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tardigrade's Profile

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How do you send back food without pissing off the server or chef ?

It's usually not the server's fault. I don't send food back often, but have when
-the wrong dish was delivered (usually on a busy night); mistakes happen - I just mention that I ordered something else
-a dish was overly salty, to the point of being difficult to eat. Then I just said, "it's too salty"
-I asked for meat rare and it came well-done. That's the kitchen's problem.

If I just don't like something, it's my problem. If a dish is not as ordered or described, that's the kitchen's problem. Sometimes I'll suggest that the kitchen might do something differently,like if I order pickled ham hocks with grits and I think the grits would benefit from some salsa, but I don't expect a kitchen to drop everything for me. Now if I ask a server to recommend something without dairy and I get a dish with a cream sauce, that's a problem

about 10 hours ago
tardigrade in Not About Food
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Sketchy Stuff We Resort To In Kitchens

Beer made with pork parts? I've heard of medieval practices where brewers would toss a chicken into the mix, but I've never come across it in modern times - and I've been to a lot of brewpubs and microbreweries. I've had smokey-tasting beers, but that was because the hops were treated to give them that taste.

about 11 hours ago
tardigrade in Not About Food

Calling a (not young) woman "Young Lady"

This sexagenarian hates it. Miss, Ms, Ma'am, nothing at all are acceptable, as is "the lady". IMHO, it's an attempt to be cute but it goes against all the struggles we had in the 60s and 70s to be treated as our own people.

Do you use garlic powder?

i regularly have both fresh garlic bulbs and garlic powder in the kitchen. I use the powder mainly for rubs and spice mixtures, since I can make up a large batch and it will keep for several weeks, and the fresh for stews, soups, and sauces.

about 12 hours ago
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Big mistake!

The main (and AFAIK) only purpose of the dill is flavor. So you may have some weird tasting pickles, but if you've otherwise used proper techniques and equipment they won't kill you.

Was this home-grown cilantro? I ask because every time I've tried to grow it I got plants with wispy, dill-like leaves rather that the big, flat, parsley-like ones I get from the store.

ETA: when I make refrigerator pickles I add coriander seeds - the seeds of the cilantro plant - to the pickling mix. Different taste profile, I know, but it is a common pickling spice.

about 12 hours ago
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Serious Toronto Foodies need help with one great lunch and grocery store in Buffalo

Scwabl's after the crash is pretty much the same as it was before the crash: one side of the building has new siding and a paint job, but the interior looks the same (and is still not friendly to the mobility-impaired) and the menu doesn't seem to have changed.

Serious Toronto Foodies need help with one great lunch and grocery store in Buffalo

Beef on Weck is not typically served au jus: the kummelweck bun is soft enough it doesn't need it - it would just gum things up.

Schwabl's is traditional to the point of being old fashioned. I wasn't impressed with their side dishes earlier this year, but they get points for having draft birch beer, and for being halfway between the airport and my relatives.

Serious Toronto Foodies need help with one great lunch and grocery store in Buffalo

My error - it's the Mess Hall in Lackawanna. I think I've got confused because I've only been there for lunch.

Serious Toronto Foodies need help with one great lunch and grocery store in Buffalo

I liked the Lunch Room in Lackawanna the couple of times I was there for lunch (it's just down Ridge from the enormous white basilica and across the street from the ugly orange city hall). If you want to try the local specialty, beef on weck, and don't mind an excursion, Bar Bill in East Aurora is good (and East Aurora's a nice little town for walking and shopping: stop in at the Roycroft Inn to admire their craftsman furniture); Schwabl's in West Seneca is also known for its beef on weck: it's like stepping back into the 1930s (except for the prices).

I don't get the Wegman's hype. The one in Amherst was OK, the one in South Buffalo was not. Check out the local farmers' markets if you get a chance: there's actually a lot of agriculture in the area, and apples should be just coming in. Canada may not let you bring fresh produce back, but many markets sell cheeses, wines, and packaged products such as cider, jams and jellies. I try to stock up on horseradish when I'm there.

Recipe for leftovers?

A whole chicken? It takes my household of 2 the better part of a week to get through one of those!

Take one of the breasts, chop it fine, mix with mayo and salsa. Then cut one or two avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pits, and stuff the holes with the chicken salad.

