Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

gfr1111's Profile

Title Last Reply

Wanted: Buttery Chardonnay for everyday drinking

Thanks, Westsidegal,

I was wondering what QPR was, too. I thought it was a brand of wine.

Aug 16, 2015
gfr1111 in Wine

Cost of lamb and it's popularity in the U.S.

My perception is that conservative eaters shun lamb because they claim it has a strange taste. When I have shared a lamb meal with them, they alleged a strange taste and smell that I couldn't perceive. But they knew in advance that they were eating lamb. Would this have been the case if they had not?

I served my girlfriend lamb stew and she was fine with it until she learned it was lamb. Then she wouldn't eat it (I kid you not) because she was turned off by the idea of eating those cute little creatures.

I think that if you just serve people lamb and they do not know it is lamb, they are fine with it. The problem is some kind of bugaboo in their minds about eating lamb and, at one and a half times to twice the price of equivalent beef, why bother trying to gain converts?

Aug 15, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

Is it pointless to buy an expensive knife if I sharpen/hone with a electric Chef's Choice 120?

When I was in shop class in high school, the teacher taught us how to sharpen knives and other tools. Angle, I was told, was critical. And yet, we were told to "eye ball" the correct angle. Come on! How precise can you be in manually guessing at what is an 18 degree (or whatever) angle? And then you have to hold it and not deviate from that angle? That's ridiculous.

There are angle holder devices which you can buy but they seem awkward, prone to error, and, frankly, not much better than my shop instructor's "eye ball it" instructions.

Getting a pro to do the sharpening seems like the correct solution, but professional sharpening people often seem to be not very experienced or professional. I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that the 18 year old kid at my local hardware store actually has the experience to correctly sharpen my Global chef's knife. I figure he has about as much experience as I do from high school shop class.

I still think a finding a pro is the answer, but the last time I went into a a knife sharpening store, I asked the allegedly experienced knife sharpening person (about age 50) there at what angle he would sharpen a Japanese knife and he told me 22 to 25 degrees, the angle, I understand, that is a appropriate for a European knife, not a Japanese knife.

Then he proceeded to laugh with a co-worker about the poor quality control of Japanese knives because one side of the blade had sharpening marks (on this never before sharpened knife--just as it came from the factory) that were much higher than on the other side of the blade. I now understand that this is the way Japanese knives are made. He obviously hadn't seen very many Japanese blades. My point is that if you can get yourself a pro who actually knows what he or she is is doing, it is certainly worth the price.

But if you are in the hinterlands or do not just want to blindly mail your blades away to be worked on by someone who may be a skilled craftsman, but may also be that 18 year old high school kid, then I think that the Chef's Choice or something similar, is the way to go.

I have read that electric sharpeners will take too much metal off your blade and shorten its life, but Cook's Illustrated had no concern about this. They recently recommended the Chef's Choice XV, which will give you an Asian angle (roughly, I understand, about 18 degrees) on your blade and keep it razor sharp with regular use.

There are a lot of people on this board (expecially ChemicalKinetics) who know a lot more about this subject than I do, but frankly, like the OP, I don't want to spend that much time worrying about the whole subject. I want to sharpen my knives about twice a year and be done with it and get on to cooking. It strikes me that the Chef's Choice accomplishes that goal. If I wear down my blade by relying on this sharpener, so be it. I'll buy another knife!

Please return your shopping carts, you lazy bum

The Germans have the right idea. The system of a one euro deposit (roughly $1.20 to $1.50, depending on the exchange rate) which you get back when you relock the cart in the same place seems to work well. However, German grocery stores tend to be small, with small parking lots. This means that the distance from the place where you lock up your cart to your car is not very far.

In the U.S., with much larger parking lots, which place you much farther from the store entrance, I suggest a variation on this system: Have islands of locked up shopping carts in various areas of the parking lot. Then you would deposit a dollar in quarters in the lock, remove the cart, go do your shopping, then push your cart back to your car, unload it, and then return it to the nearby shopping cart island, which is only a few feet from your car, recover your dollar, and be on your way.

