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Do you call hazelnuts filberts?

What's the big deal? A rose by any other name...

What matters about any name is its ability to communicate to others. So it's not a bad idea to know other names for this nut as well as other foods. But the ethnicity or national background of a term is nothing to brag or argue about. Some nationalities and ethnicities DO often have unique and lovely recipes for them, regardless of what they're called. Those matter, at least to foodies like me.

By whatever name, filberts/hazelnuts are the same nut.

The only people with valid concerns about the names people use for things are etymologists, who study words and their derivations. The rest of us should have more lofty things to think about than to quibble over the name of a nut.

Feb 26, 2014
fastermx in General Topics

Braised Chicken and Chayote

This was a good recipe, a new way to enjoy my favorites: chicken thighs! And the chayote added an extra dimension. I added thin-sliced onion and lime juice to the mixture I macerated the chicken in, and served it with additional wedges.

For the uninitiated, here's some FYI about chayotes:

Chayote is a very under-valued veg. It's a kind of squash, but with differences from those you know.

The entire thing is edible, but only if it isn't too old. Age toughens the skin, so that in the mouth it feels like cardboard. If you can easily send a fingernail through the skin, it's probably okay not to peel it. There's a large, white, flat seed inside - it is edible, often regarded as a delicacy, so don't throw it out. When you peel it, chayote feels kind of slippery/sticky, but don't be put off by that; it goes away when cooked. The taste is quite delicate, too, so to taste it fully, use it the first time in a recipe that won't overwhelm it with other tastes. Try boiling and draining it, then topping it with butter and garlic, S&P. That's a good way to start. It's so inoffensive, it'd be hard to dislike. Thus, like the potato, it will go with countless other foods. I've mixed it with potatoes, mashing them together. Very nice. Especially with garlic and cheese.

You can pretty much use chayote in any dish that calls for squash. I haven't yet tried it in my raw shredded zucchini salad, but I imagine it could work, softening in the dressing the way the zucchini does. I've only recently discovered I could do this with raw zucchini. I'll try chayote soon. Usually, though, it is eaten cooked.

Chayote is a very nutritious veg. Here in Mexico, where I live, it's a common veg. It is a climbing vine, and I've seen it winding up trees, or even hanging from trellises, like in a vinyard.

I found it was particularly scrumptious one day when I was making a piperade. I had some cooked chayote, so I diced it and threw it in, too. Succulent and delicious!

There are countless ways to use it, soups, stews, casseroles and cooked in salads, maybe even raw in salads. You could puree it and mix it with all kinds of herbs and seasonings, including other pureed vegetables, then serve the molded puree sliced, with a lovely sauce. Skewer them for BBQ, basting with oil or a tasty sauce.

When I first saw chayote in the States, I never bought it, because I didn't know what it was, how I should prepare it, or whether the taste would be worth the trouble. But when you realize it is a variety of squash, it isn't all that formidable any more. Just wash it, peel it (if in doubt at all), dice it up and use it in anything where a squash could be welcome. Good stuff.

May 27, 2013
fastermx in Recipes

chicken soup secrets?

Ye gods! 25 people? You'll need a whole LOT of soup - and more than one very LARGE kettle, too! But I'm confused. It sounds like you wanted to make a chicken broth or consommé, rather than chicken soup. Chicken soup has meat in it. And, where most people are concerned, the more meat, the better the soup. I'd guess you'd need at LEAST five whole birds, and the bones and trimmings from five MORE birds. Plus the feet, and any necks, etc. that you mentioned. One bird should probably make good meaty chicken soup for five people, so you'd probably need five birds. Four might do fairly well, though, but no less. You could strip the skins off while still raw, chop them into small pieces and fry them very crisp, like pork rinds, in an unoiled frying pan. Pour off the fat as it accumulates, because it inhibits the crisping of the skins. Serve your soup with a BIG bowl full of these "chicken rinds" on the side, lightly salted, and watch them go in a hurry! They taste like fried chicken skins - and everybody loves those, don't they? I can promise you that just offering these, and other "toppers" will make it a memorable meal. And if the soup is particularly rich and chicken-y, you're likely to become a chicken soup legend.

I'm a WEE bit late for this year's Seder dinner, but there's always next year!

