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Home canning debate

With what you canned - acidic items - you're probably okay. It's low acid foods with a ph greater than 4.6 that are worrisome. This includes vegetables sans vinegar, meats, figs, some tomatoes, etc.

You really can't kill botulism spores with boiling water; it's just not hot enough. This is why folks who can low-acid foods use pressure canners that get between 240 & 250 degrees. (The time inside the canner depends on the size of the jars, the foods inside of them, and the altitude of your stovetop.)

Incidentally - sterilizing your jars in boiling water beforehand would not prevent botulism spore contamination. The temperature simply isn't hot enough, unless you are using a pressure canner, and botulism contamination usually comes from the produce itself. (Generally the spores don't float around in the air willy - nilly. They're brought in on the vegetables, really dirty hands (ew), etc. Botulism grows in low-acid, anaerobic environments which is why eating fresh vegetables is fine, but eating improperly canned vegetables is not... Sealed jars of green beans in water is pretty much botulism spore heaven.

I don't think that 20 minutes under boiling water will make the spores, if present, grow - however I also don't think you have anything to worry about, given the contents of the jars. They are probably acidic enough.

I would eat them.

(BTW - if you're worried, you can purchase ph strips that will tell you the exact ph of your refrigerated jars. There was a thread about doing so here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649403)

Jan 02, 2011
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Cream of ____ Soup - Best Ideas?

Decadent but delish: lobster bisque. Also corn chowder w/shrimp.

Slightly off topic, but if you find yourself with cream on hand after two or three batches of soup, you can always make butter at home with nothing more than 10 minutes and a hand-mixer. It's yummy.

Jan 02, 2011
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Home lacto-fermentation in glass, stoneware or plastic?

I've got a 10L Harsch crock - the lid design doesn't speed fermentation. It just uses water to keep out icky yeasts/molds that interfere with your kraut making. (Technically if you have your sauerkraut contaminated by yeast & have to start over, I guess that would have to do with speed.)

You can do the same thing for cheaper with a homebrew fermentation lock (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/inde...). One thing that I adore about my crock, though, is that the stoneware acts as a temperature buffer of sorts - I keep the crock in the coolest corner of my kitchen and don't have to worry about temperature swings. I also like being able to pull a part of my batch out at a time, re-lidding, and then letting the rest age a bit longer. We start eating sauerkraut when it's about two weeks old. I haven't had any problems with contamination when I do this - I do make sure my ladle & hands are scrupulously clean first.

It's expensive, but one nice thing about the Harsch is that it comes with clay weights that are perfectly sized for the crock & keep whatever you're fermenting submerged beneath your brine nicely.

Jan 02, 2011
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Crumbled Sausage Ideas

Sausage Hash: Cube (1/2" - 1") a couple of sweet potatoes & an acorn squash. Toss w/oil or butter + cumin + thyme and saute on medium in a covered skillet until tender. Add diced onion & garlic and cook until onion just turns translucent. (Add sliced mushrooms if you're feeling extra fancy.) Toss in your sausage.

Dec 07, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

rehydrating dried cranberries.....

Near-boiling 100% cranberry juice (not the Ocean Spray gook) for an uber-cranberry experience.
Apple cider or pear cider might be interesting & fruity.
Snap spirits (http://www.artintheage.com/spirits-snap/) or non-alcoholic ginger beer might be amazing!

Nov 17, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Is Le Creuet worth the price?

Will, try bringing a baking soda paste to a boil for 30 seconds in the blackened pot. It may lift the burnt crud with a little scrub on your part. It has lifted burnt brown sugar out of mine.

Nov 15, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

Is Le Creuet worth the price?

The other posters have done an excellent job with your first question, so I'll answer the 2nd. ;-) No experience at the outlet in CT, but I have shopped several times (via telephone, I'm in St. Louis) at the Foley, Alabama outlet. I heart them something fierce. I've ordered seconds, almost exclusively, and have been very happy with them. It's usually a microscopic cosmetic flaw that makes them seconds - they cook beautifully. This time of year, the outlet stores usually run a 30% off sale + free shipping, which when coupled with the second-quality pricing, puts the cookware in the range of a nice off-brand. (My 2 cents - I've tried some of the off-brand enameled and have had problems with chipping/crackling. Target, I'm looking at you.)

