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eG Foodblog: mizducky - The Tightwad Gourmand turns pro


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So--here I am, doing my big "reveal" in front of the entrance to The Linkery:

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You will notice that, at 220 pounds on a 5'3" frame, I'm still definitely on the Rubenesque side. But I'm definitely a helluva lot better off than I was before!

You look more like you now than you did back in our college days! :smile:

Do you find that you have to fight the urge to munch late at night? (I think you said something about this already.) My Lizard Brain had me polishing off about 1/5 of a bag of Chex Mix for some reason last night after spagetti with clam sauce for dinner.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I love the pictures of the supermarkets. Everything here is so small, I always have to pop in a few different shops to get all the ingredients (sucky when you don't have a car and can't balance on your bike with groceries;) ).

Randall is adorable. I love red kitties and we're thinking of getting a ginger tom to be Flabbletje (world's dumbest cat name) 's companion ^^

Congratulations on the weight loss! You definitely have loads of will power! What's your target weight??

Edited by yunnermeier (log)
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You look very good. Isnt it great to see it as well as know the impressive number of pounds you've lost? Kudos, again. I'm glad its paying dividends in comfort as well. Your first blog was the impetus for me to move from lurker to member, and I remember your descriptions of pain during your farmer's market sojurn. I wish you continued success in both setting appropriate goals, and meeting them. And of course, success with and for San Diego.eats.it.

It's funny, San Diego and Ontario both have major boulevards named Euclid.  What gives with that?  Were they so fascinated with geometry? 

I too have wondered about the popularity of naming urban streets after Euclid. There's one in Brooklyn too, if memory serves. Anybody got a clue about this?

There's one in Irvine too. Maybe its a convenient "E" for streets running in alphabetical series? I have a hard time imagining city planners coming up with a series of mathematican or philosopher-named streets. "The Golden Arches, iat the intersection of Archimedes and Nietsche."

You've really captured color in your food photos. Nice. and just what IS that bright purple stuff? Cabbage? Purple potato salad? I've mashed 'em and get a light lilac. This presentation takes much better advantage of the effect.

The pressed pork terrine:

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Smoked kasekraner sandwich:

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Yes, witticisms about "food porn" were made. :laugh:

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"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I have just really started appreciating the art of the sausage, and those sausage tacos look yummy...thanks for sharing your lovely dinner.

I have a "Randall" too...he's 7 months old and probably weighs at least 12lbs, ooopps, too much kitten food.

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It's funny, San Diego and Ontario both have major boulevards named Euclid.  What gives with that?  Were they so fascinated with geometry? 

I too have wondered about the popularity of naming urban streets after Euclid. There's one in Brooklyn too, if memory serves. Anybody got a clue about this?

There's one in Irvine too. Maybe its a convenient "E" for streets running in alphabetical series? I have a hard time imagining city planners coming up with a series of mathematican or philosopher-named streets. "The Golden Arches, iat the intersection of Archimedes and Nietsche."

I'll try a way-out-there guess:

As rectilinear street grids, though first used in Roman camp settlements in Britain, are a largely American urban phenomenon (thanks in no small measure to Thomas Jefferson), perhaps the surveyors who laid them out in various cities felt they needed to give a nod to the father of geometry?

None of the Euclid Avenues I can recall--the most prominent one I know is the one in Cleveland; it's a secondary street in my hometown--are part of an alphabetical sequence.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Good morning, all! Boy, did I crash hard last night! This blogging stuff is hard work! :laugh:

First off--a bazillion thanks to everybody for their kind words regarding my physique. It really does my heart good! While I also try my best to stay detached from the whole "looks" issue involved in weight loss--that dynamic really messed with my head when I was a younger frustrated dieter--I will not deny that looking better, and being able to fit into more attractive clothes, does make me feel goooooood. :biggrin:

I am currently out of yogurt, so today's breakfast is a couple of wedges of that Laughing Cow Light cheese in half of a whole wheat pita, along with a cup of coffee. (I love writing "half a whole wheat pita" -- reminds me of an old Firesign Theater routine in which they're doing a mock radio commercial for a rather odd-sounding food establishment: "...and inside, it's delicious! That's Arnie's Whole Beef Halves--we deliver!" :laugh: )

I still have photos from yesterday's veg-cooking frenzy to post, but first, let me catch up with some more responses to posts:

Mizducky, are those kumquats with that pork terrine? Do you know if they were pickled?

edited to add a Whoops! I didn't notice your link to "their very detailed website." :rolleyes:  So, what did you think of the kumquats? I find them pretty bitter when eaten from hand but I bet they make nice preserves.

