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Really good hardwood charcoal in Lexington area?

Is Prime what used to be called the Meat House?

Jul 02, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

Really good hardwood charcoal in Lexington area?

The large chunks require work to be useful. That's okay, but the bag I had contained a few large chunks, and a lot of ash. That was it. I'd rather have smaller pieces that I don't need to bust up to use, and I don't want to pay for dust.

Jul 02, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

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

Before I got a microplane, I washed (very thoroughly) a rasp from my husband's tool box and used that. No one was poisoned. I also use needle nose pliers to pull out salmon bones.

Jul 01, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food

Best foods versus Heinz mayonnaise

I'm a Cain's girl, myself. I also like Kewpie, but my husband dislikes the packaging (he thinks it makes it more likely to spoil quickly), so I seldom buy it.

Jul 01, 2015
Isolda in General Topics

Really good hardwood charcoal in Lexington area?

I just suffered through a bag of Cowboy (husband bought it.) I'm pretty sure it was just the charred remains of someone's house fire. Nothing but ash and huge chunks that had to be busted up to be useful. I kept expecting to find shards of pottery or melted Tupperware.

I used to buy the Whole Foods brand (too expensive and they weigh it down with a rock or two, but burns pretty well and there aren't too many massive chunks). Have tried Royal Oak, and it is definitely better, but still not perfect. That is likely what I will keep buying unless there's something else out there to try. Is there?

Jul 01, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

Why am I such a bad baker?

Try using a recipe that works for pretty much everyone, the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the side of the bag.

Buy fresh flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a store that has high turnover. If you're in New England, that would be Market Basket. Buy fresh butter and eggs. Buy an oven thermometer and calibrate your oven.

While it is best to measure by weight, the Toll House recipe is by volume. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then use a knife to sweep the excess off the top. Make sure your butter and eggs are at room temp. Make sure your oven is preheated to the correct temperature.

Follow the directions exactly, then post your results here for help.

Jun 22, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

Does this product exist?

Agree with the pesticides and pulling overripe explanations, but I also think temperature has something to do with it. Grocery stores are frigid. Mom and pop stores and farm stands, not so much. And my home kitchen, though we have central AC, is pleasantly warm, like a spa to those little fruit flies that manage to survive the grocery store.

Jun 22, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food

Planning a Birthday Lunch - Do I pay for Birthday Girl?

Disclaimer: I'm from the "host pays unless stated otherwise" generation. In this case, I'd pay for the b-day girl, but would happily accept if others wanted to chip in. And I would have said in the email, "Let's take Sarah out to tea for her birthday. Does the Fancy Schmancy Tea Place sound good to everyone or would you rather do the Casual Inn instead?"

Jun 22, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food
1

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

I firmly believe that taste is largely inborn (though exposing a child to many different foods is always a good practice) and that the act of eating is at least partly emotional. These beliefs have guided my feeding philosophy. I offered a wide variety of healthy (and some just plain decadent) foods to my children as they grew up. One is a foodie, just heading off for her junior year in France program.

The other, who will enter college this fall, is a very picky, almost fearful eater. It never made sense to me to make eating anything less than a pleasure by insisting that he eat foods he just didn't want to eat. Try them, sure. Try them again three years later, sure. But to say, eat this or eat nothing, is just plain wrong to me. But it is equally wrong to say, I'll just give you chicken nuggets because I know you won't like the tortilla soup.

When I'm serving a meal I know my son hates (eggplant stuffed with lamb and halloumi, for example), I'll set aside some sauteed ground lamb, and let him just put it in a pita instead. And for things he hates even when they are deconstructed, well, he can make scrambled eggs instead. He knows the rest of us crave variety, even when he doesn't.

BTW, your 7 month old eating everything is normal. Pickiness, if it comes, doesn't start until later.

Native Strawberries....anyone seen 'em?

Bought some at Wilson Farm.

Jun 22, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

One-Crust Fresh Strawberry Pie- Anyone Seen?

I don't have a recipe, but have made strawberry pie using a pate sucree crust, a little pastry cream in the bottom, and hulled ripe strawberries more or less artfully arranged on top of the pastry cream. To make them shiny, melt some red currant jelly and brush on top of the berries, but you don't have to do this. Best eaten the same day it is made, but it will still be delicious, if a bit soggy, the next day.

Jun 22, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

Could someone please explain Sip's weird wine pricing?

It did look and feel like a full glass. I had a pleasant buzz after two glasses, although that was on an empty stomach and it was after 11 p.m., so I couldn't say for sure.

May 19, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

Could someone please explain Sip's weird wine pricing?

I'm not very hip, so maybe that's the problem, but my husband and I went to Sip the other night after the theatre (Henry VI, part 2 at the Modern--excellent show!). We nearly walked out when we saw the wine by the glass prices, but I saw a rose I wanted to try, so I ordered a glass.

On the menu, the price for what they called a half glass was about $10 and for a full was $25. The bartender asked me if I wanted a 6 ounce or a 10 ounce pour. I chose the 6 ounce pour, drank that, then ordered another because it was so delicious. When the bill came, the price for my wine was roughly $20 for my two 6 ounce pours. So I got 12 ounces for $20. However, if I'd accepted the 10 ounce pour, I would have paid $25. Why is the menu priced this way? Am I missing something?

Not complaining here. I would go back now that I know it's not going to cost me $25 a glass for a reasonable pour.

May 19, 2015
Isolda in Greater Boston Area

Pizza dough question

You are letting the dough rise for too long before you refrigerate it. Let it rise for 1.5 hours outside the fridge, punch it down, and then put it in the refrigerator overnight.