The problem is that we're spoiled and the first grocery store to institute such as system as I have described, might lose a lot of money by people opting to give their business to other grocery stores. Undoing the entrenched system which we have now might take a long time . . .

Star-themed hors d'oeuvres

I have a hard time separating clever from corny. I guess one person's clever is another person's corny.

Chicken 'n Stars is a canned soup I see on the grocery shelves sometimes, made by Campbell's, aimed at kids. I've never had it because I don't have children, but how about a homemade chicken soup with pasta stars in it? Maybe this is corny. I can't tell.

What is up with Burger King?

I was shocked to learn from multiple television reports that McDonald's used "pink slime" (beef by-products treated with ammonia) until the negative publicity about pink slime in general on tv caused them to discontinue the practice. This did not comport with the 100% USDA-inspected beef . . . no preservatives, no fillers claim, but in a sense it did, since pink slime was made out of 100% beef, just heavily chemically manipulated unpleasant beef parts. The claim of 100% beef was technically true but certainly did not comport with the spirit of what McDonald's was claiming.

I still eat there and I still like their burgers (in moderation), but I was disillusioned when I learned that they were cutting corners like this.

What is your perfect breakfast?

Every five years or so, I make it to New York City. I've got to remember this. Those pictures are fantastic.

Jul 27, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

What is your perfect breakfast?

I have to agree with Will. Breakfast is more malleable than any other meal and what I want as a starter meal for the day changes constantly. So, when I want something sweet--slightly chewy, slightly tangy sour dough pancakes with grade B (i.e., stronger in flavor) maple syrup is one component, with salty, thin-sliced bacon which is very crisp, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a slightly bitter (but not way overboard on the bitter side) French roast coffee.

But other times, it is that oft imitated, never duplicated, eggs benedict, which combines the tanginess of lemon juice-heavy Hollandaise sauce, the buttery-creamy side of Hollandaise sauce, the saltiness and chewyness of Canadian bacon, and the crispness of a toasted English muffin, all draped in a runny, egg-yolky poached egg. I usually want a small container of Hollandaise on the side, in case the Hollandaise runs off the egg. On the side I would like very cold apple juice and an American-style (less bitter) coffee.

Jul 27, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

KFC - The Colonel's Comeback !!

Yes, I thought at the time of the discontinuation of the use of Colonel Sanders's image (he had been dead for a long time, even then) and the changing of the name of the restaurant to KFC from Kentucky Fried Chicken was silly. Did they think that people would not notice that the fried chicken was fried?

This bringing back the Colonel is a complete turn around of marketing strategy. As I understand from news articles, Kentucky Fried Chicken's revenues have been trending down for the last three years (as have McDonald's). I think bringing back the Colonel is a desperation move, rather like throwing a Hail Mary pass in the fourth quarter when you are losing by several touchdowns and need to get back in the game fast.

My only objection to this ploy is that Darrel Hammond is not a very convincing Colonel, for those of us who saw and remember when he was KFC's pitchman. But maybe the idea is not to actually mimic the real Colonel Sanders, but to create a humorous image instead. If that's the case, the advertisements are a mistake. He is not very humorous or convincing in his effort to get you to come back to KFC.

Jul 22, 2015
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

Some biscuit making questions

This is the OP: I sincerely appreciate all of the comments. Please keep them coming. After reading 31 comments ("Latest July 19, 2015 by paulj" says the board), I took another crack at making biscuits. I used a different recipe, since it seemed to incorporate a lot of the suggestions made here. It is called "Our Best Ever Buttermilk Biscuit" and is located on the Southern Living website. (I would put in a link, but my computer incompetence prevents me from doing so. Sorry!


