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Vegetarian Christmas

Those spinach brownies do look awfully tempting.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Salts of the Earth

Interesting topic. I don't really do a lot of salt.

I tried some smoked salt and wasn't that impressed. As you said, for more smoke, it takes more salt.

I like sea salt as in certain recipes it gives such a nice feel in the mouth. Crunchy and salty. But that may just be the type I bought as it is coarser than regular table salt. I hadn't put a lot of thought into the appearances part of the salt equation, but pointing it up makes me more curious about some of these types with colors.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Savory Oatmeal

So on this train and happy for the ideas. Growing up Grandma would slow cook the steel cut oats with extra chicken or beef stock topped off by water to make enough liquid, then 'poach' or 'roast' eggs on the top just before serving depending on what all was going on. Less busy mornings for her, just put the eggs on top and a lid on the pot. Busier days eggs on top, foil then lid on pot, and into the oven. If a morning was expected to be especially busy, she'd make extra the day before and then bind it into a sort of cake with a little corn flour, pinch baking powder, some eggs, and usually some torn up bacon and very fine chopped onion baked in a larded baking pan. Yum!

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Your Favorite Pumpkin Recipe

First, thanks, TampaAurora, for starting this thread. I love pumpkin and other close cousins like acorn squash done all sorts of ways. Cynsa, that Swiss Pumpkin was just awesome.

My new fav pumpkin recipe is here>> http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitc...

Couple of notes: Great with and without the golden raisins or with or without the frosting. I've made them with the raisins without the frosting using all the sugar - nutmeg - cinnamon mix on top before they go in the oven and they disappeared. Apparently the golden raisins throw off raisin dissenters because hubs ate three and raved. Then I made them without raisins and with frosting. I used half the sugar-cinnamon-nutmeg topping but added the unused cinnamon and nutmeg to the frosting. That batch disappeared three times as fast. Literally.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Can one soften purchased candy canes?

A greased sheet would be preferable to parchment I think. I'll grant you I never tried it, but you never see it used in commercial hard candy factory videos. I know wax paper won't work. Sticking and burning up issues. Found that one out by accident while making old fashioned hard tack candy, which we make every Christmas in mass quantities.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

$18/week

Kind of interested in the particulars to that, too, Initial.

While I don't try to live on $18 a week, I do try to be frugal. I think it is possible to be healthy on the $18 with a little work and creativity, but might be something you'd need to develop over time and not just jump into.

If it were me, I would start with some grocery fliers and information regarding pricing at other sources. I would be looking for the best price on eggs, cheese, dried beans, dried rice, some day old bread, some sort of citrus or apples, some sort of veggies, maybe some broth or stock.

I would probably opt to start by making a large pot of soup containing something like carrots, onions, celery, squash, maybe some cabbage which is cheap and low calorie. I'd also make a big pot of rice and slow cook a big pot of beans. If there is an Indian market in your 30 min radius, might consider some peanuts if the price is right. You'd have lots of meal options like fried egg with rice, egg sandwich with cheese, cheese sandwich with veggie soup, veggies and beans over rice. Some of your less popular meat items can be had very cheaply, if you like liver and onions or things like that. If you have something like acorn squash, you can bake it and eat it with rice and beans. The frozen veggie idea is a good one, I can usually find bags of frozen veg for less than a dollar and you can just microwave them.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Ideas for Leftover Cake Scraps

Second the rum or burbon balls, but suggest you sub in cake crumbs for vanilla wafers in traditional rum balls, then dip in chocolate and add some candy corns for turkey tails. I call them sleeping turkey treats.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Best online sources for reliable Indian recipes?

http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/ has great videos for the recipes and I have never had any of them fail

http://www.vahrehvah.com/ also has instructional videos, wider range than manjula but I find I sometimes have a little harder time following his instructions, can almost seem he leaves things out and a lot of his amounts seem pretty guestimated

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

What's For Dinner? Part LIV

Tonight we're gonna try Italian Beef Poorboy sammiches. Loading the crock pot up with chopped onion, red bell pepper, celery, little garlic, my last three -ish cups of homemade stock, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, pepper, pinch of tarragon, and a little squeeze of fresh ginger and let it cook all day. Thought I would serve it with some sweet potato fries but wondering how well it would work to just fry cut a couple of sweet potatoes and spread them out on a sheet of foil for that, maybe a green salad. Also wondering how well it would work to put sandwiched-shaped piles of the leftover beef on wax paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze it to put in a zippy in the deep freeze for later sandwiches. Any opinions? Was thinking could then just pull out enough for one sandwich, microwave, and voila! Husband's lunch.

