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erichalias's Profile

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How fragile are granite countertops?

I don't personally have an answer to the question, but just wanted to share this story.

I live in an old house that used to have ugly, outdated kitchen counters with faded cream-colored tiles and muddy grout. After 25 years of living here, my parents decided to renovate the kitchen and replace the counters with black granite.

Now, they cover nearly all the surfaces of the granite counters with paper towels and dish towels to protect the surface, and it drives me nuts. What's the point of a renovation if you're going to hide everything? The towels are all different sizes and colors too, so it just looks like a big mess.

However fragile granite might be, I don't think it needs this kind of babying.

May 18, 2014
erichalias in Cookware

Do people really like bitter melon?

I'm not saying I love all other foods, but if you were to ask me what foods I hate, bitter melon is the ONE thing that would come to mind.

I, too, have heard that you enjoy it more as you get older. We'll see in a decade or so.

Dec 30, 2013
erichalias in General Topics

Filipino Food, A serious question...

It might be because I've grown sick of it, but I don't enjoy Filipino food much. The flavors don't stand out to me, and it's just not appealing.

The LA Times had an article on Filipino food a while back: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

From the article:
"Mary Jo Gore, a Filipino chef instructor at the Cordon Bleu school in Pasadena and a friend of the Manzkes from Patina, says part of the problem is aesthetic. Filipino food, she says, is comfort food. "Visually, it's not very appealing. It's stewed and brown and oily and fried." "

I agree, except I don't find it comforting. I do wonder what my opinion would be if I didn't grow up eating it.

ATK has a recipe for chicken adobo made with coconut milk. I've never had adobo that way before, and I do want to try it.

Jun 25, 2013
erichalias in General Topics

Should I be worried about Aluminum bakeware?

Whenever someone brings up the topic of avoiding anything--aluminum, plastic, nonstick cookware, pesticides, herbicides, GMO, fats, processed foods, etc.--feathers *always* seem to get ruffled.

I think people are just sick of opinions that make sweeping assumptions or judgmental statements that are not based on evidence. For example, "I only eat organic food because it will cure cancer and anyone who doesn't will die of disease." These kinds of statements make people roll their eyes so far back, that when others say "I personally prefer organic because of environmental, sustainability, and potential long-term health issues," CHers still have a knee-jerk reaction.

I personally am not concerned about aluminum, and I believe the scientific consensus is that we need not be concerned, but if you've decided that you want to avoid it, then more power to you. Your stance of "Why take the chance if there's even a small possibility of a connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's?" is a perfectly valid one.

Of course, any sickness can be connected in some way to any factor in our lives--diet, cookware, environment, air quality, etc. We can't avoid them all, nor can scientific studies prove the exact threshold of safety for every substance, but we can pick and choose what we want to limit our exposure to. If you've chosen aluminum as one of those things, go ahead! And it doesn't have to be all or nothing. You can choose not to use aluminum at home, but it doesn't mean you have to fear and avoid aluminum 100% of the time.

No matter what your opinion is, you can explain your opinion and post helpful information without attacking the opinions, logic, intelligence, or sanity of others. I wish CH were more respectful in this regard.

Jun 23, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

How do you shop at farmers markets?

Thanks all for the responses. It's interesting hearing everyone's habits. And funny how we all encounter Samalicious at our local farmers markets :P

Jun 10, 2013
erichalias in General Topics

How do you shop at farmers markets?

Do you buy from non-certified growers, or only USDA/CCOF certified?

Jun 10, 2013
erichalias in General Topics

How do you shop at farmers markets?

I'm curious to hear how different people shop at their farmers markets, especially the larger ones with several different options for the same type of produce.

Some questions, but feel free to discuss anything about how you shop at farmers markets:

- Do you have a favorite farm that you always go to because you trust them?
- Do you look around for the best price for each item you buy?
- If you find good produce, do you buy it regardless of price? Do you compare the quality with other vendors before buying?
- Do you engage in conversation with vendors? Ask about growing practices, cooking tips, etc.?
- How often do you shop at farmers markets vs. grocery stores?
- Do you go to more than one farmers market, or just the most convenient/closest one?

