al b. darned's Profile

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Restaurant blames cellphones for service complaints

My favorite sign is in the vestibule of a church. It says, "If God is calling you, it won't be on your cell phone. So please turn it off during services."

about 23 hours ago
al b. darned in Not About Food
1

Let's talk about white bread

>>>
You put those in your ears...
<<<

I thought that was dried beans. In fact, there was a song in the mid-1960s by The Serendipity Singers called, "Beans in My Ears." One of the verses went:
"You can't hear the teacher with beans in your ears
Beans in your ears, beans in your ears
You can't hear the teacher with beans in your ears
Beeeeeans in your ears."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZw7lW...

It was also banned from the airwaves in some cities because kids were putting … wait for it… beans in their ears!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beans_in...

Jul 21, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

I Wish I'd Kept…

And as someone who's gone through his share of toaster ovens in the last 25 years, I highly recommend the Breville 800XL Smart Oven. Yes, it is expensive, but this is one case where you really do get what you pay for.

We've had ours for almost 2 1/2 years, and we have had absolutely no problems with it. In my experience it toasts well, it bakes evenly, and the broiler works very well. It's big enough to fit a whole pizza, as well. And the cost is only a bit more than a quarter of what it would cost to repair your dead wall oven. They are selling it at Amazon right now for about $50 less than what I paid for mine.

http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BOV800...

Jul 21, 2014
al b. darned in Cookware
2

I Wish I'd Kept…

Okay, I'll go first.

I wish I'd kept my Fagor Ucook pressure cooker set. It had four and six quart pots that nested together for easy storage, and was dual pressure. When you opened the pressure relief valve to quickly release the pressure at the end of a cooking cycle it discharged the steam straight up. When you closed the lid it automatically locked. It had one flaw, however. I have limited use of my left hand, and opening the lid was a bit of a chore. Both the top and bottom handles were stubby and rounded with no discernible difference between the two handles when the lid was latched. That combined with the aforementioned spring-loaded lock made opening the top awkward at best.

So I went looking for a new pressure cooker set, and since I was happy with the Fagor brand I looked there first. Lo and behold I found the Fagor Duo Combi set that look like it was just what I wanted. Two pots, dual pressure, and two separate handles that I could actually grab onto. So I bought this set and to make room for it in the cupboard I gave the first set away before even trying the new set. After all, how much different could this new set be? Well…

The first thing I noticed about the new set was that both pots are the same diameter, so that means they don't nest. Okay, I thought I can live with that. Then I went to use it. Even though the small pot is four quart, its larger diameter means you have to use more liquid. Then I go to put the lid on and discover the lock is not spring-loaded. As the water starts to boil, it hisses and spits around the bottom of the lid under the handle. After I fiddled with the latch lock the pressure indicator popped up in the hissing stopped. Subsequent uses have revealed it doesn't seal "first time every time" like my original set did.

I finished my first batch in the new cooker and flipped the relief valve to blow off the pressure. That's when I discover this one blows the steam straight out from the valve (parallel to the stove) instead of straight up, so you have to be careful which direction it's pointed, lest you burn yourself or somebody else with the discharge. Not only that, the valve is designed so that when it is closed the discharge is in line with the handle (obviously pointed away from the handle). That means it turns counterclockwise approximately 90° when you open it to release the pressure, pointing the discharge directly at you if you're not careful.

So to sum up. It costs more, doesn't nest, is a lot more fiddly to seal, and the discharge from the pressure valve can be dangerous. Fagor doesn't make the Ucook set anymore and I can't ask for my old set back, so I'm sort of stuck.

So, what have you sold, given away, throw away, or in some other way disposed of something only to wish you had it back? How long did it take you to discover your mistake? And finally, can you rectify the situation?

Jul 20, 2014
al b. darned in Cookware

Pressure Cookers: Stovetop vs. Electric

In my opinion, while you may gain a bit of convenience with an electric pressure cooker you lose some of the flexibility.

First of all, most pressure cooker recipes in the states are written for 15 psi stovetop pressure cookers. All of the electrics I have seen so far run from 10 to 12 psi. That's enough of a difference that you will have to increase the cooking times to achieve the expected results

Many recipes call for quick release of pressure at the end of the cooking cycle, while others recommend letting the pressure decay off naturally. The former method entails either releasing the pressure valve or running the whole unit under cold water. Some, but not all electric pressure cookers allow for the quick release of the pressure valve. If you decide to go with an electric pressure cooker be sure it has the quick pressure release function.

Also be aware that electric pressure cookers are better insulated than their stovetop counterparts and therefore they will take longer to release the pressure naturally which can lead to overcooking your recipe.

