t

tardigrade's Profile

Title Last Reply

Eating flowers

I usually see them as garnishes for green salads, or mixed with batter in muffins. Calendula flowers (sometimes called pot marigolds, not be confused with New World marigolds which I've been told are edible but I don't like the smell) are cheerful, but IMHO don't have any taste at all. I've had borage blossom infusions, and they tasted a little like cucumbers.

Nasturtium flowers are one of the few I've had that have a distinct taste: they're quite peppery and a little go a long way! And, of course, broccoli :)

about 4 hours ago
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Freezer died, need help rescuing meat.

Been there - not fun.

First, if things are still frozen, keep them that way. Ice chests about halfway filled with frozen meats and topped off with ice will keep them for a few days (you may have to drain the water and refill with ice periodically, just like old-fashioned ice boxes). That might tide you over until you can get the freezer fixed or replaced.

Otherwise, when mine broke I ended up canning everything I could. It doesn't help with the steaks, though: maybe you could trade your friends or neighbors a few steaks for keeping the rest for you while you get back to normal?

1 day ago
tardigrade in General Topics

Is there anyone here from western New York?

Thanks for the suggestions! Shango and some of the north Buffalo/Amherst places sound interesting. My big limitations are that 1) I'll be based in Hamburg and 2) I'll be looking after my 89-year old mother, who loves to go out, but thinks The Grapevine is the height of haute cuisine. But we can always make her dinner at 5 and go out at a reasonable time....

Has anyone been to Merge? Or Miss Hot? Both their menus sound interesting.

The Taste of Buffalo is great: we were able to go two years ago.

I'd like to add some of my own South Towns favorites:
-Curly's, in Lackawanna. I've eaten here every trip for the past 4 years, and haven't had a bad meal.
-Savory's, in Hamburg. What diners aspire to: plain, decent cooking
-Root Five, in Hamburg. I was there earlier this year, when they had just changed their chef, and it was worth a repeat visit.
-Schwabl's, if it's re-opened by then. Ekl's is a poor second, and they don't seem to grasp the fact that a 4" step means they're not wheel-chair accessible, no matter how loudly they insist.

Jul 21, 2014
tardigrade in New York State (exc. NYC)

Gateway Foods(dishes) to introduce foreign / ethnic flavours

Also described as "you don't want to know how much cholesterol is in this" -). I forgot about butter chicken: the Indian spices come through without the heat some people object to.

Vegan: "What's weird about vegan? The pasta with mushroom sauce I made for dinner was vegan!"

Jul 21, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Gateway Foods(dishes) to introduce foreign / ethnic flavours

There is a restaurant in Lackawanna, NY, the heart of "if it isn't fried it isn't food" country, that wanted to do more adventurous food and still remain in business. (Warning: what follows is just my theory, largely unsupported by facts). They went in for Caribbean-influenced cooking, and started out with a mixture of familiar Italian-ish foods with a few specials, like black bean soup. The soup was just different enough to be exotic, but not too spicy so as to be threatening, and it became a gateway food for people like my culinarily conservative relatives, who, having liked the soup, were willing to venture a little further afield the next time.

What type of cuisine are you trying to introduce to what people? I'd start with something similar to what they're used to. If they're used to standard American food and want to try Indian, for example, I'd start with a pilaf, tandoori chicken, dal - and one spicy (but not necessarily hot) vegetable dish to introduce them to the flavors.

The other way is to stress the similarities: "Gyoza? Those are sort of like ravioli. Korean barbecue? Meat marinated in a bbq sauce, thinly sliced, and grilled."

In the US, many cities sponsor "A Taste of" food festivals, where local restaurants sell samples of their foods: this is a good way to try a little of something before committing to a whole meal.

Jul 21, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

sensational sour cream but only sold in part of the midwest

I think all local brands are better than national brands, since they can produce in smaller quantities, and tailor their products to their customers better. I feel the same way about a local yogurt.

Jul 21, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Is this tacky?

No you don't. Trust me. My father (and grandfather before him) worked for General Mills and got stuff at discount; my mother was a horrible cook. So I grew up with Hamburger Helper. It's essentially dried pasta or rice, amped up so it cooks quickly, with dried or manufactured spices, sauces, etc. The point is you brown up a mess of hamburger, then add the contents of the box and water and -Voila!- instant dinner. It did introduce me to things I never had before - like their stroganoff - but if you have anything like an adequate kitchen and time I don't think they're worth it.

Kraft Mac and Cheese: again, it's powdered stuff to be reconstituted. If you can make a basic white sauce, it's just as easy to add your favorite grated cheese to it and pour it over macaroni. (Disclaimer: I last made Kraft Mac and Cheese several decades ago: it may have been "improved" since then).

