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Salt Baking

Thank you for your educational info. You have confirmed for me that a culinary rating is not necessary for this type of medium when used this way, provided that the material is clean. A 40 lb bag of rock style water softener salt (always pure white) costs about $7 vs $5 for a 2.5 lb box of Mortons culinary rock salt. Plenty to use for baking/roasting where a dry crust sealing of moisture is desired. Probably also best used with the old fashioned ice cream makers.

Nov 15, 2013
jbermo in Home Cooking

Salt Baking

Thank you both Chowser and Free Sample for your interesting links on salt baking. They had contained some of the info that I was looking for.

Nov 13, 2013
jbermo in Home Cooking

Salt Baking

Baking larger items attracts the economy of using water softer salt (used for home and pool treatments) - use as much as you like when at about $5 for 40lbs. It looks/is the same as crushed rock salt.

Nov 11, 2013
jbermo in Home Cooking

Salt Baking

I'm not sure that there is much culinary difference between culinary rock salt and water softener salt used for home and swimming pool treatment. Geologically speaking, all salt is mined from ancient seabeds (formed by ancient oceans evaporating over time). Purity should not be a problem since you cook with it and not eat it. In Hong Kong they make a great dish of whole chicken baked in mud.

Nov 11, 2013
jbermo in Home Cooking

Salt Baking

While in Korea, I had noticed street vendors hawking potatoes that were baked in an iron tub of hot salt which they were pushing around in their street carts.

Roasting potatoes slow baked in an iron pot filled with simply water softener salt baked in an oven at 250f should give great results of a fluffier potato. I've also heard this done with a $$ Prime Rib roast but that sounds daring..

Does anyone have any experience in baking with just rock salt? I assume that cheap water softener salt would be safe to use as it is extremely cheap and easy to find.

Nov 11, 2013
jbermo in Home Cooking

To Roast or Not to Roast Bones for Chicken Stock?

Don't forget to add a quartered brown onion with skin. The onion skin adds a rich golden color to your stock.

Jan 16, 2013
jbermo in Features

Poll: Do you refrigerate eggs?

DEPENDS - Unlike Europe, the USDA requires commercial eggs to be washed, and washed eggs should be refrigerated. Unwashed eggs don't need refrigeration (but they thus have a shorter shelf life).

Dec 05, 2012
jbermo in General Topics

2012 Season / Dungeness Crab in the OC

Thank You . . so $3.99/lb does exist this year. After a few years of price watching, I have found that historically, Dungeness crabs seem to be at their lowest price the 1st and 2nd week in December, and again the second week in February. I am getting mixed reports as to if this season will be a small or large harvest.

Nov 28, 2012
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

2012 Season / Dungeness Crab in the OC

The 2012 Dungeness crab season is about to go high gear. Although a November 15th start for Bay area crab, December 1 should be the start date for crabs of Washington and Oregon's more northern waters. . . . 1.5 times the Fisherman's price is the rule for average retail. Best bet in Orange County are the Vietnamese markets of the Little Saigon area of Garden Grove. Live in the tank, they are trucked down from the north about every other day.

Price reports anyone? . . .
$3.99lb is my goal, however that price may be hard to find this year..

Nov 27, 2012
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

Easy New England Clam Chowder

Sounds good, but the picture shows what almost all folks on the West coast seems to think authentic chowder should look like - something so thick that you can stand your spoon straight up in . . yuk!

Oct 19, 2012
jbermo in Recipes

Foodie Disappointment on the Oregon Coast

"I have yet to find a seafood "shack" where they just serve fresh and nothing fancy. I don't need fancy when I want seafood."

That was very well said! In fact, a simple "seafood shack" (that is not a rip off) is the object of my eternal search.

Sep 29, 2012
jbermo in Pacific Northwest

Large vs. Extra Large Big Green Egg

Most eggheads have two . . and so will you eventually. Like owning different cars, sometimes you need the truck, and sometimes you will want the roadster.

My small BGE is perfect for the two of us when we don't have a need for/ or want to waste all of the fuel required of the large, for a quick /simple cook for two.

Also, I find that having two BGE's is more satisfying, and does the job better than limiting fuel use of the large or xt large with an accessory.

Sep 28, 2012
jbermo in Cookware

Ninja Cooker (the slowcooker, not the blender)

I am also looking for reviews on the Ninja . . . I believe that it's just too new yet to be adequately reviewed. What little I have found however, greatly criticizes it's non stick coating in a very negative way.

Sep 28, 2012
jbermo in Cookware

Opinions on the Char-Griller Akorn steel kamado-style grill?

I have used a BGE for years, and have recently noticed the Akorn in the stores. I studied it and the manual for almost half an hour, and it looks like the Akorn will effectively do the job at a bargin price.

However, I can fire my BGE up to 700+ degrees. Can the Akorn get this hot? (gas grills certainly cant, as their aluminum shells are too quick to shed heat).

I believe that meat moisture retention is the main benefit of a domed kamado style grill.

