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  1. She was a good person. It's sad to hear she's gone.
  2. claire797

    Do you use Boxed Cake Mixes?

    Okay, since you asked My theory is that our mothers introduced us to cake during our formative years. Some mothers were non-cooks and some were great cooks. My mother, for instance, was a non-cook with very low self-esteem. However, every year she banned everyone from the kitchen, pulled out a cake mix and with much trepidation, made a birthday cake. The "homemade" cake made her so proud and everyone enjoyed it and praised her heartily. She had no desire to be a scratch baker, but she did want to do something special for her children and family every year and believe me, doing it from a mix was a huge step! For others, perhaps it is the opposite. Their mothers or fathers were great bakers and their childhood memories are of well-made scratch cakes. A box cake would be a ridiculous shortcut -- a sign that their parent just didn't want to take the time. At any rate, cakes are tied closely with family customs and rituals and many of those cakes have been Duncan Hines. When non-cake mix users make a blanket statement that all cake mix is bad, cake mix users may perceive that as a slight to their family and/or the way they were brought up. As for what's better -- family biases aside, it's hard to say. I've had some outrageously good scratch cakes and some pretty darn bad scratch cakes as well. Cake mix cakes usually taste the same to me these days, but every once in a while someone will doctor one up and it will taste as good or better than a scratch cake. After reading this board and other boards and honing my own skills as a baker, I've become extremely self conscious and apologetic on the occasion when I've had to use a mix. Usually people just laugh and say how much they love the cake while I sit there and feel guilty for "cheating".
  3. Well, we all perceive taste differently, but no one I know has said they thought the Pam With Flour tasted objectionable. As for the smell, it has a vanilla scent to it so it's actually quite nice (unlike Baker's Joy or No-Flour Pam). I rarely use cooking spray, but the flour-added Pam is an exception. It's worked perfectly in many situations with extremely sticky cakes, so I'm a fan.
  4. Have you tried flour-added Pam? It's also called "Pam for Baking". I have been using it for quite a while now and haven't had one failure. Unlike some other baking sprays, the taste and smell is not objectionable. Performance-wise, it's been better than any other method -- including greasing with shortening or flouring. If you are determined not to use spray, you might want to try using shortening instead of butter for greasing. I don't know the scientific reason why shortening seems to work better, but in my experience, it always has. Just melt it, paint it own with a brush, then flour the surface. Oh, and don't be impatient with your cooling .
  5. claire797

    how do you measure honey

    For baking, I just set the whole bowl of batter on the kitchen scale, set the tare to zero, then add however many ounces/grams of honey the recipe requires. Unless you know the conversions by heart, you'll need to check the label on the honey to see what the weight of a tablespoon is, then add accordingly .
  6. claire797

    [Houston] Alexander the Great Greek

    We had dinner there a few weeks ago and the food was incredible. Atmosphere was very strip-mall and plain. That is, until 8:00 when the music and dancing started. At that point, the whole experience became surreal -- authentic food, fun music, dancing and everything you expect from an evening out. Couldn't get much better, strip mall or otherwise.
  7. claire797


    Uninteresting to some, but not to me. I thought it sounded good. I'm more interested in the "competently and well executed" part. That's just me, and I realize I am not half the gourmet as most people here. Yes, that makes sense. It's not that way in Austin, though. The "scenes" have stayed scenes for years. If you asked me for a hot restaurant, it would probably be one that had been around for a few years. People here seem to shy away from restaurants that are extremely new.
  8. claire797


    Back to Bette, I'm still interested in hearing reviews from people who have a very balanced attitude toward scene/food. If anyone has any more info, post away!
  9. claire797


    Well, thanks to everyone's suggestions and pointers, I'm done. We chose Da Silvano for Friday, and Suvir's place Devi for Saturday night. I feel pretty good about the choices, but I'm still sad to have only been able to pick 2.
  10. claire797


    Glad to hear they take reservations. I'll give it a shot.
  11. claire797


    The menu didn't look that appealing anyway. Lupa still sounds great. And there's still Morimoto... It's hard choosing new places from thousands of miles away. I should just stick to some place I know.
  12. claire797


    The Da Silvano thread I have never been so I can't comment on it. ← I scanned the thread. Overally, positive reviews. Wonder what their reservation policy is? Sounds like on a Friday night, there's be a two hour wait. In the past 10 minutes I also looked up both Del Posto and Morimoto and Del Posto sounds great. I'm just afraid we'd never get in at 7:00 on a Friday night. I wonder if one of Mario's older places like Lupa or Po would honor a 7:00 reservation and hold to it (give or take 30 minutes). Neither place is in the area, but I am 100% sure we'd have a good meal.
  13. claire797


    Ah! Thanks! Two more I've never heard of. Just when I think I have a nice, small pool of restaurants from which to choose, someone throws in a few more. Thank You, Nathan. (I'm obsessing over this trip instead of something else, so you've provided me with more to focus on ) Okay, will do. BTW. The other place I've heard over and over again is Da Silvano. It sounds fun, but we have a show at 9:30. I'm afraid we'd get to Da Silvano for a 7:00 dinner and have to wait an hour or two for a table. Usually that would be fine, but not when there's a show. So it would be nice to go somewhere where we could make a reservation. The other option would be to catch the 7:30 show and eat dinner at 10:00. Sorry to ramble...
  14. claire797


    I have to admit, I kind of like scenes. People watching is high on my list of hobbies. But based on the types of places I frequent in my town, scenes and good food aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, I can think of 5 scenes that are also considered top restaurants in town. That said, I have been to other cities where scene places served really sub-par food and do not want to be in that situation again. Based on the reviews and where our show is, Bette seems like a good choice. Hopefully, it will be the best of both worlds......if I even go. Too many restaurants, not enough time .
  15. claire797


    Hi Pan, Bette is Amy Sacco's newish restaurant. I like her for some reason and want to go there, but only if the food is good quality. I can find something I like in just about any cuisine, so our main criteria is that the place uses fresh ingredients and the restaurant is comfortable and fun. And being that we are tourists from Texas, I'd like it the place to be different than something we'd find here in Austin. We're also going to see The Upright Citizens Brigade which is in or near Chelsea, so I'm focusing on Chelsea and lower (we're staying WAY downtown). Bette just seems like a new and interesting place. It's just interesting that not a lot of real gourmets have heard of it........I'm wondering why.