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Do I really need to spend $500 to get a great blender?

My Oster has never worked well. I use it mostly for smoothies and it has trouble with frozen strawberries!
Thanks for the perspective....maybe I just got a dud model.

May 19, 2010
cholderby in Cookware

"Healthful" baking/desserts--best cookbooks?

I LOVE the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking book! I like it even more than their regular book. At first I thought the idea of making a cake (high sugar/high fat) with whole grains was kind of dumb (if I'm going to splurge, let's splurge) but it is amazingly good. The chocolate chip recipe in there is my favorite. And I make something like muffins/scones/coffeecake from that book each weekend.

Of course, they use some pretty obscure grains sometimes all "conveniently" available from KA. I've had very good luck substituting some whole grains for others, just make sure to read the grain descriptions in the back of the book.

My only other issue with the book is that some recipes require a night's rest before eating (like the amazing brownies). I don't have the willpower to have a pan of warm brownies on the counter and not eat them. I have managed it once and they were so much better the next day but, oh the will power!

May 19, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

Do I really need to spend $500 to get a great blender?

For over a year now, I have been looking at "commercial" blenders (VitaMix, BlendTec, etc.). I have a beehive Oster right now that is really a piece of junk. I know I can get a much better blender and I know I'll use it...I just can't quite bring myself to pay $500 for a blender.

So are they worth it? Anyone know of a less expensive model? I've seen the base model VitaMix for $398, then I get caught up wondering if its worth it to spend a little more to get more power.

I'd appreciate thoughts on the subject...I've been thinking about this for so long I am beyond muddled.

May 19, 2010
cholderby in Cookware

Nice additions to cookbook library

To me, at least, there are two types of cookbooks: the "how do they do that" restaurant books that you aren't going to make dinner from, and the practical homecooking sort. While I enjoy flipping through the restaurant cookbooks, I don't tend to purchase them because they don't have any real use in my home. I've just found an exception to my own rule in your list, the Les Halles cookbook is a restaurant cokbook that you really can make dinner from...ok so I never said that was perfect...

Some of my favorite home cooking cookbooks:

Cookwise by Shirley Corriher (I have Bakewise too, but I wasn't quite as enamored)
The Best Recipe by Cook's Illustrated
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
The All Around the World Cookbook by Sheila Lukins (I know, she's the lady who writes recipes for the Sunday newspaper insert, but its a seriously good book and you can get a used copy for a couple bucks)

I'm also really fond of the Time-Life "Foods of the World" cookbooks from the '60s. OK, you're not going to make dinner out of these either, but they ar really well written and absolutely fascinating to read. And you can find them for a dollar or two at any used bookstore.

May 19, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

Great Specialty Markets in SE Michigan

I really like the One World Market on Grand River in Novi. Its a Japanese Grocery (oh, the junk good. Sushi quality fish too. Sushi too, for that matter).

Apr 22, 2010
cholderby in Great Lakes

Traverse City--need kid friendly, non-chain recommendations

If you decide that you'd like to try something just a step above a brewpub, try Trattoria Stella. It's in an old insane asylum and I've dined there with my own kids (who don't eat or sit still) as well as nieces and nephews on many occasions. The restaurant itslef has a bar area and then two or three (can't remember) different dining rooms. If you go during slower periods (as we do) they'll stick you in a less than crowded room which works well for kids. The food is really good, I'm sure you can find many food reviews on the restaurant. But for a nicer restaurant with no kid menu, they are pretty darn kid friendly.

Stella Trattoria
1200 W 11th St, Traverse City, MI 49684

Apr 22, 2010
cholderby in Great Lakes

What other uses for Havarti Dill Cheese?

High Rise Herb Biscuits (from Cooks Country)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 T chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces and 3 T melted)
1/2 cup shredded dill havarti cheese
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
2Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
3Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cayenne, chilled butter, Havarti, and Parmesan in food processor until mixture resembles wet sand -- about 10 one second pulses.
4Transfer to large bowl.
5Process cottage cheese, milk, dill and lemon juice in food processor until smooth.
6Stir cottage cheese mixture into flour mixture until well combined.
7On lightly floured work space, knead dough until smooth, 8 to 10 kneads.
8Pay dough into 7 inch circle about 1 inch thick.
9Using 2 inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out rounds of dough and invert onto prepared baking sheet.
10Gather remaining dough and pat into 1 inch thick circle and cut out remaining biscuits.
11Bake until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes.
12Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.
13Cool 5 minutes.
14Serve warm or hot.
15The biscuits will keep at room temperature for up to one day.