Boil up the number of chickens you need, disjointed (or as some suggest, roast or fry them first). Take out the chicken, debone it, chop the meat in bitesize pieces, and set them aside while you finish the broth. Bones and trimmings go in, and stay in, till your broth is rich and has extracted all the flavor it can. You can also add the aromatic veggies that are commonly used in making broth - use veggie trimmings (be sure to include some of the outer, papery, brownish skin from onions - it adds flavor and color), then throw them out along with the bones when your broth is done. Then chuck the bones and trimmings. You can strain the broth or not, but I'd recommend straining, even if you don't actually try to "clarify" the broth, because otherwise it may still hold some tiny unpleasant surprises, like a renegade sliver of bone or something. Use a fine mesh strainer. Chill it and de-fat it or not (but don't remove ALL fat). Then your broth is ready to make soup. Add the meat to the pot, along with your chosen veggies and simmer, VERY slowly, covered, for at least an hour - 2 is better. Only add seasonings about 1/2 hour before the cooking is done, or they can get flat tasting.

Why not add BOTH roasted veggies and unroasted? Each offers its own unique flavor. Look for the posting where I talk about serving the soup with little bowls of "toppers" the way they do with curry dishes. The choices of veggies and seasonings are entirely up to you.

What makes or breaks the chicken soup is the broth. Be sure it is the best you can make, made with MANY extra chicken bones than on the birds themselves. Good broth has a strong chicken-y flavor.

One more thing. Serve every person with a wedge of lemon or lime. It is to be squeezed directly into the soup bowl. Nobody HAS to, but they're missing a real treat if they don't. I often throw the squeezed wedge into the bowl for a few minutes, to extract the volatile and aromatic oils from the skin - then fish it out and put it on a bread plate or something. And for salt-watchers, the soup would need much less salt, too.

So don't salt your soup at ALL. Let people salt it to their preferences at the table. Just be sure to tell them that.

I would suggest starting your soup at least a day early. Get your broth made to perfection, and chill the cut up meat. Also chill the broth. You can also pre-chop most veggies you'll put in the soup - except that onions might get less tasty if they have to sit for a day. Then, on the day of the dinner, bring your broth to a boil with the veggies. Reduce to a low simmer, add the meat, and cover. Let it simmer slowly for about 2 hours. Season it, then give it another half hour on the simmer. That's MUCH less work on the day of the dinner.

With most of the arduous part of the preparation done a day ahead, you'll be less tired and better able to enjoy your OWN bowl of Seder chicken soup.

You now have a year in which to practice this art. And with all the wonderful suggestions you can find on this URL, a year is enough time to perfect it.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

chicken soup secrets?

I think your chicken soup would be profoundly delicious. You're using EXTRA bones and trimmings for your stock, which intensifies the chicken-y flavor tremendously. That puts you ahead of most chicken soups, right there.

As for the celery bitterness, check out the posting I made about using sugar to counteract it. I wouldn't de-fat my soup entirely. Fat is a flavor-carrier, which is why people get so addicted to fatty foods. An absolutely no-fat soup has no flavor carrier, and you risk it having a flat, or blah, taste. So always leave SOME fat in your broth.

I think your method of making chicken soup would probably hold up to the toughest food critic. Just don't spoil it by serving the soup with pieces of chicken that have bones in them. Always be sure your soup has no bones at all. Extract maximum flavor from them making the broth, then throw them out. Cut the chicken meat into tidy bite-sized pieces, too, for easier eating.

Do you ever add things like dumplings, noodles or spaetzle? If you're already an old hand at those, use them, but for a special meal don't try them for the first time. For a special company meal, though, some people regard such things as too "plebian." Not rational, I know, but when are people always rational?

To me, it's the deliciocity that matters. It's ALL that matters, in fact.

Later, for a non-company meal, try adding some chopped spinach and/or cilantro (stems and all) to this - or any other kind of soup. The nutrition will soar, and they add a lovely flavor nuance that is delicious. Also serve any soup (even this one for company) with a wedge of lemon or lime on each plate. The person can then squeeze the fresh juice into their bowl - or not, as they choose. But they're cheating themselves of a delight, if they don't!

You could consider adding small bowls of "toppers" the way they do with curry dishes. Offer your guests bowls of raw onion, tomato, small-chopped cabbage, sliced radishes, some pickled jalapeño peppers, croutons, etc. You may think up other things for yourself. Just offering the toppers makes the meal more special. But lots of people will delight in using them.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

chicken soup secrets?

You should never omit an ingredient because it has some bitterness. Bell peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, eggplant, and others DO add some bitterness - more if you use a lot, like mushrooms.

Sugar counteracts bitterness. You use it in TEENSY quantities, 1/8 tsp or less at a time. Mix it in, then check the taste. Repeat until the bitterness is gone or down to an acceptable level. When I make cucumber salad, I always include a pinch or so of sugar. You won't taste the sugar in any dish, because the amount is to puny.

