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Eggs Go AWOL, And Bakers Scramble For High-Tech Substitutes

Eggs are certainly available, they just cost more and depending on where one is located, a little more or a lot. Major food processors can go pound sand. The problem for small shops is that any increase in food costs means hardship because bakers work on razor-thin margins and are always reluctant to raise their prices. OMG you would have to have heard the bakers call me night and day whenever butter prices when up. But don't they always go up in the summer when heavy cream is being bought by ice cream manufacturers and in November and December when folks are baking? Such fuss and amnesia. Even so and always, my sympathies are with these folks. Such hard work; so little profit.

Eggs Go AWOL, And Bakers Scramble For High-Tech Substitutes

I hardly know where to start. First off, this NPR article is about wholesale prices, not retail. Supermarkets will use eggs as a loss-leader. The problem comes for wholesale bakers, many of which are small-time stores. They are complaining that eggs prices are now three times what they were as recently as May (I read that at Shortage means less supply means higher prices and because something like 40% of the country's layer hens were slaughtered because of the bird flu, well, you get the idea.

I have been on all sides of this issue, as baker, commodities seller, etc. and I can tell you absolutely that egg prices have been ridiculously underpriced for years. Consider: the costs of feeding, growing and processing that feed, transportation of that feed, growing, transportation, and refrigeration of the eggs, middlemen, distributors, purchasers and processors and not least the incredible circumstances that both the layers and employees face in order to get a 10 cent egg onto your plate. I will not even go into what I saw at the Papetti plant which is one of the major egg processors and has some of the worst jobs imaginable. So now wholesale bakers are crying over the price of eggs. I say, get real. Raise your prices. And it is because of all of the demands to get cheap eggs onto your plate that this tragedy happened in the first place. The flu ran at lightning speed through these cesspools of factory farms. 45 million chickens were slaughtered.

I am not some kind of animal activist, only a realist.

Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California? -

This article was hilarious; the comments even more so!

Reason you fell in love with food

As a child my parents always made me try everything at least three times. They told me if I didn't like it the first time, I would come to like it by the third. They were correct. I was eating Roquefort cheese from my high-chair. Then I had the great fortune of traveling all over Europe for a year when I was thirteen and literally ate my way through. My father had a year sabbatical. Returning home I started my first vegetable garden at fourteen and grew copious amounts of basil for pesto (this was in 1969 before it was even heard of in my small town).

Jul 18, 2015
pitterpatter in General Topics

frozen fish from China: worth a try?

No, no and again no. In addition to the other commenters, I have this awful experience. I cooked in a non-profit, residential facility for mentally ill teenagers. My purchaser, always trying to save a buck, would bring this in against my screaming protests. The fish had Sodium Tripolyphosphate added to retain water. Water enhancement was labeled at 18 percent. I did my own calculations, weighing the fish pre-cooked then afterwards and also measuring the liquid seepage. This fish cooked at 60 percent loss! That meant that 60 percent of this fish was sold as water weight. And who knows what that STPP is anyway or that water. Certainly there was no money saved and I felt we were serving poison. I would not eat the stuff myself and the first rule for a cook is if the cook won't eat her own cooking, it should never be served to others.

Pastas - Different quality?

I discovered Setaro pasta several years ago and it is absolutely the best. It is hard to come by but you can get it through mail-order at this place:

Apparently, I am not alone:

Jun 26, 2015
pitterpatter in General Topics

Copper River Salmon

Perhaps it wasn't Copper River at all. One way to tell, at least from my own hard-won experience, is that it is nearly impossible to remove the feather bones. Because there is such a thin layer of fat from their strenuous exercise the bones are securely lodged whereas in, say, farm raised salmon the bones are embedded in a thick layer of fat which allows the bones to easily slip out. I bought 20 pounds of Copper River for a catering event and woe was me when I called the store to ask why the bones were left in. It would have taken me a long time to remove those bones and the fish would have been mauled. Thankfully I know CPR and warned all of the guests and they thoroughly loved the salmon anyway.

