tastesgoodwhatisit's Profile

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Star-themed hors d'oeuvres

You could do a really authentic observatory meal....

A slightly squashed sandwich, an apple or an orange, and some cookies, a bag of salty snack food of choice, and a four litre jug of water.

This is pretty typical for what astronomers will eat as a night lunch while taking data. If you're not at high altitude, you can swap the four litres of water for endless cups of coffee or caffeinated soft drink of your choice.

Herbal tea

I don't know if it works for your area, but the Carrefour grocery store brands are pretty good (I'm not a fan of a lot of the Celestial Seasonings type ones). They do a good blackcurrant-peach, a licorice mint, and a linden flower and honey.

Food for mama while she cares for newborn twins: strategies?

Do roast or braised meats (which take time but little effort). Cool, slice, and package into one or two meal portions, drizzled with a bit of the pan juices. This works well with cheap/tough cuts of meat.

Ground meat things freeze well and are easy to make in big batches - I'm thinking about things like meatballs, sausage patties, koftas, meatloaf, hamburger patties in tomato sauce or gravy, etc. I would freeze them cooked, so you just need to re-heat. I have an extremely simple lentil patty recipe that freezes well, if you want that.

Beans and rice freeze well.

Curries - look at chickpea and lentil curries for economical options. I really like a Moroccan style meat and chickpea stew, which is basically a meal in a bowl, and freezes well.

A rice cooker, if you don't have one, could help - go for a simple, cheap on that has cook/warm settings and nothing more. The advantage is that it needs no attention once you turn it on, and will automatically go to warm setting when the rice is finished.

bottled roasted red peppers

The other jarred peppers I'm familiar with are pickled, so the acid and salt keeps them for a long period of time. Roasted red peppers would be more like a jar of tomato sauce for pasta in terms of staying good in the fridge.

How many different appetizers should I serve for a party of 40 for 4 hours?

Personally, I would do 6-8 types, and count on at least 10 pieces per person for a dinner hour party, unless the pieces are fairly large. I'm a non-heavy eater in my 40s, and 6 small appetizers would be too little for a party over dinner hour, but perfectly fine for a pre-dinner cocktail hour.

Other things I'd consider

- make sure that no one ingredient dominates, so that people with food issues have something to choose from. I'd do half the items naturally vegan (for vegetarians, plus dairy/egg issues), half naturally gluten free, make sure not everything is spicy or salty or tomato based or garlicky, for example.

- no more than two hot apps, for logistical reasons. And pretty much everything should be able to be made ahead of tim.

What I would probably do is 5 or 6 piece type appetizers, and then round it out with a cheese tray (with crackers, and maybe a pate), a crudite tray with two dips (one dairy, one vegan), and maybe crackers/bread and spreads (tapenade, flavoured cream cheese, onion and tomato jam). Those are quick to prepare, can be done ahead of time, and aren't fussy.

Plus beverages, including something nice in the non-alcoholic line,

Need a good cooling dip for Korean fried chicken.

Miso mayo?

Name a dish that you cannot find anywhere in town that you have to make yourself???

Proper stinky tofu smells like an open sewer. On a hot day, you can smell it from across 8 lanes of traffic. I mean, I've learned to kind of like the smell, but it's definitely still there.

Jul 28, 2015
tastesgoodwhatisit in Manhattan

Your food world and computers

Pre-computer, you'd often buy a good travel guide like the Lonely Planet guide. If you wanted to make hotel reservations, you'd do so by phoning one of the hotels in the guide. Quite often you'd find a place to stay after you got there, by using a local phone book, or asking at the tourist information centre. In addition, public libraries had copies of phone books for some major cities, so you could look up numbers that way in advance. For younger travellers, you could get youth hostel listings for international settings, and if you were going through a particular chain, you could book through a local branch. Or, you dealt with a travel agent who had a greater knowledge of options in the area you were going.

For food, you read travel guides or the Michelin guide or travel columns in newspapers, or asked your hotel lobby for suggestions, or just go out and wander. I had an absolutely lovely meal in Frankfurt, after asking the hotel reception for recommendations.

My impression is that writing for reservations wasn't particularly common, even before telephones, unless you were booking something unusual. It was much more likely that you'd just try your luck once you got there, or stay at a standard hotel.

The internet has increased options, but I don't think it has necessarily reduced the effort and time spent in planning. I know I spend a lot more time poring over TripAdvisor rankings to figure out the best hotel for my price range than I ever spent on figuring out hotels before internet booking and reviews were common.

What is worth making from scratch to save money?

For things that aren't worth making...

Jams, jellies and pickles are generally not worth making yourself unless you have access to very cheap or free fruits and vegetables (your own garden, for example, or picking wild blackberries). You also need to do it enough years in a row to make the initial purchase of jars and canning equipment worthwhile.

Condiments like ketchup, mustard, hot-sauce, mayo, plus things like peanut butter. They're so cheap that the savings are minimal, and they take a fair amount of time and effort to do well.

