Caroline1's Profile

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Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Sugarplum, you're talkin' to an 81 year old. The 1970s was YESTERDAY! '-)

But this underscores the problem of perspective in a discussion such as this. What year, decade, century, or millennium to use when defining "authentic" traditional foods of China, a culture that reaches back some 5,000 years? It gets tricky.

about 12 hours ago
Caroline1 in General Topics
1

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

Thanks! The cat is healthy again. :-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

I suspect I may be being misread in some instances. I did not know the Chinese developed canned pineapple as quickly as they did, therefore it would be logical to think they may have avoided using FRESH pineapple in any Chinese traditional dish that used a thickener in the sauce because of FRESH pineapple's ability to negate the gelling power of things such as animal cartilage based gelatin and many vegetable thickeners such as corn starch. I didn't think it was unknown in China. Just that it probably wasn't used in cooking for reasons just stated, and was unaware that canned pineapple was actually being canned in China as early as it was. In other words, pineapple (and papaya and a few other plants) are to the plant world what Coumadin/warfarin is to the animal world: they stop things from "coagulating," so to speak.

Food diffusion is a VERY tricky thing, and can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings. Onions are native to China, but bell peppers, tomatoes, pineapple, and many other fruits and vegetables are not. As I implied in another post, the last 522 years has changed the "traditional" foods of the entire world FOREVER! Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's a downright crying shame! '-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Thanks! I look forward to it. About the only dish I make that calls for agar agar is "awayuki kan" (snow white jelly) that calls for a stick of agar agar (the white kind, not the red), and I haven't made that in ages! It's a Japanese agar agar and whipped egg white dish with fruit (often fresh strawberries) embedded in it, then cut into blocks when gelled before serving. Really good, but not very common any more, at least not in this country that I know of.

Which is one of the things I seriously hate about diffusion cooking! What used to take centuries or decades to happen with combining recipes from one culture with another's now goes viral on the web and is done in a matter of weeks! In the end, over a decade or two, so very very many traditional cultural dishes are lost and all too often gone forever. A global loss!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

One of the great and fun advantages of actually being 82 is that I know first hand when history books are lying! '-) It's the old "The victors write history" in action. It was actually immediately AFTER WWII that "Agribusiness" was born, or more like REQUIRED in order to meet the food demands that the Baby Boom brought with the end of the war and most of the husbands and boyfriends returning from the war horny as hell! The Andrews Sisters had a hit song during the war called "They're either too young or too old" becrying the fact that any dating/marriageable men DURING the war who were not declared 4-F by their military draft board were all in the service and only "undesireables" were left. Bette Davis introduced it in a 1943 movie during the war, then after the war Rosemary Clooney (George Clooney's aunt) sang it again for another hit rendition of it.

Anyway, it was during THAT post WWII period that "feed lot beef" (grain and corn fed) was pushed from ultra high end produced beef for specialty restaurants such as Delmonico's in NYC, and other such elite establishments, was literally turned into "feed lot
beef" instead of figurative because bringing the cattle close to slaughter houses, feeding them grains instead of grass (makes them really really sick), then having to feed them antibiotics to keep them alive long enough to comparatively quickly bring them to market weight became a necessity.

Spam was introduced by Hormel in 1937 and was a hit because it made ham available as a cheap depression era food. During WWII, it was embraced by the military big time, and rarely available to the public because of WWII food rationing. After the war, as late as 1956/1957, when my first husband was an air traffic control student at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi, Spam was still big with military families for the same reason. I remember cooking it fairly often with TWO cans of Spam placed in a baking pan end to end, then pineapple rings with maraschino cherries were skewered into place, packed with a thick layer of brown sugar and cinnamon, then baked in the oven to create a "baked ham." It was the military that brought it to Hawaii during the war, then still a U.S. territory and not yet a state, where it lingered after the war and became the star of musubi, a dish I will not touch.

LOTS of "misremembered" (on purpose) "facts" in our history books. One especially harmful misconception is/was that beef and butter are bad for you. ONLY IF THEY ARE GRAIN FED...!!!

