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Sherri's Profile

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Let's Do Something Different for the Holidays

After my husband's death, we did nothing for the first year. Zip zero nada. The second year, I rented a house on a car-free small island off the Florida coast and my sons and I walked the beach and ate hot dogs for 'Christmas'. By the third year, we were in France together and did not celebrate anything except being together.

I have since re-married and both boys have also married. The old traditions of formal meals have been replaced by whatever feels right at that particular time. We had shrimp & grits for Thanksgiving because a friend of one of my boys wanted to learn how to make it, another year we ate tamales and grilled pizza. We've also had turkey sandwiches at the beach for T-Day. What I have learned throughout this process is that we needed to do whatever felt right for us to do at the time, including doing nothing. Sometimes, the holiday is celebrated on a different day. One year, we did not have a Christmas tree and the world did not stop. We have enjoyed Open House buffets over the years and always have plenty for those who have no place to go. Shucking off the "must do" traditions has been oddly freeing; a side benefit of a horrible and painful time. sandylc, I sincerely hope that you are able to make lemonade from the huge bowl of lemons you are facing right now.

Meat Pounders Vertical vs Horizontal

Looking on the Paderno website, I found the meat pounder I use. It is called the stainless steel, 2.4 pound and retails for a staggering $175 USD. I bought several in a Rome restaurant supply house after seeing it in use in a restaurant kitchen there. I paid about $6 USD for it 25 years ago. I love it and find the design to be both useful and versatile. Nevertheless, I will take very good care of it since I cannot imagine shelling out that kind of money for a replacement! I would use a French rolling pin instead; maybe a rock! Anything to avoid spending $175 for a very basic kitchen tool.

Aug 25, 2015
Sherri in Cookware

Would you attend a culinary school to become a better home cook?

I pondered your question for a bit before responding. Full disclosure, I am a retired teaching chef and taught in a professional training school for six years before retiring. Because of the rigorous and expensive nature of the program, there were no “Suzy Homemaker” students or, at least, no one admitted to that aspiration.

Will professional training advance your culinary skills? Of course it will. No one in this forum understands your unique situation better than you do; finances? time? dedication? so we cannot answer your question regarding the worth of enrolling in the community college program.

As your chef-instructor, I would not be thrilled to have a self-described non-professional in class unless you are *very* serious. The frivolous nature of ‘becoming a better home cook’ could prove distracting as well as diluting the professional training your fellow students seek.
In a professional training setting, the student does not have the right to discuss whether or not the equipment list is to their liking nor do they have a vote about the required uniform. Learning to work as a team in a professional kitchen does not begin with the student voicing their wishes. Instead, you will be taught that the correct answer to most questions is: “Yes, chef”. Professional kitchens are not democracies nor are they happy, fun places to better your home cooking skills.

Schooling is expensive for many reasons. Excellent staff demands excellent salary, learning culinary skills demands excellent product and that product is expensive. You cannot learn meat fabrication without breaking down a side of beef, ditto for fish etc. All this costs a great deal of money. Since the program you describe is a community college, the costs should be lower (than at a private school) as some costs are born by taxes. A private, for-profit school is in business to make money as well as teach.

You have received some excellent advice on this forum. Some good questions have been raised as well. I suggest that you make an appointment with the school and ask for a tour, sit in on a class or two. Speak with the students during break and ask the questions you need answered. Also, talk with staff – not the office staff but chefs and assistants. Ask more questions. Have you seen the syllabus? Do the course offerings meet your needs? In professional training, there are usually classes about running the business aspects of a restaurant as well as hands-on FOH training, sanitation regulations, etc. Some of the course work may not fit your criteria.
Good Luck on your hunt.

Where to buy yeast in Phoenix

Every grocery store that I have ever visited carries yeast. I must be missing something. Could you be more specific with your question, please.

Aug 16, 2015
Sherri in Phoenix

Does It Bother You to Be Photographed While Eating?

"Sugar-coated hostility" is a good working definition for passive-aggressive behavior. Sounds like your cousin could be the poster child. These people engage in confrontational behavior and react with feigned surprise when confronted with displeasure on the part of their unwilling subjects. Making and enforcing firm behavioral guidelines is a good way to deal with P-A behavior. "A group picture and no candid shots during our get-together" is fair and enforceable. The rest of your family needs to be on board with this or it's empty words. In essence, you are dealing with a tall three year old who delights in pitching a fit. Cousin may sulk at first but will likely find another avenue for getting attention. With luck, it may be less invasive.
NB: if your cousin has diagnosed autism, all bets are off as his social skills are undeveloped/non-existent.

