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travel cookware (in the dorms)

That's what I feel, particularly when stepping down the voltage. In either case, I would not leave the appliance running when not there - no crockpots or bread machines, for example.

The other issue is that the people that run the dorm may impose further restrictions beyond "no open flame." Based on my experience, places that are okay with a kettle or a microwave may balk at a student cooking three meals a day in their bedroom, between fire hazard, odour, and vermin issues.

about 1 hour ago
tastesgoodwhatisit in Cookware

travel cookware (in the dorms)

Don't take a rice cooker to China!

Honestly, I wouldn't buy anything in advance - she can get stuff there, cheaper, and she won't need to fuss with different plugs and voltages. Not to mention that appliances and dishes are going to fill up her luggage very fast.

When there, get a rice cooker with a steamer basket, an induction burner or hot plate, and a pot, plus one setting of dishes and cutlery and a mixing bowl. Go to a department store to buy the appliances, not a street vendor.

I do think it's a shame to spend two months in a foreign country and refuse to eat the food. Keep in mind that Chinese food in China is a totally different experience than what is served in North America - it's actually quite difficult to match it with homemade food without setting your ceiling on fire.

I suspect she will find doing all her own cooking at the dorms to be logistically very difficult. She's going to have to go grocery shopping, in a foreign country and language, about every two days, with quite different ingredients (and Western style specialty stores tend to take some effort to get to).

She'll be cooking on a different voltage, with the attendant risks of shorting out either the wiring or her appliances (do *not* leave anything running when she's not there, for fire risk).

She'll also likely be expected to attend various meals out as part of the program, and and will be cutting herself off of from a significant fraction of the social aspects of the program, as she cooks and eats alone in her room while her classmates eat out together.

What is Important in Food Photography?

If you're a beginner to photography in general -

A decent camera and lens makes a big difference in the quality of the final photos. SLR cameras generally have larger sensors and a greater light gathering capacity than a phone or point and shoot - this means you can shoot better pictures in lower light without using a flash or getting grainy (noisy) pictures.

Learn to use the camera's manual settings - understand depth of field, ISO and white balance, for example. Shoot in RAW format rather than jpg, which lets you adjust white-balance (for natural colours) after taking the photo.

For composition - pay attention to what's in the background of the shot, not just the food. Watch for steam getting in the way of the photograph, or shadows falling on it.

If you're at home, experiment with lighting sources outside the camera (do not do this at a restaurant, please!)

Keep in mind that the really good food porn level photography is often not done on edible food - they have all sorts of tricks for making it look really good.

Green Onion Rant

One thing I really like about my local traditional markets is that when you buy vegetables, they throw in a few green onions for free, along with some combination of young ginger, hot chilis, basil and cilantro (depending on season and the size of your order).

I find chopped green onions go well in quick soups, as they don't need to be sauteed first like regular onions. And I'm quite fond of grilled/pan fried whole green onions - toss them on the grill brushed with olive oil, or cut in half and pan fry, until the white part starts to brown, and serve sprinkled with a bit of sea salt. It makes a tasty side dish.

Japanese Ramen: Is it a Hype?

For ramen, it's the noodles that intimidate me. If you want fantastic ramen, it's got to be hand-pulled noodles, which puts it to a new level of difficulty.

Need inspiration for vegetarian, company-worthy dinner

What about a quiche as the main course, a nice garden salad, and a creamy soup (with a vegetarian broth base)?

Or pasta with pesto sauce and mixed fresh vegetable (snow peas, red peppers, celery, asparagus) as the main course.

Indian, of course, is great for filling vegetarian, if your audience is not too timid. A chickpea and tomato curry, cumin rice, cucumber raita, and some palak paneer. Add a coriander chutney and some papadums on the side if you want.

Beef shanks, I'm in love!

The long cooking time to tenderize them generally requires moist cooking or they'll dry out.

I generally braise or stew. I'll buy big packs from Costco and prep them by simmering in water until almost tender, then shredding, slicing or cubing them after they are chilled. They go in the freezer as the basis for fast weeknight stewed dishes.

