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Atomic76's Profile

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How long does silicone kitchen "stuff" last when properly cared for?

I had bought several Pyrex brand silicone spatulas years ago, and they all ended up breaking. The spatula part appears to be made out of silicone, but I am not sure what the handles are made out of - it seems like some sort of proprietary really hard somewhat heat proof plastic-like material - not silicone. The problem with them is, if you leave them in a hot pan, with the handle resting against the edge of the pan - the handle will eventually start to melt slightly and scorch a bit. This apparently somehow weakens the handle, because all of them broke on me unexpectedly when I was doing basic stuff with them, such as mixing cookie dough. I wasn't even using much force either, and they just snapped.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

How squeeze dry spinach

I normally use a clean bar towel, but you have to be careful when thawing the spinach out in the microwave as it can sometimes get too hot and it will burn your hands when trying to wring it out in a towel.

Another interesting method I heard of recently, but have not yet tried, is smashing the thawed spinach in a potato ricer.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Can you freeze chopped onions?

Obviously they aren't going to be good in recipes that call for raw onion, such as on a salad, but they are just fine for stuff like sauces or gravies, stews or chili's, etc...

They'll last pretty much indefinitely in the freezer - you'll likely end up using them up long before they approach any sort of "stale" state while frozen.

They will sweat off some excess moisture when you cook with them, but it's no big deal, just let it evaporate off.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

When Mushrooms Go Bad

If they are just starting to get dark brown blemishes on them and you don't think you're going to be able to use them up before they go bad, throw them in a resealable bag and into the freezer.

They'll be just fine sauteed and served over a steak or burger, or in an omelette in the morning.

Personally, I specifically like to buy mushrooms at the store that are marked down for a quick sale because they are starting to show blemishes. They're usually half the price, and I know I'm going to be cooking them that evening, so it's a win win. I hate paying full price for mushrooms, only to have them sit in my fridge for a few days and develop blemishes before I even get to using them.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Fruit + Salt = ?

I purchased a bottle of seasoning blend recently called Tajin - it sounded simple enough, some chili powder, salt, pepper, and powdered lime juice. I was a little confused why Wal-Mart had it near the produce, instead of with all the other spices, but I bought it anyway out of curiosity.

I was thinking I could use it to make stuff like chili lime chicken. It wasn't until I tried it on some chicken that I realized how awful it was - it's ridiculously sour. After doing some reading about it I discovered it's mainly intended for sprinkling on fruits, as another poster noted on here earlier. That explains why Wal-Mart had it near the produce.

I have yet to try it on some fruit, but I imagine it would fare better - similar to adding a squeeze of lemon juice over some berries.

Incidentally, I've also heard of people pairing salty feta cheese with watermelon. I've tried it a couple times, and it was pretty good - didn't blow me away, but I could see why some people would like it.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

I haven't gone back to using it - I just didn't care for the flavor of it personally. Perhaps it was the thyme I was smelling and mistaking for celery or celery seed.

Incidentally, one of my current favorite seasoned salts is plain old Spice Supreme brand Garlic & Pepper Seasoning. It's a simple blend of salt, pepper, garlic and pinch of sugar. That little bit of sugar enhances all the other flavors without leaving a sweet taste, and it also helps make nice browning and grill marks.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

ISO a store-bought tomato based pasta sauce

If you happen to live near a Giant Eagle grocery store, they carry a gourmet store brand called "Market District" (not to be confused with their regular store brand products). Their Market District Marinara sauce really impressed us recently. They must have changed the recipe or something, because it was really good. I read the ingredients and it uses only slow cooked imported roma tomatoes - no tomato paste or puree added - in olive oil with real garlic, real onion and spices. No preservatives, or corn syrup or other goofy stuff. It tasted remarkably similar to my grandmothers sauce when she used to garden and can her own tomatoes decades ago.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Pork Shoulder Slow Cooker FAIL

I'm not sure if the IntsaPot has this feature or not, but my Nesco electric pressure cooker will go into a "warm" mode once the cooking time is up when pressure cooking.

I think you should be fine - consider that 4 hours of cooking would produce a "cooked" but not fall apart tender pork. So you shouldn't be dealing with raw pork.

Think of it this way, had you taken the pork out after 4 hours and served it to people at a party, it would have been sitting out on the table for a few hours, after which you probably would have saved the rest for leftovers.

In your case, it was just resting in the pressure cooker for a few hours after it had been cooked through.

I think you should be fine, I would just finish cooking it until it becomes tender and fall apart.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

What's so difficult about Mashed Potatoes?

