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Querencia's Profile

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How long does it take to bake meatloaf??

Use a thermometer. If you don't have an instant-read meat thermometer, buy one right now. I used to over-bake all meats and poultry, fearing salmonella etc. Now I take the meat's temperature and I can tell you that my meatloaf has greatly improved by not being dried-out.

about 17 hours ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

20% mandatory gratuity to wedding caterer

If they have a labor charge, then call it that---not a gratuity, which means "tip". Presumably these people think of themselves as professionals. The minute they accept a tip---let alone, solicit it---they relinquish professional status. Would you tip your doctor? Your lawyer? The structural engineer who assesses the safety of your roof after an earthquake?

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in Not About Food

Final Bill from Wedding Caterer

Yea Bagelman---your post made my day.

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in Not About Food

Oh my!!! Blizzard coming....what to do....

Alternatively, if the furnace goes off the canine can be your heater---just let him in bed with you d'apres Three Dog Night.

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in General Topics

What's for Dinner? #346 - The Deep Freeze Edition!

So much elegant cooking on this board that I am embarrassed to post what I ate. But if you combine a carton of Trader Joe's Latin Style Black Bean Soup, which is velvety smooth, with a big can of Bush's Cocina Latina mashed-up black beans, which adds texture and emphasis, and then add a slug of sherry to your bowl, the result isn't half-bad.

Best things you can make with just a Microwave?

Once in a vacation rental all I had was a microwave in which I made a sort of Arroz con Pollo that was pretty good. I used a big deep baking dish with boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into chunks, chopped onion and green pepper,mushrooms, stuffed olives, and raw rice---filled the dish up with chicken stock from a carton---covered tight with plastic wrap then perforated the wrap a couple of times with the point of a knife---and microwaved until everything was done. If you wanted to spend the money you could add some saffron.

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

Can I make pulled pork in the crock pot from already cooked pork shoulder?

I see posts here saying, essentially, that you can't make barbecue with cured meat. Really? During and right after World War II our local joints used to serve barbecued baloney---it was all they could get. I doubt if cured meat will pull and shred but you can slice it really thin. Just watch it with the salt, but enough barbecue sauce covers a multitude of sins. (Now where did the cat get to?)

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

Anybody know of a good chicken breast recipe?

Yes, but it doesn't work with boneless skinless because you need the skin to make CHICKEN PROVENCALE: Marinate 24 hours in refrigerator the chicken breasts with plenty of lemon juice, grated lemon rind, minced garlic, and rosemary. Parboil long Idaho potatoes and slice lengthwise in wedges. In individual casseroles lay the potatoes with artichoke hearts and Greek olives then put the chicken on top, skin side up. Pull the solids out of the marinade and stuff them under the chicken skin then pour the rest of the marinade over the chicken. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, rosemary, and salt and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until chicken is done and skin is crispy.

about 22 hours ago
Querencia in Home Cooking

Suggestions needed: Favorite Latin American Food

Since this is a language class, it might be interesting to look at the many Spanish food names that come from Arabic (as you know, Spanish has thousands of Arabic words from the 800-year North African domination of southern Spain). Arabic speakers introduced new agricultural practices and new crops into Spain and their words for what they grew became part of the Spanish language (examples would be albaricoque, alcachofa, espinaca, aceituna, berenjena, limon, zanahoria, cafe'). Google "Arabic words in Spanish". You could even point out that "it doesn't stop there" showing how our English word "orange" can be traced through Sanskrit and Ancient Persian to the Arabic "naranj" and the Spanish "naranja" that somehow came into English as "a naranj" and eventually moved to "an orange". Food is something we use and talk about every day---how better to show the vibrancy and immediacy of language than to present it in food? Have fun with your presentation.

When do you throw out old canned food?

There is a lot of anti-government and anti-manufacturer paranoia around. I have noticed, so possibly those establishing expiration dates have noticed, that food characteristics change after time. For example, cranberry juice turns from red to brownish. Maybe they just want their product to be used when it's at its best.

When do you throw out old canned food?

I don't wait that long. If something has been on my shelf a while, even though it is still within its date, and I am starting to see that I am unlikely to use it, it goes in an open shopping bag in the corner to be donated to a church food distribution program. Also I add to the bag items that are on sale, like bags of pasta, jars of peanut butter, cans of tuna, bags of dried beans. Just find a program in your area that is convenient for you and donating to it will become a habit. BTW I would not eat food with a date expired five years ago---should I ask someone else to do so?

Lamb Burger question(s)...

Addendum to my earlier post: Thinking of you, I found a lamb patty in the freezer and had it for dinner, and I wonder, are you adding anything to the lamb? Because my lamb was very meaty, almost the consistency of a chop. This was plain ground lamb from WholeFoods, nothing in it but salt and garlic, put in a 400* oven for the last 15 minutes of my baked potato. No breadcrumbs or anything.