Lots of people heavily salt things like eggplant and cucumbers to get rid of the bitterness, but I find it also makes them go somewhat limp. And you have to wash it off, too, or get much too much salt in your dish. I prefer sugar.

You're right that soup is very forgiving. But not if what you want is magnificence! Like all magnificent things, it isn't easy to achieve.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

chicken soup secrets?

Check out my reply above about roasting peppers. It's more than fantastic - it's addictive.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

chicken soup secrets?

Darlink, if you're not much into roasted veggies, let me make a suggestion to get you off to a GRAND head start.

ANY chile pepper, hot or mild, even bell peppers of any color, can be roasted. Get out the griddle (preferably cast iron), and lay them on the DRY griddle. Roast until the skins get black and blistered all over - or close to it. Keep turning them to expose the skins to the heat and mash them down a bit as they soften.

Then pop them into a bag - I've used plastic grocery bags with no problem, and fold the top over them for about five minutes. This lets the steam help to loosen the charred skin. Then remove the skin. I do it under a thin pencil of water from the tap. A purist might say I'm letting flavor go to waste, but it really isn't much, so I do it anyway. You don't have to remove skin that didn't blacken. The blackened stuff should all be removed, but crumbs of it here and there actually add to the "roasted" flavor. Bigger pieces feel like cardboard in your mouth.

Now, just remove the seed ball and ribs, then slice them. What to DO with them? If you don't have a recipe already in mind, put them in salads. What I love best is to put them in a jar with my favorite homemade vinaigrette. After a day, they're delicious right out of the jar. Or on crackers. On sandwiches. There are lots of uses. The ones that you don't put in a vinaigrette can be used in a multitude of veggie dishes. Once you start enjoying roasted peppers, you'll be hooked. I use roasted poblano (ancho) peppers, which are only mildly hot when still dark green, remove the inside stuff so that the pepper itself is a pocket or bag. Into which I insert a lovely thick slab of my favorite melt-y cheese. Then dust in flour and fry in oil. They're delicious as-is on a plate, but could also be put onto a rather lavish sandwich. Maybe with some succulent and juicy chicken or other meat.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

THANK YOU! For the suggestion to use whey as part of the liquid in making bread. So I'll return the favor. Save potato water after boiling potatoes, and use THAT, too, in making bread. For some reason it helps to keep the homemade bread fresh and moist longer. As you probably know, homemade bread gets dry or stale much faster than commercial breads. This is one way to minimize that problem. I've also been told to wrap your homemade bread in foil - after FULLY cooled - and wrap it as if there was no tomorrow - allowing no air pockets at all. That helps keep it fresh longer, too.

I had some extra onions and peelings from potatoes one day when I was making fried chicken. I tossed THEM in the leftover seasoned flour that I'd used for the chicken, and threw them into the oil after the chicken was done. They cooked up kind of loose, but tasted great. Next time, I think I'll use only enough of the leftover seasoned flour to mix with an egg and water (and any additional seasonings I want) into a batter the texture of cream. Then I'd dip clumps of the onions and bacon peels in the batter and fry them in those clumps. A kind of primitive bhaji. I've always hated throwing out potato peels. They taste SO good in baked potatoes and add a lot of goodness to french fries. Many years ago, in the States, a restaurant served up fried potato skins in a kind of loaf. Out of this world. But I can't remember the restaurant. Now, I think, because of what you said, that it might have been a TGI Fridays. Is that how they serve fried potato skins? In a crispy loaf? I'd like to know what they use to hold them together. It didn't seem that they were held together with a batter, but maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to know, if someone's willing to enlighten me.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

All right - don't stop THERE! Tell us some recipes to use whey in! I usually throw mine out, even though I know I'm tossing away some good nutrition. But I don't know what to make with it. And I know it wouldn't keep long in the fridge, either. So give us some recipes to use it in, PLEASE! I'm not the only one interested in this.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Thighs are my favorites, too. There is one shop near me in Mexico that cuts thighs to include part of the spine. That brings you the "oyster," the most succulent morsel on any bird, as well as the kidney, tucked into a little cavity of bone. In addition, this lady's thighs are gargantuan! I have a very large frying pan, and can only cook three of them in it at once! I can remember the thighs I used to get at Jewel Food Stores in Illinois - about 8 in a one-pound package! I'm in chicken thigh heaven now. There was a time when I used to buy chicken backs, but now I don't have to - all the good stuff comes with my thighs now.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

That's true, the frugality of the Depression has come in mighty handy in the last couple of years, with so many people strapped, even jobless. Relearning frugality is NOT, however, merely an emergency stop-gap thing; there's real VALUE and BENEFIT to be had from it. You are LESS healthy if much of your nutrition goes down the drain or in the trash.

