Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Dianabanana

  1. Well, that was fun reading! As long as I'm in massive food preservation mode, seems like a good time to start a batch of vinegar, too. BUT . . . my homemade vinegar is 4-6 months away. What can I buy in the meantime?
  2. Pickling season is upon us and I would really like to move beyond using cider vinegar and white vinegar, but I can only find good vinegar in teeny-tiny, expensive bottles. For instance, I use this Lucini pinot grigio vinegar in salads and quite like it, but it seems to come only in 8.5 oz bottles at $11 a pop. I'm not feeding an army, and I'm not doing home preserving to save money, but rather to get a higher-quality product than I can buy, so I don't mind spending a little more--but it would be plain stupid to buy it this way. What's my alternative?
  3. Nope, no water--that's the beauty of it. It's just cherry juice, sugar, and brandy. The cherries release enough juice to fill the jar 2/3 of the way and then you top it off with the brandy. It's exactly what I always had in mind when making brandied cherries but I didn't know how to get there. I didn't make it up--it's from Linda Ziedrich's new book, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves. I really like her Joy of Pickling, too (I'm making the Russian Pickled Cherries from that today).
  4. I just made brandied cherries today. I've made them many times in the past (we have a big cherry tree) using a medium syrup to which I added brandy, but the method I used today was far superior and gave a more intensely flavored product. I pitted 3 lbs of cherries, put them in a sauteuse with 1-1/3 c sugar, covered it, and put it on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolved. Then I packed the cherries in pint jars with the resulting syrup, and topped it up with brandy. I probably used about 1/3 c brandy in each jar. Then I processed for 10 minutes. I'm not a big brandy drinker (or even a small brandy drinker), so I wasn't sure what I like. I bought a bottle of E & J V.S.O.P. and a bottle of Rubi V.S.O.P. Both were in the same middle-of-the-road price range. I like the Rubi a lot better and the cherries made with it are freaking delicious and they haven't even had a chance to sit around yet. I'm interested to hear what brandy other people are using.
  5. Meyer induction burner at Crate and Barrel. Any experience with this particular brand? It seems like an awfully good deal but I haven't been looking for long (er . . . just since I saw the ad a few minutes ago!). I'm already sold on induction and have an induction range in my kitchen, but I'm going to be teaching a few cooking classes for the first time this fall and would like to have a portable unit rather than be dependent on the equipment at the community center. Do you think I should get this one?
  6. My chickens just got old enough to start eating kitchen scraps. I can tell already that this is going to be the ultimate solution to my lettuce et cetera shame. Chickens gotta eat! Right?
  7. Are you familiar with the Italian notion that every crumb of bread you waste will be waiting for you in Hell when you die, and you'll have to spend eternity picking it up with your eyelids? Yeah. I unfortunately have plenty of occasion to ponder that one. Only in my case I'll be picking up with my eyelids slimy cucumbers (is there anything that goes bad faster or more dramatically than a cucumber?), unopened boxes of tofu, quarts of buttermilk minus the bit I used for pancakes, paper bags of things from the bulk section that I forgot to date and then was afraid to eat because I couldn't remember how old they were . . .
  8. I like Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking" much better than her "Classic Indian Cooking." Everything I've ever made from it has been so vibrant, complex, and balanced. It's by far my favorite Indian cookbook.
  9. It's not a straight up combination of the two: they're both streamlined and combined. So you miss some recipes. Also if memory serves they remove the menu suggestions--what to serve each dish with--that was with each recipe in "Classic". I think "Classic" is worth tracking down and I did more or less cook my way through it for my first year of cooking, so I think it's a great candidate for this project. "Essentials" is not a straight-up reprint. Not only are some recipes missing, but I was recently reading that the editors of "Essentials" arbitrarily reduced the fat content of many of the recipes to comport with current health sensibilities.
  10. I've been using my Toastess kettle half a dozen times a day since 1997 and it's still going strong. This seems to be the currently-available equivalent to the one I have. It meets all of your criteria except the water-level window.
  11. I've had the Kenmore/Electrolux induction range for about 6 months now, so not the longest experience, but it's been absolutely flawless for me.