Jun 09, 2013
erichalias in General Topics

Homemade almond butter

Thanks all for the suggestions. I've made two batches now using a Vitamix, and both batches came out extremely dry. I thought maybe I had over-roasted the almonds the first time (400 degrees for 10 minutes), so for the second batch I tried 375 degrees. The second batch came out even drier. I included pumpkin seeds the second time, I'm not sure if that made it drier.

Any tips to get a creamier butter? I don't mind some graininess or texture, but mine came out so dry, the butter is hard to even spread. I end up mashing my bread when I press down on the butter.

Mar 30, 2013
erichalias in Home Cooking

Homemade almond butter

I do plan on roasting the almonds, though I am curious to try raw almond butter. Maybe with a future batch.

Good idea to add spices after. That way I can try different flavors without committing to a whole batch of it.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Mar 07, 2013
erichalias in Home Cooking

Homemade almond butter

Going to try making almond butter for the first time. How long does homemade AB typically last? Should it be refrigerated?

I'm going to do just almonds this time, but if you have favorite recipes, please do share. I'm interested in learning different nut combinations, adding spices, etc.

Thanks!

Mar 06, 2013
erichalias in Home Cooking

No! More! Plastic!

I acknowledged that the NY Times article wasn't a scientific study, but I don't discount its value. It's true that people get more information from newspapers than from reading technical journals, but that's one of the reasons journalism exists--to provide information to the masses that we wouldn't get otherwise. We don't all have scientific backgrounds with an interest in reading scientific papers, but newspapers help inform us. Yes, they have something to sell, but scientific studies are not completely devoid of limitations, flaws, biases, and misinterpretation either.

You're right about having to be picky about what we read. And when different scientific studies show different results, what should everyday consumers do with that conflicting information? That's why I err on the side of caution, when it's convenient, as I keep emphasizing.

Here's the "scientific" study mentioned in the NYT article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic...
"Three days of eating food with limited food packaging was associated with substantial reductions in BPA and DEHP exposures. Results of this study suggest that removing BPA and DEHP from food packaging will significantly decrease exposure for adults and children. More generally, these results illustrate how intervention studies of chemicals in consumer products can inform regulatory decision making, product formulation, and consumer choices."

Again, I don't have a scientific background, so I can't evaluate how well the study was conducted.

I've read the same thing about the plastic-lined cardboard. It's unfortunate that they're sometimes perceived as more environmentally friendly.

Gee, I'm sorry I've trailed so off topic. I can't help but respond :) If anything, I continue to get more informed, and I hope others do too, as MGZ posted below.

Mar 03, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

No! More! Plastic!

Thanks for the links, paulj. What I found most interesting was this bit: "The researchers expected the levels of the metabolities to decrease in those adults and children eating the catered diet. Instead, the opposite happened. The urinary concentration for phthalates were 100-fold higher than the those levels found in the majority of the general population." I wonder what caused the levels to increase so significantly for the catered diet.

An NY Times article I recently read showed different results under different circumstances. It wasn't a controlled scientific experiment, but the author was able to reduce BPA levels in her urine by 84%. (She also lost three pounds, so her limited diet probably contributed to the drop.)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/opi...

Looking back at my posts, I think maybe I was a bit unclear in my environmental reasoning. I'm not simply swapping reusable plastic containers for glass ones because of garbage that already exists in the ocean. I'm trying to reduce my overall consumption that leads to waste, whether immediate or eventual (after all, reusable containers often get thrown out eventually). Plastic in particular concerns me because it doesn't biodegrade and there are issues with recycling, so I'd rather avoid it.

mikie, sounds like you're doing great work. Best of luck with that project. Regarding the study I mentioned, I guess my wording overstated it. I think a few different types of plastic were used, and all of those particular samples leached. Perhaps that's why those samples were chosen, since he had his own new plastic that he wanted to sell?

Mar 03, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

Le Creuset's fry pan v all clad fry pan

I can't speak on quality, but if it makes a difference to you, AC is made in the US, while LC stainless steel cookware is made in China.

Good luck, and hope you enjoy whichever pan you choose.

Mar 02, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

No! More! Plastic!