None of the above are insurmountable obstacles, but just be aware of these if you choose electric pressure cooker and try to prepare a "normal" pressure cooker recipe.

In my opinion, the "Electric pressure cookers are better because you don't have flame heating up your kitchen." is a red herring. Yes, you use a high flame bring up the pressure, but after that you are essentially simmering pot. In my experience I have never experienced any appreciable increase in kitchen temperature while using my pressure cooker.

Another thing to consider when choosing a pressure cooker is capacity. Virtually all the electric pressure cookers I've seen have a capacity of 6 quarts or less. Many times a 6 quart capacity is just not enough.

As you can surmise from my comments I'm partial to stovetop units. I expect my Fagor to last longer than I do. Couldn't say the same for any electric unit.

Jul 20, 2014
al b. darned in Cookware
3

My First Chipotle

I also meant to add: No queso means no Nachos, DW's favorite item. Even Taco Bell has a cheese like substance to go with their chips, and you can get what passes for Nachos at TB, but not at Chipotle.

Jul 16, 2014
al b. darned in Chains

My First Chipotle

We've had a Chipotle Grill in our area for a while now, and there was quite a bit of hype around it when it first opened. Now that the dust is settled, and since we had a gift card, we decided to check it out.

We weren't impressed. Compared to a couple of local Mexican fast food joints, as well as a Moe's Southwest Grill, this place doesn't even come close. For our money, the choices here are just too limited.

All of the referenced eateries offer "chips and queso" with guacamole as an optional extra. At Chipotle, no queso.

So I had to opt for "chips and guacamole." While the guacamole was pretty good, that's more than I can say for the chips. First of all, they are very bland, as they have absolutely no seasoning on them, not even salt. Secondly they tasted old, almost stale.

Meat choices. I prefer seasoned ground beef in both my tacos and my burritos. At Chipotle, no ground beef.

Both Mrs. Boilermate and I opted for a salad. Chopped romaine lettuce (but no iceberg), pinto or black beans, meat or guacamole, salsa, and cheese, with chipotle-honey vinaigrette. Cucumbers? No. Chopped tomatoes? No. Chopped onions? No. Black olives? No. Fresh or pickled jalapenos? No. Anything else to spice it up? No.

Yes, I know, one of their salsas is diced tomatoes and diced onions along with spices all mixed together. But that's not what I want on my salad. I want plain tomatoes, plain onions, etc.

All the news wasn't bad though. Except for the chips (as mentioned above) everything tasted fresh. Both the chicken and the dressing for the salad were especially tasty.

Overall, our experience was pretty meh. This meal was "on the house" courtesy of a gift card Mrs. Boilermate received from work, so I guess we can't complain too bad. Next time we will be spending our own money, so there is a good chance that will be spent somewhere else.

Jul 15, 2014
al b. darned in Chains

What discontinued products do you miss?

What? Nearly 1300 replies and no one else misses Nabisco Wheatsworth crackers? These were so much better than regular saltines, with a bit crispier texture and real flavor. The new whole-wheat saltines just don't cut it.

I've lobbied Nabisco for their return, but alas, to no avail.

Jul 14, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

To me, it wasn't the cyclamate, but the soda itself. Both Fresca and Tab were, and are, extremely nasty tasting!

We seldom had soda growing up in the 60s, but Mom would occasionally buy a six pack of one of the other. I suspect she chose these because she liked them and was more likely to get one, because all of us kids hated it!

Jul 14, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

San Pellegrino sodas are my favorite! Crisp, clean, and refreshing. Lemon is first for me, followed by orange. Blood orange is too sweet for me, and i can't have grapefruit, as it can cause kidney stones for me.

Jul 14, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

What discontinued products do you miss?

>>>
Fresca was amazing before they changed and ruined it...not even close to the original formula
<<<

The only thing "amazing" about Fresca is how a soda that awful could still be on the market. Sorry, but it was nasty in the 1960's when ifirst came out and it still had cyclamate in it, and it is still nasty today.

The only thing worse than Fresca is Tab.

Jul 14, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Adam Richman goes too far

>>>
... the entire incident was so innocuous nobody should really care less. ...
<<<

I don't see how this incident is even vaguely reminiscent of the "Thought Police" in 1984. Richman opened his mouth and then stuck both feet and all the way up to his knees. Then after removing his feet from his mouth he metaphorically unzipped his trousers, took out his d***, and stomped on it with both feet at the same time. His only saving grace, IMHO, is that he didn't use any ethnic or racial slurs.

