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Other people's results that defy expectations


Fat Guy
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For example, my mother cooks french fries in a small saucepan in olive oil, totally overcrowding the pan with potatoes. Yet they come out great. Everything about the process is wrong -- the small pot, the choice of oil, the crowding, frying once, etc. -- but they're great.

You?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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not another person's results, but my own. i am ridiculously lax when i caramelize sugar--not to the safety aspects, but as far as sloshing sugar crystals willy-nilly up the side of the pan, not using lemon juice or corn syrup, etc. my sugar has never once crystallized (although i realize that posting this may invoke the wrath of the caramelizing gods). other people in my kitchen just shake their heads, and say i have the best caramel karma.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I read about a method of making fries recently that involved putting the fries in cold oil and bringing them up to frying temperature instead of the traditional approach of frying twice, and I tried it last night, fully expecting failure, and it worked perfectly. I used beef tallow and yukon golds cut about 3/8" thick. The downside is that it's only convenient to do one batch this way. The upside is that if you only have one batch to make, it's more convenient than frying twice.

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For example, my mother cooks french fries in a small saucepan in olive oil, totally overcrowding the pan with potatoes. Yet they come out great. Everything about the process is wrong -- the small pot, the choice of oil, the crowding, frying once, etc. -- but they're great.

You?

All of my mother's cooking defies logical explanation. She cannot use any setting on her stove above medium, her pans (all saucepans or small stock pots of one sort or another) have razor-thin bottoms that are so round they can't stand up on their own when empty. Her wooden sppons are stained, worn, and splintered. And it's best not to talk about her knives. To say they are dull is an understatement, or better yet, to say that they are knives would be at least somewhat of an exaggeration (there are prisoners, I'm sure, who would reject my mother's cutlery as unsuitable). Yet she daily turns out good food that would be completely impossible for me to reproduce in her kitchen. I'm not just saying this because I'm her kid and I grew up on the stuff. The whole family marvels at her cooking. And every year when gift giving opportunities come up, they all give her stuff to replace the crap she uses, but she won't budge. It sits in her pantry, often still in the box, waiting for a special occasion.

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My Mom,

Cooked really good food, but was not accomplished at most things. Then the unexpected.

The standing rib roast (from the cold wooden meat locker downtown with the whole rib section dry aged for three weeks) sat in the cold oven for an hour when Mom realized that the oven no longer worked. She called the neighbor and...

Cooked the whole 5 ribs on broil and it was wonderful. She served it with canned mushrooms in the gravy; it was 1953.

Tim

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