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Classic vs contemporary sauce making. What & when?

I make bechamel pretty often, usually as a cheese sauce base (macaroni and cheese most of the time.) I also make gravy and reduction pan sauces when I pan-fry things pretty often (so often I'll either add some butter and flour, cook to colour the flour slightly, add misc. seasonings, and stock, or I'll just deglaze with an alcohol, add some seasonings and/or stock and reduce.) I probaby make some sort of sauce every other night.

May 27, 2013
Popkin in Home Cooking

Gouda - May 2013 Cheese of the Month

Rationing good cheese is sometimes such a difficult dilema; for me, I want to feature it, but I also don't usually know when I get to go balls-out on a cheese budget again lol it's so hard sometimes!

May 17, 2013
Popkin in Cheese

Gouda - May 2013 Cheese of the Month

Mmmm, I love it when I can afford enough gouda to make macaroni and cheese; smoked gouda makes a pretty epic mac with crumbled bacon on top!

May 17, 2013
Popkin in Cheese

What oh What to do With My Dried Figs?

I picked up some dried black mission figs at the store the other day with no particular plan for them (aside from snacking.) I was thinking of making something sweet with them, but I've never worked with them before and baking isn't my strongest suit (I can do it, I'm just saying, I'm not as familiar with the possibilities as some with more luck with baked goods.) So, what would you do with some dried mission figs? Anybody know of a good fig-newton like recipe? Or some other tasty sweetness? Thanks!

Feb 18, 2013
Popkin in Home Cooking

What to do with 4 pounds of Rosemary? [moved from Southeast board]

Toss it in a pile and roll around in it in sheer ecstasy lol

May 16, 2012
Popkin in Home Cooking

Fair & carnival food

Churros! Oh those fluffy, crunchy-on-the-outside cinnamon-sugar coated delights...

Also hot links that have been cooked on a big smokey BBQ :D

May 07, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

When being 'good' costs to much.

This idea may sound "scrungy" but it sounds more so than it is :)

When I worked in a particular pet shop, every day or ever couple of days (depending) one of the employees would walk two or three doors down to the grocery store, where they would let people who had checked with them first go through and take their veggie trim (there was the pet shop, a person who kept/bred goats, and a pig farmer who all took advantage of this), this got them/us some free veggies that only had 1-5 days left of "goodness" on them, and they didn't fill their dumpster quite so quickly. Our produce guy (well, just about everybody at that particular market) was really cool, and after awhile I figured out what time on average he was done doing his morning produce department rounds so I could go in and get first pick of the boxes.

I was not alone in the fact that, if there was something still totally good and edible in the box, the employees (who all made minimum wage) would rifle through and take the good stuff home which was generally used that or the next day. Heck once or twice when there were a lot of strawberries (they tossed the box when one berry went bad, for good reason: it will spread SUPER quickly), I spent a lunch break going through all the containers, and making "new" containers of just the good strawberries, and all of us including the owner ended up having some form of strawberry snack or dessert that day. The good ones lasted about two more days, but two days is all we needed out of the good strawberries :) There are also times where there are a good deal of potatoes, onions, celery where the center stalks are still perfectly fine, bags of baby carrots, and so on. So if you get on speaking terms with your produce manager, you can tell them you have a couple of veggie eating pets at home and would they mind if you came in so often to check out/take some of their veggie trim? If they're nice they will let you :) Always clean up after yourself though, don't leave any of the trim that fell out on the floor, and usually I would take a whole box even when there was only a couple of things in it I wanted; I figured that way I was doing a polite thing of taking some of the refuse off their hands while taking advantage of the good stuff.

It feels a little weird to do at first, I lucked out that I got used to doing it because of my job, but dang it helps a lot sometimes.

Feb 28, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

Any memories of "poor people food" from your childhood that you still crave?

Well on the upside I do believe that heart meat is on the good side for you lol.

Incidentally FRESH frozen beef heart is a good growth food for many fish. My experience has been that the stuff you buy frozen for fish must somehow not be packaged well, as I had never seen fish really go for this food that was supposed to be quite tasty and good for them. Then one day my husband, who had been experimenting with adding a few home-made items to his fish's (um, any English majors are quite welcome to help me figure out the proper apostrophe usage on the word "fish's" by the way. I'm going for a plural possessive) diet, and we found that purchasing FRESH beef heart, freezing, then grating worked GREAT, the fish loved it.

