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Menu collections, anyone?

Yes, I am contacting restaurants, hotels, etc. directly. We're partnering with some other institutions as well. I hadn't thought of contacting the library, but I will do that, thanks.

Oddly enough, the museum has been very lucky in getting personal collectors to donate items. Some collectors - and some organizations - understandably don't want to part with the things in their collections, but some are ready to pare down and enjoy knowing that the items they have so carefully preserved will be seen and treasured, not simply discarded.

Dec 14, 2012
curiousbaker in Not About Food

Menu collections, anyone?

I posted this over in the Chowhounds wanted thread, but I saw this and thought I might have some success here. I'm look for menu donations for a new museum exhibit.

Since its opening in 2008, SoFAB has garnered accolades for its exhibits and special programs, including being named one of the five great food museums by Saveur magazine. As a result of the enormous success of these first years of operation, the museum is moving to a new and larger permanent space at the beginning of next year.

A major feature of the new space will be a exhibit devoted to each of the 17 states of the South. The Museum has assembled a group of food writers, food historians, business owners and cooks to guest-curate the state exhibits. I'm serving as curator for the state of Oklahoma.

If you have old or new menus or other items (matchbooks, ashtrays, name tags, signs, posters, uniforms, napkins, anything!) that you would be willing to donate, your donation will be credited in the permanent exhibit. The donation is tax-deductible. Please email me at kjweldon@yahoo.com for more information. Thanks!

Thank you.

kjweldon@yahoo.com

Dec 12, 2012
curiousbaker in Not About Food

Where to buy Pork Roll in Boston?

Any chance you can recall which supermarket where you saw it, AHan? My husband is from North Jersey and loves it but can only get it when he goes home to his parents.

Jan 03, 2009
curiousbaker in Greater Boston Area

Most Underrated Foods

It really depends on the bugs, doesn't it? If they aren't dangerous to eat and I don't see them, I can't imagine why I would care.

Nov 15, 2008
curiousbaker in General Topics

Desperately seeking restaurant near Scituate

So after having vaguely planned that the night before the wedding next Saturday, the families would get together at one of the beach houses they've rented for the weekend to have a pizza or take-out Chinese "rehearsal" dinner, my mother-in-law has suddenly decided they want to go our to dinner. Preferably to a place with a function room. Not too expensive- maybe a short menu available to make sure it stays affordable. Oh, and because a couple of the kids have very severe food allergies, we would need to find a place that had, say, French fries fried in oil that contains no soy or peanut oil, and doesn't fry fish in the same oil. (Since they can't can't have wheat, dairy, soy or many vegetables, French fries are one of the few things they can eat out.) Did I mention that this if for NEXT FRIDAY?

Anxiety aside, does anyone know of a place near Scituate that isn't too expensive and has a function room?

Sep 11, 2008
curiousbaker in Greater Boston Area

One more pie post! Crumb crust pies

Oh, I should probably mention that I don't really want anything that uses instant pudding or whipped topping - I just don't like how they taste.

Sep 07, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

One more pie post! Crumb crust pies

Okay, I know over the past few months about the only thing I've posted are questions about pies. The wedding will be in two weeks, and I am almost ready for the pie buffet. In the freezer at the moment are several unbaked fruit pies: wild blueberry, triple cherry, pear-cardamom crumble, and peach, and today I'm making apple. My mother is making two French silk chocolate pies. I have also made and frozen completed a key lime pie (graham cracker crust) and two peanut butter chocolate pies (from the Little Pie Company of the Big Apple book, with a chocolate crumb crust, a chocolate bottom layer, then a peanut butter mousse, finished with salted peanuts and a chocolate drizzle). I would like to add just one more pie of the latter sorts, something with a crumb crust that can be completed and frozen, so nothing more needs to be baked off. I was thinking there must be something of the sort made with coconut or pineapple, but I'm having no luck finding anything. Anybody?

Sep 07, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

How do cooks figure out which tastes go well together?