Jun 19, 2015
pitterpatter in General Topics

Sorbet, ice cream, and other frosty treats

I was given a Krups ice cream maker years ago which I never used until a couple of weeks ago and now I am making ice cream like mad. Mint chocolate chip, mocha chocolate chip, fresh ginger, pistachio, hazelnut, chocolate sorbet and if I say so myself, these have all been hugely successful and fun! I am just getting started and have lists of things to come. Next up, some vegan (coconut based) ones. What sparked this enthusiasm was receiving a recipe of Jeni's which uses corn starch rather than eggs and the base can be cooked up in just a few minutes, not counting infusion time for mint, coffee or whatever. I made egg-based ice creams as a pastry chef about twenty years ago and they were terrific but I am into fast and simple these days and four tsps. of corn starch is a lot cheaper than six eggs. Krups discontinued making these machines but I got onto Ebay to find an extra container and the whole machine costs $30 for model 337. Trust me, this is a great little workhorse. Oh, and I've gotten lots of love from my neighbors.

Jun 05, 2015
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Fresh soft shell crabs and best preparation?

I throw them into a very, very hot saute pan and the sudden change in temperature can cause the steam to build too fast, then pow.

May 27, 2015
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Fresh soft shell crabs and best preparation?

Also, prick the claws in a couple of places with a pin to prevent them from exploding.

May 24, 2015
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Ghirardelli vs cheaper cocoa powder

I buy all of my cocoa powder and chocolate from this place: I am not a shill, simply a very happy consumer. They have Valrhona, Guittard, Callebaut and Cocoa Barry, and their private label cocoa is fabulous, and reasonably priced.

Apr 07, 2015
pitterpatter in General Topics

Orion Magazine | All You Can Eat

As chance will have it, I stumbled on this report about the conditions in the Gulf five years after the BP oil spill. I won't be eating any shrimp from there, either. Yes, this Orion site is great and new to me as well. Again, thanks!

Orion Magazine | All You Can Eat

Very interesting indeed and hugely disturbing. I guess shrimp is one more thing to remove from my shopping list. Thank you.

Making homemade dog treats & recipe calls for cornmeal.

I make a variation of Alton Brown's Stinking Dog Treats:

1 8oz. sweet potato, pierced all over with a fork then microwaved
1 can tuna, drained (he uses sardines)
2 c. barley flour (he uses 3 cups rolled oats)
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 egg

The dough is very easy to work with. Roll out, cut, bake, and let me tell you, my doggie cannot get enough. She loves them and it is so much cheaper than those little $8 bags of weirdness.

In general, you can substitute any non-gluten flour for cornmeal -- though barley has some gluten, it is low on the glycemic index.

Feb 06, 2015
pitterpatter in General Topics

French Onion Soup-How Do You Slice The Onions And What Booze Do You Use?

This is the best onion soup ever. It requires no stock,no booze and no caramelizing of onions. I was of course skeptical, but trust me. I have done a gazillion onion soups in my day.

Jan 13, 2015
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Why is my oil burning?!

Yikes. This post made me cringe, and while this is a bit off-subject, I must interject. When you have 500 degree oil buzzing away in your home kitchen, you are dangerously close to the flash point and about to create a major oil fire. You did not specify what kind of oil you are using. It is important to use an oil with the highest smoke point. Cooking steaks at such a high temperature may be best done outdoors. Just my opinion, but it is a fairly learned one.

Jan 08, 2015
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #10 – 01/07/15 (spoilers)

I thought George should have been eliminated. He cooked veal shanks, then removed the marrow bone for serving. I'm surprised none of the judges picked up on this. The marrow bone is the reason for osso buco, no?

Thai tea for hot tea

A friend claims that I gave her some Thai tea several years ago, and asked me to help her find some more. I swear that I gave her a jar for Thai Iced Tea, and her description matches that, but she only made hot tea with it and insists that I am perhaps forgetting.

I see that there are many teas available that are designated for hot preparations, but I am wondering, does anyone here use that reddish tea for a hot cuppa?