They're well suited to slow cookers, too. I did a simple preparation yesterday - lots of onion and garlic and some dried chiles with a bit of oil, the shanks on top of that, and then seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, and some vinegar drizzled overtop for liquid.

Dried versus fresh herbs and spices: when do you favor the former or the latter?

For me, practicality/price is a big issue. I can get cilantro, basil and occasionally dill easily, anything else involves an hour and a half round trip to a specialty store, which is pricy and very hit and miss in *what* I can get.

There are some things where I don't bother if I can't get fresh - cilantro, parsley, chives, mint, kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves, for example. If I can't get them, I leave them out or cook something different, because the dried ones have zero flavour.

In salads, I generally go with fresh, particularly for leafy things like basil. If it's in the salad dressing, I with often go with dried because it mixes better, and the acid in the dressing tends to bring out the flavour.

Spices are almost always dried, naturally. Powdered and fresh ginger I regard as two entirely different ingredients, each with their own use. I won't use fresh ginger in gingersnaps, or dried in a curry paste. Same with dried vs fresh chilis - different uses for each. I do tend to keep both ground and whole spices on hand for most spices. I use whole in some recipes, and will grind from whole in some cases (like making curries), but don't want to go through the effort of grinding for a teaspoon of a single spice.

Some dried herbs, like rosemary and thyme, work very well dried. For stewed dishes, tomato sauce, etc, I generally use dried, because I can't really justify the extra time and expense for fresh.

For the pizza - I find that fresh herbs only work on pizza if added after cooking, otherwise they get wilted into tastelessness by the heat.

I've done some herb growing, and then I tend to use fresh a lot more, because it's practical to just get a sprig or two when I need it. But a lot of the herbs die in the summer heat, even with daily watering. Unfortunately, the ones that aren't substitutable, like mint and parsley, do the worst in the heat.

Chilled Pesto Pasta Salad Recipes?

I like a spiral pasta, which catches the pesto nicely, then a mix of nice vegetables in different colours. Halved cherry tomatoes work well (less juice released than diced tomatoes), maybe some halved button mushrooms, lightly sauteed first, some diced yellow pepper, some sliced celery. I think I'd leave the mozza out (it might get soggy unless you add it at the last minute), but sprinkle it with toasted pine nuts before serving.

Halved cherry tomatoes, some sliced blanched baby corn, maybe some halved button mushrooms (lightly sauteed first),

I am in your town. I have 100 USD and an afternoon off. Food crawl. Where do I go??

Taipei here.

I'd start off with hand-made Shanghai style xiao long bao with some sauteed pea shoots on the side at the original Din Tai Fung, tea to drink. Around the corner for some hand made Tainan style slack-season pork noodles with a side order of smoked mullet roe, and smoked plum juice to drink.

Then a short walk for grilled northern Chinese Lamb skewers with cumin, and stir-fried shredded potato with chilies at Shao Shao Ke, with some Taiwan beer to wash them down.

A bit of a walk back in the other direction, with a brief stop at one of the many tea shops for a fresh passion fruit and green tea, half sugar lots of ice. Finishing up at a seafood place whose name escapes me, for some grilled squid, with deep fried king oyster mushroom strips with pepper salt and garlic on the side, and more Taiwan beer (kaoliang liqueur would be an alternative).

Back to the starting point to finish off with in-season mango shaved ice at the place that used to be Ice Monster.

Soup ideas to use up close-to-use-by-date vegetables?

I think I'd dice the courgettes, tomatoes, leeks and peppers for a thick soup with Italian flavours (a bit of garlic, some rosemary and thyme), and maybe a bit of small pasta or white beans added near the end. Then served with some grated parmesan on top. A spoonful of pesto at the end would be good, if you've got some around.

Please help me to learn to enjoy fish

One simple preparation I like - whole tilapia or snapper, cleaned. Mix finely diced onion and green pepper with olive oil, lemon juice, and hot pepper flakes. Rub the mixture over and in the fish and bake.

Try mackerel or saury - I find them very flavourful fishes on their own (as is salmon). Japanese salt grilled cooking work well with them.

For milder fishes, grilled or steamed, top with a citrus salsa (finely diced mixed citrus, cilantro, onion and hot peppers).

