who doesn't care greatly for coconut, and I'm just wondering if the rendang is likely to have too strong of a coconut taste for him. Thanks!
  7. What about arranging a personal chef service for her, preferably just before the baby is born? Someone who will come to her house, having done all the shopping, and prepare a load of meals to stock the freezer? I think they usually prepare about 2 weeks' worth of meals, and you can usually choose what you want from a pretty extensive menu of options. We did this just before our son was born, and my thought at the time was that it would be a wonderful gift for others - it made things really easy those first couple of weeks. The food was a major step-up from take-out, and a little more gourmet than regular weeknight cooking.
  8. I make "Reindeer Chow" for Christmas - basically the same stuff, only I add pretzel sticks and red and green M&Ms. The pretzels are great, they add the perfect twiggy-ness to the chow. Everyone loves it!! I fill holiday tins with it and include it with my goodie baskets, and it always gets raves. Personally, I prefer it with a little less icing sugar - it needs some to help keep everything separate and kibble-like, but too much and it does get too sweet.
  9. Things in our family have been crazy of late - there just aren't enough hours in the day. I'm considering a personal chef service to get through the next few weeks, and wondered if anyone has any recommendations for personal chefs in the Lower Mainland? I found listings, but it's tough to make a decision without knowing anything about how the food tastes! If anyone can help me out, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!
  10. I had braces as a teenager, and at the time my previously-braced (?) cousin taught me a trick that I still do to this day. I use a fork - shove it into the corn at the side so it's underneath the kernels and slide it along the cob, then lift. You get a nice flat forkful of kernels that are very easy (and tidy) to eat. I never get corn in my teeth eating it this way, and have actually converted a few folks to my method! It actually doesn't look that weird, and works amazingly well.
  11. Thanks again, folks. I made my way to Choices and picked up some Liberty - thumbs up!! It's incredibly thick and luscious, and boy is it ever dairy-rich....lovely. Just what I was looking for.
  12. I was always told by my grandmother that it just made them easier to peel - fine when making her beetroot/horseradish pickle (the beets were simply boiled first before being grated), but I agree not so fine when you've flavored the beets first. I've never had a problem peeling them beforehand - it IS easier after they've cooked, but it's no big deal. I say, peel away whenever it suits you best!
  13. I just make them up fresh, using boneless skinless chicken breast soaked in a little buttermilk beforehand. Toss with some well-seasoned panko, then shallow fried in canola oil - not a last minute solution by any means, nor something that you can create "en masse", but I just have this thing about making them up fresh. They do taste pretty damn good, too....miles away from ready-made, and better than a restaurant.
  14. Thanks, everyone. I'll definitely try Liberty - there's a Choices in Surrey now that's not far from me. I've heard GREAT things about Fage - but I'll take what I can get! I'm just so tired of icky, watery yogurts, and want something luscious and thick. The Liberty flavours sound great, too! Thanks!
  15. Hi, I was just wondering if anyone knows if Fage yogurt is available anywhere in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, or ??? Thanks!
  16. I'm not sure if you can get this everywhere - but I was recently at a Costco in WA State, and they were selling a big bag of individually packaged squares in a mix of both plain dark and the dark with blueberries, cranberries and almonds. Very nice indeed!! The squares are the perfect size when you just want that "little something sweet", and the packaging is quite elegant - they look nice in the holiday candy jar I, too, thought these were very good and not "typical Hershey"(which I usually can't stand - Hershey bars don't taste anything like chocolate to me!).
  17. Not me - I can't stand the greasy film shortening-based products leave on my tongue! Don't even get me started on "buttercream" that's basically sweetened Crisco - blech! I don't really get all the fuss, especially since - as you mention - alternate products are available. Trans-free shortenings give you the same properties of regular, just without all the terrible stuff.
  18. sugarsugar

    butter cheese

    The butter cheese that I've purchased before was pale and almost butter yellow in colour. It was a very mild, semi-soft cheese (that's to say, it had a very creamy texture, but was still possible to slice - albeit with some difficulty). "Buttery" is really the best way I can describe the taste. I never did cook with it - just purchased some to have on sandwiches, where it was very welcome alongside the other ingredients. Sorry I can't be more help - I did really enjoy it, but only had it in the sandwiches and on crackers.
  19. I usually make up baskets of homemade goodies as gifts for teachers, DH's coworkers, negihbours, etc. I typically fill them with some assorted cookies (shortbread, almond crescents, gingerbread, etc.), homemade marshmallows, and usually a little cake of some sort. This year I'm making baby rum cakes - last year it was brandied cherry cake. Breads like challah or brioche, wrapped up with some local honey or homemade jam, would make a lovely gift. Good quality cocoa mix with a couple of flavours of homemade marshmallows would be nice, too - the options are pretty endless!! Quickbreads, like apple or cinnamon cakes, are good to make - they tend to keep very well, improve in flavour over a couple of days, and freeze well too (if needed).
  20. I'm in Canada also, and have sent from Dean and DeLuca to friends before - it was VERY well received! I've received a basket from Harry & David before - it was OK, but nothing amazing. The pears were overripe and squishy, and the chocolates were no better than what you find in a drugstore Valentine heart. I LOVE Fortnum & Mason products - they used to ship from the UK, but now, due to the Bioterrorism Act, have set up a US site for US deliveries: http://www.fortnumandmason-usa.com/shoppin...=Hampersupto125 Their hampers are pricey, but their products are top notch and packaged beautifully. I still use my hamper as a picnic basket!! The cognac butter sounds delicious!
  21. I love Martha's chocolate gingerbread cookies, too - they're always a hit!! Ina Garten's Jam Thumbprints are another winner....I love the toasty coconut and the taste of the cookies is very good. This year I'm planning to bake chocolate/vanilla shortbread spirals, decorated sugar cookies, the chocolate gingerbread cookies, faworki, spitzbuben, and almond crescents. There will probably be more, but that's my list so far
  22. I can't get enough of those little dried wasabi peas!
  23. Hi Patrick - thanks for the welcome! What I did was kind of mush the beans around in the sugar as the recipe instructs -a lot of the beans did distribute through the sugar, but these weird clumps remained, even when I tried to mash them with some sugar to break them up. They just became gelatinous blobs coated in sugar, and just wouldn't break up or dissolve even once the liquid ingredients were added. Really odd. Because they stayed so claggy even after all I had tried to get rid of them, I just figured the cakes would be better without them. If I encounter this again I might try adding the beans to the liquids instead, and try whisking them in without any dry ingredients - maybe that would make a difference.
  24. Hi Dorie - thanks for replying! Yes, your description of thready, stringy pieces is right on (and a lot more pleasant than "goo"....the best I could come up with earlier ). The pieces were way too big to be left in - they were very obvious and dark - I feared they would taste too strongly if bitten into. After I fished them out, I added a quick glug of vanilla and everything was fine - I had enough beans in there to still see them, and the added vanilla covered any flavor that may have been lost. I never considered that maybe I was scraping too hard - I'll have to watch that next time! Thank you. I this book - thanks for taking the time to write it!
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