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eG Foodblog: balmagowry - Back to the future....


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So whose job is it to call our blogger and wake her up?

edit: oops, never mind, I see she's up.

Yeah, she's up all right - madly working on the next series of posts. Bound and determined to catch up. Or at least get a little less far behind. In the interests of which, I'm probably not going to cook today - in-between catch-up posts I'll be able to show you some of the local Chinese take-out, maybe, or something equally un-taxing to the brain.

Saturday lunch and dinner are almost ready to post - meanwhile, I'm taking a break and finishing up the artichokes for lunch. Have picked violets and photographed clam boats.

I'll be back....

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Faithful blogger reporting for duty at last.

Hokay, believe it or not, it's almost Saturday night.

To semi-recap - some time after I get back from my foraging adventures, there is lunch. The Boy makes short work of his leftovers from the Diner Dinner... and forgets to alert me to the photo-op until after the fact.

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Meanwhile I wolf down one of those Portuguese breads, finish the grapes, and am content.

If you've been keeping track, you may recall that around 7ish I interrupt my blogging in mid-spate for a run to the store.

Having decided not to go to Gilgo that evening, we make a sudden about-face to the fallback position. While The Boy runs out to get the fitting needed to adapt our old propane tank to our new gas grill, I return briefly to the scene of one of the crimes: Anglice, I make a quick foray to the Fruitery to grab some of that skirt steak that looked so enticing on my earlier visit.

And stumble onto the perfect dessert....

My favorite way to cook a not-very-thick piece of meat (say, up to 1-1/2 inches) on a gas grill is to put it on frozen. Keeps the center from cooking too fast. My time-travel skills, however, aren't quite up to the task of making that happen tonight: I'll have to take my chances.

Unwrapping the meat, I discover that it was packed by someone prescient, someone who knew, somehow, that it was going to be eaten by Mr. and Mrs. Sprat. Not as to fat and lean so much as thick and thin; The Boy, I regret to say, likes his meat well-done. :shudder: It is one of his few faults (another being that he refuses to eat "any cheese I can smell through the wrapping" - :sigh: ).

img_0054.jpg

One thicker than the other. Put 'em on at the same time, take 'em off at the same time, and they should exhibit the desired difference in doneness.

I'm not sure what proportion of the blame for this lies with the camera and what with the photographer; at any rate, we don't have lights rigged on the porch yet, and photographing the cooking of the meat in progress is a chancy proposition at best,

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the results not as accurate as heart could wish. (The Boy mutters his frustration throughout: he owns an infrared camera but there isn't time to find it lest the meat overcook. He finally locates it the next afternoon. Next time.)

Sure enough, the synchronization is a success.

img_0105.jpg

The grill being new, and I new to it, mine is a little done-er than I like... but still not bad for a mad scramble and a first attempt.

Coming up next: the artichokes and the sauces.

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I'd like to take a moment to introduce a couple of my favorite tools. I've discussed them before on several threads:

- Cooking in Other People's Kitchens

- Creatures of Habit

- Asian Knife

- Useless/Useful Food Gifts

First, the tiny paring knife that The Boy has dubbed "Dr. Paring's Prototype."

img_0050.jpg

Why on earth does no one make a knife like this any more? Hello? Ekco? You made this one - why quit while you were ahead? The tiny short blade, so easy to control, the grip facing away so you can cut toward your thumb. Somewhere in one of the abovementioned threads I have told the tale of this knife and its brother, and the misadventures each of them has encountered. Each of them finally came home to roost; each of them (one here, t'other in Gilgo) is protected and cherished more jealously and zealously than gold or diamonds. They are unique (hmmm - no they're not, there are two of 'em - but you know what I mean) and irreplaceable.

Second, but not by much, the almost equally rare MiniChop.

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While I was searching for the thread where I first mentioned it, I noticed a couple of other references: apparently I'm not the only lucky eGull to own one of these (though I may be the only one to own several). Sure, this is not quite indispensable. My knife skills could probably benefit from the eGCI course on that subject, but they're decent enough when they need to be, and I could certainly do small chopping by hand. But why bother, when this is so much faster?