Frugality may begin with tight budgets, but it should be retained - even expanded on - for the great benefits it brings. And nobody, rich or poor, was ever sorry at spending LESS on food. That's why this thread tickles me down to my bones.

The wisdom of "waste not, want not" has been rediscovered by many Americans lately - let's just hope they don't abandon it all once they become more prosperous - it will be their LOSS if they do. Maybe we need a new word. "Frugality" seems ascetic, almost spartan, and brings only money to mind - or the lack of it. So, while we recognize the value of it, we approach the whole concept of frugality with a kind of revulsion. Real frugality should never cause revulsion, because it encompasses much, much more than money or being in want. It's getting maximum benefit out of everything you have.

There are actually people in major cities - and I'm not talking of the poor, but of middle and upper-middle class folks - who get MOST of their groceries by raiding dumpsters at supermarkets, restaurants, even industries that process foods (bakeries are a favorite) - any place where usable food might be thrown out. It's time-consuming, hard work, and often unpleasantly so, but they feel the rewards are worth it. Just KNOWING that whole families can be fed well out of food people throw away ought to be a jolt to all of us to be more careful about what we toss in the trash, or put down our drains.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Throwing used coffee grounds on top of garbage that is a bit "rank" smelling helps a lot.

About cutting boards. NEVER, EVER, cut meat on a wooden one. Use plastic boards. Wood is a kind of natural "sponge." Very fine grained, so it absorbs liquids slowly, but it DOES absorb them. Meat juices can soak in, and even washing the board can't rid you of all of it. There it can fester, and get onto other foods you prepare on the board. I once had a board that I feared was contaminated, and some wooden spoons that had gotten distinctly greasy-looking, even after washing. I baked them. As long as there are no plastic parts, the baking sterilizes the wood, and you won't BELIEVE how much grease came out of those spoons! I kept wiping it off and putting them back in the oven!

The worst meat for possible infection is poultry - any kind. Almost all non-farm raised poultry will have salmonella. Though it doesn't commonly hit people, there are some things you need to know to be SURE it never does. Never put any food on a board or other surface that has been in contact with raw poultry or its juices. Wash the board or surface first - soap and water. Never put your cooked poultry on the same plate that held the raw poultry. Wash it first, or better, use another plate. Ditto for knives used with the raw poultry. And don't forget your hands. If you've just handled raw poultry, then go and chop up your salad fixings on another board, your HANDS can transfer the infectious microbes to your SALAD. So always be mindful of what has been in contact with raw poultry or its juices, and never allow them to contact any other food until they've been thoroughly washed. Even though it is uncommon for people to get salmonella from poultry, the risk is always there. Besides, if you develop these good habits now, you'll be doubly glad if bird flu ever becomes a genuine threat to our poultry foods. That's when such habits could really save your life.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Speaking of bananas! I discovered a variety of banana here in Mexico that makes the classic "Chiquita-type" banana look pale.

They aren't pretty to look at, short, fat, and usually with three flat sides. The banana inside is almost orange in color, and is slightly more acid than the common variety, giving it a mildly pleasant sharpness. But it is meatier, more robust and substantial, and you can use them in any recipe for which you'd use the common type. Other than slightly acid (very pleasantly so), the taste is - banana. Only stronger. In case you are thinking I'm referring to the "plantain" type of banana, no, I am not. The plantain type has to be cooked; these, like ordinary bananas, can be eaten in the hand. They're so substantial you could almost make a MEAL out of one or two! I've never tried it, but that's because I also love other foods, too.

It is my opinion that THIS is the variety of banana which should be most common in the world. It is truly outstanding. A banana with a taste on steroids.

If somebody here knows more about them, I'd love to hear it. I don't even know what name they go by. I only know I find them irresistible whenever I can buy some.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

That's what I've heard, too, that they're - if not poisonous, very close to it.

Here in Mexico, people use mostly what Americans call "new potatoes." Thin, pale tan skins, and much moister inside. They're good, but getting a truly fine russet potato here has been touch and go. These potatoes I get do have green under the skin - or on it. I realize that the green contains the same "poison," so I cut it off. Not to stay alive, because you'd have to consume an astonishing amount before the green could kill you - but because it adds bitterness. I think the green in the leaves is more toxic than the green on the spuds themselves.

