DonShirer's Profile

Title Last Reply

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

Five Guys in Old Saybrook

I noticed that they were putting a Five Guys burger into the BigY shopping center near the corner of Rt. 1 and Rt 166 last month, but it wasn't til today that I came by around lunch time and decided to check it out. Only new addition to their usual menu I noticed was "hand made" milkshakes (all add-ins free including whipped cream). They open at 11am.

Tried a customized small cheeseburger, small cajun fries and a strawberry shake. As I found with other locations, everything was better than the standard burger chains, but more expensive as well.

Year Four for my garden and finally! I have high hopes for my seedlings making it. But still.... a question

Please give them more light. Go to a big box store and buy a "shoplight" which has two 4ft fluorescent tubes (ordinary daylight fluorescents are fine, you don't have to buy the expensive "grow" lights. Hang the stoplight just a few (2?) inches above the plants (or prop the trays just below the lamp) and maintain that spacing as the plants grow until it's time to harden them off. (I'm just north of you, and I've started hardening off the hardier plants already.)

May 04, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening


If you want to grow them yourself, seeds are available at Johhny's Seeds.

May 02, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

Which Dutch cheese is best for melting in my baked penne?

Beemster Vlaskaas was recommended for cooking and melting in a local cheese shop blog. I've had it, it's a good tasting cheese, but didn't try to melt it.

Apr 30, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

ID'ing Spinach vs Chard

"The leaves of the adult spinach plant are significantly smaller than chard without chard's shine or wrinkles"

Well, spinach leaves are less shiny, but the savoy types like 'Bloomsdale' have wrinkled or curly leaves. Plain types like 'Space' have flat leaves, and semi-savoy types like 'Tyee' are a bit wrinkled. If you let chard grow, it can produce quite large leaves, but I prefer to harvest it when the leaves are young.

Apr 25, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Palatable frozen foods

I like the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers better than their frozen dinners.
Also P.F. Chang and Wanchai Ferry make ok Asian meals.

Apr 23, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

tea with cheese

Yep, just finished the last of it. I successfully resisted making the obvious pairing of that with Earl Grey!

Apr 21, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

tea with cheese

I have tea with cheese every day. Can't say I have a fixed favorite, but
I like Orange Pekoe with both hard and soft cheeses,
Spiced Chai with blue cheeses,
French Vanilla with swiss-type cheeses.
Maybe English/Irish Breakfast with Cheddar.

Apr 20, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

Rubbed Rind Cheeses

Many cheese makers modify the rinds of their cheeses to jazz up inferior milk (think of the many soaked in wine) or to impart some local color (wrapping in grasses or straw).

I recently discovered Beehive Cheeses, artisanal cheese makers in Utah who instead hand rub their rinds of already fine Jersey cow cheeses to impart a subtle tweak to the taste. Three that I have tried can stand up against European cheeses and indeed are all prizewinners at ACS competitions.

Barely Buzzed: infused with lavender and blended coffee beans

Seahive: Hand-rubbed with local honey and RealSalt

and the one I enjoyed the most

Teahive: Rubbed with tea and bergamot

Can anyone suggest other varieties treated like this?

Apr 17, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

How to Make a Perfect Omelet - So Easy

I've been alternating the low/slow and the hot/fast method for a year now, and I still don't know which one I like best. The low/slow has the advantage that while it is cooking you can be doing other things (heating hash in the microwave, pouring out orange juice, etc). If you time it right, the top is not quite cooked when you flop it over to serve on a plate, but the cheese is melted.

Apr 13, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

Tomatoes from seeds - grow light necessary?

My garden room has south-facing windows, but the March weather in the NE (the best time for starting Tomatoes here) rarely produces clear sunny days. I have tried to put tomato seedlings right next to the windows, but they often became too leggy as they tried to search out more light. Now I use ordinary fluorescent shop-lights (cheap!) placed an inch or so above the leaves and they bush out nicely.