While his "#thinspiration" hashtag may have been innocuous (and maybe even innocent) at first, his reaction to being called out on it surely wasn't. Starting with calling the woman called him out "the C word" and then telling someone to commit suicide ("Grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you." ) could hardly be described as a slip of the tongue.

Mere mortals have lost jobs (sacked or not offered a job in the first place) over postings on social media far less offensive than this. I don't think he should be given a "Get Out Of Jail Free Card" just because he's a celebrity.

It makes no nevermind to me whether he stays or goes, as I seldom watch him anyway. I wouldn't of watched his new show, either. Not because he was the host, but because it's the same old rehash of all the other shows like this that have gone before him.Yaaaawn! And I am not any more likely to purchase Walmart meat whether he's their spokesman or not.

Jul 08, 2014
al b. darned in Food Media & News
2

A (Partial) Defense of Omaha Steaks

As I look back on my posts I realize I wasn't as clear as I could've been in making my point. It was posts from various OS threads like these that set me off.

>>
"OMAHA 'steaks' and everything else were HORRIBLE. Several times I and other grill masters have tried cooking their 'meat' on the grill, oven and have turned out horrible everytime. (BIG WASTE OF $$$) ...- DRY - TASTLESS - SMALL portions. the French have bigger steaks for Pete's sake... GO SOMEPLACE ELSE... (ALL prepared foods very oridinary at best. - being generous with comments)"

"... these are some of the WORST TASTING BLOBS OF BEEF I'VE EVER ENCOUNTERED! Yuck yuck yuck!... Too lean. Too closely trimmed. Not aged. BLECK!..."

"I have had them and they are terrible."

"Don't do it. Your tastebuds will thank you."

".... I got a package from them as a corporate gift and wound up throwing some away. Horrible...."
<<

I guess it's the combination of the exaggeration, sarcasm, and YELLING that made me feel I had to say something. And that "something" was the following:

1. OS are overpriced for what you get, just like other companies that provide gifts through the mail. No, I wouldn't buy them for myself (or for anyone else) but if gifted with an order, I would graciously accept it.

But…

2. Far from inedible, the items that I received have ranged from "okay" to pretty good.

I actually thought about this for quite a while before I actually wrote the post, but I guess I didn't do a good enough job making my point clear. Thanks for pointing that out

Jul 07, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Adam Richman goes too far

Actually, in the Surface Navy it meant the same as, "Shooting yourself in the foot" or "Putting your foot in your mouth."

In other words, you f***ed up really bad and it was your own fault.

Jul 04, 2014
al b. darned in Food Media & News

Adam Richman goes too far

When I was in the Navy, we used to call that, "Stepping on your own d***."

Jul 03, 2014
al b. darned in Food Media & News
2

A (Partial) Defense of Omaha Steaks

>>>
Did I miss something?
<<<
Apparently you did.

I said what I have been gifted has ranged from "edible" to "pretty good." Unlike some other posters to these forums, I'm not so snobbish that I will turn my nose up at free food. (Which it is, considering I didn't buy it.)

I also said I wouldn't buy from them and I wouldn't recommend anybody else buy from them. Anymore than I would buy (or recommend others buy) from any of the other "gift vendors" I listed in my OP.

And what I said was if I am gifted with it I will graciously accept it and eat it. Just as I have graciously accepted gifts from the above listed vendors (and others) by well-meaning friends or relatives.

In all fairness, none of them have ever put me on the spot and asked something like, "What would you like us to send you from Omaha Steaks?"

Jul 03, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics
1

Cooking pasta without continual boiling

Back in the "good old days" (a.k.a. the 1960s) long before anyone heard of "al dente" my Mom used this method, particularly when cooking elbow macaroni.

Back in those days, we lived out in the country and only had one car in the family. If Mom was going to need the car that day she would take Dad to work in the morning and then go pick him up in the afternoon.

It was about a 20 minute round-trip to retrieve the Male Parental Unit. Before going to pick him up. Just before leaving, Mom would boil the water for pasta, add the elbows, cover the pot, and turn it off. When she got back she would drain the pasta and finish the meal prep. One of our favorites was an (American-style) goulash, made with browned hamburger, tomatoes and tomato sauce, onions and green peppers, and sometimes mushrooms.

I don't recall her doing that for regular spaghetti, but she might have.

Jul 03, 2014
al b. darned in Home Cooking

A (Partial) Defense of Omaha Steaks

Okay, I can already hear the blowtorches being fired up from some of you just reading the headline, but bear with me. Those of you that have been around a while know that I'm not afraid to wade headlong into a discussion when appropriate, and often times when it's not. You may have also gleaned from my posts that I have no affiliation with Omaha Steaks, other than receiving them as a gift from my in-laws. (Others can go to my profile and peruse my past posts.)