Nov 14, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

Need ideas for protein breakfast

Breakfast casseroles and hashes are great, protein-filled & hearty ways to start the day. I make one with cubed ham, scrambled eggs, sliced onions, roasted red bell peppers, cumin, and diced sweet potatoes. Basically, just throw everything but the eggs into the skillet & cook until nice and brown. Then add a bit of pepper-jack or fontina cheese. Yum! Store the hash in the fridge & scoop out a serving in the morning to add to scrambled eggs. (Or eat plain if you're not feeling eggy.) It'll keep for several days - so awesome to have something ready to go & waiting for the microwave when I'm bleary-eyed! You can easily riff with bacon, sausage, roasted turkey or chicken bits, smoked salmon, etc.

If you're eating oats or ww toast, you may want to consider adding a healthy dose of cinnamon - studies are showing it lowers blood sugar.

Nov 14, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Denver wedding: Specialty food/drinks for welcome bag?

How about bison jerky?

Nov 13, 2010
muirne81 in Mountain States

Losing faith in cast iron cookware

This is why I cook with enameled cast iron - all of the benefits of cast iron & none of the stickiness. Beautiful searing + I find it really handy to take soups, stews, and casseroles from the stove top to the oven (I'd never do this with non-stick) and love being able to bake bread in them too. I bought several Le Creuset 2nds at the Foley, Alabama store a few years back and find myself reaching for those pots & pans waaaaay more than my stainless. (The 2nds are slightly cosmetically flawed but cook exactly the same as first quality, and are loads cheaper.)

In my experience enameled cast iron cleans up as well as or better than non-stick - I burned cane sugar in the bottom of one a couple of years ago and thought the pan was a goner, but a scrub with hot baking soda whisked it right away. Couldn't believe it!

The only thing I *don't* cook in them is eggs - I think this is one area where non-stick is superior.

I've cooked with stainless & all permutations of non-stick (no copper yet, but I'm paranoid I'd poison myself) and prefer the heat retention/ability of enameled cast iron to everything else. I even had a self-seasoned cast iron skillet that I wanted to love, I really did, but I just could not get over the stick (even with ample seasoning) or the smoke.

Have you tried some of the enameled Lodge pieces? They're a great & affordable way to wet your feet if you're looking to get away from the constant seasoning/sticking/scrubbing.

Nov 13, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

what do you do with dried strawberries?

How about a homemade + festive "trail mix" with dried strawberries, almonds, dark chocolate chips, white chocolate chips & toasted oats or frosted mini-wheats?

Or you could make homemade oatmeal in a mason jar - oats, a dash of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, a bit of cinnamon, and the dried strawberries. Gift it dry, with instructions for cooking tied to the lid with jute twine. If you need a taste tester, I'm available! :-)

Nov 13, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

I'm 49 and have NEVER tasted a Chef Boyardee product

AB - how amazing were the meatballs in Spaghetti O's? I used to heat up a can and pick out all the meatballs, then give the noodles to my younger brother. Haven't had them in years, but I swear if they made a can of just the meatballs, I'd be seriously tempted, lol!!!

Nov 13, 2010
muirne81 in General Topics

Etiquette: on potlucks and vegetarians [moved from General Topics]

It varies from region to region but I'd guess that vegetarians/vegans are not the majority of the population anywhere outside of Berkeley. I don't think anyone here is insinuating vegetarians are a problem - heck many of us are or were veg-heads - but seeing as how Thanksgiving is a holiday by and large centered around a feast that features a giant roasted bird, non-veg hosts face a challenge... We value the company of our vegetarian friends and family, and we also value meat.

And yeah, if 3 of my guests were Jewish or Muslim, and I was having a celebratory potluck on a holiday centered around a giant roasted pig, I'd expect them to expect the presence of pork. I wouldn't force them to eat it and I'd definitely prepare something equally delicious (and pork-free) alongside Pumbaa but I think there's something to be said for a bit of accommodation & understanding on everyone's part.

