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What is the best way to invite guests online to casual gatherings at your home? Evite, Facebook, or some other way?

I find an email or personal Facebook message (if that's how I primarily communicate with someone) to be the easiest on-line invitation to see and respond to.

Facebook can be really easy to miss if it's not a personal message - a day or two of not checking, and stuff goes straight past me.

My understanding is that with both Evite and Facebook invitations, everyone else can see whether or not I'm coming. That can discourage some people (me included) from responding. I'm happy to RSVP, but not so thrilled about doing it in front of your whole Facebook friend list. It can also be hard to tell on Facebook at first glance if an event is a personal one (you, specifically, are being invited to a social event) or a general one (someone is advertising to their whole Facebook list).

To improve responses, I find that an initial email, followed by one later saying "Let me know by X time if you're coming or not, so I know how much food to prepare" improves the response rate. It won't help the people who have no intention of RSVPing, but it will help those who are just swamped in media messages.

How to eat healthy as a picky adult

It is possible to train your palate to enjoy new foods, but you need to stick with it, and eat the food multiple times in order to get used to it.

Work your way out from the foods you do like. If you like broccoli, for example, try gai lan (Chinese broccoli), or broccoflower, and then work from broccoflower to cauliflower.

Try mixing a vegetable you like with one you are less familiar with - saute broccoli with onion, for example, or with chopped red pepper. Mix corn with green peas. Make a salad that incorporates fruit - apple, walnut and celery, for example, or sliced apples and spinach, or avocado and tomato.

Try different preparations and seasonings, particularly if you're used to trying vegetables cooked in a single way, like boiled. You can eat them raw, you can have them lightly steamed with lemon or butter, or sauteed with garlic, or pureed in a soup, or roasted.

Do the kid trick, and sneak vegetables into other food. Add grated carrot or zucchini to a hamburger patty (think mini-meatloaf), and keep increasing the amount each time you make it, until the vegetables are really noticeable. Make homemade tacos, and mix some diced tomatoes with the meat. Mash cauliflower with potatoes (google sneaking vegetables into kid's food for other ideas).

Start with small amounts of new vegetables, and force yourself to eat it all.

In order to have a healthy diet you really do need to expand the vegetables you will eat - as others have said, corn is more a starch than a vegetable, and fruits are in general fairly high in sugar.

Think of this not just as being for health, but for your professional and personal development. Travel is much harder when you're a picky eater, and it can hurt you professionally if you work at a job where business meals are part of the package.

Ultimately, you will need to increase the variety of foods you like, and it will take effort. But you can train yourself to like unfamiliar foods. The fact that you like broccoli is actually encouraging - broccoli is on the bitter side compared to a lot of vegetables.

Dried Kidney Bean preparation

I think they are right that there isn't a tested way of pressure canning dairy or noodles at home. The USDA guidelines (which are pretty comprehensive) give no instructions on how to do so, and specifically say that you should not add dairy or starches to home canned soups.

Noodles or other starches will basically disintegrate during the 60-75 minutes pressure cooking processing time, which affects the heat transfer through the food (as will other starches or thickeners) in an unpredictable way.

College Kid Blues

I think what I would do is to try to microwave lean ground beef and grated onion until the beef is cooked, then add canned tomatoes, rinsed canned beans, and chili powder, and cook until heated through.

Onions are tricky, because they generally need to be sauteed for a good texture and taste. Grating the onions would give you some of the onion flavour, without the texture issue, and cooking with the ground beef might bring out the flavour.

It won't be gourmet chili, by any means, but it should be edible and reasonably healthy...

If you're a reasonably good cook to start with, you could offer a trade with non-dorm classmates. You get to use their kitchen to make a batch of chili, you split the costs, and they get half the food.

I can't really blame universities for banning hot-plates in the dorm rooms, though, due to the fire risk. When I was in undergrad they ended up banning hot air popcorn poppers because they kept setting off the heat alarms, usually at about 10 or 11 pm.

recs for teas/juices/soups/drinks/other foods that act as decongestants

Get a jar of Thai hot and sour soup paste. Mix with hot chicken stock and/or water, and drink.

Can you can your home made chicken stock?

As others have said, you can do it, but you

1) Need to use a pressure canner and follow reputable instructions
2) Cannot use water bath canning
3) Cannot use a pressure cooker instead of a pressure canner
4) Cannot seal with wax
5) *Must* be able to follow pressure canning instructions *exactly*.
6) Need to understand the process well enough to be able adjust for altitude.

Canning stock is straight up chemistry, and needs to be done correctly. You *cannot*, at any point of the process say "Oh, but how about doing it like this...." and make a substitution or alteration of the process. You can do that with most normal cooking, and it the worst that happens is that it doesn't taste good, or the recipe fails. Doing this while canning meat products can kill you, and you won't know the stock is dangerous until you end up in the hospital.