There's always quesadillas with chicken and avocado. If you have fresh or canned green chiles, and onions, you can cut strips of chicken, layer them with strips of chiles and onions, and bake (add cheese and olives if you want, or not). Top with some sour cream and you have a variation on pollo con rajas.

Aug 23, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Would you attend a culinary school to become a better home cook?

A uniform??? Why do you need a uniform for a community college course? I can see guidelines like "no loose clothing" or "hair must be covered" but IMO a uniform is a pointless waste of money. So is a 10" bread knife if you're comfortable with an 8" one. (a fine point with me: we have 8" and 10" chef's knives in the house, and I hate the longer one. My husband, who is a foot taller than me, prefers it - I just can't get comfortable leverage with it).

My town offers one or two night classes in particular techniques or cuisines: if yours does, those might be more suitable for what you want to do.

Our perception of "authenticity"

No, it was on the French menu, along with the standard tartare: it was listed as something like "tartare allez-retournez", which the waiter indicated meant a quick trip under the broiler. We got one of each. And it was a small place in Brittany, not in one of the big US tourist areas (although full of Dutch for some reason, who kept shouting to their fellow countrymen on the other side of the room).

Aug 20, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Best sauce recipe for bland, mealy tomatoes?

That's what I'd try: roast, then simmer with the skins still on until the sauce thickens, then run through a food mill and simmer/thicken some more. Your yield will be lower, but you'll concentrate what flavors you have.

Lately I've been adding a little balsamic vinegar (California made, I save the imported stuff for fruits and salads) at the end to mellow out the sauce.

Aug 20, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking
1

Our perception of "authenticity"

I've had steak tartare that was quickly passed under a broiler so that the outside was crispy and the inside still cool. This was in France. I actually like it that way, but when I make it at home I usually don't bother.

Aug 20, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Repurposing leftovers

Leftover meats - especially pork - go into chili if there's a fairly large amount. Smaller portions go into fried rice, with whatever veggies are handy. If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make some sort of pot pie or shepherd's pie.

Aug 19, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Have you ever lost . . . .

The lid for my Corningware pots went missing many years ago. I think it ran off with the lid for the cocktail shaker.

I try to go through the cupboards every few months, and I still find weird things neither of us remember buying.

Clean finger food menu for crafters

I do fine hand quilting and sewing, and I knit. I wouldn't put the stuff I'm working on anywhere near food - especially finger foods! When I get together with friends for a sewing session we keep the foods - simple things like cookies and fruit - well away from working areas. And we make sure there are facilities for hand washing, before and after eating.

I like the ideas of skewers, and of food that can be eaten with chopsticks (or forks, for that matter). Dips tend to be messy.

Aug 19, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Does It Really Exist- Celery With Flavor?

I have one lovage plant that in the summer produces more than I can use. It dies back to the ground in the fall, but comes back reliably in spring (I live in the SF Bay Area). I actually prefer celery, but it's too thirsty for my area.

I've always found celery to have a taste: I just don't like the texture.

Aug 19, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Why boil salsa ingredients?

They're old-school British and they boil all vegetables as a matter of course?

I sometimes roast tomatoes/tomatillos/peppers beforehand since that brings out different flavor elements, but I'd think boiling would just turn things - especially tomatoes - into a much smoother sauce. Me, I prefer raw salsas but there are cooked versions as well.

Our perception of "authenticity"

IMHO, there are as many validly authentic versions of a given food as there are grandmothers who make it. My grandmothers would never dream of putting meat in pierogi, but the oxtail pierogi I had at a restaurant near Buffalo recently were delicious (and someone's Italian grandmother could argue that those were really ravioli, but that's a whole other pile of vermicelli).

Foods change over time: availability of ingredients varies, popular tastes come and go, current health fads influence foods, and so on. I like to read old cookbooks to see how recipes we consider traditional - like chili - have changed over time (I put cilantro in mine: the herb was unknown to the authors of my 1920 Fanny Farmer).

Aug 19, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Best restaurants in Medford, Oregon?

We were in Medford yesterday, and ate at Elements Tapas bar downtown. I was pleasantly surprised: decent wine and beer selection for the location, a nice selection of tapas (four small plates was sufficient for two people). The Portal Brewing company on the same block looked interesting, but is closed on Tuesdays.

