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Posts posted by nduran

  1. My K45 Kitchen Aid mixer, with all the attachments (except for a pasta-roller, which I recently bought) is still going strong after more than 45 years.  A spoke on the whisk just broke and I was able to buy a new whisk from Kitchen Aid (instead of their saying: it's an old model and we don't carry those parts any more, a la computer companies)

    KitchenAid's support is absolutely amazing. It's like they haven't been paying attention to anything every other American company's done in the past 100 years at all. No scripts, no outsourcing and no underpaid teenagers. That's the main reason why I'll still buy their newer stuff even if there are a few plastic parts here and there--if something breaks, you can always get it fixed and quickly.

  2. The Mae Ploy curry pastes on IF.com are not 500% more than in the stores.  That would make a tub of it cost $0.70 in the stores and I know it doesn't.  If anything it's double but not much more.

    Never bought any, but the 20oz bottle of Golden Mountain they want $6 for costs about $1.25 here. I imagine that puts the store's actual cost at somewhere around 50 cents. And the very same $40 mortar and pestle they have I got for $12. I don't even want to know what the shipping charges would be for that hunk of rock. Yowza.

    I realize the land-locked have little choice in the matter, I'm simply amazed by the profit margins.

  3. I think stirring it while it cools is about all you can do.

    Google turned up this

    The "skin" that forms on milk and milk-containing hot drinks (such as hot chocolate) is caused by denaturation of the proteins (chiefly casein) in the milk.

    Proteins are natural polymers formed by linking together building blocks called amino acids into a chain resembling beads on a string. And because there are 20 different amino acids used in proteins made in the body, and they are all chemically different, you can make these metaphorical necklaces with any combination of "beads" of different shapes and sizes and chemical capabilities (including their electrical charge) to achieve the desired protein function you need.

    These amino-acid "beads" then all interact with each other so that the positively-charged ones try to get as close as they can to the negatively charged ones, and as far away as possible from each other. Also, the water-loving parts of the molecule try to get themselves towards the outside of the protein, and the water-hating (hydrophobic) regions try to tuck themselves away inside. This pulls the mature protein into a characteristic shape (three dimensional structure) which determines its properties.

    However, changing the environment surrounding the protein can dramatically alter its shape. Adding acid, for example, will change the distribution of charges on the amino acid "beads", causing the protein to be pulled into a new shape. This new shape might encourage large numbers of the proteins to cease being soluble and stick together, or aggregate. You can see this happening naturally when milk is allowed to "go off" in the fridge. Bacteria turn lactose sugar in the milk into lactic acid (hence the word lactate for breast feeding), and this causes the proteins to denature and clump together.

    Most proteins are also denatured at high temperatures (beyond those you would normally find in the body). This usually occurs at between 45-50°C. Under these circumstances the heat makes the molecule vibrate and shake-apart the interactions between the constituent amino acids. The molecule then settles into a new configuration that is more heat-stable.

    Sometimes this process can be reversed by adding the right chemicals to break all of the bonds and interactions between the amino acids, and then returning the protein to physiological temperature and pH. It can then re-fold in the correct way. Usually, however, the changes are permanent.

    So when you boil the milk for hot chocolate, or just hot milk, you are causing the denaturation of the soluble milk proteins. The denatured proteins then aggregate and form a sticky film across the top of the liquid, which dries by evaporation. The film in turn then acts like a miniature pressure cooker and encourages the liquid beneath itself to become even hotter and the pressure to rise. That's why the milk then spectacularly boils over all at once on the cooker or all over the inside of the microwave...

  4. I spent months looking for one of these things that could compare to the one my mother's had since before I was born and came to the inescapable conclusion that "they don't make them like they used to." I'm currently using a Progressive model that seems to have strong enough teeth, but the plastic the rest of it is made out of will almost certainly crack in the very near future. Williams-Sonoma has one that's $16, but it looks virtually identical to the Progressive model and I haven't tried it out personally.

    The world seems to be hung up on those rotating piston style hand choppers these days, and those things just plain suck.

