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Everything posted by SWoodyWhite

  1. The kitchen in the new house is 15x14, total floor space, assuming we ever get to move in. We were supposed to move in by Memorial Day...2002! Looks like the contractor is a little behind schedule.
  2. Not at all. Distances are measured differently on the left coast. I haven't been to Boston yet, but on my trips to the other two cities I've seen that people can live quite well in NYC and Philly's City Center without cars of their own. (The rest of Philadelphia can require driving.) In SoCal, life without personal transportation is nearly impossible, public transportation is next to nonexistant, and no one lives in downtown LA, unlike the cited East Coast counterparts. San Francisco is borderline when it comes to car access; some in the City can live without them, but others cannot. But also keep in mind the geography of SF: the City and San Francisco County are one and the same, on a very tight nip of the penninsula, which automatically forces any Bay Area suburb into another county. People who work in SF don't automatically live there; that pushes the metropolitan area of San Francisco well beyond it's official borders. Another way of reckoning how large a metropolitan area is, when it comes to distance, is to consider media outlets. New York City's newspapers and radio and television stations aren't expected to cover Boston or Philadelphia news, since those cities have their own papers and stations. On the other hand, San Francisco's media is expected to cover the outlaying counties; the next media sphere is Sacramento, to the east. Los Angeles is so large in it's range that Orange County, to the south, doesn't have it's own television stations; nor for that matter does Ventura County, if you head northward. And the second largest city in the county, Long Beach, is completely reliant upon Los Angeles for it's media coverage, strictly because of it's proximity to the larger city and in spite of it's having a population larger than that of Atlanta. As I say, distances are measured differently on the left coast.
  3. I can't see any reason to not include Berkely and the Napa Valley in a serious discussion of San Francisco restaurants. Those areas contribute to the local mindset of what is possible and what should be expected of a top quality dining experience. In comparison, Los Angeles discussions regularly include restaurants in Santa Monica (which at least is still in Los Angeles County) and Orange County (which clearly isn't in Los Angeles County). It's the proximity that counts.
  4. SWoodyWhite

    Fresh Oregano

    Fresh oregano can be used the same as dried, but you need to use more, I think at a ratio of three parts fresh for every part dried. It also works better when added later into the dish, as opposed to at the start of the dish with dry herbs. Personally, I like the flavor of the fresh better It can also be used in salads, but do that with a light hand, since like any herb in a salad the flavor can be overpowering. As for making infused oils, be sure to strain the oil after the infusion period. The unstrained herbs can collect mold if left in the oil, which besides being nasty to the flavor can be just plain nasty to those you serve the oil to. (All of which reminds me to snip some from my own garden, to blend with the garlic and butter I'm using to dress tonight's pasta.)
  5. Good evening, Tom! (Well, at least it's evening while I write this.) My partner and I will be moving to the DelMarVa region soon, after a lifetime in Los Angeles. I'm glad to report that he is planning on subscribing to the Post as our major paper, so I'll be reading your work on a regular basis. What other writers on food would you recommend my reading? While my interest is mostly in learning about the local food scene, I'm by no means limited by territory, of course. I'd like to know which writers you enjoy and admire yourself. Thank-you for the time you're spending with us!
  6. So that's how chipotles should be stored! The only addition I would add is rather obvious: toss the foil packets in a zip-lock that's been labelled. And the only question: does the adobo react with the metal enough to cause an off flavor? The question of how to get my mate, who's from Philly orginally, to come within ten feet of chipotles is, sadly, my own problem.
  7. Generally, I'd agree with you, but I haven't been to Otto's since Patina Group took over (they seem to have a lock on food service at most museums and cultural spots these days, the Getty being a notable exception, the latter having good food). Bruce Kimmel, record producer/novelist/songwriter/the guy who made The First Nudie Musical, was seriously not impressed with Otto's or the Patina Grill on recent trips to the Music Center, and has reported same in his blog at http://www.haineshisway.com
  8. The rule of thumb, that the closer you get to the water the pricer things get, holds true when you head west. Heading south can provide a totally different experience; I don't consider Long Beach (southerly) to be expensive at all, while the People's Republic of Santa Monica (westerly) can ring up big bucks fast. However, getting around in LA county can be a pain the the neck, simply due to it's size, so you're probably not going to hit Long Beach. That having been said, you might as well get in some tourist stuff while you're here. For that reason, plus the food is authentic and very reasonably priced, I'll second Hollywood's recommendation of La Luz Del Dia, 1 Olvera Street. I'd go for lunch, personally, and order on the light side. Have yourself a tasty Mexican meal and a good margarita, explore the street itself (a blend of interesting history and really tacky but joyful souvineer stands), and then head down the hill just a couple of blocks to Union Station. The archetecture is glorious, and it's been used in countless film shoots. For that matter, if you really have a problem with Mexican food, Traxx is a fairly good alternative restaurant located inside Union Station, but not as unique an experience as La Luz will give you since the Traxx kitchen does contemporary American. (Their bar does serve a damn good martini or manhattan, however.) I'd avoid anything by Feninger and Milliken, as they lack real authenticity and charge well for what they give you. Also, avoid anything served as food at the Music Center. It is mislabelled.