I've seen "yukon gold mashed potatoes" on quite a few menus over the past several years and I have to agree, I much prefer russet potatoes when making mashed or whipped potatoes. The yukons, or any yellow-ish potato, are way too sweet tasting, and they become waxy when made into mashed potatoes.

A potato ricer works absolute magic when making mashed potatoes. You barely even need to mix them in the bowl with the butter and milk and salt and pepper, they blend together into the smoothest mashed potatoes almost instantly. Plus you don't have to worry at all about them becoming over mixed and gluey.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics
1

chocolate chip cookies too fluffy

Are you sure you're using baking *soda* and not baking *powder*? Because the latter would generally produce a "fluffy" cookie since baking powder reacts to heat and acts as a leavening agent.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking
1

cooking for a crowd over a weekend

Kikkoman makes a gluten free soy sauce which is certified to be safe for people with gluten intolerance. Some boneless skinless chicken thighs simply marinated for a few hours in soy sauce and cooked over a grill would be inexpensive and easy, and can be served several ways - cut into strips over an asian themed salad, or simply served with some steamed vegetables and perhaps some fried rice.

There are many gluten free pastas on the market which are pretty good, so you could whip up some rigatoni and a slow cooked "sunday sauce" with braised cuts of beef.

Chicken Marsala could probably be modified as well, swap out rice flour or instant potatoes for the all purpose flour when dredging the chicken, and use margarine in place of butter for the sauce.

Also, if you've not tried it yet, vegan mayo is quite good and is an easy substitute in anything that would call for regular mayo - so if you are making some potato salad or macaroni salad as a side...

Beef Kielbasa roasted in sauerkraut with some gluten free beer would be easy too.

Chicken cacciatorie?

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking
1

Clean finger food menu for crafters

I'll second the potstickers. They're easy to make in advance and only take a few minutes to cook up in a frying pan, so you could easily heat up more if the first batch of them runs out.

Bacon wrapped shrimp, dusted with some salt-free cajun seasoning would be good too. It's even easier if you use the packaged pre-cooked bacon - all you have to do is warm it in the microwave for a few seconds until pliable, then wrap it around the shrimp and secure it with a toothpick or skewer, then either grill them or skillet fry them in butter. If they're large enough shrimp you could serve them in shot glasses with cocktail sauce at the bottom.

You could also make a baked sandwich out of a french baguette - cut it lengthwise and add some cheeses, perhaps meats, veggies, whatever, then put the top back on and wrap it in foil and bake it in the oven. Cut into small size pieces and secure with a decorative toothpick.

Or maybe some oven fried chicken fingers? I like to toast the seasoned breadcrumbs in a dry pan a bit before breading the chicken with them, so they look like they browned more evenly when they're baked in the oven. Hit them with a good amount of cooking spray just before putting them in the oven, or alternately, you could toss the breadcrumbs with some butter or oil and mix them with a fork thoroughly before breading the chicken with them.

Some sauteed escarole aka Italian greens (with olive oil, garlic and some red pepper flakes, seasoned to taste of course), served with some grilled pita triangles. Just chop and cook the escarole in boiling water for about 10 minutes, then drain it and blot all the excess moisture out with clean towels or paper towels, then add to a frying pan with some oil, garlic and red pepper flakes to finish cooking it off. Have some grated Parmesan/Romano near by along with the pita triangles. You could also roast some peppers to go with this.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Breaded Fried Pork Chops: What are your secrets?

The optimal oil temperature for frying stuff is 375 F - if the crust is turning black before the inside is done, you've got the heat up too high. If it's coming out mushy, you got the heat too low, or you crowded the pan and caused the heat to drop too much. Whenever the heat is too low when frying, the food/breading will soak up the oil instead of crisping it right away and you'll wind up with overly greasy food.

Make sure you're pork chops are room temperature and have been patted completely dry before breading them in a flour, batter, breadcrumbs sequence. Then let them rest for a bit, which will help the breading from falling off the chops while cooking.

Don't use anything thicker than a 1/2 inch or so for the chops, and as others have noted, simply browning them a bit then finishing them off in the oven is a more goof proof route.

Another even easier way, is to simply toss your seasoned panko with some butter and press the breading over the top of some seasoned pork chops, and simply bake them in an oven on a wire rack. Granted they aren't completely covered in breading, but they are lower in fat and you aren't wasting a bunch of oil, egg washes and flour.

Aug 18, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Would Cake Flour or Corn Starch Work In A Bechamel Sauce? (In Place Of AP Flour)

Thank you! I used Land O Lakes amercian cheese, and Giant Eagle brand sharp cheddar in a block (I shredded it myself).