As noted above, they provided a video on the website. To find the recipe, you must call this "Our Best Ever Buttermilk Biscuit" because otherwise, you are inundated with dozens (hundreds?) of buttermilk biscuit recipes and you can't find this particular one.

Anyway, I tried it. It had the following characteristics which the previous recipe did not have:

1. It called for soft, winter wheat flour. The key point being soft--which I take to mean low gluten.

2. It recommended using White Lily self-rising white winter wheat flour.

3. It instructed you to chill the entire universe, which I did.

4. It did not mention the type of buttermilk to use, so this time, I used full-fat
buttermilk. (Not one of the 31 posters on this board thought that using full-fat buttermilk, as opposed to low-fat buttermilk, would make any difference, but I figured it probably could not hurt.)

5. It instructed me to freeze a stick of butter and grate it into the flour. It did so, and boy, was it difficult to do. The video makes it look a lot easier. Maybe the butter in the video was not frozen as hard as mine? It appeared that both the super-attractive woman in the video and I used the same box grater.

6. The recipe called for butter, not shortening, as the fat to be used.

7. This time, I tried using the rolling pin which the recipe called for, but I ran into a problem. My dough was much wetter this time and stuck to the rolling pin. I ended up folding the dough five times, as prescribed, but three of those times I did not use the rolling pin because the dough kept sticking to it. Instead, I folded the dough over with my hands and patted it to a half inch thickness, during folding numbers 3, 4, and 5.

8. The reciped called for using a 2 1/2 inch cutter, which I used.

9. The recipe called for nuzzling the biscuits up against each other. I did.

10. The oven temperature called for was 475 instead of the 450 I used last time.

11. The recipe called for brushing melted butter over the top after taking the biscuits out of the oven.

Results: The results were immensely better than my first try. The biscuits were tender, tasty and moist. They did not, however, have those stratified layers of falling apart tenderness. On the other hand, it did not appear to me that the lady in the Southern Living video accomplished this either. And my failure to do so might have been a result of my not rolling the dough out before folding in folding numbers 3, 4, and 5.

After 24 hours, it struck me that my left-over biscuits, which were used as the bottom for a macerated strawberries and whipped cream dessert, had become much more dense and had a noticeable crumbly "crumb" in the interior. No big deal, but not quite the texture which I was hoping for.

Almost all of the suggestions which you made were incorporated into this new recipe and I think that your suggestions helped a lot. My biscuit research continues! . . . Thanks!

How long do you keep sour cream, once it's been opened?

This seems to be a self-correcting problem. As long as the sour cream tastes good, with nothing added to mask the flavor, I've found it to be harmless. When it starts going bad, I have found it to develop a bitter taste. I would estimate the bitterness kicks in at about three weeks after opening.

Jul 18, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

Now look what they've done to organic white bread!

Wow! But have no fear, Caroline 1. I regularly throw out bread from my local Publix (an excellent Florida-based chain) because it is preservative-free and shows it. I'm sure that the same must be true in Plano, Texas.

But I do think it is outrageous that organic bread would have preservatives added. I get the idea . . . preservatives, technically, don't have anything to do with "organicness." But, clearly, people who want to stay away from pesticides and HMO wheat, probably want to stay away from preservatives, as well. It looks like some lawyer-type (I'm a lawyer) found a loophole in the definition of organic and drove a railroad train through it.

Jul 18, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics


The answer to Doctormhl1's question is: "(2) do nothing and pay more." The alternative answer was not provided: "switch your patronage over to a less expensive competitor permanently."

The problem with the second answer is that in much of America, Starbuck's is the only game in town if you want coffee which has been highly manipulated, such as a cappuccino (although I heard a report on the radio that Starbuck's was discontinuing cappuccinos, to my astonishment), lattes, Americanos, espressos, etc. If you are driving along on the expressway, you can easily get a Starbuck's manipulated coffee, but Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King, etc., will only sell you the basic coffee, not coffee with all the bells and whistles.

