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Smoothie blenders

My red Vitamix 5200 ranks among my very favorite possessions. At least a couple of friends (one vegan, one a CrossFitter - I am neither) have said the same of their Vitamix.

You can buy a refurbished Vitamix direct from the company for $300 plus shipping - and many affiliate sites offer codes for free shipping. I drink a daily smoothie, and for me, the Vitamix was worth it just for the 5-year warranty. $300 is a lot less than the value of the ingredients I'm putting into it, or what I save by never buying green drinks from the supermarket or cafe.

If you're devoted to your smoothies, just do it. (I do not take a position in the Vitamix versus Blendtec wars. I like my Vitamix, but I'm sure the Blendtec is comparable. They just look different - the Vitamix has dials, and the Blendtec has push buttons, IIRC.)

Mar 07, 2015
fadista in Cookware

Adding counter top to a small kitchen?

Thanks so much. I need to go back and make some measurements, but this gives me a good place to start and reassurance that it's solvable without too much difficulty.

Mar 06, 2015
fadista in Cookware

Adding counter top to a small kitchen?

I am moving to a rental apartment closer to my friends, but with a kitchen alarmingly devoid of counter space. There is a kitchen "nook" where I have some room to add a counter, if I could purchase or construct one. (I have to admit that I am not terribly handy with the machine tools.)

What are some good and affordable solutions for add-on countertops? I scanned the IKEA catalog but nothing leapt out at me - nothing big enough to be useful. Maybe they have just the SKU but I missed it.

I realize this is not a traditional recipe question - but trust me, this countertop will contribute to a lot of new recipes and cooking for friends.

I'm quite out of my depth in the kitchen hardware department - all your suggestions or warnings are appreciated. Nothing is too obvious. Thanks.

Mar 06, 2015
fadista in Cookware

Palo Alto search

Another enthusiastic vote for Oren's Hummus - not at all fancy, just good.

Your Favorite $5 or under bites in San Francisco

A rice ball at Onigilly will set you back about $4. Good stuff. Kearny @Pine.

Communal dining in SF?

I very much enjoy meeting people over a meal. Welcome your recommendations for restaurants or cafes offering a communal table. I know about The Grove.


[I see this question was asked in 2006, but did not receive many responses. Asking it again.]

Do U smell diff when u cook indian food?

Five days after eating a fenugreek curry (i.e. fenugreek leaves were the main ingredient, not just the spice), I still reek of curry/maple syrup.

The smell was a curiosity the first day - now it's seriously annoying.

Mar 29, 2014
fadista in Not About Food

What goes with olives?

Wonderful suggestions - I'm looking forward to trying every one. Well, the salami and the dry cheese especially. Intrigued by the almonds. And, ok, bread. Don't get me wrong, I love bread. And beans in brine - definitely!? And grapes - never would have thought of that! Gin: an excuse to try to get carded. Mmmm ... mmm.

Thanks, Chow!

Mar 28, 2014
fadista in General Topics

What goes with olives?

I like olives a lot - as a snack, not in "cooked" food.

Trader Joe's has a great Greek Olive Medley. But as I chow down on these, I can't help the feeling that they're missing some complement. What - besides bread, which I mostly avoid these days - could that complement be?


Mar 28, 2014
fadista in General Topics

Menlo Park-area Asian food with private dining room?

I'm looking for a place to take an Israeli group of 10 - who might be unfamiliar with, and therefore appreciate, Asian food - without breaking the bank.

If we could get a private room, that would be a huge bonus.

I know that Fey is one option - any other recommendations? Thanks.

Best Pizza in Peninsula...? Back up plans for arriving relatives...

Assuming that the definition of "pizza" includes deep dish, I have your winner: Patxi's, in downtown Palo Alto. Blows away the competition, from Berkeley to Chicago.

Organic baby spinach - best price on Peninsula?

While Trader Joe's produce often isn't a great deal, I'm addicted to their organic baby spinach ($1.99 for a 6oz bag) as well as their organic mixed greens.

Do any other local retailers or big box stores beat those prices? I haven't found one, though bags by weight can be deceiving, so I might have missed something.

Where do you buy your greens? (Okay, my underlying question is: should I join Costco for the greens, assuming I consume a bag or two a day?)

Favorite Berkeley Cheapish Dinner?

One of my Berkeley standbys is the "Persian Burger" on a baguette at Bongo Burger. Three locations - one on Euclid just north of Campus, one west of campus, and one off of Telegraph.

A "half Persian Burger" typically satisfies me, but since you're coming in from out of town, why not splurge for a full. Around $5.

More extreme budget cooking

I know the topic of cooking on a very tight budget shows up here from time to time.

I'm looking forward to this resourceful young lady's book:

Aug 12, 2013
fadista in Home Cooking

Good places to buy beef/lamb/goat bones for soup?

Where are some good places to buy big marrow-rich (beef/lamb/goat) bones for soup? I know this question has been asked before, but I hoped for updates.

Cost is one priority. I'm willing to pay more for grass-fed or otherwise "known higher-quality" product, though not Draeger's prices.

Currently I buy lamb shanks at Rose Market in Mountain View. There, as elsewhere, I think I'm mostly paying for the flesh, though what I really care about is the bone.

Previous posts here and elsewhere say "ask any butcher." What's the etiquette of asking a butcher to sell me dirt-cheap bones (that they might discard) when I'm not doing any other business with them?


Cambodian Catfish Amok at Chez Sovan (San Jose, Lunch Only)

Chez Sovan has Silicon Valley diners, and presumably pays Silicon Valley rents.

