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What do you not order in restaurants...

Tea. Unless I know that the restaurant knows how to serve it, and isn't going to bring me a mug of lukewarm water with a large wooden box from which I am supposed to select a tea bag.


Good luck getting any decent fond in a non-stick pan. So no, the food just will not be as good.

Dear Santa, . . .

Dear Santa,

What I'd really like would be for a certain relative who is on the "must invite to every holiday meal" list to get off her gluten free kick. I would like more than anything to be able once again to plan menus without having to take her latest food fad into account.

Though inevitably, she'll sign on for the next one, whatever that may be.

So Santa, I've changed my mind. I'd like you to deliver this relative a one-way ticket to some place that she would like to go that is very, very far away.

30-35 guests expected for my son's 1st birthday lunch celebration. What alcohol should I serve?

What does this question have to do with the Southwest?

Dec 18, 2014
bitchincook in Spirits

Do you have family/friends who don't appreciate good home cooking?

I'm wondering if your mom may be Irish. I ask because on the Irish side of my family, we kids (back then) were told frequently that the adults had forgotten things that we would never know. It was meant to put us in our place, part of a general cultural belief that you should never praise a child, lest you "feed the devil."

Dec 16, 2014
bitchincook in Not About Food

Servers who pick up dishes but not flatware between courses: was I rude to bring this up?

Sedimental, If I weren't already hitched, I'd definitely look you up.

Servers who pick up dishes but not flatware between courses: was I rude to bring this up?

I wouldn't have made that comment, but I would have been annoyed. I am buying two courses. I want each to come with its own plate and its own clean silverware. My husband agrees with me, and all things considered, we prefer to patronize restaurants that are a cut above the "save your fork" level of "service."

Help me plan an impressive and romantic dinner menu featuring California Spiny Lobster?

Epicurious has a recipe for Spiny Lobsters in Crazy Water that might work for you for the main course.

Dec 12, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

One pot cooking. Really?

For me, there are at least three reasons to do it in one pan. First and most important is to allow the fond to develop, which translates into the most flavor, as others have mentioned.

Second, I tend to use the time when the meat is browning to prep the vegetables, and in that case, using two pans does not save any time at all.

Lastly, while washing pots and pans may be quick, my hands do not do well in hot soapy water at all as I have eczema; they tend to chap, crack and bleed. (Wearing gloves is a major annoyance. What do you do with dripping wet gloves when you are done with them?) So generally my husband is the pot-washer. He is fine with one and okay with two, but give him more than that, and I don't hear the end of it.

Dec 10, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Kitchen venting

That vent next to the stove would probably be better than nothing, but still, don't expect much. I have a cook top with a powerful Vent-a-Hood above it, and while it works fine for the stove, it is next to useless for any smoke or fumes coming from the adjacent wall oven. Indeed, it was useless in capturing smoke from the oven on Thanksgiving, when I cranked it up to 450 to roast some vegetables after having used to it roast the turkey. The smoke alarm went off, and the fire department called.

Dec 09, 2014
bitchincook in Cookware

What's For Dinner #338 - Winter Wonderland Edition [through 12/14/14]

Sunny and in the 70s here in Tucson, (payback from summer when it's 110+ in the shade) so dinner will probably be something on the grill. I'm thinking of steak with fried onion rings and Greek salad.

canned potatoes - anyone cook with them?

Mom, is that you? You know you can get fresh potatoes year-round these days, right? They even come in whatever size you want.

In any case, Mom, thanks for providing me with all the inspiration anyone could ever need to learn how to actually cook.

Dec 07, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

I wouldn't consider that a disaster. Then again, I gag on green beans, having been literally force-fed the boiled, frozen variety as a child. One of the best things about being an adult, IMHO, is that nobody can ever force those slimy things down my throat again.

Dec 01, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Next year will be different: Thanksgiving

Get out of the kitchen. Leave my husband and all his boring, fad dieting, gluten-phobic relatives and run off to Vegas with the guy I should have married.

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

OP here. I put that in because I thought the thread might otherwise get banished to Not About Food.

Quiche questions

I use 3 eggs, two cups of cream a big pinch of salt and fresh nutmeg as the basis of all my quiches. You can then add whatever you want in terms of cheese, ham, bacon, mushrooms, or other cooked vegetables. I put the latter stuff in the pie pan first, atop the par-baked crust, then pour the egg mixture over it.

Nov 29, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Need a better bechamel (and/or mornay), not gloppy

I've been making Baked Cauliflower, Tuscan Style, a Marcella Hazan recipe for years, and it's fabulous. It calls for a bechamel made with 1 T butter, 1.5 T flour and one cup of milk. To it you add 1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg, and 2/3 cups of grated Parmesan. No salt is used. You mix most of the sauce with one head of parboiled cauliflower, chopped up afterward, to which you have added 2 beaten eggs and two tablespoons of melted butter. You save about 1/4 cup of the sauce to spread over the top of the mixture in the gratin dish, and then top that with another couple of tablespoons of Parmesan.

Nov 29, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

Did anything go terribly wrong? (I mean with the food, not a drunken uncle, etc.) I'll start.

I learned that if I roast a turkey in my small oven, remove it when it's done and then crank up the heat in the oven to 450 to roast vegetables, there is no stopping the smoke alarm. Opening all the windows would not do it.