As I said, my in-laws have been known to gift us with various Omaha Steaks packages. Sometimes it's just steaks, other times it's a variety of items. I graciously accept these gifts in the spirit of which they are intended. As a receiver of these (or any) gifts, I would never be so rude as to insult the sender by volunteering that I thought the gift was "subpar" or that they overpaid. Even if asked, I reply, "That was very thoughtful of you. Thank you very much."

As for the food itself, most of it's not gourmet, but it's not, as some of the food snobs here have indicated, inedible. I would probably not serve Omaha Steaks items to guests, but they are a free meal on a busy weeknight.

Most of the things we've tried are just "okay." The steaks are definitely not "prime" and the chicken breasts were a bit bland, but with a little creative preparation we can have a decent supper.

And some of the items are actually pretty good. Case in point. Their Gourmet Jumbo Franks are actually pretty good, and compare favorably with "gourmet" supermarket brands such as Nathan's and Sabrett. Would I go out of my way to order them? Probably not, but I can get a very nice locally made natural casing frank for about half the price. As for price, at about $9.33 a pound, plus shipping, they decidedly are not a good value. But they're not much more expensive than the previously mentioned Nathan's and Sabrett, which sell for between seven dollars and eight dollars a pound around here in the supermarket.

Another common complaint I have seen in these discussions is that the size of the portions, particularly of the steaks, are too small. Not so. They are packaging them in the sizes we are SUPPOSED TO EAT, not how much we stuff our faces with on a regular basis. A single portion of meat is supposed to be no more than 4 ounces. We are so trained with "bigger is better" that "normal size" looks downright puny.

Everything I have received from them has been properly packed, has included the proper ice packs/dry ice, and has arrived in good condition. That's more than I can say for some other stuff I have ordered.

I guess I've been lucky when it comes to marketing, because I've never been called on the phone by them, and I might get one catalog per year right around Christmas time.

Having said that, would I order Omaha Steaks for myself or as a gift? Probably not. I would place Omaha Steaks in the same category of vendors as Hickory Farms, Swiss Colony, Figis, or Harry and David. Sending a gift from one of these vendors, or another vendor like them is like saying, "I'm willing to pay exorbitant prices for the convenience of sending something halfway decent as a gift."

I were to get home delivery on these types of items for our every day use, I would probably go with Schwans. Their prices are a bit more reasonable (okay, a lot more reasonable) and they deliver in my neighborhood. A neighbor has been using them for years and is satisfied with the quality and prices. (But that's probably a whole separate discussion.)

Jul 03, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

When Morton just won't do...Pasta Rocks!

(Donning the sackcloth and ashes)
I stand corrected.
>>>
Well, you should try it in a Falk and see
<<<
That's not likely to happen. I like to do woodworking, and a few years back by Dad gave me a set really nice wood chisels. They are so nice in fact, that I'm almost afraid to use them for fear that I might drop one and damage it. These pans (and a couple of other brands and is price tier) are like that. I would never buy something like that for myself, and if gifted them I would almost be afraid to use them, lest I cause damage to them.

Having said that, I am really surprised to hear that they damage that easily. I have a six or eight quart Cuisinart pot that I've had for years (close to 20) that is my standard pasta pot. I salt the water before adding the pasta and the inside of that pot is a shiny and undamaged is the day I bought it. I assumed hgher and cookware would be at least is durable, if not more. I guess that's what I get for assuming.

Jul 02, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

When Morton just won't do...Pasta Rocks!

Did you miss the last sentence of my post? Where I said, "This is not one of those times."

Jun 29, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

When Morton just won't do...Pasta Rocks!

I'm assuming that when you say Falk cookware you mean the pans with the copper exterior and stainless steel interior that cost more than my house. (Okay, only more than my car.) These pans use a very high quality stainless steel.

You would have to do a lot more than putting these salt rocks in your pan of boiling water for two minutes to cause damage to your pans. First of all I'm assuming that since the water is boiling the rocks are not sitting in the same place on the bottom of the pan for the whole two minutes. But even if they did you'd never see any damage the pans because of it.

Though there are other reasons for me not to buy this product, this is not one of them.

Jun 29, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

When Morton just won't do...Pasta Rocks!

Thanks Duffy for this unbiased test of the Pasta Rocks. (And thanks also to brielikethecheese for providing the sample to you.) I am always willing to listen when somebody does controlled tests such as this, especially when the test product is compared side-by-side to something we are more familiar with.

I was surprised to see that you could taste the difference in the the pasta cooked in the PR water, and not just because it was over salted, but there was a distinct difference in flavor.