People seem to be willing to pay a lot extra for the bells and whistles. (Compare the basic price of a cup of coffee at Starbuck's with what happens to the price after you add on the bells and whistles.)

The other reason for Starbuck's popularity is the coffee is better. Both McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts changed their coffees because Starbuck's was beating their brains out. Both made their coffee more coffee-intense in flavor. McDonald's went off the deep end, concluding that what America really wanted was a bitter cup of coffee. It had worked for Starbuck's. Why not for them? But McDonald's overshot the mark and it seems to me that it has now retrenched a bit, although I have read nothing of this in the news.

There was this huge gang brawl among coffee houses in Seattle in the 1970s and out of it emerged Starbuck's, which promptly began building a branch on seemingly every street corner. They offered a better cup of coffee (sorry, coffee connoisseurs--America has spoken) and its competitors have been eating its dust ever since.

Jul 18, 2015
gfr1111 in Chains

5 Guys vs. In & Out... Time for a simple vote


Jul 18, 2015
gfr1111 in Chains


"When the stars make you drool, just like pasta fazool, that's amore . . ." sings Dean Martin. If he pronounced it correctly, it wouldn't rhyme! Let's call "pasta fazool" the Italian-American variant and leave all those Italian Americans alone. (After all, it's their language.)

Jul 17, 2015
gfr1111 in Not About Food


Well, yes, it does bother me a little. But look, as soon as you start using foreign words, the problem arises: do you pronounce the word as the native speaker in the country where you are would pronounce it, or do you pronounce it as a native speaker in the country of origin would pronounce it (in this case, Italy)?

I tend to give people a pass on this. As someone on another board wrote recently, we say "Paris," not "Paree."

On other boards, some people have complained about how affected Giada De Laurentiis sounds when she insists on pronouncing Italian words with an Italian pronunciation when she is speaking English. I'd give her a pass, too. If she pronounced the word with an American pronunciation, people would give her trouble about that. She can't win.

Below, Caralien complains about the mispronunciation of English words, which is mildly irritating to me, but not the same as the "mascarpone" conundrum because mascarpone IS being pronounced correctly in one of the two languages, anyway.

But "sammich" is wrong in English. There is no foreign alternative. pronunciation.

As Sir Thomas More said in "A Man for All Seasons," "I trust I make myself obscure."

Jul 17, 2015
gfr1111 in Not About Food

cooking frozen duck breasts rare

That really isn't a long time in the freezer. They'll be fine, but defrost them in your refrigerator. Don't try to cook them from frozen to cooked all at the same time.

Some biscuit making questions

I tried making buttermilk biscuits for the first time a couple of days ago. (I've been cooking for many years, but, generally, if I need a biscuit, I use Bisquick mix or Pillsbury's frozen dough.) The results were not spectacular, less good than I had expected for such a simple recipe. They were small. I used a two inch biscuit cutter ring, expecting that the biscuits would spread out or puff up on the cookie sheet. They did not, although I used exactly the amount of baking powder (not baking soda) called for and my baking powder was a year from its expiration date.

They were powdery and floury on the inside and very dry, although I baked the biscuits for 8 minutes only. (The recipe called for an 8 to 10 minute baking time.) They were not burned, just dry.

I was instructed to roll out the dough to half an inch and use a biscuit cutter. I measure the dough. Its height was exactly half an inch, but it never got any higher, so I had rather flat biscuits (as well as small and floury, powdery.)

Please feel free to focus on answering some of my questions, if answering all of them seems too time consuming or laborious. (I am certain that other Chowhounds will take up the slack.) So here are my questions:

1. I used low-fat buttermilk. I am NOT a dieter or health nut. I hate cooking with low fat ingredients or anything that compromises flavor. However, I used the low-fat buttermilk because the higher fat stuff seems to have little, unpleasant globules of something (whey? fat?) in it, while the low-fat stuff seems more homogenous and, frankly, tangier. My recipe called for a substantial amount of shortening, so I figured that whatever fat I was losing by using the 3/4 cup or so of lowfat buttermilk was minimal compared to the amount of shortening added. Was I wrong? Did my biscuits turn out blah because of that small amount of fat missing from the buttermilk? And by the way, how is there ANY fat in buttermilk? I thought that it had been removed to make cheese.

