tardigrade's Profile

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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?


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

Eating Corn On The Cob--What's Your Style???

Prefer roasted, but boiled will do. I eat it typewriter style (do the young'uns even know what a typewriter is?), after rubbing it with half a lime.

Jul 24, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

A Vegan Antipasto Platter?

For some reason, this thread is making me crave dolmas (spiced rice wrapped in grape leaves). Middle Eastern cuisine is my go-to for vegan dishes: there are a lot of garbanzo-based snacks and dips that have already been mentioned. Mini-tostadas (see if you can find round tortilla chips) made with vegan refried beans, shredded lettuce, onions and salsa are a possibility, but if they're bigger than bite-sized they can be on the messy side.

If it's hot and you have a grill, grilled fruit skewers (peaches work well; melons are supposed to but I've never had much success) or grilled watermelon slices. Or just plain fruit skewers (I think it makes the fruit easier to eat than dealing with forks and plates).

Jul 22, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Lamb Brains - No Gross Out Intended

I have two problems with brains: they're hard to find, and they're very high in fats, especially cholesterol.

Brains scrambled with eggs used to be an American standby, going by some of my old cookbooks. These days I mostly see them at taquerias, where they're known as sesos.

If you can find it, the book "Unmentionable Cuisine" has several recipes: the author claims mammalian brains are interchangeable in the kitchen.

Jul 22, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

Restaurants are inappropriately using flour tortillas instead of corn? :(

They're bland and a bit easier to handle than corn ones? They appeal to people who don't like strong tastes?

It's not just restaurants: I've had a hard time finding corn tortillas in supermarkets in western New York.

Jul 22, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Do you drink tea?

I don't care for mint in teas, or lapsong suchong, but otherwise I like tea all kinds of ways (except with sugar). Hot in the morning, iced during the day when it's hot outside, herbal teas without caffeine after dinner.

Jul 22, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

What are the best store bought flour tortillas?

All you New Mexicans can leave the room now.....Are they gone? Good.

Flour tortillas are IMHO an abomination: use corn like the good gods intended. Corn tortillas are lower in fat, are gluten-free, have an actual flavor, and don't get all gluey when covered in sauce. Even in San Diego they serve fish tacos on corn tortillas these days.

Some people object to corn because they're chewy and prone to cracking. They get pliable if you toss them on a hot griddle (or pan) for about 30 sec. per side, then put them in a towel-lined covered container until needed. I currently have the Costco ones in the house. I've seen tortillas that are mostly corn with a little flour and fat added to make them stay pliable: don't remember the brand (I think it's local to the Bay Area), but they tend to go moldy quickly.

If you live in one of the places where they haven't heard of corn tortillas - and I've been there - Mission's decent and consistent. Just get the smallest-diameter ones you can find if you're using them with fajitas.

Too much cream cheese

They may not be authentic, but two things I do with cream cheese are pimento cheese and chile con queso.

The first is a take on a Southern staple: mix cream cheese with roasted red peppers until it's spreadable, then serve on bread (or toast, or crackers). Onions can be added if desired.

For the second, melt the cream cheese, thinning with milk if necessary. Then add sauteed onions, chiles (I usually use jalapenos but it's a leftovers dish so what you have or like will do), diced tomatoes. When I get lazy I just use a good commercial salsa. Mix thoroughly, serve warm with tortillas or tortilla chips. The garlic cream cheese should work here.

Jul 21, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

What's the flavor difference between lemonade and pink lemonade?

I've actually seen pink lemons! There's one cultivar of the plant that has a mutation similar to what makes some grapefruit pink: the lemons had pinkish splotches on the rind, and light pink flesh. Don't remember much difference in taste, though.

Jul 21, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Southern Breakfast YUM!

I asked my Mississippi- and Alabama-raised husband about the muffins: he said that biscuits were easier to come by when he was growing up, since if you're going to go to all the trouble of making the gravy (which should have some flecks of bacon in it) it's nothing at all to whip up the biscuits. And liver pudding is a Carolina thing, which he insists is not the "Real South".

Is a large skillet the best way to roast a whole chicken in the oven?

It can be done, but it's not the best: any fat/liquid that comes out of the chicken will collect in the pan, and the chicken will sit in it. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but not if you want a crispy bird. Before I got a roasting pan with a rack (essential for fatty things like ducks) I would put a layer of vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, celery turnips, etc) in the bottom of a large pot - a Dutch oven, since that's what I have- then put the chicken on top of those. The drippings from the chicken flavored the veggies, and the chicken itself did not end up soggy. IMHO, a skillet would be a too shallow, but it's better than nothing!