Just in case we have any other aquarists hanging out on the boards lol

Feb 28, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

Any memories of "poor people food" from your childhood that you still crave?

Yea I was STOKED the first time my husband responded to the "what do you want me to make for dinner" query with an enthusiastic "porcupines!"

Feb 28, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

where to buy "O" shaped pasta

Out here in California I've actually seen it in the Mexican ethnic food aisles, do you have any Hispanic markets in your area you could check?

Feb 26, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

The nectar of the Gods, tuna noodle casserole....

I can't remember my grandma's recipe, but I DO remember that she didn't drain the tuna, and added the oil/water (she almost always bought oil-packed tuna, but I don't remember which she used in casserole) right along with the tuna into the dish.

Feb 25, 2012
Popkin in Home Cooking

Any memories of "poor people food" from your childhood that you still crave?

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my mom's big porcupine meatballs on here multiple times before lol, big meatballs made of ground beef, rice, oregano, and garlic, fried then simmered in a mixture of [any canned tomato product.... mom used tomato sauce], water, oregano, garlic, salt, and of course more rice. So it was a meal with a rice base served with rice-stretched ground beef lol but it is REALLY tasty.

Something else she used to make was pizza sandwiches: we always used the cheap wheat version of cheaptacular sandwich bread (you know the kind: still soft and squishy just like white bread with a slightly more brown colour), a bit of tomato sauce (usually a little spaghetti sauce) and cheese in the sandwich maker. I think we tended to have these when cheese was on sale lol not that anybody complained :D

Snow ice cream: fresh snow from outside + sweetened milk/half&half/etc... with a little vanilla added poured over it

Feb 25, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

What sweet is your daily pleasure? Do you have just one thing that makes your day? [moved from Home Cooking]

We usually keep semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer (our kitchen gets fairly toasty) and I have picked up the habit of having a handful washed down with milk on a very regular basis. I don't quite know what it is about crunching on those hard little bits and washing them down with the milk, but it has become a habit :)

Feb 15, 2012
Popkin in General Topics

Your "Get Well" Chicken Soup

When I have it on hand, I use a base of home made really strong/concentrated turkey and chicken stock (usually parts of both birds end up in the pot.)

I simmer that with a LOT of chopped garlic (I keep a jar of chopped in the fridge for those "I need garlic/don't posses strength of will to stand for more than ten seconds to prep it), there probably ends up being 1 or 2 tablespoons of it in the broth, as well as a dried ancho chile and a good deal of fresh/jarred ginger. Sometimes I add a little rice and let it cook up really soft. Once it's off the heat for a minute or two, I crack an egg in for the protein and stuff. It's like a wonderful liquid food.

Feb 09, 2012
Popkin in Home Cooking

What is your "go to" meal when there is too much month left at the end of the paycheque - past or present

Brown some ground beef, sausage, bacon, or other meat. Add 1 or 2 cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, or crushed tomatoes, seasonings to taste, a vegetable (I usually use string beans as they are cheap around here), a starch (rice or pasta), then enough water or broth to cook the starch. If I'm using potatoes I usually fry those up with the meat, omit the water, and simmer until everything tastes nice. I usually add everything, bring it up to a simmer, and add more liquid as needed and seasonings to taste as it cooks. I usually just make it by "feel" but the basic idea is you toss a bunch of stuff in the pan on the stove to gently simmer.

Oct 03, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

What is your "go to" meal when there is too much month left at the end of the paycheque - past or present

Mmmm, I am rather enjoying perusing this thread and will probably come back to it in the future :)

Some of the past and present cheap eats include:

Porcupines (or porcupine roadkill if I don't make the meatballs into balls of meat): ground beef, oregano (really good dried whole oregano is REALLY cheap around here), garlic, canned tomato sauce (also very cheap in this area, and I always keep the pantry well-stocked with it), and rice. Very filling, tastes better the next day, and does about three meals for two of us.

