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toweringpine

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Everything posted by toweringpine

  1. Perfect timing Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up and my Thanksgiving table is not complete without a tomato aspic with cocktail shrimp, hard boiled eggs, celery and green peppers. It was always part of Thanksgiving dinner ( and Christmas too ) as a kid. No one liked it but my mother and myself ( my sister is allergic to shrimp but it still went on the table ) and now no one likes it at my home but myself but I still put it out there. I have never found a recipe that seems to contain all the same stuff that my mother put in. Pure nostalgia in a metal bowl. No fancy molds here. The Thanksgiving plate just isn't the same if I'm not mopping up the melted aspic with some mashed potatos at the end.
  2. toweringpine

    Beers to Age: A List

    ??? I was under the impression that hops are a preservative and, in particular, IPAs were originally highly hopped specifically for aging on the voyage to India. Was I misinformed? You are correct that hops are a preservative and that IPAs were highly hopped to help them on their trip across the ocean to India. The time it took for beer to get from England to India is months which is quite different from cellaring a bottle for years. IPAs many be stronger than most mainstream brews but are still usually not more than 6-7% which is not really high enough ABV to keep a beer good for years. Todays IPA and IIPA brewers are going for the high Alpha Acid hops which add so much fragrance and upfront citrus and floral notes in that style but these qualities fade quickly meaning these will change quickly after a few months in the bottle. The IPA of a hundred years ago bears little resemblance to today's American IPA. Many good beers for cellaring start off with a noticable and often harsh alcohol taste and by aging them this harshness tends to mellow and allow some of the more complex flavours contained in the beer to shine through. A high ABV beer will start with lots more malt than a standard brew and after the alcohol taste fades the other flavours produced by all that malt comes alive.
  3. The term 'small beer' refers to the strength of the brew. Small beer was generally below 3% alcohol and was commonly drank with breakfast in times when the water was less safe to drink or by children at any time of day.
  4. I think it was around January that I planted the ginger and it must have been late May or early June that I put it outside. I never expected to actually get any ginger from this project. I just wanted to see what the plant looks like and at the end ofthe season see just how much ginger was produced. I will be pleased if there is enough to make a small pot of chai! Ginger is so inexpensive that I really can't justify buying any equipment to grow it nor can I devote any of the small apartment ( other than a half a square foot of balcony that was already taken up by a pot full of dead plant ). I'm not sure what it goes for in the big grocery stores but if you go to the small Asain markets you can get a ridicolous amount of it for a pittance. Besides, my wife knows me far too well to ever believe that I could really be planning to use a grow lamp for ginger. Funny enough my first outdoor crop of ginger looks like it will produce about as much as my first outdoor crop of... ( I got better with practice! )
  5. You may enjoy this blog from eG member The Old Foodie... http://www.theoldfoodie.com/
  6. After making a batch of candied ginger from Andie's method I took a few left over knobs of ginger and poked them into a large pot of soil whose last resident had died. With the occasional dose of water they are all growing nicely. I get only late afternoon sun on my balcony so they will never get to a large size but I am looking forward to seeing what can be harvested in a couple months.
  7. toweringpine

    Fire Pit Recipies

    Cornish hens on a spit
  8. Camp cooking ( and its planning ) is my favorite part of the trip!! I usually do canoe tripping but since I now have a young daughter I can see a few car camping trips in my future. We have had great success doing cornish hens on a spit. Biscuits in the coals ( I have created an 'oven' by using tin foil pie plates; two on the top and two on the bottom with small clips to hold them together ) that works quite well. I have found that savory biscuits work better than cinnamon & raisin ones as the sugar will burn if the heat gets too much. Fajitas work really well on a fire. Tortillas don't crush no matter how many times the pack gets tossed around but they seem even tastier if you make them fresh out there. Bring lots of foil... toss a few heads of wrapped up garlic in the coals for roasted garic with almost any meal. Cut some sweet onions into quarters stopping short of cutting all the way through , drizzle some beef bullion and melted butter into them, wrap them up and let them sit in the coals for a half hour. Almost anything you like to eat at home can be made over a campfire. Have fun!!
  9. toweringpine