  12. Dogs bark, babies cry. It's silent in the grave. I wonder whether the majority of those who object to kids in restaurants are parents who want a break from kids or intolerant childless people. I think the rap is that it's childless people, but I'm one, and I just don't have a problem with it. I'm glad to see the next generation of food lovers out and about, learning to appreciate more than a Domino's pizza eaten in front of the TV. I'm glad to see the parents continuing to enjoy life and not being consigned to parenthood purdah. Most of them seem very conscientious about whisking their kids outside at the first sign of trouble. Sure, once in a while some kid's fit will slightly diminish your dining experience. It's not like you'll never get another chance to eat in a restaurant.
  13. I have the new Kenmore (Electrolux) induction range, and I LOVE it. I will never go back to gas. The precision and range of the burners is incredible, it's easy to clean, and not insanely expensive (I think we got ours for $2700). When I'm cooking something that will make a spattery mess, I spread paper towels and put the pan on top--imagine that! Cooking pasta is now a 15-minute project from the the glimmer in my eye to lifting the first forkful. It used to take longer than that just to get the water to boil. The only thing I don't like about it is the exhaust fan makes a high-pitched whine. It got on my serious nerves for the first couple of weeks, but now I don't hear it anymore. Beyond that, it's perfection. Edited to add: The low is so low that you can melt chocolate directly over the burner. The high is so high that I'm still learning how to deal with it. Used to be I could barely get a wok hot enough and it wouldn't stay hot enough once the food was added. The first time I tried it on this range, I incinerated everything within about ten seconds. And I was deliriously happy about it! The oven has true convection, too.
  14. Well, we spent two hours there going over every detail, and it's beautiful and in amazing condition, but, incredibly, I think we have decided against it. Mr. Banana has been making his point about the kitchen--every time I'm in our kitchen and say something to him, he says, from his seat in the living room, "That right there? I never heard that," or "Just now you would have had to walk through the dining room and into the living room to say that," etc. Not only that, but we suffered through a traumatic kitchen renovation just five years ago and neither one of us can face another, and it would take a major renovation of the type that we wouldn't be able to afford for quite some time in order to make the kitchen in the new house work for us. I lived for ten years with a truly crappy kitchen before getting my nice new one and I don't want to go back! I do feel very conflicted about it, though. If I were ten years younger, there's no way I'd give up a chance to buy that house. Anyway, thank you all so much for your sharing your perspectives on the kitchen, it was very helpful to me.
  15. No, I really, really want a formal dining room. Our current house doesn't have one and that's one of the things that drives me crazy about it. Who wants to serve a nice dinner in full view of piles of dirty dishes? And the dining room in the new house is so nice. It has French doors giving onto the patio (with a set of French screen doors, too), wide-plank oak floors, two built-in corner cabinets, and wainscoting, all original. Not too big, and not too small. Cozy, but not cramped. It's a real house. A Thanksgiving house, a Christmas house. The owner's daughter lives back East, but when the time came for her to get married, she wanted to come back and get married there. That kind of house. Which makes you think that it must have been a pretty happy family living there for the past 60 years, which is nice, too. I'm just worried that I'm so in love with the idea of this house but that it might not fit the way we live. And also, I guess I'm fonder of our current house than I thought I was. The Banana family thanks you for your thoughtful replies! They really are very helpful.
  16. Ack, conflicting advice! I just got back from walking my dog past it again. It's so wonderful. But the exterior wall of the kitchen (unless I'm confused, which I might be) faces the street, so I don't think we could bump out without running afoul of setback requirements. The other food-related issue with this house is that the beautiful back yard is also shady, maybe too shady to have a vegetable garden, and I'm quite an avid gardener. The only way to bring more light in would be to cut down some of the beautiful mature locust trees in the front, which is not an option. On the other hand, two people in my recorder group happen to live on the same block as this house, so last night at rehearsal I was able to ask them if there are any problem neighbors, aggressive dogs, etc. The things you usually only find out about after it's too late. And nope, they think it's the nicest block ever. And I would already have two friends there. We're going back to look at it again at noon tomorrow. I'll keep you updated!