Jan 26, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

How to eat healthy as a picky adult

Don't overlook V-8. Try it ice-cold with some cheese and crackers. I realize we're in midwinter, but on a hot summer day this makes a decent lunch when you're busy.

Another jab at meeting you halfway: chili may sound like junk food, but it's more like health food if you make it yourself so you can control fat and sodium. Brown a pound of good ground chuck or sirloin beef. Add a couple of chopped onions, two cans of kidney beans with the liquid, a huge (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes, a huge can of diced tomatoes, two huge cans of water, 1 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder (NOT garlic salt). Simmer all of this (let it boil very gently and slowly) for about 40 minutes or if you have a slow cooker let it cook 6 hours). Taste and adjust seasoning. The beef is good protein, the beans are good fiber, and the tomato, beans, and bean liquid are all ace sources of Potassium, an important mineral. You will have leftovers for a couple of days or you can freeze your leftover chili for future reference. If you are in a mood to live dangerously and get some fresh vegetables involved, you can slice up an avocado, some lettuce, and a tomato, find some corn tortillas and shredded cheese, and concoct a meal that is Mexican-oid.

Jan 26, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Lamb Burger question(s)...

I fix ground lamb all the time, in one of two ways. I don't use filler (like crumbs) at all. Either 1) I mix the meat with plenty of garlic and some salt and bake it as a big patty in a 400* oven JUST until the internal temperature is what I want, using an instant-read thermometer. Not bland, but then I like garlic and I eat it with mint jelly, so I am getting a lot of flavor that isn't just lamb, and it's juicy and hot and sizzly. 2) I mix the meat with salt, garlic, dill, cinnamon, and mint, form it into meatballs, and bake it in tomato sauce with a few good squirts of lemon juice (with chunks of onion, pepper, and zucchini also in the sauce). Tastes Middle Eastern; I have it with rice. I don't know whether there may be a difference in meat quality---I buy my ground lamb at WholeFoods for a price I don't like to think about.

pie plate mystery, please help me solve

It's a bad enough problem that I wash the pans that bought pies come in and keep them to put under the greasy pan (that has a pie or a quiche in it) before I set it down anywhere.

Jan 24, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Dog Differences

I believe the difference may be partly regional. When I was a child living in the Midwest we called them hot dogs, weinie (as in "having a weinie roast"), or frankfurters. Then (1942) we moved to Upstate New York where the same sausages were invariably called Texas Hots. Today, after a half-century of television, regional differences are blurred. Factor into this that one of the names for this item is also the street word for a sex organ so that, for some, euphemistic value will be added to calling the food item by the more "polite" name. I am going from memory here (don't happen to have any in the house, to check) but I think the Oscar Mayer package calls them hot dogs---but the Oscar Mayer theme song starts "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner..." so, call them what you like.

Jan 24, 2015
Querencia in General Topics

sweet potato puree

I (a lot) mash sweet potatoes to freeze them and have always found that they mash so easily with an old-fashioned hand potato-masher that I don't need to do anything else. I boil them in the skins, drain, cool, slip off the skins (they come right off), and just whomp up the sweet potatoes. When you mix the mashed sweet potato with liquids in your soup, the result will be the same as "pureed" sweet potato.

Jan 24, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Local Favorite: Lincoln Park/Old Town Chicago

The Yelp comments on Mexique, which at Chicago & Ashland is just a 7-minute drive from Old Town, are very intriguing. Have not yet been, but intend to go. Check out dinner menu online: not a joint.

From the sublime to the ridiculous--- I confess great fondness for Stanley's Kitchen & Tap (it's a bar)---the food is basic and Southern---fried chicken or catfish, real mashed potatoes, greens, good mac & cheese, pulled pork sandwiches, AYCE brunch buffets on weekends, and no shortage of cold beer. Cheap, filling, and tasty. Where Armitage, Lincoln, and Sedgwick meet.

Jan 23, 2015
Querencia in Chicago Area

Kid-friendly and nut-free Italian dish that tastes good at room temp?

Zuppa Inglese---just don't put any booze in it! If you don't use a custard filling or whipped cream, just sponge cake with pretty fruit filling and a Seven-Minute Icing sort of topping, it will hold at room temperature. A chance to be creative. I think I might cook up a couple of bags of frozen strawberries with a very little water and some sugar and thicken this with cornstarch to make a filling. Layer this (do you have a trifle dish?) with sponge cake, somewhat anointed with frozen orange juice concentrate, and finish off the top with a white icing that doesn't need refrigeration. Not authentic Zuppa Inglese, but if you take the real thing to children's daycare you will get arrested and we don't want that.