Whole mess of greens in my CSA box

Sauteed with garlic is always good. Steamed with a splash of vinegar. Japanese style (steamed or blanched, extra liquid squeezed out, and served in a compact bundle with roasted sesame dressing). In a stew with sausage, onion and tomato. In a soup with chickpeas (cook from dried and use the cooking liquid as broth, sprinkle with crispy fried garlic and grated parmesan before serving).

Is it ok to eat many eggs?

That's the key of it.

If you restrict your calorie input and boost your calorie input enough you will lose weight. The weight loss will eventually plateau, and that is your new equilibrium - if you stay at this diet level eating/exercising regimen, you will probably stay at this new weight.

Unfortunately, maintaining this will involve eating less and exercising more than a person who has always been that weight - being overweight changes your metabolism on a long term basis. If you stop the diet and go back to eating more, you will generally gain the weight back, and it will probably bring friends, making the next round of weight loss harder.

Exercise/food regimes that can be maintained indefinitely (as in the rest of your life) *and* allow you to maintain a significant weight loss are incredibly hard, and often means accepting that you will be paying obsessive attention to your diet and exercise for the rest of your life.

Fad diets almost always promise weight loss with little effort. Some of them will result in weight loss. Some of them will have unpleasant side effects that impact your health and well being in other ways. All of them share the common theme of gaining the weight back when you stop.

Personally, I try to go for putting my effort into maintaining a healthy lifestyle - eating a variety of foods, with lots of vegetables and whole grains and limited amounts of heavily processed foods, not overeating, getting decent amounts of sleep and exercise, not smoking, and drinking no more than moderately - without making weight the focus, because odds are I'm not going to lose weight and keep it off.

Ideas for vegetarian dinners, please

I came across a method for lentil patties recently that was good enough for omnivores. :-) Basically, dry red lentils soaked in water for about three hours or more, then drained and ground in the food processor with just enough liquid to puree them, plus seasonings. The result is more a thick batter than a dough, but spooned into a pan to fry they firm up. We had them with yoghurt-mint sauce, and various salads.

Why "cook from frozen"?

Some things get soggy as they thaw, and then mushy as they heat up.

Children of the Corn: Baby Corn, Demystified

I can get the fresh stuff easily - it's very different from the canned.

Occasionally I can find fresh ones still in the husk. Those are great grilled or broiled in the husk, and served with a bit of wasabi mayo for dipping (I first had this at a Japanese restaurant).

One salad I remember as a kid with the canned ones was baby corn, green pepper and onion in a white vinegar based dressing, which I quite liked.

The fresh ones I usually just blanch for a few minutes, and eat straight. Sometimes I'll cut them into chunks cook them up with okra and tomato.

Curry Powders And Heat

If you just want to add more heat, you can add more chili peppers, either using a ground powder like cayenne, or fresh chilis. I don't use curry powder, but when I'm cooking Indian or other spicy cuisines, I adjust the level of heat by varying the type and amount of the peppers.

Curry Powders And Heat

I cook with the spices often enough that I will use them up within a year. If possible I buy whole spices and grind them myself, as they last longer with decent flavour.

I live in a very humid climate, so some ground spices like paprika and garam masala don't last more than about six months before they go mouldy anyways.

If you don't use them very often, finding a good store that sells bulk spices is a good strategy, so you can buy small amounts.

Beef from Australia and fish from China, in a supermarket near you.

In my case (I'm not in the US), our pork and chicken are generally local, as is most of the seafood, but beef and lamb are imported, beef from the US or Australia, lamb from New Zealand.

I'll buy imported seafood if it's frozen, but generally not if it's 'fresh'. For beef, I will generally buy Australian over US beef.

how much red wine i should drink every night?

Personally, I'd go with a small glass, if you're doing it on a daily basis.

The actual amount will depend on a lot - your gender and size are a big part, as a six foot heavily built guy and a slender five foot woman will have very different tolerances. You race may have an effect - people of European descent tend to have better ability to metabolize alcohol than Asians, for example. Also your general health and age. How much other alcohol you drink will have an effect too - if you're mostly a non drinker, the alcohol has a stronger effect, but if you're adding wine to post work drinks and weekend parties, you could be getting past safe consumption levels.