Interesting. I had not heard about the shoplifting effect before.

I never said YOU shouldn't use plastic. I guess my post implied that everyone should reduce their polluting habits, which, admittedly, I think is true. But I simply said that *I* personally try not to contribute to this pollution, and I've pointed out in several posts here that this is *my* personal decision, and it does not affect anyone else's personal choices.

A bit of a tangent, but there's no perfect solution to the pollution problem. In my opinion, plastic is of particular concern because it doesn't biodegrade, and even recycling is an issue. That's not to say that other materials don't pose problems (like paper emitting methane, or like you said, broken glass on the streets). But again, my personal choice is to do what I can--avoid plastic when it's convenient, reduce consumption, etc.

Mar 02, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

No! More! Plastic!

mikie, I read about a study that showed that all plastics (not just BPA) leached endocrine disrupting chemicals. However, it was criticized as having inherent bias because the scientist who conducted the experiment also invented a new plastic that supposedly doesn't leach any chemicals. I don't know if there were any criticisms of the methodology. Do you know about this study or any similar ones? (I can't find a link at the moment.) Of course, people can argue that the amount of chemicals leached is insignificant.

I certainly appreciate your background and knowledge, and that of the people you've worked with. On the other hand, I've read about former professionals in the plastics industry who have decided to take a public stand against plastic based on what they know and have learned. (I wish I could provide specific sources and links, but these are things I've seen over the years and haven't saved.) Like mcf said, different people come to different conclusions.

There have been plenty of studies that make different claims, from which we draw conclusions for our own personal lives. While I believe that plastic is generally safe, I'd rather err on the cautious side for myself. With so much plastic in our lives--it's in our food supply, clothes, bedding, furniture, homes, offices, glasses, contact lenses, cars, gadgets, shampoo, toothpaste, everywhere--who knows what potential long-term effects this constant exposure can have on our bodies. And based on the studies that show potential harm, I decided that I'll personally do what I can to avoid plastic--when it's convenient.

Even if plastic were proven to be 100% safe, with no ill effects on our bodies, I would still avoid it for environmental and political reasons. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is horrible enough the way it is now. Many plastics can't or won't get recycled. When it is recycled, it can only be down-cycled and will still eventually end up in a landfill, if it isn't already on our streets or in the ocean. This pollution will not will continue growing for our entire lives, and many lifetimes more.

Mar 02, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

No! More! Plastic!

I like your method of quoting.. Makes responses much easier to read :)

< A fair criticism, but my understanding is that in fact some people are taking the "all or nothing" stance on the other side, and in my mind, I was addressing this. Look, let be honest here, alright? This original thread is about avoiding plastic in all situations related to foods, including milk container or any plastic warp in supermarket, right? So I am directly address this point, no? >

I see what you mean, but to your last question, I think yes and no. Yes, the OP is trying to avoid all plastic, but he doesn't say that plastic is bad (not directly at least), nor does he say that everyone else should do the same.

And I think that if one person wants to avoid all plastic in his/her life, there's no problem with that. One can't eliminate ALL exposure to plastic, but there's no harm in trying as much as possible to do so, if someone so wishes. It is just that person's preference. The OP did not mention eliminating plastic from the world as policy, only that he is trying to do so in his own life. Why does this upset people? (I'm not saying that you are upset personally, but in general, it seems to really anger people when one individual tries to avoid plastic.)

< I feel as a society, many of us are on to some conspiracy. One day it is the plastic leaching, and the next day is the dangerous of Teflon, and then the harmful effect of too much iron or chromium from stainless steel. >

Definitely. Perhaps these conspiracy theorists (which I earlier referred to as "extremists") are the reason why it's such a touchy subject, bringing out passionate responses on both sides.

Feb 28, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

No! More! Plastic!

Whenever there's a post about avoiding plastic, I'm surprised by the amount of judgement it receives in response and the implication that avoiding plastic is irrational. I'm guessing it's because of the "extremists" who overstate the dangers of plastic. However, there was nothing extreme about the OP. S/he simply stated that s/he is trying to avoid plastic and asked if anyone else is doing the same.

mlkle and chem, I don't mean to say there's anything wrong about how you wrote your posts--you were both very reasonable and respectful. However, as I often see in response to people who avoid plastic, you seem to take an "all or nothing" stance. Personally, I try to avoid plastic when I can. I know that it's not always possible or convenient to do so. That doesn't mean I can't avoid plastic--again, when I can.

