meowzebub's Profile

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Do you bring a host/hostess gift?

3 thoughts re: nuts
1. I think the basket sounds lovely and I'd certainly welcome one myself;
2. confirm with BF that nuts will be welcome in recipient's home (allergies, dislikes, dietary considerations);
3. it's nice to include any tools needed to use the gift, in this case, a nutcracker, esp. since some households don't have one. You can find a ~$5 set (simple cracker + nut pick) at a discount store or -- strangely enough -- a hardware store. I've seen them in the housewares aisle (canning supplies, slow cookers, etc).

Personally, I'm frustrated by host behavior more than gift selection. The last 3 times I gave a food item, the host/hostess immediately opened the item and served it, no matter how inappropriate to his/her menu. Once, it there wasn't even food being served and i was so uncomfortable. A couple people asked if it was a potluck!

The last time I gave food, I made caponata because I knew the hostess loved Nicoise olives. She asked how to use it and I said you could use it like a spread on crackers or bruschetta; or fold it into an omelet; or embellish grilled fish or chicken. Am I wrong that this explanation suggests I didn't bring it to eat immediately?
Anyway, she disappears into the kitchen, I think to put the caponata away. But no, she comes back with cheese and crackers on a dish with the jar of caponata in the middle. Now, this gal has had a well-traveled childhood, having pretty sophisticated parents. And we're fairly close so I don't feel uncomfortable saying, "Actually, this is a hostess gift; I wouldn't insult you by implying that you needed help putting together refreshments for a small party."
She blinks a few times and clearly doesn't know the term, "hostess gift". Her BF is one of those people who eats any time there's food within reach and he's already popped 2 pieces of cheese in his mouth. So I dropped the issue.

Thus, I gave up giving food items, yet the craziness continues. I was the "+1" at a party and brought some ornamental soaps for the hosts. The female host looked extremely confused; I said "it's just a hostess gift, no big whoop." and went into the party. The hostess came by 1/2 hour later to show me the bowl she had put the soaps in and to ask if they should be in individual bowls for the guests. (???)
I explained they were soap not candy, and repeated that they were a hostess gift. She got kind of stiff, so I very gently explained that a hostess gift is a thank you for being invited and the hostess should use the gift herself; I didn't bring them to be used at the bruncheon.
She turned away and later I saw the bowl with the soaps ON THE BUFFET TABLE!

That was at Easter. Since then, I've given hostess gifts after the event if convenient for me, otherwise, no.

Has this problem happened to others? Like miri1, I was raised not to come empty-handed, so it is uncomfortable for me. But it's obvious that many hosts find it confusing or even burdensome to receive them.

Aug 31, 2013
meowzebub in Not About Food


"Feel free to adjust quantities and ingredients until you arrive at the taste and texture you like best."

Mar 11, 2013
meowzebub in Recipes

Very Blueberry Muffins

Lemon and blueberries are just fab together. I use my peeler or zester to remove an inch of lemon zest and grind the zest into the sugar, using my mini food processor. This sugar topping really escalates the muffin's flavor exponentially.
You can also grate the zest and mix it into the sugar manually, but using the processor means you capture ALL the essential oils, some of which remains on a grater. I believe using strips of peel is less bitter than grating, but that may just be my imagination. It's a subtle difference.

During the summer, I make cups of citrus flavored sugars -- lemon, of course, but also lime and orange -- and keep them in the fridge for iced tea and summer fruit bakes, like these muffins. Really great to encrust biscuits for cobblers and shortcake.
Ummm, lime biscuits for mango shortcake....
Hope this inspires someone.

Aug 19, 2011
meowzebub in Recipes

What was the worst food you HAD to eat as a kid?

Just had to pipe up, even at this late date.

I'm laughing at the anti-liver and onions litany.

Our mother died and because A. my older sister was/is a disinterested -- read, "negligent" -- cook, B. our dad was "traditional" i.e., gender-bigoted and C. anyway, my three brothers were self-centered and undependable; at the age of ten, I had the job of making dinner for the whole family.

In the seven years until I left for college, the ONLY comment my father made to me re: the meals was the demand that I make the liver "that way" all the time. Not, that was tasty, I enjoyed it, or good job.

My daddy had a warm and loving personality . . . to everyone except his family. XD

Jun 11, 2011
meowzebub in General Topics

What do you think are the best parts (tasting and texture) of a goose, a duck, and a chicken?

if it's really crisp and well-rendered, my "cook's treat" is the pope's/bishop's/parson's nose

Jun 11, 2011
meowzebub in General Topics

Where Did Condiments Come From Before Grocery Stores?

Mrs. Beeton has lots of "sauces" in her book which we would call condiments such as chutneys
the original ketchup, which is fermented vegetables; e.g., mushrooms or onions.
"brown sauce"
of course, horseradish

Jun 10, 2011
meowzebub in Features

Comfort Food Mac & Cheese Recipe

One thing is to not just try to reheat the macachee: I cut out blocks of the solidfied leftovers and bread them. They make nice "pasta steaks", baked or pan-fried.
If I'm thinking ahead, it really helps to mix in a bit of herbes de provence -- or your favorite seasoning -- or slivers of ham in the still warm leftovers before storing.

Dec 22, 2010
meowzebub in Home Cooking

The Last Kodachrome Christmas

are those broiled grapefruit halves?
even if they're something else, what are they doing on an hors d'ouerves table? pretty hard to eat standing up while holding a cocktail glass.

