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Everything posted by Mottmott

  1. I think it's wonderful when I find a cheap wine that's drinkable. I feel more empowered to throw 2 bottles of wine into a braise or to poach fruit when it costs less than $10. I wish I could get Shaw's wine here in PA or NJ.
  2. We're all sorry for Michel's loss. And I like many of you have lost family members to food and/or tobacco. The question is how we can improve our own health. Addicting as tobacco is, we can at least banish it. Food is a more insidious problem; we must eat and yet control it. I think - at least for me - the key is to maximize the pleasure while reducing the calories. Obesity and weight control issues in general is such a complex issue. A few weeks ago there was a very thoughtful program about it on Charlie Rose (click on episode 6), which suggests some possible future progress. In the meantime, what are we to do? When I see anyone who is obese, I feel so sad for them, for the pain they must be in or will be when that weight finally takes its toll on their joints. What it might do to their health in general. I know that with only 25-30 lbs more than I should weigh, my joints and back feel it. If I lose as much as 5 pounds (or put it on), I can immediately feel the difference. What this weight change, up or down, may do to my internal systems I can only guess. As one who loves to eat, and in fact am a sweet freak, what am I to do? My already degraded joints make significant amounts of exercise an unattractive option. If I could do more exercise I might be able to reach my optimum weight. But I have devised a way to at least keep from gaining. It's a compromise that keeps me from gaining weight even if it has not led to losing weight. I admit up front that it requires more time and expense to do this: --1. I do not eat fast food. Ever. --2. I either cook my own food or eat at carefully chosen restaurants that emphasize quality over quantity. It is clear to me that the more nutritious and better tasting my food is, the less I need to satisfy my hunger. --3. I avoid factory foods other than such basic ingredients such as canned tomatoes, dried pasta, etc. And to the extent possible, I try to use the fresh version of those. -- 4. I try to buy high quality, preferably organic and local and seasonal, fruits, vegetables, and animal foods. I find this yields more flavorful food geneally. --5. I control the amount and quality of my carbohydrates. I buy artisanal bread or make it myself. I eat pasta fairly often, but weigh out 2-3 oz portions. I avoid adding bread to any meal that contains another carbohydrate. --6. I eat large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, setting no limits, but often either eat them raw or prepare them by steaming or roasting. --7. Except for baking or a few special savory dishes, I use only olive oil or grapeseed oil. No transfats. --8. I eat no factory made snack foods (chips, etc). I keep several kinds of nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, smoked fish, herring bits, olives, pickles, or other strong flavored foods. --9. I cannot stop eating sweets. This is my biggest challenge. So absolutely no mass marketed cakes or candies. I keep a 70% Valhrona chocolate on hand, and I find that an ounce or two will satisfy my chocolate cravings. Occasionally I will buy a pastry from a high end bakery (cannele are a particular favorite), but in general I limit myself to sweets I have baked or cooked or cooked myself. I will make a batch of cookies, scones, etc., that can be frozen and baked off, a few at a time to eat. If I make 3, 6, or 12, I'm likely to eat them all, so I only bake off what I need to satisfy my sweet urge. The cakes I make tend to be nut or other cakes that can be finished by a dusting of powdered sugar instead of buttercream, etc. The pattern is to keep myself from becoming hungry, not to deprive myself of foods I like but to prepare them in ways that give strong satisfying flavors and control the amounts of calories. Eating 3-400 calories worth of cherries takes a lot longer than a candy bar and is nourishing besides. If I could follow my regimen more scrupulously, and if I could conquer my sweet tooth I might even be able to lose enough to reach optimum weight. But the perfect is the enemy of the good.
  3. I don't know how bountiful the crop is, but in Philadelphia, the Farmers' Markets have wonderful peaches, plums, cherries, and all sorts of berries. Northstar, my favorite vendor (Pa) sells them for the same price as last year. This sort of local crop wipe-out is just another argument for local farm production and crop diversity.
  4. Using fevres makes the process easier. I use Valhrona, but I think a couple other brands also come in fevres. Cutting up coin sized bits is WAY easier. The possible downside is that they only come in 3 kilo pkgs. Personally, that's not a problem.
  5. Interesting, I also put them on the stone, but I do it first, then move it up. I also coat the bottom, but most of the time I use a complementary flavored perserve/glaze. My timing varies according to the type of pie/tart I'm making. Next time I'll try it in reverse.
