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Everything posted by laurenmilan

  1. How true is that? I am a very simple cook, but some people still look at me like I'm Gandalf when I've produced a cake, a pot of mulled cider, hell, even whipped cream from scratch. I mean it... some people don't know how to make whipped cream. I guess it's like any other craft... people are willing to pay insane amounts of money to get a custom made gift basket, wreath, floral centerpiece, or other items that are easy and cheap to make with a little knowledge, practice and the right materials. I shouldn't be surprised that they would also find it impossible to make a muffin, a pie crust, or a cheesecake themselves. Or pay overinflated prices to take some of the labor/guesswork out of it... take a look at Stash Tea Company's selection of scone, cake and bread mixes. Floors me.
  2. My mom clings stubbornly to making Thanksgiving dinner herself, I'm only allowed to peel potatoes, snap green beans, maybe make pie or two. Problem is, my mom's cooking has become more slidshod over the years, more of the "eh, that's good enough, who cares if it's cold" school of thinking. Serving Thanksgiving dinner often means I have to reheat stuff in the microwave because she puts it in the serving dish and lets it sit there for 10-20 minutes while she fusses with something. She loves cooking as a hobby, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, it becomes such an overwhelming chore, I guess. If we cut down on the # of side dishes we probably would do a lot better, and be less likely to leave things in the kitchen in the last minute rush. This year, she's been in the hospital for a week, sadly, and may be in there for another week, due to a bad (but treatable) infection. So when she gets out, she'll be recuperating and has already accepted an invite to another home for Thanksgiving. Who knows, maybe this will break the cycle and she'll let me take on the mantle next year... I'll be 30 for god's sakes!
  3. Is it possible to have an anti-cooking show? Because if it is, she's the "pioneer". Sandra has a cooking show because her hubbie, a CEO of an infamous home construction co., bankrolled it. He even gives out freebies of her god-awful book to new owners of his "semi-homemade" houses (from the looks of things, his houses fall apart as quickly as one of her icing-and-angel-food-cake creations). That, and it's profitable to have a TV show that makes loves to Kraft Foods in every episode. I am generally against the pop-culture shows, but I do find "secret life of" interesting (it would be infinitely funnier with Good Eats' Nutritional Anthropologist hosting though!) And I'm not just saying that because a friend of mine was on an episode making Cornish pasty (mmmm, suet). I think regular guy/gal in the kitchen cooking shows ARE entertaining enough in their own right, they don't need a band or bad jokes or what have you. But then again, I'm easily amused... I find Julia Child freakin' hilarious at times...
  4. But...but...don't you now have the new problem of boring him with "I saw the most interesting thing on eGullet today.." "or, I have to post about this on eGullet"... and so on. I have found that I talk quite a bit about the amusing, profound and interesting things I read on this site. Randi ← Damn. You're right.
  5. Most importantly, I've learned that I know jack squat about cooking. Seriously, I'm known as the "expert cook" among friends & family, but in the world of EGullet... squat. I never knew that being humbled could be a GOOD thing. I learned that I am useless as a cook unless I give up trying to do advanced recipes from the get-go, and get the basics under my belt first. I learned that Julia Child is more respected than Emeril Lagasse for a REASON. I learned to give cilantro a chance. I learned that I wasn't just "uncultured..." durian IS actually disgusting in most forms. I learned that I am not the only creature on Earth that worships PIE. I learned that it's a smart idea to find a bunch of people to shoot the culinary bull with, than bore my poor fiancee with my endless chatter about restaurants, cookbooks and techniques. thanks guys!