I would take the advice and NOT eat the greens of tomatoes, potatoes or any other plant in the nightshade family. We may want to think that all leaves should be edible and good for humans, but that's not - quite - how it turned out. A note in Mother Nature's "suggestion box" might help, but I wouldn't hold my breath. There ARE some plant leaves that really CAN kill you, so don't get too fast and loose with eating just any kind of greens.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

You could also prepare some of the same veg as you had in the brine, boil them up together and refill the jar. You might need to add a bit of vinegar or other ingredients, but I've never had to. Pickles, olives - anything pickled can be treated this way. I've even short-cutted the boiling up part, and shoved some sliced cukes into an empty, but juice-filled pickle jar. Works.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

You know what MIGHT substitute somewhat for an Aga? It'd be out of doors, though, not right handy in the kitchen. And it DOES sound a bit weird, but it really DOES work.

I read a cool article about how you can make an oven out of 5 bucks of materials: cardboard, aluminum foil, black spray paint and a thick sheet of clear acrylic that can withstand temps up to, say, 250 F.

And yes! CARDBOARD BOXES. It's catching on to help poor people in other countries, but works best where there are a lot of days of full sunshine.

Since I live in Mexico, I know a number of people who are - shall we say, "impecunious." I.e., poor. I'm trying to get some of them to work together to make these ovens. They can cook their ubiquitous frijoles in it, and pay nothing for the cooking fuel. You can even make bread, unless you want it browned. The sun does the cooking. It can cook soups and stews, and keep that kettle of broth simmering all day - as long as the sun shines. But if it rains...goodbye oven.

BTW, if you love beans, and don't like all the fuel - and time - it takes to cook them, try this. Pick them over, then pour boiling water over them, to cover. Put a lid on it and let it sit overnight. Next day, they'll cook up in half the time. You can even extend it one more day by draining off the water, then pouring fresh boiling water to cover, and cooking them up the next day. After the 2-day treatment, they'll cook up very quickly. I've been spreading this to the Mexican people I bump into, because poor or not, they all love their beans, and nobody likes to waste gas, even if they're not poor.

So I pass it on. You can do it, too.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

I tend to agree with moh here - the dog? When I fry chicken skins, it's to get those crispy rendered skins to munch - if you render virtually all the fat out of them, they're even tastier than pork rinds - and you pay MONEY to have those. These skin rinds taste exactly like the skin of fried chicken. If you don't chow down on them with a touch of salt, as fast as they hit the paper towels, you can use them on sandwiches, in salads, as a topper for almost any vegetable dish - the uses are endless. I wrote to some other posting about this - find it if you want to know how to make them the best way possible.

To me, the rendered fat is a biproduct - very useful, but I don't use it all that often. But those skin rinds? I can never get enough. Nobody who loves the crispy skin of fried chicken can resist them! And they have a LOT less fat than on the fried chicken, too.

I've always loved my dogs - not one died before the age of 16 - but sorry, chum, those chicken skin rinds are MINE, all MINE!

Never throw out chicken skins! Send them to ME! I'll know how to pay them due homage.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

You're right, it is healthy. But most people just throw out the cooking water from veggies. You CAN save them and use them in soups and stews, but many people wouldn't take the time or trouble.

Instead, I am a strong proponent of steaming. That way those nutrients remain in the food. They cook up faster in steam, too, which saves fuel. If you know what cooked veggies you'd want to serve for the next week or few days, you can steam them all up at once - again saving fuel. Then you have fully cooked veggies for those meals - which is a time saver. I often steam up a variety of veggies all at once - each in a little packet of foil, to keep them from "sharing" flavors that you don't want them to, and also to have a container to use to remove them. Some will cook faster than others, so you can just lift out the foil packages as they finish steaming.

Before I'd use veggie scraps as compost, though, I'd be more inclined to find ways to get them into people - or at least the flavors they still have to offer. THEN into the compost heap!

If I were able I'd love to have a garden. There's enough land here at my new house, but I have a severe and painful spinal disability - no gardening for this kid. I do grow my own cilantro, because I use it a lot, and it spoils so fast when bought fresh. Since this is the tropics, the soil is loaded with intestinal parasites, and cilantro is almost ALWAYS loaded with them. These nasty puppies can actually crawl right UP on herbs or veggies that grow close to the ground - cabbage is another perennial problem. Make coleslaw without purifying it, and you WILL get sick. Cabbage, celery, lettuce and cilantro - and strawberries - are some of the best ways for tourists to get "the revenge" in Mexico. All of it avoidable if the food gets purified first. We have to purify most of the veggies and fruits that don't have peels and are eaten raw, but most particularly those which grow close to the soil. One day, I'll fill my pot with a sterile soil, so I can grow cilantro that I won't have to purify. Then just pluck the amount I need for that day, and the rest won't go bad on me.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

How about refrigerating it and adding it to the next soup or stew you make? I haven't tried it, though, so I don't know what the result would be. Could you maybe mix it in small amounts with fruit juices and drink it?