They are REALLY good!

Apr 18, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

How to bake, healthy?

I really love the KA Whole Grain Baking Book too. In fact, the choc. chip cookies and brownies are better than white flour! But they still have a lot of sugar.

Another site to check out:

And if you can get past having a picture of the author on every single page, the clean eating cookbook isn't bad. But watch the serving sizes...they sometimes try to tell you that half a cookie is a serving.

Apr 18, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

make and freeze dinner?

thank you all so much!

The recipes I had found online were all part of the cook once for 30 days scenario involving lots of canned cond. soup and processed inredients. I'd like something moderately healthy and tasty.

Apr 07, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

make and freeze dinner?

My sister is having twins tomorrow and I'd like to bring over some food so they have one less thing to worry about. I'd like to do something frozen, since we're not sure when they'll be home but everything I've found online is, well, something I wouldn't want to eat.
Any ideas?

Apr 06, 2010
cholderby in Home Cooking

Bugged by "foodie" questions?

If you are truly bothered by this, consider moving to Detroit. We don't have tourists. Or that many restaurants.

Feb 15, 2010
cholderby in Site Talk

What do you make for breakfast on Christmas morning?

I'm so glad to hear that! I was looking at that recipe maybe just an hour ago and wondering if it was a good one. My 4 year old wants to make croissants and i'd hate to spend two days on a so-so recipe!

Dec 11, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Cheap yet good cuts of meat

Hanger steak and flap meat are tasty and cheap, but only available to restaurants at least where I live.

Bone-in dark chicken meat is really cheap. I like blade steak for stir fries.

Flank steak and chicken wings used to be cheap, but they've since been "discovered". Since we're pretty much restricted to chain grocery stores in the Detroit-area, that doesn't leave us with much.

Nov 20, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

T-day desserts ahead of time

I'm wondering the same thing! I'm not a pie maker, but I've been asked to make pecan pie. And I really don't want to hop up after the feast to start baking. And I can't bake it that day because there will be too many other things in the oven. And I can't bake it the day before because we'll be driving across the country...

I bet you went "being in the fridge for several days", since being in the oven for several days would give you a different set of issues.

I do know that you can make the dough in advance and leave it in the fridge. And I know that some people "seal" the bottom crust with a thin layer of caramel (or really just melted granulated sugar) to keep the fruit juice from making it soggy. But I'll be interested to see if someone else knows the answer.

Nov 19, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Food that makes you particularly sad?

- Canned biscuits. In my more militant youth I called them "child abuse biscuits", judging any parent that would serve them to kids. My sister still brings that up regularly although I said it 15+ years ago (thus reminding me of my bombastic youth and making me more sad...)

- Boxed stuffing for Thanksgiving. I saw a Stove Top display in the store the other day and it made me sad. It wouldn't bother me any other day but on the best food day of the year?

- Kids food. Anything marketed to kids in a grocery store (dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, multi-colored Goldfish, etc.) Also factory-made food on the kids menu of restaurants (Kraft mac & cheese, frozen pizza). I don't mind it if my kids want cheese pizza at a restaurant, but don't serve them cheap frozen pizza.

Nov 13, 2009
cholderby in General Topics

Recycling rotisserie chicken

This week I used 1/2 a rotisserie chicken to make baked chimichangas. I heat up a can of black beans with one chopped chili and 1 T adobo, mash about half, add 3 cloves crushed garlic. Then mix 1 pack Uncle Ben's brown Ready Rice (hey, this is convenience food) with 1 cup drained salsa. Layer beans, tomato rice, shredded chicken and some shredded cheddar on a flour tortilla, roll, spray with oil and back at 350 until golden and crispy (20 minutes?). That's one of my favorite lazy meals.
I also really like Pam Anderson's flatbreads from Perfect Recipes for Losing Weight. She makes a quick, unleavened dough and tops it with a bunch of different things, many times shredded rotisserie chicken.

Nov 11, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving Dinner - Favorite Holiday Recipes and Traditions

Cranberry sherbet sounds DIVINE! Do post a recipe.

