lamb_da_calculus's Profile

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Off the beaten pah Chicago eats for a first timer

FWIW Elizabeth has promised various dishes using Native American cooking techniques in the coming summer menu. No idea what that means in practice, but tickets are set to be around $75 each. Not a distinctly "Chicago" meal, but Elizabeth tends toward very good execution of ingredients foraged around the midwest, so it's not something you could easily get anywhere else. It is not at the level of Grace or Alinea, nor is it really off the beaten path, but it is pretty unique.

Mar 20, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Chicago Area

Bring your shopping cart back where it belongs, please!

I always put my cart in the corral, and in fact I used to get other nearby carts and put them in the corral too. Then one day I did that and my friend, who used to work that job (of getting all the carts and bringing them back from their diaspora across the lot) told me not to, since (according to him) bringing back those carts was a big part of his job and why they hired him in the first place. So I still do mine, but I don't do others' anymore.

Ideas for Buckwheat Groats (aka Kasha)?

I don't even fry it, just simmer it for a bit with a clove of garlic in salted water until it's at a texture I like. Then I just toss the clove.

Then I mix it with some rehydrated wakame, a small spoonful of yellow miso, some soft-scrambled eggs, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds at the end. Cheap, easy, healthy, good.

Mar 18, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

How to eat frugally?

Very specific suggestion that may or may not help: have you ever tried wakame/kelp? It's a bit like nori except instead of coming in crisp toasted ready-to-eat sheets it comes in brittle little strings that you have to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes before eating. The end texture reminds me a bit of a more viscous, thin noodle with a pronounced brine flavor. I like mine mixed into some eggs with a bit of miso and some other stuff. Miso might seem a bit frivolous, but a little goes a *very* long way flavor-wise, so it might be something to see if you can squeeze in. Although you do mention that you have gout, and miso is very salty. I imagine very small quantities would be OK and add enough flavor.

I think if you buy wakame at an Asian market it might be around 25 cents per serving. Not sure how (if at all) it would interact with your health issues, but it's pretty low-carb/high vitamins and minerals, and it can be reasonably filling.

It's doubly convenient because a little dried 3 oz. bag of it rehydrates into several times that size, so transport would be easier than, say, a head of lettuce. Plus it lasts more or less indefinitely and is there when you need it with very little effort. If you find some on sale buying several bags could last a while.

While I'm at it kimchi, bought from an Asian supermarket, is also pretty cheap, lasts a long time, and should be healthy/low-carb (although some have varying amounts of sugar so check carefully).


Fresh tuna is pretty different from canned tuna. If you're planning on cooking it until it's like canned tuna, why not just buy a nice canned tuna?

Mar 11, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

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

In addition to the answers suggested here, you can also halve it cross-wise and then pinch the half between your thumb and middle finger to hold it together as you slice.

I've had this problem chopping scallions too. It's one place where cutting on a bias can be helpful.

Mar 07, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Why do most food blog recipes suck?

This may or may not be what's happening, but it's plenty possible to be a good cook, make something good, and write a terrible recipe out of it because you forgot something, mis-estimate a quantity or time, etc. And if you cook by handfuls or pinches or whatever it can be a pain in the ass to measure out everything you're doing.

That said I try to do this if I'm "working on" a recipe, as I can write it down with good measurements and come back to it later or pass it along to someone else. I keep recipes I've "worked out" in a Google doc. I kept a now-defunct blog for this for friends and family for a while (at!), which is why I kind of sympathize with bloggers.

Why do most food blog recipes suck?

I like "Forager Chef" and "Ideas in Food", both of which are written by people with plenty of industry experience who are assuredly much better cooks than we are.

Forager Chef is written by a chef - I'm not clear on kitchen hierarchy, but I think he was somewhere up the totem pole at Heartland in Minnesota and is now executive chef somewhere else - who focuses a lot on wild/foraged food, especially mushrooms, and not just in a trendy well-I-guess-Noma-does-it kind of way. A few of the recipes linked from the main page are: rainbow trout with pickled chicken of the woods, bison black barley stew with fried chicken mushrooms, and partridge with pears and pickled ramp glace. The photograpy is also great, and the recipes are pitched at a nice Chowhound-type level. It has 2000 likes on Facebook, so if you like Indie cred...

Ideas in Food is a lot bigger since they've written a couple of books, but their methodical, scientific approach to food means their recipes are usually pretty tested. They're quite creative too.

I eat it my way

Not really unique, but I always make open-face sandwiches. Bread is fine and good but I usually don't want that much.

Favorite is probably sourdough + avocado + spanish peanuts + olive-oil packed canned tuna + salt and pepper + lime juice + cilantro + mirin. For something that takes about 4 minutes to put together it's pretty good/cheap/healthy.

I eat it my way

I like to slice a granny smith apple into thin, maybe 1/4"-1/8", slices, fan it out on a plate, and microwave until it starts to caramelize. Then I eat it with "natural" peanut butter. Not a bad breakfast.

Who cooks in a hotel room?

A while ago I lived in a Residence Inn for a couple of weeks while relocating to a new job. The room had a good-size refrigerator and a 2-burner flat-top stove so one night I made soupe de poisson/fish soup (garlic, onions, leeks, fennel bulb, and plum tomatoes, simmered with a few whole [gutted] porgies, orange zest, saffron, bouquet garni, and Grand Marnier). I didn't realize what a dumb idea it was until I started simmering the fish. And at the end I had to sheepishly take my trash bag down to the lobby and ask where I should throw it away because "it's full of fish carcasses".

