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Napa Valley Wineries

I would start at Artesa. Relatively, it's one of the first wineries when entering the area and basically just pleasant.

Cakebread is my go to tour place. I think they have different tours though because I'm pretty sure I toured the outside once and another time we had a private tasting (unexpected and unwelcome for our group of 4). You have to reserve a time which is actually good because it helps to have a goal, at least early in the day. Don't do more than one tour for your entire trip, one is welcome, two is annoying.

Basically you're just driving from one winery to another. I feel that there's a movie version and the real version. Ideally, whenever possible, I just ask for one glass. I'm not a wine connoisseur and darn it I just want to sit and enjoy the day.

Lastly, I would not go to Sterling Vineyards. They have a sky tram which is so much fun as it carries you into tourist hell. Rude horrible staff.

Speaking of, I'm sure other Chowhounders can attest to this, just try to avoid the very touristy places. When it goes badly, it goes very badly.

Feb 04, 2014
blackpippi in San Francisco Bay Area

not exactly cookware... dishwasher??

Often things I'm about to throw out so have nothing to lose: a lampshade with grease on it (from a moving truck) and the motor base of my 20 year old Hamilton Beach blender. Both came out like new and the blender works fine.
I have a small plastic trash can for recyclables that goes in on occasion. Also toothbrushes. A friend puts his electric toothbrush in, plug and all. A cheap shaving mirror (Scrubbing Bubbles is the better option-like new).
And lastly, religiously, kitchen sponges.

Jan 26, 2014
blackpippi in Cookware

Chocolate mint tumbles

I found this old box in my attic and I was wondering if anyone had a recipe for these? They used to carry them at Williams-Sonoma but I haven't seen them for at least ten years. The box says "is it a cookie or a candy" and from what I remember that's a pretty accurate description.

Dec 07, 2013
blackpippi in Home Cooking

New kitchen cookware set- cast iron, non stick, copper, stainless steel?

Obviously, you need at least one large non stick pan. Having spent large and small sums I've firmly landed on the small sum side.
Basically, I hate fussy cookware. Stir fry's and omelets in the 3 for $50 pans taste exactly the same as the $150 pan. But with the cheap ones I can throw them in the dishwasher guilt free. When they start to peel I'll buy new ones.

Sep 20, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Costco Food Finds - 2nd Quarter 2013 [OLD]

It's official: I asked for help in the Dedham and Avon MA stores and they do not carry fancy butter. I really thought this would be standard in all Costcos.
On the plus side, I found that my local supermarket carries a small soft tub of Kerrygold. I only use salted butter for toast on occasion so in the end I got exactly what I want.

Jun 02, 2013
blackpippi in Chains

Costco Food Finds - 2nd Quarter 2013 [OLD]

Thank you so much for this tip! I've been pre measuring tablespoons, letting them freeze, then putting them in a Ziploc bag. The bag alone does not guard against freezer burn and it's a bit more hassle than your method. It never crossed my mind that I could cut it.
Chowhound on!

May 27, 2013
blackpippi in Chains

Costco Food Finds - 2nd Quarter 2013 [OLD]

Where exactly in the store did you find the butter? The Costco's in Massachusetts seem to only have their generic butter which is in the dairy section. In SF, the fancy butter was kept I think by the fancy cheeses. Am I missing something? I've looked and looked for fancy butter. Thanks.

May 21, 2013
blackpippi in Chains

Freezing Yeast-raised Waffle Batter

Months. Just put them in a zip lock bag.

May 21, 2013
blackpippi in Home Cooking

Freezing Yeast-raised Waffle Batter

I make Cook's Illustrated yeasted waffles all the time. I cook em, freeze em, and toast em just like Eggos.
I really can't tell a difference between the fresh that day and toasted later.

May 20, 2013
blackpippi in Home Cooking

Cape Cod, Here We Come!

I would rarely recommend a pub, but I really enjoyed myself at the Yardarm. Good pub food and friendly down home service. It's crowded for a reason.

May 20, 2013
blackpippi in Southern New England

Looking for a Few Dinners in/near the Castro [San Francisco]

I liked Gracias Madre more than I normally would have, but only because the only other vegan I have ever had was Herbivore. Somehow they managed to make a truly awful vegetable stir fry and my friend got mashed potatoes that not only tasted horrible, but were accompanied by a speech, via my friend, on how they were the "essence of the potato." I don't know how I didn't tip the table over and run out screaming.
At least at GM you get rice and beans that are perfectly edible. But I also agree that I do not need to go back.