Aug 07, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Would Cake Flour or Corn Starch Work In A Bechamel Sauce? (In Place Of AP Flour)

Thanks! I might be cooking the bechamel too quickly, I'll try doing it slower next time. I would just cook it until it thickened up to the consistency I wanted, and was not really taking my time.

Aug 07, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

ISO inspiration for "Bowls" meals

I've been playing around with my electric food steamer lately and have made a few "bowl" recipes from it. The model that I have, by Bella, has two levels to it, so it can accommodate cooking more items all at once. One of my current favorites, was to place some diced raw chicken into a bowl with a jar of chicken gravy, some diced carrots, celery and peas and cook them on one level in the steamer, and a medium sized potato in the other level. Then I just cut the potato into quarters or sixths, and ladle the chicken and vegetable gravy mix over it. Basically a pot pie filling over a steamed potato instead of in a pie crust. A sweet potato in place of a russet potato would be even more nutritious. The meal as a whole is practically fat free, and the slow steaming made the meat and potatoes super tender.

Aug 06, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Help!! Non-Dairy Brown Butter Equivalent?

I was thinking the toasted breadcrumbs route as well, but since it's already been mentioned... what about a tiny bit of sesame oil or toasted sesame oil? Would perhaps some margarine with sesame oil work? Or what about somehow browning the pasta a bit, similar to recipes for rice pilaf and fidejo call for toasting the rice/pasta a bit before adding the liquid?

Would Cake Flour or Corn Starch Work In A Bechamel Sauce? (In Place Of AP Flour)

After trying just about every recommended method/trick for making a smooth cheese sauce from scratch, my favorite method so far is to just toss a few slices of American cheese (Land O Lakes brand, from the deli) into the cheese sauce (I do so into the bechamel, before adding any other cheeses).

The end result worked just as well as the "sodium citrate" method imo, without the inconvenience of ordering sodium citrate online, and without the metallic salty taste it imparted into the sauce.

Even better, the sauce reheated well the next day too. My only gripe was that the day old sauce had a bit of graniness to it. Not from the cheese itself separating, but rather it seemed as though the grains of flour had expanded and had a more pronounced texture, which caused the graniness.

Does anyone know if cake flour or corn starch could be used instead for the bechamel sauce? I'm wondering if this would cut back on the grainy issue for day old sauce. Have any of you tried this? If so, what did you think of it?

Aug 06, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Oyster Sauce Substitutions

It depends on what brands of "oyster sauce" you've traditionally used in the past. Some of them don't even have actual oyster juices in them at all, they're just some concoction of soy sauce and thickeners and a few other flavoring ingredients. If you're used to using these you could probably get by just fine with some soy sauce, a little fish sauce, some brown sugar and some corn starch. Even Hoisin sauce is often fake, and not made from fermented black beans, but rather some doctored up corn starch concoction.

Aug 04, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Marinara Vs. Tomato sauce

I've always considered Marinara to be a chunkier sauce - where you could still see bits and pieces of the tomato and onions, and a bit more robust in flavor (tangier, spicier) than plain tomato sauce. Most products in our neck of the woods sold as just plain tomato sauce are usually pureed and strained until they're completely smooth, and flavor wise they're a bit more bland.

Aug 04, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt

Maybe I got a bad batch, but I didn't really care for it personally. The ingredients are all uneven - some more coarsely ground than others, which causes them to shake out of the bottle unevenly. It kind of reminded me a bit of Morton's Natures Seasoning blend, in that it has a strange artificial "celery" smell to it.

Aug 04, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Odd Ground Beef

I've always had bad experiences with the so called "fresh" meat at Trader Joe's. Multiple times I bought a beef roast or a pork roast there, and when I got it home and opened the package, it *reeked* of a sulfur odor, to the point where there was no way I was going to take a chance eating it. Thankfully they accepted my returns and refunded me, but it was still an inconvenience having to go all the way back there to get it.

I've also heard that it's fairly common practice to inject meats with water so they can make more money off of them when selling them by weight.

Incidentally, Aldi's, who owns Trader Joes, did get busted a couple years ago for selling horse meat as beef.

Aug 04, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics

Home made hummous just not as good as restaurants

I know I'm gonna get hell for saying this, but I actually prefer the bottled lemon juice for homemade hummus - it's more consistent and as long as the bottle itself is relatively freshly opened, you know what you're gonna get overall. Fresh lemons can vary a lot, from being watery and bland, to overwhelmingly sour and strong to tasting rancid, oxidized and stale. I've tasted more of a failure when people follow a recipe to a tee but don't adjust for the variances in the fresh lemon juice vs. bottled.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Thicken sauce for shrimp scampi?