Allow me to demonstrate. I'm throwing together an impromptu melange (a phrase that might easily apply to most of my cooking, now I think of it) to go with the steak.

To begin with, a shallot.

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Peeled and quickly cut into chunks,

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into the MC it goes.

I push down twice on the top,

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et voila. Took about two seconds.

Close enough for government work. I love my MiniChop!

One reason I'm doing this is I have some mushrooms that need to be used up.

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Those get wiped clean, then cut up by hand into mejumish chunks. The shallots join them in the waiting room,

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while I heat up some fat to saute them in.

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I didn't trim the meat too meticulously, but there are a few chunks of fat; I figure they'll add flavor to this nice little mess if I render 'em down. Wanting the best of both worlds, of course I still use butter as well.

(Please don't tell anyone...

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I ate these. Oh ye gods and little fishes, how good they were!)

Cook these guys till they give up their liquid (oh, and please note - the wooden spatula in the next few pictures is another indispensable and beloved tool discussed on the abovementioned threads),

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pour in some red wine,

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reduce a bit,

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and finish with a little more butter.

img_0084.jpg

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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While all this is going on, of course the artichokes are already cooking. Someone recently posted some interesting stuff about cooking artichokes; different approaches, something about doing them in the microwave. Oh, and Russ Parsons had a nice piece on the subject lately, didn't he? - his stuff sometimes appears in Newsday, since it's now a sibling of the LA Times.

All very well, and one of these days no doubt I'll explore these possibilities in depth. But for now - I'm doing what I know because it's simple and reliable and I don't have to think about it.

Actually, I guess I'm kind of a purist where artichokes are concerned. Or maybe - no, not a purist, because that smacks of principle; no, I think I'm just stubborn. With maybe a touch of the Luddite about me. I love them cold and I love them hot; I love them with melted butter or vinaigrette or mayonnaise; anything other than that kind of strikes me as a waste of time, I'm afraid. I mean, I appreciate a beautiful preparation as much as the next guy, and I realize that I ought to be grateful if someone does the gruntwork for me ahead of time... but the fact is, where artichokes are concerned I'm a peasant at heart and I like them best in their simplest form; I enjoy deconstructing them as I eat them - if I don't get to do that I feel despoiled of part of the fun - of most the tactile pleasure of the treat. YMMV, of course. But there it is.

(I feel the same way - though for subtly different reasons - about a whole flounder or Dover Sole. Once I ordered a Dover Sole at the Four Seasons - and yes, I know that technically what they serve is not a true echt Dover Sole, but for my money it ain't a bad approximation - and was horrified when it arrived already filleted. This wasn't the first time I'd ordered it there, and they'd never made that assumption before; I don't know what possessed them. I was very sweet and polite about it... but I sent it back. If I'd wanted filet of sole I'd have ordered filet of sole. Elegantly producing a Perfect Skeleton is half the fun.)

These artichokes have been sitting around for... well, longer than I originally intended -

img_0046.jpg

they were on some tremendous sale, and I can't remember now what it was that could have distracted me from my eagerness to eat them right away... but somehow they fell into the Black Hole that is my fridge, and I'm just lucky I stumbled across them again before it was too late.

As it is,

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they need a little more, ahem, trimming than I like; to my great chagrin

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most of the tails (which I love) have to be sacrificed.

:sigh: Serve me right.

Oh well. Tink ob yer marcies. I'm still way ahead of the game.

Rinse 'em, stick 'em in a pot, throw in some salt,

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water to cover,

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bring to the boil and cook for about 18 minutes.

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Done.

During those 18 minutes I, of course, am anything but idle. There's the mushrooms to watch, the sauce to make, and (at the last possible second) the steak to cook.

My default vinaigrette -

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In order of appearance, though not of use: Tellicherry pepper; EVOO; Colman's Dry Mustard (as a rule I like it better for this purpose than Dijon - that tiny extra bite!); salt; and mine own gorgeous powerful home-made red wine vinegar.

It all gets shookened up together in a little jar

img_0075.jpg

to emulsify - and conweniently the same jar serves to store the extra during the next few days.

