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cottonmama's Profile

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Unpleasant smells from cooked meats

When I thaw meat in the microwave, if the meat begins to cook (i.e. it's past thawing and now actually cooking), I'll notice an off smell that carries to when it is cooked. I also sometimes get the smell from microwaved leftovers and frozen dinners. I don't know if it's a fecal smell, but I can't think of a better way to describe it, so maybe we're talking about the same thing.

To avoid it, I try to give frozen meat a couple days to thaw in the fridge. I try to eat leftovers up quickly and not to overheat them in the microwave. I prefer vegetarian frozen dinners.

I should mention, I have a really sensitive nose -- especially when I'm pregnant. During my last pregnancy, I could smell from inside my house (windows closed) when my neighbors mowed their grass. When they grilled, I thought my house was on fire because of the smoke smell!

Jul 17, 2013
cottonmama in Home Cooking
1

Can you get eastern North Carolina style bbq and cole slaw anywhere in Atlanta?

I'm craving the spicy, vinegar-based stuff like I used to get from Smithfield BBQ in North Carolina. Can I get anything like it here in Atlanta?

May 14, 2012
cottonmama in Atlanta

Pear, walnut, blue cheese tea sandwiches -- can I make these ahead?

I'm making a variety of tea sandwiches for a bridal shower tomorrow, but I'm hesitating about making the pear, walnut, blue cheese ones (http://texification.blogspot.com/2009...) ahead of time. For the others I've spread butter on the bread and topped with wax paper and a damp paper towel (and I'll do the same for these if I make the ahead), but I'm nervous about how the pears will keep. Will they be okay, or should I wait till tomorrow for these?

Feb 03, 2012
cottonmama in Home Cooking

There's a Bottle of Moscato in my Fridge... what can I make?

Some friends were visiting from out of town and bought a bottle of moscoto while they were here, but they didn't even open it before they went home. No one in my family drinks. But we do cook with wine... Any ideas on what I could do with it? (Besides give it away to someone who would enjoy it as is... although maybe that's what I should do anyway...)

Thanks!

Aug 29, 2011
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Potluck Brunch recipe...

I wonder if you could make some sausage patties and just warm them up in a pile in the crockpot? Might get expensive for 14 people, but I bet it would be a hit!

Most breakfast breads work well... muffins, scones, bagels, monkey bread, coffee cake, croissants. Autumn has some nice flavors to choose from... pumpkin, apple, cranberry, pecans, cinnamon. Or you could bring some mulled cider in the crock pot... not a food item, and not strictly breakfasty, but I bet it would still go over very well.

If I were you, I'd make a batch or two of pumpkin muffins and a crock pot full of mulled cider.

Oct 01, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Beef Stew... how to get good fond/Maillard reactions AND tender meat?

Just because people call different things beef stew... and because you said 5 hours... do you mean you're cooking a whole chuck roast? Or do you cut into chunks like I do?

I ask because I wonder if my potatoes would survive 5 hours without turning to mush, even at 250.

Oct 01, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Beef Stew... how to get good fond/Maillard reactions AND tender meat?

Yes, I've been braising it in beef stock. This time I cooked it at 350 for maybe 30 minutes and then turned down to 325 for another hour and a half. Maybe I'll just jump to 275 the whole time next time. How long would you cook it that low?

Oct 01, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Beef Stew... how to get good fond/Maillard reactions AND tender meat?

I've been working on improving my mediocre beef stew based on tips I found on this board. One tip that I read was that you needed to brown the meat really well and cook in the oven at 350 instead of the crock pot -- the high heat will give you those good Maillard reactions that make it taste good. And I must say it's working -- the flavor sure has gone up a notch -- but now that I'm browning my meat really well and cooking it in the oven instead of the crock pot, I'm ending up with tough meat. Not really surprising, but I don't want to back off on the browning because it makes it taste so good!

I use chuck meat because it has good marbling which I know contributes to good flavor. But I also know it's a tough meat and needs slow cooking to tenderize it. Is it just the wrong cut to use if I want to get any Maillard reactions at all? Or can I get it to be tender if I brown it but then slow cook it afterwards? Help!

