mels's Profile

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A CT BBQ comparison (weigh in with your favorites!)

I agree re: Little Mark's. I have only been to the Vernon location but always found it lacking. Perfectly acceptable (but forgettable) meal and not worth any special effort to get there.

I have only been to Bear's downtown Hartford location but I wholeheartedly urge anyone and everyone to try their brisket. Ridiculously good. It remains my fav BBQ place in CT and I go there more often than I should!

Apr 13, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Is it time to stop buying/eating almonds?

I was just reading an article about this: It takes more water to produce a glass of cow's milk than it does to produce a glass of almond milk (30 gal. vs. 23 gal.). It takes 35 gallons of water to produce one container of yogurt. THIRTY FIVE GALLONS! If one were to target an industry to boycott because of drought, I'd say start with California's dairy industry.

Not that it makes sense for the end-use customer to pick and choose winners and losers in the drought, but if it did you'd be better off giving up California dairy products.

Mar 31, 2015
mels in General Topics

No cheap corned beef this year?

My local Whole Foods is selling corned beef for the same (non-sale) price as Publix. That's nuts.

Mar 10, 2015
mels in General Topics

veggie centric lunch in West Hartord area?

I second Fire & Spice in Hartford for vegan Jamaican. It is a fast lunch (steam table type set up) and very tasty. http://www.firenspiceveganrestaurant....

Mar 10, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Noodles & Company [Glastonbury, CT]]

They are open now in Glastonbury.

Mar 06, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

I have a dairy allergy so finding a frosting recipe is tough stuff. I made the "cookies n cream" version, though I greatly reduced the amount of sugar in the frosting. I tend to loathe too-sweet frosting, vegan or not, so that is my own issue ;)I used a trans fat free shortening made by Spectrum Organics. It came out great! The previous reviews are unreal...do recipes really get people angry? LOL! Thank you to the reviewing geniuses who have pointed out that this vegan version isn't a real buttercream: no $%#!. I apologize on behalf of us who can't or won't eat dairy products (insert big fat eye roll here).

Feb 18, 2015
mels in Recipes

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

These were fantastic. I have a dairy allergy so recipes for vegan baked goods are a godsend. These were moist and delicious, and stayed that way for days and days when stored in a cool dry place covered tightly in plastic wrap.

Feb 18, 2015
mels in Recipes

King and I Thai, Manchester, CT

Just an update: I went back the second time and had a much better experience. I ordered Pad See Ew and a green curry w/chicken. Both were delicious. No gummy noodles this time and everything was cooked perfectly. Hopefully that first time I went was just bad luck.

Jan 21, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Is Five Guys Really the Best Fast-Food Chain?

Five Guys started in DC. Just sayin'.

Jan 16, 2015
mels in Features

Are crispy eggs a culinary no no?

Smitten Kitchen had a post a few months ago praising the crispy egg:
http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/1...

To me, it seems like nothing more than an egg preference, no different than liking soft scrambled eggs vs. dry/well done.

Jan 16, 2015
mels in General Topics

Fresh horseradish roots

I have a single root that I purchased 1.5 months ago. It is still sitting in my crisper drawer in the fridge, wrapped in a paper towel, then sealed in a Ziploc bag. It is still firm/fresh. I have just been grating tablespoons at a time with a Microplane, adding a splash of vinegar and salt and eating it like I would when I buy the stuff from a jar (serve with beef, spread of sandwiches, etc.).

None of my ideas will use up great quantities but here are other things I like to do with it:

-grate into mashed potatoes or mashed turnips
-mix with breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top of gratins or other baked dishes (baked mac and cheese w/horseradish breadcrumbs is amazing)
-mix into deviled egg filling
-mix into mayo

The vodka sounds interesting, I'll have to try that and make what I assume would be spectacular Bloody Marys!

Hot Dish Cook Off

I have embraced casserole cooking recently because it bakes in one dish leaving me plenty of time for clean-up, plus it generates lots of leftovers for lunches and dinners in my 2-person family.

One of my favorites is a broccoli, beef and potato casserole recipe I got from Eating Well. It has no strange ingredients (I didn't grow up with cream of ___ soup and that may be why its appeal mystifies me) and tastes great:
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/bro...

Jan 15, 2015
mels in Home Cooking

King and I Thai, Manchester, CT

I had been to the original King and I Hartford location and loved what I had there (curry). A few months ago I bought an online coupon for 50% off two visits to their newer Manchester location. I've been once and was disappointed so I am hoping to have better luck the second time around (my coupon expires next week).

My first King and I Manchester order included drunken noodle that featured big gummy clumps of rice noodles stuck together, spring rolls that were good, and dried out satay. I am hoping for better luck this next time around. Have any of you been to the Manchester location? Did I catch them on a bad night?

Jan 15, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Beef Short Rib and Ale Pie

This was amazing. If you like traditional British pies, this is for you. I made it as stated except I used beef broth instead of chicken. I used the stated pie dough recipe except I swapped out Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks for the butter since I have a dairy allergy. I baked it in a 9" deep dish glass pie plate and it fit, though barely. It bubbled over a bit but no big deal since it was placed on a cookie sheet. Even the leftovers were great, I reheated it in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or so...fantastic!

Jan 12, 2015
mels in Recipes

Ideas for Broccoli - NO cheese or noodles

I'm late to the party on this, but want to throw my two cents in. I posted my favorite easy broccoli dish here ages ago but is worth a re-post: Garlicky Sesame-Cured Broccoli, courtesy of Melissa Clark.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8334...