Or maybe time making yoghurt to coincide with a meat dish you want to make that same day that requires a marinade. That way, you make the whey and promptly put it over marinating meat.

I live alone, too. But particularly because I'm very disabled, I won't make any dish that takes some time and effort without making enough to give me between 2-4 meals, frozen, for later on. After all, it's only a little more effort to make a larger amount, and the payback in meals you only need to reheat is worth it. Whether a large amount or a small one, I'm going to get mighty lame from any labor-intensive recipe. So I make the dish, eat my portion for today, then bag up the cooled leftovers in one-meal portions and freeze them.

I got my start doing this with spaghetti. That got me hooked! There are often days when I hurt too much to cook, and those bags of ready-cooked main dishes are things of beauty in my freezer at such times.

I wouldn't try freezing whey. Any of those beneficial microbes it contains would likely be killed. Murphy's law says that only the ones that can make you sick can easily survive freezing. Very likely, whey would spoil in a day or two in the fridge, too. So unless someone knows better, I'd say to use it or lose it.

You know what I ADORE with yoghurt? I mix it with finely-chopped nuts (not quite powdery crumbs), a good dollop of honey, maybe some wheat germ or sesame seeds. Then mix it well and enjoy. Loaded with nutrition, and a joy to anyone's sweet tooth.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

I don't see how whey alone can make any cheese. The solids of the milk are already gone. You're not the first person who said a cheese is made from whey, but I think these are inaccurate assumptions. I looked up panir, which supposedly was made from whey, too, and it is NOT made from whey; it is made from milk, and creates whey.

I've already done this checking for panir; maybe someone else will do it for ricotta? I've never heard of whey that contained enough solids to make cheese out of. Whey is a liquid - the part of milk that isn't fats and solids. If I'm wrong, I'd love to be set right about this, though.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

I love to make my own cottage cheese. I've always hated having to throw out the whey, because I know there's a lot of food value in it. But I knew of no way to utilize it. In a marinade to tenderize meat? Sounds wonderful. For chapped skin, I'd be glad to try it.

I looked up panir, but it isn't made from whey; it is made from milk. The whey is still a biproduct of making the cheese. Mexico has a similar cheese, called "queso fresco," meaning it is fresh and unaged. I don't care for it much, especially because it isn't real good at melting as a well-behaved cheese should! But it's also acidy. Feta cheese is similar in some ways, but by being too salty rather than too acidy. I'm no particular fan of either, but I'm definitely in a minority.

Got any great recipes that can use whey? I'd make enough with one batch of cottage cheese to marinate a whole side of beef, it seems. What can I do with the rest of it? I'd prefer edible ones, naturally, to avail myself of the nutrients.

I DO know that many people will feed their whey to their pets, and it's very good for them. But I can't seem to make myself just pour a glassful and quaff it. I need a recipe!

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Don't you kinda need stainless steel teeth? If I were smallhearted, I would HATE you people in Maine - ALL THAT LOBSTER! ALL THOSE CLAMS! And I can't get ANY. That's okay, enjoy them and appreciate your good fortune.

I, on the other hand, can eat guacamole in huge portions, whereas most Americans pay a premium for avocados. There are times of the year when people with avocado trees can't give enough of them away! A tree that hung over my last house had avocados as big as FOOTBALLS! One could make guacamole for a whole family. But you had to catch them before they fell off the tree and went splat. There's also a purple avocado here, small as a pear, and the skin is very thin - you can eat it right out of your hand, skin and all. Great on the road.

When I lived in South Texas, I discovered something that was kind of a biproduct of shrimping. They were called "rock shrimp." They were smaller than a medium shrimp, but with a hard shell like a lobster. A LOT of work needs to be done to remove them from the shells, but once done, you're only minutes away from eating them. I just piled them in a buttered baking dish, drizzled more butter over the top, a sprinkle of garlic powder, S&P, and they would cook up in about 10 minutes in the oven. The taste was something like a cross between shrimp and lobster. They were dirt cheap, too - the shrimpers at one time just threw them out.