  6. You all give me confidence that J-G not only has great food but is appropriate for an 11 year old foodie. So far it looks like our best candidate. We'll likely take more jaunts together to NYC, as we're only a hop away on the turnpike in Philadelphia. So we'll likely try out all these suggestions sooner or later.
  7. Thanks for the suggestion. I have Jean-Georges' books and everything I've made from them has been terrific. I'm sure they're even better when he makes them.
  8. I agree, it's a great improvement over previous years at HHS. My one disappointment was the Sommerdale people were not there with their marvelous greens. Perhaps they'll be along as I was told not everyone is there yet. I bought lots of stone fruit, tomatoes, beets, peas, broccali, a new radish bean, and some eggs, tasted the cheeses (good, not bowled over), and the chocolate lady's wares which were quite good. The dark cherries from North Star were terrific, the Queen Annes from another vendor, merely good. There's a table of Asian style vegetables that wasn't getting so much play, so those of you who do much cooking in that style might want to check the market out lest he disappear from disuse. My one gripe with Farmers' Markets (in general, not this in particular): organic/grassfed meats seem only to be sold frozen at worst, or at best in pre-packaging that yields more than a single person household wants. I concede there are logistical problems for the vendors to do otherwise, but I seldom buy meats there for that reason. On the plus side, there are two vendors selling fresh fowl, one mostly chicken and turkey, the other with greater variety. From an ecological point of view, I'm unsure whether my farmers market shopping is a plus or minus. I buy local foods which supports small producers who have trucked in their foods from nearby as compared with Florida or California, good, good, good. But on the other hand, to shop this way 2-3 times a week, I am personally driving about twice as much as I would to shop at Weavers' Way. Any economists in the crowd?
  9. Neat! I've filed that for another trip. We need a whole meal this time as there will probably be another adult on board.
  10. I checked out DB&D's website/menu. It looks like a really good candidate. Thanks. It's not so much an issue of fancy or casual as something downright delicious.
  11. Well for starts, Manhattan would be easiest as I'm currently hobbling on a cane. (As you see, I've carelessly clicked my post into the wrong forum.) My plan is to park at the Museum, so a subway and/or taxi will take us anywhere. For something really out of the way, I will go out of the way. Dessert is more important than location. Em really likes meat and veggies; for example, she flips over such things as the sauteed brussel sprouts we lovingly separated into leaves, beet slices graced with mustard oil, or mushroom duxelle raviolis with sage butter. She'll be spot on when I have her taste an improvised bean soup, adjusting it with a splash of vinegar, etc. But she's wild for desserts. (Should she ever go into the restaurant business, no doubt it would be as pastry chef.) .
  12. admin note: moved topic from New Jersey For our combined birthday celebration, I'm taking my 11 year old gd to the Met Mus before August 19. The date is contingent upon our lunch/dinner reservation. (On balance, I'd prefer lunch as long as the menu isn't diminished by not being dinner.) EM and I cook/bake together all the time. And though, fair to say, she's more into product than process, she has an excellent palate and is seldom wrong when I ask her what's needed to balance a soup, sauce, etc. I want this to be a blowout meal that she'll never forget. And a perfect dessert must climax the meal, not simply end it.
  13. LeCreuset is VERY good about replacing pots gone bad. They replaced 5 different pieces for me - even giving them to me in the color of my choice so I could turn the assorted colors collected over the years into a matched set! This was about 5 years ago. I strongly urge you to do nothing until you call LC.
  14. Mottmott

    Empanada Crusts

    I usually bake my empanadas. First I like them that way, and second it's healthier. Most of the time I use a pate brise dough. The first time I ever had them they were made by an Argentine-born friend who used Bisquick! They actually weren't bad, though homemade dough is, of course, better. I have lard in the fridge now, and next time I make them I'll try one of those lard dough recipes. Heartwise, how much worse could it be than the butter I use. As for shortening, then we're talking transfat. Another benefit of baking over frying is that after they are baked (slightly underbaked) one can freeze them on a tray, then ziplock them in the freezer so that you can take out just a few at a time as desired and bake/defrost them as needed. This is wonderful for anyone who lives alone - or even couples as you can make several meals at one time. Done this way, they are as fresh and crisp as the day they're made. I'm not sure if this would work as well deep frying them. Edited to add: I saw an episode of Daisy Cooks in which she made some with yucca dough.
