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gfr1111's Profile

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Why Don't the Chinese Eat Outside?

I've lived in Singapore, too, though not for nearly as long as you have, L.M. Ashton. I can attest that eating outside is the rule for most Singaporeans and Malaysians looking for an inexpensive meal. Most Singaporeans are Chinese and about half the Malaysians are.

The interesting thing is that Singapore is one degree north of the equator and an island nation (therefore, hovering constantly around 90% or higher humidity). People usually eat under awnings or umbrellas, but it is still incredibly hot and humid.

The OP is right. American Chinese, or Chinese living in America, rarely eat outside. I have no reason why, although getting a permit to run an outside cafe is probably tougher in the U.S. than in Singapore because it is so customary in Singapore.

Jul 21, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

The Great Bay Leaf Hoax

Hallelujah! I thought that I was alone in feeling this way. Maybe fresh bay leaves have some flavor? Dried ones certainly don't.

Jul 21, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Let's talk about white bread

My mother was disdainful of Wonderbread and its ilk. She insisted on Pepperidge Farm or a brand that may not be around anymore, Upside Down Bread. I loved Wonderbread (or similar imitators) for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but preferred Pepperidge Farm or Upside Down Bread for meat or tuna salad sandwiches because they held up better after sitting in a lunch box all morning. They toasted better, too.

Bakery bread was a rare treat, there being no bakery nearby and our grocery store not having a bakery.

As a kid, I loved to cook, so my grandmother showed me how to make white bread and I made it myself a half dozen times over the years. It smelled great while cooking, but the crust was incredibly hard and the bread rather dried out and tough.

I did not know about other types of flour. I thought the only kind there was was white flour. I soon gave up making bread because it was so inferior to what we could buy at the store. Also, the white bread that I made dried out completely within a few days.

Ah! If I knew as a ten year old what I know now!

Jul 21, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Frozen ice on the OUTSIDE bottom of my freezer: how did it happen?

My girlfriend and I own a Samsung refrigerator that is about 18 months old. It is one of those models that have recently become popular where the two doors at the top of the refrigerator swing open like French doors. Below that is a refrigerator drawer with about five inches of clearance for storing soft drinks and cheeses. Below that is a second drawer with several feet of depth which is a conventional freezer.

The two drawers pull out and roll on metal tracks at the sides of the two drawers. They have an "auto close" feature that means that if you pull them out, left alone, they will slowly close on their own.

Now, here's the weird thing: The auto close feature on the bottom drawer, the freezer drawer, stopped working. We thought that maybe we had bent the tracks by putting in too much heavy food or that the tracks had become jammed with some foreign material.

We took all of the food out of the freezer, but the auto close feature still wouldn't work, nor would the freezer drawer pull out or roll in easily. Suddenly, there was a crash and a huge sheet of inch and and a half thick ice fell to the tile floor of our kitchen from the BOTTOM of the freezer. The ice was molded so that the shape of the bottom of the freezer drawer was perfectly outlined in the sheet of ice.

What happened? Where did all that ice come from?

Jul 20, 2014
gfr1111 in Cookware

cutting board made of Corian

Grampart,

Where or where do you get your Globals sharpened? Maybe it won't do me any good if you live far away, but I would like to know. I can't find knife sharpening people who have clue as to how to sharpen a Japanese knife.

The last guy I took my knives to did not know the proper angle for sharpening a Japanese knife and actually laughed at the "poor quality control" of the Global company because one side was sharpened differently than the other.

As for the Corian cutting board, like everyone else here, I'd avoid it. You might as well call it a "knife dulling board."

One other question: What are the criticisms which you have receiving of your bamboo boards? Alton Brown did a show on knives and his only criticism of bamboo boards was that they slow down the speed with which you can cut things. He mentioned nothing about them dulling the blades or anything. Personally, I like them. They are non-absorbent and don't warp.

Jul 20, 2014
gfr1111 in Cookware

Sour cherries

PBS had a brief news clip of Michigan farmers struggling with their cherry trees in the winter of 2013-2014. Apparently, there was a lot of snow and freezing temperatures, then a brief thaw, then a ton more snow and freezing temperatures. The cherry trees got fooled, started to bud, and then the new (second) cold temperatures froze the buds off. The program quoted a Michigan farmer as saying that the harvest of cherries would be poor for the summer of 2014.

Apparently, the only two states to produce a signficant portion of cherries in the U.S. are California and Michigan.

Jul 17, 2014
gfr1111 in San Francisco Bay Area

Oyster Craze

Two comments:

First, I'm engaging in slave labor because I eat imported oysters and imported tuna? Isn't this an argument known as "reductio ad absurdum"? (My Latin spelling may be a bit shaky.)

Second, I agree with the OP about the absurdity of importing raw oysters when we have good ones right here. However, I must say in all fairness, that when I have brought up this concern--NOT for environmental reasons, just for logic-- on these boards, several people have informed me that our Florida oysters (and, by extension, I assume, Georgia oysters, as well) aren't as tasty as cold water oysters. That may be, but I think ours are pretty good and they are a heck of a lot bigger.

Jul 17, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics
1

Cracker Barrel

As you can see from the comments on this board, the vast majority of commenters like Cracker Barrel. I do, too. I generally stick with their breakfast items because they're so good. I can't vouch for the lunch items.

Cracker Barrel has an occasional faux pas, but I think that this usually due to their being extremely busy because if I come at another time, the food item in which I was disappointed has returned to its normal "good" state.

The cooks at Cracker Barrel are serving old-fashioned southern food, not known for the cuisine's use of spices, but for most items, the use of spices would be out of place.

Considering the low price of meals there, I think that it is one of the better restaurant chains around in that price range.

Jul 17, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains
1

Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, and environs - restaurant recs

Try the Black Pearl in Dunedin. This is upscale cuisine but still within comfortable pocketbook range. They turn over the menu, but I would recommend anything that they do with seafood.

Jul 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Tampa, West Chase Area--Egg Foo Young Comparison, Kang's Garden, Kim Bo, and China Wok

Thanks, gemuse.

I printed out the recipe and will make it. I am a bit surprised at how elaborate this version is. But I love to cook, so it's no problem.

I note that you are a London-based Chowhound and I am wondering what caused you to review the Florida Chowhound website.

Thanks!

Jul 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Tampa, West Chase Area--Egg Foo Young Comparison, Kang's Garden, Kim Bo, and China Wok

Mild Bill,

What has surprised me is the disappearance of a genuine beef gravy, which was ubiquitous in the 1950s and 1960s. If seemed as if Chinese restaurants had an endless supply of this great gravy, due to all the beef dishes they prepared.

Or, come to think of it, was it a pork gravy? They certainly prepared more pork than beef. Either way, the disappearance of this meaty gravy is a mystery. What are they doing differently that prevents the creation of this meat gravy? Is it economics, somehow? Laziness?

Jul 14, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Book Recommendation

Another one that I just thought of: "The I Hate to Cookbook" which has enough wildly funny introductions and comments to count as more than a cookbook. I recommend it highly.

Jul 09, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

FN quest for ratings: we are more likely to see Giada De Laurentiis or Bobby Flay cooking “ethnic foods” than we are to see a brown person cooking them.

The author lists Gina and Patrick McNeely, Aaron McCargo, and Sunny Anderson as the ONLY black chefs with cooking shows on the network. What about Simply Baking, Siba's Table, Rev Run's Sunday Supper, Road Trip with G. Garvin, and Robert Rainford? However, I agree that with the African American population making up 12% of the U.S. population, you would expect to see about 12% of the cooking shows with African American hosts.

However, if you include all the non-Caucasian hosts on the Food Network/Cooking Channel shows, the two channels do considerably better.

Jul 09, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Strawberries have no flavor anymore. Agree or disagree?

I agree with you completely, Suse.

I did have one revelation. My girlfriend and I traveled by car along the Rhine River recently. (We have now repeated this strawberry experience several times over several years.) About ten miles north of Rudesheim we came across a series of fruit stands with the most flavorful, sweet strawberries which we had ever had. They actually tasted of intense strawberry flavor!

My understanding is that these strawberries were not unique to this area. You can get good German strawberries in many places. Their characteristics were that they were entirely red (no white parts at the shoulders), much smaller than the strawberries we get in the U.S., much more intensely strawberry-flavored, and significantly sweeter.

They were also more expensive, but certainly well worth the added price.

Jul 09, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Tampa, West Chase Area--Egg Foo Young Comparison, Kang's Garden, Kim Bo, and China Wok

I love egg foo young. I know it's not authentic, but it is delicious when well-made and still not bad when poorly made. I live near the intersection of Country Way and Linebaugh (near the Hillsborough County--Pinellas County border) and decided I would conduct a taste test of the three Chinese take-out restaurants nearest to my home: Kang's Garden, Kim Bo, and China Wok. The first and third restaurants are competitors in the Publix shopping center at the intersection mentioned above. Kim Bo is located in a nearby shopping center off Linebaugh near Zen Bistro and Burger 21. Here are the results:

Kang's Garden--This restaurant is the oldest of the three competitors, having been in business for about ten years. All three restaurants supplied three egg foo young patties in an order. Kang's Garden were the largest, the lightest and most airy, with a nice brown crisping at the edges. It also had a nice variety of vegetables. Cost: $7.44 (incl. tax).

All three restaurants fell down on their "beef" gravy for the patties. Kang's did not taste particularly beefy, but at least it had the texture of gravy. There is a strong salt taste and a mild but weird aftertaste which may be ginger--possibly dried ginger. I'd give Kang's a B+, but they really need to work on their gravy, as did all the competitors.

Kim Bo--This restaurant is the youngest of the three, having been around for about a year, I would guess. The patties were the smallest and densest of the three restaurants. Kim Bo apparently only uses green bell pepper and bean sprouts in its patties. The patties had an overcooked appearance, possibly having to have been left in the wok too long to cook, due to the thickness of the small patties. The flavor of the patties is overwhelmingly green pepper and not much else.

Kim Bo's sauce also seems to be primarily a gravy, tasting vaguely of beef and strongly of salt. There is also a strong corn starch influence. I preferred Kang's Garden's gravy which had more of a beef taste, although Kim Bo omitted the weird ginger aftertaste. Kim Bo's gravy basically just tasted like putting attenuated liquid salt on your egg patties. I'd give Kim Bo a C-, and again, it really needs to work on its gravy. Cost: $8.03 (incl. tax).

China Wok--This restaurant had relatively fluffy patties, but not as fluffy as Kang's Garden. They also contained a variety of vegetables, but there was no crisping at the edges. The patties were smaller than Kang's but larger than Kim Bo's.

Where China Wok really fell down was with its sauce. It is a dark brown but translucent sauce, obviously made out of large amounts of corn starch. Beyond that, the ingredients are a mystery. The sauce is slightly sweet, sticky, and has the same weird ginger aftertaste that Kang's had, but China Wok's is much more pronounced. The gravy really repelled me. I'd give China Wok a D, because of the sweet, unpleasant gravy. Cost: $7.22 (incl. tax).

These are certainly not the egg foo young patties of my youth, which came in a wonderful beef gravy, no matter where I bought them. So the theme of this test might be Clara Peller's question from the Wendy's commercial from days of yore: "Where's the beef?"

Whe

Jul 09, 2014
gfr1111 in Florida

Book Recommendation

I am assuming from what you wrote above that you are not seeking recommendations for Bourdain, Steingarten, and Ruhlman, all favorites of mine, because you are already aware of these excellent authors.

I would recommend "Life, on the Line" by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Only about a third of the book is devoted to Achatz's battle with cancer of the mouth (and running a world famous restaurant, Alinea, at the same time).

About two thirds is about his introduction to cooking at his family's restaurant as a teenager, working briefly for Charlie Trotter, working for several years for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, becoming the head chef at Trio (more or less a forerunner to Alinea), and founding Alinea.

I mention to the proportion of the recounting of his battle with cancer to the rest of the book so that people won't think it is a non-food related book. It isn't. And the battle with cancer is inspiring, but even without it, it would be a great book about a world class chef working his way up in his profession.

I would also recommend "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn. This is a true story about a writer who has taken a career detour into corporate america. She is assigned to London and, after a few years, is downsized out of a job. She is rudderless.

Then she decides, "The heck with it. I've always dreamed of going to the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. I've got the time. I've got the money (barely) and I speak some high school French." She uses her savings from working in London, enrolls, and describes what it is like to live in Paris and how the Condon Bleu Cooking School works.

I think that many Chowhounds have had a similar fantasy, knowing that we could never do it because we don't have the money, we don't have the time, we have impossible to sever outside commitments, or we don't speak French. So this book is a sort of fantasy fulfillment and shows what can be done if you have the guts to drop everything and just go do it.

