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JasFoodie's Profile

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Uses for plain duck stock? (duck economics, or I just *made* money off on a frozen duck)

Now that you mention it, I do remember peppercorns emerging and bobbing about in the stock. And 5 spice powder sounds about right. We used to buy the whole duck, a bunch of green onions, some hoisin sauce, and some wrappers and split it among 5 of us at work to make "peking duck" rolls for lunch for just a few bucks per person. Somewhere along the way I wised up and started keeping the carcass to bring home to make stock with. And there was usually enough meat still on it to add to another meal. My mouth's watering just thinking about it. Too bad I now live clear across the country from where I used to get it!

Mar 09, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

Desserts using frozen berries?

Dump cake? Traditionally uses a can of pie filling and a box of cake mix, but you can run with the basic idea, using frozen fruit, and improvising some sort of mix using your basic ingredients for the topping. Fast, easy and very tasty.

Mar 09, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

I described the organization in another post here... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1006878 to save from repeating myself.

I usually have a large square of the rubber grippy shelf liner in the kitchen to open jars with - but couldn't find it that day. Still haven't. Oh well, I'll wait till there's acutally room in the frige before opening that jar. It's rather packed in there right now.

Mar 08, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

I thought it did. My housemate would beg to differ. Between the peppers the night before and then the onions, she was out there lighting candles to ward off the smell. Apparently she doesn't like peppers.

Mar 08, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #353: the post-Daylight Saving Time Edition [Through March 15, 2015]

Dinner tonight was 'clean out the fridge' tortilla soup, using left over roasted chicken and home made stock made form the bones saved from the roasted chicken legs, and topped it with lots of sliced radishes, and toasted pieces of tortillas. Tossing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that resulted in a whole lot of soup - I'll be eating this for a few days!

I learned a new trick when making this batch of soup - mixed up a bit of cornmeal in some water and added it to the soup and let it simmer a while. It was just the thing to thicken it up a bit and give it a wonderful rich mouthfeel.

Uses for plain duck stock? (duck economics, or I just *made* money off on a frozen duck)

I've used the stock from the carcass of a roasted duck I got at the asian market (leaving all the spices they put in the cavity in there while the bones simmered) into an egg drop type of soup. It may not be the most traditional, but boy was it tasty. I'm not sure what all spices were in it, but I know star anise and ginger were there - so maybe simmer the stock with a bit of each, and then follow an egg drop soup recipe?

Mar 08, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

ROAST CHICKEN! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (March 2015)

I have an amazing indian spice blend but I couldn't tell you what's in it, it's my mom's secret recipe and she still hasn't shared it with me. Instead she sends me a large bottle of it each year. Hmm, it's been a while since I used it. Will have to do that soon! I prefer to use it for kebabs on a grill.

Mar 08, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

ROAST CHICKEN! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (March 2015)

Oh my does that look good. I want to reach out and swipe some of that skin, I bet it was tasty!

For some reason this set of pictures reminded me of a restaurant we used to go to when I was a kid - a large outdoor place where their speciality was 'fire mountain chicken' .. a whole chicken on a vertical roaster that arrived at the table in flames. Couldn't tell you what the chicken was seasoned with - it was when I was too young to care how somethig was made, but old enough to know it was tasty. I'll have to ask my mom the next time I talk to her if she remembers the place and has any idea what they may have added to their chicken. Might be fun to attempt it this month. I don't have a vertical roaster.. but I've made do with a bundt pan before. As a bonus, I lay down a bed of potatoes, onions, and carrots below the chicken and the drippings season them as they roast.

Mar 08, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #352: the pre-Daylight Savings Time 2015 Edition [through Mar 8, 2015]

Pure comfort food today.. made a batch of balachong (https://www.google.com/search?q=balac...) using my mom's recipe. This was my first attempt at it and while it's not nearly as good as hers, still pretty darned tasty.

Nuked up some onion rice in the microwave, topped it with a generous amount of balachong, and a couple of crispy fried eggs. Yum.

Tried sous vide for the first time - not blown away

With my limited experience and equipment when it comes to sous vide, I haven't had any real luck with steak or beef of any sort yet. But then, I'm using a dutch oven with a lid on it and a thermometer, and just babysitting it, turning the heat on for a minute or two under it when the temp starts to drop. I don't have the patience to do anthing that takes a long time to cook since I need to babysit it. Salmon however, has made me a believer. I have a tendency to overcook it any other way - sous vide gave me a perfectly cooked piece of fish in a short enough length of time that I didn't mind babysitting it while I prepared the rest of the meal.