  15. Of course you do. How else can they be all the same size so they will cook perfectly?
  16. Leafy greens and herbs are most at risk in my fridge. Living alone, my choice is between variety and wasting some of them. I find that washing them, then wrapping in towels and placing in a plastic bag improves their shelf life, but I still wind up throwing out too much. As for carrots and celery, scallions, onion, fennel, and any other vegetable that one typically uses as a soup or sauce base, I saute them and store in plastic bags in the freezer til I make a soup or stew.
  17. Both. I have a relentless sweet tooth, but I've given up eating junk sweets. So unless I'm having dessert at a good restaurant or have baked something at home, my treat of the day will be 1-2 oz (6-8 feves) good dark chocolate. I think if I'm going to eat something high calorie, it must justify itself. I buy Valhrona Guanaja in 3 kilo feves pkgs as my house standard, smaller amounts of other good chocolates when I need something different for a paricular dessert. Which brings me to a question. Has anyone else who uses the Guanaja noticed a difference lately? It seems sweeter and fattier the last couple times I bought it. I'm going to check out some of the other varieties that are 70%+.
  18. You can find packets of steel wool in several grades of fineness in most hardware, paint stores or lumber yards. One used to be able to get it in the grocery store as a Brillo/SOS package with a bar of soap to use with it, but now they saturate the pads with soap and they don't work nearly so well. They work well in conjunction with the powders. And they work work on aluminum, too.
  19. For years, I've used no-name supermarket generic serrated 5 buck knives on bread, with only 1 complaint, too short. So I finally sprung for the Forschner-Vic (40547) and am mighty disappointed. Afer 40 years of slicing bread evenly, automatically, I now have to concentrate to compensate for this knife's tendency to make the slice thicker on the bottom than the top. And often unsuccessful even with the extra attention. It's particularly irritating because I tend to like bread thinly and evenly sliced. I called the Knife Merchant where I bought it and got some garbage about the blade being one sided. Could I have gotten a knife for lefties? edited to clarify that I am right handed.
  20. Wonderful news about your well deserved triumph award for your delectable Baking. It's become my go-to book. This weekend I shall go to it for a contribution to my DIL's heroic collection of our family's gaggle of grannies. Another granny will be making a Bundt cake of some sort, so I'm thinking lemon tart. The raves are still coming in for that contribution to last Tday's potluck! This in fact is my complaint with this book. Each venture into it is so successful that people want repeats when I want further exploration. What a problem. We bask in your reflecting glory.
  21. BBC (on PBS) reported on this today.
  22. Right. But whether average Joe or informed home cook/baker, there is also the issue of access. If this change occurs, it will be even harder to find fine chocolate except in specialty stores. As it is I must make a special trip across town to get the chocolate I prefer to use in baking (only available in 3kilo bags), but in a pinch I can find an acceptable substitute in my regular grocery stores. If this change occurs there will be even less acceptable chocolate available in general food stores. It will be the classic instance of bad money driving out the good. The irony is that it is only recently (10-20 years) that good domestic chocolate has become more widely available for home baking (true of many ingredients). It seems to me that the mass manufacturers, as they try to capture the consumer of quality foods and/or organic foods, are typically trying to subvert the very standards that we consumers are attracted to. Many of the smaller companies that atttracted us by producing foods the larger manufacturers did not make are now being bought out by these larger corporations. (Sharfenberger and Stoneyfield leap to mind.) The question is whether the original quality will stay with the name. I disagree with those who feel we should simply shrug our shoulders and move on to more important things. Some suggest we merely need read the food labels, but if they change the definition of chocolate, then when they put the word chcolate in the list of ingredients of, say, cookies, there will be no indication of what's in that chocolate, it will be subsumed under the new definition. We need to be vigilant that the FDA does not participate in the degrading of our food stocks. (vide: FDA's longstanding knowledge of spinach and peanut butter problems without addressing them.) I agree that we should register our opinions with the FDA - BY the APRIL 25 deadline. The internet makes it easier for us to be informed about issues such as this and easier to put the weight of our opinions on the email send button.
  23. Brown butter with sage + mushroom or squash ravioli. Wordless.
  24. I made the tiramisu cake. Everyone liked it. I usually don't make layer cakes (in an effort to have my cake and eat fewer calories). This was very pretty for a special occasion dinner party. It was some time ago, but as I recall it was not very complicated or demanding to make. I would make it again except that I usually try a different one each time I bake a party cake.
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