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Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

This. and you. blessings on you. cooking for homeless/troubled/marginalized people shifts your entire outlook.

"We've got 80-90 people for lunch today. What we've got here is what we have to work with, folks. It's 8:30 right now, service starts at 11:45. Now here's what we're gonna fix"

it was soup or baked pasta with some kind of salad and always a dessert and drink. No slop, no crap. The best we could do with what we had. He knew hundreds of short cuts, hacks and ways to adapt. I just kept my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open.

He was a retired Navy chief cook. He could take anything, make it taste good and feed the bodies and spirits of however-many hard-up people arrived. Whatever produce, meat, cheese, veggies and fruit was donated, combined with the basics in an average church kitchen, in 3 hours. No fancy igredients. No top-of-the-line _anything_. He would alternate weeks with some other smart, dedicated women and men who ran that kitchen for several years. I tried to be there when he was there - it was like a college education
in 'making a way out of no way'. 6 days of every week he was Chief for the time he was there (several years). The food was delicious and offered with humility and respect.

Yeah. he set my standard for a 'good cook'.

Jan 23, 2015
kariin in General Topics
1

Home Cooks - How do you minimize food waste?

I think we share a brain. yours is the closest to my approach. Labeling _everything_ was my decision last summer and the difference has been substantial. So far this week, pasta w/tomato/butter (Marcella) sauce to which I added shrimo and mixed seafood (on special) I have many frozen containers of tomato/butter sauce I froze this past summer.

Split pea soup next up - frozen hambone; ham stock; 2-3 c. chopped ham - all from Christmas ham. And frozen dark rye bread to go w/the soup. Tomorrow night patty melts w/swiss on more of that great rye bread. I have frozen smoked salmon; crab; cream of mushroom soup base (from scratch); frozen cooked blackeye peas; frozen butter beans; frozen walnuts and pecans; lots of frozen rotiss. chicken; frozen beef chuck (sale) frozen slabs of legoflamb ...

not much I need to buy - my produce coop comes every 2 weeks: this week turnips :-( but also red grapefruit, english cucumbers, astonishing tomatoes, florida? strawberries. I still have potatoes, red onions, apples from last coop boxes. And blood orange season has arrived. I buy bags, squeeze and freeze. I have a huge back porch refrig w/a big freezer drawer on the bottom, 20 yr Amana still going strong.

thanks to all CHs on this thread - I've learned great ideas from everyone.

Jan 20, 2015
kariin in Home Cooking

Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

great response!

Jan 17, 2015
kariin in General Topics

Is it possible to bake a decent small loaf of bread in a counter top (toaster) oven?

lizmari for the WIN !! YAY!!

to answer your previous question - yep, 6 years, daily use. So about 2 yrs ago the blue light dimmed and then stopped, tho it is somwetimes dim. I'd had it for 4 yrs so I didn't care a bit. Red light for on/off is fine and i can see the numbers fine tho I hardly need them. When you use something every day, often several times perday, you know what it does, so no need for some of the gadgets and features.

best? the front loading crumb tray, the large inner size capacity and inside curve for 13" round pan. I bought a better 13" pan and 4 11 inch pans from restaurant supply. I've been meaing to get another rack so i can use 2 levels at once but its a small need.

let us know what's happening - best of luck.

Jan 17, 2015
kariin in Home Cooking

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

don't argue with the woman with the big knife.
no, seriously. don't argue.

Jan 16, 2015
kariin in Not About Food

Is it possible to bake a decent small loaf of bread in a counter top (toaster) oven?

Don't settle.
Get the biggest Breville you can manage. I've had mine (big) for 6+ years and have used it every day (no exag) since the day i took it out of the box. Bread of several kinds gets made weekly, biscuits (in a small CI skillet) irish soda bread, rye, basic cuban bread (oval 'torpedo' loaves), 10" cake pans, roast chicken, med size leg of lamb,... I use the lowest rack slot, adjust the heat down a bit, don't cook anything that is too tall.

every cooking tool has quirks and positive/negative. you learn and adjust, but the Breville is so reliable and fast I adapted quickly and know what it can do. I found a 13" round baking stone in a thrift shop that made bread etc even better.. I have very limited counter space so i learned how the Breville makes good toast and do it that way.

I bought mine @ Bed, Bath and B, located a 20% off coupon that made it very affordable. I comparison-shopped and researched intensly before I purchased, I rarely use the 'pre-set' buttons now because i know the oven and how it works. Do you know anyone w/it so you could see it in operation in a kitchen?
let us know what you decide and how it works out.