2. I did not mix the biscuit dough very much because of all sorts of warnings I read about how if you mixed the biscuit dough too much, the biscuits would be tough. I hand mixed this dough, but I was pretty minimal about it.

3. The recipe called for a half inch thickness of dough before cutting. Should I have used a thicker amount of rolled out dough--say, an inch?

4. My recipe did not call for rolling out and then folding over the dough, like puff pastry, as some recipes do, presumably to create layers. I did not select a recipe that called for this procedure because it seemed to contradict the warnings about not overworking the dough to avoid tough biscuits. Is folding over the dough mille feuille-style, recommended by Chowhounds?

5. My Florida kitchen is air-conditioned, but I did not chill anything. The recipe did not call for it, but I notice that some other recipes are a bit fanatical about this. Did I err? Do you do this? If so, to what extent and what ingredients or utensils do you chill?

6. I did not get much rise out of my biscuit dough, despite the fact that the baking powder I used was well within the expiration date. Does baking powder sometimes lose its reactive qualities early?

7. I used regular AP flour, called for by the recipe. Should I have used a soft wheat flour?

8. I used Crisco shortening. Would something else have been better?

9. I used buttermilk because I wanted to get a tangy flavor in the biscuit. I did not notice any tang at all. Does buttermilk do this, or is it just a waste of time?

Jul 17, 2015
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

Next Food Network Star - latest and greatest?

Yes. That's why it is called "Chow" instead of "Chowhound" now.

Jul 17, 2015
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

How long do unopened bottles of hard liquor/liquers stay drinkable for? And opened?

When I was young and did not have much money, I bought a bottle of Wolfschmitt vodka for a dinner party which I was putting on. I opened it and used about a quarter of a bottle. This was 1973. Then I moved and much of what I had in the apartment was put into boxes in various locations. The bottle of Wolfschmitt vodka lay undisturbed until 1990, when it was discovered during another move.

The vodka tasted fine. I compared it to another bottle of fresh vodka. I can't remember the brand, but I doubt that it was Wolfschmitt. The fresh vodka had less of a bitter aftertaste than the Wolfschmitt, but the Wolfschmitt was perfectly acceptable and I eventually finished off the bottle.

I would imagine that vodka would be the least subject to age, since it is just water and alcohol, without any other flavorings, but I was astounded that the vodka lasted so well, especially because it had been opened and air could get to it.

Jul 16, 2015
gfr1111 in Spirits

How do you discover cookbooks?

It used to be a procedure of going to the bookstore, leafing through books until I found one that I wanted and purchasing it.

Sometimes it was totally an impulse purchase. I was a sucker for "occasion" purchases--buying a cookbook on wine country cooking when I was in Napa Valley, etc.

Now, I am somewhat more inclined to purchase cookbooks that food writers praise--classic stuff that, sometimes, I did not know was classic stuff until I heard it referred to by someone whose accomplishments I respect. Thus, I never heard of Marcella Hazan until I was about forty years old and then found out her books are standards of Italian cooking.

Sometimes you just run across someone's writing and love it. That is what happened to me with Michael Ruhlman. I read his non-cookbook commentaries on attending the CIA, etc., and then moved on to his cookbooks, which are excellent. I particularly like "Ratio," which revolutionized my personal cooking style, and "Ruhlman's Twenty."

