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Everything posted by Dianabanana

  1. Sounds like this pretty much squares with my experience, then? It's the letting the hens run around outside that makes the eggs delicious?
  2. In my experience the crucial difference is not between store bought and "back yard" or "farmer's market" eggs. It's whether the chickens are allowed to free range such that bugs and wild greens are a substantial part of their diet. I keep chickens in my back yard. When our yard is buried in snow or I don't have time to deal with letting them in and out, they stay in the coop and eat organic feed and kitchen scraps. Their eggs have beautiful deep orange yolks and are wonderfully fresh, but the taste is not particularly remarkable. But when the weather is nice and I can let them out all day long, day after day, that's when the eggs get delicious and notably "eggy" as Rebecca describes.
  3. Well, the number one item on this list has to be the PRESSURE COOKER. Google "pressure cooker explosion" and believe! Induction cooktops--I will go a step further and say better than electric or gas. Fuzzy logic rice cookers, agreed! Ice cream makers. Pretty much any OXO gadget.
  4. A bunch of canning jar bands tied together with kitchen string as a canning jar rack. Inverted collapsible steamer as a spatter screen. Hotel window sill, the part hidden behind the curtain, as a bottle opener. (It's invariably already pock-marked from our bottle-openerless predecessors.)
  5. I think maybe it was the way that eating more healthfully felt so exciting and new. I was only a kid in the 70s, but I definitely caught the grownups' feeling that they were being a little radical by making our own yogurt, or fruit leather, or freezer pops of yogurt and orange juice. I was the only kid in school with peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat bread, and I liked it. I liked browsing in the food co-op with its bins of bulk foods and the cloud of fruit flies hovering over the produce. You could buy a handful of chia seeds and hold them in your mouth until they swelled up to a big gelatinous mass, and pretend you were a famine-stricken Native American eating them to give your belly the sensation of fullness. And Nectar Pies--does anyone remember these? They were ice cream sandwiches made with carob cookies and honey ice cream. And then in the late 70s, I spent hours poring over the drawings in the Moosewood Cookbook. I don't cook from it now, but I still have it somewhere. I'm a shockingly unsentimental person, but it's one of the few keepsakes I've held onto purely for sentimental value.
  6. Wait--he what? Took a metal saw to it how? I'm looking at my Kitchenaid and not really seeing anything . . . saw-able.
  7. My chickens lay eggs that vary in size, and, if buying from the store, I buy whatever's freshest, regardless of size. If I'm making a cake or something where volume is really crucial, I assume that the recipe author intends a large egg to have the standard volume of 2 ounces, and simply measure my eggs accordingly.
  8. Yes, I would love to know what the low pressure setting is used for. I have the Fagor Rapida. An induction cooktop plus a pressure cooker is a killer combination for the hurried cook--the cooktop brings it up to pressure incredibly fast, then the pressure cooker does its work. Then run it under cold water to quick-release the pressure, and you're done. As noted above, you definitely want to be able to quick-release. I can count on one hand the number of times I've let the pressure come down naturally.
  9. Forget carrots, how about chestnuts? Or winter squash?
  10. I think these trends are actually beneficial, because product by product they educate the general public and raise the standard for quality, and the standard remains raised even after the trend dies. Even if the new silly trend is tea, people are not going to go back to the sour, burned coffee that used to be perfectly acceptable before the coffee craze. There's still a lot of crap on the market, and there always will be, but overall I think the bar has been raised. You can make similar arguments for all kinds of foods that have been the subject of foodie trends: pasta, olive oil, chocolate, etc.
  11. Glass cooktop means even the most infinitesimal spritz of aerosolized grease makes it look like I haven't cleaned for a month. I love my range, but criminy, between the glass and the stainless steel I've barely enough energy left to fry myself an egg. After which I've got to wipe again.
  12. Smiling down at the dog at his hopeful vigil.
  13. Blood oranges seem to have an awful lot of sulfur in their peels, the smell of which puts me right off them. Valencias taste good, but the inner membrane is so tough. I like the Cara Caras quite a bit, but I think my desert island orange would have to be a navel orange--but only organic. This is one produce item where I think the conventional/organic difference is striking.
  14. The crazies we will have always with us. What did she even want from you?
  15. Mr Dianabanana puts grated cheese on his oatmeal. It's really quite good! He also toasts the steel cut oats in butter before adding water and a pinch of salt. Deborah Madison has an idea for cornmeal mush with vanilla extract and butter that's also very nice.
  16. Joe Blowe is correct--eggs are laid with a naturally protective coating. In the US, producers are required by law to wash this coating off, which leaves the porous shell vulnerable to bacteria. The eggs laid by my own hens are shiny, whereas storebought ones are matte. That's the coating. Also, Harold McGee says that eggs deteriorate as much in one day at room temperature as they do in four days under refrigeration. Although it's tempting to keep my fresh-laid eggs out on the counter--so picturesque!--I do find McGee to be at least roughly accurate and put them in the fridge if I'm not going to eat them right away.
  17. I'm Western and don't have any problem with textures, and I'm always surprised at how virulently some people object to unusual textures or even to hearing them described. "Mucilaginous" and "slippery" are fightin' words to some people.
  18. Yes! It's so different that I wonder if the organic growers aren't using different varieties. The conventional celery seems so much more pale and pumped full of water. Perhaps there are more naturally pest-resistant varieties that organic growers use that were formerly not considered good for commercial growing because of the smaller size? However, just because you're buying produce labeled conventional doesn't necessarily mean that it's not organic. I had a very interesting conversation with a large organic fruit grower this summer. He supplies many of Seattle's top restaurants. He said that up to 90% of his organic fruit crops will at times end up being sold as conventional--if he doesn't have an outlet for it, he has to unload it however he can. He sells it to a wholesaler where it's aggregated with produce from other growers, and nobody even knows it's organic anymore. It's so expensive and time-consuming to earn the organic certification that it's worth it to him to sell organic as conventional when necessary. His sweet cherries in particular often get sold as conventional, but also pears, apples, etc. So, things like this undoubtedly affect people's perception of what "conventional" and "organic" taste like. Any blind taste test you'd want to set up would be suspect unless you could definitively track the production methods for the items you're testing.
  19. Dianabanana