Like I said, former vegetarian, and daughter of a vegan household here. I feel the Tofurkey pain. (If only vegans were as accomodating as omnivores, lol!)

Nov 13, 2010
muirne81 in Not About Food

Best cake and other mixes? C'mon, spill.

GG - you've made my week! Thank you for the link.

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Nothing but stuffing ...

Totally making this tomorrow! :-) Thank you so much for sharing. I'll report back but I can guarantee it will be well received... Sounds amazing!

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Best cake and other mixes? C'mon, spill.

I'm staring at a box of the dark chocolate brownie mix, on my work desk. Why at work? Because I mix some in a coffee mug with a bit of milk and eat it as my mid-afternoon snack. It is that. Insanely. Delicious.

They used to have a chocolate muffin mix that I found only at Cost Plus/World Market, but haven't seen it in months... A shame, because it made the best chocolate cakes on the planet!

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Etiquette: on potlucks and vegetarians [moved from General Topics]

As a former vegetarian (10 years) I'll add that in my experience, carnivores are more likely to be peeved that they're sitting down to a vegetarian main dish than vegetarians irritated with a meaty meal. While I was always grateful for anyone who made a special meat-free main dish, I was pretty used to enjoying a meal of sides. It was no big deal. Now, of course, I want meat. [jokingly bangs fork and knife on table]

Could you do some kind of a main dish recipe that calls for the addition of meat @ the last minute? Then you could pull out vegetarian servings, add meat, and make everyone thrilled.

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Not About Food

Hot Dogs vs. Fried Chicken

Two words : Vienna Beef.

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in General Topics

Cooking with NON-Foodie Friends

I have one friend who won't eat anything that is touching a bone - in other words, a steak w/bone in; roasted chicken, etc. & another friend who won't eat anything with onions. When the three of us go out, we frequent buffets. :-)

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Not About Food

Dinner Party Ideas for Food-Restricted Guests

Does goat qualify as red meat? What about doing a goat (or chicken) pozole?

Edited: Oh, sorry, I just realized you said you didn't want to do Mexican-influenced fare - I read your question the first time as a Mexican recipe request. Oops! Hmmmm, easy wheat/dairy/red meat/pork free... Roast chicken is the first thing that comes to mind. Very easy, very tasty - add some roasted root vegetables (maybe something offbeat; apples + fennel + carrots?) and as your dinner guest, I'm impressed. (Frankly, I'd be impressed with any host who graciously accommodated so many dietary no-go's!)

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Nothing but stuffing ...

Oh Heavens, you have to share the ratios/steps... This sounds beyond intriguing!!!

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Nothing but stuffing ...

Not really traditional, but begged for at our table:

- slightly stale homemade cornbread, cubed
- onions
- diced carrots
- bit of cutting celery
- mashed garlic
- dried cranberries, plumped in boiling water or boiling cranberry juice for 10 or 15 minutes
- sweet Italian sausage crumbles (cooked)
- pecans
- sage / chives / thyme / salt / pepper
- rolled oats
- butter, butter, butter and if feeling particularly decadent, a bit of bacon fat

My mother-in-law also makes an oyster stuffing that is out of this world, but I've not made it alongside her yet so I can't tell you what it contains other than oysters, whole wheat bread cubes, and sage.

Nov 12, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Help with cookware choices

Aw, yea for fellow cheeseheads!!!!! :-) You may want to add a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot to your list - even if your milk supply dries up for a bit, they're fantastic pots for pasta, asparagus, etc. One of those kinds of pots that doesn't get used all the time, but when you need it, its wonderful to have on hand. Maybe you can find a set of nesting pots to minimize the amount of storage space?

Nov 11, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

Best Corn Side Dish!