  5. There's no way in the world you can get by with just an exacto knife and very little else.

    For certain orchids and lilies with complicated reproductive organs that absolutely must be molded, probably not. For most of the common flowers tackled by beginners, fancy equipment is an unnecessary crutch that will ultimately become a hinderance. I'd go so far as to say that if you cannot make do with a knife, your fingers and some ingenuity, then you're not learning so much as you are regurgitating a memorized formula. The latter approach will almost always yield symbolic representations with a paint-by-numbers/cartoony sort of aesthetic rather than realistic representations that make peoples' jaws drop, but each has its place in the world.

  6. When I was in high school, I'd use natural cinnamon oil to make cinnamon toothpicks which were all the rage back then.

    I was going to say that sounded bizarre, but then I remembered that when I was in junior high the "cool" thing to do was to suck on pieces of rock salt for no apparent reason. The object of this practice seemed to be to see who could develop the most disgusting looking white coating on their tongue in the course of the day, but I never actually participated so I can't say for certain.

    Also back to the point, be careful when buying cinnamon oils, as there are those which are meant for eating and those which are meant for aromatherapy related products. I confused the two once and it was not an experience I care to relive.

  7. I have been a pastry chef for many years.  I have made cakes for many famous people  so I am not speaking from  no experience or knowledge.  I suggested the Wilton set to someone that wanted to begin to learn and not spend a lot of money to get started.  I know they are not the BEST quality but they are affordable and if you can follow written directions and photos I believe you can get a good start and later if you want to persue it further spend the money for better cutters etc.  Just so you know I am not inexperienced here are some of my past photos.


    I don't agree that one should start out with the cheapest materials one can find in any discipline. If you want to learn to play a musical instrument, you will experience nothing but constant frustration if you go pick up some junky knock-off at Sears that doesn't play properly. Same applies to painting, sculpting and cooking--cut the wrong corner and you're actually costing yourself more money in the long run.

    I also cannot say that any of your work looks particularly realistic. It's decorative to be sure, and I'm sure many clients would be thrilled with them as they are, but can you honestly say that anyone would be fooled into thinking that those were real flowers?

  8. Just my .02, but I loathe wilton ANYthing!

    Yeah, Wilton is pretty much cheap crap and their instructional materials don't even attempt any degree of realism that I've seen; you'll basically be making little blobs that vaguely suggest flowers if you use your imagination.

    As far as coloring goes, there are no steadfast rules, but you generally want to work the same way you would with watercolors. Start out with your lightest color mixed into the base and brush the darker colors on top of that.

  9. I’m not sure that everyone likes pickles,nduran, so why should everyone like sourdough?

    I never said that everyone should like it, I was simply perplexed by the number of people claiming to despise it so vehemently and was curious to know what specifically they were basing their opinions on. I've had "San Francisco Sourdough" in Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and New York that was absolutely inedible and in no way indicative of what you would find at even the most pedestrian of bakeries in the city itself. I don't know where any of that stuff comes from, but it IS ridiculously tart and it also leaves this disgusting, yeasty taste in your mouth for hours (sometimes days) afterward.

  10. Not really a secret so much as difficult to obtain: quality New Mexican hatch chile. You can buy the stuff online from a million different places, but most of the powder is secretly cut with crops from California and Texas, reserving the pure stuff for the locals who don't mind driving several hours into the desert to get it (no, the corner market in Santa Fe doesn't count--that stuff is all tainted). There is absolutely no comparison in my opinion, and the flavor it lends to everything from enchiladas to hot chocolate never ceases to amaze.

  11. The wiring work is not always obvious and it can be very helpful to have a pictorial laid out in front of you depicting how someone else solved a similar structural problem, but otherwise it's essentially just sculpting and painting. Some people are naturally good at these things and some people have to work their butts off, so whether or not it would be worth taking a class depends on which category you happen to fall into.

    As far as equipment goes, you can get by with an X-Acto knife and very little else. Worry about the specialized cutters and making your own silicone molds once you start producing several elaborate pieces a week and need to get them done as quickly as possible in order to get paid.

  12. one thing with baked beans--the molasses really stops the softening dead. try this: cook the beans until they're soft before adding it. Add the acid and cook as long as you want. the beans won't soften much more at all.