Nov 02, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Best Restaurant Not in a Major Texas City - Texas

Hope you are looking for some really small towns!

Some of the best Italian to be had in Texas, bar none - Devoli's in Denison, Tx where I love the eggplant parmesan

Awesome chicken fried steak at Clear Springs in Nacogdoches.

If you want a good mushroom swiss burger, then Watson Burger on Morton in Denison, TX is where its at.

Ole Czech Bakery, corner of FM 2114 (Oak St) and N Harrison in West, TX for kolaches.

Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls has some extremely tasty catfish, although I admit to enjoying the fried catfish from Catfish King. Yes, it is a small chain based out of Ore City, Texas. It may be a chain, but Mr Beard really keeps an eye on what is going on at the various stores and I've never been disappointed in a meal at one of them. I think Denton is as close as they come to a major city.

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Blue Bonnet Cafe
211 US Highway 281, Marble Falls, TX 78654

Oct 31, 2010
GertieHound in Texas

SA trip report

Thank you for taking the time to post interesting, detailed reviews. Agree in general with your views on the riverwalk. We have enjoyed people watching over drinks and food at Boudros, but I wouldn't list it among the best to be had in San Antonio. More of an interesting place to take first time visitors to the River Walk for a relaxing view of the place.

Oct 31, 2010
GertieHound in Texas

Dallas, Austin & San Antonio - Must not miss restaurants

A cookoff would absolutely be the best way to find good chili. Unfortunately, you'll miss the Turkey Chili Cookoff on the 20th in San Antonio. Victoria, Texas is having a chili cookoff Thanksgiving weekend, but it would mean about a two hour drive each way. Actually, if you are considering the two hour drive, you might also add Black Church BBQ in Huntsville, Texas. ( http://www.yelp.com/biz/new-zion-miss... ) Jaymes has definitely filled you in on all the best BBQ to be had Dallas, SA, and points in between.

I second Texas Chili House in Austin as a possible for chili. Other than cookoffs, if you had a longer stay, I might suggest a mini trail ride that culminates in a chuck wagon dinner with chili, but maybe next visit?

As long as you are making foodie stops between Dallas and San Antonio, I recommend you take the exit in West, Texas. Note that I am referring to a little town called "West" just south of Hillsboro on I-35. Just exit Oak St (FM 2114) and head east under the underpass. On the southeast corner of the second intersection (Oak and N Harrison Streets) you will see Ole Czech Bakery. These are the kolaches other bakeries in town aspire to. They also bake for some of the other places in town.

In San Antonio, depending on if the weather is with you, we've always enjoyed Boudros on the Riverwalk if the weather is pretty. Thanksgiving weekend is sort of up in the air, but it has been known to be pretty enough to eat on the riverwalk in early December if the day is sunny and not windy.

We enjoyed El Jarro de Arturo Mexican in San Antonio, but hopefully someone local can name the Mexican place in San Antonio that looked to be in an old warehouse and had really good fresh tortillas made in the restaurant. This place was not Tex-Mex, it was the real deal, and I still look back on the machaca burrito with longing. Possible this was Guajillos?

And hey! Where's the chicken fried steak? You absolutely can't miss out on that! I recommend La Tuna Grill in San Antonio because of their rosemary mashed potatoes. Austin has their very own chicken fried steak thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/626377 but I can only speak for the chicken fried venison at Mesa Ranch. I thought it was very good fried venison, but wouldn't hold a candle to chicken fried steak like momma used to make. For that, I think I would have to recommend Love and War in Texas in Plano, or Clear Springs Cafe in San Antonio, although for the absolute best, I'd have to recommend the Clear Springs in Nacogdoches. Yum!

Oct 31, 2010
GertieHound in Texas

Is the Greek Festival in Euless this weekend worth visiting?

So glad you mentioned the Romanian Orthodox Church festival! We started going to the Holy Trinity festival when my daughter was reading a book that somehow involved a similar church for her high school English Lit and the teacher offered an extra grade for attending. Where were the teachers offering grades for going to fun stuff like that when I was a kid, I want to know? But anyway, so excited to hear about the one coming up in November as we were forced to miss Holy Trinity for the first time after five years enjoyment. I just used up my thyme honey we always pick up there so it will be the perfect chance to get some honey.

Thanks, CocoaNut!

Oct 27, 2010
GertieHound in Dallas - Fort Worth

Fast-Casual French Caf├ęs?

