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Basiorana's Profile

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Survey: Your Preference for Fat in Yogurt.

I prefer low-fat. Most of my yogurt consumption is mixed into sauces, and nonfat doesn't cook up the same, but full fat is too heavy for me. And not Greek, I'm not a fan.

Jan 28, 2013
Basiorana in General Topics

Weird/Bad Food Related Dates

For our third date the now-fiance took me to an Asian grocery for pork buns and mochi. He was mortified to learn I did not eat pork and thus would not be partaking of that part, more horrified when I balked at red bean texture, and he later told me that he was genuinely concerned I would not be sufficiently adventurous in my eating. Luckily I got some shrimp wontons instead and later proved myself to him by surprising him with frog's legs for dinner about two weeks later.

Apr 29, 2012
Basiorana in Not About Food

Thanksgiving 2011: What's on the menu?

My mother hosted and my sister came early to cook. We had 10 people.

Apps:
Deviled eggs
Cheese, crackers, dried fruit
Shrimp cocktail
Olives and artichoke hearts
Swedish meatballs

Salad:
Waldorf salad
Lobster and avocado salad

Soup:
Mushroom and Barley

Main Meal:
Roasted turkey (30lbs!) and gravy
Stuffing with dried cranberries
Mashed potatoes
Butternut squash
Sweet potatoes
Grilled Brussels sprouts
Green bean casserole (all fresh ingredients, at least!)
Peas sauteed with bacon
Cranberry sauce

Dessert:
Pumpkin cake
Pies: Mincemeat, apple, pecan, cranberry-apple
Brownies

For wine, I brought a pear wine which was quite popular but my parents provided only Turning Leaf pinot grigio-- blah. Next year we're going to try to convince my mother to cut the menu in half-- there was an ENORMOUS amount of food!

Nov 24, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Dissapointing Dinner at Friends House

Really? I cook all-vegan meals for mixed groups all the time. My channa masala with rice and chapatis is extremely popular with meat-eaters and I've also made hearty lentil soups, black bean curries and soups, etc. It's a simple solution to not wanting to make 3 different meals for a group. The trick, I've found, is to NEVER use meat substitutes (ew), but rather find recipes that are supposed to be vegan, especially Indian or other Asian cuisine.

May 24, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Easter Menus, y'all!

My sister claimed cooking rights because it's at my parents' house and my parents won't let me spend the night there until I'm married to my partner... But we planned the menu together.

Spinach salad
Sweet pea and watercress soup, chilled
Lamb roast, lightly spiced
Mint sauce
Asparagus and pancetta
Artichokes
Candied carrots
Rolls

For dessert, sorbet and berries, and maybe a light sponge cake, plus coffee and tea. A fruity red wine like a Malbec will compliment the main course.

Apr 23, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Which recipes (and ingredients) are, in your opinion, over hyped?

Polenta and grits both.

Apr 23, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

Which recipes (and ingredients) are, in your opinion, over hyped?

Pig shit. That's what they taste like, or rather, they taste like pig shit smells. Seriously, I come near truffles and my mind's at the county fair watching the prize winning sows.

Apr 23, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

What do you make from scratch &, if you had the time, what WOULD you make from scratch?

Pizza, onion rings, fries, chicken nuggets
Chinese food, including dumplings (also Indian, but that's not really involved)
Yogurt
Pasta and ravioli
Any baked goods including cakes and breads
Pickles and jams, ketchup
Tomato sauce
Tortillas
Nan, pitas, bagels and other specialty baked goods-- until I got a job that gave me free baked goods I hadn't purchased anything flour-based for home use in 6 months
Spices-- I will dry and grind my own, especially something like chili or peels where I might have some old stuff lying around to be thrown out

Did once or twice but lack the time:

Mayo
Croissants
lobster bisque-- shelling the lobsters was killer

Want to try:

Sushi
Sausage
Cheeses
Sourdough
Stock
Sauerkraut

Apr 10, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

Seriously Now -- Which countertop appliances do you leave out on your counter?

Appliances that stay on the counter on purpose:
Coffee machine
Blender
Microwave
Bread machine (because I can't fit it anywhere, it's an old one)
Toaster oven (our toaster died and it was free. Wood paneled!)
Crock pot

Appliances that stay on the counter because I use them so often they never find their way home:

Rice maker
Yogurt maker

Apr 07, 2011
Basiorana in Cookware

would you sue for this?

We make pre-made sandwiches at work and I caught the name tag of a newbie in one of them (thankfully, before it reached a customer). Still don't know how THAT happened, and she was off sandwich duty!

Mar 31, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

"We can't be friends..."