Jul 20, 2015
tardigrade in Cookware

Profiling the Adventurous Eater | Food and Brand Lab

Kimchi and polenta are exotic or adventurous? <Checks calendar> Yup, it's still 2015 here: those foods have been in every mainstream grocery in these parts for decades. Rabbit's harder to find, but beef tongue is available in Costco around here. Seitan I can take or leave: I'll eat it, but it's not something I go out of my way to find (even if it is right next to the tofu in my local grocery).

There's a cultural bias hidden deep in here, IMHO. Maybe it's because I live in an area with a large Asian and Mexican population: one culture's staples are often another's exotics.

Jul 14, 2015
tardigrade in Food Media & News

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

I serve fancy imported sparkling waters, like Perrier, in champagne flutes for alcohol-abstainers at dinner parties. My own favorites are fizzy water with citrus juice or a strawberry, aguas frescas (though they tend to be sweet, it seems to be mostly from the fruit juices), iced teas, including herbal. Izzy's dry sodas aren't very sweet, and have some interesting flavors such as cucumber.

Jul 13, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Looking for good bottled Ceasar Salad Dressing

Every time I've found a decent one, either the company's gone out of business or the local stores have stopped carrying them. So I go back to the recipe in my old Fanny Farmer cookbook (c. 1950, I think): lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, pinch of salt, egg yolks. I sometimes use the oil from the anchovy can as a sub for some of the olive oil.

Jul 09, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

Is there any reason to NOT wash fruit before canning?

It's been a while since I've canned stone fruits, but I always peeled them first, using the dunk in boiling water than in ice water method. I do the same for tomatoes.

Green Pea Guacamole Recipe

Dip? Such a paltry term for a glorious sauce that goes back to the Aztecs, if not further. Grumblenewyorkersdon'tunderstandMexicanfoodgrumble.

And it's a terrible thing to do to beautiful, hard to find around here, really fresh peas: they are great on their own. OK, you can steam them gently, but they don't need more than that.

Mexican in Buffalo

Mighty Taco? <ducks>. There's not much to choose from, since Buffalo doesn't have a big Mexican population and generally the best you can expect is Tex-Mex. There have been some new ones opening recently - Valle of Mexico in South Park has gotten good reviews, but I haven't been there.

Onions in Indian Cooking

I walk past a Punjabi restaurant early in the morning when they're getting their deliveries: sacks and sacks of good old California yellow onions! Their philosophy of cooking seems to be the same as mine: first, chop an onion :-)

I learned from Julie Sahni's cookbooks: slice onions, cook them low and slow until they're past the caramelization point, then add the other ingredients.

Would you buy dessert sauces at a farmers market?

I've seen dessert sauces sold at different farmers' markets in widely scattered parts of the US, including the one nearest me. I'm not much of a sweets person, so I rarely buy them, but there does seem to be a market.

Canalside - Buffalo?

I'll second the recommend for Liberty Hound - and it's been packed the every time I've been there.

Lettuce That Won't De-Grit

I occasionally find dirt inside lettuces, particularly the loose-leafed varieties: they do grow in soil, after all :-) Since my household is too small to eat a whole head of lettuce at once I peel off leaves and wash as I need them: if some have more dirt than usual I'll either cut off that bit or give it a more vigorous manual wash. The key is separating the leaves so you can get at all surfaces. And if there is any visible sand in the soaking bowl I'll go for another wash.

Spinach, OTOH, rarely comes clean in fewer than 5 changes of water, and often throws off enough dirt to start a small garden.

Jun 25, 2015
tardigrade in Home Cooking

When to get lunch/a snack on this trip?

I feel for you: I fly from San Francisco to Buffalo twice a year, and the time change does not work in my favor. Many's the time I've left the house by 5AM Pacific Time (I take the train and BART to the airport, which adds a couple of hours to the trip), encountered weather delays in Chicago (pilots won't fly when there's a tornado on the radar) and arrived in Buffalo after 11 PM Eastern Time, by which point everything in the airport is closed. It makes for a long day. But I take along dried fruit or a roll or some energy bars in case I can't find anything edible along the way.

Now, there are some people who for various reasons require meals at regular intervals, but for most people missing or skimping on a meal isn't a big deal. (BTW, Ramadan started this week: a billion people are dealing with abstaining from sustenance during the longest days of the year in the northern hemisphere).

I still think you should take a brief detour to Tim Horton's: it's inexpensive, quick, better than average fast food and so far Western New York is the only place to find it outside of Canada.

Jun 25, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics

When to get lunch/a snack on this trip?

I'm not sure why picking up something in Buffalo outside the airport isn't an option: there's a Hortons on practically every street corner. The Buffalo airport used to have a place that served passable beef on weck, but that went away in the last remodel. The Anchor Bar has an outlet in the airport (though their food does tend to be messy) and there's a small food court tucked away near the lower numbered gates that has some adequate sandwiches, small pizzas and similar.

Jun 24, 2015
tardigrade in General Topics