DonShirer's Profile

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Asian Restaurant (Broad St., Middletown, CT)

No complaints about size here. I took leftovers home and had lunch from them today and (if I cook more rice) will have another tomorrow!

Niagara on the Lake and wineries

Here's a link to some winery info in nearby Ontario.

Sorry can't help with the restaurants. When we were there we had an RV and cooked our own.

Asian Restaurant (Broad St., Middletown, CT)

Was finally able to visit them after a meeting--they stay open til 11 Fri/Sat.
The Hot Sour soup was good (and well-spiced), but I think I like the Tom Yam better.
The Szechuwan Chicken was tasty (and prettily presented) but not as spicy as I expected. Bottom line, I'll go back again when I get the chance.

El Pulpo - Middletown

On my way to a meeting, I noticed that El Pulpo restaurant (mediterranean/tapas) was going full swing in the Main St. Market building. Anyone sampled them yet?

Cheddar please??? Who makes the best cheddars???

Tried Isle of Mull a second time. It was better than my first try. A reasonable choice, but B+, not A level.

Jun 21, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

Red vs. Green, Yellow Peppers

Stokes has developed a variety "Staysgreen" which it says emulates its name.

Says "tastes as good as a mature red pepper" but says it grows slowly so start indoors in northern climes.

New Hampshire Agricultural Station developed a pepper they call "Permagreen" which supposedly does the same. A web search found a few commercial sources (Amazon, ABCgrow).

I wonder if they are endorsed by Kermit?

Jun 18, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Has Anyone Planted "Ketchup & Fries"?

Someone inquired about this recently on a very popular gardening forum. No one said they had grown them, but a respected expert said they had been around for awhile under names like Pomato. The wikipedia article on pomato credits its development to The Max Planck institute in 1994.

Yes the picture showing both tomatoes and potatoes ripening at the same time is suspicious.

The book "Carrots Love Tomatoes" (not that I am recommending it) says: "Don't plant (tomatoes) near potatoes, since tomatoes render them more susceptible to potato blight."

Jun 18, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Do you really need to *cook* frozen vegetables before using?

Yep. 30 seconds in my microwave brings them to room temp. I don't like to eat them frozen.

Jun 13, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

15-second scrambled eggs!

Tried a 2-egg scramble this morning using the technique in this link. It actually works! Eggs did come out very creamy (but it took 20 seconds).

Jun 11, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

Thieving Birds....

Had some problems in the past with birds (most likely suspects) taking one peck at a tomato. Someone suggested they were looking for water, so this year I'm going to provide a tray of water nearby to see if that reduces the sampling.

Can't grow blueberries. Birds eat them all. Tried placing netting over entire bush--didn't work, they snuck in from underneath. Tried putting netting over blossom cluster. They pecked right through it, tearing the netting. This is one battle I'm not going to win.

Jun 09, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Thieving Birds....

Had some problems in the past with birds (most likely suspects) taking one peck at a tomato. Someone suggested they were looking for water, so this year I'm going to provide a tray of water nearby to see if that reduces the sampling.

Jun 09, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

CT: Make your own Main Street (if you could move your favorite restaurants ... )

While there are a couple of New Haven Italian and Pizza places I wish were a little closer to Westbrook, I can still find a good representative of most of the essential food groups within 15 miles, and occasionally I need a good excuse like that to get out of town and visit some nearby sights (or stores) as well!

The Beet - So Long Brussel Sprouts and Kale, The Beet Is The New Veg.

But why must cultists always look for a "new" vegetable? Kale, brussels sprouts, beets and the other old favorites are all good. I like variety and would not concentrate on any one veg just because it is trendy.

(Eating beet risotto as I read this, courtesy of DW who is a beet lover).

National Doughnut Day!

Doughnut Casserole anyone? (42000+ calories!)

Jun 05, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

What type of flour should I dust on Sweet Potato to make Crispy Sweet Potato fries?

I don't add flour, but I do sprinkle them with Hungarian paprika.

Jun 03, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

Where to eat in New England while traveling from NYC to Maine?

Au contraire, 047, there are plenty of good seafood places in CT (and RI and Mass as well), many on or near Rt. 1, an easy exit from I-95. I'll just name a few of those I'm familiar with:
The signature informal seafood place (lots of other stuff on children's menu) is Lenny& Joes Fish Tale in Westbrook (my favorite), New Haven and Madison. The Madison location has a carousel for the kids.
New Haven also has Pacifico, Shell & Bones and Abate (Pizza and seafood) but I haven't been to these lately so I can't vouch for kid friendliness.
Branford: Lenny's Indian Head Inn, a 10 minute trip off I-95. (No relation to other Lennys) I do not recommend USS Chowder Pot: usually too noisy for children.
Madison: The aforementioned Lenny's (with a carousel!), and the Clam Castle, a stereotypical seafood shack.
Clinton: Westbrook Lobster (and other seafood), and on the waterfront, The Lobster Landing (on the waterfront) has to-die-for lobster rolls but not much else.
Westbrook: Lenny's Fish Tale, Bills Seafood (ask for a seat away from the bar) which also has Ashley's Ice Cream.
Old Saybrook: Liv's Oyster Bar (more upscale), Johnny Ad's (another clam shack type with well-regarded hot dogs as well).
Niantic: Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant
(The following may be off your route)
New London: Capt. Scott's Lobster Dock, another seafood shack but right on the waterfront.
Mystic: Oyster Club is good but probably too upscale. Go Fish has good reviews but I've not been there. Abbott's Lobster in the Rough in nearby Noank is a famous "shack" that has outdoor dining and grilled cheese, macaroni and hot dogs for those who want more than seafood.
Stonington: Dog Watch Cafe Restaurant is right on the marina and has seafood and other choices plus a kids menu.