Right, yes, you did look up and find that those were preserved kumquats. I confess that in the flurry of passsing around dishes for tastes, I neglected to get a taste of the kumquats on that plate. But I do want to note that, as you may have noticed, The Linkery does lavish a lot of care on its sides and garnishes as well as its mains. The braised greens accompanying the link sampler plate were also standouts.

You look more like you now than you did back in our college days!  :smile:

:laugh: The scary thing, Sandy, is that I think I understand exactly what you mean! :laugh:

Do you find that you have to fight the urge to munch late at night?  (I think you said something about this already.)  My Lizard Brain had me polishing off about 1/5 of a bag of Chex Mix for some reason last night after spagetti with clam sauce for dinner.

I decided early on that, rather than battle my inner Lizard on that one, that I'd come up with healthy ways to do late night snacking. I haven't managed to photograph every single bite of food I've consumed this week, but what usually happens is that I save a few low-impact items from my food plan every day to consume in the evening when I get the bulk of my heavy computer work done. Sometimes that'll be a batch of low-fat microwave popcorn (one of my other little concessions to manufactured diet foods); sometimes it'll be a piece of fruit; often it'll be raw veggies; occasionally it'll be stuff like those seasoned nori strips I bought early this week--I've gotta watch it with those, though, as they're way salty and tend to make my bod retain water and bloat uncomfortably. This is an example of another one of my over-riding strategies: it's easier to re-direct the Lizard Brain into a healthier direction than to do a head-to-head thwarting of its will. A lot like re-directing a small child's attention to a different toy rather than just flat out saying "No you can't play with that other one, it's your sister's ..."

I love the pictures of the supermarkets. Everything here is so small, I always have to pop in a few different shops to get all the ingredients (sucky when you don't have a car and can't balance on your bike with groceries;) ).

Randall is adorable. I love red kitties and we're thinking of getting a ginger tom to be Flabbletje (world's dumbest cat name) 's companion ^^

Yeah, the supermarket/hypermart format does have its advantages. Though I do also like puttering around in the various smaller specialty markets around town. And while I've lived in other US cities where one could manage just fine without a car--in fact, in our Northeast cities like New York and Boston, dealing with a car can be such a pain in the butt that it's better to go without--these Southern California cities are so sprawling that I couldn't imagine surviving long without a car. Maybe if I lived in one of San Diego's more urban walkable neighborhoods, like Hillcrest, I could manage without a car; there's also a branch of the Flexcar car-sharing organization here in San Diego, a service I used with great effect when I used to live in Seattle. But where I'm living right now, there are no Flexcars, and while there are bus and trolley stops near me, the service is not quite frequent enough to be a car-substitute ... so I guess I'm stuck burning dead dinosaurs--at over three bucks a gallon right now. :angry:

Aren't orange tabbies great? Now what does the name Flabbletje translate as? It sure looks entertaining to this non-Dutch speaker! :biggrin:

It's funny, San Diego and Ontario both have major boulevards named Euclid.  What gives with that?  Were they so fascinated with geometry?

I too have wondered about the popularity of naming urban streets after Euclid. There's one in Brooklyn too, if memory serves. Anybody got a clue about this?

There's one in Irvine too. Maybe its a convenient "E" for streets running in alphabetical series? I have a hard time imagining city planners coming up with a series of mathematican or philosopher-named streets. "The Golden Arches, iat the intersection of Archimedes and Nietsche."

Heh. That reminds me--I really love the neighborhoods here in San Diego with amusing alphabet street naming schemes. For non-San Diegans: Around Balboa Park, the streets are named alphabetically for various plants, shrubs, and trees. In Mission Hills, it's bird names. But my favorite is the scheme in Ocean Beach, where streets are named after famous writers and philosophers--for instance, the organic food co-op is on Voltaire Street. Nice!

You've really captured color in your food photos. Nice.  and just what IS that bright purple stuff? Cabbage? Purple potato salad?  I've mashed 'em and get a light lilac. This presentation takes much better advantage of the effect.

Ah--I need to thank my boss at Eats.It, Doug, for those photos--he has a much better camera and better technique than I, and is also a bit more bold about using his flash in restaurants, so I asked him to shoot that meal. The purple item is a potato salad--I have no idea how the kitchen managed to preserve that great purple color, as when I've cooked purple spuds I too have had them fade to pale lavendar. And I confess that in the low lighting at The Linkery, the purple color wasn't so noticeable. But the flash reveals all!

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A lot of people don't bother about their friends in the VEGETABLE KINGDOM. They think, "Ah, what can I say? What can a person like myself say to a vegetable?" But the answer is simple, my friends . . . just call . . . and tell them how you feel . . . about MUFFINS, PUMPKINS, WAX PAPER, CALEDONIA, MAHOGANIES, ELBOWS AND GREEN THINGS IN GENERAL . . . and soon: A NEW RAPPORT! You and your new little green & yellow buddies . . . grooving together! OH NO! Maintaining your coolness together! Worshipping together in the church of your choice! ONLY IN AMERICA!

--Frank Zappa (nu, who else?), from the "Soft Sell Conclusion" to the "Call Any Vegetable" suite on "Absolutely Free" (1967)

So here's what happened when I called on a bunch of vegetables yesterday afternoon:

Some of the raw ingredients awaiting their turn:

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Spinach, beets, mung bean sprouts, and king oyster mushrooms. In the repurposed yogurt container is about a pint of broth left over from a lamb stew I made last week. My game plan is to roast the beet roots; blanch and shock the beet greens and spinach together, and the bean sprouts separately, and dress them with a sesame oil/soy sauce dressing for a Korean banchan-inspired effect; and to braise the mushrooms in the lamb broth along with some shirataki noodles.

Washing the greens and sprouts:

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Beets ready to go--notice the green cellophane-wrapped package of shirataki noodle knots on the counter beyond:

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Sprouts blanching:

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They go from just right to unpleasantly limp in the blink of an eye, so I keep close watch.

Onion, shrooms mise-en-place:

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King oyster mushrooms are much sturdier than other shrooms--not only do they stand up to hours of braising, they really need long cooking to get super-tender. Konnyaku products such as my shirataki knots also benefit from a good long braise to pick up flavors, so they'll match well with these shrooms. The onion is going in the braise, along with a bunch of whole peeled garlic cloves.

The greens blanching:

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I love the magic trick of piling tons of greens into a pot of boiling water--it looks like they'll never all fit, but they keep shrinking down as you pile them in, so eventually I got that whole strainer-ful into my old battered soup pot.

The shrooms simmering:

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Eventually I transferred this braise to my crock pot, and let it go all evening while I was out at dinner.

And this is where my camera's batteries started giving up the ghost, so I'll just have to describe to you the dressing I made: 1/4 cup dark sesame oil; 1/4 cup Chinese light soy sauce; 2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar; a bunch of minced garlic; two dried red chiles, crumbled (I used chiles de arbol). After the greens and the sprouts were properly shocked and drained, I used half the dressing each on the greens and the sprouts.

I was able to squeeze out one last photo before my batteries totally gave up the ghost:

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Here is my late lunch yesterday of dressed greens and bean sprouts. There is plenty more of each in the fridge right now; they probably taste even better today after marinating overnight. The roasted and peeled beets, as well as the finished mushroom/shirataki braise, also await in the fridge. And there's leftover sinigang in there too! I better not buy any more food until I've made a dent in all these leftovers!

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Congrats on your weight loss! I'm impressed, not only with the numbers, but with your whole healthy attitude towards eating. I'm also impressed by the sheer amount of vegetables you're managing to consume this week.