Nov 01, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

need recipe for blue cheese and celery empanadas (Argentine)

Argentine or Argentinian? You know what I'm trying to say.

My sister had these in Argentina and has requested that I make some for an upcoming dinner. Since I've never had these myself, I'm wondering exactly what's in the filling. Is the blue cheese cut with something else? What kind of blue cheese is used in Argentina (specifically how soft/pungent?) Is the celery, which I'm assuming is in a small dice, sauteed before mxing with the cheese or left raw?

I can find plenty of recipes for the dough, though please let me know if these usually have anything out of the ordinary or if they have a shape other than the usual half-moon.



Oct 31, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

How to Make Sauerkraut

I'm newly pregnant and a little quesy so this question really matters to strongly does it smell while fermenting? I love sauerkraut but if it smells strongly for seven days...well I'll have to wait until next year.

Oct 17, 2009
cholderby in Features

Whole Foods Faces Boycott: Buy Stock!

Liberals are now supposed to boycott WF, conservatives have been boycotting because they support Planned Parenthood and yet business is doing fine.

Aug 22, 2009
cholderby in Features

Detroit Suggestions?

I'm not very familiar with Rochester/Auburn Hills, but if you go to Lafayette, do so at 2 am and try to drink as much as possible beforehand.

Salted Caramel Sauce

You didn't cook the sugar long enough. All caramel is, is browned sugar. Next time forget how long they say it will take and wait for a nice brown.

Jul 21, 2009
cholderby in Recipes

What is the best dip you ever had and the recipe?

That looks great! My zucchini is just budding now, so I'll have to remember it.

Jul 18, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

messy food (chili dog recipe?)

I'm throwing a second brithday party for my daughter in a couple of weeks and the theme is "messy". There will be around 45 people over for lunch so I was thinking that chili dogs would be an easy make ahead (and, yes, thematic) thing to serve but I'm having trouble finding a homemade hot dog chili recipe. Anyone have one?

Also I'd love any make ahead to feed a crowd messy food suggestions.


Jul 12, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Traverse City, MI

I just drove past the Rowe Inn (didn't go in, but its still open) and Tapawingo (closed) last week. We went to Trattoria Stella in TC, good as always. We also dined at Pearl's New Orlean's Kitchen in Elk Rapids (upper-middle class chain restaurant food).
For the first time I stopped at a roadside farm stnad advertising beef, halfway between TC and Elk Rapids on 31. The steaks were out of my price range, so I got some homemade hot dogs and they were amazingly good. Homemade hot dogs, who knew?

Best current Detroit-area Lebanese?

Being from Dearborn, I never thought I'd recommend a place in Birmingham but I am a big fan of Pita Cafe. They have THE BEST lemonade ever (fresh lemon and orange juices mixed with crushed ice). But chicken shwarma is superlative.

Jun 22, 2009
cholderby in Great Lakes

What is the best dip you ever had and the recipe?

I'd eat just about anything with skordalia on it!

Here's a dip that I've made many times, always to rave reviews. It's from Cook's Country:

Mexican Spinach Dip

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped fine
2 10-ounce cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, drained
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-inch-square baking dish. With wooden spoon or rubber spatula, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and jalapeno in large bowl. Fold in tomatoes, onion, spinach, cheddar, salt, chili powder, and cumin until well combined. Scrape into baking dish and bake until bubbling at edges and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve. (Dip can be assembled and refrigerated for 24 hours prior to baking)

Jun 19, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

the most delicious vegetable side EVER!

Fine Cooking did something very similar about ten years ago. The only difference is that they laid out each vegetable in distinct rows on top of the onions. It made for a beautiful presentation. The top got parm but no bread crumbs. I spent one hour looking for that recipe in my magazine stash last night - THANK YOU for posting it!

Jun 19, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Grains of Paradise

I was going to say exactly what HillJ said plus you can google some medeval recipes if you're into that sort of thing (fun to read, maybe less fun to eat) since GofP were used as pepper before pepper was regularly imported.

Jun 16, 2009
cholderby in Home Cooking

Rowe Inn, Ellsworth MI

Every year we go to the Rowe Inn one night and Tapawingo the next. Tapawingo will be sorely missed. The Rowe is def. worth checking out.