For my sins... well, anyway, here and now I confess: I'm going to mix this with some mayonnaise, and no, I did not make it myself! I've been reading this board long enough to know that I'm not the only sinner present - in fact, I belong to the faction that considers it perfectly OK to use Hellman's under certain exigent circumstances. (Besides, remember I live with a guy from Wisconsin. If we ran out of Hellman's I really think the sky might fall. At any rate, I'm not about to chance it.)

I love doing this because you can vary it so much just by playing with the proportions. A slightly mayonnaise-y vinaigrette... a slightly vinaigrette-y mayonnaise... half and half... add some buttermilk maybe... add some - wait a minute, I'm not adding some anything tonight, I'm just making a half-&-half-ish mixture.

Here, Grandma, here's how you suck eggs:

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the trick to stirring liquid smoothly into commercial mayo is to stir the mayo thoroughly first.

Then put in the liquid,

img_0079.jpg

and just stir till it's blended.

img_0081.jpg

Nary a lump.

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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Right on Balmagowry! I'm all about the butter and especially the wooden spatula - I also have one that is well loved .

Isn't it amazing how good it feels in your hand?

Your pics and blog are beautiful.

Hubby is a huge O'Brian fan and turned me on to your book.

It's truly wonderful.

As for your artichokes - do you ever clean them first then braise them?

I cook mine with some stock, a little wine, olive oil, some mint, bay and garlic. Sometimes I throw an orange in for good measure from the tree outside. The artichokes, the broth, some good bread -I could eat this for days. And often do!

Thank you for your yummy food pics.

I really need to eat NOW.

Monica

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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And... the meal.

img_0108.jpg

Not much left of those artichokes....

img_0109.jpg

And now the moment you've all been waiting for - dessert.

Who says you can't get these any more?

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Yes, you can!

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The flavor is just as I remember it. Texture isn't exactly the same as it was from the Good Humor truck - but hey, these came right out of my own freezer!

The Boy has never had Toasted Almond before, and it's a revelation to him.

We each...

img_0113.jpg

... have to have a second one, just for the sheer joy of it.

And so to bed. Good night!

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Envious dreams for me... I'm the poor schmo who brought up on the "discontinued thread" that I couldn't find toasted almonds bars out here in my little corner of northern california... boo hoo.

Glad to know they're still around though as people had reassured me on that thread and as I can now see with my own eyes :smile: I just have to remember to peek in convenience store/gas station freezers as I travel around! (or try to make some of my own toasted almond ice cream...)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Right on Balmagowry! I'm all about the butter and  especially the wooden spatula - I also have one that is well loved .

Isn't it amazing how good it feels in your hand?

The best! I have several of them. A couple of years ago I had only two, and one day I actually broke one of them in half somehow. Horror! I started watching for them at garage sales. (I don't keep kosher, so I figured it was OK as long as I washed them well. :biggrin: ) I still watch for them at garage sales. You can never have too many.

Your pics and  blog are beautiful.

Hubby is a huge O'Brian fan and turned me on to your book.

It's truly wonderful.

Thank you so much. In that case, you already know that I'm all about, not only the butter, but also the lard, suet, eggs and cream. In fact, to borrow a line from a dear friend... my soul doth magnify the lard. ( :groan: ) And it in turn doth magnify me....

As for your artichokes - do you ever clean them first then braise them?

I cook mine with some stock, a little wine, olive oil, some mint, bay and  garlic. Sometimes I throw an orange in for good measure from the tree outside. The artichokes, the broth, some good bread -I could eat this for days. And often do!

Sounds wonderful. I have to admit that the preparation shown above is just about the only one I ever use, unless I'm doing somethign highly specific that calls for a different treatment. As I said, I'm sometimes tempted to try something different, but ultimately... well, I'm kind of like Uncle Matthew in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love: "My dear Lady Kroesig, I have only read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It's so frightfully good, I've never wanted to read another."

:wink::biggrin::laugh::laugh::laugh:

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Envious dreams for me... I'm the poor schmo who brought up on the "discontinued thread" that I couldn't find toasted almonds bars out here in my little corner of northern california... boo hoo.

Glad to know they're still around though as people had reassured me on that thread and as I can now see with my own eyes :smile: I just have to remember to peek in convenience store/gas station freezers as I travel around! (or try to make some of my own toasted almond ice cream...)

Mmmmm... home-made Toasted Almond... if you're successful you will share the recipe, won't you? hmmmm?

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Lisa, it's not quite the Good Humor truck, but the next time you're in Manhattan find one of the Good Humor carts (there's one in Riverside Park right by Hippo Park/91st Playground) and order the Toasted Almond bar. It'll bring back childhood in no time.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Lisa, it's not quite the Good Humor truck, but the next time you're in Manhattan find one of the Good Humor carts (there's one in Riverside Park right by Hippo Park/91st Playground) and order the Toasted Almond bar.  It'll bring back childhood in no time.

Oh, but there are still Good Humor trucks too, aren't there? At least, there were a couple of years ago, when my mother was last at NYHospital; I stopped at one then and had a Toasted Almond (after a brief struggle between that and my second favorite, Chocolate Eclair). You're perfectly right about its childhood-evoking powers, too. Actually, there are ice cream trucks out here, too - don't know why I've never investigated that, bet they have 'em too. IAC, I never thought the Toasted Almond bar was gone... but OTOH I had no idea I could get 'em by the 1/2-dozen at my local grocery store either! Anyway, the big hoo-ha was prompted by my memory of someone having lamented its loss on the Discontinued thread - didn't then remember who, though. But if Ludja develops a formula for Toasted Almond ice cream, what a silver lining for the cloud over Northern California!

Edited by balmagowry (log)
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I'm with you on the sauces-for-artichokes thing. And listen, can someone explain to me the appeal of stuffed artichokes? I mean, I understand stuffing the cavity left after you yank out the choke, but the stuffing-between-the-leaves thing? You pull out the leaf and the stuffing falls on the plate, right? Am I missing something?

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Right on Balmagowry! I'm all about the butter and  especially the wooden spatula - I also have one that is well loved .

Isn't it amazing how good it feels in your hand?

The best! I have several of them. A couple of years ago I had only two, and one day I actually broke one of them in half somehow. Horror! I started watching for them at garage sales. (I don't keep kosher, so I figured it was OK as long as I washed them well. :biggrin: ) I still watch for them at garage sales. You can never have too many.

Rats, I hate when that happens! I too have succumbed to many a funky garage sale find. Scrupulous washing and.. my mother always said you eat a peck of dirt before you die.

Fortunately clean new ones can be bought at the restaurant supply house.

Your pics and  blog are beautiful.

Hubby is a huge O'Brian fan and turned me on to your book.

It's truly wonderful.

Thank you so much. In that case, you already know that I'm all about, not only the butter, but also the lard, suet, eggs and cream. In fact, to borrow a line from a dear friend... my soul doth magnify the lard. ( :groan: ) And it in turn doth magnify me....

Yes, lard IS good and necessary. I toured Sicily a few years ago with a friend helping her research her book on Sicilian pastries, and lard(and sugar) became main ingredients in my diet. Oh well. It's like Deneuve said - "after 40 it's your face or your ass". My face looks fabulous.

As for your artichokes - do you ever clean them first then braise them?

I cook mine with some stock, a little wine, olive oil, some mint, bay and  garlic. Sometimes I throw an orange in for good measure from the tree outside. The artichokes, the broth, some good bread -I could eat this for days. And often do!

Sounds wonderful. I have to admit that the preparation shown above is just about the only one I ever use, unless I'm doing somethign highly specific that calls for a different treatment. As I said, I'm sometimes tempted to try something different, but ultimately... well, I'm kind of like Uncle Matthew in Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love: "My dear Lady Kroesig, I have only read one book in my life, and that is White Fang. It's so frightfully good, I've never wanted to read another."

I Understand Completely!!!

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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Is that minichop thing the same as the one in the episode where Tony Bourdain goes to the Mall of America?

I blush to say I don't know - I don't have cable and have never seen the show. I doubt it, though. The MiniChop hasn't been made in - oh, almost 20 years, I think. It was only on the market for a short time (I think there was something not entirely kosher about the UL listing), and was speedily eclipsed by brand-name versions. Well, I've tried a lot of those, and never yet found one that could hold a candle to the MC for speed, power and simplicity.