Good show! I'm enjoying your blog tremendously.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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My weekend is going to be very busy both from a food/blogging standpoint and a life-in-general standpoint, so I'm planning to take it relatively easy today. But I do have on tap taking a little afternnon trip into Barrio Logan/Logan Heights in search of mariscos (seafood). Off to get ready ...

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As much as I love the idea of Math Streets, I must mention that Euclid is also a type of tree (named after the man?) As MizDucky remembered, there is a Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn. As I look at it on a map, I see it is near a Hemlock Street, a Pine Street, and a Chestnut Street. How boring, sorry!

Lovely blog, Ellen, I lived in Mission Hills for a few months many years ago, and it's amazing to see how much I did not get around to seeing. Sigh, if only rolled tacos and tanos were on your diet. I am learning much more this way - thanks!

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

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With a Friday afternoon of rain up in the pacific NW, I'm reading your blog and enjoying hearing about your food exploits, repeating 'fish heads' in my head and impressed, oh so impressed with your weight loss attitude and your ability to post your reveal to us all.

Way to go mizducky! Keep up your great attitude, your healthful eating and your fun writing, always a pleasure for us all.

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Well, the good news is that I had a really lovely late lunch, and got a few great photos to show you all. The not-so-good news is that I did finally manage to put my knee out. It's not hurting right at the moment, but when I put my weight on it I can tell it is not happy with me. So I'm back home, with plans to spend this evening off my feet as much as possible to give the knee a chance to calm down and eventually pop back into place.

Before I get to posting my photos of my lunch, a few more responses:

Congrats on your weight loss!  I'm impressed, not only with the numbers, but with your whole healthy attitude towards eating.  I'm also impressed by the sheer amount of vegetables you're managing to consume this week.

Thank you! ... hmmm, I should clarify that in a normal week I don't usually buy quite this much vegetation all in one go. What with the blog and all, at some point I kind of started getting carried away with the veg purchases. And so I did need to cook a bunch of it before things started wilting--it lasts longer, and takes up a hell of a lot less space, when cooked. That said, though ... yeah, I guess I really do plow through a lot of vegetables in a given week, don't I? :biggrin:

Lovely blog, Ellen, I lived in Mission Hills for a few months many years ago, and it's amazing to see how much I did not get around to seeing.  Sigh, if only rolled tacos and tanos were on your diet.  I am learning much more this way - thanks!

Now what are "tanos"? That's not an item I've run across yet. Always looking to learn more stuff ...

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Mizducky, are those kumquats with that pork terrine? Do you know if they were pickled?

edited to add a Whoops! I didn't notice your link to "their very detailed website." :rolleyes:  So, what did you think of the kumquats? I find them pretty bitter when eaten from hand but I bet they make nice preserves.

Right, yes, you did look up and find that those were preserved kumquats. I confess that in the flurry of passsing around dishes for tastes, I neglected to get a taste of the kumquats on that plate. But I do want to note that, as you may have noticed, The Linkery does lavish a lot of care on its sides and garnishes as well as its mains. The braised greens accompanying the link sampler plate were also standouts.

Note to MizDucky - the Hillcrest farmers market has had LimeQuats recently. A relative of the kumquat. Interesting little things.

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Following a suggestion I got last night from my fellow Eats.It writer Candice, I made my way back down to Barrio Logan, to an establishment just a couple of blocks down the street from Chicano Park:

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El Siete Mares (The Seven Seas), as the name implies, is a restaurant dedicated to Mexican style seafood dishes. Remember my comment the other day about looking for places the way Linus used to look for the sincerest-looking pumpkin patch? To my eyes, this place just radiates sincerity--bright blue paint job and barred windows and all.

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Inside, the place is decorated in anticipation of Easter. The TV is blaring a Spanish-language game show, and it sounds like somebody back in the kitchen is very enthustically scrubbing pots and pans. Some family/friends of the restaurant management hang out with their kids at a corner table.