As far as sleeping goes - I find that a moderate amount of alcohol (like one glass) before sleeping makes me go to sleep faster, but the the sleep isn't necessarily as good. More than a glass and it actually makes my sleep noticeably worse.

Scientifically, I'd take those claims with a grain of salt, though. The media tends to overblow scientific results, particularly when it's something that makes a good headline (Red Wine Improves Health!). And this sort of result is the kind of thing that's really, really hard to prove. For example - people who drink red wine have better health. But people who drink red wine tend to be from higher income brackets, and people who are wealthier tend to be healthier as well. Is it the result of the red wine, or of the money and what comes from that (better diet, better health care, etc). So if you aren't a drinker in the first place, I wouldn't start drinking to improve your health, given that alcohol does have negative side effects.

Do pregnant Japanese women eat sushi?

Yes, they do. However, I seem to remember there being some odd traditional restrictions on food while pregnant (like dairy and fruit).

In the US, most sushi has been flash/deep frozen at some point, which would kill parasites. If not, the fish I would worry most about would be salmon, which is not a traditional sushi item, and as it spends part of its life cycle in the river, is more likely to contain parasites than the usual deep cold water fishes used.

Bacteria wise - if you're getting sushi from a decent restaurant, I don't think it's any more risky than eating at restaurants in general. You can get food poisoning from a side salad if the restaurant isn't practicing safe food handling.

Mercury wise - the warnings aren't any different than for cooked fish, and sushi fish tends to be eating in small quantities for each type.

Raw *shellfish* on the other hand, are a more serious risk, as they are filter feeders, and can easily pick up contamination that way.

Fish in general can actually be very healthy for pregnant woman, if the amount of large fish like tuna is watched, but there's a tendency for people to go overboard and cut all seafood, cooked, raw, small, big, from the diet during pregnancy.

FWIW, I'm in Taiwan, and the advice pregnant friends got from their doctors was to avoid alcohol and tobacco, and to check medications. And that was it.

Throwing a party with no oven...suggestions?

Definitely doable.

With subs, I'd be inclined to go with a veggie tray plus chips with dip, hearty salads, and soups. So, for example

- subs
- veggie tray with dip
- tortilla chips with salsa
- hearty vegetable rice soup
- creamed broccoli soup
- garden salad
- rice salad
- ice cream with fresh fruit

If you're all eating at once, you could heat the soup in big stock pots and serve from there. If it's spread out, you could replenish crock pots from pots on the stove.

Dishes to go with pasta (not a side!)

I'm assuming a basic tomato meat sauce - onion, ground meat, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, maybe some mushroom or celery. It's usually made with ground beef, but I use ground pork myself, because it's way cheaper.

For simplicity, why not roast some chicken legs, bone in and skin on, with salt and pepper. I like the Italian sausage idea too - you could also sautee them with onions and peppers.

Can I substitute instant pudding mix for sour cream in cupcake recipe?

What is the leavener in the cupcakes? If it calls for baking soda (rather than powder), you might need the acidity of the sour cream to make it rise properly.

The pudding mix will contain sugar, so it will make the cupcakes much sweeter than otherwise.

If I were trying it, I'd mix up the pudding according to directions, and use 2/3 of a cup of it. I'd add a bit of lemon juice, and decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe a bit to offset the extra sugar in the pudding mix.

Or, I might use yoghurt, but decrease another liquid in the recipe slightly to compensate for the fact that yoghurt is runnier than sour cream (and maybe adjust the sugar slightly for flavoured yoghurt).

There are three things to consider - the amount of liquid (subbing 2/3 of a cup of milk, for example, will make the batter runnier), the flavour it adds (sour cream adds tartness, pudding will add sweetness), and the acidity (which can affect rising).

Ketchup on Eggs? Not in my House!...Yours?

Ketchup on scrambled eggs, mustard with fried eggs.

That's actually one of the only things I use ketchup for; scrambled eggs, hotdogs and hamburgers, and spicy fries (regular fries get vinegar).

What makes a good host ?