My window space is now reserved for lettuce, parsley, chives, amaryllis, pelargonium cuttings and other plants which don't need as much light.

Apr 09, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Buffalo Gorgonzola

Just bought some Blu di Caravaggio (aka Buffalo Gorgonzola) a rich pasteurized cheese from Lombardy, Italy. It is creamy and spreadable, unlike many crumbly blue cheeses, and the "blueness" is rather mild. Good dessert cheese and also melts well. You probably have to get this at specialty cheese shops, I doubt many groceries would carry it, though it is not overly expensive.

Apr 08, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

Good Elephant open in Chester

Just heard that The Good Elephant (aka Bon Voi) a French-Vietnamese restaurant has opened in Chester. It is upstairs from L&E, and according to their website
they are open Wed-Sun for dinner from 5-9.

The D.I.Y. Tomato

I grow my tomatoes from seed, so after adding soil mix and electricity (lights) it might come out $0.50 per plant, not $5.
The estimates for tool and fertilizer prices are more than twice what I paid, and my tools have lasted over 10 years so far. No fair amortizing them over one season.
The labor costs are superfluous, I garden partly for the outdoor exercise.
And bropaul is right, you can't quantify your satisfaction in growing your own tasty varieties that you can't find in the supermarket or even many farm stands.

Has Anyone Tried Horlicks Malted Milk Tablets (Recently)?

Embarrassing anecdote from my youth:
While at a grocery store shopping for my mom I saw a bottle of Horlicks MM Tablets, thought "Oh boy, I can make Malted Milk at home!", and bought some.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed when dropping some in a glass of milk did not produce the desired result.

Apr 02, 2015
DonShirer in General Topics

Funny creamery name--Seriously good cheese

My latest entry in the weird name but good cheese category is
a triple-creme (75% fat) from Moser-kaese in Switzerland.
I didn't feel like screaming when I ate it...too busy going "yummmmmm".

Mar 30, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

Pepe's coming to Old Saybrook??

They tore down the previous building and started anew, but there were no signs indicating who the tenants will be when I went by last week.

CT food finds 2014: our year in review

After one fulfilling visit, I would have liked to endorse Pho Madison, but two more visits (during their posted lunch hours) found no one at home. So despite a yen for thai food, be warned that they may not be open as early as they claim (11am M-Sat, 12 Sun).

basil from the supermarket

Why not buy a pack of seeds instead and you can have all the basil you want for several years.
I do occasionally buy a herb plant like oregano that is hard to grow from seed (at least in my garden) but basil is easy.

Mar 25, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Best ways to preserve an open bottle of wine

I have been using an inexpensive vacuum pump for about a year. It keeps the wine (at room temperature) better than putting the bottle in a fridge and you don't have to warm it up to drink. Wetting the stopper helps preserve the vacuum.

A thought: The argon method sounds good, but there is bound to be a small amount of air left in the bottle. Wouldn't flushing the bottle with argon and THEN using the vacuum pump result in even fewer air molecules left inside?

Mar 19, 2015
DonShirer in Wine

National PI(e) Day

Only counts officially if it is 9:26 am GMT!

Mar 14, 2015
DonShirer in Home Cooking

What's your favorite Kerrygold cheese?

I like the Reserve Cheddar. It's as good as some other cheddars costing 30% more.

Mar 10, 2015
DonShirer in Cheese

Tomatoes 2014 - Variety Experience Yea? Nay? Meh?

Consulted some experts who cast doubt on the Ohio/Ky source. It is probable that Gleckler named Pineapple, but may not have developed it. Some think it likely it is a strain of RubyGold. I think that's all I can find. Some facts remain a mystery.

Mar 09, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening

Tomatoes 2014 - Variety Experience Yea? Nay? Meh?

And Victory Seeds says Pineapple comes from the Ohio area.

Mar 07, 2015
DonShirer in Gardening