As for the original topic: if you invited me for a meal and served a store-bought entree or sides or dessert I'll say "thank you" and appreciate the trouble you went to for me. And I'll enjoy the company and conversation.

Jul 21, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Biggest Cooking Show Pet Peeves

Hair. Hair is not a good ingredient. Hair in the kitchen should be kept under control and away from food.

There's a new show on Korean cooking which I would very much enjoy if the presenter didn't have her hair hanging down just inches from her food: it would not pass muster in a commercial kitchen. Or in mine: my own hair is much longer, and the first thing I do when I'm preparing a meal is tie or clip it back. I understand people want to look nice for the cameras, and no one's going to eat the stuff you're making, but make an effort at good kitchen practices!

Jul 20, 2014
tardigrade in Food Media & News

"Starbucks Demands Barista Remove Tattoo or Resign"

I don't care for tattoos, so I don't have any. (My grandfather had them, so for some reason they always remind me of old people rather than young, hip ones.) They're very common in the San Francisco area, and probably a majority of people working in the food service industry have one or more. If a place has good food, good service, and clean restrooms tattoos don't matter to me.

I've only once commented an a server's ink: she had a very nicely shaded tat done by someone with a lot of skill.

Jul 18, 2014
tardigrade in Food Media & News

Home-made caesar dressing vs the OG Cardini table-prepared one?

If they're preparing it at tableside you can always look and see what goes into it :). But I've never seen a Caesar Salad in a Mexican restaurant in the US. For that matter, very few US restaurants prepare their own Caesar salad dressings.

Some people claim that anchovies have no place in a Caesar salad, substituting Worchestershire sauce, but I like those little salty fishies.

Jul 17, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

I never used a grater before

How to get the food freed? I start with a good thump or two (i.e., bang the grater on the cutting board) to dislodge the large pieces, then run in through the dishwasher along with everything else. Or blast it with a hard jet of water.

Ginger is hard to grate with a standard box grater, let along the handheld one you're using. It usually results in a fiberous mess, as you've discovered - and if you're using just a small piece it's easy to grate your knuckles as well. Microplanes work the best, but I usually just mince it as fine as I can with a chef's knife.

Jul 17, 2014
tardigrade in Cookware

Driving from San Francisco to Big Sur: where to stop for lunch?

I've always had a good meal at the Whole Enchilada (stick to their specials! the main menu is somewhat pedestrian, but their tongue enchiladas were good). They're associated with the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing, where I had a killer chile rellano, and I think is better overall. Otherwise, I think Monterey/Pacific Grove have more and better options than Carmel: they're a little less affluent and have more of a variety. (And if you go to Pacific Grove, stop at their (free) natural history museum!)

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in California

Mendocino area report

I'm going to put in a plug for The Ravens, a vegan restaurant at the Stanford Inn. While I didn't like the sea palm dish I had there (I'll try anything once, now I don't have to again) that was due more to my personal tastes than the preparation: everything else we had was great! Plus, they have a good beer list.

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in California

Wegmans going downhill

Wegman's shelfing practices defy common sense IMHO. I live in an area where beans and rice are all shelved in the same area, because, like, they're all beans or rice. The Wegmen's I've been to seem to differentiate between "real" rice and "ethnic" rice based on criteria that may make sense to them but not to me.

Back to topic: I was seriously underwhelmed when I was at their South Buffalo store last spring. No real butcher, very few non-pre-packaged meats, visibly rotting produce on display, heaps of pre-packaged meals - at least TOPS had non-surly checkers.

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in Chains

Famous foods from your region you find tasty and delicious.

Yay! Another actual ex-Buffalonian on this board!

I disagree about the wings: I've never had any good ones there (they didn't become popular until after I left anyway). But I agree on the beef on weck (with plenty of horseradish!) and Ted's hot dogs. Fish fry is good in theory, but alas generally poor in execution.

Now potato pancakes, if you can find one of the old-style German places still around, are worth the trip.

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Strawberries have no flavor anymore. Agree or disagree?

Fraise du bois grow well from seed (assuming the DestructoCat doesn't knock them all over the floor: most of them recovered, though). There are also wild North America varieties, but from my childhood experience they don't travel well, since they always ended up in my mouth before they could make it to the kitchen!

There's a variety native to the American West Coast, Fragaria chiloensis, that produces similar-looking berries that IMHO have at best an insipid flavor.

My theory about the trend towards huge berries: in the US strawberries are usually sold by the container. So if you can fill up a pint basket with bigger berries you save on labor costs in the long run as it takes fewer berries to fill a basket.

BTW, the big ones can have flavor if they're allowed to ripen on the plants. There are a lot of big growers within 50 miles of where I live, and some of them show up at the local markets with berries that were picked too ripe to ship. Those aren't bad.

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Famous foods from your region you find tasty and delicious.