Bread is a bit iffy. If you normally buy cheap bread from the grocery store, making at home can actually cost more. And if you like really nice bread, it can take time to get good enough at bread making to match what you buy. If you're committed to making it, and you eat it daily, a bread-maker can give you reliably decent bread with little effort.

Pasta isn't generally worth it - it takes time and skill to make well, and dried pasta is quite cheap.

Ice cream - it's generally going to cost more to make than buying it at the grocery store, and it requires purchasing equipment.

Cheese is not generally worth it, by the time you factor in the time/skill and the cost of milk. Yoghurt can be, if you use the previous batch as a starter, and get milk in large quantities.

I personally don't think pizza is worth it at home - producing really good pizza at home isn't particularly easy, and pizza is a fairly cheap occasional indulgence.

Pesto can be either way. If you can get big bunches of cheap basil, it's cheaper than storebought. If it costs $2 for a tiny bunch, it's more expensive to make it.


In general, skipping convenience foods can save a lot of money. Skip the pre-washed greens, baby carrots, marinated meat, grated cheese, flavoured cream cheese, instant oatmeal, noodle and sauce packets, canned soups, etc. Frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes, however, can often save money.

For things that are easy to do and have a significant cost savings over the store-bought version - salad dressings, simple crackers, dried beans/chickpeas/lentils, marinades, breadcrumbs/croutons, instant oatmeal, flavoured cream cheese, etc.

Granola is much cheaper if you've got a good source of bulk nuts and oats.

I'd leave things like making your own sauerkraut or beer until you've figured out how much energy and time you have with your baby - they can save money, but do take time and a fair bit of mental energy to get right.

Cooking Classes in Taiwan?

I don't know about Taichung, but I do know some good teachers in Taipei, with excellent English instruction. I took a group class with them and really enjoyed it - hands on practice, and lots of detailed explanations about how and why.


Beloved picky guests

I make less effort than I would for a reasonable guest.

For someone whose company I truly enjoy, who is otherwise a lovely person except for this quirk, I might serve a default dinner that I know they like.

For someone who I have to invite (family, for example, or part of a group that I'm hosting), I'll make sure there is something that they can eat, but won't re-arrange the entire meal. So I'll leave a serving unsauced, make them a baked potato - that kind of thing.

For the flaky type (random changes in food fads, declare allergies when it's a preference, emphatically declare that they are X, but will eat the food when it suits them), I'll do my best to socialize with them in non hosted-food situations. Have them over for coffee where I can serve simple food, and a sudden refusal to eat what I've provided isn't a problem. Meet them somewhere they can order what they want. If they're part of a group, I might pre-emptively suggest that they bring their own portion of safe food, as I'm not comfortable handling their food issues.

For rude guests - people who make ewwww noises, lecture my other guests, make outrageous demands, get offended or insulting if I haven't done exactly what they want. Those ones don't get invited back.

To be honest, if someone is really, really picky and I don't thoroughly enjoy their company otherwise, it does make me reluctant to host them, and it can push someone from being a friend to an acquaintance.

A Vegan Antipasto Platter?

How about

- Mixed olives
- baby green salad
- marinated mushrooms
- a cherry tomato salad
- lightly pickled cauliflower and carrots
- a couple of vegan dips or spreads (baba ganoj, vegan tapenade, muhammara, guacamole, salsa, etc)
- spiced nuts
- roasted chickpeas
- fresh fruit

Making bacon dishes a tad healthier?

I honestly wouldn't worry about the fat in flavouring bacon unless you really have to watch it due to heath issues, or your diet is generally very heavy in meat and fat.

Do be mindful of your total fat overall. Fat is calorically dense, and no matter how heart-heathy (or whatever) a particular fat is supposed to be, eating large amounts of it translates to a lot of calories.

FWIW, I save rendered bacon fat, and use it for cooking. Or at least I did, back when I could still find Western style bacon to buy. A bit of bacon is great as the start of a creamy potato soup or a French onion style soup, for example, or as flavouring for fried beans and rice.

I do skim fat off some types of soups and stocks - stewed pork belly gets skimmed, as does homemade chicken broth. But a bit of fat in a soup or stew does help the flavour.

Make-ahead meals for two weeks (vegetarian and meat-eating)

You could freeze the core part of your meals, so you just need to boil pasta, or make rice, and add a salad.

For some freezable mains -

- Spaghetti sauce (freeze some meatballs separately)
- curried chickpeas
- fried rice and beans
- a hearty bean soup or vegetable barley soup
- vegetarian chili
- meatloaf (slice before freezing)
- lasagna
- lentil patties
- sausages (veggie or meat)

For side dishes, you can blanch and freeze or roast and freeze vegetables (blanch broccoli, green beans, roast carrots, beets, onions, cauliflower, squash, red peppers). Once you thaw them, you can serve with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar, or melted butter, or a bit of grated cheese.

Pureed vegetable soups also freeze well - think cream of broccoli, asparagus or tomato, curried carrot, squash soup, etc.

Your favorite junk food or guilty pleasure?

Ketchup flavoured Ringolos. Most addictive snack food in existence (and I'm not a huge ketchup chip fan).