    Problem is it takes about 4 hours for the "sauce" to reduce to the proper pasty consistency anyway, so while it may be an interesting experiment, I'd ultimately just be lengthening the total cook time :blink:

    I've never bothered soaking darker beans (though I absolutely rinse and sort them having found many a bean-shaped rock in my day), but the lighter varieties always seem to need a lot more time in the heat no matter what they're in.

  13. I'm not so sure this is going to fly for all types of beans, either. I've been making baked beans for years and even when I soak and boil the little navy buggers for a considerable amount of time before putting them in the oven, they take over four hours to soften up at 250. There's definitely plenty of acid in the recipe, though.

  14. Persimmon shortcake in the autumn; that sounds interesting. 

    Do you use the firmer or softer type of persimmon and how do you prep them? 

    I slice up the firmer fuyu variety and cook them very, very lightly in a little bit of butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and palm sugar then make a sauce from basically the same ingredients only with a puree instead of slices. I usually cheap out and just go with the preservative packed Hostess dessert cups for the base and top them with some form of cold sweetened dairy product.

    Truth be told I tend to go through a couple pounds of the things per week just eating them straight out of the sack, but that probably wouldn't qualify as a "dish" for this thread's purposes :)

    Lychees show up around May-ish I believe, though they aren't usually ripe enough to buy until later.

  15. This probably falls into the "crazy" category you don't want, but I've found that a small amount of diced jackfruit yields a compellingly different texture and very subtle sweetness to even the most generic of salsas. I prefer it to the more popular peach/mango recipes out there.

    Ultimately it's all up to the chile, though. As a descendant of native New Mexicans I have a hard time swallowing anything that doesn't come from a tiny field in Chimayo, but if your guests are expecting Chevy's level heat, you shouldn't have any problems with a basic mixture of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos and maybe a little vinegar.

  16. Very little of what is sold as cinnamon in this country is actually cinnamon, it's cassia, and yes there are many different varieties. Alton Brown's got a whole show about it if I recall correctly. Whether a given cinnamon based product will be sweet or hot depends largely on the ratio of oil to sugar and other ingredients.

  17. This will probably win the prize for stupidest question of the year, but how do I know if the dried favas I bought have been peeled?  Or, will it be evident after I've soaked them?

    If they're not peeled they'll have sort of a purplish skin on them with a dark line along one end. If they are then they'll be mostly white.

    I have another question: since we're heading into fava season and we're growing them this year, can I use fresh favas to make felafel? Or will the texture not be the same?

    I've never tried fresh ones, but I'd be inclined to think there would be too much moisture in them. Worth a shot to try, just keep a screen over your pan in case they start popping.

  18. Could you describe the cuts you are thinking of?  The two cross pieces are butt brazed to the sides of the stringers so I'm wondering where you are thinking of placing the angle.

    I was just thinking of a classic miter joint with some reinforcement, but it looks like you're only going to have wires running along one axis, so the butt joint might be better there.

    I'm planning on using machine head bolts with holes drilled to tighten the wires just like commercial models.  I had briefly considered buying actual guitar tuners but discarded the idea after calculating the cost of even the cheapest economy tuner.

    Yeah, they're not cheap. I just happen to have a couple sets laying around from scrapped guitars. I think the ball end strings would make setup a bit easier, but maybe not if you want to be able to adjust the spacing.

    The picture frame might work, but I'd be interested to see how much tension one of those could hold without buckling.  Picture frames aren't designed with this sort of use in mind.

    You'd be surprised. I used to frame pictures professionally and the wall mount almost always gives before the actual frame does, even when you've got some insanely heavy mirror or triple-glassed shadowbox display in there. The typical pre-cut Nielsen kit parts you'll find on the rack at the craft store probably would not be able to take it, but if you had one of their wider, deeper mouldings custom cut for you, I don't think there would be any buckling issues at the dimensions you're working with.

  19. I would definitely get those corners cut at a 45 degree angle on a vertical band saw before welding them together. The joints will be stronger and much more attractive. You could also probably save some effort by simply picking up a heavy duty deep channel Neilsen aluminum frame from a picture framing shop and drilling it out.

    I was going to do something similar only I intended to use actual guitar strings and machine heads for the business portion of the cutter. I'd be afraid that bolts would snap the wires prematurely.

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