Sep 28, 2012
jbermo in Cookware

Foodie Disappointment on the Oregon Coast

Thank you GH1618, for your considerate comments. I wish that I knew of your recommendations before my trip.

Years ago, I was a produce man in a Southern California supermarket, and had always looked forward to September when the new apple crop arrived. The apples were crisp, and as hard as a billiard ball. Sadly you need an apple tree to experience such today (apple trees are far and few in the warm LA basin). I also remember that many now disappeared apple varieties, came directly from Oregon.

Oregonians are lucky that they have their coastal bounty available . . it's just that they have to get it themselves as sport fishermen. Commercially caught fresh-off-the-boat fish in the Oregon fish markets are outrageously expensive today, probably because of poor supply and high fuel / labor costs.

Oregon's once native supermarket chain, Fred Meyer, is now owned by Kroger, which is based in Chicago . . . what Fred Meyer sells locally is reflected /authorized by Kroger's corporate buyers in Illinois. Same for Safeway in Oregon, but with California corporate buyers instead. My point is that now regardless of region, food is practically sourced from the same suppliers with little regional differential.

As you have said - nothing is as good (and with regard to seafood - plentiful) as it once was.

Sep 28, 2012
jbermo in Pacific Northwest

Foodie Disappointment on the Oregon Coast

Just returned from a September foodie trip down the Oregon coast. With memories of my last trip of 50 years ago, I was very disappointed on how the quality of Oregon's available specialties have changed, especially with that pertaining to seafood. Here is what I have found . . .

Apples - Oregon used to have a fabulous fall apple crop. Crisp, fresh apples available in local markets everywhere, but no more. Washington State, namely the Yakima Valley, is now the major exporter of apples to the Western states. Yakima apples are now stored for a mandatory 60 days of cold storage to meet the agriculture pest law's of importing states that used to grow, but now do not grow, apples as a major crop. Major apple consuming states such as California have turned most of their domestic apple orchards into vineyards, and no longer need the 60 day import law, but this law exists non-the-less. Since California is a major apple importer, and Washington is a major apple exporter, little Oregon now goes along for the ride and receives these same 60 day old apples. (Please note the brown stems of your supermarket apples - a sure sign that they were sealed in a 60 day cold storage vault).

Seafood - Many "fresh" fish and chip shops down the Oregon Coast use frozen Cod imported from Alaska. I can easily get frozen Alaska Cod at home. Although Oregon Halibut is available, at $19 /lb, local halibut is seldom used, nor is it affordable. Local Salmon is also priced high in most Oregon fish markets. With the marvels of modern next day shipping, my supermarket frequently offer the same freshly caught wild Salmon - at the same price, in my own neighborhood store (Southern Ca).

Chowder - Oregon Clam Chowder is offered everywhere on the coast. Most of the chowder offered is thickened with flour to the point that your spoon will stand straight upright, with hardly a speck of clam in it. Very bland of flavor, most advertise that their clam chowder has won "best chowder" awards . . . however it is a mystery to me as to how Oregonians tolerate it.

Dungeness Crab - Although Oregon's open water commercial Dungeness Crab season had officially ended on August 30, (this being late September) many local fish markets were offering defrosted crabs to the tourists at a whopping $12/lb. Some fish markets even had a crab pot steaming with boiling water outside to simulate that they were still boiling live caught crabs!

I had found however, that Oregon is an oyster lovers dream. Oyster farms are ubiquitous there, and they also sell their fresh oysters at a good value. I had even found a restaurant (near Tillimook), that offered all the Pacific Oysters you can eat for a bargain of $12. That experience alone was almost worth the trip.

Sep 27, 2012
jbermo in Pacific Northwest

Live Dungeness Crab in August??

We here in Los Angeles are dependent on the Dungeness crab's commercial harvest season, as they are seldom found in numbers much south of San Francisco or Morro Bay . . . therefore, what biological criteria influences/ determines/ regulates their commercial (not private) legal harvest periods?

I know that Dungee's are caught only in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and that commercially fishing for them is ruled regionally by their respective state's coastal fish and game laws (I had thought that opening dates were earliest in Northern Calif, then opening in turn sequentially, while moving up the coast). . . . but what guidelines actually determines these opening dates?

I recall through newspaper articles, that last year's 2011 commercial season opener was delayed until Dec 01 for SFO and Portland, and it had ended in late March. I did not know that commercial crab fishing was allowed in Alaska during the Summer months.

Aug 11, 2012
jbermo in Home Cooking

Live Dungeness Crab in August??

A trip to the local Asian market recently featured live Dungeness crab at $4.99/lb. I was surprised to see this, as live Dungeness are not yet in season in the USA. Crab season in the USA generally comes in late Fall, Winter and early Spring, (however these crabs were imported from Canada).

I had thought that the Dungeness crab season occurred during the colder time of year because of the colder waters which produced crabs that are meatier, heavier, and more full of body fat. Although tempted to buy, I was afraid to waste my money on them fearing that these crabs had little meat in their shell, and were also of an inferior meat quality than when compared to that of a colder time of the year. Is my reasoning sound? If my reasoning behind crab season (and perhaps the California Spiny lobster season) were true, then why would the same qualities not hold for Maine lobster (which is sold year around)?