May 20, 2013
blackpippi in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Looking for a Few Dinners in/near the Castro [San Francisco]

Yes, L'Ardoise is lovely. I really think the destination place is NOPA on Divis. And I'm a big fan of Ragazza, also on Divis. I'm generally not a fan of cuisine in the Castro. It's gotten better, but doesn't hold a candle to the better places around.

May 15, 2013
blackpippi in San Francisco Bay Area

Remodeling kitchen advice

I seem to always live in small houses so the living room is next to the kitchen and I have to crank up the volume on the TV with the noisy dishwashers.

However, like you, I tried running it at night and it's a joyous noise to me. I like to have it on right when I'm falling asleep and I think "ah, a machine is washing my dishes." Seriously! Unfortunately, my husband doesn't share my enthusiasm.

May 15, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware
3

Remodeling kitchen advice

I think often with man made products you have to sacrifice something, but really with a quartz countertop (aka Silestone) you sacrifice nothing. Yes, you can put a hot pan directly on it. Also, I had a white stone in my old house. It got a red juice stain on it and I thought uh oh. Then I took a little Ajax and it came right out with no hassle.
Unfortunately, my current house came with black stone and it streaks like the dickens. I assume black granite would have the same problem. Don't get black countertops! It's ten years old though and doesn't have a single scratch, nick, or stain.

Per the dishwasher: I've lived in 3 houses/ owned 4 dishwashers all on hardwood floors. My current Bosch is the only one I would call "quiet enough" My last kitchen remodel was built to spec for the Kenmore Elite and honestly it wasn't remotely quiet. I just wish someone would do a scientific survey on why the same machine can give vastly different results. I threw out the old Jenn Air that came with my current house and the Bosch has inch gaps on every side, so I feel that its quietness is pretty impressive considering.

May 15, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Remodeling kitchen advice

I inherited black stone in my current house. What a nightmare. Streaking! It has to be virtually buffed every night to look clean.

May 15, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Remodeling kitchen advice

That's the way we did it.

May 15, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Remodeling kitchen advice

Countertops: Silestone. Equal to granite in durability, but I think a little cheaper. LOVE THIS PRODUCT. I would buy this over granite even if I had all the money in the world.
Stove: Check out the slide-ins. I missed them on first walk through at Sears. They're just regular stoves, but have a professional look with controls in front. Actually fooled a friend who thought it was a high end appliance. Also, I found that I don't really need six burners, but what I really use a lot is the high output burner which gets heavy use. I sure wouldn't mind two ovens though!
Fridge: I completely disagree that a water dispenser is ugly. I use mine every day and I don't have to have a Britta taking up space. French door bottom freezer is the only way to go.
Dishwasher: Any dishwasher will clean fine, but if you need a quiet one you MUST look for a Consumer Reports rating of Excellent for noise. I had a Kenmore Elite rated Very Good (wasn't) and now have a Bosch rated Excellent (I can hear it, but it's not intrusive). Dont cheap out on yourself if you MUST HAVE QUIET. You'll be sorry.
Floors: Whatever happened to plain old hardwood? Happy with mine.

May 14, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Costco Food Finds - 2nd Quarter 2013 [OLD]

I just bought Hannah's Classic Hummus and way prefer it over the Sabra brand.
Best part though, it's sold in 16 individual containers (or a two lb. tub) and is the same price as the tub. Normally I don't like so much plastic and waste, but what are you gonna do? This has just become a staple in our house. Happy!

May 13, 2013
blackpippi in Chains

how do I get to the cookware section of Chow? I can never find it and can only get to it by googling

Here's a picture. Chowhound, then Category List.

May 07, 2013
blackpippi in Site Talk

Chicago Style Pizza in Boston?

I went to a restaurant once in Maine (?) called the San Francisco Kitchen. It was a Chinese restaurant that served sourdough bread.
Maybe Boston Pizza is pizza served with a side of Dunkin' Donuts coffee?

May 04, 2013
blackpippi in Greater Boston Area

Chicago Style Pizza in Boston?

I just moved to the suburbs of Boston from San Francisco. SF is doing great things with pizza, both deep dish (Zachary's, Little Star) and hyper thin (Ragazza, Baretta).

Anyway, my point, I actually went to an Uno's in Dedham. They had a special, I think 2 deep dish pizzas for $10 or something like that. Are people tempted by these specials? Our food is so bad, we have to practically give it away! Utterly and completely dismal. I would not eat there ever again.

I'm just trying to find a decent slice somewhere in New England!

May 03, 2013
blackpippi in Greater Boston Area
1

Favorite on-line direct order Coffee?

I order from Gimme Coffee, specifically the Leftist espresso blend.