Jan 16, 2015
kariin in Home Cooking
2

What's for Dinner #344 - Happy MLK Day Edition! [through Jan. 21, 2015]

Home style meatloaf = ground chuck grass-fed beef, ground pork and turkey, lots of garlic, crushed saltines (cause Mom did)
beaten egg, soy/worchestershire (for umami) minced and cooked red onion and red bell pepper, more garlic (ground), Spike, fresh groound black pepper. a few bacon strips on top, baked in the Breville. Side of from-scratch colcannon = floury tats boiled drained and rough mashed, browned and braised cabbage and green onions, all rough chopped together, browned in a big CI skillet in bacon drippings/oil mix. oh, and some green peas too, just for that color and because peas and meat-loaf, right?.

i can't believe we ate the whole thing.

What's for Dinner #342- The Return of the Polar Vortex Edition! [through Jan. 10, 2015]

tcamp - help.

"sesame sriracha cabbage slaw"

THIS! can you tell us more?? Basic recipe sorta?

this sounds really good - and I have the biggest
cabbage in the US (in my infamous co-op order)
and I cannot face one more pot of cabbage woup... er soup.

Give over pleeze!

Jan 06, 2015
kariin in Home Cooking

Can I use yellow cornmeal for creamy polenta?

the food elite will say no, but here it's known as
'cornmeal mush'. Coarse grained stone-ground yellow = grits.
Fine grained and simmered but still loose = 'polenta'.
Sounds better/more fancy-like. Eats great.

Dec 29, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

Blunt Roll

Dec 29, 2014
kariin in Cookware

Blunt Roll

thebluntroll.com/

Anyone have this?

$150 is crazy high for an denim/leather
serious chef/butcher apron and knife roll combination
but I've been looking for something like this. I don't
like the more common knife rolls.

what do y'all think??

Dec 29, 2014
kariin in Cookware

Freeze shelled hard-cooked eggs?

Help and thanks.

Can I freeze 24 hard-cooked shelled eggs? If yes - how to protect.

Its a long story, need to do it ASAP.

Dec 28, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)

Don't argue with me. I have the big knife.

Dec 28, 2014
kariin in Not About Food
1

Christmas Dinner: in charge of turkey and ham and mashed potato -- but traveling 5 hours to get there, arriving just 2 hours before scheduled dinner time

And i willingly apologize if my inquiry was offensive or harming. Others also offered a similar suggestion (using sources in Fresno)in an effort to solve this dilemma, with no intention to be harmful. I'm still puzzled as to why that suggestion is not a good one or is irrelevant but I wish both cookingLisa, and you, well and success.

Dec 17, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

Christmas Dinner: in charge of turkey and ham and mashed potato -- but traveling 5 hours to get there, arriving just 2 hours before scheduled dinner time

Thanks for the reply cookingLisa.

While i appreciate the additional information, the central question remains: why do this, in the way you have described ? (and asked us to offer suggestions regarding).

"this" = Contributing to the family holiday dinner.

I remain baffled. The turkey you bring (cooked, cut up and frozen for safety) will not be as tasty and hot, no matter how well you handle it, as a turkey ordered from a reputable source in Fresno.

(Everyone: What do you think of bringing already boiled and peeled, cold potatoes to Fresno and then make mashed potatoes there? -- would that be more do-able? . . . it would save time).

Again, why? There are potatoes in Fresno. Someone, presumably you, will still have to peel, boil and mash a sizable amount of potatoes, then cool and package for transport and re-heat later - exactly where is the time saved and by whom? Again, you've clearly described the sizeable additional family responsibilities you have. And adding this (and the same steps for turkey/ham) plus _bringing_ enough supplies for green salad for many people??

I remain baffled. An enormous amount of work (understatement) for pre-cooked, re-heated turkey, gravy and mashed or casseroled potatoes, none of which travel well or benefit from this process and all of which can be obtained, well-prepared and much fresher.

I honestly wish you well. i hope things work out. Please help me understand why you are doing this, in this way.

Dec 17, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

Favorite Christmas Food Traditions

Scand, right?
some other fish?? what, no lutefisk?

Dec 16, 2014
kariin in General Topics

Favorite Christmas Food Traditions

This is the best thread. I can't help but feel moved and warmed by reading about these funny, sweet, delicious, heartfelt, bizarre, tasty, weird and lovely traditions. Food's pretty interesting, too.
I'll add more later.

love and thanks to the CHs, wish i could visit all ya'll.

Dec 16, 2014
kariin in General Topics
1

Enough televised cooking competitions!

you work(ed) in tv, right? or media production/pr/
distribution/analytics/sales.

spot on.

Dec 16, 2014
kariin in Food Media & News

Dinner with friends - should they show up empty handed?