  6. LOL, thanks for clearing up the myth regarding French women's dining habits. OK, so maybe they ARE obsessive after all, but at least effectively so, I'll give them that. One never sees a person obsessed with cleanliness who's slovenly, or a person obsessed with organization with a cluttered house. But the number of overweight or even obese people that are obsessed with health, dieting and fitness in the US is legion (yes, I've been lectured by a 300+ lb diabetic about my sugar intake, among other intriguing experiences. Really wears down one's patience.) From the examples on this thread, I'm guessing the corrected stereotype would be: a French woman generally eats with gusto in public, then goes home and eats steamed fish and vegetables for the rest of the week... the American woman eats steamed fish and vegatables in public, then goes home and sprays Reddi-Whip in her mouth (with gusto!) For what it's worth, the Europeans I mentioned not leaving a crumb on their plates: 5 Swedes and 1 Dane.
  7. Okay, it's Perugina, not Ferrero Rocher. But delicious? Daaaamn skippy!
  8. I was just in there the other day (Wayne, PA location) and saw that too. I looked over the bottle twice. Then put it down, picked up another. Took both, put em in the basket. (They also had a house-brand vanilla paste that could be worth a try sometime.) Handed it to checkout guy expecting to be ripped off after all. Nope. I think I handled it well.
  9. I pour pumpkin mousse into a gingersnap crust, then layer white chocolate mousse on top and garnish with gingersnaps. Big hit at Thanksgiving/Xmas dinners (traditional pumpkin custard pie just doesn't have as much of a following as its traditional status might suggest - when I serve it w/other pies, it is the least popular of the bunch every time.) I've also done the pumpkin-banana mousse pie from Ina Gaten's "Barefoot Contessa Family Style", that went over very well too. Me, I LOVE plain ol' pumpkin custard pie too, but when I've served it, I'm often treated to a lot of leftovers... any other pumpkin custard lovers out there?
  10. I think they'd also be alarmed by how bad the food actually is. A lotta crap is still a lotta crap... It's very refreshing to dine with Europeans, particularly the women. They don't have panic attacks around food. They don't go oh-no-i'll-just-have-a-salad. They don't turn away dessert... or leave a crumb, for that matter. The only time I see Americans act that relaxed was when I dined with EGulleters ;-) Even when I'm with seriously overweight folks, the "food is bad" thing rears its ugly head.
  11. As a young home cook, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever sharing recipes, because none of them are mine to begin wth - they're all from books or web sites. As for the "will they mess it up anyhow" issue... I have to agree, that IS a real issue, and when people tell me they have a problem with a recipe, I ask them first if they've changed it in any way. I'd say almost every time I've referred someone to a recipe that failed, and most times when I've seen a recipe fail, that the person is taking undue liberties with the instructions or the ingredients, or just getting plain ol' cheap on the quality of the ingredients. This is asking for trouble, especially in the case of baking. When I looked through the "Worst Meals at Someone's Home" thread, there were plenty of stories about cooks that think recipes are just for "other people". My particular favorite: stringy pudding from a box. Cook stirred like crazy for one minute, thinking it was close enough to beat for 15 minutes. Oh and here's a monument to "eh, close enough" cooking: http://www.allrecipes.com Tons of reviews along the lines of: "this recipe is crap, I did x, y, and z differently than the directions, oh and I swapped out the quality ingredient with some crap from Kraft Foods... what the hell happened?"
  12. On an aside, does anyone have a recipe for a Swedish-style apple cake (aka Scanian apple cake)? It has the slices of apple with batter poured over them, usually served with vanilla sauce. Hmmm, maybe I should check out the Minnesota or Wisconsin boards
  13. I second THAT! I gotta warn you though, keep the cupcakes small/average, and do NOT under any circumstances convert the recipe to a layer cake. Gave folks (including myself) a severe tummyache with 3 layers of that rich, rich cake and that rich, rich icing.
  14. Hmmm... two names spring to mind, both from TVFN... 1) Bobby Flay. I'm sorry, the man's an excellent and accomplished chef, but he's also an unbelievable ass, condescending and overbearing and in love with his own superstar status. I've seen him working alongside homecooks on TVFN a few times, and I don't know how they resisted the urge to force a skewer through their ears to put themselves outta their misery as he put on the condescending act. 2) Sandra Lee (of Semi-Homemade Cooking infamy). Quite the opposite of teaching cooking.. more like constantly generating excuses as to why one should not cook - and crack open a can/bag/jar of some Kraft Foods type bilge instead. Watch her enough times and you WILL be convinced that cooking anything from scratch is a task reserved for the obsessive-compulsive.