Jan 22, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking
1

Substituting regular limes for key limes

In case you can't get regular lime juice to work out for you, I buy Key Lime juice in a bottle at my supermarket. Brand is Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice. Contact information is Nellie & Joe's, Pompano Beach FL 33069, 1-800-546-3743 or www.keylimejuice.com. I think I paid around $3 for a 16-oz bottle.

Jan 22, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

I need party food ideas for 50 people, including kids

FEEDING THE MULTITUDES: I see a lot of posts here suggesting DIY meat sandwiches of various kinds. With that, there are many baked dishes involving frozen hashed brown potatoes and all of these serve a crowd and are quick to make. Fifty is a lot of people---you will need a lot of stomach-filling ballast for such a crowd. For a large group I am partial to baked beans made from huge cans of pork & beans with added ketchup and brown sugar and some cut-up bacon on top. It will help if you can a) borrow extra slow-cookers and b) use your neighbors' ovens. Also, a few dozen deviled eggs will go fast. For dessert, cupcakes baked in paper muffin pan liners are easier to move around with than cut cake. Cake batter can also be baked in cup-style ice cream cones and then frosted. Jello can be made in plastic cups---it is easily portable and can have pretty fruit in it. If you have the freezer space, ice cream can also be set up ahead of time in plastic cups and can be made a little nicer than Dixie cups. Your life will be easier if you buy some big commercial-type metal foil baking pans rather than trying to assemble a dozen baking dishes---check out catering supply stores.

Jan 22, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking
1

Thickener for GF, NOT

Brilliant. Thank you. That I will try.

Jan 21, 2015
Querencia in Special Diets

How to heat and serve meatballs in a Sweet Chili Sauce?

I have done this many times for a large crowd always using a slow cooker. Just allow enough time and use plenty of sauce. Skip the stove entirely.

Jan 21, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Is there anywhere to have a nice dinner in downtown LA?

A few weeks ago a CH thread addressed the issue of noise in California restaurants. Posts stated that owners encourage noise (as by using more hard surfaces in decorating) because they believe it engenders "buzz" and draws a younger clientele.

Jan 21, 2015
Querencia in Los Angeles Area

Re "Cooked" by Michael Pollan

A CH poster mentioned this book; sounded interesting so I bought and read it. Any interest here in discussion? Pollan's basic idea is that we disparage the act of cooking and that we would be more humanized if we did not---in earlier times we delegated cooking to servants (and to lower-status women) and now we do the same but to industry, relying heavily on commercially prepared foods. I am interested in attitudes toward cooking. For example, on HGTV when current people inspect a prospective new home, they often state their intention that cooking will be primarily a social activity---I would say that more than half the time, house-shoppers speak of "entertaining" or "friends" when they view a kitchen. This is a change from past generations, when cooking was seen as a routine part of daily housekeeping. These two positions are not antithetical---everyday cooking is for Stouffer's, and the cooking we embrace is party-time. Thoughts?

Jan 20, 2015
Querencia in Food Media & News

Lemon thief

Birds eating cherries poses a whole other problem because they not only consume your fruit but then they leave pink bird poop all over your terrace and furniture, the perfect definition of "adding insult to injury". I can understand why you are out there yelling at the birds. Have you tried netting the tree?

Jan 20, 2015
Querencia in Gardening

Lemon thief

So then you have established that you do have a human thief in your neighborhood, a person who feels entitled to take your fruit. I would have a chat with her. And possibly with her keeper. This is not excusable behavior, seventy or not.

Jan 20, 2015
Querencia in Gardening
1

Lemon thief

A motion-sensitive camera that attaches to a tree and shoots photos of secret marauders can be revealing. My son used one to out the wild turkeys that loved his vegetable garden and the flock of buzzards that mistook the plastic tubing securing his swimming pool cover for the necks of dead animals.

What to do with Mrs. Buttersworth Pancake Syrup?

That's a different issue. A recent CH thread showed many schoolteachers saying that they discard food items given to them eg home-baked etc, being unsure of the circumstances of origin. On the other hand, a municipal or church food bank gladly accepts unopened grocery items for distribution to those in need. I keep an open shopping bag all the time for such things---extras from my pantry, on-sale items from the store---and donate them to a church program on a regular basis (toiletry items like soap and shampoo are also welcomed).

Jan 19, 2015
Querencia in Home Cooking

Interesting ideas for leftover cheese sauce?

If it works like my cheese sauce (a basic white sauce with a package of shredded cheese in it) I freeze it all the time and it doesn't break. I use 8-oz margarine containers and put it with leftover vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes) to make a small au gratin.