I imagine that a tougher cut of meat would need more time for the collagen to break down enough to make the cut tender. If i had the proper equipment, I'd be more likely to attempt to sous vide a good cut of meat that I didn't want to risk overcooking and leave the tougher cuts to the crockpot or a slow braise where exact temp isn't as important as time.

Now eggs.. I want to try eggs sous vide. I've seen all sorts of comparisons of different temps and times to get different results. I imagine it would make for a great way to 'poach' eggs for a crowd.

Mar 07, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How do you keep cucumbers from rolling off the cutting board?

I had to giggle at this.. I just watched my housemate try to slice cucumbers this week.. she wanted a medium dice, so she cut thick slices, and then stacked them and cut into quarters. Inevitably pieces went flying everywhere. I had to resist the urge to say 'here.. let me show you a better way' and cut the cucumber in half and then quarters before slicing into small pieces.

To answer the OP's question... I find that there's usually one side of the cucumber (or any other veggie) that's slightly flatter than the rest, so I sit it on the board, give it a slight nudge and it tends to settle on the flattest side. That and holding onto it keeps it in place just fine.

Mar 07, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

No-knead bread -- I'm confused!

To throw even more into the confusion.. before I got a dutch oven, I used to bake my no-knead bread in glass deep sided casserole dish covered in foil.

Oh.. and for yet another recipe.. try this one: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-notim...

It doesn't have the same flavor as a bread that rises for many hours, but for an hour and 15 minutes from start to finish, it's pretty impressive. And I really liked it as a bread to dunk into soups.

Mar 07, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

Smoothie blenders

A friend I visited recently had just bought a ninja pro something or the other. It came with 1 large pitcher style blender and two smaller individual smoothie cup blenders. We put them through their paces and came out throughly impressed. Granted, we didn't try any fiborous veggies, but it took me about 30 seconds to turn the cubes of ice in my smoothies to perfect smoothness. I also really liked that after you blend your smoothie, you just remove the blade and screw on a lid to drink it from. One less item to wash.

Mar 07, 2015
JasFoodie in Cookware

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

Unfortunately I don't have that luxury here in California. It is the one thing I miss about winters in Philadelphia. Whenever we were expecting a snow storm, I'd make a huge pot of stock and cool it quickly by lowering the pot onto a pile of snow right outside my door. Within minutes the stock would be cool enough to strain without ant risk of burns. And few things were better than a pot of soup on the stove while snowed in.

Mar 06, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

Oooh.. that would have been good. Just slice the.. um.. tentacles.. or would that be fingers? up thinly and simmer in sugar syrup then dredge in more ginger and let dry? Atleast that's how I've made candied ginger in he past. Hmm.. now I'm thnking about doing that the next time I get nice looking citrus. I've got a small batch of dried peel from some not so nice looking oranges that smells fantastic, I'm saving it to use to stuff in my needlework christmas ornaments later in the year.

Mar 06, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

I've got a few that look just like that in my garage right now. I've been holding off on them since I have also been getting lots of fresh produce so I use that up first. The sweet taters will keep while longer, though I'm getting tempted to try slicing them up very thinly and dehydrating them in the oven to add to soups/stews later. I just wish I had the space for a dehydrator!

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking
1

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

The concept of the Gleaners is national, but I don't think there is any one umbrella organization or anything. I know our location has relationships with other foodbanks and gleaners as far as a couple of hundred miles away. We frequently trade our surplus for theirs - we get a lot of oranges, onions, and strawberries for example and one of the other locations get loads of spinach, kale, and other greens, while another has connections with Capri Sun and gets pallets of drinks donated regularly. So we'll trade entire truckloads of our excess for theirs to get more variety. Most of the produce we get is either very very very ripe, or all the odd shapes and sizes that weren't deemed pretty enough to sit on the grocery store display. We'll often get foods that are close to the sell by date - lately we've been getting lots of yogurt and cottage cheese that's a couple of days past, and still perfectly good. It sure didn't hurt my feelings to come home with a couple of full sized tubs of chobani and fage.

I'm sure different groups have different rules.. some might glean only to donate, others might be set up more like we are. We don't have any income requirements of any sort - just a small fee to become a member - 75 bucks for a year or 40 for 6 months entitles me to a bag of groceries a week. We're funded almost entirely by donations and sales in the Thrift store we run as well as occasional rummage sales.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

I used them to marinate chicken and fish.. I added them to salads, sprinkled them over sorbet, used them as some of the acid in salsa, attempted a lemon curd that didn't turn out too well, and shared with a friend who made a very tasty alcoholic drink out of them. They were also fun to just peel and eat.. teeny tiny little globs of tartness. What I didn't get around to using because I couldn't figure out to do with were a couple of Buddha Hands I got. But they were so weird looking I enjoyed having them out on the counter for a few weeks. They made the kitchen smell amazing too.