Oct 01, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Southern-style Green Beans

Anyone have a good recipe for Southern-style green beans that they could point me to? My husband doesn't usually like green beans but whenever we go to a buffet with some peppery, cooked-to-death green beans, he always eats some and comments how good they are.

We'll be using fresh or frozen, but I figure it's the seasonings that he likes, so feel free to share recipes that use canned.

Thanks!

Sep 23, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Super-Frugal Meals -- around $1 per serving -- Beyond Rice and Beans

Since you mentioned it, I'd say give some serious thought to making bread for most or all of these meals. A nice bread will make a basic dinner really special and filling. Cook's Illustrated has a wonderful split pea soup... serve with some crusty bread and you'll come in WELL under $1 per person. (Maybe save up the extra $ and you can buy some meat every now and then!) You can do an impressive panini for pretty cheap... check out websites like Panini Happy for inspiration. Spaghetti with a vegetarian sauce (e.g. pomodoro or amatriciana), with garlic bread.

Or buy a small amount of local/organic ground beef and make a thick batch of chili. Server over potatoes with cheese and sour cream.

Homemade pizza or calzones can have inexpensive toppings/fillings (cheese, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes).

Sep 21, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking

Looking for Good Quality Flatware with Extra Spoons and Forks

Thanks, that's a great option -- I didn't even know you could buy sets that simply had fork, knife, and spoon!

(And FWIW, I think we're a long way from being able to afford steak for 20! Right now 8 steak knives would be more than sufficient.)

Jul 26, 2010
cottonmama in Cookware

Looking for Good Quality Flatware with Extra Spoons and Forks

I'm in the market for new stainless flatware after a fire damaged my old set, which is no longer sold (the pattern is still out there, but not in the quantities we bought it in). I'm not finding anything quite like it so far... I wonder if some of you could recommend something that would work for me? My requirements:

1) Can serve a big crowd, say 15-20 people, for basic meals that call for a spoon and/or a fork. Sets that are service for 12 with 12 extra teaspoons and 12 extra salad forks will work well as long as the salad forks are on the big side. (I think 7" would be big enough?) Patterns with affordable open stock or sets of spoons or forks could be another good option.

2) Simple but classic pattern. I've attached a picture of our old pattern, which was just right. (Wallace Royal Thread, if you're curious.)

3) Will last a long time -- I figure I need 18/10 stainless so they don't rust, but I also know that the quality of 18/10 still varies pretty widely. I have used Wallace flatware in the past, and this held up well for the 3 years we owned it, but I have no idea how long it takes for flatware to deteriorate.

As a side note, I'm very confused about Wallace's stainless quality because I often see a pattern sold as 18/10 at some stores and 18/0 at others. Is one store misrepresenting it, or does Wallace make multiple grades for a single pattern?

Anyway, I am not loyal to Wallace and am prepared to get something a little nicer than what we had, just as long as requirement #4 is met. :-)

4) Won't break the bank. I'd prefer to stay under $200 for flatware + steak knives. (Is this even a realistic budget?)

Thanks!

Jul 26, 2010
cottonmama in Cookware

Where to buy all-natural kielbasa

I used to be able to get a nitrate-free pork (or was it beef?) kielbasa at Trader Joes, but lately they've only had turkey kielbasa or none at all. The non-turkey kind is so much better, though! I found a turkey version again recently at MOM's, but I miss the high-fat stuff. :-) Anyone seen this at another store? I'm in Laurel but might just be willing to drive a bit to have something special for when we have family in town.

What are some of your favorite Easy Cast Iron Recipies for a new pan?

Your skillet is probably well-seasoned by now, but for the benefit of anyone else who comes along -- hubby and I make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch all the time, and they have really given our CI griddle a beautiful finish. Eat them weekly for a while and you'll have that shine down in no time, with very little effort.

Mar 17, 2010
cottonmama in Home Cooking