I am also a sucker for Food Network authors' cookbooks. (I can see a lot of Chowhounds cringing.) I particularly like Michael Symon's books, which tell you a lot more about why he uses particular techniques or avoids certain ingredients (like boneless, skinless chicken--a sentiment with which I heartily concur), rather than just laying out recipes. Similarly, I like Alton Brown's books because of the explanations of why a cook does particular things. (He's also extremely witty.)

I also like ethnic cookbooks but don't just buy them blind anymore. I find out who are the leading authors regarding an ethnic cuisine, usually by the internet, and then go and look at their cookbooks.

And yes, I read (or have read) magazine cookbook reviews from Cook's Illustrated (they no longer have reviews, but they used to) and Gourmet ( a magzine no longer in existence, but excellent for reviews when it was). The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are not bad, either.

Jul 16, 2015
gfr1111 in Home Cooking

John's Pizza on Bleecker

It's great to hear from one of the founders of Chowhound again!

Jul 16, 2015
gfr1111 in Manhattan

I Don't Like Cheese - Am I Alone?


I know of an entire nation of people who dislike cheese--China. I'm sure that everyone reading this can name exceptions, but these are mostly Chinese with a heavy exposure to western culture. Your average Chinese person is repelled by cheese and it's not hard to understand why: fermented milk? Yuck.

A Chinese friend questioned the obvious--why westerners would want to eat "rotted" milk. I pointed out that he had a corresponding culinary item in his culture, fermented black beans. He thought it over for a while, then laughed and agreed with me.

Personally, I love cheese, but understanding the repulsion that the Chinese feel is not difficult.

Jul 15, 2015
gfr1111 in Cheese

Pronounce "Gouda", Please.

Me, too.

Always "goo-da."

Jul 15, 2015
gfr1111 in Cheese

Whatever Happened to Roquefort Dressing in Restaurants?

I am not sure that when roquefort dressing was being offered by waiters routinely that roquefort dressing was the real thing. My guess is that a lot of it was domestically made blue cheese (nothing wrong with that--it's good).

However, I digress. I read an article about a trade dispute that the U.S. had with France in the 1980s (circa the Reagan administration). France was doing something unfair, so we retaliated by slapping a big excise tax on imported roquefort cheese. The tax made roquefort cheese so expensive that exports to the U.S. never recovered.

That was a long time ago, and roquefort cheese is still awfully expensive, but a trade tax that lasted until now? I don't know. It seems unlikely.

Jul 14, 2015
gfr1111 in General Topics

Brandied Cherries w/o sugar?

Could you give us a little guidance? Is it that you do not like the sweetness? In otdher words, is it a taste thing? Or are you diabetic? Or are you trying to keep the number of calories down?

I'm trying to clarify what goal you intended.


Jul 14, 2015
gfr1111 in Spirits

2013 or older recs for Foodie/Food Related non fiction works - planning for Christmas purchases


I have loved Mr. Steingarten's two books. They are so funny and are loaded with cooking information. I have read and reread them. I wish that he would publish another. I think that my favorite is his chapter titled: "Salad: the Silent Killer."

2013 or older recs for Foodie/Food Related non fiction works - planning for Christmas purchases

I'm guessing that what you intended was to say that you wanted books published in 2013, 2014, or 2015 on food-related topics. Yes or no?

Jul 14, 2015
gfr1111 in Food Media & News

On the "General Topics Board" : hackers in action?


I saw your note about having removed the URL (which you inserted into my original post).


Jul 12, 2015
gfr1111 in Site Talk

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat


It appears that what you are suggesting is that the preservatives and flavor enhancers are, in and of themselves, addicting. There is no evidence of that in the article.

Using Occam's Razor, I would suggest that your difficulty in weening yourself off meat is because you have been conditioned to desire it all your life. It has nothing to do with chemicals. Furthermore, a desire for meat may be hardwired into your brain because you come from a long line of carnivores.

I guess you can guess which side of the debate I stand on, but I intend no offense and wish you luck in your endeavor.

Jul 11, 2015
gfr1111 in Food Media & News