    Salt Cod Diary

    I'm inclined to believe this is true, since the truly dry dried cod I've had was better than the semi-dried frozen, but if so, then why in the world is most salt cod sold frozen in the US? It's infinitely more expensive to maintain it in a freezer. Perhaps the cost savings comes in not having to dry it so thoroughly?
  20. Without a doubt, I could pick out organic apples, peaches, and raspberries. The difference to me is stark. Also wild salmon vs farmed--the farmed has a "feedy" taste that I can readily identify. Onions, no. Bread, no. Carrots, no. I don't think I could tell most organic vegetables from their conventional counterparts. Fruits are where I think the difference is most apparent.
  21. My mom taught me to prick them with a fork and it never occurred to me to do it any other way . . . until the other night, when I was reading a cookbook from the early 1900s, and the author mentioned slitting potatoes with a knife! Well, that seemed like a stroke of genius to me. Because the problem is that the steam is causing the potato to expand, right? That's why the potato explodes. Such an elegant solution, one clean slit along the length of the potato, so fast, using the knife that's probably already in your hand. I tried it and it worked brilliantly and I'm never doing it with a fork again.
  22. Dianabanana

    Salt Cod Diary

    Here is the Gratin de Morue. 1 lb salt cod 2 c milk 2 t chopped fresh thyme 3 bay leaves 1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced 2 large egg yolks 1/2 c creme fraiche or heavy cream salt and pepper 1 garlic clove, halved 3 T unsalted butter 1. Soak the salt cod as usual. 2. Put cod in large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to simmer over medium heat. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let stand 15 minutes. Drain. Remove any bones or icky bits and tear into bite-size pieces. 3. In a saucepan, combine milk, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let stand 15 min. 4. Preheat oven to 350. 5. Add potatoes to milk mixture and simmer until tender. 6. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and creme fraiche/heavy cream. Remove potato mixture from heat and stir in egg and cream. Season with salt and pepper. 7. Rub baking dish with with cut garlic and then 1 T of butter. Put half the potato mixture into the dish, then all of the cod, then the other half of the potato mixture. Dot with the rest of the butter and bake until golden, about 45 min.
  23. Dianabanana

    Salt Cod Diary

    No, that's what I was saying as well--the one I got at the Italian market was better than the wooden box kind. We're in agreement! Elsie, there are lots of Italian preparations in which the cod is dredged in flour, fried, then added to the dish. (Probably other cuisines, too, but I'm most familiar with Italian.) And depending on how long you soak it, it can often be not salty at all by the time you use it. I think the best way to describe the texture is that it's even more cod-like--you know how cod is a bit more chewy or fibrous than, say halibut? Well, salt cod is even more so. That same quality is just amplified.
  24. Well, gosh, there are an awful lot of good canned products, but my recent obsession is Mama Lil's pickled goathorn peppers. It's hard to stop yourself from adding them to everything because everything they're added to magically becomes half again as delicious, and they blend in with dishes from so many different cuisines, and are so colorful and pretty.
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