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COLD VEGETABLE & PASTA/GRAIN SALAD! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (May 2015)

I love these cold salads and am taking notes, thank you.

One of our favorites for summer dinners on the porch (great with grilled salmon or almost grilled anything) is the sesame-avocado pasta salad I found several years ago on It was unique on-line at that time, but a search these days will turn up some elaborated versions.

Very quick and simple:

A dressing of
Minced raw garlic,
Sesame oil,
Lemon and/or lime juice (I like a mixture of both best),
Red pepper flakes,
Toasted sesame seeds, and

poured over just-ripe avocado chunks, which are then gently mixed with cooked angel hair pasta.

The bright, strong flavors of the dressing are a great complement to the "cashew-flavored cold cream" (Helen Gurley Brown's long-ago take) avocado and the pasta. Black sesame seeds make a pretty contrast to the white, green and red and can be a fun "ants at the picnic" note, but we'll go with white if we're not sure how guests would take that.

May 08, 2015
Thymus in Home Cooking

Chow Chicken Salad

Different strokes, indeed. Chicken salad is my main way of using up whatever white meat we end up with after eating the good stuff. :) I'm going to give the recipe and that "dried cherry mustard" a try, though, so thank you, Stanbee.

Mar 28, 2015
Thymus in Home Cooking

Adding counter top to a small kitchen?

Lots of workable ideas, Fadista but since I'm currently designing our second Ikea kitchen, Id like to refer you there for a closer look, preferably in-store. Base cabinets come in 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 30 and 36 inch widths and in 15 (used to be 12) and 24 inch depths.

Undercounter drawer and pullout storage (infinitely better IMO than door-and-shelf as it holds far more and is far more convenient) is available in a wide variety of options for very little from Ikea. Don't know how long your niche is, of course, but Ikea has two lengths of standard butcher-block-type wood counter, one of which would require a single cut along one end to custom fit it.

If doing that counter, aside from that one cut and setting the heavy butcherblock on, all work could be done while sitting on the floor with a glass of wine. In your case, I wouldn't attach anything to the walls but simply plan on taking it with me for additional storage (kitchen, garage, laundry, wherever) in my next home.

Mar 06, 2015
Thymus in Cookware

POULTRY SOUP! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (January 2015)

Yet another great soup thread I'm going to be mining for new recipes.

I didn't see it here, so I'm adding one of my very favorite things about roasting up a turkey -- mushroom, barley turkey soup afterward. Since I always have a container of dried shiitakes around, it's a really easy pantry recipe.

Most of the leftover meat is torn/cut into bite-size pieces and set aside. The carcass, with a generous amount still attached, is stewed with celery stalks, thyme, onion, bay leaf, salt and onion. Resultant broth strained, water added if needed, then toss in dried shiitakes, lots of barley, marjoram or/and sage, more celery sliced in bites, and more thyme, more salt and pepper as needed. Cook until barley is still slightly chewy. Then add turkey meat, a can of rinsed carrots for my husband, and finally a good splash of lemon juice or vinegar to perk up. It freezes really great.

Jan 27, 2015
Thymus in Home Cooking

What do you put in your chicken stock to make the most flavorful soup?

This may be my favorite thread ever, thanks very much, NYCguy. Chicken soup is my all-time favorite comfort food, and I use the extra chicken broth in so many dishes. I've given up taking notes from this thread and will just print out the entire thing for experimentation.

This's a mixed stock/soup subject by title, so I want to speak up for soup made from those supermarket packs of chicken legs and thighs, and wings if any happen to be available, but hardly necessary. Legs and thighs just tossed in cold water provide plenty of collagen.

Long ago I moved to an area with no decent whole birds, absolutely required for my MIL's recipe, which prompted me to learn I could still make a lovely chicken soup (in less than half an hour's simmer) just with one of those sad little packs of 4 immature, unexercised thighs or legs and thighs. The meat, celery, onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper, parsley if available. That's it for the broth. Plenty of gel released, good chicken flavor. BTW, to my taste, I've never made a chicken soup that carrot didn't ruin for me. And I've tried a lot of "favorite" recipes in pursuit of the ultimate. No carrots. :)

That said, I'll be trying virtually every variation offered that's new to me. This is going to be fun. Thanks, everyone.

Jan 23, 2015
Thymus in Home Cooking

What are some of your favorite kitchen tricks that you'd be hesitant to admit to foodies?

So nice to confess I use ketchup whenever less than a full can (almost always) of tomato paste is called for ("saute 2 tbsp until browned"). I seldom remembered and used those little zip-lock baggies I froze the rest of the tomato paste in.

Jan 23, 2015
Thymus in Home Cooking

Dried Mushrooms, OMG!!

My thought went that way, too, only a rice salad for the summer. Green onions sliced in, scrounge the veggie bin for whatever else sounded good, maybe a can of baby clams or some toasted nuts. A light vinaigrette could go whatever direction sounded good at the moment, lemon and garlic, rice vinegar and sesame oil, red pepper flakes, whatever.