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I'm with you on the sauces-for-artichokes thing.  And listen, can someone explain to me the appeal of stuffed artichokes? I mean, I understand stuffing the cavity left after you yank out the choke, but the stuffing-between-the-leaves thing? You pull out the leaf and the stuffing falls on the plate, right? Am I missing something?

Try stuffing cooked artichokes with a mixture of garlicy mashed potato, pesto and parmesan....

Put the mix in a piping bag, and spread a little in-between the leaves and then fill the center. Place artichoke with a little braising liquid in a roasting pan, cover with foil and roast in a hot oven till heated through. Top the artichoke with seasoned bread crumbs, a little more cheese and run under a broiler till nicely toasted. Pour a little of the braising liquid over and around, finish with the dish with some good olive oil.

Stuffing stays on and leaves make good scoops too.

:smile:

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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Fortunately clean new ones can be bought at the restaurant supply house.

You're kidding. Really? Where???? Really the same, completely flat, with the angled edge? I haven't seen a new one like that in at least 10 years. Lots of things that came close, but no actual cigar.

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Have you ever considered writing about some of the wonderfully foods that evolved so close to your home.

The "Long Island Oysters" were the most famous "American" Oysters during the period of novels that you based your cookbook upon.

The "Long Island Potato", "Blue Point Oyster", "Little Neck Clams", "Piss Clams or Steamers", "Cabbage", original varieties of "Scallops", Flounder, Fluke, Porgy, also the little known 'Sea Run Trout" the marketed after being caught from the creeks that run into Great South Bay" to NYC Restaurants. EEven Chapters about all the Cook Book authors and Chefs who own homes on the South Shore of Long Island.

IE: Martha Stewart, Pier Franey, Craig Claibourne, Jacques Pipin and many others.

I'm sure there are many other interesting food related interesting foods from the area that have never been attributed to commercially beginning on Long Island.

Just a thought, since so many eGulleters are located in the area, and many may not be aware of it's bounty.

I grew up Fishing, Living, Crabbing, Calming and being fortunate enough to live along side "Schaeffer's Creek" in Island Park, didn't sail but had a fishing boat in front of our house. Where you live wasn't more then a short boat trip away. I used to visit friends as far away as Patchier when I was two young to drive since you didn't require a license to use a boat.

I always read and enjoy all your posts, no matter on what topic.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Fortunately clean new ones can be bought at the restaurant supply house.

You're kidding. Really? Where???? Really the same, completely flat, with the angled edge? I haven't seen a new one like that in at least 10 years. Lots of things that came close, but no actual cigar.

Well, maybe not with the same patina that yours has acquired, but certainly shape wise, pretty goddam close.

I live in Los Angeles - Surfas restaurant supply in Culver City usually has a

bain marie with one or two lurking about. The next time I go I'll look for one for you.

They have an on-line catalog here but doesn't have a complete list of all their items.

I don't see any exactly like yours listed, but like I said, I've seen them around.

I'll keep an eye out.

We need to find courage, overcome

Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction

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Is that minichop thing the same as the one in the episode where Tony Bourdain goes to the Mall of America?

I blush to say I don't know - I don't have cable and have never seen the show. I doubt it, though. The MiniChop hasn't been made in - oh, almost 20 years, I think. It was only on the market for a short time (I think there was something not entirely kosher about the UL listing), and was speedily eclipsed by brand-name versions. Well, I've tried a lot of those, and never yet found one that could hold a candle to the MC for speed, power and simplicity.

i6178.jpg

Mine! I have had too many years to count and still love it for the small jobs.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Fortunately clean new ones can be bought at the restaurant supply house.

You're kidding. Really? Where???? Really the same, completely flat, with the angled edge? I haven't seen a new one like that in at least 10 years. Lots of things that came close, but no actual cigar.

I'm with you in terms of the wooden spatula. The only one that I like to use is one I "borrowed" from a former employer about 15 years ago. Mrs JPW brought 2 into the marriage (one of the many reasons I said yes!), but I hate them. They're just not quite right. I love the thinness of the end of mine, and the overall slight curve that makes it easier to use it to flip things and scrape down pot sides. I don't know what I will do when it gives up the ghost.

Guard it well! :smile:

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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