Yes, I do have *some* fear of plastic. Studies have shown plastic to contain endocrine disrupting and possibly carcinogenic materials. Yes, it's debatable how scientifically sound some of those studies are, and yes, the amount of these chemicals that reaches our bodies is small. No, I don't think plastic is going to kill me. However, with plastic so present everyday in our lives, I do have concern about it's long-term effect on my health. With the ubiquity of plastic in our lives, often outside of our control, what's wrong with consumers trying to avoid plastic whenever it IS within our control?

Just because I try to avoid plastic in my life does not mean that I don't see the value of plastic. It does not mean I want to revert to a time before plastic and modern medicine were invented. I know that plastic has provided many benefits to society. It just means I'm trying to reduce my exposure to plastic in my life. And my personal decision does not affect the convenience of plastic in your life.

Also, safety is not the only reason I try to avoid plastic. There are environmental and political concerns as well.

Feb 28, 2013
erichalias in Cookware

Mongolian Barbeque in Los Angeles

Just out of curiosity, why doesn't your son like eating out? (I first read it as "Our teenage son is not a big fan of eating." - I overlooked the "out." I was even more surprised by that!)

Unfortunately, I don't have any recommendations, but I'm curious to hear everyone's suggestions as well.

Feb 13, 2013
erichalias in Los Angeles Area

WHOA. Alex S (from Alex @ Wynn) lands @ Scarpetta.

Thanks for sharing the news. Alex at the Wynn was my first and only high end fine dining experience. I had hoped of one day going back and was sad to learn it closed shortly after my visit. Maybe I'll get the chance to experience his food again closer to home.

Jan 07, 2013
erichalias in Los Angeles Area

Particles in tap water

Sorry for the delayed response, but I wanted to thank you both for your feedback. I'm not sure what the exact issue was, but the particles seem to have stopped showing up in the water over time, so I feel much more comfortable drinking the water now -- even if there wasn't any safety issue to begin with, I just feel better when the water is clear!

Thanks again!

Dec 17, 2012
erichalias in Not About Food

Butter

I've only used cheap supermarket brands, but I'm interested in trying a nicer butter. Could you only taste a difference in the butter by itself, maybe spread on toast? What about in cooking, baking, or a hollandaise sauce?

All the descriptions here are mouth watering, but I would want to make the best use of a splurge.

Dec 17, 2012
erichalias in General Topics

Particles in tap water

Hi all, wanted to get your thoughts. I took a close look at a glass of water from the refrigerator dispenser (new filter just installed), and it had some particles floating around in the water. Not a *lot*, but enough for me to clearly see them floating around. They mostly looked like little white dots, but a few were longer strands, maybe 2-3 mm. They're not just tiny air bubbles. Does anyone know what these particles might be? Should the water filter be catching them? I live in LA, if that can give any clues.

Thanks for your help!

Nov 24, 2012
erichalias in Not About Food

Do you think I should exchange my Vitamix Professional Series 500 for a Vitamix Series Professional Series 750 blender?

Thanks for sharing your experience. Will you let us know more details? Do you think the 750 is worth the extra money over a refurbed 5200? What is it that blew you away -- is it really quieter? Does it blend better without needing to use the tamper? Thanks again!

Jun 30, 2012
erichalias in Cookware

For those who have to teach themselves to cook

As a kid, the most I would do was scramble eggs for my parents. In my pre-teens, during my summer break, I would make Pasta-Roni for lunch. Later, my mom would ask me to brown ground beef. I think this sums up my "childhood cooking experience." I didn't really learn anything else.

When I moved out for college, I liked to try a few new recipes--not a lot, just a few here and there--from AllRecipes.com (I liked the large number of user ratings and comments). I became a fan of the Food Network. I got to try new food that I never really explored before--my parents only took me and my siblings to cheap Chinese restaurants.