Aug 10, 2012
jbermo in Home Cooking

Vitamix or the Ninja?

I would buy the Ninja now, but also the Vitamix later. I was skeptical about the Ninja until I had used it. The Ninja's sharp double blade trajectories work like no other. It easily grinds ice as fine as powdered snow, easy to clean, and lightweight (which may be a good thing, or a bad thing). My only complaint about the Ninja, is that the nickel sized plastic shaft washer/seal is easily lost.

May 18, 2012
jbermo in Cookware

Jersey Subs in Los Angeles

Jesey Mikes - Pretty good for a chain, but using fresh crusty bread would make it better. Be sure to have the sub maker alternate the meat and cheese slices.

Feb 08, 2012
jbermo in Features

Dungeness Crab

I now enjoy good seasonal access to live dungeness crab thu the asian markets ($3.60/lb). Like most, I prefer to dine on them right out of the pot (nothing better than cracked sweet crab and cold beer). I use every part of the crab but the "oink" as they say, as all (except the lungs) go into another pot to flavor fish chowder. I do this after I'm done consuming the meat from the shell. After the shells exract all the flaver they can give, they are burried in the garden to feed the plants.

My question is - Which is best - to steam or boil them? . . . and how long to steam or boil? I am told never to cook more than two crabs at a time as this may affect proper timeing.

Dec 07, 2011
jbermo in Home Cooking

Orange County Fresh Fish Help

I recall in having observed lots of surf fishing along our south county beaches back in the sixties. Not so anymore. Larger fish and good catch numbers were also observed when fisherman came off of the sport boats back 40 years ago when they were docked at San Clemente pier before Dana Point harbor was built.

Much less development and a far smaller human population gave great local fishing yields back then. Surf clamming at low tide was also good before the multiple treated sewage outlets came along with coastal overdevelopment.

My guess is that cleaner water is much further out to sea these days.

Nov 12, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

Making Your Own Buttermilk, Isigny-Style Butter, and Crème Fraîche

Thank you much, das Ubergeek - I learned from that!

Oct 28, 2011
jbermo in Home Cooking

Stater Bros Brand Buttermilk

Das Ubergeek - i would very much like to know how to make my own thick buttermilk in using a starter. how do I do this. . .please explain.

Oct 27, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

Finally, a Not-Too-Sweet Granola

What a shame! Sweet, sweet, sweet, - every cereal on the market has to be sweetened with something . . . . (A food epidemic). Ever search your supermarket’s cereal isle for cereals that have single digit sugars on their nutrition label? If you do, you will note that there is only one brand available out of hundreds – Nabisco Shredded Wheat (and maybe regular Cheerios)
Where can you find commercial granola that is unsweetened? I would rather sweeten it myself if I had wanted sweet!

Oct 21, 2011
jbermo in Features

Stater Bros Brand Buttermilk

Only for true buttermilk lovers, I had thought that Stater Bros brand buttermilk was the best of any brand out there, - old fashioned, rich and creamy. But unfortunately, no more.

Starting today, Stater Bros has discontinued their house brand buttermilk in favor of the thinner Knudsen's - not nearly as good in my opinion. No other store brand / dairy could mach Stater's brand for it's texture and flavor. . . . .Agree?

Oct 20, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

California spiny lobster season has opened!

Only buy live, and that’s my point.....The local spinys are best bought freshly caught and flipping lively. The imported Maine lobbys usually have been sitting around awhile, consuming themselves from within....

Their differences are reflected in both the taste and texture of their meat - freshly caught being best.

Steam or boil lobbys live for 13 minutes, then split em in half, butter/oil the split sides and bbq split side down til done....eat everything but the shell (ground lobster shells makes for great mineral compost for the garden).

Oct 09, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

California spiny lobster season has opened!

Just to note – It’s a known fact that crustaceans, when hungry or starved, will consume their own muscle from within. Perhaps this is one of a few reasons of meat shrinkage when purchasing idle lobsters that are held too long in their holding tanks.

Oct 07, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

California spiny lobster season has opened!

The lively spiny lobster's sweet muscular tail meat seems to be more abundant than that of a Maine’s of similar size (even though the Maine has a claw, it's claw meat is textured differently than the preferred tail).

Most of the Maine lobsters available seem to be lethargical, weary, and unhappily starved after many days of sitting without food in their turbid holding tanks, especially after their long journey from New England. . . I will, however take any lobby anyway I can get it, but the one that’s freshly caught and flipping vigorously seems to be best.

These reported prices are outrages, but none the less, I too will be saving my birthday money for my annual treat!

Oct 07, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area

California spiny lobster season has opened!

California spiny lobster season has now begun. Word has it that that high demand from Asian buyers will cause spiny lobster prices to go through the roof . . . . . . Any known price reports yet?

Oct 06, 2011
jbermo in Los Angeles Area