Jan 06, 2015
mels in Home Cooking

Mint Thai Cuisine (Wethersfield, CT)

BiscuitBoy- Mint is in the former home of Puket Cafe. It is in a small building with a Dunkin Donuts on the Silas Deane right near the intersection with Route 3, opposite side of the road than the Bed, Bath and Beyond plaza. I heard from coworkers that Mint was nowhere near as good as Puket Cafe was, so I have avoided going. I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had a positive experience there.

Jan 06, 2015
mels in Southern New England

Ocean State Job Lots Yea/Nay 2014

Interesting, because I am an avid date checker, especially at OSJL. The Bob's stuff is usually pretty fresh, as in showing expiration dates a year or two from now. I'm a bread baker and generally store grains and flours in the freezer, so no worries on it going rancid. It could be that my OSJL goes through the Bob's stuff fast enough to keep turnover high.

Dec 11, 2014
mels in Chains

Stringy avocadoes--what can we do?

As a big avocado consumer, I noticed they kept ripening in some spots but were rock hard in others, they were stringy, some would go from rock hard to rotten without ripening. A thread on this board gave me some insight into all of the terrible avocados I was buying: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763931

I have since only bought avocados that were from Mexico or California and I have had much better luck. The South American (Peru and Chile) avocados were consistently terrible, where as now most are good with the odd bunk one here or there.

Dec 11, 2014
mels in General Topics

Ocean State Job Lots Yea/Nay 2014

It seems that OSJL regularly has Bob's Red Mill stuff on sale. Their regular prices are pretty good, on par with or just cheaper than my usual grocery store, and OSJL's selection is huge. Every month or two, it seems like they do a 20% off Bob's Red Mill sale and that's when I stock up. Some of my usual purchases are their whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal, muesli, farro and 7 grain hot cereal.

Dec 11, 2014
mels in Chains

West Hartford: Which Whole Foods?

I refer to the Milford one as "Half Foods" instead of Whole Foods. It is so small!

Dec 11, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Want some pie in central CT? here you go!

It's a great place and their pie selection is amazing. Basically they will fill their shells with any of the fillings listed on their website. You can also pick up plain pie shells already baked and ready to go, if you need a shortcut. If you want specific pies for holidays, definitely call ahead as they get slammed around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We use Granny's at my office as the dedicated "birthday pie" place for my team. I always go to the actual Granny's, a very small store front attached to their baking warehouse. I have never found them unfriendly.

Dec 04, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Weekday breakfast in Central CT

Looking for somewhere to catch up with a friend for breakfast on a weekday, which strikes out some of the places I like that do breakfast/brunch on weekends only. I am in greater Hartford and willing to drive: CT River Valley, Hartford County, and east of the river is all fair game. Our back-up plan right now is Rein's in Vernon if we can't think of anywhere else. Any thoughts?

Nov 20, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Graham flour in CT New Haven/Fairfield counties

Whole wheat pastry flour can be used in place of graham flour, and is much easier to find. I am assuming they are the same thing, as some manufacturers use the name interchangeably (King Arthur Flour comes to mind, they call theirs Whole Wheat Pastry / Graham flour). http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

Nov 19, 2014
mels in Southern New England

CSI on a pumpkin pie

I have a dairy intolerance and make pumpkin pie using the classic Libby's recipe, except I sub in 12 ounces of full fat coconut milk for the evaporated. It comes out perfectly and you can't taste the coconut. https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipe...

Nov 19, 2014
mels in Home Cooking

West Hartford: Which Whole Foods?

I also prefer Blue Back Square. The other Whole Foods (Bishop's Corner) always seems kind of dumpy in comparison to the BBS or Glastonbury locations.

Nov 18, 2014
mels in Southern New England
1

Niman Ranch chicken- is it really better?

Niman Ranch air chills their chicken, which I find makes a huge difference in flavor and texture. I will gladly pay more money buying air chilled chicken at Whole Foods rather than buying cheaper Perdue or store brand chicken that has been chilled in chlorinated water. My husband and I can both tell the difference. For that reason I would find them superior but I think Niman also uses some sort of heritage breed chicken, if I remember correctly.

Nov 18, 2014
mels in General Topics

Whole Foods Rotisserie Chicken ... or what a Giant Unsweetened Peeps would taste like.

The rotisserie chickens at WF are usually labeled "NO SALT" and aren't brined like the ones in the regular grocery store or Costco. I actually don't like Costco or regular grocery store rotisserie chickens because that brine that allows them to be cooked to death and held indefinitely under a heat lamp has an off-taste to me. Honestly, I don't like the WF chickens either because they are bland and dry due to the same overcooking every store does without the benefit of the brine to save it. Bottom line, you think WF's chicken sucks because 1. It is not brined and therefore dry and 2. It is an air chilled humanely raised chicken, not a factory farmed chlorinated water chilled Perdue type bird, therefore smaller.

I am guessing quality differs from store to store but I have never had a bad meal at my local WF and I used to hit their prepared foods bar pretty hard when I worked nearby.

Nov 12, 2014
mels in Chains

Any good baking recipes using Almond MIlk?

No, it doesn't. It tastes like watery almonds. I have a casein intolerance (milk protein) so dairy is off limits. Almond milk can be used in anything that milk can EXCEPT desserts where you need the final product to set up: custards, puddings, etc. It lacks the milk protein structure for that. Heck, you could make a bechamel with almond milk if you want to.

Nov 11, 2014
mels in Home Cooking

King Arthur Flour in bulk? [around Hartford, CT]

BJs just sells the 10 lb bags of King Arthur AP flour. You could do what my mother in law does: she makes pilgrimage trips to KA in Norwich, VT and stocks up. Her and my FIL make a day of it and do other stuff in the area too.

Nov 11, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Hartford area music with dinner

The only other places I can think of just do music on Sundays: Max Downtown and Firebox.

Nov 05, 2014
mels in Southern New England