Pat peeves as a guest at a dinner party?

As a guest -

If a place is dirty or excessively cluttered. It doesn't have to look like a magazine photo-spread, but having to pick my way through the living room, or having cat fur floating into the food is not particularly enjoyable.

Food that's excessively late. If the invitation is for six, and at nine the hosts think of maybe starting to cook soon, it's a problem.

Mismatch between food and seating. I can understand not having a giant table, and using more informal seating. But if you do that, the food has to be something that can be eaten off your lap neatly and easily - nothing too messy, or that needs cutting.

Only alcohol to drink. I enjoy alcoholic drinks, but sometimes I can't have them (like when I'm drugged to the gills to handle cats), and I can't drink all that much in the first place. So it's a pain when you're stuck with tap water because it hasn't occurred to them that not everyone drinks.

Badly behaved pets, particularly when the hosts think it's cute when their dog is shredding my clothes ('she's so friendly, isn't she') or has just licked my steak ('oh, he thinks he's people!').

Are crispy eggs a culinary no no?

I'm curious about the rationale for declaring crispy edges forbidden, aside from "because I say so". I mean, it's a fried egg - we're not talking posh cuisine here.

But count me in - my perfect fried egg would have cripsy edges, fully set white, and still runny, just warm yolk. And it would be fried in bacon grease, and served with well buttered brown toast to sop up the yolk.

Crock-Pot Cuisine -- are you kidding?

If it helps, I view things like this as entry-level cooking.

Quite often the people buying it are not deciding between cooking something from scratch and buying a kit - they're deciding between buying a kit and getting takeout. So it is likely cheaper and healthier than what they would otherwise eat.

Vegetables from the Asian Market

Cook's thesaurus can be useful for some of the more common ones, although it's fairly western-centric. It has pictures, which I find are essential for this sort of thing.

http://www.foodsubs.com/

These sites are ones I occasionally use as well - they're vegetable seed sellers specializing in different Asian varieties, and it has pictures and common names.

http://www.evergreenseeds.com/vegetab...

http://www.tainongseeds.com/vegetable...

Taiwan spinach is probably a variety of edible amaranth, which cooks up much like spinach, although it might be water spinach, which is great blanched or stir-fried with with garlic. There are dozens of different types of leafy greens used in Chinese cooking, though - I still have problems identifing some of then.

Mao gua is hairy gourd (also called little winter melon) - the first name is the pronunciation of "hairy gourd" in mandarin. It can be stir fried or used in soups.

Gua (瓜) in mandarin, means melon or gourd, and is used for cucumbers, summer and winter squash, melons, gourds, and sweet potatoes.

Another common word is 菜 tsai/cai (in Mandarin) or choi in Cantonese, which simply means vegetable.

Avgolemono soup question

I've never had a problem, but I beat the eggs with the lemon juice and some water before adding to the soup, and whisk as I add it.

Crock-Pot Cuisine -- are you kidding?

I frequently see sets of hot-pot ingredients done like this. It's useful when you want to do a hotpot or soup with a variety of ingredients, but don't want or need to buy half a cabbage, a couple of packs of mushrooms, a whole squash, a cob of corn, a pack of tofu, a bunch of onions, a pack of carrots, a pack of fish balls, a pack of dumplings and a whole daikon.

I've even seen fresh vegetable hot-pot sets in the 7-11.

Asian pears- what's the attraction?

Interesting - the ones I get are delicious; sweet without being cloying, and a delicate, fresh flavour. Way more flavour than jicama, which I find needs lime juice and salt to jazz it up.

My husband was actually commenting while we were eating on for dessert that it can be difficult to find ones that aren't too sweet, compared to the ones from his childhood.

I do find that with some fruit, freshness and ripeness make a huge difference. I didn't get the appeal of starfruit until I had properly ripe, local ones (which are delicious). I don't eat cherries anymore because the imported ones are so flavourless, and I suspect I'll feel the same way about mangoes and pineapples.

Rural Chinese Cooking?

It depends a bit on what time scale you are thinking of. Stir frying became more popular in the late middle ages (late Ming dynasty) in part because it was a very efficient use of increasingly scarce fuel, by cutting up food so it cooks quickly. Before that, steaming and boiling dominated. Steaming can also be quite fuel efficient, particularly when you start stacking bamboo steamers. Rice cooking can be made more efficient by soaking the grains first, before steaming. If you need a fire for heat, as in more northern parts, braising and simmering can be done on a fairly low fire.

