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Top Chef Boston – Ep. #13 – 01/28/15 (spoilers)

I am a Dougie fan, but was rooting for Melissa over Mei. It's just been fun to watch Melissa really come out of her shell and be successful. She always seemed to have a good attitude and embrace the challenges. Mei is clearly a talented chef, but just not as much fun to watch.

I disagree with Bobbert. In real life, the best chefs in the world do take months perfecting and tweaking their dishes. I tend to feel that the final is the place for them to finally showcase this. The better chef should be able to do more with those few months. No one has less time to practice then anyone else. The fast paced challenges of the rest of the season are required to maintain the drama and whittle things down relatively quickly. Show us and the judges who can handle the pressure and think on their feet. But now, it is just time for them to cook the best way they know how. Is the one that is quick on their feet but can't put together the better meal with months to prepare and practice really the better chef?

Lunch cafe outside Hershey

Sounds like it might have been the Hershey Pantry? Does that sound familiar?

Jan 26, 2015
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

When do you plan dinner?

This is us, too. We have a general idea based on schedule and what comes in the CSA box, but I need to build in some flexibility.

Jan 15, 2015
centralpadiner in General Topics

When do you plan dinner?

Do you have a link to the organizer? I do it weekly, just wondering if some sort of template would make it easier.

Jan 15, 2015
centralpadiner in General Topics

Favorite "Seasoning Salt"? Is This Regional?

Nature's Seasoning. http://www.mortonsalt.com/for-your-ho...

Just because it's what mom always used. Never really put much thought into it, or bothered trying others. I tend to use it in place of the general "salt and pepper to taste" in recipes. It's my standard seasoning for basics like steamed veggies or eggs - things that don't call for other seasoning.

I'm in PA, btw.

Jan 13, 2015
centralpadiner in General Topics

Holiday cocktail party menu ?

Agree that you definitely need something lighter and some vegetables. I did this quinoa salad in endive at my Holiday cocktail party last year, and it was a big hit.


Dec 12, 2014
centralpadiner in Home Cooking

Help design our kitchen!

I spend a lot of time at the GardenWeb site since I started to remodel my own kitchen. Here is the info they will want to know:

More detailed measurements, especially size of island, size of windows and doorways, and aisles from island to outer cabs (counter to counter, not cab to cab!)

Adjacent rooms to the kitchen, or even better a general layout of the entire first floor.

How many cooks, family size, and general frequency and type of cooking done.

Good luck with your remodel! It is a stressful time, but worth it in the end.

Dec 08, 2014
centralpadiner in Cookware

Your way to cook eggs

I eat an over easy egg almost every morning. I'm a little OCD about it, so forgive the following:

I put the ceramic nonstick pan on medium heat then put the toast in and start the water for my tea. Then get the eggs out of the fridge (I know, it would be better if they were room temp, but my system seems to work well for me) and spray the pan lightly. Break egg into pan, season. Typically, right around the time my toast beeps (it usually takes about 3 minutes) it is time to flip my egg (if it is ready before, I do it before) and remove pan from heat. Let egg sit in warm pan while I butter toast and very likely put hot water over my loose leaf tea. Get egg onto plate, get fork and napkin, pour tea into mug and eat breakfast.

Nov 19, 2014
centralpadiner in Home Cooking

The Mill, Hershey

Let's just start off by saying this place is visually stunning. Gigantic original beams, exposed stone walls, high ceilings, and decor just simple enough to balance the rustic nature of the space. It is also huge. Three full floors each with a bar and dining space one would find in a typical restaurant as well as a loft which I did not see, but from what I was told has no bar and no diners on Sat. night. Designed more as a private lounge space it overlooks the floor below. This building transformation was clearly a labor of love, as well as a huge financial risk.

I was there with a party of 6. Two were sitting at the bar when my husband and I arrived. Since our table was ready, we went ahead and were seated. In informing the last 2 of our group where we were, there was confusion. I said 3rd floor, because my husband and I entered into the lower level bar off the patio then had to go upstairs to what I guess is the "main level" where the hostess station is to find our friends at that bar and get seated up yet another flight of stairs. But the last to arrive entered on that main floor and ended up in the loft when seeking the "3rd floor," oops. So, if meeting up with people, be very clear. This place is so big it is easy to lose each other.

Upon being seated, I was presented with the specialty cocktail menu. I got their version of the Moscow mule made with bourbon instead of vodka and it was delicious. My husband enjoyed his dark & stormy. Another member of our group had a specialty martini (not sure what, sorry) that she said was one of the best she's ever had.