May 17, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking
1

Converting dried chickpeas to soaked?

Yes, it is always good to follow a recipe for something like this! However, I soaked the chickpeas, then figured out a use for them, which is what led me to my question!

Apr 23, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

Converting dried chickpeas to soaked?

Thanks but this is for dried to canned (cooked) conversions. I'm looking for dried to soaked, not yet cooked.

Apr 23, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

Converting dried chickpeas to soaked?

Yes, soaked, not cooked. I have a recipe (Mark Bittman's baked falafel) that calls for 1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas, which you then soak before proceeding with the recipe. However, I have already soaked an pound of chickpeas overnight, so I need to know how much of these I should use.

I can't seem to locate a formula that tells how much chickpeas increase in volume after an overnight soaking. After cooking yes, but soaking, no.

I know someone out there in chow world will know this!

Apr 23, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

How to handle a reaction to food allergies at a restaurant?

Anyone with an allergy should let the server know before ordering anything. This is a reminder to him/her to check with the cooks on whether an item contains the allergen. You're browsing a menu, not a recipe book. And because people make mistakes, always carry an Epipen.

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food

Who owns the leftovers?

House rules:
Leftovers from your plate, put in a doggy bag and taken home=you own it
Leftovers from takeout, brought into the house and served to all="I'm taking the leftover masala dosa to work. Does anyone care?"
Ditto for leftovers from a home cooked meal.

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food
2

Do pregnant Japanese women eat sushi?

By far, the biggest food danger for pregnant women is that other people police what they eat.

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in General Topics

Weird drops of oil on my cooktop

So glad you said this. I just removed my filter and put it in the dishwasher on sanitize. Glad to know this works.

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in Cookware

Triscuits flavors...any good?

The original Triscuits are such a perfect food--what can go wrong with wheat, oil, and salt? Minus the salt, that's practically a communion wafer! I can't imagine wanting to mess with it.

But yes, I have tried the rosemary ones and they taste like chemicals. I accidentally tried another flavor (onion?) at a social gathering, but fortunately, I recovered.

If you're gonna eat a chemical bomb, go all out and just eat Doritos!

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in General Topics

Weird drops of oil on my cooktop

Now you have given me something to think about. I just wipe down the filter from the outside (this is the first house I've ever owned that had a real hood--all our others were downdrafts). I'm guessing I do need to figure out how to take the thing off and wash it.

Thanks, off to search for an online manual for my circa 1994 Thermador hood!

Apr 22, 2015
Isolda in Cookware

Tough Chicken Breasts?

I agree with the suggestion to pull the meat at 160, but even when I do that, some chicken is just bad. And it's not always the mass produced chickens that work out at a gym that turns into leather. Sometimes it's the happy, coddled, organic, free range, personally named chicken, too. So find a brand you like consistently, and use only that. Bell and Evans seems to be the best around here.

Oh, and if your chicken is tough, use it in a long-simmered stew instead. Sometimes, that is the only thing that works.

Apr 21, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

Weird drops of oil on my cooktop

We've lived in this house for three years, and every once in a while, I'll notice drops of oil on a pan I'd previous cleaned and left out on the stove, or on the cooktop itself. I finally figured out that it was probably coming from the hood, because it seems to happen after heavy rain or wind.

I'm guessing there's a buildup of oil in the vent to the outside and the rain probably gets in and washes it back down through the hood, where it drips onto the stove. Does this make sense and is there anything I can do about it?

It's not frequent, but it is annoying.

Apr 21, 2015
Isolda in Cookware

Ants in kitchen--Four methods have not worked! Help!

I would call in the pros at this point. There are things they can use, preferably outside and in your basement, if you have one, that won't harm your children, as long as you keep them away from the sprayed area until it dries.

We did use the Terro baits and they were very effective on pharaoh ants and sugar ants, but they don't work on the big black pavement ants. We now have a contract with an "environmentally sensitive" exterminator. Sometimes this is the only solution unless you're willing to live with the ants.

Apr 21, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food

HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH "MAYBES" WHEN YOU INVITE GUESTS FOR DINNER?

I'm old-fashioned enough to think that "maybe" is a really rude answer. Either you will be there or you won't. "Maybe" is usually a placeholder in case a better option doesn't present itself, and that is disrespectful. (I say usually, because there are times when an invitee may not know whether he will be free because of a life circumstance, such as a sick family member, a spouse coming home from military service, etc.)

If the RSVP deadline passes, you don't need an excuse to track people down (surely, everyone knows you need a head count for planning purposes!). You can simply tell the maybes, "I am so sorry you can't join us this time. I hope to see you again soon." Sometimes even adults need training!

Mar 24, 2015
Isolda in Not About Food
1

Darned Electric Stove

Buying a flame tamer changed my life. It's good for simmering, making candy, and heat control on crappy stoves. Any brand will do.

Jan 15, 2015
Isolda in Cookware
1

Froze my T-day turkey carcass; okay to use now?

Thanks, all! I will try the NYT recipe, mainly because it calls for roasting the onion, rather than just tossing it raw into the turkey water.

Jan 15, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking

Froze my T-day turkey carcass; okay to use now?

It was frozen as soon as we got all the meat off the turkey and has been in the freezer ever since. I meant to use it earlier, but today, 7 weeks after T-day, I found it in my downstairs freezer. If it's still suitable to use after thawing overnight in fridge, what uses do you recommend? I don't love turkey soup, but if the recipe is weird enough, I might give it a try.

Jan 15, 2015
Isolda in Home Cooking