Goulash: random ground beef or pork product from the freezer (sausage, ground beef, etc....), canned tomatoes, random veggie from the fridge or freezer, usually garlic, oregano, and some "random" seasoning from the pantry, and some starchy thing (rice, potatoes, pasta). It seems no matter how broke we are I can fanagle a really good goulash if I just use that basic method, adjusting the seasonings according to mood.

Egg drop soup
Tomato soup and cheese sandwiches
Chicken and rice (mushroom soup with rice and cheap chicken thighs; or canned tomatoes with rice and chicken thighs)
Pinto beans, rice, and pork roast (with the amount of pork subject to change lol) in tortillas
Spaghetti noodles with pesto and an egg, maybe some sort of protein if it's available (chicken, bacon, etc...)
Breakfast! Scrambled eggs or omelette with.... whatever else is in the fridge (leftover green beans with tomatoes worked well once, or caramelized onions)
Onion soup
Hash (potatoes fried with bacon or sausage, onions, garlic, and a random vegetable such as string beans, or mustard greens, etc...)

Oct 03, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

After school snack memories

Usually one of the following:

Boloney with peanut butter smeared on and rolled up
Apples with peanut butter
Bananas with peanut butter
Peanut butter and honey sandwich on wheat bread
Leftovers
Fig Newtons
Nutty Bars
The family oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Rice Crispy treats with peanut butter chips
Spaghetti-O's
Pudding cup

Sep 10, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

Food/dish you are surprised hasn't caught on

I just like a really stiff whipped cream (^_^) I usually whip up a good bit then stash it in the fridge for use for a couple of nights, and the gelatin helps keep it stiff in the fridge. I would of course never denigrate the softer styles, whipped cream is always heavenly.....

I also really like to use it for for frosting cake and cupcakes, much preferred in this house to buttercream for the most part.

Aug 21, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

best cheeses to make mac and cheese

I do the basic bechamel (butter, flour, whole milk) plus whatever cheese I have around (usually medium cheddar) plus a hit of hot sauce or cayenne (just a tiny bit), sometimes some pepper, sometimes not, plus a little parm.

My favourite combination of cheeses is smoked cheddar, velveeta (it gives a unique texture to the sauce), and parmesan. Sometimes I add bacon too (fry bacon, remove meat, use some of the grease in the pan along with the butter to make the roux for the bechamel). I usually just do a stove top macaroni, as I'm a little too lazy to make the baked macaroni lol

Aug 19, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

How do you like your coffee?

That sounds just lovely (^.^)

Aug 18, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

Food/dish you are surprised hasn't caught on

Fruit Fools.

I mean really, it's good home-made whipped cream with fruit and sometimes (though not when I make it) nuts folded in. Easy, and c'mon it's a dish based on folding things into that heavenly fluffy dairy product WHIPPED CREAM!

Oh well, it's lack of popularity makes mine look all impressive (and lessens the chance that it will be a duplicate of what somebody else brought.... not that too many fools would be a BAD thing....) when I bring it to a party lol. Being here in California there is always some wonderful fruit (ESPECIALLY during strawberry season! OMG strawberry season in CA.... Oh yes....) to make a fool of. One time for a party I made a chocolate/coffee whipped cream and strawberry fool and put them in the same bowl (after the manner of Neapolitan ice cream... separate flavours touching, know what I'm talking about?) and it went over really well.

For that matter, home made whipped cream in general. I understand that we Americans like our pre-made stuff, but I have run across so many people who have either never (and I mean never) had home-made whipped cream or only had it once or twice in their life, it's crazy. Cold cream, softened/melted gelatin, vanilla, and sugar in the mixer mixed until desired thickness and everything measured only according to taste (in other words, as unsweet or as sweet as I've wanted it, I've never managed to mess it up). In case anybody is curious, I prefer to make my whipped cream ultra thick. I basically play "chicken" with it in the mixer and let it whip until it is JUST about to separate and make butter. So far I've managed to avoid making butter, but my mom did tell me once that she managed to accidentally make whipped butter one time by overwhipping her cream. She said it was wonderful on toast, so it was no great loss.

Aug 18, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

How do you like your coffee?

My favourite meal of the day, the morning coffee!