  9. Taking Mamster's analogies in reverse, when I get around to baking I'll finally find out what a woman's breast feels like.
  10. Our Braun moterboat blender burnt out at about the same time as our Cuisinart Mini-Prep. They've both been replaced with a motorboat from Phillips; the chopping attachment works just as well as the Mini-Prep, and is much easier to clean. I fully expect to do battle with our son-in-law, a carpenter who may not understand what a microplane is doing in the kitchen. I don't use the mandolin very often, but I'm glad we have it on those occasions when I do. Besides, it makes me feel special. The waste of space and money has proven to be the deep-fryer. I'd rather pour the oil in a dutch oven and use it on the stove, as it's easier to control the temperature there. When we move, the deep-fryer will find a permanent spot towards the back of a hard to reach shelf. I just won't tell my partner until he catches me with the dutch oven.
  11. I always thought the real reason for pairing duck or pork with friut was because most fruit has an acid component to it, which counters the fat in the meats. For that matter, most steak sauces have some fruit element in them, such as raisins. I'm no longer fond of mint jelly with lamb, but a good mint sauce is nice. And don't a lot of brines used for brining poultry or pork have some sugar in them, along with the salt? (Brining is new for me, but the pork chops from last Thursday were wonderful after I gave them the treatment.) My partner, Bruce, insists on Crispy Lemon Duck every time we drop by our favorite Chinese restaurant. And he loves Sweet and Sour anything, if we're at a Chinese restaurant other than our favorite.
  12. I always thought the .95 (or whatever cents made sense at the time) was a tax dodge of some sort. At least, that's what I was taught when I was in school oompityfratz years ago. I have noticed a shift, with fewer restaurants using the decimel with their pricing than used to be the case, and instead charging a flat dollar rate. This observation comes both from what Bruce and I have found when eating out and from looking over menus on the Internet. Rule of thumb: the flat dollar rate is more likely to be used when the rest of the menu is in italics.
  13. SWoodyWhite


    I long ago gave up on chiles rellenos. Even back in the olden days when I could get them perfect every time, I figured out that my dinner guests were out in the living room having a great time laughing and talking and slugging down the margaritas and chips and salsa and guac and I'd be stuck back in the hot kitchen with the grease. I make a Chile Relleno Casserole now - not quite as good, but almost, and a damn sight less work. OK, I figure I'd want to be in on the party too. But shouldn't it be easy to prepare the chilis up to a certain point, say where they've been roasted, skinned, and stuffed? I think I've come across recipes that suggested doing this, then giving the peppers a good chill before dipping them in the batter and deep-frying them, to keep the cheese from melting all over the place like Margaret Hamilton. On the other hand, if I'm dealing with lots of hot oil for deep-frying, I'm not too sure I'd want more than a single Margarita before showtime. As for Elise's questions about putting the peppers directly on the heating element on the stove, I've found I prefer having a fraction of an inch between the peppers and the element itself. I've used a wire mesh spatter guard with fairly good results, but I like to keep the spatter guard moving a little so things don't burn badly or melt. Using those old Jiffy-Pop shaking techniques from my college days have paid off, along with a little patience. This should work with both gas and electric.
  14. While my mother's cooking was bland, she was fairly well balanced in what she served. There were a few veggies, such as asparagus, that she never cooked, and I have never developed a taste for them as a result. The same is true of bivalves, which I avoid, with the exception of clam chowder on her part and mine. However, as a transplanted upstate New Yorker to SoCal, she readily adopted foods like tacos, enchiladas, chili rellenos and chile (which she made with cubed chuck, not ground beef), all regular parts of our table and made from scratch. It wasn't until much later that I found out she'd been leaving out all but a hint of chili powder. More puzzling was her aversion to Ethel Merman. I was an adult before discovering the joys of Gypsy. Go fig.