I'm sure That Luang is great, but is not really fair to compare prices in (more or less) the heart of Silicon Valley to a restaurant in San Pablo.

My itinerary for a visit next month

It will add to your mileage, but consider Chez Sovan for lunch on Monday:

Total hole in the wall. (Yes, it really is that place on the corner with bars on the windows.) The payoff is outstanding Cambodian food. Take two friends. Get the catfish amok, beef with green beans, chicken curry.

favorite uses for strawberry jam?

I'm getting quite good at making strawberry jam in my new bread maker.

Unfortunately I have yet to master the art of bread making.

Until I figure out the bread ... what are some alternate uses for this great jam - beyond eating it out of the jar with a spoon? (No double-dipping!)

Oct 30, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

what is pressure cooker "cooking time"?

Very helpful - thanks! I'm getting quite excited about the pressure cookery ahead of me. (I think this will suit my lifestyle better than the planning-7-hours-ahead that is slow cooking.)

Oct 27, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

what is pressure cooker "cooking time"?

Thanks for the explanation. Do I turn down the heat (somewhat) once steam begins to escape - just enough to keep it steaming?

I just cooked a daal (lentil) dish that required only one minute at pressure. Perhaps not much time saved, but the simplicity is appealing. With meat the time difference will be larger, I'm told.

Oct 26, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

what is pressure cooker "cooking time"?

Okay, so I decided it finally was time to use my 10-year (?) new Fagor pressure cooker.

The pressure cooking process apears to be:
1. Put in your ingredients, close the lid, and turn on the heat.
2. At some point, the contents will begin to boil, and steam will visibly escape.
3. Turn off the heat.

All the Fagor recipes very helpfully refer to "cooking time," which is never explained. Or a recipe will say "Close and cook for 3-4 minutes."

I know what "cooking time" is in a microwave, or when I'm baking or grilling or sauteing.

But what is it in the process above? Is "cooking time" how long I watch the steam blow out of the hole in Step 2? Or how long I wait after turning off the heat?


Oct 26, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

safe to reduce sugar in home-made jams?

Not canning. Putting it in the fridge in a glass jar (not vacuum sealed or anything) to eat over a few weeks.

Oct 09, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

safe to reduce sugar in home-made jams?

When a mainstream recipe calls for sugar, I typically reduce the quantity by a third or a half, to get something suited to my Californian taste buds.

I recently bought a bread/jam maker. Their strawberry jam recipe calls for 3/4 cup of sugar to two cups of chopped strawberries. So I used just 1/2 cup sugar - tasted terrific. (Kept the third ingredient: 1 Tbsp lemon juice.) It was maybe even a bit too sweet - after all, strawberries are naturally sweet.

So I was considering cutting down the sugar to 1/4 cup or less, when I read on the 'net that the sugar added to jam serves a preservative function.

Is this true? Am I running a risk of botulism poisoning (or just mold) by not adding the prescribed amount of sugar to my jam?

Oct 09, 2012
fadista in Home Cooking

Do restaurants use canola oil?

Thanks - that's super helpful. Although ... I hate the thought of becoming one of "those people."

As a reference for future web-surfers here, I stumbled upon this site focused on the very same intolerance: (I didn't immediately understand the name - cute.)

Jul 14, 2012
fadista in General Topics

Do restaurants use canola oil?

What would they use instead? I use peanut oil at home, but I can't imagine that's usual.

Jul 13, 2012
fadista in General Topics

Do restaurants use canola oil?

After years of gastric distress, I took a food allergy test whose report card informs me that (among other things) I absolutely need to avoid canola oil and brewer's yeast for the next six months. Hmmm.

Is canola oil what most restaurants use to cook nowadays? Does it matter whether the restaurant is:
- Indian
- Chinese
- Korean
- Thai
- In 'N Out
- Ethiopian?

Not sure how to handle this (news). Thanks.

Jul 13, 2012
fadista in General Topics

Dinner with brown Students

When I saw your subject header, my mind immediately went back to my student days (at Berkeley), and I thought "brown students are just like white students. We like pizza and Chinese food!"

Apr 03, 2011
fadista in Southern New England

Favorite avocado toppings?

An avocado tree in your back yard? Wonderful!

Thanks for all the great suggestions, everyone - I'm looking forward to the next week of experimenting.

Apr 01, 2011
fadista in Home Cooking

Favorite avocado toppings?

Okay, so it's not quite "cooking," but what are some of your favorite quick toppings for when you cut avocado in half and eat it right out of its skin? Sure, they're great with lime, but I feel I'm missing something.

Mar 31, 2011
fadista in Home Cooking

the dal-tadka thread

Dal (lentil) is a staple of North Indian cooking, and its flavor results from the last minute addition of a tadka (aka baghar, aka phoron), spices briefly fried in hot ghee and then added to the dal at the very last minute. Or to be on the safe side, the dal is added to the spices.

I know there are dozens of different possible tadkas, but I haven't found a definitive list, nor some formula to match a tadka ingredient with a particular dal. What are some of your favorite dal/tadka combinations? What are combinations to avoid?

I'll kick it off with some suggestions from a Bengali friend:

1) Masoor dal
Tadka: "panch phoron," whole dried red chilis, sliced garlic

2) Moong dal
Tadka: ginger, jeera (cumin) seeds, garam masala

3) Moong dal
Tadka: hing (asafoetida), jeera (cumin) seeds, ginger, whole dried red chilis

Avoid: adding salt or any raw ingredients to the dal until it is finished cooking.

Jan 28, 2011
fadista in Home Cooking