The friendly waitress greets me in excellent English, and brings me chips and a really firey non-gringo salsa. The place being called "Siete Mares," I figure I should go ahead and order the namesake dish, the caldo de siete mares (a mixed seafood soup):

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In the chile-laced tomato-based broth is a generous helping of assorted seafood: shrimp, scallops, very tender slices of octopus, firm chunks of fish, and even a small piece of lobster in the shell. Way in back on the left you see the partitioned yellow dish of add-ins that comes with the soup: finely chopped onions, chopped cilantro, chunks of lime, and a squeeze bottle of extremely hot sauce. A clutch of other bottled sauces is also available at every table. The soup also comes with three corn tortillas. This was already plenty enough food that I knew I wouldn't also have room for a fish taco, but I did kinda "roll my own" by fishing some seafood out of my soup, placing it in a tortilla, and decorating it with some chopped onion and cilantro. All in all, a great meal.

It was as I was climbing back into my car that I felt that telltale "click!" in my left knee, so I was frustrated in my desire to show you all some more of the Barrio Logan/Logan Heights area. But I did manage to snap a couple of pics from my car without getting hit by anyone driving behind me: :laugh:

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I have yet to go into this dulceria (candy shop) on Imperial Blvd., but I always notice their colorful display.

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This store, also located on Imperial, I have been in--it's a full-service store with a meat department, lots of produce, and assorted other groceries.

And that's it for this afternoon's adventure!

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Hello, Mizducky!

I always enjoy the mixture of information, inspiration, wit, and adventurous food in your blogs. Congratulations on your accomplishments, and take care of you knee. If you have to choose between the blog and your health, well, you know.

Your greens and sprouts lunch sounds delicious. I am curious why you blanched rather than stir-fried or sauteed the veggies. Do you make them that way to reduce oil, to fit better with your kitchen set-up, or do you just prefer them that way?

I have a cousin-in-law, a retired teacher, who runs a charter fishing boat out of San Diego. When we visit, we dine on their catch. Consequently, I associate San Diego with fresh albacore – ceviche, grilled, etc. Based on what you have shown us, we need to explore further on our next visit.

I will follow the rest of your week with considerable interest. Blog on!

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Bruce, I'm not MizDucky but I can tell you why she probably blanched the greens and the bean sprouts - that's the traditional Korean way of fixing ban chan (side dishes). The veggies are blanched and then mixed with sauces and spices. I was going to comment that MizDucky just fixed it perfectly, just like my korean friends.

The mushrooms, though, would have been thinly sliced and stir-fried with just a tad of oil with red & green bell pepper slices, julienned onion and then lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Bruce, I'm not MizDucky but I can tell you why she probably blanched the greens and the bean sprouts - that's the traditional Korean way of fixing ban chan (side dishes).

Thank you, Doddie! Obviously, I have not progressed from enjoying Korean food to cooking it myself. Korean banchan are great fun, lots of veggies - hmm, sounds like another cookbook research project.

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Hi Bruce--thanks for your kind words. I've actually succeeded in getting my knee to snap out of its weird state, so I figure that, after staying off of it as much as possible this evening, I should be good to go by tomorrow morning.

Your greens and sprouts lunch sounds delicious. I am curious why you blanched rather than stir-fried or sauteed the veggies. Do you make them that way to reduce oil, to fit better with your kitchen set-up, or do you just prefer them that way?

Actually, the main reason I did the sprouts and greens that way is because the several recipes I'd reviewed on the web for Korean banchan such as kong namul (bean sprout salad) all specified blanching and shocking the veg rather than stir-frying or sauteing, so I just went with that. Admittedly, though, I'm a rank novice at Korean cooking. Perhaps Doddie or other eGulleteers more experienced in that cuisine could weigh in here with an opinion on preferred traditional cooking methods for these dishes.

But it's also true that doing the veggies that way does demonstrate one of my favorite strategies for wise use of fats: save up those fat calories for small amounts of highly-flavored fats applied at the very end, and beforehand either use non-fat cooking methods, or break out the non-stick cooking spray for such utilitarian tasks as saute lubrication (where you'd want to use a neutral-flavored saute agent anyway). Remember I split the sesame-oil dressing I made between the greens and the sprouts? The salads wound up with about two tablespoons worth of oil each. This is a reasonable amount of fat as far as my food plan is concerned--and I've found that dark sesame oil is much better used for flavoring than sauteing anyway.