May 03, 2013
blackpippi in General Topics

Tacos: May 2013 Home Cooking Dish of the Month

My mom, bless her soul, is a terrible cook. Every week growing up she would make the same recipes over and over and tacos were my favorite. She used a pound of ground beef and salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt (I literally did not know what real garlic was until I left home and taught myself to cook). The one great think she did though was fry the corn tortillas in oil. She would get up from the table over and over again and essentially fry them to order. After the divorce, we switched to flour, which could be microwaved and allowed my my now full time working mother to actually sit at the table with the rest of us, a concession I was happy to make. And now be prepared to gag. lettuce, cheese, onions, and KETCHUP!

As I noted, I grew up and learned to cook, but my undying love for ground beef tacos has never waned. My mom's measly and salty! seasonings don't cut it anymore. Cooks illustrated published a ground beef taco recipe some years ago. I've made some adjustments to their recipe and here is my modified version (* indicate my modification, either in quantity or some other variable):

Seasoning mix:
1 tablespoon chili powder *
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder *
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

Liquid Mix:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar

Other:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 chopped onion (+ vegetable oil)
1 15 oz. drained can black beans *

Cook the ONION over medium heat in some oil for about five minutes. Add the SEASONING MIX and cook for one minute. Add the BEEF and cook until browned, about five minutes. Add the LIQUID MIX and simmer until virtually evaporated for at least ten minutes, but probably more or you'll have wet tacos. Add BLACK BEANS and cook for one minute more, they heat up fast.

Tortillas:
Put a layer of corn tortillas on a baking sheet then put a cooling rack on top of that and a layer of more tortillas. When liquid ingredients have been added turn the oven to 225* and add rack to cold oven. The idea here is to have warmed tortillas. If you start too early or too high of a heat they will dry out.

(P.S. I still put ketchup on my first taco, then I grow up and switch to Franks Red Hot. Very guilty pleasure)

May 01, 2013
blackpippi in Home Cooking
4

Dried cranberries

Thanks. I figured sweetened is what they meant but wanted to be sure (and they threw me with that plumping step). The salad was fine, but unremarkable, and now I know the sweetened cranberries were correct.
Chowhound on!

May 01, 2013
blackpippi in General Topics

Home Espresso Maker

About 8 years ago my husband bought a Pasquini espresso maker and a burr grinder. Total cost about $2600.
We have a warehouse full of coffee gadgets, but once he bought these the purchases and the endless wining about not having the perfect cup all but stopped.
Also, I do all the cooking in the house, but he's never expected me to maintain the machine, which it should be noted, needs to maintained.
My point, If you truly want the perfect cup, then you're going to have to spend for it and any shortcuts just aren't going to cut it and if you cheap out on yourself you will be sorely disappointed.

May 01, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Dried cranberries

I have a recipe for a rice salad with dried cranberries. I went to Whole Foods and all they had were sweetened dried cranberries.
The recipe said to soak the cranberries in boiling water for 10 minutes to plump them up, but they were already pretty soft. Very similar to raisins in taste and texture.
1) Is there such a thing as an unsweetened dried cranberry?
2) Where would I find it?
3) Would it be better in a rice sale than the sweetened kind?

May 01, 2013
blackpippi in General Topics

All I want is a good cup of coffee at home. [moved from General Topics]

The coffee is more important than the device. Likely you will need to order by mail.
I recommend the website CoffeeReview.com

My coffee of choice is Gimme Coffee, Leftist blend. Perfect for an espresso machine.

Apr 26, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

kitchen appliances

If you haven't already, purchase a Consumer Reports online subscription for $7 month. Even if you don't agree with the reviews, the info they provide is invaluable.

Apr 18, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Pro style ranges

Consumer Reports rates this Jenn Air a 43 out of 100 which is dismal. JGRP436WP
They don't rate a 36" American Range, but do rate a 30" a score of 32. Yikes!
The highest rated 36" are Kitchen Aid at 72.

Actually, if you are doing a remodel, spend the $7 for a monthly Consumer Reports online membership. This is a bargain!!!

Also, this isn't what you asked for, but I purchased a 30" slide- in. I hadn't heard of a slide-in before my remodel, but basically it's a regular range with the controls in the front. So you get a professional look without the cost. The range works great and I have never needed more than four burners. (Unfortunately, I told this to a friend and he impulsively purchased the ugliest IKEA range I have ever seen!)

Just something to think about. And good luck with your remodel: you'll need it ;-)

Apr 18, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware

Cuisinart Food Processor--which model?

I don't know why the feed tube is so wide. Not once have I been grateful for this. I think they would be better off with a taller narrower tube.

Apr 13, 2013
blackpippi in Cookware