All of these down to the ------ are available if you are taking I-395 from I-95 to I-84. If you are taking I-91 to I-84 then only the New Haven Lenny's is on your route, but there are some good seafood restaurants along I-95 west of New Haven as well. Bon appetit! (but no bony appetizers, I hope)

Beecher's Flagsheep (yes, not Flagship!)

Just discovered Beecher's (Washington State) Flagsheep cheese, similar to their signature Flagship Reserve, but using 1/3 sheep, 2/3 cow milk, and aged 18 months instead of 12. To my tastebuds this adds a depth and slight sweetness with a nice aftertaste. It's firm and slightly flaky, but don't keep it around forever unless you want to grate it, it does get very hard with age. Perhaps not in wide distribution yet, since it is not on the cheese list at Beecher's website.

Campari tomatoes -- tried them yet?

Haven't contributed to this thread because I refused to pay $4.95 for 12 oz of Campari tomatoes. But yesterday I found them at $4/lb with a buy-2-get-1-free offer so I plunked down the cash. After two tries at salads, I guess they are better than many tomatoes sold at this time of year, but not as great as some of the respondents here claim. I actually like kumatoes a bit better. And, as my DW said, "not as good as home-grown".

Jun 01, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

What's for Dinner #367 - June's Summer Song Begins [through June 3, 2015]

While watering the garden I noticed that the kale plants that had overwintered were about ready to bloom. What to do with a bunch of kale? Aha! Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup! Added a beet&onion salad. Voila. Only problem...looks like there's enough leftover for the next three days. Hope it freezes.

Why are baked beans for breakfast popular in the UK, but no longer popular in the US?

Sorry, now I realize that in my poorly worded sentence the implication was that I used baked beans for huevos rancheros. (gag!) No, they were refried with green chills.

May 29, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

Why are baked beans for breakfast popular in the UK, but no longer popular in the US?

I posted a similar thread a few years ago which to my surprise brought several hundred responses. Evidently beans inspire either great loyalty or great loathing!
Myself, I enjoy them with corn beef hash or huevos rancheros, but not every day.

May 28, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

Get the "hole" story on swiss cheese!

This article purports to explain why holes in modern swiss cheese seem to be going the way of the dodo bird.

May 28, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese


Sign in their new location says they are open for business.

Wonder what sort of pull they have with the highway commission? There are two new stoplights just installed on Rte. 1, one on either side of the new J.A.M.M.S. Can't miss 'em now!

What variety of grean beans to grow?

I grow only pole beans. In my experience they produce more and over a longer season, and there seem to be more varieties I like. Of course you will need some support for them like a trellis. I use cattle fencing with 6-inch spacing. Every year I try one new variety, but also grow at least two of my favorites: Blue Lake, Fortex or Rattlesnake beans. They are easy to germinate from seed, either indoors in seeding soil or wet paper towels, or sown directly into the garden when the soil has warmed (I'm in your zone and sowed mine outdoors this week). Some people think bean inoculants help germination. P.S. When I was in Wal-Mart last week they did not have any bean plants set out.

May 26, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Old Saybrook lunch

The new restaurant is called Mirsina's. I drove by at night and from the menu they only do breakfast and lunch. Did find one positive review of breakfast there on Yelp.

Jasmine rice perfection

My wife bought some Jasmati rice last year. My taste buds were not sufficiently expert to distinguish it from basmati rice, but you guys sound like experts and may like it. I used the 2:1 water/rice ratio to cook it.

May 12, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

Old Saybrook lunch

The Rio Cafe closed, but I believe that it reopened as the G-Rod Cafe. Haven't heard anything about it personally, but there is a so-so review on the web. If you are looking for a good breakfast/lunch near O.S. try the Tea Kettle or J.A.M.M.S. on Rt. 1 or Christy's in Westbrook.

The Tea Kettle, Old Saybrook, CT

Finally took advantage of their Mother's Day brunch to persuade DW to try out the Tea Kettle. At first this seemed like a bad idea since they were jammed with people standing in line, but the hostess checked our reservations and seated us immediately. Because of the crush, it took almost half an hour to be served, but the food made up for it. I had one of their specials with poached eggs with brisket and caramelized onion on top of an English muffin, and DW enjoyed a quiche (which you can customize with a wide choice of add-ins). It took three tries before we got the busy waiter to bring the bill. Their website says both breakfast and lunch menus are available 6:30 to 2:30. I'd say their food, especially the mix-and-match options, is as good as JAMMS, but Cristy's might have an edge because they also serve dinner.

Vecchitto Italian Ice (Middletown, CT) is OPEN: Summertime is here!

And for those who can't get to Middletown, there is also a Vecchitto's in Old Lyme at Soundview Beach!

Pollinating Tomato Plants

Outdoor tomatoes are usually self-pollinating and need no human (or bee) help. A nearby plant is not needed either, but it couldn't hurt! Expert Craig LeHoullier says that greenhouse growers commonly do shake or vibrate their plants because of the lack of breezes indoors.

May 05, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening