mels's Profile

Title Last Reply

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

Ugh --- I'm lactose intolerant!

I have a dairy intolerance (casein, specifically) and ghee is my savior. I use it on toast, I chill it and break it up into bits to use for fruit crisps instead of butter, I use it melted in pancakes...you get the picture. I buy Purity Farm brand at Whole Foods which is lactose and casein free:
http://www.purityfarms.com/

When stick butter is necessary (for creaming with sugar, pie dough, etc.) Earth Balance vegan butter sticks are awesome.

Can't help you on the yogurt or cream cheese, as both are casein bombs and off limits for me (sadly).

Nov 03, 2014
mels in Special Diets

What bygone food fad do you still enjoy? [NYC]

There are plenty of places in CT that sell bubble tea. Where in CT are you? I can point you to a few places. Bubble tea is all they serve at Tea Break in West Hartford there is also Green Tea House in West Hartford or New Haven, the aforementioned York Street Noodle in NH...it isn't exactly hard to find, depending where you live.

Nov 03, 2014
mels in Manhattan

Hound Parents

I grew up in the 1980s in a house with two parents who worked full time and dinner consisted of take out 2 nights week (Subway or pizza) and lots of processed stuff of the meat and potatoes variety. Like Betty Crocker and Hamburger Helper type boxed stuff and Campbell's Cream of ___ based recipes. Vegetables were frozen or canned, never fresh. Baked goods were from a box and frosting from a can.

I went away for college and never looked back in regards to food. It was there I discovered other cuisines and fresh vegetables. I am a Chowhound today in spite of my upbringing, not because of it!

Saturday late lunch in Essex, Old Saybrook or Westbrook

Thanks all, we ended up in Clinton instead at the request of the picky eater in our group. Went to Chips Pub III which was perfectly serviceable but nothing to write home about. I had fish and chips, chips were nothing special (likely of the Sysco frozen variety), the fish was plentiful but under-seasoned. Nothing a salt shaker couldn't correct. However, I am filing away these suggestions for next time I am in the area!

Nov 03, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Saturday late lunch in Essex, Old Saybrook or Westbrook

I did a search but am coming across old info circa 2010. I am looking for a lunch spot in the vicinity of Essex, Old Saybrook or Westbrook. My criteria:

Time: It will probably be more of a late lunch/early dinner time

Price/environment: Moderately priced/middle of the road/casual, table service (not take out or seat yourself), but not fine dining

Cuisine: Pub style menu or seafood is good (I used to like Bill's in Westbrook but have had quality issues there in recent years). I have a pickypants eater in my group who does like seafood but is afraid of Japanese, Indian, or anything she deems to "unusual." So there's that to contend with.

Any thoughts?

Oct 23, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Grey corned beef ?

Agreed. I corn my own brisket every once in a while using an America's Test Kitchen recipe that doesn't use nitrates, just salt and spices. The end result tastes fantastic but has the grayish appearance of a cooked pot roast instead of traditional bright pink corned beef.

Oct 22, 2014
mels in General Topics

When did coconut oil become OK to use, and how and why?

This NYT Melissa Clark article gives a decent summary:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/din...

Oct 13, 2014
mels in General Topics

Annoyed with Bakers Secret

My TJ's doesn't sell unsweetened but I don't know if others do. I used to use Bakers unsweetened chocolate too but started boycotting after the latest product shrink. I have found large one pound chunks of Callebaut unsweetened chocolate that have been hacked off of a mega-block for a reasonable price at Whole Foods. For some reason it is in their produce department but the price is decent and quality better than Bakers.

Oct 09, 2014
mels in General Topics

Almond milk

One more additional "cooking with almond milk" tip: don't sub it in for cow's milk in pudding or custard recipes. It will never set. Other than that, you can easily sub in unsweetened/unflavored almond milk in recipes for pancakes, marinades, dressings, mashed potatoes, etc. I've even used it in a bechamel.

Oct 09, 2014
mels in General Topics

Bear's Smokehouse BBQ in downtown Hartford

Yes. They are using a pellet smoker, you can see it when you are in the restaurant.

Oct 09, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Los Sarapes (Manchester, CT): What's the scoop?

I am a fan, as you know. I would visit their Hartford location (El Sarape) on Broad Street now and then, but it wasn't exactly a convenient location for me. Once I found out they opened an outpost east of the river, I was in! I am partial to their al pastor burrito and admittedly haven't explored the menu as much as I should. It took the place of some other unaffiliated Mexican place on Main St that I think had the word "Mariachi" in their name.

Oct 09, 2014
mels in Southern New England

"Naturally" GLUTEN FREE baking/dessert recipes, without weird ingredients

Even my local crappy grocery store sells GF flour. Pretty sure it is ubiquitous at this point. Same with GF oats, they're everywhere.

Oct 08, 2014
mels in Home Cooking

"Naturally" GLUTEN FREE baking/dessert recipes, without weird ingredients

That's what I was thinking. A fruit crumble/crisp: dice up whatever fruit is in season (apples, plums, peaches or whatever you have), tossing with a bit of flour or cornstarch is what you are using is particularly juicy. Plunk cut fruit down in a baking dish. Make a topping by blending bits of butter, flour, sugar to taste, some chopped nuts and some oats. Sprinkle topping on the fruit, pop in the oven until bubbly and browned.

Sep 26, 2014
mels in Home Cooking

Rt. 2 between Hartford and Mashantucket Pequot Museum

Harry's is a local institution. Don't tell anyone but I have never understood the big deal about it other than it has been there for a long time. The burgers, fries and dogs are pretty average. Much better than Wendy's down the street for sure but still nothing spectacular. I didn't grow up in the area so without the nostalgia factor, to me it's just an old timey roadside burger joint. Do note they are only open seasonally and I am not sure when that season ends.

I have to second both of kattyeyes ice cream recommendations, you can't go wrong with either. I also really like Sadler's in Marlborough (a restaurant) that looks like it would be all colonial/stuffy from the decor inside and outside but has a nice patio (gas heaters!) and great quality food. In past years they have done an Octoberfest beer garden and menu, which is worth checking out.

Also, Jessica's Garden in Marlborough is a funky place. It is a plant nursery/greenhouse but they have a pond on site, do bonfires, have a food shack that sells lobster rolls, hot dogs, ice cream, and some other food.

Sep 26, 2014
mels in Southern New England

CT: Let's Thai one on--share your Thai favorites!

Just saw the email this morning, good deal! The fine print is you get 2 $10 vouchers, can use one per visit, but they don't expire until January 2015.

Sep 23, 2014
mels in Southern New England

Bad tasting avocados recently?

This Chowhound thread has been active for a few years talking about this issue:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763931

The Peruvian avocados are particularly bad, IMO. They ripen unevenly and no matter what, always seem to have a hard chunk inside of them. If I am lucky they won't have brown streaks running throughout. Fibrous bits are another problem. Unfortunately, that tends to be all I can find as of late. I'm in southern New England, so I don't exactly live on the avocado's home turf, however they never used to be this bad!

Sep 22, 2014
mels in General Topics