As far as fuel goes, coke (processed coal) was also used from a pretty early point in history (according to Wikipedia, from at least the 9th century), although probably not too much by the poorest people as it had to be purchased. I think the worst pressure for fuel was near cities, with higher population density - in more sparsely populated rural areas the available vegetable matter fuel would be shared by fewer people.

I also wonder about bamboo as a fuel source, as it regrows quickly compared with trees. And you can burn dried animal waste if you really want to, although in agricultural areas it's also needed as fertilizer. Natural gas is a much later fuel source.

The screaming hot wok is mostly a restaurant thing; they use higher powered gas burners that aren't particularly practical in a home kitchen (for one thing, lighting the ceiling on fire becomes an issue). Home cooks even now will have a burner that is stronger than a typical Western gas burner (and designed to hold a wok), but not up to restaurant standards.

Low Potassium High Carb and High Sodium Diet

I second the advice to get a referral to a dietician; another good source of information can be a kidney care clinic, as low potassium diets are a staple of care for kidney issues.

You need to find out what vegetables are low in potassium, and the quantity that you are able to eat. You're right - the high potassium list is quite extensive and surprising. My mom's on a low potassium diet, and things like most beans (including all soy products), nuts, potatoes, whole grains, tomatoes and oranges are on the restricted list, so it's not just vegetables.

Homemade, OH SO TASTY sauces to accompany unadorned chicken breast, and fish

I like making batches of more labour intensive base sauces that freeze well. You can freeze them in ziploc bags, in a thin, flat layer, and break off just what you need for a meal (or freeze in ice-cube trays).

This works well with pesto - you can also mix with a bit of cream for a pesto cream sauce. You can do pesto variations - sundried tomato pesto, for example.
Romesco sauce, with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic and nuts works well too. Or a smear of harissa, for a real blast of spice - this makes a good addition to tomato sauce as well. You can do the same with a Thai curry paste and some of coconut milk.

Yoghurt makes a good base for a simple sauce, with chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice and garlic, or tatziki (I love tatziki on plain white rice).

You could also pan fry the chicken breasts, and deglaze the pan with some white wine and some extra chicken stock. Freeze the liquid, and heat up a bit for a simple topping. You could add cream after thawing and warming (cream based sauces don't tend to freeze well), and vary the flavour with herbs, garlic and/or mustard.

You can do herbed lemon or garlic butters and freeze in pats - melt over the fish.

You could saute mushrooms and garlic, and add some brandy at the end and then freeze. Add some cream after thawing for a rich mushroom sauce.

Kewpie mayonnaise

Make sprinkle shrimp.

Peeled shrimp, battered and deep fried, tossed with Asian mayo and canned pineapple pieces, and topped with chocolate sprinkles (like you'd use on cupcakes).

I know this sounds really weird, but it's a ubiquitous restaurant dish where I live, and quite tasty.

dry beans

I find chickpeas work particularly well in the slow cooker. I freeze them in plastic bags, in meal sized portions.

The leftover cooking liquid from dried beans makes a good soup base, particularly if you're making vegetarian soups or stews.

Accommodating a Party Guest-What is Reasonable?

And 100 pieces platter of sushi as an appetizer.

I think that's the whole point of the post - making extra servings for a heavy eater is one thing, but in order to make enough for the big eater, the enough left over for the guests, means that the OP either needs to provide enough of the nice stuff for 20 or more extra people (because he'll zoom in on the most expensive stuff), or restrict the menu to the cheapest of foods, or host knowing that the other guests won't get enough to eat. I could easily picture this guy eating the entire big bowl of crab dip, or vacuuming up all the caviar before anyone else gets a taste.

I can see two options. One is to call him up in advance and be honest - you're looking forward to having him over, but you know he's a big eater, and doesn't necessarily pay attention to which dish he's eating. So you'd like to warn him that the meal is heavy appetizers, so he'll want to eat something before hand, and you'll have his food set aside so he doesn't eat all of anything.

This will likely be painful, but I think the analogy to an alcoholic is a good one - you can't invite an alcoholic over, serve booze, and hope that this time, against all evidence, they won't get drunk and cause problems. I've had this conversation with a guest over alcohol, based on behaviour at a previous party - they were welcome to come, but would not be allowed to drink at my home. And yes, they were offended, and insisted to everyone who would listen that they didn't have a problem, but they didn't drink at my party.

The second option is to go for cheap and let him eat as much as he wants. Make the bean burrito bar, and/or a baked potato bar, and don't put all the fixings out at once (so other people can get a chance).

I definitely don't think it's fair to dump the burden of watching him on another guest - you want your guests to have fun. If I were given babysitting duties at a party, that would be the last time I accepted an invitation there.