Or they could raise their prices by 15%, or include a service charge for eat-in orders. And explain this to their customers. The customers are paying about the same anyway, and if they complain, they're probably the classist, obnoxious kind of customers that waiters hate.

Mar 26, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

"Puritan Chefs" in the NYT

If you change the food before you taste it, that's one thing.

But if I taste your food and it sucks, I reserve the right to modify it as needed. Even if that means adding a little salt or even tabasco sauce. I carry tabasco in my bag because my fiance likes to use it to disguise absolutely terrible food if his blood sugar is crashing and he must eat there.

I don't like modifiers (unless it's for a genuine allergy, dietary need like diabetes, or religious prohibition), but a chef is not a god and the ones who think their food cannot possibly need salt and pepper are the ones who tend to screw up the most.

And woe unto you if you have no diet soda. Diet soda is not for dieters, it's for people who can't stand the liquid candy that passes for a beverage in this country. Unless of course you have real sugar soda, but they never do.

Mar 06, 2011
Basiorana in Food Media & News

What Food Trend are You So Sick Of?

Cuban sandwiches.

Of late in Portsmouth EVERYONE must have a Cuban on the menu. These are usually terrible, never traditional, and often don't actually match the rest of the menu. I have NO IDEA why.

Also pine nuts in every salad.

Mar 06, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

What Food Trend are You So Sick Of?

Ugh, YES... Here in New England, restauranteurs who I can only assume are not native to the region have taken to sprinkling bacon bits on CHOWDER. As a non pork eater and a traditionalist, I was aghast.

Mar 06, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

My, how could that taste so awful?

Cap'n Crunch. Loved it as a kid, bit into a bowl as an adult and was reeling from the sugar, the texture, the way it scraped my mouth up... Ugh.

Also, not really applicable because it's a gag food, but Baconnaise has the vilest smell known to man.

My, how could that taste so awful?

I do love diet soda. I can't drink full-sugar HFCS soda, it tastes vile and makes me sick to my stomach. I like cane sugar sodas well enough, but nothing compares to diet. It's not always an addiction.

Feb 13, 2011
Basiorana in General Topics

"Kids Say the Darndest Things" about Food, Cooking, etc.: Plse Add Your Funny Experiences!

For years when we were little, my father never said "casting aspersions," it was always "casting aspergrass." Aspergrass was his goofy word for asparagus. In high school, I was giving an answer and made the self-correction: I described a character as "casting asparagus" on another. There was a pause before my teacher and a couple students with good vocabularies burst into laughter.

When my sister was about 6, my family had a huge spaghetti dinner with extended family and my dad took her to the package store. As there were about 12 adults coming, he pondered the wines before selecting several. He turned around to look for more, and turned back to see her putting them away. He stopped her, and she said "But it's too much!" He tried to explain that we needed lots because there were a lot of grown-ups coming, but she proceeded to SHOUT "I don't want to be in a room with a bunch of drunk adults!"

Feb 10, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Which Chains Do You Respect?

THAT's really weird. I eat pretty much only Panera bread and homemade, because I get bread for free. If it's in a bag in the fridge, it goes moldy in about 7 days (about 2 days in a bag on the counter); if it's not, it doesn't mold but it goes stale over night. The white breads mold the fastest-- I assumed because of the sugar.

Feb 10, 2011
Basiorana in Chains

Which Chains Do You Respect?

See, that's so weird to me. Where are you? I work at a Panera and our place is pretty great-- they just revamped the menu to be much healthier, though there are still some bad options; I get my meals almost free (I pay about a dollar or less a day, and can get a free bagel and cream cheese if I need to); I have never felt anything but respected by my managers and coworkers, and I'm quickly moving up through the ranks. They sometimes do frustrating things, especially corporate, but in general they are excellent about treating us well, accommodating our schedule and hour needs, and our benefits plan is superior to my mother's-- and she works for Blue Cross.

Feb 10, 2011
Basiorana in Chains

Which Chains Do You Respect?

Closed on Sundays is terrible for workers, actually. One of three things happens when you have one day closed-- either they give workers shorter shifts each day but have them work six days straight, which is really not fun; they give two days off, but only the top employees get two days off in a row, so it basically means the same thing, no weekend; or they have only part-time workers and no benefits. Not sure which one Chick Fil-A does but any of the three is terrible for workers and seriously hurts morale.

Feb 10, 2011
Basiorana in Chains

Cooking for One

My sister has cooked for one since she got out of college... Her strategy is to buy small amounts of meat, have meat sparingly, and freeze what she doesn't eat immediately. She found she could scale down a lot of recipes with a few substitutions and bought herself a whole bunch of smaller pans-- tiny casserole pans, small pie pans, etc. So she can make most recipes except for whole roasts or birds, which she doesn't like anyway.