I'd better stop now or this one post will end up filling five servers' hard drives at CBS! '-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

My curiosity again! Do you drain your yogurt, as in "bagged yogurt" aka "Greek" yogurt, which is really only (when properly made) yogurt that has been drained in a bag to drain off some (or a lot) of the whey, or use it "wet"? Just curious. Drain yogurt long enough and you can make one hell of a cream cheese (labneh)!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Okay. I can't stifle my curiosity any longer! Are you an Englishman who just happens to live in Bergen County, NJ? If not, how do you come by phrases like "tinned crab and tinned corn?" Yup. I'm a nosy old broad who suffers from insatiable curiosity! Sorry 'bout that. '-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Not always! '-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Thanks! Now I won't waste my agar agar!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

I'm not the one who said I didn't like Chinese corn/crab soup. I was just laughing at fourunder's succinct reply to coliver. On the other hand, if there's a lousy cook in the kitchen... No shortage of Chinese restaurants around here that hire them!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Well put!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

Aren't you even curious enough to try it with a little spoonful of mashed in a corner of your plate? '-)

(assuming you use square plates)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

No argument from me! Here's a link to the Wiki article I referred to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_...

I think it was in the early 50s or so when "ladies magazines" began their serious flirtations with substituting mayonnaise for anything humanly possible. That was when my mother tore out a recipe for "chocolate mayonnaise cake," and made it a staple for ALL chocolate cakes she baked for years to come. It really wasn't as horrible as it sounds because all the recipe was really doing was replacing the eggs and butter/shortening in a normal recipe with the eggs and oil in mayonnaise. But my mother was always "first kid on the block" with every kookie recipe ever published! That included a "mock apple pie" made with Ritz crackers, butter, sugar by the ton, and lemon juice baked in regular pie crusts. She adored that one until I pointed put the caloric overkill, at which she visibly blanched and threw it in the trash! My mother vacillated between "Delicious, Mom," and "Oh my god, do you really expect me to eat this crap?" RIP, Mom!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

You and fourunder have me really and truly "laughing out loud" with your answers on this one!!!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

LOL!!!

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

"Eaten with chopsticks?" LOL To the very best of my lifelong collection of knowledge, there are NO people on planet earth who do not, on occasion, eat with their fingers! Even in the Cotillion era of The Old South, it was "proper" to eat fried chicken with one's fingers, and NOT with a knife and fork, if it was presented at a meal. That's what finger bowls are for. I therefore suspect that some folks in China may very well eat ribs with their fingers. :-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

As far as I know, Miracle Whip is what used to be called a "boiled dressing," which is basically a simulation of mayonnaise made my mixing things like flour, water, egg yolks, spices and a few other thing over heat to make a thickened mildly piquant sauce that is "sort of" like mayonnaise but a LOT less expensive. It was (is?) commonly used as a dressing for salads, cole slaw, potato salad and the like. I just googled "boiled dressing" out of curiosity because I don't remember any cooks I've known in the past 4 or 5 decades ever talking about making it. Google led me to a Wikipedia article that shook loose a few early childhood memories. Turns out Miracle Whip *is* a form of boiled dressing introduced to the world at the Chicago World's Fair of 1933 (the year of my birth! TaDAAAH!) That was an instant hit with housewives across America because that formulation of "boiled dressing" was so similar to mayonnaise but REALLY cheap by comparison. America (and the rest of the world) was still deep in the throes of The Great Depression, so anything that allowed moms to put balogna and fake mayonnaise sandwiches in their kids' lunches, or to make a coleslaw or potato salad without "slaving over a hot stove" was a guaranteed instant hit in those times!

I am forced to assume that the "better living through chemistry" choices made for us by "Agribusiness" in the last half century has changed the original Kraft Foods formula from a simple boiled dressing into a nightmare of HFCs, synthesized emulsifiers, and things no one without a PhD in chemistry can pronounce! But basically, *IF" Miracle whip is still a form of true boiled dressing it might not blend into mashed potatoes as well as mayonnaise and maybe not taste too similar either, but maybe it would work. I don't know.

So now I'm going to add a small jar of Miracle Whip to my shopping list because it has to be at least six decades since I last tasted it! I LOVED Miracle Whip and tomato on Wonder Bread sandwiches when I was a kid! Let me see if taste memory can trigger some flashbacks for me? Hey, cheap time travel! Don't knock it. '-)

1 day ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Question! And how "authentic" it is depends on whether you want to go back in Chinese cooking more than 522 years, which isn't that long a period in Chinese history! Anyway, my question is, am I the only one who absolutely despises baby corn in Chinese food? I do like grown up corn on the cob, and I do like the Chinese corn/crab soup, but baby corn gives me the heeby jeebies! Yucky canned taste. How do you guys feel about it? Am I a loner on this?