Some basic thoughts - what grows together, goes together. Crossing cuisines is hard, sticking with one cuisine makes things easier. Generally, I'm not going to be too worried about adding olives to a Greek dish that has lemons and oregano, but fusion-style cooking (say, adding those olives to a dish that has Asian ingredients) takes more skill and knowledge of ingredients. Pay attention to what's in the things you eat at restaurants, at home, and deconstruct the recipes a little. If A + B is good in one context, it's probably good in another. One of my most popular recipes is a peanut butter, molasses and ginger cookie, and I'm always surprised how, well, surprised people are by the combination. Peanut butter and ginger go together in Thai food (and those great peanut-ginger chews at the supermarket), ginger and molasses are the classic pairing from gingerbread, peanut-molasses taffy is a standard flavor. So all together in the pot. Anyway, I think the best way to learn what flavors go together is to read a lot of recipes and eat a lot. Both fun activities, too.

Sep 01, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Standard Flaky Pie Crust - really not that hard?

Um, yeah, lard is awesome, and I use it whenever I can get it.
And it is common for people to talk about having "bread hands" or "pastry hands." Bread hands are warm, pastry hands cold. So maybe.

Aug 08, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Standard Flaky Pie Crust - really not that hard?

I think sometimes people are afraid of adding enough water and end up with a crust dough that's not quite wet enough to hold together (more like shortbread). I remember in culinary school, someone made a pie crust dough that was really wet - like, sticky-wet. His team member was furious and reaming him out for screwing it up when the chef came over and said that there was no problem. More water, more steam, better flakes! That seemed a little crazy to me (steam is steam, right? moist and soft-making?) But those crusts came out fine. And of course croissant dough is soft and fairly moist and what's flakier than the outside of a croissant? Anyway, a too-dry dough can make rolling out hard. Also, if you've chilled the dough thoroughly, it will need to warm up just a little before you roll it. I give it at least an hour in the fridge, then ten minutes at room temp (assuming a normal sort of room temp, not a blazing 100 degree day). Also, I don't put my dough in the fridge as a ball, but as a disk - partly-rolled. I don't use a pastry scraper - I lift the dough by flipping it over the pin and sort of loosely rolling it back up.

Aug 08, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Out of the Ordinary Ingredient Combos for Jam

Yes - I'm uptight enough to do a quick sealing bath, and it doesn't affect anything. The method of macerating and heating (sometimes with the fruit strained out, sometimes more than once) is my favorite for getting flavorful jam with hunks of fruit. (Helen Witty does this also). The set is somewhat lighter, but it's not very loose.

Aug 08, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Out of the Ordinary Ingredient Combos for Jam

I don't know, sometimes I would rather have the inspiration than the recipe - because I'm just going to screw with the recipe anyway. Amazingly enough, I've only really have one jam fail to jell. It's not that hard to make a decent estimate based on proportions from other recipes. Of course, certain additions (versus fruit combinations) don't affect the jell at all, like nuts, spices, etc. For instance, I add sesame seeds to fig jam, which gives it a nice something-something. And I've added cardamom to orange marmalade.

But I will say that anyone looking for exciting jam recipes should run to the store (or, um., click really fast over to your favorite online book dealer) and buy Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber. Or at least, I think it's Ferber. I'm a little feverish at the moment and too damned sick to go look it up. But, buy, does that book have some great recipes.

Aug 07, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Just bought some frozen sour cherries- any dessert ideas?

The chocolate tart dough from Marty Rubin's book of tarts is great. I would have to look it up at home, though. I think a thin pastry cream layer with a thick layer of macerated cherries would be good. Or a whipped ganache, if you really wanted to go for the chocolate thing.

Jul 17, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Just bought some frozen sour cherries- any dessert ideas?

Oh, or a chocolate-crusted tart with a cherry filling?

Jul 16, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Just bought some frozen sour cherries- any dessert ideas?

I've actually been thinking about how to make a chocolate cherry pie, so maybe I should piggyback on this thread. Chocolate chips in the filling, or a layer of ganache on the bottom before baking? I just don't know.

For your purposes, why don't you stick with your crepes, but make the crepe batter chocolate (really, just adding cocoa, there are recipes around), make a cherry filling and plate with kirsh-flavored whipped cream and a drizzle of ganache?