To start, I got a mix of 3 oysters on the half shell and my husband got the beef tartar. I really enjoyed the chili vinaigrette that came with my oysters as an option beyond cocktail sauce. All 3 varieties were excellent, but the Pemaquid were my favorite. I took a small taste of the tartar. It was light and clean tasting. Husband had zero complaints. There were also appetizer orders of house mozzarella, which was well liked; french onion soup, which was determined as too much for a starter; and another order of oysters, equally enjoyed.

For entrees I got the duck breast - perfectly medium rare and well seasoned, the skin was of perfect crispness that is often hard to achieve. Husband got the veal short ribs (IMO, winning dish of the night), 2 people got the bay scallops special and wished they had a bit more color on them but raved over the roasted mushroom accompaniment. I didn't hear too much about the rib-eye or the smoked sausage during dinner, but no complaints either.

Dessert was nice, but nothing to knock socks off. Husband and I shared a very nice and light ricotta cheesecake. We were happy with it, but not something you talk about later (like his short ribs!) Since the table was not interested in a bottle of wine, husband and I each just got a glass of the house Cab. It was kind of disappointing. There were other options for twice the price, but I suspect at our next visit we'll just get a bottle or stick to the really good cocktails. This is the one negative, since I really enjoy wine with my meal, but cringe to justify $13 a glass to get something decent.

Overall everything was great, and I know we will be back and I recommend it to others. Service was slightly slow. With a group of friends it's not really an issue, but if we were there with our teens, we'd notice. I'm curious what it is like at the more casual lunch service. The parking lot seems large, but with so much space inside, it is actually not adequate on a busy weekend. Car pool with friends if you can.

I worry about lots of empty space on weekdays. I wonder if they just close off entire floors at typically slower times. It is a very ambitious undertaking and I really hope it makes it.

Nov 18, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Kitchen Cabinet Organization ideas?

For the cabinet all the way to the left, I would look into something like this, to make it actually accessible. http://www.kitchenshelves.com/standar... Of course, I don't know what kind of ventilation or shelves you might have over the range, so maybe it would interfere. Pull-outs should still make everything more accessible. If not that, then I agree with the supplemental shelving units so that you can stack things that are shorter.

Nov 17, 2014
centralpadiner in Cookware

Best potato chips ever...

We have quite a few regional potato chip makers here in Lancaster Co. and surrounding areas. Everyone here has their preferred chip. My personal favorite is Dieffenbach's. The above mentioned "Good's" are probably in my top 5. Herr's are another I like, as well as Martin's. I can't wait to find out who the producer of this particular chip is, then I can run out and find them.

Nov 16, 2014
centralpadiner in General Topics

French Press Coffee Maker

I don't ever use it, so I'm not sure exactly which part came apart. What I do know is that my husband took picture of it, and sent it in an email to OXO with a description of the model he has and got a replacement part very quickly without hassle.

That said, thinking of clean-up is definitely a concern. He would need to be able to rinse out the french press very thoroughly. I haven't seen anyone use an immersion rod since college 20 yrs. ago, and I don't recall any of them working even remotely well.

The "pour over" style that Cam14 suggests is a good idea.

Nov 14, 2014
centralpadiner in Cookware

French Press Coffee Maker

My husband uses the OXO 4 cup press every morning then pours it into a travel mug. He loves it. We already had an electric kettle that I got for tea. It actually has a temp setting specifically for french press coffee (200*, not boiling.)

I can't advise beyond that, because I have no idea what your son's set-up will be like. But I've certainly heard stories about some pretty creative cooking going on by truck drivers, so I doubt this would be undoable. I would think he'll be keeping a supply of bottled water handy, anyway.

Nov 14, 2014
centralpadiner in Cookware

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #5 – 11/12/14 (spoilers)

Thanks for sharing!

Pork Stomachs?

Here in centralPA we stuff pig stomach with sausage and potatoes then roast. Yum! I love hog maw!

However, I agree with other posters that this doesn't sound like what the OP saw. And it certainly doesn't take the place of a basic pork tenderloin.

Nov 13, 2014
centralpadiner in Home Cooking

Am I the only adult in America who doesn't like coffee?

I don't drink coffee and don't like the taste in any form, my mother never drank coffee (although loved coffee flavored desserts) and my MIL doesn't like coffee. I also have an aunt that doesn't like coffee (by marriage, so it's not genetic) and a cousin who isn't a big coffee drinker unless it is one of those Starbucks concoctions with lots of sugar.