Nailed it Puffin. can I steal this: 'social antenna'?

exception: young persons (definition up to you) who can be educated - blunt, direct speech, informative, delivered only once (no nagging) and with a smile and a hug (if appropriate). So far its worked on the family youth.

Dec 16, 2014
kariin in Not About Food

Christmas Dinner: in charge of turkey and ham and mashed potato -- but traveling 5 hours to get there, arriving just 2 hours before scheduled dinner time

I wish you the best of luck but have a question nagging at me. why? why are you and your family doing this? No, really.
Why? I'm not being snarky here. I don't understand - what is driving this and requiring you to solve a large number of complex, stressful and border-line crisis problems all generated by ... something inexplicable.

This seems insane on many levels and enormously unnecessary, costly, logistically boloxed and dangerous (people w/food poisoning@Christmas in the ER ?).

The best solution I immediately thought of is to find a local high quality restaurant/caterer/grocery in the destination town and pre-pay the cost of turkey, gravy and any other items you prefer so that your sister can pick them up on Christmas eve. Why is that not the alternative?

If you insist, hams travel well and you could make and freeze gravy but I am baffled by somebody's 'requirement'(yours?) that you buy, prep, cook, package and transport 250 miles/4 hours enough mashed potatoes to feed 18-20 people especially if you have never advanced this much in advance previously.
It's mashed (or casseroled potatoes). ?

And you have a staggering number of additional family visit responsibilities _and_ must also make/provide two additional Christmas eve desserts, also "do" Christmas morning breakfast _plus_ "everything will need to be packed and loaded in the van (clothes, food, presents, etc) by 10 am to head to Fresno for our 4 day visit." everything meaning turkey, gravy, potatoes all preped, cooked, (or frozen) packaged and transported by 2 in the afternoon the day _before_ you leave. ? I do wish you well. I remain baffled.

have i left anything out? something seems very odd about this.
what kind of speed are you planning on ingesting?

What are you baking these days? December 2014 edition! [old]

SO far, sweet potato pie w/chocolate graham cracker crust,
two 10" chocolate whiskey cakes (NYT - Melissa Clark w/xtra bourbon) and little jammy things. Also big batch of rosemary-black pepper biscuits. Just now finished 48 St. Lucia buns for the Scand. party tomorrow and 2 beautiful loaves of swedish vort-limpa. so far everything's turned out great, no burned disasters! More on Monday - either Scand. or German stuff.

Dec 12, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking
2

Good pocketknife for breads, cheeses, salami etc.

Hey Tim,
Me too. with a larger Swiss Army knife or a med. Leatherman - the ones w/corkscrew & opener (for the wine and/or beer)and a phillips head screwdriver, scissors - you know, all the stuff you actually use.

I swear - often. no joke, I was the only person in the group w/an 'implement' that would do any useful thing. Oh, but we had lots of streamed music and podcasts.

WTH - y'all have umpteen(not)smart phones, tablets,
i(fricking)pods, blue teeth, buds in dumb ears and not one of the worthless hipsters had anything that actually does anything other than send out an SOS for somebody to come rescue his sorry ass or twit her friends about her latest fiasco. and no, they did not know how to change a tire. So, yes, the 64 yr old lady was able to cut the ham _and_ operate the tire iron to remove the lug nuts etc. instead of starving and hoping triple A would show up before the end of the month.

sorry, its been a long week w/the yuuut.

Dec 12, 2014
kariin in Cookware
1

Taking the sweetness down a couple notches on pecan pie

Where i live this is never accidental. Tossed, buttered salted
pecans are served at every gathering and fine-chopped are included in cheese straws and cheese biscuits. People go a little crazy if they've never had these before.

Toast the pecans halves and toss with melted butter (salted butter if the pecans are not salted). Hide in the laundry room and eat the whole thing.

Nov 30, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

Taking the sweetness down a couple notches on pecan pie

southern here - a couple of suggestions:

* cut brown sugar to 1c.

* eliminate both molasses and corn syrup. Instead, locate sorghum syrup and use 1/2 c instead of the 2/3 c of the others. You may find that you can use 1/3 c of sorghum. Sorghum comes from a different plant entirely. May be hard to find where you are but completely worth it. Sugar cane generates molasses and was uncommon outside of the semi-trp. coastal south. Sorghum was more commonly grown.

* use double amount of pecans

* for knockout pecan taste, coarse chop the pecans to use in the filling, save intact halves for the top. Very carefully roast chopped and whole separately till dark brown but not burned, then cool slightly and toss each batch w/melted salted butter.

Roasted pecans w/s. butter are like cocaine. people have been known to take and hide the jars i give @ Christmas and eat every one. When roasting watch'em like a hawk - they burn in a heartbeat.

My uncle managed a pecan grove w/over 200 trees for years.

Nov 30, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking
1

Have I ruined this chicken?

Science experiment!! Cook it and tell us what happened.
I'm w/Cynsa and Hamster - I bet it's ok.
I love science experiments.

Nov 30, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking

I too need help on uninvited guests.

You know what B**** spells, right? Beautiful, Intelligent, Tough, Caring and Happy... or you can make up your own (Bountiful, Interesting, Truthful... you get the picture).

You'd likely be welcome at any Chs house, definitely @ mine.

please don't feel guilty. You've done nothing wrong - except maybe waiting, out of good intentions, too long before setting down your rules, hoping that they would behave better. I hope you can be cheerful and of good spirits when you see these folks AND ALSO not back down (cheerfully) from your limits. We all support you and others who do the same!

I too need help on uninvited guests.

Love u. Love people who tell folks what the consequences will be and then FOLLOW THROUGH without additional drama. SOunds like an intense response but 4 drunk adults is an intense situation. Only addition I would have made is the cell phone call to LE as I headed down the road, asking for their assistance in removing inebriated people, asking to meet LE near residence, asking for no charges (from me) just help in vacating the residence.
25 college/Teen-age neighbors decided to extend their party into my yard around 3 am. Asked politely to cease and desist, laughed at, stated next step, more laffs, made the call, met LE down the street, waited while they dealt calmly and effectively w/stunned host and his friends. I was nowhere to be found till much later, had pecan waffles down the road. Didn't happen again. Better to be feared (a little) than loved and steam-rolled.

Nov 30, 2014
kariin in Not About Food

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

Yeah Sunshine - my inner WarriorWoman wants to do that too. Occasionally she peeks out when I'm holding my big 10 inch carbon steel knife, smiling gently and suggesting a BIL type might want to leave the kitchen and go watch the game. Amazing how speaking softly and carrying a whacking huge sharp knife generates compliance.

Nov 30, 2014
kariin in Home Cooking
1

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

SarahCW - Great sympathy and appreciation extended to you. I ask your indugence for the following. I see so much of this around families and holidays.

Do you handle 5 yr. olds effectively? As in, you do not get flustered or annoyed, they receive no satisfaction (seeing that they can get a rise out of you). You respond to them by ignoring _completely_ their behavior (no nastiness coming from you) but absolutely no response at all. And especially they do not get their demands met: no pie, no special accomodations, no indulgences, NO APOLOGY from you of any kind. AND you never never never never never go out of your way to satisfy their unending, self-absorbed, passive-aggressive, emotionally-blind demands and accusations. From you a smile, gentle humor, no nasty remarks _and_ not an teaspoon of accomodation or indulgence.

You just do what you had planned, generously and with good spirit.Not a single dig/comment/accusation/whine
from them gets through your skin and causes you to feel guilty or obligated to try (endlessly) to satisfy their demands because that can't be done.
Of course he doesn't get satisfaction from the pie by enjoying it - or expressing appreciation for your efforts. He(and sadly, your sister) feels satisfaction and self-importance from seeing you disturbed, working harder to do what they demand, maybe also guilty and embarrassed?

When my MIL would do these behaviors (this was her way of living) I learned how to respond - with help from a good, practical therapist and wise friends.
Deep psychoanalysis is just fine but learning practical, effective words and actions to respond when these folks (age 5 or 30 or 75) continue these behaviors has saved my sanity and helped me live a happier life.

You sound like a generous and good-hearted person, someone welcome at any CHs table. Another set of skills and words to use with people like sister and BIL would be effective additions to your tool-bag. You deserve better and can achieve it. I wish you much good cheer.

All this talk about quality cookware . . .

Was the food good?

Because pros do not give 2 s---s about impressing w/Martha Stewart or Southern Living or WS or Sur-la-T, or FoodandW(h)ine. They/we are impressed by pushing out 50-100-200 covers of delicious food during service: consistency, production, quality, speed, no appearance drama other than the plates look good, clean. Some(most) high end onsumers/shoppers are all eyes - how does their highly expensive stuff (cookware, knives, tools - everything 'color-coordinated) _look_ to friends and family. Expensive, high-end cooking stores know about the envy factor and that most of these folks
buy to impress their friends/family with stuff that looks (and is) expensive. Yeah, friends who owned the stores reported what they observed.

Back-of-the-house got nobody to impress with how the tools look to civilians.

Nov 18, 2014
kariin in Cookware