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2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

Not really a 2014 thing, as I've made this numerous (and I do mean numerous) times before, but this year I made for my dad, who claimed he didn't like lamb, my Turkish-inspired grilled lamb kebabs and he LOVED them.

And reading this thread is really kickstarting my 2015 cooking mojo--the other night I made a very delicious crème anglaise with goat milk, while tonight I made cajeta from the other half of the quart of goat milk. A friend of mine cannot have anything bovine (beef, cow cheese, cow milk), but goat milk is fine. I was testing some recipes and I may make a caprine floating island for dessert when I see her next.

BTW, maybe the reason I'm getting psyched about cooking again is due to my upcoming kitchen remodel! My kitchen is very dated (although I've always been happy in there) and next month starts the remodel process. Better cook now, because it might be difficult for a while!

2014 in the kitchen: What were the best new things you made?

I'm really enjoying this thread! It was not much of a cooking year for me--end of a long-term relationship had me lose interest in food for a long time and once that passed, work became very busy. Consequently, I didn't do a whole lot that was new. But I did cook with some new-to-me ingredients! Bought ground cherries at the farmers market and made ground cherry-ginger-coconut jam. Also began using duck eggs for mayonnaise and ice cream--gives both of them a richer flavor. But all in all, I think 2015 is shaping up to be a better cooking experimentation year. Still, I'm enjoying reading about everyone's successes and now I'm gearing up for 2015!

The 2014 Hater's Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

Thank you! I've been looking forward to this for weeks.

Dec 14, 2014
nofunlatte in Food Media & News

Cheese of the Month-Holiday Cheese Buying Ideas (Dec 2014)

Oops, forgot to add a link to Maytag Dairy Farms. Here it is:

http://www.maytagdairyfarms.com/aspx/...

Dec 14, 2014
nofunlatte in Cheese
2

Cheese of the Month-Holiday Cheese Buying Ideas (Dec 2014)

I ordered Maytag Blue cheese individually wrapped in 1-oz. pieces (portion control!). You can order a 12- or 24-pack. And yes, human beings hand wrap each wedge! I took a side trip there last summer.

A raclette maker is another idea (and I am getting one for a Christmas gift). And (for a smaller gift idea), I quite like my individual Boska Barbeclette:

http://www.boska.com/usa/milano-chees....

I actually got mine at Leelenau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay, Michigan.

Dec 14, 2014
nofunlatte in Cheese

Favorite cooking task(s)?

Stirring custard and watching the process as it goes from thin and runny to thicker and more viscous.

Dec 13, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

Favorite cooking task(s)?

Nope--I love live fire-cooking myself and I'm a girl. And I find it fun to start the paper on fire (that will start the fuel in the chimney starter) for some reason!

Dec 13, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking
1

Christmas Day Dinner

" three decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwiches with arsenic sauce"

Recipe, please ;)

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? December 2014 edition!

That sounds very intriguing! I spent a little time in Cameroon a number of years ago and I imagine that there would be some culinary similarities (though they are 1200 km apart). Had many a good meal there, probably because the ingredients were fresh and unadulterated. I couldn't find a cookbook when I was over there.

Dec 11, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

Hachiya persimmon-ripe or rotten?

Lucky, lucky you!

Dec 09, 2014
nofunlatte in General Topics

Hachiya persimmon-ripe or rotten?

When ripe, they WILL look ugly and blemished. I have a few that are in varying stages of ripeness right now. As they ripen, I remove and freeze the pulp--looking to do some baking with them AFTER the holidays!

Dec 09, 2014
nofunlatte in General Topics

Holiday Gifts?

You're in Indiana, right? How about some Hoosier cheeses (both for snacking and cooking)? Capriole cheeses for goat aficianados or Ameribella/Everton/Briana cow cheeses from Jacobs and Brichford. J & B is also offering a t-shirt with the best-ever picture of a cow on it.

Under the tools/gadgets category, I like the WMF nutmeg grater/holder (although mine is apparently no longer available in the US). They have others that can store the whole nutmegs and are stylish, too.

Dec 09, 2014
nofunlatte in General Topics

Holiday Gift Baskets

"I think if you give them, you have to be willing to accept that people's needs/wants/likes may not be in line with what you assume. But that is true of any gift. "

This.

Once I give a gift, I detach myself from it. It is now up to the recipient to use it, dispose of it, regift it, etc. I don't want my loved ones to feel obligated to eat something that they don't like or will trigger a binge or whatever. No need for them to feel guilty for not liking something! Because my family/friends are quite gracious, I do remind them that they are under no obligation to eat whatever I've given them (if a homemade food gift). This, btw, is different from appreciation--one can appreciate the fact that I gave someone a gift, without actually liking said gift.

Dec 07, 2014
nofunlatte in Not About Food
1

Favourite thrift store find?

The Original Trav-L-Bar with Genuine Top Grain Cowhide Strapping. Complete with a Southern Comfort guide to summer cocktails (circa late 1960s/early 1970s)

$1.00

Dec 06, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Which mini-cocotte Staub or LC?

Even if you don't use them, but only admire them, you are getting use from the cocottes. They are giving you pleasure! If displayed, you can think of them as enameled cast iron sculptures.

Dec 06, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware
1

Which mini-cocotte Staub or LC?

I got three of the Staubs (in Basil) a couple of years ago for my birthday. I find them adorable. They get used for individual apple crisps.

Dec 06, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Electric raclette maker--advice needed on purchase

How timely! I might be getting Dad a raclette maker for Christmas (he grew up in S. Germany, practically on the Swiss border). This thread has helped a lot! I am considering the Swissmar non-stick one.