Now that you've got me thinking about it, they are, obviously, all women. Also all tea drinkers (including myself.) I am wracking my brain for men that don't like coffee and can't think of any immediately. But there are many coffee haters out there. Not sure why you don't know any.

Nov 13, 2014
centralpadiner in General Topics

Top Chef Boston – Ep. #5 – 11/12/14 (spoilers)

You gotta give us more than that! Details on the food please!

Need some interesting EASY chicken recipes

There are many grains you can branch out with and still maintain an ADA diet. Look into bulgar wheat, quinoa, brown rice, and farro. I have seen many of these in "quick cook" versions and have used a few successfully myself.

Have you utilized the ADA website for assistance?


Nov 12, 2014
centralpadiner in Home Cooking

Need some interesting EASY chicken recipes

It's hard to answer when we don't know what you cook already. Have you made fajitas? curry? It sounds like part of your meal boredom is choice of sides. Do you eat high protein grains like quinoa? How about legumes?

Bottom-heavy pan recommendations, please.

My 13" Al-Clad braiser has taken over as my go-to pan for almost everything. Admittedly, except for eggs, which I tend to do in a cheap non-stick.

I wanted it because since joining our CSA, I cook a lot more greens then I used to and the domed lid allows me to quickly cook down a large bunch of whatever was in that week's box. And yes, it is perfect for that. But I also now use it in place of a wok for stir-fries or all sautéed veggies, braised dishes, curries, stews and can even roast in it. If I absolutely had to boil pasta in it, I have no doubt that I could. It's the pan I would take to a dessert island.


Nov 07, 2014
centralpadiner in Cookware

Do-it-yourself recipe kits to mail to family with a new baby?

When all my friends were having babies 5-10 yrs. ago, I actually maintained a list of meal delivery companies. I think I ended up going with DineWise.com, but others on my list include FamilyChef.com, ArtikoChef.com, MagicKitchen.com and GourmetStation.com.

I asked about quality, and my one friend is a foodie (so she's who I asked.) She admitted that while the quality was not their typical standards, it was greatly appreciated for simplicity of an easy meal - especially when things got crazy with the 3rd boy. :) Other friends that were not foodies always gave us a huge thumbs up and loads of thanks. They were just grateful to have food they didn't need to put a lot of effort into during an exhausting time.

Nov 05, 2014
centralpadiner in Home Cooking

Would you recommend heritage turkeys over the standard white broad breasted ones?

I am in PA, and wondering what farm you are getting your turkey from?

Oct 27, 2014
centralpadiner in General Topics

Retire where?

Interesting. I am years away from thinking about where to retire, but this thread piqued my interest. I stumbled on this website http://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-n... and none of the places suggested score very well....

But it might be a website to use as you narrow down your options.

Oct 22, 2014
centralpadiner in Not About Food

Date Week 2013 Lancaster/Harrisburg

Sorry, yes. I haven't been posting much, and I know I owe you guys all a full review. I'm at the point where I'm not sure I can recall everything we had. We ate at Tellus 360, Himalayan Curry, Aussie and the Fox, Ma(i)son, (all in Lancaster,) the John Wright Restaurant Patio in Wrightsville and Andalusia in Carlisle.

I think it is safe to say that Himalayan Curry was our favorite meal of the week with Aussie and the Fox coming in second. The food and service at both were excellent. Of course, you couldn't get more different then these two places, but I think both can be counted on for an enjoyable dining experience. I admit that I was a little worried about Aussie because the one time I had lunch there I thought it was just ok. But the dinner menu was great.

I felt like I had had better experiences at Ma(i)son in the past. We had some service issues, and in the end, they comped our dessert without us even asking. Maybe it's not fair based on one bad night, but it is so similar to Citronelle that I think it bumps Citronelle up ahead of the pack at this time.

Nothing "chow worthy" at the John Wright pizza patio. The pizza crust is too thick for my taste and the toppings were over too much in richness. We could have eaten at the main restaurant inside, but it was such a nice night we wanted to be out by the river. And you really can't beat the pleasant location of The John Wright. A couple decent orange crushes from the bar put me in a good mood for a pleasant evening.