The smoke alarm is part of a security system (we live in a sketchy neighborhood) and I also learned that the security company can be counted on to call the fire department when the smoke alarm goes off. First they tried to call us, but they called my husband's cell phone, which could not be heard over the din of the smoke alarm.

The crisis is over, but the house retains a subtle whiff of incinerated Brussels sprouts. Next year, the vegetables will be salad.

Tucson Restaurants

What do you mean by the "burbs"? Are you referring to Oro Valley or Sierra Vista, for instance, or do you mean anywhere outside the newly gentrified "downtown", or something else?

What kind of food do you like, and what is your price range? There are hundreds of good, independently owned restaurants here, ranging from taco stands to five star dining. What are you looking for?

Nov 26, 2014
bitchincook in Southwest

Pumpkin Pie: What's your dairy of choice?

I am not fond of traditional pumpkin pie, but a few years ago I stumbled upon a recipe (which uses heavy cream as its only dairy) that totally won me over. It awed my family as well, so it's been on the "must make" list ever since.


Nov 23, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

American South or Southwest Christmas appetizers or sides

The problem with Hellman's is that it is full of sugar. There are brands other than Duke's that do not contain sugar and are more readily available outside the South. Trader Joe's mayonnaise has no sugar or other sweeteners. The same is true of the 365 brand at Whole Foods.

Nov 18, 2014
bitchincook in Home Cooking

Do guests' "do not eat lists" get you down?

Here's a bit of holiday cooking humor on the subject.


trucks and hole-in-the-walls in Tucson

Okay, a couple of suggestions for things iconic to Tucson...

You could drive out to St. Xavier del Bac mission, south on I-19, which is a remarkable part of Tucson history (I say this as a volunteer docent at the Arizona History Museum.) The mission itself is really interesting, and the statues and other artwork within might well appeal to your child. From a hound perspective, you have to try the "fry bread" made fresh and to order by the Tohono O'odham people in the plaza by the church. You get your choice of fixings, from savory to sweet, and you really can't go wrong, whatever you pick.

Another local iconic food is the Sonoran hot dog. There are lots of places that serve this regional speciality, so just do a Google search to find one near you.

Nov 05, 2014
bitchincook in Southwest

Ina Garten - Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Okay, but still, this thread reminds me of junior high, and not in a good way.

Let's talk about the accuracy of thermometers.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for raising this topic!

As you might guess, I have a checkered history with thermometers. When I was but a newbie hound, living in my first apartment and learning how to cook back in the dark ages before the Internet, I don't know how many thermometers I bought and then threw out as defective when my meat came out overcooked. It took a while, though eventually it dawned on me that the USDA lies. So, okay, I figured out that I had to take the meat out of the oven or off the heat a good ten-to-fifteen degrees sooner than they said.

Would that it were that easy! Ever since, I have had I don't know how many thermometers go bad, seriously bad, having nothing to do with Uncle Sam's prevarications. Out of desperation, long ago I learned to judge the doneness of meat on the grill or the stove from how firm it feels, while adjusting for inherent tenderness of the cut. But that doesn't work for roasts.

My solution there has been a Polder thermometer, which I have found to be remarkably accurate, at least for my needs, and has the extra bonus of transmitting the temps to a remote device close at hand.

Just don't do what I did, which was stick it in the outdoor hot tub to see when said tub had reached the perfect temperature for relaxing on a starry night. It worked, valiantly, for many nights, before the probe got waterlogged and I needed to replace it.

Nov 04, 2014
bitchincook in Cookware

Holiday Food Customs

In Tucson, it wouldn't be the Christmas season without tamales.

Nov 01, 2014
bitchincook in General Topics

trucks and hole-in-the-walls in Tucson

There are plenty, but I can't tell you much else, as I prefer a different kind of vibe. You can find out a lot about food trucks and dive restaurants in back issues of the Tucson Weekly, which is available on line and sortable by neighborhood.

Nov 01, 2014
bitchincook in Southwest

Ina Garten - Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

I am really disappointed that this thread is not about the contents of the book.

Safeway finally has USDA choice beef

I looked at the weekly circular ad for Safeway this morning and was surprised and pleased to see that they now offer USDA choice beef. There is no more mention of the ghastly "Ranchers Reserve." I tried to find out what's going on, but nothing came up on Google. I am guessing that it may be related to their recent acquisition by a holding company that also owns Albertsons, but who knows? Anyhow, I'll take it!

Oct 29, 2014
bitchincook in Chains

SURVEY: Glass-ceramic or coil stove?

I have had both a glass-top electric cook top and one with coils, and the coils were the better (or least terrible) of the two. The primary reason for this was that the coils will heat a large pot or pan that extends beyond the edge of the coils just fine. Water boiled promptly in my large pasta pot, for example. The glass-top was incapable, literally, of boiling water in the same pot. The coils were also faster and more responsive than the flat-top, regardless of the size of the cookware.

Another problem I had with the glass-top was that sometimes pots would literally skate around the surface of the cook top. I have no idea why this happens, but it was a safety issue, and it also meant I couldn't leave things cooking unattended for any length of time.

Some people like that you can just wipe off the top of the glass-top to clean it, and I'll give them that point. But cleaning is such a low priority to me relative to how well the stove functions when I want to cook something that I don't really care about that.

Oct 15, 2014
bitchincook in Cookware