If there is such a thing in all of Texas, I'd love to know where. The one good thing about it, because of that we are always eager for a trip back to Paris

Oct 27, 2010
GertieHound in Dallas - Fort Worth

Visions Skillet

Visions, how I hate you, let me count the ways.
If you get the skillet hot enough to sort-of sear the food, which takes forever, it will stick no matter how much oil used, so you end up ripping off any nice browned bits trying to rip it off the pan. (I think they later had a Teflon lined version because of this.)
Boiling takes so much longer in them.
They weigh a ton.
They will break, and they break weirdly, somehow managing to sort of shoot shrapnel about in a most alarming manner.
Try to fry an egg in the skillet, no matter how much oil, half will be left stuck in the pan.

As you might have guessed, I had some bad experiences with this product. The defining moment came when I tried to heat up some oil to fry a cheap, pre-breaded chicken fried steak up in an effort to save money by eating something at home between school and work. Accustomed to it taking forever to heat and not realizing husband had started to heat the pan of oil but shut it off this particular day while waiting for me to arrive with a fresh supply of cheap, commercially pre-breaded chicken fried steak wanna-bes (we were very poor students, don't judge), I turned the pan on as usual and went to go fix my makeup for work. I sniffed an unusual burnt smell and raced at breakneck across our tiny apartment, rounding the corner just in time to become a target via the bar opening onto our living room for the shrapnel as the smoking pan exploded. This after only 5 minutes but maybe the heat, cool, heat had somewhat to do with things. At any rate, ended having to scrub the entire wall space of our up-to-that-point seemingly minuscule apartment. Luckily managed to escape with only one tiny scratch, but would have been much worse had I actually managed to round into the tiny kitchen. Several items in the room were impaled by slivers of glass. Tossed every last piece of the Visions in the trash that very moment. At least cheap Teflon-coated pots don't explode on you.

Oct 19, 2010
GertieHound in Cookware

Gas Oven

First, regarding parts not an option, you might check a shop that refurbishes older ovens. I inherited a very old very cool oven made in the 50s and have been able to get parts reasonably from online refurbishers. I don't know the law in NYC but normally something like no under counter gas ovens only applies if you are replacing one. The old one is 'grandfathered' in so as long as you keep it repaired, you are fine. Just look under refurbished or vintage stoves.

Oct 18, 2010
GertieHound in Cookware

Cast iron pans leaving black flakes on food

The following care of a cast iron pan taught to me by my great-grandmother lo these many years ago. As to 'right', 'wrong' I don't know, but it has never failed me. I suspect partly there are many versions of the basics because the original seasoning and treatment was used with wood and coal fire stoves using what was readily available in that day, which was probably lard. Anyway, my grandmother's teaching:

According to her, some pans came claiming to be pre-seasoned, but she would not trust this as you have no idea how clean they might be beforehand, nor what has happened to them in shipping or the shop.

First scrub well. She used steel wool inside and out. Then you need to clean the pores by scalding it with boiling water.

Next, coat it generously with good lard, which even by that time was hard to find. She'd have no truck with homogenized lard-like products from the grocery shelf. Good lard was the nice clean 'real' lard only available from a 'real' butcher. If this could not be procured, might as well use vegetable shortening, although this would create a more delicate finish which ought to be re-seasoned every year to eighteen months. Once the pan was coated well - you should see a light white film all over, inside and out - place the pan upside down on one oven rack in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees. Cover a jelly roll pan with foil and place it on below on the other rack to catch any drips. Shut the oven and turn it to 350 degrees. After one hour, turn the oven off and leave the pan inside overnight to 'cure'.

When you have used the pan, like anything else, it needs a proper wash. Never place any sort of soap directly into the pan. Place the hot pan into hot, soapy wash water and wash it thoroughly. Never touch the pan with steel wool or a heavy scrubby. The best scrubby for this type of pan is the old-fashioned cotton dish cloths she taught me to crochet from cotton yarn as it will scrub out stubborn food without damaging the seasoning. If there are no stubborn bits, just swish it out well with the cloth. After a good rinse in warm water, dry with a towel and place back on the burner. If it is an electric stove, residual heat should be enough, but a gas stove will need to be turned on low briefly as dampness can 'get down in the pan" and cause rust under the seasoning layer.

The two of us cleaned and seasoned my two good cast iron skillets with good lard, and they have survived the raising of two children without requiring re-seasoning. I eventually received a third pan and treated it the same, save the use of vegetable shortening. That pan has always had a tendency to develop sticky spots around 1 year to 18 mo after the last seasoning, at which time I scrub it out again with the steel wool and season it again. If I had any idea where to get real lard, I would try it again, though I wonder if the fact this pan is lighter weight than my original pans figures in there anywhere.