I have absolutely no idea why people, hiding behind a camera, feel immune to social mores; perhaps we can blame a paparazzi culture of intrusive behavior. Regardless of the cause, seeing one more unflattering photo of me with spinach hanging off my teeth would be the last thing I would want. Maybe my best advice would be "hire a hit man".

Q. What do you get after 25 years of a glutinous diet and alcohol abuse?

I read your post when first written and have taken several days to think about answering it. I hesitated because I am neither physician nor diabetic. There are some posters on CH who believe they have the answer to health questions and I have no desire to squabble with them but I am answering now because I think your situation trumps my hesitation.

My husband was given some higher-than-desired blood glucose numbers with instructions from his doctor “to cut carbs”. Ditto from the nurse. This was not helpful information so we attended a Diabetes Education forum sponsored, we later learned, by a drug company. This was also not helpful since the prime focus was which drug to take. “Cut carbs” is terribly vague. How much? What carbs? Are all carbs created equal? How many carbs is OK per day? Per meal? We had a lot more questions than anyone seemed to have answers. Since he was not yet a diagnosed diabetic, the education program at a local hospital was not an option for us since the fee was in the four figures.

The quandary made us turn to doing research on our own. Full disclosure: I am a retired teaching chef who has taught basic nutrition classes so I did have a small headstart. What we gathered led to an overhaul of eating habits. A year into this gig, his glucose numbers are below 100 and A1-C is in the low-5s – great news for someone who has a family history of Type 2 diabetes – brother, mother & father.

We began by realizing some favorites would be history. Ice cream was first on the list, followed closely by bananas, pasta and most bread. Learning to read labels was an eye-opener. Who knew there could be such a huge difference between ketchup brand’s sugar content? Adios ketchup.

Eliminating pasta early on proved more difficult than I’d imagined because I learned that I used pasta as a fallback meal when I had planned nothing else. Obviously, I needed better planning. Using spaghetti squash and grated summer squash helped make the transition. We eliminated starchy vegetables in favor of leafy greens with the occasional splurge of a roasted sweet potato. Adding fiber-rich foods has made a difference as well.
Cauliflower is our new best friend! Roasted, fried, mashed w/ cream & nutmeg are some favorites.

Since we are both retired, many of our meals are at home. It’s simple at home because I don’t put anything on the plate which might compromise his health but he has learned to navigate a restaurant menu successfully. He orders hamburgers without a bun, with a green salad instead of fries (watch the dressing). A sample of one typical day:
Breakfast = 2 scrambled eggs & sausage with some blueberries
Lunch: a couple of ham (or roast beef or turkey) & cheese roll-ups with vegetable salad. Yesterday was Vietnamese spring rolls with shrimp, cucumber, bean sprouts, shredded carrot & cabbage
Supper will be Parmesan-crusted chicken breast with a vegetable mélange (asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, leeks and I don’t know what else)
Edit: lest this all sounds boring, we had a supper party recently that featured a Low Country Boil - massive amounts of shrimp, sausages, clams, potatoes, corn and new onions. I dumped the whole thing on a large platter and all eight of us dove in. My husband simply eschews the corn & potatoes with no ill effects on the hilarity of the dinner.

We have loosened the strictures with time. Testing his blood at home shows the same low numbers so we are on track. From time to time, we add treats but they have changed over the year. Instead of cookies or cake he will opt for strawberries or some cherries.

I wish you every success on this life-changing journey, jrvedivici.

Aug 11, 2015
Sherri in Special Diets
2

Heavy Stockpots on Induction Ranges

CIA Greystone has huge, commercial induction ranges. I would ask them about weight specs since they use large stockpots, etc. You don't specify the brand of your induction range, but why not ask the manufacturer about weight?

Aug 11, 2015
Sherri in Cookware

So what do you think of horse meat?

Many years ago, I was in boarding school in France. Every Tuesday was steak & mushroom day for lunch. I looked forward to it because it was my favorite meal of the week. At the end of the year, I learned we were served horsemeat instead of the beef I assumed we were eating. As a horse owner, I was saddened to learn I had been eating my beloved animals. In the ensuing years, I have never knowingly eaten horse again, not because it wasn't delicious but because I do not like the idea.