One word about Michael Ruhlman, despite my staying away from commenting on his books because you obviously are already aware of him: Take a look at "Ratio," which will revolutionize your cooking.

Jul 08, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

NYTimes: Mark Bittman rethinks the word 'Foodie'

Gee, I've had no problem with the term "foodie." It seems a great alternative to me to "gourmet" which has a feeling of pretension attached to it for a long time.

The original aim of Chowhound was a place on the web where people wrote about and appreciated good food--the best food--but not necessarily in high end French restaurants, but rather, in modest settings in addition to high end restaurants. Being a "Foodie," rather than a gourmet seemed kind of downscale and appropriate. I like the term "Foodie."

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News
5

21 Things chefs wish they could tell you.....

Saeyedoc,
There's a passage at the beginning of "Heat" in which the author invites Mario Batali over to his house for a dinner party. There are about six or eight people there.

Author Bill Buford's wife's reaction to him, upon learning of the invitation is (not a direct quote), "Are you out of your mind?" She was intimidated by the prospect of having to cook for a professional chef.

Buford tells us that Batali was incredibly grateful for the invitation because he almost never gets invited to dinner parties because people feel intimidated about cooking for a great chef. Batali thoroughly enjoyed it and did not say a word of criticism of the cooking.

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News
1

Best Sandwich at Subway?

Aren't all cold cuts full of nitrate? It goes with the curing process and without it, the cold cuts don't taste right.

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains

Best Sandwich at Subway?

Interesting comments, schrutefarms. By the "U" shape, I take it you mean tearing extra bread out of the inside to leave more room for fillings--or, at least--to make the sandwich more compact and pleasing by reducing the bread to filling ratio.

Subway employees used to ask if I wanted the bread in the center of the sub torn out all the time. It seemed to be a routine, mandatory question.

Then I stopped eating at Subway for a few years. (I think that I was living in an area where there just weren't any.) When I returned to eating at Subway, I got that blank stare when I asked them to tear the bread out.

On a totally unrelated issue, you said that you like tons of pepperocinis. I'm surprised. I asked a Subway employee to double the amount of onions that they normally put on and the employee said he couldn't. Subway has a set amount of food that they put on and can't vary from that. I was surprised because I asked him to skip several items and I thought that my request for the extra onions was counterbalanced by the items that I was asking him to leave out completely. Apparently, you do not have that problem with the pepperocinis. (Anyway, I assume that if I had offered to pay extra money, they would have given me the extra onions. Penny wise and pound foolish.)

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains

Has the Whopper Jr. shrunk?

The Whopper Jr. seems smaller to me, but I thought it was all in my mind. Maybe not. It does seem to me that there's a point of critical size necessary to get the full impact of "whopperness." The Whopper Jr. does not seem as moist as it used to, perhaps because of reduced size?

Regular Whoppers are my favorite chain burgers. I realize that this is heresy, but hey, I've been conditioned since childhood . . .

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains

Ever Heard of a Restuarant that Does Not Use Salt in their Recipes? - Try PF Changs

This reminds me of three incidents. When I was at two fancy steak houses, I asked for A-1 sauce and was told at one place that they did not carry any steak sauces. When I asked why, the waiter told me that the chef thought that the flavor of steak sauce interfered with the food.

The second incident occurred when I asked for A-1 sauce and was told that they did not carry any steak sauces, except for the sauce the chef made. (Actually, it was pretty good, but NO steak sauces?!)

The third incident was at Seasons 52, a chain restaurant that I actually like a lot. However, they advertise that all of their main dishes have 475 calories or less. (I had no weight loss designs. I just liked the restaurant.) I ordered fish and then requested some tartar sauce when there was none forthcoming with the meal. The waiter told me that they had none. So I asked for mayo--same answer. They had none in the entire restaurant. I note that the restaurant has now changed and provides a fairly neutral, creamy white sauce in a miniscule dish.

I wish restaurants would stop acting like Big Brother and just give the customers what they want.

Jun 25, 2014
gfr1111 in Chains

Hellmann's Mayonnaise substitute in the New York area?

I hate to admit this, but I have never been able to make by hand a mayonnaise that I like as well as (apparently, now, the "old") Hellman's. That's why this change in recipe is so shocking.

(And, by the way, is this official? Was there a change in the Hellman's recipe? I still have old Hellman's on my shelf, so I have not bought any recently.)