Usually but not always I make it my preferred way:

Light roast beans, freshly ground with a bit of cinnamon. Placed in a French press with a pinch (or of late a grind of pink salt I received for my birthday) of salt. Usually enough to make it fairly strong (maybe 3/4 cup or somewhere in that rough vicinity.... my grinder's maximum capacity whatever that is lol.... to 4 cups water, microwaved 2min 30sec). Brewed for 3 minutes, then strained back into the pyrex measuring cup (the designated coffee pot lol) and sweetened with 2/3 cup of sugar, vanilla sugar on special occasions or just plain sugar plus a bit of vanilla extract, and about half of the time I add a spoonful of cocoa powder. I sweeten the whole pot like this because we like some cold coffee later in the day and it's easier to sweeten the coffee when it's hot. I then fill my coffee cup 2/3 of the way with coffee, then depending on what I have in the fridge my preferred combination is to fill the rest of the way with a mix of about half whole milk and half heavy cream, but I don't always have heavy cream in which case it's just whole milk.

My husband usually has one cup and I generally drink the rest of the pot. Every so often I end up brewing two pots in a day due to my habit (by the by the world seems to vibrate sometimes, anybody else notice that?.... lol). This works out well for the following morning, because any time I have to brew a second pot luckily we don't finish it, and I get cold coffee in the morning :D

lol hey, you asked!

Aug 17, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

What were your last 3 cookbook purchases, part 4 [old]

I just got what looks like it will be a wonderful cookbook at the used book store (it looks almost new), called The Every Day Chinese Cookbook edited by Linda Doeser.

Another one I picked up though it's not so much of a cookbook is The Doctors Book of Food Remedies by Prevention magazine.

Also recently picked up a copy of The Silver Spoon.

Aug 15, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

Ewww.. I have to cook that!?

I enjoy egg drop soup, a drink consisting of raw egg, cream/milk, sugar, and seasonings, yet I cannot stand either hard-boiled or scrambled or other "eggy" dishes. Somehow though, because cooking eggs is mostly a texture thing, I am good at it (and actually enjoy the process quite a bit).

There are some other things that I make for my husband that are more flavour-dependent that I don't like, and in those cases I have been successful so far with just taking extra careful sniffs of what I am making, and following my nose. Often when I can't stand a food, I can still take a few good smells and determine what I should do/add.

Aug 13, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

*Your* secret to great apple pie?

I just press it on the outer crust by hand. Sprinkle and lightly pat in :) I just press it enough to adhere.

Aug 13, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

*Your* secret to great apple pie?

I like to use real maple syrup and large crystal "raw" sugar to sweeten the apples, plus a little turbinado to press into the crust to make a nice sweet crunch. I've always loved "crusty" pies, so I tend to make my apple pies on the short side for a higher crust to apple ratio.

Aug 12, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

Foods you always "deconstruct"

OMG lol I used to do that to my chicken nuggets too!

Aug 04, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

Whats your favorite store bought

Thin Mints AKA Grasshoppers AKA Generic Chocolate Mint Cookies.... eaten frozen of course!

Or Keebler Fudge Stripes.

Aug 04, 2011
Popkin in General Topics

Is it possible to steam milk w/o an espresso machine?

My husband happened to see this thread and mentioned that it might be possible to mod out a tea kettle by attaching a potable-water safe piece of tubing and placing either a tapered tip (that tapers to a small point), or a piece of [foodsafe] screen over the end.......? The tubing would be found in the plumbing section. You would want to attach a gate valve to control your steam output.

One would attach the tube to the spout end of the pot, and boil water in the teapot on the stove as normal, then once you get a good bit of steam you could place the tip in the milk and froth away....?

Playing on that concept, I wonder if one could flavour or even just scent the steam water, if it would be noticeable at all. Perhaps in something like frothed sweetened milk with, say, a good deal of mint, or rose, or ginger, or some such thing to make a nice hot drink..... Now that I think about it, maybe one could put some sort of flavouring in the milk as well, say a bit of jam (heated with and dissolved in the milk or other dairy or frothable liquid) or vanilla.

Aug 03, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking

Food Project: Chicken & Rice Around The World

My mom used to make renditions of chicken fricassee and coq au vin (sp? A stovetop French dish of chicken cooked in wine) with rice. She would get the dish to the point where you put the chicken in for a long simmer to cook through, and add extra liquid (usually chicken stock) and rice to the pan.

Jul 29, 2011
Popkin in Home Cooking