  15. I wish some of this discussion had been available when my partner started designing our new house. Que sera, as Ms. Day would sing. I know I'll be happy with the two ovens, both wall mounted instead of under the range. I'm six foot two, and have never been happy with having to get down almost on my hands and knees to see what's happening in the oven. Not to mention the lifting, and the resulting back strain. What's everyone's thoughts about convection ovens? Bruce was able to get a "deal," so I'll be discovering the pros and cons myself soon enough, I suppose. The good news is that they can easily switch to ordinary oven use, if I want. Part of Bruce's bribe to get me to agree to moving was the range, with six 14" burners. At long last, room for decent stock pots! Refrigerator and freezer: I guess most people would want everything handy to the kitchen, meaning on the same floor. Me, I'm an admitted oddball here. We'll have the main unit in the kitchen, but the backup fridge and freezer will be downstairs in the "basement". (The house is built on a hill, with the main floor at street level and a walk-out basement, if that helps you picture the layout. That's part of why the house has been a bitch to build: no one in Delaware knows what a hill looks like!) What I'm planning is for the downstairs units to be used for storage, and the kitchen unit to be the "working" piece, with as much clear shelf space as I can manage. And no, I don't have any problem with lugging stuff from downstairs up to the work area; my back isn't that sickly. The way I figure, if everything was all together, in no time someone would decide to use the extra space in my "working" fridge for storage, and the work space would be gone in a flash. I am going to have to con Bruce into installing a mini-fridge in his office/study, for all his munchies. It should be a fairly easy con. His study is also where his teapot belongs. And a microwave for his immediate use. (He's going to be so easy to spoil once we move. ) And, one thing we agreed was important from the start: a pass-through counter between the kitchen and the dining room. We plan on entertaining, so having the kitchen open to the dining area is important to me. I refuse to be a kitchen hermit! Sorry, Jackal, the countertops aren't granite. I didn't get to make that decision. And Bruce "hates" glass doors for the cabinets. The movable table was already a given, however. Oh, how to people feel about pull-out drawers for storage below the counter-level, as opposed to cupboards with doors at that level? I think they're easier to work with, again because of back strain but also because of visability. As for bookshelves, the cookbooks are going in my personal room, where they belong! (Wall to wall bookcases, of course!) What I need I can move from one room to the other. We're still working out where the laptop computer goes; I want to be able to move it from my room to the kitchen, with Internet hookups in both locations. The argument hinges on the printer, which I don't see as a kitchen utensil but Bruce insists I'll want. Aaargh.
  16. I can't imagine how an expensive "name brand" heat diffuser could out-perform something inexpensive. I've been using a nifty thing made by Cook's Club, maybe a fraction of a step prettier than WHT's steel plate but not much, and it's served me well over the years. Looks ain't everything, after all.
  17. Yep, that's the song. Written by Bill Conti (music), and Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins (lyrics). It was nominated for the Oscar for best song, but lost out to "Evergreen" by Paul Williams and Barbra Streisand. But we all know which song everyone really remembers, don't we! Great pics, Holly! You're making me wish Bruce and I were living in driving distance already!
  18. I've heard that dairy can help tame the capsaicin in chilis, but this may be an old wive's tale. Or old husband's tale, depending on the teller. And thanks for the pork idea, Anna! I've got a couple of loin chops brining right now. I just had another thought: the poblano/onion/milk mixture would also be very good as a puree. I think I'd want to use white onions in that case, both to keep the color a nice green and for a sweeter flavor; yellow or red onions would dull both.
  19. Personally, I'd rather use chicken thighs than chicken breasts for a recipe like this. I think the thighs have more flavor. That and, um, I just bought a whole tray of thighs at a good bargain price and I've been wondering about different ways to use them. *grins sheepishly*
  20. All right, I've read the article, and it's fairly clear that liquor stores will be able to open on Sundays, which should be good for business. How does this affect area bars and restaurants? And you're absolutely right, Katie, about Delaware not having a sales tax. That simple difference has helped fuel the state's economy for some time, from what I understand. The outlet malls in Rehoboth Beach regularly have charter busses driving in, filled with customers looking for bargains made even better by the lack of a sales tax. Some of those passengers seem to think it's a more fun-filled trip than one to Atlantic City! (And I tend to agree with them!)
  21. Thank-you, Nerissa, especially for the information about dill. My partner and I both love it's flavor, but hadn't heard about it attracting insects. I'd heard about mint's agressive tendencies. Lavender sounds like a great idea; I've run across a recipe recently for lavender ice cream. And your advice about thyme sounds good, too. (You've reminded me of one of my favorite children's books, The Time Garden, by Edward Eager; I've always associated the herb with magic because of that book.) I'm wondering whether rosemary will grow well. We attended a fundraiser at a house on the Palos Verdes cliffs once, where rosemary had been planted all over the estate. It was in bloom at the time, and the grounds smelled wonderful. Of course, the climate in SoCal is quite different from Delaware, but I am hoping for the chance to have a few bushes growing. It goes so well with lamb, and I've found the flowers make an unexpected addition to salads!
  22. Your paraphrase is of Lloyd Bentson, Democratic party candidate for Vice President in 1988, directed at Republican VP candidate Dan Quayle. Interesting trivia tidbit: one of the electors representing West Virginia at the Electoral College that year for some reason reversed Bentson and his Presidential running mate, voting for Bentson for President and Michael Dukakis for Vice President.
  23. One of the first things I plan to do when my partner and I move to Rehoboth Beach later this year is get an herb garden started. I'm so sick of having nothing planted but a few pots of oregano and thyme that having an actual garden is downright exciting. That this will be the first time I'll have ever lived outside of a desert climate makes the change even better. What kinds of herbs do well in the DelMarVa area, particularly along the coastline? And what should I avoid and just buy fresh at the store? Any ideas?
  24. The outdoor gas grill that I've been using for several years now, a Char-Broil, included in the instructions to light the grill with the lid closed. I've a strong suspicion that the difference in instructions may have to do with differences in the venting of the grill itself. In any case, Alton's research staff (and lawyers) should have realized these differences, and recommended checking the instructions for the specific grill make and model.
  25. Which is why one should always take a ladyfriend to these events...those purses come in handy!
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