2 days ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Those do look delicious (and very similar to what the recipe I've posted above look like, except for being on the longer bone). But are you saying that in all of your globe trotting you've never come across something similar to these? http://tinyurl.com/m8j4cts

2 days ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

I read some rapturous reviews of it someplace and so I tried it. YUCK!!! NOT my cup of tea, OR cup of confit, for that matter.

Have you ever tried Hellmann's mayonnaise instead of milk, cream, or butter? Waaaaaay back in the early days of instant potatoes, French's Instant Potatoes came in a tiny box with a packet of powder inside that looked more like potato flour than potatoes, and may well have been for all I know. Must have been the 50s or earlier? I don't really remember. Anyway, she would use mayonnaise in it instead if dairy and the thing I found most fascinating was that the mayonnaise made the potatoes paper white! So I tried it with REAL from scratch mashed potatoes, and guess what? The mayonnaise turned the potatoes paper white! As I recall, the flavor wasn't all that bad, but then I haven't had them since then, so maybe they'd make me gag today? She tried it once with Miracle Whip and it was ghastly!

2 days ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Are you saying you've never had bBQ spare ribs in a Chinese restaurant? They're often offered as dim sum or as "appetizers" along with Pu Pu platters in "One from column A, Two from Column B" types of Chinese restaurants. Are those type restaurants still around?

2 days ago
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Thanks! Shoots my theory in the head big time. One of the things I'm quite fascinated by is the almost incalculable impact "New World" indigenous plant foods have had in the cooking traditions of all of the rest of the world since Columbus et al developed such a wanderlust.

Sep 29, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

Ever tried duck fat instead of butter in mashed potatoes? Just sayin".... '-)

Sep 29, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

My guess is that even if pineapple was introduced to China soon after Columbus and his cohorts first tasted it in the new world, it would NOT have caught on in China as a cooking ingredient simply because raw pineapple (a South American bromiliad) has some nasty enzymes in it that will stop several types of thickeners from thickening sauces and prevents gelatin from "setting." For example, all of those church pot luck gelatin (Jell-O) salads made with lime gelatin, pineapple, and mini-marshmallows will ONLY set when you use CANNED pineapple. Use fresh and you'll have cold green fruit gazpacho! Been there, done that, and have the soggy tee shirt!

hmmm... I know from experience that raw pineapple prevents cartilage based gelatin from "setting" but I've never tried it with agar agar. I'll have to try it sometime. Agar agar is fabulous and will even set at room temperature, which is why there are traditional Japanese sweet gelled dishes that were possible long before electric refrigeration came to Japan.

Sep 29, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

I thought the same thing the first time I read the recipe, but the kitchen gods have always warned me I must follow a recipe exactly the first time I make a dish or my salt will lose its saltiness! I was VERY pleasantly surprised! Try it once. You can always have the daikon at the ready.

Sep 29, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Tomato sauce, paste, or ketchup is pretty common today in most Chinese American sweet and sour recipes, and the red coloring is often added to "brighten" the tomato tinge that is kind of dull when mixed with the soy sauce. Once Columbus found The New World, those damned tomatoes got into EVERYTHING!

Sep 28, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics
1

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

Sorry I'm so slow! Meant to get this up by this morning, but I had to make the sauce to get the proportions, then "life' kept getting in the way. But better late than never.... MAYBE! Hope you like it.
..................

Sweet and Sour Pork recipe from China, circa mid-1940s

Pork: one or two full slabs of pork ribs, or more, depending on how many people you are cooking for.

Steam or pressure cook pork ribs until tender. Sometimes I use my bamboo steamers, sometimes my pressure cooker. PC is faster! After steaming, cut them into individual ribs when cool enough to handle. Place them in a large paper or plastic bag and add a half to full cup of rice flour (OR corn starch) and a little kosher or sea salt. Shake bag to coat evenly with rice flour.

Heat a large amount of peanut oil for deep frying. You can use a wok or a large saucepan wide enough to accept 4 or 5 ribs at a time. Do not fill a saucepan over 2/3 full with oil. Heat oil to 350F. Deep fry the pork ribs a few at a time to brown/crisp the surface. Remember, they are already cooked so be careful not to dry them out by overcooking! Drain on paper towels as you remove each batch from the oil, allow the oil to come back up to temperature, repeat above until all ribs are done. Mound in a deep serving bowl of sufficient size to hold ribs and sufficient sauce to coat them fully. Serve remaining sauce in a sauceboat or bowl.