Highly Acidic Coffee

I think if the coffee is so acidic that it's curdling cream, they're doing coffee wrong.

And skim milk is completely different in coffee than cream - I can't believe they suggested that with a straight face.

May I vent? (living with a reasonably Chowish person who isn't quite a Chowhound..)

I would chalk it up as my fault for expecting him to be psychic, and make a note to be specific next time.

"Buy Bread" means buy bread - if you mean "Buy good quality San Francisco sourdough because Fiance is from Tokyo and it's a nice regional treat", then you need to say that.

Tea without Sugar?

Be careful with xylitol - it can have unpleasant laxative effects, and some people are more sensitive than others.

naked condiments

I eat pico de gallo with a spoon, and I do like small spoonfuls of prepared mustard.

I was on medication once that made me hungry all the time, combined with limited activity. I resorted to dashes of green chili Tabasco, straight from the bottle, to help satisfy me.

Then there's the temptation of remnant lemon butter sauce....

Sides for Mincemeat Pie

Interesting - I think the 'old style' I was going for was less 19th century and more 15th century... I've never eaten or even seen modern mincemeat pies, but I've done some exploration into medieval cooking, where meaty dishes with heavy spices, fruit and sugar are much more common than in modern UK/North American cooking, so it being a main course didn't seem odd to me.

I did a bit of looking, and this site, for example

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

has mincemeat pies starting out as a fruity meat pie main dish, evolving into a sweet pie with meat, then into a fruit only pie with the name attached.

Whatever it was I ended up with, though, tastes absolutely fantastic. I'll definitely make it again, and this time keep track of how much of what I put in.

Sides for Mincemeat Pie

I've never actually eaten it before, so when I was making it, I adjusted the seasonings to something that I found on the border of sweet and savory, and used a fair bit of meat in it.

I've got beef (with the reserved fat, because I can't get suet), raisins, tart apples, prunes, some lemon juice and yuzu juice/peel, brandy, brown sugar, cinnamon/cloves/nutmeg/ginger.

Recipes I found on line varied wildly - for a pound of meat, the amount of sugar varied from 2 tablespoon to a full cup, some called for vinegar or lemon juice, some not.

It's definitely not like a tourtiere, though - much more fruity and sweet/tangy.

Sides for Mincemeat Pie

I'm making mincemeat pie for Christmas Eve - the old fashioned kind, with meat. Any suggestions for good sides? I figure a garden salad will go well, but I need more vegetables.

Corn, squash and green beans are on for Christmas Day, so I don't want to do those.

Christmas Dinner: in charge of turkey and ham and mashed potato -- but traveling 5 hours to get there, arriving just 2 hours before scheduled dinner time

I'd cook the meat thoroughly, carve, and pack the carved meat in a well chilled cooler. Then I'd arrange it on baking trays, drizzled with a bit of stock and covered with foil to reheat in a reasonable time without it drying up. You'll have to give up nice crispy skin.

Actually, I think I'd poach the breast and roast the hind quarters for maximum juiciness, as you're going to carve it in advance. The wings, neck and giblets along with the poaching liquid will give you gravy plus drizzling stock.

For mashed potatoes, I'd make them ahead, and add a bit more liquid than I would normally do, as the texture of mashed potatoes tends to stiffen up by the next day.

At what point does a recipe become "yours"?

I think it depends a bit on how unique the original recipe is, and what you mean by "my".

Take something like tomato sauce - there are hundreds of ways to make it, and if I give you 'my' recipe I'm telling you how I personally make that particular dish, rather than giving you a recipe I've developed myself. I may not even remember where I got it from originally because I've made it so often.

On the other end of things, you have strikingly unique recipes. If you're making chocolate and shrimp stuffed cornish game hen with truffle glaze and pickled strawberries out of a cookbook from your favourite celebrity chef, then you should probably keep the attribution, or even an 'adapted from' if you've changed things a bit. Part of that is just to keep yourself from looking foolish - if a friend passed around 'their' recipe for the above, and I came across the original recipe and realized they were copying it verbatim, I'll roll my eyes, and chalk that person up as a bit of a pretentious twit.

Super Easy Few Ingredient Holiday Cookies and Candy

One good white chocolate one.

500 g white chocolate coating compound, chopped
300 g dried cranberries
300 g chopped walnuts
finely grated zest of a lemon

Put chocolate and zest in the top of a double boiler and melt. Remove from heat, add cranberries and walnuts and mix well. Cool to room temperature but still liquidy, and spoon onto a wax paper or foil in clumps to dry.

Oysters

It tastes like the soul of the ocean.

To me, a raw oyster tastes like a cool fall day down by the waterfront, with a brisk raw breeze, and an oceanside scent of salt water and seaweed. It tends to make me homesick.