The soup was lovely though, and the smell somehow didn't escape my room. Although it did take several days to dissipate.

Using colatura?

I thought this as well. It says the ingredients are "anchovy, salt, pickle", so I'm not sure why it's apparently so perishable.

Using colatura?

As far as I understand, colatura's basically Italian fish sauce, so you'd use it to add something savory to sauce or soup etc. Or wherever you might use anchovy paste.

The problem is I have a 5 oz. bottle of the stuff - a neat souvenir someone gave me from their trip to Italy - with a label that specifies I need to use the contents within 5 days of opening, and this seems impossible. Is it?

I haven't opened it due to that narrow window, but the fish sauce comparison makes me think it would take a lot of food to absorb 5 oz. of colatura without being horrible.

Orange dust/powder on Kon(m)bu...

Sorry to say I don't know what that is either, nor have I ever seen it before, although I've only used kombu maybe five or six times. I'm just posting to follow if anyone else says anything.

How did it taste different?

What's the point of celery in recipes?

Ditto. I'm pretty surprised by people who say celery has no taste. To me it tastes very savory and almost salty and is pretty noticeable in mirepoix even after sweating for a while.

Safe to eat ???

Please elaborate on "meat safe".

How to eat healthy as a picky adult

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and radishes can be goddamn revelatory the first time you try slow-roasting them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. They all take on a new sweet/savory element that is barely there in the raw or steamed version. All you really need to do is chop or break into maybe 2" pieces, add enough olive oil to coat but not pool, and roast at say 350F in a heavy baking dish while stirring every 10-15 minutes until they're soft and caramelized. Yeah, yeah, you can get more complicated but this procedure will be pretty good without much fuss.

(Note that I wouldn't do all of these together, though.)

Jan 25, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Beef bourguignon too sweet. How would you have tried to salvage it?

I used white onions. In my experience when cooked they are the least sweet. I think in increasing sweetness it goes white -> yelow -> red, but there were just too many of them.

Jan 11, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Beef bourguignon too sweet. How would you have tried to salvage it?

I can usually turn out a nice beef bourguignon without too much hassle, but last week I made one and did a couple of things wrong. First, I got distracted and forgot to salt the beef before browning it (I know...). Second, I followed the recipe's call for 4 onions even though I usually make it with 3, and it ended up being too onion-sweet and beef-weak as a result.

I also used a pinot noir instead of a burgundy, but I know basically nothing about wine and don't know if this did anything. I once made BB with merlot and thought it was OK, so who knows.

Anyway, I tried remedying all this by removing the liquid, adding beef stock to the liquid, and reducing it down to its original volume, and returning it to the stew. I also removed most of the onion pieces. But this only helped a little bit.

What would you have tried? Or, more generally, how do you approach a savory dish that's come out too sweet?

Jan 11, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Am I the only one who doesn't brunch?

I'm still in my early 20s and at least among my age group the weekend brunch reasoning you mentioned is pretty on point. It's also a way to feel OK with waking up at 11 or something, at least according to the people I've asked. It's not really my thing either.

"Brown on all sides"

This would be my follow-up question. Browning on all sides for a big cut of meat seems doable, but working with small 1"-1.5" cuts doesn't.

Jan 04, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

"Brown on all sides"

In recipes for braises the common procedure is cut up meat -> brown on all sides -> stew for a while.

But how do you interpret "brown on all sides"? The meat is usually cut into rough rectangles, so technically there are 6 sides. I only ever do top and bottom. Does anyone actually turn to all 6 sides? Have I been misinterpreting this all along? I'm browning pieces of chuck steak for beef bourguignon right now and wondering.

Jan 04, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Freezing demi-glace

I like this idea since I usually spill a little when pouring into an ice cube tray. Thanks to everyone else for the bag+straw tip though.

Jan 01, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Freezing demi-glace

This weekend the plan is to finally try making demi-glace from beef stock. I haven't done either before. I'll be following the loose method Bourdain outlines in the Les Halles Cookbook for veal demi-glace - really just substituting beef bones for veal bones - and see what happens. While we're at it, if anyone has opinions on the Les Halles stock method I'd like to hear them.

Anyway, my question is: how do I store the demi-glace at the end? I'd like to be able to use it over a few months a few spoonfuls at a time. For example the day after the demi-glace I plan to make beef bourguignon and boost it with a little bit of the demi. Bourdain refers to Julia Childs' method of freezing in an ice cube tray, but wouldn't that just give the demi that weird stale freezer taste?

Jan 01, 2015
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Your kitchen in a word (or two, or three...)


Pear desserts

The French Laundry cookbook has a recipe in which you simmer toasted walnuts in cream and vanilla and then poach some pears in a mixture of white wine, water, and sugar. At the end the pears, a bit of their poaching liquid, and the strained walnut cream are pureed together for a sweet soup. If you have it, it's pretty lovely, and quick and easy (especially by French Laundry standards).

I've been meaning to make it with gingerbread crumbs sprinkled over the top.

Dec 21, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

establishments that barter for meyer lemons

Not to hijack this thread, but do restaurants usually trade for produce? Is this something I don't know about?

Being "put to work" at a Christmas Party

I'm continually confused by posts on here where people attend parties hosted by individuals they clearly don't like.

Favorite cooking task(s)?


Dec 09, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking

Favorite cooking task(s)?

I like that sound too. If I learn in close it reminds me of birdsong.

Dec 08, 2014
lamb_da_calculus in Home Cooking