It would probably work. In many Chinese recipes, they do this to the meat - I believe it's referred to as "velveting" since it gives the surface of the meat a velvety mouth feel, but the residual starch also helps thicken any sauce in the wok/pan too. Even recipes like Chicken Marsala call for the chicken to be dredged in flour first, which ultimately helps thicken the sauce. My only concern would be that shrimp cooks so much faster, there might not be enough time for the flour to cook off it's raw taste. You can also mash some butter up with flour (equal parts of each) and add a little of that to the pan, also known as a "Beurre maniƩ".

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Home Cooking

Tacos for a Home Wedding

Perhaps some slow roasted pork, which you can then cut into large chunks and throw under the broiler to char it for "carnitas"?

I've had beef filet mignon tacos at restaurants in the past, and they were fun too - kind of a nice upgrade from your usual mealy ground beef drowned in powdered taco seasoning loaded with msg.

Chipotle's diced chicken is pretty easy to make at home - just throw some boneless skinless thighs in a plastic bag along with a can or two of Chipotles in Adobo and let them marinate overnight before grilling over a really hot grill (season to taste of course, I just use a pre mixed garlic & pepper blend).

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Los Angeles Area

Current restaurant pet peeve

I have mixed feelings about "loud" restaurants, it works both ways. Often times I *don't* want to hear all the conversations from other tables near me, especially when you get stuck sitting next to folks who are clearly attention whores and purposefully trying to make a scene. Same goes for getting stuck next to screaming kids, at least the loud music helps drown them out a bit.

I don't go out as often these days because of the prices - particularly on appetizers and cocktails and wine, have gone up way too much. I'm not paying $10+ for a cocktail with only an ounce of liquor in it - I could buy a whole bottle for that much. In fact, once you factor in the tip, you could buy a whole half gallon of liquor for that much. I'm also not paying $12 for two pieces of shrimp on a plate with some foo foo micro-greens and a few drops of some flavored oil.

If I do go out to eat these days, I seldom drink at all there, and we plan on heading back home for drinks afterwards - way cheaper, plus you can splurge on the top shelf stuff and still be saving a ton of money. I also avoid the appetizers and any other upsells and just stick to the lunch or dinner item itself.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in General Topics
1

list your favorite kitchen gadgets

Electric food steamer - I leave mine out on my counter since I use it so much. It's so much nicer than waiting around for a pot of water with a steamer basket to come to boil. The electric steamer starts steaming your food in literally seconds. Plus the timer on it makes it easy for you to get consistent results every time. It cooks rice perfectly, makes perfect hard boiled eggs which for some reason peel easier too, steams fresh veggies gently and evenly unlike a microwave, poaches fish and chicken and sausages perfectly, and is just a much healthier way to cook overall.

Electric Pressure Cooker - I also use this very often to make home made stocks which rival cooking them on a stove top all day, in a fraction of the time. But I also love that I can throw a roast in there and a jar of gravy and in about an hour I will have something that tastes like it's been slow roasting for several hours. It can also make super tender chicken for tacos, or shredded pork for BBQ Pork sandwiches.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

Do I really need a wok?

I had a more traditional wok, but ended up tossing it. It was way too big to fit in my cupboards and you're really not even using most of that excess cooking surface at all. A more modest sized stir fry pan with a flat bottom worked out much better - like the ones you have pictured. You don't *need* one to do stir fry's but the high sides are helpful to keep splattering grease or sauces from getting all over your stove while cooking. I started using mine as more of an all purpose cooking pan, even when I wasn't explicitly making stir fry.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Cookware

Subway made 2 mistakes that are destroying its business

Their lunch meats, cheeses and veggies always look so wilted and dull and old. Not to mention, I believe most of their meats are all some form of processed turkey meat. Their bread is mediocre, but what really drives me absolutely nuts is the damn employees keep smashing the whole sandwich flat like a pancake when they go to cut it in half. Also, when you ask for something like a *little bit* of mayo, they squirt like a half gallon of it on the sandwich. Their breakfast sandwiches are a joke too, with their pre cooked eggs and bacon - I can get better fresher tasting breakfast sandwiches at a BP station or a vending machine.

Jul 02, 2015
Atomic76 in Chains

Chic Fil A highest rated fast food

I used to enjoy their food, but had to stop going there because of them supporting anti-gay discrimination efforts. I don't care how good their food or service is, those types of "ex-gay" programs they supported are deplorable, and nothing more than flat out child abuse. They hurt a lot of gays and lesbians who are already more inclined to substance abuse, depression, suicide and homelessness. For the founder of Chick Fil A to be so crass and flippant about donating to such organizations was the last straw for me.