Dec 06, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

No more burnt gravy! - Calphalon roasting pan

I've done the aromatics at the bottom of the pan and in the bird (and both). This year just in the turkey. I have never added mushrooms, though--will have to try this.

And I'm very impressed that you've start your 2015 Thanksgiving preparations! Tipping my digital hat off to you!

Dec 02, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Oval Cocotte footprint size on stovetop burner.

I have an aubergine cocotte and a smaller grenadine one. I'd love something in dark teal, but I'm running out of room for storage!

Dec 02, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Oval Cocotte footprint size on stovetop burner.

I love the Staub colors. Great deal on your cocotte!

Dec 02, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Best recipes for homemade Christmas gifts

How about a shrub (or shrub base), which can be added to sparkling water or alcohol (or both) to create a refreshing drink? Keeps for months in the fridge.

Peach salsa (homemade and home-canned) was something I gave out last year. Alas, a cold spring and summer meant no local peaches this year (and I only use local fruit for canning). Well received, although I asked the recipients first if they would like some so it's a biased sample.

Dec 02, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

If I make unbaked tart shells and freeze them, do I thaw before blind baking? Also, vodka?

I've done this with tartlet shells--roll out, put crust in tartlet pans, and freeze. I did thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then blind bake before filling with jam. Mine were standard wheat flour-based ones though. Not sure how the gluten-free flours act.

Dec 01, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

Best recipes for homemade Christmas gifts

To which I would add that homemade gifts may or may not be appropriate for a recipient's diet or eating style. It's not necessarily about germ-phobia. I don't eat many sweets or desserts (save for special occasions or post-endurance exercise), much as I love them--once I start, it's hard to stop! But I would always accept such a gift with joy and delight. The real gift, for me anyway, is that someone thought enough to make something for me, even if it's not something I'll use (and this goes for non-food items as well). On the flip side, I'm sure I've given homemade gifts that weren't consumed either. Once I give something to someone, it is up to THEM to decide what to do with it. I don't want anyone eating something or using something or displaying something out of guilt.*

Yes, there is waste involved, but I'm not sure how that can be helped.

*The display items most certainly won't be displayed unless it's something I specifically asked for. I think it's sweet that someone made a wreath, put a picture of his/her kid in a frame, painted a picture for me, but I really don't like too much stuff in the house.

Nov 30, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? November 2014 edition, part 2! [old]

Thank you, rasputina! I just ordered The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites.

Nov 30, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

The Downside of Eating Too Locally

Actually, as a heartlander, we DO support them and are involved as consumers. This author has lazily relied on a stereotype (Frozen Butterballs for the interior populace? Having lived on the East Coast for most of my life and now in the Midwest, I can assure you that Midwesterners are no more or less likely to eat B-Ball turkeys than coastalites.)

Frankly, these hyperlocal, 100-milers are probably few and far between (echoing Ruth's comments upthread). She (Liz Carlisle) hasn't provided hard data to support her assertions. 100-mile eating? It's a stunt and the "rules" usually allow for a few foods that aren't local (e.g. imported olive oil, coffee).

Nov 30, 2014
nofunlatte in Food Media & News

My case for using tapioca as thickener in fruit pies

Thanks, grey!

Nov 30, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

No more burnt gravy! - Calphalon roasting pan

Good point about the many variables one needs to account for. I own 1 pterodactyl-sized roaster (the Calphalon one in question). My other one is more Tweety Bird-sized (and stainless steel). Both cheap, though. I've cheerfully burned drippings in BOTH of them. Guess I'm an equal-opportunity char-er! This Thanksgiving's drippings were ALMOST burnt, but I kept catching everything in time (and adding liquid). Somehow I wound up with my best gravy ever, quite possibly never to be replicated again. I did make a "starter" gravy ahead of time and added the drippings.

Nov 29, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

Oval Cocotte footprint size on stovetop burner.

I've cooked on an apartment-sized for many years during grad school (thankfully I've been gainfully employed for years with the ability to secure housing with a normal-sized stove!) If you have numerous pots on the stove, you do run the risk of them touching each other. But you can always angle the cocotte. Also, I do have a 5-qt oval Staub (my first-ever enameled cast iron piece, so it has a special place in my heart!); stovetop cooking is not optimal, but it certainly is doable (I do it all the time). You do have to watch more carefully than you would with round cocotte, as the ends extend over the burner.

So, what color did you get? Inquiring minds want to know!

Nov 29, 2014
nofunlatte in Cookware

My case for using tapioca as thickener in fruit pies

Okay, I have a question (or two or three). I bought some tapioca starch about 2 years ago--it's powdered. Is that the same thing as instant tapioca? And for how long is it effective? I rarely make pies, but I'd like to make a cherry pie (from canned sour cherries), using the tapioca starch as a thickener. How much should I add per pie?

Nov 29, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking

Tell us about your Thanksgiving disaster

Not exactly a disaster, but I had a stuffing faux pas. The bird was out and I put everything in bowls and my guests served themselves. After we were done eating, I went into the kitchen and saw that the oven light indicator was still on. I thought I'd forgotten to turn off the oven after I took out the turkey. Opened the oven door, only to find the stuffing roasting away in the casserole dish, now a little extra crunchy. Fortunately, my (few) guests weren't fazed--we ate it (it wasn't burnt, thankfully), pairing it with the best gravy I've ever made in my life. It served as a bit of an intermezzo between the main meal and dessert.

Nov 29, 2014
nofunlatte in Home Cooking