Jul 16, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Stylin' pies

I can see your concern about choosing a pie, and slicing and all that, but I think 1) minis would be a lot more work and 2) whole pies seem more "down-home," while minis seem more formal. This is definitely a casual wedding.

No theme, besides marriage, which is the default and I think only necessary theme for a wedding. The reception and possibly the ceremony as well will be at a beach house, though, so I suppose there's a bit of a beach thing going on. We're having bbq

Jul 07, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Penzey's signature spice mixes

I'm not crazy about the dressing mixes, which are way too salty for my taste. But I can't get enough of the Northwoods Fire Seasoning.

Jul 04, 2008
curiousbaker in General Topics

Nesselrode pie?

Helen Witty has a recipe for real Nesselrode sauce in her book Fancy Pantry, and
I believe she also has instructions for turning the sauce into pie (basically, folding it into a chiffon).

Jul 03, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

The Incredible Shrinking Grocery Bag

I thought this post was going to be about how grocery bags are now only expected to hold one or two items. I used to come out of the grocery with a big sack of stuff; now I come out with ten little bags of stuff. But apparently I'll soon be bringing home ten little bags of little stuff. Great.

Jul 03, 2008
curiousbaker in Features

Stylin' pies

Okay - I posted a question before about freezing pies for a pie buffet at my wedding, Now I would like suggestions for making fabulous-looking pies. I can thing of a million things to do to make a cake look great, but I'm a bit more stumped when it come to pies. My thoughts thus far:

Crumble pies are naturally lovely, and a little drizzle of glaze criss-crossing the finish is enough to snazz up my pear-cardamom crumble pie. Lemon meringue is another that doesn't need gussying. (To me, the only point of lemon meringue is how cool it looks).

I intend to make peach pie, blueberry pie, apple pie. One of these, probably the peach, will be lattice-top. I've done very nice "plaid" lattices, in which the woven strips alternate between wide and narrow, so I'll probably do that. For one of the others, I can have fun with the cut-out - hearts or flower shapes. That leaves a third fruit pie to finish.

I intend to have at least one chocolate pie, which can be finished with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. But if I have coconut cream and key lime, I don't want to just do more whipped cream rosettes.

Ideas? And are there pies I'm forgetting?

Jul 02, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

That Orange Has City Miles on It

We can add a few more advantages to local, small farms: they are far more likely to be diversely planted, which is better for the soil. They are far more likely to grow heritage varieties of fruit, vegetables, and meats, thereby preserving genetic diversity. They expose children to the idea of growing things, and their parents to the idea of seasonality, and perhaps sow the seed for future gardeners (and gardens are carbon-footprint-friendly). They are more likely to consider maintaining hedgerows or fallow areas around their fields, which provides wildlife corridors. Small farms are usually local farms by default - they can't afford to send anything into the global food marketplace, except possibly some specialty crops like maple syrup.. (Local farms are not always small; it depends where you live). And small farms can practice sustainability that just can't translate into a large scale.

Plus, food contamination can occur anywhere - salmonella can get on tomatoes from my local farmer or from a huge farm in Florida. But the chances increase with every hand that touches the tomato, and every other tomato it comes in contact with. I'm guessing there are fewer chances for cross-contamination with my local farm - I could be wrong.

Jun 25, 2008
curiousbaker in Features

Am I missing something without cable?

Dan Bernsays it best:

I watched TV
Read the papers
Listened to the radio
And made all the fancy scenes
And said all the right words
And wore all the right clothes
And knew the names of the hip people
But I still felt out of touch
So I stopped watching TV
And reading the papers
And listening to the radio
And making the fancy scenes
And saying the right words
And wearing the right clothes
And knowing the names of the hip people
And I felt more out of touch than ever
But I didn't care anymore

Jun 20, 2008
curiousbaker in Food Media & News

A Meaty Conundrum

Although it's very common for grass-fed meat not to be certified organic, most grass-fed, grass-finished meat in my experience (New England area) is organic. No pesticides on the pasture, no antibiotics in the raising. Of course, that's in large measure because the ethos of grass-fed is organic in spirit; we have a lot of people who believe in grass-feeding as the most natural way to raise beef.

Of course, organic can be grass or grain fed, either way.

Jun 20, 2008
curiousbaker in Features

SOS...is eating roe of more than 3 pound lobster safe??