Nov 11, 2014
pitterpatter in General Topics

Words Matter

I've been fortunate to know many Iranians from work over the years, and exposed to their incredible cuisine. Here's a blog for those who wish to learn more, complete, of course, with recipes:

What I bought today at my Asian market

dried shrimp
palm sugar
frozen coconut
frozen dumplings
Thai curry pastes
Thai chili sauce
dried shitake mushrooms
dried and fresh hot peppers
green tea

Jun 29, 2014
pitterpatter in General Topics

Jon Favreau's movie, "Chef"

I have a new computer and am having trouble with my toolbar so I cannot copy and paste yet. Anyway, go into "instant video" then search "Spinning Plates." It should come up. It costs $3 to rent for a week.

Jon Favreau's movie, "Chef"

Thank you so very, very much for this suggestion. I watched it from Amazon tonight and was absolutely mesmerized, heart broken, elated -- a complete roller coaster of emotions, and I rarely get worked up over a movie. Phew. And having been involved in some aspect of the restaurant business for 40 years, can vouch that everything depicted in the movie is true.

Euell Gibbons

When I lived in Germany as a teenager, my biology teacher did not show up one day. She ate poisonous mushrooms, and died. That's all it took for me.

Apr 10, 2014
pitterpatter in General Topics

Dried mushrooms? What's the point?

Same here. Can't say enough positive things about this seller of porcini, saffron and vanilla beans! And their extracts are really good, too.

Feb 11, 2014
pitterpatter in General Topics

Saffron-is this a good deal?

I buy the best I can find ( by the ounce, and while it will last me a while, I give much of it away to friends who REALLY appreciate my little offering which would cost them a fortune if they bought (much inferior) little quantities in those little glass jars. Sames goes for vanilla beans.

Any pâte de fruit recipes or wisdom to share?

Vitpris is hugely expensive, and I can only find it in large containers -- much too much for my use. Caitlin, I was just now going to pose the same question. I am going to try my hand at this today, using liquid pectin and blueberries and strawberries that I froze over the summer. There are so many opinions and recipes on the internet that I spent a whole morning digging through these and I guess I'll just pick one and go with it. If everything fails, maybe I will spring for the Vitpris and some Boiron purees, but the shipping is incredible. Most sites charge $50 for a single $18 kilo of puree.

Dec 02, 2013
pitterpatter in Home Cooking

Favorite bread for Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches?

Cranberry walnut bread from Bobolink Dairy.

Dec 02, 2013
pitterpatter in General Topics

Should home ec classes return to schools? - the sequel

There were no teachers in the room, and I don't think the parents were limited in any way. This was eight years ago. Our town and local K-8 are both very small. I don't think everyone knows everyone -- I certainly don't, as I don't have kids of my own so never got to know folks through that avenue. However, there must be only one or two degrees of separation for everyone in town, so people are accountable for their behavior. I am interested in learning whether the school has changed its policy --

It is rather horrifying how many "non-essential" programs have been dropped, especially when you consider how much we pay per student to educate them. If we are not the highest in the nation, we are pretty darn close.

Does anyone actually like Sandra Lee?

Yeah, I saw that this morning, and thought "who cares about the turkey." All I could concentrate on was how well she spreads cross-contamination around. Her bare hands go directly from the turkey to her knife, from the turkey to the oven door handle, and in so many other ways. At least she should have made mention that if hand washing scenes were edited out of the final cut, one should be aware of the toxic bomb an inexperienced cook can shower all over a work space.

Should home ec classes return to schools? - the sequel

Several years ago, a friend and I volunteered to teach kids to knit in an after-school program, here in NJ. There were no background checks, approval from above or any commitment for long term -- just a huge amount of appreciation from all the students involved. I guess times have changed. What I remember most is that we expected about 5 fourth-graders, and 25 signed up. The parents who chaperoned really wanted to learn as well, so it was chaos all around.

As for Home Ec, I think it is really important for young people to learn to appreciate wholesome food by having them introduced to vegetables and other things they may scorn. Fresh tomato sauce on whole wheat pasta; mushroom and spinach on pita bread as shortcut pizza; roasted carrots -- what is not to like? Perhaps the best way to do this is to have classes teaching them how to prepare simple food that if actually nutritious, to wean them off of chicken nuggets and Burger King.

Off topic, but perhaps even more important is to bring back music and art classes.