I live in Mexico now, and don't think they're available here. So sad.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

I see absolutely no reason why you should feel that farmed shrimp would be in any way inferior. I have none available here in Mexico, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy it if it were. If anything, farming can avoid things which can contaminate seafood, like mercury. It's a lot less likely to use semi-slave labor, too. And since it is well known what shrimp love to eat and what's best for them, I'd think farmed shrimp ought to be superb.

But I speak from reason, not experience. If anyone has unpleasant knowledge or experience with farmed shrimp to offer, I have no standing to say they're right or wrong.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

My mom always had a big stoveside coffee can for fats and oils - but NOT for use; it was collected till full, then thrown out. Because some of it may not be pure fat, and spoilage could occur. Also, it was a mixture of many fats and oils, not usually compatible for cooking purposes.

Apr 26, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Be ABSOLUTELY sure it's pure fat, without a trace of meat solids or juices. This is easily done by boiling it. When there's no more steam, keep boiling a while longer. Strain it, to remove ALL solids. It should get very hot, and emit no steam at all. Let it cool till it's at a normal "boiling water" temperature, then pour it into a sterilized jar and seal. Even after you open it, though, it should keep almost indefinitely, as long as you keep the lid on. Mine does, anyway.

If it's too hot when you pour it into the jar, the jar may break. You want to put it in the jar very hot, but not as hot as oil and fat are able to get. So be careful. I wouldn't use a can, if I were you. Glass is ALWAYS better. Fats easily absorb odors and flavors - including unpleasant ones that a can may have. You may have noticed this attribute of fats when you had to throw out butter that had NOT spoiled, but had picked up the "taste of the refrigerator," making it totally inedible. The REASON we love our fats and oils so much is because of their function as "flavor carriers." That's why the same dish with no fat at all tastes blah, whereas with at least SOME fat or oils, it suddenly becomes delicious!

You can remove the paper inside a glass mayo jar, sterilize it and the lid - if the lid fits on quite tightly, it should work. For canning fruits or veggies, I wouldn't use this, but pure fat is a pretty good "keeper," even in unsterilized conditions. Just keep the lid on. I keep mine on a shelf - and haven't had any of it spoil, even over months of sitting there, unsealed, but with the top on. I can buy lard - or a mixture or lard and solid vegetable fat, that is sold in plastic bags, and keeps months on the shelf. You don't have to freeze or refrigerate Crisco, do you? There you go.

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

What?!! No goose grease? Sorry, but I just couldn't resist throwing in a giggle.

The only time to throw those away is if you've accumulated so many of those little bags that there's no room for the glorious salmon you just bought, or the ambrosial ice cream you just made. Then, maybe... But you should know that, as long as your "fat" bags contain absolutely NO meat juices, you can boil them, let them cool a bit, and pour into sterilized jars. My chicken fat comes from rendering chicken skins, and I save it in jars. It has the flavor of fried chicken to lend to any use I put it to. Even when opened, it keeps almost indefinitely. If there are any meat juices in it, though, it'll spoil - and fast.

Boy, I wish I could even GET duck, much less have bags of duck fat handy. Here in Mexico, it seems not to be offered in too many places - in none near to me. I want to try my hand with a nice fat goose one day, too, but - same problem.

My mom once put a goose on the griddle. She almost had to call the fire department as the dripping grease made a rather BIG fire. One lives and learns!

Don't know who said it, but I've known this since high school (you don't WANT to know how long ago that was!): "Ve get zo zoon alt, und zo late schmart."

Sigh. All too true.

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Since coming to live in Mexico, I have discovered these bunching-type onions with the larger globes than scallions usually have. In fact, it's HARD to get the small-globed ones sometimes. I have to ask my domicilia (cleaning lady) to get me the cebollas with the small globes, using hand gestures - I don't know what they're called here. BTW, I'm no snob; I'd literally die without this woman, because I'm profoundly disabled. I even have to sit down when preparing foods to cook. Bummer.

These large globed onions are perfect for many onion dishes, which call for small, but not tiny, onions. A particular favorite is the kind baked slowly in a sweet and spicy broth - Monte Carlo onions, I think it's called. Down here, they're simply washed thoroughly (especially the root, which is not cut off), and plunked on a grill along with other delights you're grilling. The dry skin protects the inner part, and becomes somewhat charred - but you can still eat it, if you want to. They say a little carbon helps clean out the internal plumbing, so why not?

Small-globed or large, this kind of onion is a treasure.