This is usually a mainstay on our summer table, but if you're looking to break up the creamy, rich, Lipitor-chaser dishes, it's a great one! :)

In a big bowl, combine:

- 1 bag frozen Birdseye sweet corn (it's not as good or sweet with off-brand), cooked
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 package green onions, chopped

Then add:

- 1/4 C - 1/3 C garlic oil (if you prefer canola/olive/vegetable oil, simply add several mashed garlic cloves)
- 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbls brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- lots o'fresh cracked pepper
- your favorite "green" herbs - I use chives, thyme, tarragon, and a dash of dill

Stir it all up and let it sit for several hours before serving. You can tweak the oil/vinegar measures to taste.

Nov 11, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Eating Animals

From what I understand Halal has more to do with slaughter than with the way the animal is raised. Halal meat-bound animals are slaughtered with a single cut to the throat & bled out while the heart is still pumping. I'm a farm girl & it seems to me to be a cruel dispatch, certainly more cruel than a bolt gun (if the latter is done correctly). Quite frankly, a .22 in capable hands is the most humane way that I've seen, though rather shocking to witness the first time. It is instantaneous & the animal knows nothing. If you can contact local farmers through Local Harvest, don't be afraid to ask them how their animals are slaughtered. You'll learn a lot about their approach from their forthrightness, or lack thereof.

Nov 11, 2010
muirne81 in Greater Boston Area

Help with cookware choices

Impressive list. What kind of stuff are you cooking? Big batches of soups? Breads? Stir-frys? Your preferences will determine your wishlist.

I'm probably the wrong person to respond, because I've got a pretty minimalist kitchen:

- 1 13 qt LC french oven : we are soup fiends and adore leftovers + it is also the perfect size for roasting a hen w/vegetables
- 1 5 qt LC braiser : makes an excellent saute/stir-fry pan, perfect size for skillet cakes, great prep pan too
- 1 3 qt LC saucier : great size for caramelizing a couple of onions, making sauces, et al.

I have a couple of tall stainless steel pots as well for cheesemaking, and some bakeware in various & sundry, but by and large those three LC pans do everything I ask of them (with flying colors) and clean up like a dream. I cook just about every meal @ home & haven't ever wanted for more.

Nov 11, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

Lodge vs. La Creuset

LC. Tried Lodge, but like absurdnerdbird said, the enamel seems to be a bit more prone to chipping. The LC have been used and abused and are going strong.

If the price of LC is scaring you off, try giving one of their outlet stores a call. I buy all my stuff through the Foley, Alabama shop - this time of year there are great discounts (30% or so + free shipping, which is significant when you're buying cast iron). LC's "seconds" are, at least to me, indistinguishable from the "first" quality, and soooooooo much cheaper than buying "first".

Nov 11, 2010
muirne81 in Cookware

Banana pudding recipe hunt

Very easy - like you, I searched online in vain for months for a vanilla pudding recipe with bananas actually mashed into the pudding, rather than sliced, before I finally made my own.

I took Chow's Easy Vanilla Pudding Recipe (http://www.chow.com/recipes/27483-eas...) and instead of whisking the ingredients in a pot, I put them into the blender. After adding the last 2 C of milk, I blended in three *very* ripe (brown) bananas until the mixture was creamy and without lumps. Then I heated it on the stove until it set. Things took a little longer than the recipe, but it set great!

Jun 27, 2010
muirne81 in Home Cooking

Where to find fresh quince in St. Louis?

Do you remember which Schnuck's you bought them at? All of my local Schnucks (Metro East) were clueless. One of the produce managers got this flicker of recognition in his eye and responded, that I needed to go to the grains section. (I guess he thought I meant quinoa.)

Nov 09, 2009
muirne81 in Great Plains

Where to find fresh quince in St. Louis?

Driving myself crazy trying to find fresh quince in St. Louis. No luck at Global Market in Kirkwood (the promised "quince" were actually some weird kind of asian pear), Dierbergs, TJs, Soulard Market, etc. Found membrillo, but no fresh quince. :-( Anyone know of a store or farmer in the area who supplies? Maybe you have a tree or bush I could pick a few from, for a donation?

Nov 09, 2009
muirne81 in Great Plains