    Old Bay seasoning

    I couldn't find it either but picked some up in Buffalo a few months ago. Found it in a Walmart Supercenter a week later!
  10. I put about half of the pound of beans I bought into a large bottle of cheap vodka in January. It certainly went through the industrial smell stage Fat Guy mentioned but has now started the smell is very vanilla and pleasent. I have been collecting different strengths of the same spirit and today started three small jars with rum and two chopped up beans each. I have one with Bacardi (40%), one with Wray and Nephew Overproof (75%) and the last is a sample of straight rum from a distillery in Jamaica that is directly from the still. Although it is unlabeled I can tell it is clearly stronger than the "overproof" bottle. It will be interesting to see if there are differences inthe final flavour, or the time it takes to get there or who knows what other differences. What fun!
  11. I am not sure about the laws where you are but in Canada it is illegal to give someone a hard time about their sexuality on the job. The boss should deal with it but you could always go to the human rights commision if they won't. Incompetent workers are no fun to work with but no one has to put up with personal attacks on the job. I realize this can be like using a sledgehammer to drive a nail but it is a nice backup plan.
  12. toweringpine

    Salty? Fluffy?

    Bacon parmesan potato souffle
  13. toweringpine

    Hop oil

    I was given a small bottle of hop oil for my birthday. I have added a few drops to some otherwise bland beer and been quite pleased with the results. It adds a terrific floral aroma and lends some bitterness to the brew. It definitely adds more scent than flavour. Does anyone have any ideas on what culinary creations could benefit from a little hoppy aroma and bitterness? I keep thinking I want to try cooking with it but have no idea what to use it in. Thanks for any suggestions. Tom
  14. How much variance can there be? Taking the order, bringing the cutlery, food and drink in the right order and at the right temperature, clearing the plates all with reasonable timing has few options for variance, only incompetence. Especially if the food is pre-plated in the kitchen. I don't want my waitperson to sing, dance, provide advice, perform a psychoanalysis or otherwise exhibit variable behaviour. They are not part of the entertainment; they are a mechanism for ordering and delivering. I don't want to form a long term or even a short term relationship. I just want them to moderately competent at their job. ← There are a lot of ways that good servers have improved my experience at restaurants. If I've been to a place often enough that the staff recognizes me and does little things like bring out extra amuses or sets up my tasting menus to be more weighted toward new dishes and other dishes I haven't tried before. Even on a first visit, a good server can distinguish himself by noticing, for example, that I'm taking an interest in the food and making more of an effort to tell me about the food. That aside, though, I've personally gotten quite a lot out of at least getting some sort of relationship with the staff at places I go to regularly, and I leave larger tips accordingly – it is not that I was unsatisfied with the experience I had when initially visiting the restaurant, but more that on subsequent visits, I had an even better experience. That is due to the service. ← All the things taion mentions are the things that a good server should be doing as part of their job, not because they have learned that you are a good tipper therefore worthy of their effort and attention. Servers should get paid a decent wage and these perks or extras should be expected for all customers.
  15. I think LoneSavant said my point for me... tipping was once a way for a wealthy person to flaunt their wealth and get better service than others could. It has now become a way to punish those who a server deems as cheap. A very twisted system.
  16. A great read, thanks David!
  17. I think that about sums it up... the customer has the money, the server should expect a cut. The amount of work is not relevant. ← Following that example, then if I have the means, I should be happy paying $50 for the steak on the menu priced at $25. No, I don't buy that. ← Who's on first? My "A" plus your "B" does not equal your "C". How does paying $200 for a $200 dollar bottle of wine compare to paying $50 for a $25 steak? ToweringPine - A server can expect a 20% tip on a $200 bottle of wine, but the server's only recourse if the tip is less or nil, is sharing his disappointment privately with fellow servers and/or punching out a 50 lb bag of flour in the storeroom. ← Except that the premise of this thread is that some feel a poor tip is worthy of chasing a customer down the street and 'educating' them rather than taking it out on the bag of flour. A bottle of wine is a bottle of wine and requires the same amount of work to serve regardless of the price. Why does the server expect or merit a $40 tip on a $200 bottle and only a pitance on a $30 bottle? To sum it up that because the customer can afford it just illustrates the whole problem with this system.
  18. I think that about sums it up... the customer has the money, the server should expect a cut. The amount of work is not relevant.