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Scallion really is the best term to use. My mom always called them "shallots"! Until I learned that a shallot was a very different thing from what my mom meant. Still, she kept calling them shallots, but I have updated my vocabulary.

I've noticed a lot of people mix up the words cilantro and coriander, too. I've seen people using either word for either one. Cilantro is the herb, the plant, while coriander is the SEED of the cilantro. But confusion reigns online, so be sure you know what they MEAN when they use those words, because cilantro and coriander have VERY different flavors and uses. Nor are they remotely interchangeable.

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

Whoa - back! BOTH parts are precious. I use the whiter parts in stir-fries, and feel deprived when I have none to use. I usually cut off the root, and 2", 3" max of the white part, including some of the green, for the stir fry, and usually split them lengthwise if the globes are large. The middle parts, white/green, are perfect for most recipes calling for scallions. The tops of the green are fairly fibrous, but what does that have to do with extracting their taste in making a superb sauce or broth? The only parts to throw out are those that are - unlovely, like spoiled or something.

Have you ever tried roasting a chicken with scallions and mushrooms pushed UNDER the skin? You have to pinch the skin all over, loosen it, then use a hand under the skin to get it separated from the meat where it's stubbornly attached. The skin will now be loose all over the bird. Split the scallion segments lengthwise, and pack them as liberally as you can, along with mushroom caps, under the skin of the whole bird. You could include some split garlic cloves, too, if you like. Toothpick closed the opening your hand made. (If making a turkey, you might want to include some small knobs of butter under the skin, too, to keep it moist.) Then roast. I've even done this with just a chicken breast or thigh I was going to make into fried chicken. Pack in the goodies, toothpick the opening closed, then bread and fry as usual.

Try not to make the opening for your hand too large, to conserve juices when roasting. Then toothpick them closed. This is a MOST unusual way to roast a chicken, stuffed or otherwise. And people WILL notice, count on it!

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking

under-used treasure or garbage? what ingredient do you think people are wasting?

So many recipes call for bread crumbs - sometimes dry, sometimes moist. Leftover bread is perfect for that - if you only bother to get out the food processor, make them, and then leave them to dry completely before putting in a lidded container (I use large coffee cans).

So let me share my family's classic bread stuffing for poultry or stuffed pork chops. Old bread works beautifully. Shred by hand a BIG bowlful of bread into crouton-sized chunks, or thereabouts. (I use a loaf, or close to it) Chop a goodly amount of onions and mushrooms. Sautee the onions in BUTTER till browned, and dump on the bread. Sautee the shrooms in more butter, and dump. Add beef consomme (I'd use it over my homemade broth because consomme is very concentrated) and mix well until the bread mixture is moist. Add S&P, some finely-minced or granulated garlic, and you're done. This is not exotic. It is not fancy or even gourmet. It just happens to be utterly delicious - so much so that I always make extra and bake it up separately dotted with butter. And no matter how much I'd make for my family, it never seemed to be enough.

Sometimes I just make it to enjoy as a side dish - even without pork or burd. There ARE times when something simple can outshine the glamorous. And nobody has ever failed to adore this stuffing, simple as it is.

BTW, where is it written that you HAVE to stuff a bird you roast whole, anyway? I used to think so, and so I didn't roast "burd" very often. Now I do. Without the muss and fuss of making stuffing, stuffing the burd, trussing, etc., I just pop it in the oven with some lemon juice poured over it, and let 'er rip. I often chop some potatoes, carrots and onion, and add them to the pan with the bird, basting them with the pan juices as they cook with the poultry.

And where is it written that only thick, pre-pocketed (and expensive) pork chops can be baked with dressing? Use ANY kind of pork, put it in an oiled pan, cover it with this dressing, dot with some butter and bake till the pork is thoroughly cooked and tender. If the meat is thick, bake under a foil seal till it is done through, then remove the foil to crisp things up nicely.

ALL those years when I didn't roast chickens because of my assumption that they HAD to be stuffed! Habit can make slaves of us all. Nowadays, I live alone, with only myself to feed, but I will still roast up a bird any time I have a yen for it. I have tons of ways to use the leftovers. One favorite is warmed up succulent, moist chicken breast meat, fitted into a very slightly dry-toasted flour tortilla, along with a thick piece of avocado and a dollop or two of picante sauce. Talk about heavenly!

So the old wisdom is correct - NEVER neglect the simple and the thrifty. They do NOT equate to inferiority, but often lead to magnificence, when used well.

Good eats to you.

Apr 25, 2010
fastermx in Home Cooking