Andalusia was ok. I'm no expert on Spanish food by any stretch. I thought everything we had was good, but nothing to knock my socks off. It all felt very standard, if that makes sense. We got a few tapas and shared a small seafood paella. Something about the atmosphere there really turned me off. I can't quite explain it. It felt dingy and on top of it, the lights were really bright and it just didn't feel comfortable. I was surprised, because I feel the opposite way at the owner's other restaurant, Cafe Bruges, which is one of our favorite places.

We didn't go to Zuckfoltzfus. My DH has a good friend whose opinion on food and beverage he greatly values (for good reason.) They have been a few times and gave it horrible reviews, so he had no interest in even considering it.

I met a friend for lunch at Upohar. I will have to make it back for dinner sometime. It was an interesting experience and the food was great. But it is a very simple meal in a very simple space. You serve yourself at a small buffet with about 6-8 options (I tried them all) and there is a person there to take your payment and explain some of the dishes if you ask questions. They were all curry like stews and roasted vegetables and a rice when I was there. No meats. I believe the menu changes daily.

Ha! I had more to say then I thought. I should have created a whole new post!

Sep 05, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Places to eat in Lancaster Co., Pa.

I think this kind of highlights the problem There are plenty of great restaurants in Lancaster Co., Dauphin Co. and a few in York Co. (Accomac certainly being one.) But we get so many visitors that never leave the eastern Lancaster Co. corridor of Amish tourism, cheep buffets, and chain restaurants, that they think that is all we have.

I haven't given any recommendations on this thread for a couple reasons. One, I've been avoiding Chowhound since some of the recent changes. Two, it helps to know where the OP has been in the past, what they haven't liked, where in the area they want to be, and how much they want to spend. With kids, without? Special occasion, casual? etc.

There are numerous threads describing the excellent restaurants in Lancaster City, if people are willing to make the effort to go into town.

Sep 05, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Date Week 2013 Lancaster/Harrisburg

Great idea! I totally forgot about it and it is very close to home! Thanks! Can't wait to report back on our week of dining out this year. :)

Jul 24, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Date Week 2013 Lancaster/Harrisburg

It's time for date week 2014 and we are looking for suggestions this year.

Since we didn't make it to Himalayan Curry, that is on my list. We have reservations for Ma(i)son for Friday night since we haven't been in such a long time.

We want that to be our most expensive meal. We've had lots of expenses this year, so I think we are more in the mood more casual, probably more ethnic eateries. I'm very sad that Upohar only does lunch, so we may need to plan a lunch date.

We tend to stick to Lancaster and Harrisburg, but are willing to travel further afield.

Jul 24, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Vegan-friendly Lancaster?

Rice and Noodles is a Vietnamese restaurant not far from your hotel that is very vegan friendly. Near the Choo-choo barn in Strasburg is Isaac's Deli. It is a local chain, and there are other locations throughout the county that might be convenient for you.

Also, here is a website. I am not familiar with all the restaurants and don't know how up to date it is. Most of them, you can see, are Asian. Rice and Noodles is my favorite among those.


Jul 24, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

Lancaster BYOB suggestions

As Ahab pretty much stated, you are limited to Citronelle and Ma(i)son for finer dining BYOB's. Any other BYO restaurants in the Lancaster area are small ethnic eateries.

I also agree with the suggestions of Stockyard and John J. Jeffries. If you truly are looking for a traditional steakhouse, Stockyard is your place. I've been and enjoyed it greatly.

If you truly want to drive for the best steak in the region, there is always Mangia Qui in Harrisburg. Also not a BYO, but their Tuscan rib eye is famous. But it is their only steak option, being an Italian restaurant, not a steak house. It is an all around fantastic restaurant.

Jul 14, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania

lancaster buffets: best of the bunch

Six is not a large group for Oregon Dairy. We do a family breakfast at various eateries in the county once a month and when we do Oregon Dairy (one of my faves), we can call ahead and get a back room for our group of 15. When meeting up with my IL's for breakfast or lunch, we are a group of 6 and have never waited more than 10 minutes. If your wait is longer, you can pass the time in the adjacent gift shop or grocery store, or an adult can take the little ones to the playground if the weather is nice. They have a menu and buffet. Some of your party could choose to do the buffet and others choose to order off the menu (which is tons better.)

So Oregon Dairy would be my first choice, and Shady Maple would be my distant second just because it is a tourist attraction in and of itself. I've never been to Deinner's but it gets very good reviews. The wait with little kids would be a turn off.

However, I generally avoid the buffets like the plague. And just so you know, none of these places are "Amish" although they are PA Dutch, which I will assume is what you meant.

Jun 12, 2014
centralpadiner in Pennsylvania