Perhaps it is just a lifetime of conditioning, but nothing beats the mayo taste of Hellman's--at least, the old kind.

Jun 22, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Do you "finish" salmon with olive oil?

Sure, you can add too much fat to something. Personally, I think that Kobe-style beef hamburgers have to much fat in them. It detracts from the beef flavor.

On the other hand, fat is a delivery system for flavor. It is what the fat carries along with it that is key. A nice, lemony hollandaise carries lemon flavor with it. A Bernaise sauce carries garlic, tarragon (anise), lemon (or vinegar) and chervil (anise) flavors with it. So it depends on what you want. Each of these flavors diminishes the basic taste of the meat, but it adds something, too.

Personally, I would go for the Bernaise sauce on either a steak or the salmon. I would probably forego the olive oil on the salmon. It is sort of bringing coals to New Castle.

Jun 21, 2014
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Gin: Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray and Beefeater?

C Oliver,

Apparently, ultimately, Travis McGee, the hero of John D. McDonald's detective series did.

McGee started out as an inveterate Plymouth gin drinker. (Plymouth was the brand name but also, apparently, a style of gin, somewhat fruitier and thicker than the London Dry style.) Then the manufacturers of Plymouth stopped exporting it to the United States and arranged to have it distilled in the United States.

According to McGee/McDonald, the taste changed for the worse and McGee/McDonald dropped Plymouth gin, which he had lauded for about 15 years in the novels and switched to Boodles, a London dry style of gin. (He then lauded it for about another fifteen years.)

My memory of this was the reverse (mcGee switching from Boodles to Plymouth), but a little research on the internet indicates that I was mistaken. All of this is apropos of nothing, but I thought it was interesting.

Jun 21, 2014
gfr1111 in Spirits

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cost vs. Smooth

This strikes me as debating the number of angels on the head of a pin, but I'm game. Wouldn't the slight difference in cost in the production of the peanut butters be overshadowed by the greater demand for (I assume) creamy peanut butter over that of crunchy. Since there is less demand for crunchy, the per unit cost of crunchy would be higher.

I think a difference in price would be market-driven, not production-driven.

Incidentally, I bought both Jif Crunchy and Jif Smooth last week. They were both the same price: $3.29. (Then, this week they were on sale at two for $4.00, causing me to gnash my teeth.)

Jun 21, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

Four Days in San Francisco-- Please Critique (apologies for the long intro)

I would go out of my way to eat at Yank Sing. It's that good. There's another place out in the Richmond area that usually gets mentioned, along with Yank Sing, but for my money, it's the place to go.

Is YS more expensive than other places? Yes, compared to Chinatown. Well, as Robert Lauriston wrote on this board, the quality of the ingredients seems higher and the bathrooms are clean.

Furthermore, it is in a downtown primo location. You pay more for location. But remember, if you go somewhere else far away, you will have to factor in transportation costs, not to mention inconvenience.

Yang Sing is one of my five favorite restaurants ever. The food is as good as anything I had in Singapore when I lived there. The variety is unbelievable. Per sure and go there.

Jun 21, 2014
gfr1111 in San Francisco Bay Area
1

21 Things chefs wish they could tell you.....

That's a good point, Cresyd. However, I would need to know whether there was a lower minimum wage in 1980 for servers than the standard federal minimum wage back then. In 2014 there is a lower minimum wage for servers than the standard federal mimimum wage. Or was the minimum wage in 1980 applicable to servers, as well?

Then we would have to convert the 1980 minimum wage (either the lower one made especially for servers, or the standard federal minimum wage) into the 2014 minimum wage.

Having been a liberal arts major in college, prospect of that much math boggles my mind, but you could be right.

Jun 19, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Why are chicken breasts so HUGE?

At my grocery store (a Publix in Tampa), the chicken breasts come in a variety of sizes. You can get everything from 4-6 ounce breasts on up. So I am not experiencing the problem which you are.

My chicken breast problem is that I like them bone-in, skin-on. They are more flavorful and remain moist. The problem is that apparently the general public has fallen in love with skinless, boneless, tasteless chicken breasts, and it is getting harder and harder to find the regular chicken breasts.

Jun 19, 2014
gfr1111 in General Topics

21 Things chefs wish they could tell you.....

Drongo, I love the cartoon, and so true!

Jun 18, 2014
gfr1111 in Food Media & News