Combine that with making the staples in advance and freezing them-- not making a big pot of soup and freezing it, but freezing sauces especially-- and you can pretty much be covered. I've scaled down curries very easily, by the way-- just halve it.

Feb 10, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Homemade Pasta-- any tricks?

I was going to use a normal pasta holder for spaghetti... for this method, I might turn it on it's side.

Feb 08, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Homemade Pasta-- any tricks?

So I love making pasta, and years ago my parents got me a pasta machine and drying rack and I will make long spaghetti or fettucini noodles. The problem is, I simply cannot get them straight-- they curl and curve. This makes drying and storing them impossible... I want to pack them neatly and freeze them, but instead I resort to plastic baggies and they all break into tiny pieces that aren't nearly as nice.

Is this something I can fix?

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Menu help - What do you serve with Mac and Cheese?

I would balance that out with something light-- mac and cheese is really heavy. A fruit or garden salad, maybe?

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Does using a stand mixer to mix meatloaf negatively affect the texture?

Ooo, no. Too dense. Of course, I like large onion and garlic chunks in my meatloaf so it crumbles lightly when I serve it hot, and I have to cool it a little for it to hold together.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Home Cooking

Do Calories on Menus Really Help?

The other thing to remember is that if you need 2000 calories a day, your lunch can easily be 500-600 calories. I eat a light breakfast of about 300 calories, lunch of about 600, a snack of 200, and dinner usually pushes 900, though lunch and dinner can be reversed. So yes, many sandwiches can be 500+ calories, but unless you started your day with a Denny's Grand Slam and intend to end it with a huge bowl of fettucini alfredo, you're probably okay.

I get a You Pick Two with a mediterranean vegetable sandwich and a chicken asian salad, and an apple. Only 580 calories-- easily a safe lunch-- and delicious.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Do Calories on Menus Really Help?

When my company put calories on their boards, the first thing they did was figure out every way to cut down the calories in the worst offenders, because people won't buy a sandwich that's 1000 calories. So ultimately while I hope fine dining establishments are never asked to do this, I have no problem with chains doing it as it provides a powerful incentive to change recipes to be healthier and lower-calorie. However, I doubt this would work at McDonald's or Burger King-- Panera has a higher expectation of healthy food, even if you're getting the Italian Combo (was 1050, but they reduced it to about 980 or something). They're still retooling things to lower calories, especially the sauces. Our Ancho Chipotle sauce added almost 300 calories to the chipotle chicken sandwich until they switched to a different one!

So while consumers may be minimally affected, it is ultimately for the best as it is a way to encourage stores to make healthier meals without forcing them to.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Do Calories on Menus Really Help?

McDonalds is pretty accurate, within an ounce. Their containers are designed to fit the right amount each time.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Do Calories on Menus Really Help?

In chains, you have measuring tools and preportioned amounts, so the calorie amount listed is likely accurate. Most restaurants take a more relaxed approach and are less standardized, meaning that there is a 10-50 calorie difference between one patron's meal and another. It would have to be an estimate any way.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food

Unhygenic restaurant practices

I've worked in two restaurants, now. The first was awful-- we were small and struggling, so we would rarely have gloves available; our prep chef was Egyptian and his English was too poor for him to understand gloves; the teens I worked with would constantly do stupid things like handle raw chicken and then touch ready to eat food without changing their gloves. One young man with longish hair refused to pull it back or wear a hair net unless I was working with him, and even then he resisted, even after someone returned a sandwich with his hair in it. We went about a week without the owner letting us buy bleach or any sanitizer. We weren't allowed to throw out expired food until it was visibly disgusting. Just nasty.

I quit, it was so gross and poorly run... Luckily they are out of business now. I now work at a Panera, and the difference is amazing. Our policies on food safety are extremely strict and while you might get the occasional sweat in the food, not changing the gloves often enough, touching allergens and not changing gloves, etc issues we religiously wash our hands, don't wear gloves when we handle the food and the dishwasher sanitizes his hands after he handles trash before he touches your dishes. I've had to snap at a few of my trainees for stupid moves (coming to work with a really runny nose, wiping their hands on their dirty aprons, not checking expiration dates) but the food is always safe and clean, much safer than what I make at home by far. It does help that we don't have any raw meats in the place-- that seems to be the major oops area, meat cross contamination. I will say that convincing high schoolers of the importance of not cross-contaminating nuts, peanuts, seafood and soybeans with other stuff is pretty much impossible... I can tell all the "my fiance turned purple and swelled up like a balloon" stories I want but I still have to watch that they use the separate surfaces for peanut butter and don't touch the nuts.

Feb 07, 2011
Basiorana in Not About Food