Oct 18, 2010
GertieHound in Cookware

Ideal Travel Spice Kit???

There are some places like Whole Foods and camping stores that sell some fairly nice dry vegetables and fruits. Aside from the expense issue, I always take some spices and herbs, dry veggies and fruits along with oatmeal and rice when we travel. Nice for a quick snack in our room, a little stew, or a fast hot breakfast of oatmeal.

Oct 18, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Garlic Sausage

My local grocery sells a fresh (not smoked) sausage with the appearance (to me) of a Bratwurst - light in color flecked with some pepper and fatter and larger than a hot dog - and are labeled simply "garlic sausage". My good German-American grandma called them "knackwurst". Further examination reveals the main ingredients of this sausage are pork, veal, and garlic.

Oct 18, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Appetizer challenge: vegetarian, no cheese, no bread or pastry, no dips

I've had that vegan pate done in little purple plum tomatoes and it was very tasty.

What about spicy sweet potato chips? You can make them or you can buy them at the nearest organic foods market...although they'd be better with a dip.

I've had this before, requires some specialty products like vegan pepperoni and I recommend vegan pepper jack, not mozzarella, but they were pretty tasty. http://www.vegancoach.com/vegan-appet... Don't buy cheap vegan cheese or pepperoni.

You said no bread so no crostini or bruschetta. Maybe Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Tapenade served on endive?
* 1 4 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained (reserve the oil
) * 1 cup good pitted brine-cured black olives
* 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
* 3 cloves garlic
* 1/2 cup capers
* 1 1/2 tsp vegan Parmesan substitute (optional)
* salt and pepper to taste

Just food process and it is ready.

Samosas are yummy but do have some bread. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUA4g8... I've made Manjula's and they are so tasty. If you think Indian might be well received, check out her website. I've had very good luck with all her recipes.

http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2010/0... <<that one is my favorite, but it probably won't suit for an appetizer very well because it is very filling.

Spring rolls would be a nice make-ahead perhaps?

Avocado Caprese sounds light and tasty. http://www.happycow.net/recipes.php?i...

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

New macaron book??

Thanks for the warning. I've been wanting to try making macarons since it doesn't look like I will get to France any time soon. I was just going to try the recipe from Lebovitz's blog. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/10/... myself.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

ISO: Albondigas soup recipe

This will probably make everyone laugh, but we used to make a version of this soup we got the recipe from an old Sesame Street episode. In the episode, they had film it looked like from Mexico. Mother and daughter go to the various shops at the market where they select carrots, onion, peppers, and garlic, have rice weighed out for them, and choose their meat. In this case, a chicken, which I am thinking may just mean it was from a different region of Mexico. Anyway, they make the soup with the little girl helping by stirring the pot standing on a chair and by washing things for mom to clean and chop with the knife.

My mother watched the show and took down what she thought were the measures from watching them make it and used to cook it for us. We called it "Sesame Street Soup". This would have been pretty early in the history of the show, no later than 1970.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Recipes for Spicy boiled and roasted peanuts

I made mine like Imhn is describing using Old Bay along with the salt and we enjoyed them. I never heard of microwaving them. My thoughts, it is probably one of those things microwave would take nearly as long as just going ahead with the regular way as you need the time to get the protein where you need it.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? Part IX [old]

My, everyone has been making amazing things.

Someone said something about the canned sprays for baking. I never use them. I just got a small, good quality blue glass jar with a spritzer from SpecialtyBottle.com and fill that with olive oil. Pam and other sprays always had a funny smell and left a taste in my baked goods I just could not get past. They swear it is all fine but I just feel better and prefer the taste of just using something I know is food.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitc...

Beware, I find that is a lot of sugar and spice topping to put on them. I usually save the last teaspoon of the topping and add it to the icing. Its really something with freshly grated nutmeg. They make up very nice both with and without the raisins, although I think my family would happily eat mud pies with that icing on top.

I made some "easy old fashioned biscuits" by a recipe I saw in a blog but wasn't happy with the results. The only ones we really love are the real old fashioned sort, where you first melt shortening in a cast iron skillet, then add your biscuits and bake.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Dealing with kabocha squash

Personally, I'd wash it well and remove all the seeds and gunk, then wrap in foil and roast in the oven. If you just cut it in half. Surely the kids can handle getting all that out of the shell with a tablespoon. Also, I think it would be safer in that it would be cool. Mashing hot squash squares might be as much of a danger as the knives. At least, I remember getting pretty burned by hot potato back the first time I made mashed potatoes. The thing is it is hot and it is sticky. Although sounds like they'll be cooking the pancakes? If you have ovens available the kids can prepare the squash as far as cleaning them out after an adult just cuts them in half, then you can do a lesson of some sort while they bake, and then they can scoop them out after they cool a little?