Aug 06, 2015
Sherri in General Topics

More advice needed on liquid/soft food diets

Would you answer a couple of questions, please. Spice level? Any food dislikes? Is there a fat/oil prohibition?

There have been several "help! my jaw is wired shut" threads here which might prove helpful.

Meanwhile, my first thought was something like a very soft chicken liver mousse or seafood quenelle which could closely mimic real food. Vegetable purees - with flavor! - also came to mind.

Aug 03, 2015
Sherri in Special Diets

Your food world and computers

Eatingjoy, I absolutely agree that errors are found in print material. I should have made my point more clearly.
A cookbook author has an editor, a blogger does not. Some authors are better at recipe writing than others but the added layer of editing can provide extra eyes to spot mistakes. Bloggers generally operate on their own, without oversight.

I will admit an additional personal bias - when I read a poorly written recipe blog, I tend to dismiss the author as sloppy. Someone who cannot be bothered to spell correctly may not be as careful about other aspects of their writing.
"Your gonna luv this to" does not win my confidence.

Jul 26, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food
1

Your food world and computers

As much as I enjoy mining the wisdom of the CH community, I remember life pre-computer. Like anything else in life, there are pros and cons in the WWW. Making good decisions about how and what to use is important.

Many posters have already stated, some internet food bloggers are very sloppy about recipes, especially timing. Some cookbooks share this same fault although, generally, there is more oversight in the publishing world. It is incumbent on us to be discerning readers, culling the gems from the dreck.

Using the internet for ideas is a great place to start. Following up with trusted cookbooks and/or one's own experience enhances the process. I wouldn't dream of taking blogger SuziHomemaker's word as THE definitive answer but will temper it with additional information. (No, I do not refer to an actual person, SuziHomemaker, I made up this blogger name for emphasis)

Certainly planning travel is quicker with the internet. Is it always better? No clear answer. We use a combination of tools, internet being one of them. About ten years ago, we found a waterfront beach rental through the internet but found THE house of our dreams for subsequent vacations through the housekeeper at house #1.

Jul 26, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

My first cookware set

I will tell you what I told my sons when they were furnishing their first apts after college. Either buy something so cheap that you can throw it away when it fails OR buy quality, slowly accumulating pieces that you love.

Restaurant supply stores and thrift stores are a great source of pots & pans. The first is built to withstand heavy use/abuse. The second can yield treasures -- a gently used 5 qt. Le Creuset Dutch Oven for $20 USD.

Think honestly about what you cook and how you cook. If long, slow braises are your favorite, you will need something that works in this genre. If you mostly eat stir-frys, a great wok is in your future.

I would hate to keep house without cast iron skillets. They are not terribly costly and terrific workhorses. Good luck on uour great adventure.

Jul 23, 2015
Sherri in Cookware

trip from Phoenix to San Diego

Antonio, welcome to Arizona. Please make certain to travel with a lot, and I mean a LOT, of water just in case. It is very hot in the desert at this time of year. Your route, I-8, will take you to San Diego quite easily. There really isn't much in the way of civilization along the way. There is a casino on Indian land but, I'm sorry, I don't have the exact location. It's a good stop for children/WC but the food was forgettable. Yuma is the biggest town you will find between Phoenix and San Diego. There are a lot of possibilities there in the Mexican food genre. If you search the Southwest board there will be recommendations for Yuma. I hope you have an enjoyable time on your visit.

Jul 21, 2015
Sherri in Phoenix

Defining cuisine the statistical way

Interesting article and flawed, I believe. Huge generalizations are made; some of the geography does not support the conclusions. I live in the desert SW, outside of Phoenix AZ. To say that 'cayenne' is indicative of the cuisine in this region is false. Many chiles are used in SW food but I cannot recall a single dish calling for cayenne.
China, Africa and India are enormous land masses with varying climates and topography. Even little France is very different in terms of cuisine from Normandie in the north to Provence in the south. I'm glad that you posted this, I enjoyed reading it. To be taken with a grain of salt..... Thanks.