After moving back home after graduating, I realized how much I dislike my parents' cooking. There's a complete lack of variety--a LOT of our food is cooked with soy sauce or vinegar, or fried. Fish is cooked dry. My cheapo parents by cheap cuts of meat and cook it until there's no color left. We'll go months without olive oil. The only herb we have is bay leaves, and the only spice is black pepper. All sauces come from packets.

In hopes of a better tasting and healthier future, I began reading about food. I visit food blogs and Chowhound daily. I checked out How to Boil Water from the library because it's aimed at complete beginners like me. I also received a book on how to shop at and cook from the farmers' market. I've watched far too many YouTube videos on how to cook a steak.

And so I'm not like most Chowhounders--I don't really have much cooking experience at all. But I love combing through the forums to learn as much as possible and I look forward to putting this knowledge to use one day. (If you're wondering why I don't just buy my own food, I'm trying to take advantage of the fact that I have free food available while I save like crazy to move out. The few times I cooked for my family, my parents didn't seem to enjoy it. They're not the try-new-things type.)

Feb 06, 2012
erichalias in Home Cooking

How are bulk bins managed? [split from LA]

Anyone have any info on this or actually witness the bins being refilled? I was wondering the exact same thing about the bins.

Jan 17, 2012
erichalias in General Topics

Recommendations for Christmas gift card

Cost of a $50 restaurant.com certificate is $20, with a minimum $100 order. That fits what I'm looking for, so I just need to look through the restaurants and find a good choice. Thanks for getting me to consider it again!

Dec 17, 2011
erichalias in Los Angeles Area

Recommendations for Christmas gift card

What's the restaurant environment like, particularly during lunch? I think that would be the only concern for my parents. They prefer quiet, family-friendly restaurants. Even though live music is only at night, it's hard to imagine my parents at a music venue type of place.

Other than that, the menu (and prices) looks exactly like what they'd enjoy, and location is perfect as well. Thanks for the suggestion!

Dec 17, 2011
erichalias in Los Angeles Area

Recommendations for Christmas gift card

Thanks for the suggestions!

I actually got them a restaurant.com certificate last year. I haven't looked into their offerings this year, but what I didn't like last year was that the cheaper certificates were often for strip mall joints, which isn't much of a better dining experience than what my parents are used to. Higher value certificates required higher spending minimums, which I don't think my parents would like. I'll definitely look into it again though, it seems like they add new restaurants often.

I think my parents would enjoy the food at Hillstones, but looking at the menu, I came to a realization. I really don't think my parents would go to a nice restaurant by themselves. They're not the sit down together and talk over dinner for an hour type. (I know Hillstones isn't really formal, but it's much more upscale than what they're used to.) I think I should probably focus more on finding a restaurant that could feed four for $60, plust the gift card. (I wish I could edit my post as I'm sure I'll come to more realizations. My parents are really peculiar. I'm not exaggerating about them eating at the same cheap restaurant all the time!)

Again, thanks for the suggestions. I should probably try Hillstones for myself since I work just a few blocks away!

Dec 17, 2011
erichalias in Los Angeles Area

Recommendations for Christmas gift card

Hi all, I'm looking for advice on a Christmas gift.

I want to give my parents a gift card ($20-30) for a Chinese (or general Asian or seafood) restaurant this year. Some background: They're the type that has cheap Chinese takeout almost on a weekly basis. Going out to eat means going to the same cheap sit-down Chinese restaurant we always go to, one that has been shut down twice in the past few years for health violations.

I was thinking PF Changs. I know, I know, many of you will scoff at that. But I'm just hoping to exposed them to a *somewhat* better dining experience than "the usual," but they're really not the fine dining type.

Any recommendations for a Chinese (or any Asian or seafood) restaurant that sells gift cards? Keeping it within the boundaries of Downtown and Santa Monica. Price-wise, after subtracting the $20-30 gift card, I'm looking for a place where the bill would come to about $30 to feed two (including tax and tip, no drinks), or a bill of $60 to feed a family of four.

Thanks for your help! Very much appreciated.

Dec 17, 2011
erichalias in Los Angeles Area