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Bruce, I'm not MizDucky but I can tell you why she probably blanched the greens and the bean sprouts - that's the traditional Korean way of fixing ban chan (side dishes). The veggies are blanched and then mixed with sauces and spices. I was going to comment that MizDucky just fixed it perfectly, just like my korean friends.

The mushrooms, though, would have been thinly sliced and stir-fried with just a tad of oil with red & green bell pepper slices, julienned onion and then lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Aha! Doddie, you must have been reading my mind while I was writing my previous post! Thanks for confirming that I was learning the proper way.

Yeah, with the mushrooms I decided to not emulate any specific Asian cooking method, even though I was using some Asian ingredients (like the shirataki). I really love the flavor of lamb, so I wanted to do minimal flavoring to let the lamb broth do its thing. What wound up happening, though, is that the onions and garlic really caramelized like crazy during the long cooking, so the dish mostly tastes of that--not where I was planning to go with that dish, but a happy accident nonetheless.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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Ellen~

Can you tell me about your shirataki noodles? Taste? texture? Do you get them at 99 Ranch or are they available more across the board?

Lo-carb is fine but a little help on carb substitutes would be helpful :) I was intrigued by Ah Leung's revelation that he and his wife don't eat much rice---they substutute tofu! Neutral, absorbs the flavor of the sauce......makes sense.

What do you think?

Kathy

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Can you tell me about your shirataki noodles? Taste? texture? Do you get them at 99 Ranch or are they available more across the board?

Lo-carb is fine but a little help on carb substitutes would be helpful :) I was intrigued by Ah Leung's revelation that he and his wife don't eat much rice---they substutute tofu! Neutral, absorbs the flavor of the sauce......makes sense.

What do you think?

Hi Kathy--

I feel that shirataki and other konnyaku products have great possibilities as substitutes for high carb foods. It's just that you have to get the hang of them. They essentially have no flavor of their own, and a bouncy rubbery texture that it took some time for me to get used to, though some brands are softer than other. And there are also some varieties of shirataki that are made with some tofu mixed in, so that they're more nearly pasta-like in texture--and also opaque white, so that they look more pasta-like too. I usually get the traditional translucent non-tofu stuff though, and have discovered that if you braise it in a flavorful broth, it both softens a bit and absorbs the flavors.

The other oddity about konnyaku products is that, fresh out of the package, they can have an odd odor that some find off-putting. There are a few strategies I've seen to get rid of the odor, usually involving rinsing it in hot or boiling water, which also helps soften it up a little.

I find the stuff most reliably at 99 Ranch market, and less frequently at other Asian markets in town; very occasionally I see the tofu shirataki turn up in health-food stores in packaging aimed at non-Asians who are doing the low-carb approach.

I'm not specifically doing low carb, but I do eat a relatively modest amount of complex carbs daily, and sometimes when I get to the end of a day and I've used up my carb allotment, shirataki is a nice way to still have some noodles for my soup.

I too took notice when Ah Leung mentioned he and his wife do low-carb--now that's dedication, Ah Leung, cutting down on rice! I do love to cook with tofu too, though I have to count it against my protein allotment. But I can certainly see it working as a carb substitute in a low-carb plan. There are so many different tofu products to play with, also! I especially like fermented tofu, baked/pressed tofu, and bean curd skin, each of which have fascinating flavor or texture properties that are fun to play with. Bean curd skin, by the way, is another useful substitute for noodles--if you get the dried stuff, you have to give it a good soaking to soften it; then slice it up into whatever shape you'd like.

Edited to add: This link will take you to a long-running topic on konnyaku.

Edited by mizducky (log)
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Ellen~

thank you for a wonderfully detailed response. It helps , a lot !

Here in Central CA (Paso Robles) there are no good Asian food markets (San Jose--3 hours drive !) but since hubby still lives in SD, I can send him on a treasure hunt to find some to bring next time he is up. I look forward to it---I miss having a noodle/rice type o' thing......

Best~

Kathy

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