I'm going to try roasting some of the turnips along with potatoes tonight. I do a pretty good roasted potato with rosemary, I think that might work. My rosemary btw is from the gleaners too - I got 6 bottles of it several months ago. And of whole nutmeg. I think I'm set for nutmeg for life! Th rest I'll probably prep for soup and freeze without adding stock so that it's less bulky. Freezer space is at a premium right now.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

What we get is very hit or miss. Some weeks I've totalled up the cost of the groceries in my bag and hit 3 digits. Other weeks I'm looking at my bag wondering how I"m going to make a meal out of lemons, bread, a container of old bay seasoning, and a few turnips. Then there's the week that I had 2 bags of quinoa, a turkey breast, several bunches of kale, red peppers, milk, half a flat of strawberries, and chocolate from trader joes. A lot of it depends on how well the guy running the place manages to do when it comes to making contacts in the community. I live in California so we get loads of produce from the local packing houses - in the summer entire flats of strawberries at a time. I make jam and strawberry leather out of them. I've learned to take what I can and put it up in forms that will last me longer - onions get caramalized and then frozen , fruit gets turned into leather, tomatoes get roasted and dried. Red peppers get roasted and eaten at an alarming pace in sandwiches and salads. Excess bread is frozen or becomes breadcrumbs and croutons. And sometimes we get weird stuff - last year there was a week when we got about 2 lbs of fingerling limes - I had fun with those! Overall though, I think it's made me a more creative cook - I never know what I'm going to get, and I have to find a way to use it up.

Up next is a dozen little round turnips. I haven't the first clue what to do with so many of them. Soup maybe...

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

So, from start to finish it took me about 4 episodes of Good Eats to hack through and seal up the pieces of the monster ravioli. My foodsaver went on strike at the end and refused to seal the last couple of bags so those will be the first to be eaten. The rest will be pulled out maybe 1 bag every 3 - 4 weeks so I don't get absolutely sick of the stuff since each bag will be good for several meals for me. The good thing is all I'll have to worry about for those meals is a veggie side dish. I have the left over bits defrosting in a small casserole dish in the microwave right now. Two days be damned, I want lunch!

Thanks for the suggestions everyone!

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

I'm guessing this is foodservice or restaurant surplus of some sort. We get a lot of that and repackage it ourselves but in some cases it's just not feasible and the stuff sits in the walkin freezer. We do trades with other local organizations - some of which serve meals and probably have a commercial kitchen at their disposal, so the bulk of this sort of thing goes to them, but once in a while if we have a lot, the guy in charge will offer some of the stuff to the members who want it too. I've gotten some great stuff this way - last fall or maybe last summer it was cartons of frozen eggs - I made quiches, breakfast burritos, and individual bread puddings and froze them all to eat on weeks when our bag was skimpier. There are weeks when I'll get 2 cans of soda, a couple of onions, bread, potatoes, a container of seasoning salt and 4 bunches of parsley for example. It's very hit or miss depending on what's available. It's like being on the set of Chopped every week!

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

No bathtub here - I'll have to make do with one of those storage totes - I've started hacking into one with a serrated knife - I think I'll try that with the other one.

EDIT: GAH. The monster pans of ravioli are too big to fit in even my largest totes. Boy do I miss having a bathtub!

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

The trays are bigger than a standard oven - it just barely fits in width ways, and hangs out length ways. My oven might be a smidge on the smaller size, but it's not that far off from standard.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

Why not? ... Stuffed peppers

Ohh.. as much as I hate samosas, that sounds really good. And I have peppers and potatoes on hand right now. I think I just figured out dinner!

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking
1

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

Most of the food they get is something that can be portioned out more easily. Ginormous bags of pretzels, food service size packs of tortillas, etc. They really don't have the facility to portion out something like this though. The food wasnt prepared by them in such big portions, this is how it was donated to them, and they offered it to those of us who wanted it. While some of it going to waste would suck, it does no good sitting forever in the walkin freezer at the Gleaners either.

Also - I know if I were offered something like this that they had portioned out somehow, I'd be wary to take it - I wouldn't know how they had thawed it before portioning and worry about food safety. Here I can tell it's been frozen solid and in original packaging so I feel safe accepting and eating it.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

I'm starting to consider a serrated bread knife dipped in hot water to heat it up a bit to help me cut through it. It would slice some of the ravioli open, but I think in the greater scheme of things that's not too bad. Cutting each pan into quarters would make for a managable size and possibly fit into food saver bags even so I don't have to worry about freezer burn.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

Don't think I didn't already consider that. Unfortunately I do not own a hacksaw. I think my housemate might have one in the garage but who the heck knows what has been crawling over it. It's not going anywhere near my food.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

How the heck to thaw this and heat it?