But your test also bore out what I also suspected, that the nuances added by the PR is lost once you add anything else to the finished pasta.

More than once I have scoffed at a product only to find out later, through tests such as these, that the product is actually useful and is something I would buy. This is not one of those times.

Jun 29, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

When Morton just won't do...Pasta Rocks!

For those of you who don't live near a farm supply store, Amazon has a variety of gourmet salt licks to meet every need. The even have them in acorn and apple flavor. And who doesn't love acorn flavored pasta?

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_see...

Jun 29, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics
2

Eating Sardines

For me, it's a can of the small two layer sardines, preferably Crown Prince or King Oscar, packed in oil.

Give me a can of these, a sleeve of saltines, and a chunk of cheddar cheese and I'm a happy camper. No plate needed.

Though I have tried the varieties packed in tomato sauce or mustard, Dad was right, the ones packed in oil of the best.

It also should be noted that I eat them alone. DW can't stand them (or even the smell) so I can only eat them when she's not around.

Jun 17, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Food Shame -- What is a fairly common food that you've never tried. Even though you are probably an adult now and can go and try whatever you want?

I've never had brains.

I've never eaten them either. (I can't believe no one else has said that yet.) And I can't see myself intentionally seeking them out.

Nor will I intentionally eat testicles. It's just the thought of what I would be eating. It hurts just to even think about it!

^ ^
0

But this is not really a proper reply to this thread, because I feel no shame about not having either of these. Actually, I can't think of anything I can say I feel shame for not eating. I guess I don't shame easily.

Jun 16, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Food Shame -- What is a fairly common food that you've never tried. Even though you are probably an adult now and can go and try whatever you want?

>>>
Even a picture in a book or a glimpse of one on TV absolutely terrifies me
<<<

So, I take it Squidward is not your favorite SpongeBob character?

SpongeBob: "You've never had a Krabby Patty?!"

SquidWard: "Eat one of those sludge balls you call food? I'd rather eat my own legs first… And not just the extra ones."

Jun 16, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Hoo Ray! Mini Peeps Are Here!

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, "Darn! These Peeps chicks are just too big to finish in one sitting. I wish someone would make a smaller, more portable Peep."

Then DW came home from the grocery store, and lo and behold on the back of the receipt was a coupon for… Wait for it!…

MINI PEEPS! And in three new flavors. 24 little peepettes in an easy to carry package.

The copy on the website says, "Grab a handful…" Does that mean you now stuff your face with a handful of Peeps? What about what about Proper Peep Protocol? How can you bite their heads off first if you stuff a whole handful of them in your pie hole?

Since they are now portable, to make them properly stale do you now line them up on the dashboard of your car? I guess you got to be careful that you don't leave them there so long that they melt into the defroster vents.

So, how will you eat Mini Peeps? What flavors would you choose? Or are you still a Traditionalist, preferring full size Peeps? (After all, Patriotic Peeps are now available.)

Jun 16, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Halibut Cheeks--A Teleological Argument for the Existence of God

>>>
I think halibut cheeks sauteed in Amish butter and finished in Champagne lemon dill beurre blanc would be what I request of the warden the hour before the needle goes in.
<<<

Timely post. I get the needle tomorrow night. The local fishmonger (yes, there's only one that I know of) sends out a weekly email of what he has, and halibut cheeks is on the list. I had heard Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern rave about cheeks but I've never had any. This sounds like a good recipe to get introduced to them.

He does home delivery on Saturday so maybe I'll call first thing and see if he can fit me in an order.

I'll bet fresh garlic scapes sautéed in butter would go very well with these.

Jun 13, 2014
al b. darned in General Topics

Big Farma hypes frozen food with TV campaign

I was thinking pretty much the same thing. I don't understand the need for this campaign. It's not like frozen foods are some new phenomena.

As for their "Frozen Food Myths," neither I nor anyone else that I know has ever said any of those things about frozen foods, as far as I can recall. But that doesn't mean everything in the frozen food case is healthy and/or good for you.

In all fairness, though, frozen foods are normally free of the preservatives often found in shelf stable food.

Maybe it's a generational thing. As someone who is approaching geezerdome I'm completely aware of the benefits of frozen foods. Maybe the younger generation's needs to be educated.

Jun 13, 2014
al b. darned in Food Media & News

Big Farma hypes frozen food with TV campaign

>>>
"We want shoppers to know that the foods prepared in our kitchens are the same as foods prepared in your kitchens."
<<<

I always hate it when I run out of Mono and diglycerides, not to mention polysorbate 80.

Jun 13, 2014
al b. darned in Food Media & News
2