The meal I look forward to all autumn: local Dungeness crab on locally-grown romaine lettuce, with fresh sourdough and a crisp California white wine.

And Brussels sprouts fresh from the field, frost-tinged artichokes, and the strawberries that show up at the local farmers' market that were left on the plants too late to be shippable and so have an intense strawberry taste. And sand dabs.

Despite the prices and crowding, there are pluses to living in the San Francisco area!

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics
1

Icing for watermelon cake

Is this a cake that's supposed to look like a watermelon, or a watermelon-flavored cake, or slices of watermelon arranged like a layer cake? If the latter, why does it even need icing? Watermelon is quite capable of holding its own without any sugary help :)

Jul 16, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Restaurant blames cellphones for service complaints

Does the restaurant in question provide wifi? Turning it off (or making it available for only a limited amount of time, as I've seen in some places in Europe) could cut down on some texting.

When I dine by myself I pull out the kindle, but after I've ordered.

Jul 14, 2014
tardigrade in Not About Food
1

Restaurant blames cellphones for service complaints

I've had to resort to texting my companion in particularly noisy restaurants, but it's not my preferred way of communicating!

Jul 14, 2014
tardigrade in Not About Food

Is there anyone here from western New York?

Um, I'm actually one of the posters in that thread. Which is a big part of my problem: I seem to make more comments about Buffalo on this list than most people, and I live clear across the continent.

Jul 14, 2014
tardigrade in New York State (exc. NYC)

Is there anyone here from western New York?

It's one of the population centers of the state, has a decent food scene, and yet almost nobody posts about it!

I'm making my semi-annual trip to the Buffalo area next month, and I desperately need suggestions!

Jul 13, 2014
tardigrade in New York State (exc. NYC)

"Manager's Specials" at supermarket

Around here, prepared food sections at grocery stores are becoming more common: my local recently added a burrito bar. I suspect that's where a lot of the older meats and produce end up.

Jul 09, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics
1

Favorite ways to eat fresh tomatoes and corn?

Tomatoes: BLTs, of course! Or just sliced with a little oil and salt. I can't stand canned tomato soup, but I like it when it's made with fresh tomatoes.

Corn: Grilled, then rubbed with a fresh juicy lime. Runner-up is corn chowder.

Jul 06, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

bacon, avocados and cheese---oh my

I like the idea of southwestern spring rolls - and will steal it for a party this weekend!

Another thought: mini-quiches (if you're up to making or can find the shells) with bacon, and slices of avocado on top.

Jul 02, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Cabbage Preparations That Kids Like

How about a cole slaw with oil and vinegar (or just vinegar) instead of mayo? I often make a quick-pickled cabbage (mix shredded cabbage with a large amount of salt, mix well to combine, then let sit for an hour or two. Rinse to remove excess salt, then toss with some citrus juice to taste.)

The problem with cooking is that cabbage contains a lot of sulfides, and if it's not cooked carefully many people - especially little ones - find the smell off-putting. Your stir-frying suggestion is good, since that's a way of keeping the odor to a minimum - and having other veggies helps disguise the cabbage.

ETA: Sugar in coleslaw? <shudder, but then I'm a grown-up.

Jul 02, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking

What types of salt do you keep in your kitchen?

I keep thinking about going to down to the Bay, scooping up a gallon of water, filtering it, and letting it evaporate - just like the commercial salt producers here do. Salt is salt, and ultimately comes from sea water.

I keep kosher salt and plain old iodized salt on hand. I've had some flavored popcorn salts that I liked, but don't eat enough to go out and buy them.

I like the idea of dating salts: I'm surprised some marketeer hasn't tried pushing Gen-U-Wine Salts from Jurassic Seas yet.

Jul 02, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

Small family wants pulled pork. What cuts can you suggest?

There are just two of us, and we love pulled pork, and it's best made in large quantities. So I'll be the nth to say, buy a large pork butt, cook it, pull off enough for a couple of meals, and freeze the rest.

(and save the bone for beans!)

Jul 02, 2014
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

Roll call - who has tried chitlins or tripe and what's your opinion?

Depends on how they're prepared. I've had very good Chinese tripe dishes (there's a dim sum place about 20 miles from here that does a great rainy-day stew with tripe and other vaguely identifiable organs), and a local taqueria makes a tasty burrito with grilled tripe. Italian and French preparations tend to be more on the chewy side, and IMHO milder.

BTW, if we're talking beef tripe, there are four different varieties, each with a different texture. My local Mexican grocery regularly stocks three of them.

Jul 01, 2014
tardigrade in General Topics

Horrifying Jello Recipes

Where does one get a mold shaped like a plucked turkey?

And why do I suddenly have an urge to make a jello salad?

Jun 28, 2014
tardigrade in Food Media & News