Jul 20, 2015
Sherri in Food Media & News

bad manners to accept preferred treatment

Karl S hit it on the head; your job is to be a good, appreciative guest. Here in the Phoenix area, when I was still active in F&B, I often went out to dinner with "names" in town. We used to joke about the special treatment calling it "... being XXXX(insert BIG name here)-ized". Neither the chef nor restaurant had to do this but they chose to. Without dropping names, three confrères and I took a noted woman to dinner in Chicago during an IACP conference. We were mobbed at the table, she instructed us to "... keep your head down and don't make eye contact, dearie". A reporter-cum-photographer approached and demanded we smile, etc. Not complying, we found our photo in the newspaper the next morning titled "Five Old Bats Eat Birds"! It's one of my fond possessions.

Duke Fan, just enjoy and be a good guest in the future. Your friend(s) could lighten up a bit and learn to enjoy the perks that go along with being a welcomed regular diner.

Jul 12, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

Bastille Day Potluck

A stuffed, boned chicken that is roasted a day or so ahead, sliced and served cold w/ herbed mayonnaise. Accompany with white bean salad and asparagus mimosa. Coeur à la Crème with fresh berries for dessert.

Jul 11, 2015
Sherri in Home Cooking

What to do with a large piece of pork skin ?

Some kind of wonderful Rancho Gordo beans + pork skin + onions/garlic = a pot of deliciousness! I save pork skins in the freezer for making a pot of beans and would not like to be without my stash.

Jul 03, 2015
Sherri in Home Cooking

WOLF 48" Dual Fuel with 4 burners and 24" griddle VS 6 burners with 12" griddle

Speaking as the owner/operator of a 48" gas range, I opted for a single griddle w/ 6 burners. Yes, I purely love it and would not change a thing. Used daily for the past 13 years, we are mainly a household of two adults who have lots of friends and parties.

When we ordered this for our new build, the installer told me that no one ever uses the griddle. When he came about six weeks later for a minor adjustment on another appliance, he was actually happy to see that it was not pristine. Granted, I cannot use this the same was as a restaurant flat-top, there isn't enough room. But I have used all six burners more often than I can count.
NB: watching six burners is not a usual skill for home cook so if you're more comfortable with the large griddle, you should make a different choice than I did.

You ask if anyone uses theirs daily and I would have to answer "no", not daily but at least four or five times a week the griddle is working. We live in the SW so a lot of quesadillas are on our lunch menu. I've also found that it is a joy to use as a 'keep warm' spot for things like pots of chocolate sauce.

Bottom line, no one knows what you need except you AND this will likely ebb and flow, change over time, especially if children are involved. What works when cooking for a toddler changes dramatically when feeding teenagers.

I could really identify with your living situation. My late husband was a Naval Officer and we lived in a lot of OP houses (other people's) so I got very good at making do with what I had. As a trained chef, I knew that I could produce a meal cooked over a matchstick but my rental kitchens ranged from OK to pretty grim. Now I am thoroughly spoiled with a wonderful work space. Hope that your dream is fabulous.

Jun 30, 2015
Sherri in Cookware

Your favorite non-food-related items that get tons of use in the kitchen

Scalpels for boning fowl
Dental floss for cutting cake layers and slicing cheese
The pliers have already been mentioned as have the paint brushes, clothes pins and putty knives. For years, I've re-purposed shower caps from hotels as storage bowl covers. Today, you can buy them but I stick to my purloined favs.

Jun 30, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

Likely it was her belief that Her House, Her Rules. Things can get odd with extended family ...
When all the rest of my THAT side of the family holidays were at our house, there weren't any of her nonsense rules.
My mother's side was much more fun and I don't think any of them would have dreamed of scolding a child. Even when I took all the cousins into the wilds of our Southern California canyon and we all rolled in poison oak. I'd been told to stay away from that plant because it would make you itch. When I touched it, I didn't itch so challenged everyone to do the same.
No scolding, but the next day was misery for all 14 of us.

Jun 25, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

I clearly remember eating at an aunt's house as a child, a one-time dinner, thank god. She was a nurse and forbade any liquid consumption while eating. Had some mumbo-jumbo, pseudo-medical reason that did not fly with my mother. We went along with it to keep peace but always hosted holiday meals at our home after this bizarre incident.

Jun 25, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

Pumpkinspice, a very wise pediatrician told me with my firstborn "no child will starve to death in the face of food. Believe that your child is at least as smart as your dog". We were having a discussion about eating habits, choosing foods, etc for this first-time mother far from her own family. He went on to say that food is not a hill to die on. I've never forgotten his words, lo these more than 40 years ago.