Spitz sunflower seeds, in chili-lime or seasoned flavour. I had a pound a week habit in grad school.

Strongly seasoned, crispy/crunchy salt and vinegar potato chips.

Skor bars.

Marshmallow sundae from Dairy Queen.

Tim Hortons doughnuts.

Taiwanese "Mexican coffee buns" fresh from the oven.

Chip truck fries doused in salt and malt vinegar.

McDonalds cherry pies.

There's No Such Thing As Bad…

I ordered an Irish coffee once that was made with Scotch....

How to avoid onion and garlic powder clumping?

Store in a lock box with a package of dessicant (you can buy then in camera supply places). Buying a coarser grained powder helps - I buy a fairly coarse granulated garlic.

I'm in a humid climate, and I keep it in a spice shaker with a screw top lid. I use a pointed chopstick to loosen it when necessary, and make sure to use it up within a few months.

Eating massive maki rolls?


"eggs over easy" what does it mean?

I thought the point of over easy was to have the yolk still runny, but not the whites.

Would you buy dessert sauces at a farmers market?

Could you do highlights of produce that's being sold at the market that would go well with the sauce? Either suggestions (raspberries with ice-cream and chocolate sauce) or a recipe.

Is pot roast safe?

I'd eat it.

As someone said, older recipes tend to tell you to let the meat sit at room temperature for a few hours before cooking. I also regularly buy fresh meat in unrefrigerated outdoor markets, without problems.

What Unusual or Uncommon Vegetables Do You Eat - And how do you prepare them?

They're surprisingly good stuffed with a spam based filling.

What Unusual or Uncommon Vegetables Do You Eat - And how do you prepare them?

Taiwan does do stir-fried leafy green well.

Some that are part of my regular cooking rotation, but would be less common in Western cooking...

water spinach
chaoyte squash leaves
loofah aka silk melon aka chinese okra
winter melon
burdock root
birds nest fern shoots
bitter melon
fresh bamboo shoots
water bamboo shoots (which are actually a grass)
purple sweet potato
lotus root

occasionally I get a hold of betel nut blossoms, which are quite tasty

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

I think there's a balance, and you can go too far in either direction.

I think forcing a child to eat when they are already full is both cruel and bad for long term health (if you're full, you should stop eating). And forcing a kid to sit at the table for hours to choke down food that they loathe is a bad idea too.

On the other hand, if the reaction to "I don't like that" is to jump up and make the kid a plate of their favourite food, it also leads to problems, particularly when you consider highly processed foods that are carefully engineered with multi-million dollar budgets to be preferred over broccoli and spinach. It often takes multiple exposures to a new food for a kid to like it.

I've seen my six year old niece throw a tantrum because her evening flavoured popcorn snack was a different colour than normal (new brand). Normally, she would simply get what she wanted to stop the fuss, but they physically didn't have any of the old brand to give her, so cue the yelling, tears and slammed doors.

Growing up, I was required to try new things, and we didn't get separate meals or even the make-a-sandwich option. But we could serve ourselves portions we could eat, and if we didn't like a particular food, we weren't forced to eat it (but we didn't get a substitute). Restaurants were an exception - we didn't eat out much, but we could order based on preference, within reason.

We also ate dinner together, so it was not just a food thing - there was conversation as well.

Watermelon Controversy! - Seeded vs. Seedless?

I dislike seedless fruit on principle - I think it's generally a bad idea to create a fruit that can't be used to reproduce itself.

The Etiquette of Bringing Your Own Meal on a Plane

I can tell when the grocery store is selling durian the moment I walk in the door, when the produce section is way at the back. I particularly like the oven mitts next to the bin, for safe handling.

Korean Cuisine Beginner: What do I order?

I'm fond of bibimbap, which makes a good beginners dish. It's basically a rice bowl with a mix of marinated cooked meat, vegetables, kimchi, sometimes a fried (or raw) egg on top - mix, add extra hot pepper paste if you want, and eat. It's tasty and not too spicy. Sometimes you can get stone bowl bibimbap, where it's served in a heated stone bowl that gives you a lovely crunchy rice crust on the bottom.

One of my favourite summer dishes is mul naengmyeon - soba noodles served in an ice cold, light but tangy beef broth, with shredded vegetables and half a hard-boiled egg.

Favorite fava bean recipes

I can get peeled ones at the market for a reasonable part of the year. I simmer until almost tender, sautee some diced bacon, and toss with the beans.

Why am I such a bad baker?

Where do you live? If you're using recipes from one region in another, it can definitely make a difference for flour.

For example, Canadian all purpose flour is higher in gluten than American all purpose flour. If you're using a U.S. recipe in Canada and follow the recipe exactly, it will be a bit off - I find I needed to decrease the amount of flour slightly.

And, as other posters have said, substituting things like oil for butter or adding eggs is not a good idea unless you've mastered the basics. Mixes tend to be more forgiving, as they've been carefully designed to be very robust, and are sometimes very far away from a home-baked version.

Cooking and being friendly to planet earth

Now I've got Weird Al running through my head....