  17. Jaymes, that's a great idea about the bump-out. We're going back on Saturday and I'll have to take a closer look to see if that would work. Although the house is already big for us, and at the edge of what we can afford, so I don't know. I'm really glad I asked this question, because you all brought up some things I hadn't considered--that I'd get people standing around in that tiny kitchen anyway, and the issue of wandering back into the kitchen to stir things. So when people drop by, they're either going to plop down in the living room and I'll have to stop cooking, or they'll come back into the kitchen and have nowhere good to hang out. Right now they plop down in the living room and I just keep right on cooking while talking to them. I certainly was not anticipating that I'd end up feeling that my current, very modest house is superior in any way to this other one!
  18. For the last 18 years I've been dreaming of buying a certain house in my neighborhood. Two days ago I was walking past it with my dog, and just as I was telling him how someday, if it ever went up for sale, we would live there, I turned the corner and saw a lawn sign that read: FOR SALE BY OWNER. Fast forwarding over a lot of drama, the inside turns out to be just as wonderful as the outside--and we can afford it! It's a perfectly preserved Storybook Tudor built in 1932. However. the kitchen is a kitchen for cooking only. It adjoins the dining room, and the living room is around the corner, completely cut off from the kitchen. Remodeling this house to open it up would be a travesty. In some ways I really like the idea of kitchen as workroom. I could make it strictly functional and when guests come over they wouldn't see the mess. But I'm thinking that this is going to totally change our family dynamic. Right now our kitchen is open to the living room, with a dining bar separating them. If I'm in the kitchen, which I am nearly all the time, my husband and dogs are either at the bar or on the sofa where I can see them and talk to them. We like to be together. I can see the fireplace from the kitchen, and the TV. In this new house, if I wanted to say something to someone in the living room, I'd have to walk all the way out there. It would be frustrating, and I think we would end up spending a lot of time apart. So, I guess I'm just wondering if there are angles to this that I'm missing. Are there other great things about a workroom kitchen that I don't know about? What have been your experiences with how different kitchen layouts affect your family dynamic?
  19. Okay, well, I tried putting mine through the dishwasher with the cooling rack method and I have to say that they were much, much greasier afterward than they are when I wash them by hand. I don't mind washing them; what I mind is the way they retain odors from savories. Now I'm thinking I'll just buy a second set of Silpats for sweets. I like them a lot better than parchment paper because I occasionally, and unpredictably, get a nasty batch of parchment paper that imparts a weird chemical taste to my food.
  20. Whenever I buy frozen fish, it's in cryovac packaging (at least I think that's what you call it--the thick plastic, sort of like shrink wrap). The instructions on the bag say to remove it from all packaging before thawing, and then the cryovac plastic has the same instruction emblazoned across it, as if it's v. v. important. But why? I thawed some halibut last night without taking it out of the plastic first and I can't tell the difference.
  21. No, no, no, this is the brilliant part! Imagine if Andiesenji used her powers for evil. *shudder*
  22. Well, you can order a gift certificate to any of the Tom Douglas restaurants online, but it looks like they ship the physical card to you. But maybe you can print out the purchase confirmation to give as the gift, and tell them the card is on the way?
  23. Okay, when I made the buttercream for the pistachio cake, I set aside two tablespoons before flavoring it and added the pistachio cream to one and the pistachio essence to the other. I was surprised to find that I preferred the pistachio essence. You can taste the pure pistachio flavor very strongly in the pistachio cream, but it gets muddied when added to the buttercream. Even though the essence isn't a true pistachio flavor, it seems a lot closer once added to the buttercream.
  24. I made Jansson's Temptation for the first time last night; this morning I looked it up on eGullet and found the picture of yours, made in the same red Le Creuset gratin dish as mine. Anyway, I just wanted to add that IKEA has a cookbook with a ton of anchovy/herring/other tinned fish and potato recipes, some of them very unusual (to me). I've seen that cookbook before and kept on walking because, come on--IKEA? But the tinned fish recipes are all very intriguing. Patricia Wells's Bistro Cooking has a great recipe for marinated smoked herring, which is then used in a salad with boiled potatoes. And if you are interested in tinned fish, you should check out the offerings at Trader Joe's. The smoked herring in particular is huge and beautiful, the anchovies are nice and plump, the smoked trout is lovely and delicate, etc. All very nice.
  25. I got it at De Laurenti in Pike Place Market, during the same delirium of impulse shopping that netted the poivron rouge. I hate to tell you what all else I bought. The pistachio cream was $32 for a small jar and now that I know how good it is, I'd probably pay twice that. Highly recommended!
  • Create New...