Jul 28, 2014
Thymus in Home Cooking

Pico de gallo: deseed or not to deseed?

Not for me too. I love the juice that collects when I use regular tomatoes and use it for salad dressing.

Jul 28, 2014
Thymus in Home Cooking

Must I boil split peas/lintels/beans/rice?

I once did a search on rice for the same purpose, Jason. I didn't find the definitive result I was looking for, but I did learn there are people out there who love to munch raw rice. The biggest problem seemed to be damage to teeth from overdoing, although there was also mention that too much swelling of volume in the stomach could cause problems. Altogether I decided we could eat raw rice if we needed to, but I picked up a hand-crank grain mill on Craig's List. It'd obviously be easier to eat and digest if mixed into a slurry.

Our preparedness only extends to sheltering at home with enough for a few months of stuff we eat anyway (and the means to cook it). I.e., for something like the power grid down and slow to get back up.

In addition, just for an extra cushion beyond simply laying in extras of dried and canned foods, condiments, salt and peppers that we rotate through routinely anyway, I have a few large bags of rice stored in a snap-close plastic tub, with the mill. Rice because it keeps well a really long time, years after moist grains would have spoiled, and long after beans would probably have gone bad too. The longest I've kept a bag before using it is 5 years, just to see what happened, and we literally didn't notice any difference from just purchased.

After I read that 3000-year-old honey was found in an Egyptian tomb, still edible due to honey's special properties, I laid in a few extra glass jars of that too.

BTW, I don't know if it's showing up where you live yet, but I was just chatting with a kudzu admirer, and all parts of it are edible, including the roots. Something worth knowing around this area, though I hope never actually particularly useful. :)

Jul 28, 2014
Thymus in Home Cooking

Rude guest?

At 5 my daughter already understood perfectly well that accepting an invitation meant she was required to eat the meal nicely. She came home after dinner at a friend's house, though, sure I would understand and agree that she was right just to pretend to eat the "old, rotten potatoes" (or as I promptly found out from the mom involved, a good friend, au gratin potatoes.) If a 5-year-old can be both mannered and sensible, is that really too much to expect of adults?

If it were me, though, I'd have been more upset with my fiance. From one viewpoint, very gracious of him, but from another, he should have taken his cue from his partner, but inadvertently he undermined you and supported someone who was behaving badly toward you, friend or no.

There will be other dinners and other guests. I hope yous go over this and agree on how problem guests should be handled in future. I.e., as host and hostess acting together, in concert, after whatever combination of exchanged glances or quick confabs is needed to arrive at a decision.

I think it would make sense to agree that, when it comes to cooking a dinner, whoever cooks rules. If both of you, then adjourn to the kitchen briefly. If mostly one, the other takes the cue from the guy in charge.

Loyalty, standing together against the world, knowledge that your partner is always covering your back--every married couple needs as much as possible as soon as possible.

The secret is...nutmeg!

Rum cake. In the batter.

May 06, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking

Anyone got a good de-fatting equipment/techinique?

My easiest SOUP defatting is to run a very fine-mesh skimmer/strainer through the top broth. No need for finicky carefulness--the broth picked up runs through the fine screen quickly, leaving the fat behind. Since this is such a casual method, I'll often take some off at the same time I'm skimming the initial scum but leave most of it a while to give more time for its flavor to be absorbed into the broth. That's the theory, anyway.

For fat that can't be skimmed, I also use a large plastic pitcher-type separator, but I'm going to go looking for that ladle.

Apr 03, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking

Spring Rolls - Home Cooking Dish of the Month (April 2013)

Thanks. IMO, learning from personal experience is the absolutely worst.

Apr 03, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking

Spring Rolls - Home Cooking Dish of the Month (April 2013)

Cool rice paper summer-spring rolls are my choice. Since we alternate between Georgia and Florida, with farmer's markets near both homes, whether it's spring or summer can be sort of like "what day of the week is it?" anyway.

This'll be my first time participating, and I'm strictly an amateur home cook, very fond of recipes to follow. This time, though, since I enjoy but don't love most traditional fillings, I've been musing over some of my favorite salads and have decided to experiment with one tangy pasta-veggie salad that I could enjoy much more often if it weren't for the pasta. Lemon, lime and raw garlic... :)

Apr 02, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking

Home Cooking Dish of the Month (April 2013) - Nominations

VEGETABLE SOUP. I loved tacos at first thought until I realized they're not seasonal, and spring growth brings new fresh ingredients.

Mar 23, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking

What's Your Salad Style?

I'm sort of all over the place, but an odd favorite for enough decades to probably qualify is/was tomato and lettuce tossed with Lawry's seasoning salt, then let sit a bit while juices are drawn out. (We were kids with better things to do than cook. :)

Nowadays wilted iceberg isn't quite my style, so other greens are added shortly before eating and I have lots of fun with various ingredients, but the seasoned tomato juices are still/always my very favorite dressing. And that's without even considering that these days it's one of the few things I can eat all I want of without worrying about calories.

Mar 13, 2013
Thymus in Home Cooking