In Ashland, I've like Pasta Piatti, but haven't been there in a few years. The last time I was at Standing Stone (good beer, food's so-so) they had a gado gado special: someone should have told the chef that there are other vegetables in Asia besides cabbage.

Aug 19, 2015
tardigrade in Pacific Northwest

What's your favourite potato recipe/ potato preparation? What variety of potato?

My grandmother's potato pancakes,the gold standard by which others are measured. I've never been able to quite come up to the mark, though. Runners-up are the Belgian-style frites I've had in the Netherlands.

My husband does a variation on Pommes Lyonnaise that substitutes stock for much of the fat which I like. And there's nothing wrong with a plain baked potato: spoon on some chili and/or cheese and you have dinner. I'm still trying to get Spanish tortillas - a potato pie/omelet - somewhere in the vicinity of right - I won't turn one down if offered! For a really simple preparation, fingerling potatoes boiled in heavily salted water are great. If I can find nice, small new potatoes, I boil them then toss with minced parsley and butter.

Sweet potatoes? Well, pie, of course!

Aug 09, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Does Your Lemonade Need Activated Charcoal?

Do the overly-charred parts of veggies left on the grill count? After all, charcoal is just partially burnt organic matter...

Now I'm off to the lab to perfect my newest fad mashup: organic sea salt with carbon! Unless someone's beaten me to it already.

Does Your Lemonade Need Activated Charcoal?

Fiber! And organic! The rodents are free-range!

What is worth making from scratch to save money?

Breadcrumbs. Where I live I can get decent baguettes and batards in most groceries, both sourdough and plain, but they often go stale (and in the former, rock hard) before I can use them up. So I pound them with a heavy object to get them into reasonable size pieces, which go for a spin in a blender or food processor to make finer crumbs.

BBQ rubs and other spice mixtures: if you read the ingredients on commercially prepared packages you'll see they're largely salt and a few basics. Making your own to taste - especially if you can find spices in bulk so you're just buying what you need - is simple, and the mixtures keep a long time.

Pancake and waffle mixes - and most mixes for that matter. My DH makes bisquit mix - shortening, leavening, flour - which he keeps in the fridge. Then when we want bisquits it's a simple matter of scooping out a small amount, adding milk until it's doughy, and baking. Adding some sugar produces a biscuit suitable for cobblers or strawberry short cake.

Salad dressings: they're vinegar and oil with various herbs for flavoring. I keep a small lidded jar around so I can give them a good shake before adding to the salad: not the most elegant, but it works.

What's in Tuna Helper these days besides noodles and spices?

I stand in awe of people who make chilles rellenos.

Jul 31, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Does Your Lemonade Need Activated Charcoal?

No.

But I'm thinking some fools will be parted from their money anyway.

lamb dish for a virgin to the meat

Marinating the lamb in lemon juice for several hours helps cut down on the gaminess. The lamb i get here in the western US tends to be older and more heavily flavored than that imported from Australia, which tends to be younger.

Jul 30, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Canning Question: Is There Any Reason Not To Chill After The Water Bath?

The seal is caused by the cooling gases (i.e., air) in the jar contracting and pulling in the lid (assuming you're using a standard American 2-part dome lid): it shouldn't interfere with the seal.

If you want to cool them down quickly, rather than an icebath immediately, try putting them in cool-to-room temperature water for awhile, then add ice gradually. Or refrigerate them when they're cool enough to handle by hand.

Jul 28, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Pressure canning- Ball or Weck?

wrt durability: if the Ball jars aren't cracked or nicked along the rim they'll last as close to forever as you're likely to see in your lifetime. I'm still using ones I bought 20-30 years ago.

Make sure the glass is embossed with Kerr or Ball or Mason: a spaghetti sauce manufacturer was packaging its products in jars marked "Atlas" that resemble Ball jar but I don't know what its thermal properties are. I use those for storing beans and similar stuff.

What is your perfect breakfast?

Favorite? Eggs Benedict with freshly-made Hollandaise (I like the way they did it at La Plancha in Chicago), preceded by fresh orange juice -unpasturized - with a side of strawberries and coffee with cream. How often do I have it? Less than once a decade.

Otherwise, huevos rancheros, bagels with lox and cream cheese, a Western omelet, blueberry pancakes - not all for the same breakfast! In reality, it's usually toast and tea.

Jul 26, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics
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