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the old cook

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  1. I was always taught that if it still had ice crystals in it, it was okay to refreeze....meat that is cold, could be cooked, is not going to hurt you if it was still cold. I may be proved wrong by someone else on here; but it would seem a shame to toss steaks if they are still good.
  2. First experience in French restaurant..Maisonette (hopefully spelled right) in Cincinnati, Ohio..way back when drink carts werebrought to table at end of meal - with not only drinks, but cigars for the gentlemen...(1969 or so); La Petite Marmite On worth Avenue, Palm Springs, Florida on our honeymoon to experience first ever Sole Veronique; first Foie Gras in a little out of the way bistro in Paris (our first trip to Paris). Our last trip to London, Gordon Ramsey's on Royal Hospital Road; everything from entering the dining room to food, to service was memorable. Would love to try French Laundry some day if we ever save enough money! Also in Pittsburgh back in 1968, my first taste of escargot! Seems I have discovered wonderful food throughout the years! And finally, my grandmother's ham and dumplings, a meal I have been trying to duplicate for over fifty years.
  3. Maybe I am the odd person out, but as a former waitress when I was young and struggling; I am a very good tipper...always basic 20%, and higher if high end, and exceptional service. I am now 71 years OLD (hate the term young applied to older people, feels like I am being patronized). when we lived in Florida, people lined up at three p.m. to four p.m. for early bird specials....generally speaking what was offered was less than desirable. However, can certainly understand it, if you are on fixed income and cost rise but your income doesn't; than I would try some "early bird specials" myself. Find I can cook cheaper at home though, so when we go out for a meal, we try to make it a good one. I agree, have never seen higher end restaurants offer any discounts to seniors.
  4. Regarding muslin vs Cheesecloth....no, they are not the same, cheesecloth is very loose weave, muslin is tighter; and no, I never use softener when washing the muslin. You can buy muslin from fabric store by the yard, cut it up, and re-use it for long time, very cost effective.
  5. Before Ruhlman started selling his own, even HE suggested using store bought muslin in place of cheesecloth, it can be washed and reused often...much cheaper in long run, and certainly strong enough to handle anything.
  6. CORN CHOWDER WITH SHRIMP, topped with bacon. Brown four slices bacon,cut into small pieces. Remove and drain bacon on paper towel, use for each serving on top of ladled soup. Add chopped large onion, and eight green onions (white only), two smashed garlic cloves, celery salt, three peeled and cubed large potatoes. Cook onions, garlic and potatoes until scallions have softened,add 2 Tb. flour to pan and stir. Cook about one minute. Add 3 cups whole milk, some seafood seasoning(I also add a shot of Tabasco), 1/2 tsp thyme leaves, or dried. AND, 2 cups water.(I use the corn cobs left from cutting kernels and put them in about three cups water, cooking them until flavor is brought out; use THAT as your 2 cups of water.) Adds more flavor to chowder. Bring to chowder mixture to boil, reduce and simmer until potatoes are soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add 6 ears corn, that's been cut off cob and cook for few minutes, then add 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, and scallion greens from the left over green onions, chopped. Cook until shrimp are done, season. Serve topped with the bacon. This is very hearty chowder!! Sorry, no picture available.
  7. I agree with the smell of "knowing" when baking is ready...for some reason, I am able to tell if something is done. However, I find it strange to think about lifting a plate to smell the food. My son does this, it seems almost "insulting" to a cook, when this is done...like they are wary of what is on the plate. Now, if it is because you truly are liking the aroma, different story. But, to sniff everything put before you, seems "different".
  8. Just returned from eleven days in London....we ate at le Gavroche (rather boring at best), Scott's (wonderful seafood and great fun vibe), L'Oranger (one of the best meals we had, every single dish was better than the last), Marcus Wearing at the Berkley (great service, in spite of what others have said on here...we found the new chef and all service people we met, everything one would expect. Again good food.), and last but certainly not least Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital road....absolutely the opposite of what we have read on these forums. It was one of the best meals we have had, EVER! The service, the beauty of the room, the food, everything was done in great taste. The food was wonderful, again, each dish surpassing the last, and nothing in the least boring. If we could we would have returned for another before returning to the states. It was NOT stuffy, pretentious, but every single item was considered for the diner's pleasure, truly a wonderful evening. We also had teas at three different top hotels, and although tasty, sorry to see the old "traditional" sandwiches, etc. has changed. we missed having the old fashioned cucumber sandwiches, etc. To sum it all: It SHOULD be about the food,as isn't that what we all are after, GOOD food? Plus, of course, service, etc., following; but good taste foremost!
  9. We have one in our house, been in for six years, have never had a problem with it. We love it, it is great for really cleaning knives that you would NOT put in dishwasher....boiling hot, we have made one cup tea with it, added it to pan for vegetables, etc. Use it often for rinsing out fry pans and then just drying with paper towel...our brand is Insinkerator also. would not be without it, so if ever it breaks, it will be fixed or replaced. You are able to have plumber who installs it set it at whatever temp you desire, I chose to have it steaming/boiling hot.
  10. the old cook