- A clear description of the event when issuing the invitation. Don't invite people for dinner, and after they've accepted tell them to bring a main course and a salad, or fail to mention that you're having an outdoor barbecue in January.

- A clean, comfortable environment. Appropriate seating for the number of people and type of event (standing and mingling is okay for a cocktail party, not so good for a dinner or all day event). A clean bathroom with soap, tissues and towels.

- Food that is edible (preferably tasty!), prepared in a safe manner, in sufficient amounts, and served in a reasonable time frame.

- Attentive to the guests' food needs, within reason. This varies depending on the needs and type of party. Inviting a vegetarian to a small dinner party and serving steak, bacon loaded potato salad, and lard fried chips is ungracious, but you don't need to bend yourself into pretzel satisfying everyone's food whims at a large party. Don't direct attention to what a guest is/isn't eating; let people avoid things discreetly if they want to.

Then there's the hard to describe aspect of being a gracious host - greeting people warmly, helping the conversational flow, being able to invite a good mix of people, offering to top up drinks, etc.

Some things I would list personally - make sure to offer some sort of non alcoholic beverage (and always have water available). And don't assume that your guests enjoy being mauled by your pets (or children, for that matter) as much as you do.

As far as the OPs case - if you sent an invitation saying "Come over at 7, dinner will be served at 9" you'd be in the clear, because guests would know what to expect, and could plan accordingly. If you can't predict when dinner would be ready, then you really do need to do something to fix that. A fairly safe option is to plan a menu that can be prepared before the party starts, with a mix of cold dishes and things that can quickly be heated up.

For example - for an Italian meal, you could prepare an appetizer tray of cheese/salami/olives, assemble a lasagne ready to be put in the oven, have a salad ready to be dressed, and have a room temperature vegetable side dish and a pre-made dessert. Set table before people arrive.

You put the lasagna in the oven timed for 15 minutes before you want to serve dinner. You put out the appetizers, pour some wine, and people can chat while the lasagna finishes cooking. You pull the lasagna out to rest, dress the salad, and set out the other dishes. Slice the lasagna and serve, and you've got dinner on time. When the dinner is done, your guests can digest a bit while you make coffee and serve the dessert.

Chicken nuggets

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't be appropriate for someone celebrating passover (dairy + meat).

If you're deep frying, you might try sweet potato starch, as it gives a beautifully crispy coating - I discovered this in a Taiwanese cooking class.

Changing Eating Habits b/c of Foodborne Illness Risk

I definitely pay attention to food safety - when cooking at home, I'm careful about cross contamination. I avoid U.S. ground meat when possible. I have a meat thermometer, to check larger poultry cuts and pork.

Eating out, when I eat street food, I stick with cooked and popular, and avoid things like night market sushi. I avoid things like ground meat or blood unless they're well cooked.

Other than that, I don't fret too much. I'm definitely more relaxed than the average Canadian or American when it comes to refrigerating stuff, or leaving food at room temperature for a while. I also buy meat and seafood at the (unrefrigerated) traditional market, and when in Japan I tried raw chicken sashimi.

But when travelling in places like India, I drink bottled water only (bought from a reputable source and checking the seal carefully), and avoid raw fruits and vegetables, and ice.

In the past ten years, I've had two serious bouts of food born illness. One was likely the result of raw oysters, the other was definitely contracted at a restaurant meal (reasonably fancy restaurant, and I wasn't the only one who got ill from it).

I do find that people don't necessarily have the best intuition about *what* will make them sick. For example - cross contamination can make salad more risky than cooked meat, so the person who gets the chicken pasta is fine, but the vegetarian gets sick from uncooked salad that picked up salmonella or e. coli from a contaminated cutting board. Or that to make eggs completely safe from salmonella they need to be hard cooked - a raw egg has risk, but so does a soft boiled one.

To be extremely safe, the simplest thing would be to eat only food you've prepared yourself, following appropriate food safety methods, to cook everything to safe temperatures (avoiding raw food in general), and to refrigerate leftovers immediately.

Do either of these sound like good ideas for a potluck?

I think you'd be okay without rice if you made the tikka masala fairly dry - so the sauce is just coating the meat. That makes it easy to eat without rice or bread to soak up the sauce.