Only other softening possibility I see other than bake them is par boil it, maybe.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving dinner worthy of gobble gobbling ?

I'm doing an Asian-inspired red cabbage slaw. I'll use red cabbage, a little red onion, and a little carrot and top it with my normal slaw dressing - wet a scant 1/2 cup sugar with rice vinegar, add a couple/three of tablespoons of my home made mayo, and a teaspoon of good spicy mustard - to which I was thinking I would add a squirt of lemon juice, a bit of lemon zest, some soy, and a pinch of five spice powder. Mom always makes a fresh fruit salad which is really pretty plain but she kicks it up with her freshly made brandy cream.

For the veggie, I saw a Good House Keeping brussels sprouts with leeks and bacon recipe I plan to try.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/recip...

Besides that, we'll have Mom's apple pear stuffing and a big turkey, spicy sweet potatoes with caramel pecan topping(not the mashed kind), my home made relish tray of corn relish, bread and butter pickles, spicy herring, and marinated olives, garlic cheddar country mashed potatoes, and I make green bean casserole from the last of the fresh made crock pot cream of mushroom soup we always have on Christmas Eve after we get the tree up.

I'll probably get talked into making Grandma's corn casserole again - two cans cream corn, two cans Mexi-corn drained, flour, lots of fresh cracked pepper, a little salt stirred into a cup of cream and poured over. I always try to sneak out of that one because it is so heavy, but somehow it wouldn't be the Holidays without it for us.

Glad to see you started this thread. I'd like to maybe have a new appetizer or maybe someone can recommend a new wine to try with dinner?

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Need a suggestion for Thanksgiving-day appetizer

an herbed smoke salmon dip - just google for a recipe you like, make ahead and serve in a pretty dish with good bread sticks, crackers, or those little toasts, this is one dish actually better made ahead

the pitted dates with maple bacon are succulent provided you can get some good quality dates, have also had this with a little bacon around a 1/4 fig and very nice

boil some shrimp in old bay, crab boil seasoning, or your seasoning of choice and chill to serve with a good dip - we used ketchup, green onion, garlic, worcestershire, horse raddish sauce, and port to make ours and it is best made ahead

crock pot meatballs aren't fancy but our family loves them done Asian-style in a sauce made by making a gravy with cider vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch, and a pinch of five spice powder

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Cream cheese on muffins

I haven't had the Starbuck's version but a local coffee house makes them where they make a "thick cheesecake batter" which is really just 4 oz cream cheese, 1 egg, and 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, and then pumpkin muffin batter. They put in half the muffin batter, then add some cheesecake batter in the middle, and finish filling. A local diner makes cheesecake-filled spice muffins to use up any leftover cheesecake from the previous day - they advertise all their desserts and pastery fresh made daily. They actually put a square of cheese cake in the middle, much like those cupcakes people make with a rolo or peanut butter cup in the middle.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

Help making apple pie without a pie dish

As long as your skillet is fully oven safe (no plastic on the handle, etc) you CAN bake an apple pie it in just fine most probably. My great grandma made her apple pies in her big cast iron skillet in the wood stove all the time. The instructions she gave me were to make your pie crust on the 'short side' meaning you used a tablespoon more lard than the typical crust recipe for one two crust pie. Otherwise it was all the same.

The other great option is to make an apple tart. Just peel and slice your apples, heat up your oven. I'd probably just melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of a good, hot skillet. Saute your apple slices until they are about 3/4 of the way done and showing a little browning. Add your sugar and cinnamon, a quick grate of nutmeg, stir them in - depending on how tart your apples not more than 1/2 cup and probably less sugar. I'd probably add it after remove from burner. Spread your apples out in a layer, top with the previously rolled out pie crust, bake it in the oven until the crust is golden brown. Flip it out on a large platter and enjoy.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking

European ingredients used in American baking recipies - Help!

American Confectioners' sugar has about 1 tablespoon of corn starch per cup of sugar. You can make your own from plain white granulated sugar in the food processor by simply adding the appropriate corn starch and whirring until you have the fine powder you are used to. I have used this in a pinch when I reached for the bag and found I was out.

If the suggestions here don't get your baking exactly where you would like, what I was told in a couple of places overseas was the flour is less processed than what we have here and more resembles organic unbleached flours we have in that it has less gluten. I used to add a tablespoon raw gluten powder sifted in with the flour to get the consistency I was used to.

Oct 17, 2010
GertieHound in Home Cooking