    Easter Ham

    An old fashioned, but delicious dish from my grandmother, alas, long gone from our lives. Cook left over ham, especially if bone attached for three hours or longer in water in large pot. After one hour, pull off one cup of broth and add to three cups of all purpose flour, until ball forms. Roll this out onto floured counter. Cut the dough into long rectangles, and after the three hours, drop them into the broth and cook until done. Nothing much was ever said about times, you just have to watch and taste. The "dumplings" are thin though, so do not take long to cook. Serve with mashed potatoes, green vegetable, and pour some of the broth over the ham meat and dumplings and potatoes as a sauce/gravy. It is tasty, if fattening. BUT, you only have it every once in awhile. Enjoy....as this is ONE of those recipes that will die out someday.
  11. I agree about the condiments, if long enough, it looks like my grandmother's celery dish.
  12. Sorry if this question is residing someplace, I don't know where to find the answer. How long, after a small jar of caviar is opened, can it reside in refrigerator? Hate spending all that money, and then not be able to use it! Even the market people can't seem to come up with a straight answer. Many thanks.
  13. Butter crock in summer, Texas is HOT! And, regular butter holder in winter, or for company dinners. I save the wrappers in the freezer and use these to grease the inside of pans and ramekins for baking.
  14. For company our favorite way is olive oil and Kosher salt, with lots of smashed garlic all over, toss with hands and let sit for a couple hours, then roast in hot oven (400 degrees) for about 8 minutes. We do peel the stems first. At eight minute mark, add cherry tomatoes that have also been salted and oiled, again with lots of garlic added. Continue roasting until asparagus is al dente. Sometimes when putting it all on platter, we sprinkle with Feta or Parm. Makes for very pretty presentation, we have never had left over asparagus.
  15. Oh yes! Bacon Fat, why do people turn up their noses at such a lush treat? Also, agree about Kitchen Bouquet. It is great to add a touch of brown if needed for soups/gravies. Also, don't frown....but Knorr's Hollandaise sauce mix, if in a hurry.
  16. Just went to one this past Saturday, absolutely every single thing was higher, and I DO keep track of my purchases and can state this emphatically. However, I shall also continue to go to the markets, as I do believe in helping the local farmers as much as possible. AND, the vegetables and fruits are as fresh as can be. We talked with one gentleman who had picked his lettuce (beautiful) at five that very morning, and we were among his first customers at eight a.m., when the market opened.
  17. the old cook