Well, that settles it for me - and serves me right to go on conventional wisdom without testing the truth of the claim.

Jun 19, 2008
curiousbaker in General Topics

Am I missing something without cable?

I didn't have a tv for about a decade, then I moved in with my boyfriend and he insisted on it. I was afraid I would start watching all the time, and I did - for a month or two. Now I've lost interest. It's good when I'm sick and I occasionally watch a show here or there, plus election returns (political junkie). But overall, I don't think the Food Network is very interesting. I'm not interested in food as a competition. Some of the shows that highlight food travel, street food or diners can be interesting for a little while, but generally they're pretty thin stuff, put out in mass quantities because it's cheap to make this sort of thing.

I do love my old Julia Child DVDs, though. That woman was seriously invested in technique and teaching, and it showed. Do you have a DVD player? That's how I kept up with the best of tv in my tv-free years. I watched some of the Sopranos (before it got too violent for my stomach), Six Feet Under, The Wire, and Buffy, every one of which was really very good. But I didn't have to watch commercials, and I could indulge my obsession in three or four days watchfests that covered whole seasons. Much more enjoyable that way, I think. I don't know if any of the Food Network stuff is available that way. If it is, maybe you could rent a couple and see what you think. But I suspect you'll find you have better things to do - like cook or eat.

Jun 19, 2008
curiousbaker in Food Media & News

SOS...is eating roe of more than 3 pound lobster safe??

Hm, thanks for the info! I'm surprised, because I've always heard that 2+ pound lobsters start to get chewy. But I can't say I've ever tested out the claim - mostly because lobster is too expensive to experiment on!

Jun 19, 2008
curiousbaker in General Topics

SOS...is eating roe of more than 3 pound lobster safe??

I've never heard of such a thing, and I'm not sure what it is you're specifically concerned about. Old lobster = lower quality eggs = what? Food poisoning? Even if the eggs are reduced in "quality" for reproductive purposes, I seriously doubt that they would have any effect on your health.

But I would avoid a 3 pound lobster just because it's a 3 pound lobster. Most lobsters served in restaurants are about 1.25 pounds, maybe 1.5. A three pounder would be very large and likely very tough.

Jun 19, 2008
curiousbaker in General Topics

Best way to dismember a lobster?

I throw them in the freezer for a few minutes (say, ten) to "calm" them, but I can't imagine holding them for two days doesn't affect quality.

Jun 12, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Best way to dismember a lobster?

Not sure if this is what you mean, but the general approach for a lobster is:
1) break off the tail at the joint
2) break off the wide flat tin "fins" (are they fins? I have no idea) at the end of the tail, and then press the tail meat out, pushing from the narrow tail end
3) break off the claws
4) using a cracker, break open the claws and remove the meat (removing the smallest part of the claw first eases things, and cracking the "leg" part at the joints helps, too)
5) grabbing the the meaty part of the body and lift away from the shell
6) remove "the old lady in the rocking chair" - I think that's the liver? It's the dark sac behind the head. Discard.
7) pull off the legs. You can suck them, throw them away (for shame!), toss them straight into the lobster stock pot, or use a rolling pin to press out the tiny bits of meat.
8) pick at the body meat. there's actually quite a bit at the base of the legs. cracking the back in half the long way will expose some nice meaty pockets.
You can eat the green tomalley (some don't), and the red roe, if you're lucky enough to get it.

enjoy!!!

Supposedly, you can hold lobsters in a bag in the fridge for up to two days, but as a native New Englander, I can say we always sped home to get them in the water ASAP.

Jun 12, 2008
curiousbaker in Home Cooking

Freakavorism

Like so many people, he assumes that you have to buy stuff just because it's sold. Save seeds and share with friends - plants make their own, you know. Sprout cups? You're kidding, right? How about old yogurt containers, cans, etc. Tools - okay, you're right. For a lifetime of gardening, you're going to need a good hoe and a trowel, and preferably a pair of gloves and a knife. Everything else is extra. And every gardener knows the best thing for tying plants is actually not twine, but old pantyhose.

Harrumph.

Jun 12, 2008
curiousbaker in Features