We did not make special or different meals for our sons. Mom is not a restaurant and dinner is dinner. When they were young, our boys often ate what we had for supper last night while my husband and I sat at table with them talking about our day. I could not bring myself to eat my evening meal when they were hungry - 5 PM was too early for me. We had a glass of wine while they ate dinner and we all talked. As they got older, we all ate together.

I don't think there is only one right way to feed children. Their likes and dislikes will change over time. Choosing battles is an important life skill. The sooner your child teaches this to you, the happier everyone will be. Let the family dinner table become a safe and happy place where children feel welcome, safe and nurtured. When thier friends clamor to be included, you'll know that you did a fine job. Meanwhile, relax and enjoy the ride. Children are magic.

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

Karl, you are my hero! Succinct post, written with wisdom. Thank uou.

Jun 20, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

Do you tip your butcher?

Do favorite bottles at Christmas count as tips? If so, then I am in the YES column.

Jun 16, 2015
Sherri in Not About Food

25th anniversary dinner in Scottsdale

T.Cooks will always get my "romantic" vote, but I have an emotional tie to this lovely property. We were married there 15 years ago and return for special meals. The food is outstanding as are the gardens. You could arrange to have a private meal in one of the secluded gardens throughout the property. T. Cooks is the only place I know in the US with a Director of Romance. Depending on what you want to do, I'll bet he can find a way to accomplish something extraordinary for your 25th.
Lon's at the Hermosa would be my second choice.
Both these properties were old Phoenix private estates and exude a sense of place that is missing from newer restaurants.
Happy Anniversary, hope that it is a memorable occasion.

Edit: I should note that T. Cooks is in Phoenix, maybe a mile over the Scottdale border.

May 18, 2015
Sherri in Phoenix
1

Review: Four Peaks Brewery - Tempe, Arizona

I've been eating at Four Peaks for years and have never had a bad or so-so meal. Usually, it is a burger and beers but the daily specials are not to be ignored. My husband had the best duck of his life at Four Peaks and that is saying something. If you're not ordering a full meal, try their pretzels ... Or try them with a meal if you're really hungry (football-playing, teenage boy hungry).

May 18, 2015
Sherri in Phoenix

Please help me to learn to enjoy fish

Does your unlove of fish include shellfish? or are you open to shrimp, crab, et al?

May 08, 2015
Sherri in Home Cooking

Scottsdale's Pink Pony is a disappointment

The Pink Pony has been a Scottsdale fixture since the Truman years. Filled with baseball memorabilia, my younger brother loved a special treat meal there - good burgers, steaks, etc. very 'old school' but in a good way. Yes, it's had ups and downs, finally closing several years ago.

On a rare trek through downtown, touristy Scottsdale, my husband and I decided to give the new Pink Pony a try. I gushed about my fond memories as we were greeted by the new owner who assured us that it was a much-improved PP. We were seated on the patio on a lovely day. It took quite a while for our waiter to arrive with menus. There were two other occupied two-tops on the patio. When he finall reappeared, we gave our order, explaining that we had a time deadline. My husband chose the umami burger rare ($15) and I opted for the chopped salad ($12)More than 20 minutes passed, water and iced tea arrived. More time passed. When our food finally arrived, his burger was was cooked well past medium on the way to well-done. It was too late to send it back so we pressed on. My chopped salad was OK except for the tired greens underneath. With tip, our bill was $38.

There was a hostess who passed through the patio, smiling but not dong anything that I could see. The owner/manager disappeared after the initial greeting. Whether our waiter was solo or not, we don't know because we never went inside.

It was a disappointing experience and one we are not likely to repeat.

May 05, 2015
Sherri in Phoenix

Chiles Rellenos - Meh?

I am in the minority and use Anaheim chiles instead of Poblanos. Further, I serve sauce on the side - it has never made sense to go to the trouble of making them crisp only to sit in sauce.
Full disclosure: I make two sauces - a wimpy one for gringos and another with some "body". I use cotija cheese or Monterey Jack. My Mexican friend tells me that these are not meant to be searing hot.

We don't eat these often but love them when the spirit moves me. Thumbs way up for chiles rellenos!

Have you tried making a C.R. burrito? I usually fill the burrito with more cheese, corn, cilantro and a great green chile salsa before adding the C R. Great Sunday lunch.

Apr 25, 2015
Sherri in Home Cooking

what do YOU serve for dinner with beef/calve's liver (and onions)?

Creamed spinach

Apr 25, 2015
Sherri in Home Cooking
1