    Mise en place

    Way back in the fifties when in school, home ec classes taught us to always have a tray with all our items needed pre-measured and ready to go...be it baking or cooking a regular dish. THEY called it being prepared, no fancy terms, just being prepared. We students thought it was just to make it easy on the teacher of the course. NOW, I find it helps this old brain to remember what I have to do. My husband, who does NOT cook, always teases if he walks into kitchen and I am NOT prepared with mise and running around trying to find a needed ingredient. So to make a long story short, yes, I TRY to always have everything ready to go and in bowls at the ready!
  18. I am lucky enough to have a large kitchen; so I have two Gel-Pros. One in front of sink, one in front of island vegetable sink. Wood floors, but I seem to have problem with the mats, as they constantly "curl" on corners and trip anyone walking around kitchen area. So have turned them over trying to straighten them out. They are wonderful when standing for long periods of time, sure saves on backaches. In front of refrigerator is a regular cloth mat to catch all the ice chips and cubes that come shooting out of the front of refrigerator when getting ice and water....irritating refrigerator!!
  19. It is good for home made milkshakes. By the time you add chocolate sauce, touch of milk, it is extremely good. Wouldn't waste our Texas Blue Bell on milkshakes.
  20. I agree about canned sodas of any kind, they all tend to taste like tin, whereas the bottles do not. Also find applesauce from cans taste strange, again, bottled does not.
  21. We learned years ago to forgo dining out on Mother's Day, it is as bad as Valentine's Day...overcrowded, rushed waitstaff, poor service, and generally speaking, poor menu choices on that day. So we either go days before, or days after any "holiday" to our favorite restaurants. Meanwhile, I shall butter steam lobsters for husband and myself, and he'll grill small rib eyes to go with...we have fresh leeks from our garden which I"ll saute, and lettuces (also from our garden) to have nice salad. Bottle of wine, and we're happy people. In fact, thinking about it, think I'll use some of our leeks, onions, cucumbers and make cream of cucumber soup to start. Sounds like a good meal to me!!
  22. Would hate to be without the use of one: After all these years of cooking, I have learned a few things about them..never put celery, banana peels, or huge amounts of vegetable peelings, do little at a time. But never the celery or banana peels... A couple of bones from chicken okay, but have learned to our sorrow that too many bones can also clog. We also compost as much as possible, however, when needed, a disposal works great! Especially since you can't add meat/dairy products to your compost. Another thing with disposals or plumbing in general; wipe out as much of any grease and toss in trash, never down sink! If it DOES clog, and you have reset the button, to start it again (NEVER with your hands), use broom handle to "push" it..THEN and only then turn on the start button. Since you have one, enjoy how much it can help you!
  23. Sweetings sounds like a great idea, we will be spending one day in the City, so this would be good lunch spot. Again, thanks to you all for helping us come up with new ideas, we just keep adding them to our lists; each one will help to make our trip a first class adventure!
  24. Here in the Dallas area, it actually has become too hot, too soon. Lettuce is starting to bolt. However, it is still good enough for fresh salad. Leeks, onions, shallots are doing well, and tasting great. Garlic is getting close to the stage for early picking and curing. We have a couple of green tomatoes showing in pots (have four raised beds, but nematodes attacked tomatoes in those beds in past), so they should ripen soon. Rosemary, sage, and three citrus trees we overwintered in make shift "green house" are doing okay. Kitchen garden of herbs are wonderful. We have nasturtiums, chives, basil of all kinds, dill, oregano, thyme and mint in pots, all ready for harvest. Green peppers have put out some small peppers, so unless heat continues to be unseasonably warm, we should have great harvest. Then we have problem of TOO MUCH, what do we do with it all? Guess it will be time to call in neighbors to help themselves!
  25. I use canned ones all the time...just rinse, make your butter mix, clean the empty shells you have purchased (hopefully, previously) by boiling in water for at least five minutes, stuff the clean shells with the butter, the snail, more butter, and whatever else you desire. Bake, serve! Very easy, and oh so wonderful with bread to soak up all that delicious garlicky butter!! I find mine at almost any normal grocery, if not there, call around to a good Italian/or ethnic grocery; normally they carry them. Enjoy!
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