  15. I fell in love with this drink when I first tried it at a vietnamese restaurant. I picked my metal coffee filter up at a neighborhood Asian foods store, they may be found at any store that sells Vietnamese/Thai/Malaysian specialty foods/cookware, but it's worth a look in Chinese or pan-Asian stores as well. Mine cost $5 each. They're also available online, but I'm unsure as to what companies ship to Germany. Here's a Froogle search for "vietnamese coffee press" that's turned up a lot of good results: Froogle search Oh, and here's a primer on creating the drink that helped me immensely: Illustrated guide to Vietnamese iced coffee
  16. laurenmilan

    Grilled Cheese

    I just do the "Poor Man's Panini" - a croque monsieur done in 2 cast iron skillets, Alton Brown Style. One of mine is flat, the other a grill pan. Two thick pieces of bread, something stiff , smear with dijon. Toss some grated gruyere on top, then a few slices of some nice variety of ham, then some more gruyere. Heat up the 2 skillets simultaneously, hot as the hinges of hell. Put cooking spray on the inside of the grill pan, remove the regular pan from the heat and spray the underside with the cooking spray. Put the sandwich on the grill pan, then slam the regular pan on top for about 3 minutes. Remove regular pan, then scrape off that poor mooshed sandwich and flip it. Put the regular pan back on top for 2 more minutes, then manage to scrape sandwich off again. Enjoy. I made a buncha these in an assembly-line fashion for company once. THey went from "what the HELL are you doing?" to "mmm baby!" pretty quickly.
  17. Port. It just comes off as too thick and sweet to me. I do appreciate a nice stinky cheese though. Personally, after reading the "foods people hate that I love" thread, I'm considering a one-woman campaign to make lutefisk the next foodie "thing." With the popularity of Marcus Samuellsen and Aquavit, I'm thinking it could probably be cinch. Just ride the Scandanavian foods interest, get it branded as an "aquired taste" and drone on and on about the exquisite texture (ok it's mucus-y, even I know that). Hey, it seems to have worked pretty well for durian...
  18. Me too! It's the one antipasto item I don't absolutely love.
  19. In an attempt to reform myself, I'm trying this out: Seafood Salad with Cilantro Dressing Seems like a nice, sane application of cilantro, not the "heap big piles of the stuff on top of other foods" that turned me off.
  20. In my family, I'd say the good cooks are 50/50 male/female, more or less. Among my parents, my dad can cook some things well, my mom can cook some things well. My fiancee can't cook most things very well, even though he comes from a family of excellent (well, ok, mostly female) home cooks. But at least he LOVES to cook with me, doesn't have a tin palate, and at least he knows himself that he needs to learn better cooking skills. And he loves fine dining, wine & cocktails the way I do... I guess he's just more reliant upon them than I am. We're the dorky couple holding hands in Williams-Sonoma.
  21. If Southerners find the presence of sweet tea so stereotypical, then why, of why is it just about everywhere you go, in Waffle Houses, restaurants, parties, homes, BBQ pits, fast food chains, just about everywhere a person can eat in the south? If it's nothing more than a silly stereotype, then why is it so widespread? (And so much better than the traditional lemon stuff that passes for "iced tea?"
  22. I'm on that anti-popcorn train too... I double-dog-dare anyone to eat popcorn during "Supersize Me". A loooootta discarded, semi-eaten tubs after that movie let out. I still think of dinner as a promissory note for dessert.
  23. "When life hands you lemons, make whisky sours." - a sign hanging above my grandpa's bar
  24. I stand corrected. He's a "Rutgaaahs" boy but he is indeed from Seattle. I still hold my position firm, however, on Martha, though. What kinda New Jersey girl pronounces her "T"s so deliberately, I ask you?
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