I was offered two pans of frozen cheese ravioli while picking up my food from the Gleaners today. Never one to turn down actual meal type food (a lot of the stuff I get from there is rather random and needs more ingrediants to turn it into meals) I accepted and was handed a rather long flat box. I assumed that inside the box were 2 foil pans side by side, and that I could stash one in the freezer and thaw the other in the fridge before heating. Got home and opened up the outer carton to discover that nope.. it's two HUGE pans stacked on top of each other.

This presents a problem - the pans are too big to fit in my freezer, fridge, or oven. I'm not sure how to handle this now. The instructions on top of the pans say to thaw for a minimum of 2 days in the fridge.

The only thing I can think of right now is to leave them sitting on the counter until they start to thaw just enough to maybe break the contents of the pan into smaller pieces and repackage into gallon ziplock freezer bags and return the the freezer. I'm sure the texture of the pasta will suffer as a result, which I am willing to put up with for the price these cost me - nothing. Another option would be to stick them into a large trash bag, and place inside my largest storage tote (something like this - http://www.amazon.com/Rubbermaid-Roug...) on a bag of ice and wrap the whole thing up in towels/blankets to insulate it to keep it cooler than leaving it on the counter but still giving it a chance to thaw out. I think I have a tote large enough to hold the pans. Then proceed with the repackaging and freezing as stated above.

Worst case scenario, I can let it start to thaw, pull off and get rid of the outer thawing bits and dispose of them, and only keep the center still frozen part until it's small enough to fit into my fridge to thaw safely and then bake in a lasagna pan. I hate to throw away good food, but at this point unless I come up with a solution of some sort, it's all going to go to waste.

And please - don't suggest donating it to the foodbank. I've posted asking for tips on how to handle a large quantity of food before and inevitably someone tells me to stop being greedy and donate the food to someone else who can use it. Someone HAS already donated it to a foodbank. The Gleaners is an organization that distributes donated food every week to members who pay a small fee and volunteer their time to help run the organization if they are able.

Mar 05, 2015
JasFoodie in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #351: the Wishing & Hoping Edition [through Mar 2, 2015]

I spent what felt like ALL FREAKING DAY caramalizing a huge bag of onions and was sick of being in the kitchen by the time dinner came around, so I threw together a quick pizza/flatbread/thingy. Started with a garlic naan, liberal amounts of grated mozzarella and queso fresco (I ran out of mozz and had to do a quick substitution), some roasted red peppers (that was yesterday's kitchen project), some caramalized onions, and some olives.. all under the broiler till the cheese started to bubble and then drizzed with a balsamic glaze. It could have gone longer but the edges were getting too close to burned to a crisp. I was planning on adding some jarred artichoke hearts to it too but I couldn't get the #($&#*$( jar open. Besides there's no room for the costco sized bottle in my fridge right now either.

Cost on this was nearly nothing for me since all the ingredients except for the cheese came from my Gleaners membership which works out to $1.50 a week.

How many at home dishes have you truly mastered?

I rarely make an exact recipe twice because I don't measure when- but I do keep mental notes when a tweak in a quantity of ingredients results in a change I like or dislike so I can continue to adjust accordingly. I also very rarely come out of the kitchen having made the exact dish I entered it planning to make - I adjust and change on the fly. Often I'll start cooking by boiling water for pasta and then start rummaging around for ideas on what to go with it. But I can reliably produce tasty meals that most people (except those with very picky palettes) rave about.

I think more than specific dishes, I have mastered the art of eating very cheaply without feeling like I'm poor. Sure I pass on more expensive ingredients most of the time, even something basic like half and half is on the pricey side for me, but I feel like I get a great variety of healthy and very tasty food on my limited budget. That in itself I think is an important skill set to have in the kitchen.

I just realized I do have a few items I make that turn out exactly the same each time - baking recipes. My sugar cookies and my spice cookies are perfect. But those somehow don't count because I'm simply using a recipe I found online. Same with some of my canning recipes - tomato jam, red onion and balsamic relish, and corn salsa are perfect each time and I've made many many batches of each but again, they're made following formulas someone else created. No matter how many times I make them they'll never be 'my' recipes the way my lasagna or my carrot furikake are, even though both of those (like most of the things I make) started off with ideas from someone elses recipes that I then tweaked to my tastes.