  19. It's easy to make any number of hypotheticals that allegedly prove your point and walk smugly away. (In mine, the two tables drink water and coffee, split appetizers, send things back to the kitchen relentlessly and linger for hours on end. The combined tips come to $15 over three hours and the server tips out the busboys and bartender and goes home with less than minimum wage.)Let us all take a vow to no longer do this and, instead, to make take-home top speculations based only on real numbers and week-long averages (and not hourly calculations, either, as the server who loses a shift due to low reservations may have a correspondingly higher hourly wage while being correspondingly less able to make the rent. And I still think a server who averages $120 a night over 5 six- or eight- hour shifts is the norm or slightly above average. Others in the biz (I base mine on trying to collect money owed from my son) are welcome to welcome to provide closer estimates. ← Fair enough I guess I got carried away. My intended point was to show that two similar tables ordering an equal number of dishes are paying quite different amounts for their service for no reason that I can understand.
  20. Two tables of four sit down. Table one orders soup of the day, burgers and a pitcher of beer. The bill comes to $80. Table two gets French onion soup, surf and turf and two bottles of wine. The bill comes to $200. The server makes an equal number of trips to each table but the server makes an extra $18 on table two ( based on 15% tip ) for the same amount of work. Doesn't make any sense to me. The fact that they make $42 in tips off two table in two hours ( assuming there was only two tables served ) plus whatever hourly wage makes a fairly tidy profit. It is not a surprise that many of the voices demanding the system stay the same are in the recieving end of the tips. I realize that the tips must be shared with other staff members but I also realize serving two table is a severe underestimate. Belittling those who think this system is silly doesn't change the facts that the standard North American tipping policy is ridiculous. Regardless of my opinions on it, I ( almost ) always give the standard tip of 15% and often will go higher if the service is exceptional. If the service sucks, my tip will as well.
  21. Marlene, my point is that it really ISN'T voluntary. ← If it isn't listed on the menu then it is indeed voluntary. It is a bad system that needs to be changed!
  22. Lay out your phyllo dough on the counter top and cover with a piece of "Press and Seal". You can peal back the cover, grab a sheet and reseal it. Unless you are doing a realy large project it will keep the dough from drying out long enough to get the job done. Tip compliments of my mother. Thanks Mom.
  23. I have been mulling over the idea of hosting a dinner party themed on beer and food pairings. At the company Christmas party last weekend I had a conversation with a coworker who says beer is fine before dinner but it must be wine with food as it is the only drink that enhances the flavours of the dish. I have been trying to think of which beer styles to go with what plates. I will be following this thread to see what great pairings people suggest. On the tentative menu so far... A light lager with a salad Guiness and oysters English Bitter with squash soup A hoppy IPA with a full flavoured curry Coffee Porter and brownies
  24. In your apartment setting my comments are not so important but I want to make them anyways as I have dealt for years with homeowners who have installed giant kitchen exhaust fans and are baffled later when they cause no end of troubles with their furnace and hot water heating systems... In a standard residential house with a standard forced air furnace and gas fired hot water heater the large exhaust hoods can suck air out of the house so fast that the chimney becomes and air intake pipe rather than an escape route for the gases ( including carbon monoxide ) that are formed during the combustion of natural gas ( or propane ). I once did a service call at a house and found the all the plastic components of the gas valve on the hot water tank melted beyond recognition. It took a while to figure out why the flue gases were going down rather than up the chimney until the range hood was turned on. As the flames started pouring out of the bottom of the tank I figured it out. Any exhaust system rated at 3400 cfm(!) that is installed in a house should certainly be discussed with a HVAC specialist before you purchase it. In an apartment it is not a concern but in a house if your are going to install a big range hood ( anything over 1000 cfm ) make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector in the furnace room and install an combustion air intake to supply fresh air for the furnace and water heater! Older houses are leakier and less of a concern but newer houses are well sealed up and any air that is exhausted will be replaced somehow.
  25. toweringpine

    Making Cheese

    I once made cheese from powdered milk while on a long canoe trip. I doubt it would be worth doing at home where you could do much better but fresh cheese on day ten of the trip made the world a little cheerier!
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