SAUCE

In a large measuring cup combine the following, reserving 1 Tbsp of vinegar for later:
1/3 cup Lee Kum Kee naturally brewed soy sauce
1 1/2 bars Chinese brown sugar (photo below)
1/2 to 1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup water

Mix a slurry of 3Tbsp water with Tbsp of rice flour, OR tapioca powder OR corn starch (I prefer rice flour because it makes a smooth non-gummy sauce) Set aside

2 Tbsp peanut oil or other totally tasteless oil that can take high heat

1 Tbsp finely grated frozen fresh ginger

1 nice onion cut in bite size pieces
a smallish yellow onion works fine when cut in quarters, then separated into layers so piecces are roughly triangular in shape
OR
green/spring onions cut into pieces about an inch or inch and a half long. Not too much green part and not too much white. Around a cup loosely packedx

1 Persian (regular) cucumber
peel cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with spoon. Place cut side down and slice about 1/2 inch thick

METHOD: in a wok or large frying pan add the 2 tbsp peanut oil and bring to searing temperature. Add ginger and stir briskly, then add onions and cucumber and stir until lightly browned but still crisp.

Reduce flame and add sugar/soy/vinegar/water mixture and bring to a gentle rolling boil. Stir in slurry and stir until sauce clears and thickens. The sauce should be pleasant light mahogany color. Taste for pungency. If it needs a bit more vinegar, add it now. Pour sauce and vegetables over ribs and serve. Enjoy!

NOTES: The Chinese brown sugar is important to the flavor of this delicate sauce. If you cannot find it locally, you can use dark brown or turbinado sugar or even white sugar, but adjust to taste for sweetness and the flavor will not be the same. I've addes a second picture because it is sometimes called "candy." Mine isn't!

Soy Sauce: I use Lee Kum Kee because I like it's flavor, but most naturally brewed Chinese soy sauces will work well. In a pinch, I have even used Kikkoman, but it has a unique umami among all soy sauces that I love.

Vinegar: The vinegar should be pungent but basically "flavorless." Do NOT use vinegars such as Chingkiang or any "seasoned" vinegar. Cider vinegar also has too much of its own flavor. Unseasoned rice vinegar is rarely pungent enough for my taste, so white vinegar is what I use.

For variety of vegetables you can add some triangles or strips of red bell pepper, thinly sliced and quartered fresh lotus root, or water chestnuts, whole or sliced. Please do NOT add pineapple OR cherries!!! Or if you do, please don't tell me...

......................

I often serve this with a basic lo mein I make using (brace yourself!) fettuccine pasta and the vegetables are grated ginger, minced garlic, onion strings, diagonally sliced celery, wide ribbons of green cabbage, sliced mushrooms (any variety, but don't slice enoki<g>), and bean sprouts with the "standard" slurry sauce with soy sauce, a tsp of sugar, and toasted sesame oil to taste. Yeah, this isn't really a lo mein recipe, but if you cook Chinese, you'll be able to wing it.

Yeah! A very simple "Chinese" meal without rice! Does that make it NOT Chinese? '-)

Sep 28, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics
1

FREEZING BAGS OF MILK > SEEKING INSTRUCTIONS/ADVICE PLEASE

No, I'm not talking about UHT pasteurization. When I lived in Greece the only milk available came in plastic lined paper bags, required no refrigeration until opened, and labeling and information on the the milk bags was entirely in Greek. I am NOT fluent in Greek, but EVERY native Greek I asked told me it was IRRADIATED milk, and since many of those I asked were engineers and scientists my husband was working with, I assumed they knew what they were talking about.

Experience has also taught me that Google search is not always the font of information one would hope. I've just spent an hour trying to research "irradiated milk" with little satisfaction. I detest the Cheshire Cat qualities of internet information!

Sep 28, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics
1

Hamburger and mashed potatoes?

LOL! Possibly GRANDfather. '-)

Sep 28, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics

FREEZING BAGS OF MILK > SEEKING INSTRUCTIONS/ADVICE PLEASE

Your welcome for the reply but this is the first time I've heard of milk in bags that requires refrigeration. Maybe the packaging is cheaper.

Sep 28, 2014
Caroline1 in General Topics