Dec 08, 2010
meowzebub in Features

Pumpkin Pie Spice

I agree with wm1; this makes a LOT of spice mix and, unless you're making pumpkin lattes for parties, you'll be throwing most of it away. There's a reason stores sell small jars of PPS.
Personally, I always grind cinnamon and cloves from whole, to get that full fresh flavor. So, it's worthwhile to me to tweak a "one pie's worth" version.

Also, what's going on with including salt?

Nov 25, 2010
meowzebub in Recipes

Take No Prisoners Hot Sauce

Sounds great, though for flavor, I'll add some habaneros for fruity-ness.
Question: does the sauce need to be aged? or is it meant to be used immediately?

Nov 12, 2010
meowzebub in Recipes

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

squeezit: you rock; that's absolutely brilliant. maybe, space the beans and press "french fried onions" into the exposed mash, for that green bean casserole taste. XD

Nov 12, 2010
meowzebub in Recipes

One Day in SF, barely.......Have a Plan, Help a Brother Out!

Ditch the car and rent a good bike. Even on a Saturday, traffic will be a real obstacle and parking will be non-existent for much of the suggested itinerary.

Oct 09, 2010
meowzebub in San Francisco Bay Area

Super-Frugal Meals -- around $1 per serving -- Beyond Rice and Beans

the wonderful Peg Bracken has a chapter in the "I Hate To Cook" book on putting together a satisfying, hot meal for one, which easily fits this topic. As she put it, the basic technique is to put something on, over or inside a potato, rice or good yeast roll like an English muffin. Many versions of eggs; veg, etc in a sauce, canned items like soup or chile. She suggested making a Column A, Column B sort of chart so you wouldn't end up nutritionally deprived or ruin your budget with take out or delivery food because you're bored of the same ol', same ol'.

Sep 20, 2010
meowzebub in Home Cooking

The Secret Ingredient Is Pickle Juice

like eacmd, I love pickle juice in mayo-based salads; but my favorite use is to make faux Thai peppers.
I slice serranos -- or jalapenos, if I'm broke -- and shake vigorously in the jar with a healthy addition of granulated sugar. Refrigerate for a couple days, turning the jar whenever I remember to, or not. They're still crunchy, only slightly "hot" with a great sweet-tangy kick.
I concocted them trying to copycat the sweet pickles at a local Thai lunch joint. The food wasn't great but each table had condiment dishes of crushed peanuts, pepper flakes, and the aforementioned pickles.
I'd seen giant cans of sliced jalapenos sitting empty outside the cafe, so I had a huge headstart on the recipe. But I'm still a little amazed how simple it is to make these tasty buggers, which I put on pretty much anything that can use a savory pick-up: sammies, omelets, meat salads. Since the weather's turned cold, I've been dishing them cold onto servings of hot casseroles. Makes cottage pie come ALIVE.

Sep 19, 2010
meowzebub in Features

Sticky Peanut Cookie Bars

Superb. Take it over the top with honey-roasted pnuts.

Jun 30, 2010
meowzebub in Recipes

Storing Bacon/Pig Candy

I put mine -- completely cooled, of course -- in a zipper food storage bag and keep in the fridge. there is no "sugar coating" as such: a lot of sugar flows off with the rendering fat and the rest is incorporated into the caramelized meat. two pounds have lasted a week with zero ill effects.

I use the Martha Stewart recipe of brown sugar and lots of fresh ground black pepper, but don't do the twisting. Line a jelly roll pan with foil and layer on a rack in the oven; I turn and move them around at least once for quicker cooking.

Add avocado and chipotle Tabasco for the best BLTs, imho.
Have fun, it's a SUPERB brunch item.

Jun 08, 2010
meowzebub in Home Cooking

Radish greens -- do you eat them?

I'm really late to the party, but I always make sure to get my radishes with the tops so I can put the greens through the juicer. Peppery and SOOOO healthful. I literally feel good drinking it.
Helps cut though the heaviness of carrot juice, and really perks up fruit based juices.

In colder weather, I agree with others that they are an excellent green for braising. Love them with garlic and a splash of red wine vinegar to finish. Stuff them in a baked potato and you've got a satisfying meal with vegan complete protein.

Feb 25, 2010
meowzebub in Home Cooking

Taming Rapini's Bitterness

Being Jap-Am, was raised on balancing flavors. To me, bitteness is another element to play with, in complement with the rest of the ingredients.

Agree with Polini about peeling stems of broccoli-type veg: Stringy-ness is not fun.

Jan 31, 2010
meowzebub in Features

The Basics: How to Make an Icebox Cake

NickADD - pls review the comments already submitted; they include several suggestions.

Any dry sweet item can be slathered with any thick wet (edible)material to make a refrigerator cake; though you may need to experiment to achieve the best texture.

The dry item does NOT have to be crisp and brittle: I sometimes use Mothers oatmeal raisin cookies and Jell-O French vanilla pudding mix for a hearty rustic result. I don't recommend "instant" pudding, as the thickeners are nasty after the cookies suck up the moisture.

Jan 24, 2010
meowzebub in Features

KFC Totally Didn't Mean to Be Racist

"Would it be racist if it was a black man feeding a whole lot of Aussie guys a bunch of meat pies?”


Jan 07, 2010
meowzebub in Features

Salty Secret to Creamy, Tender Beans

CVJ - I have a "modern" slow cooker and I've prepared beans on both high and low settings.
For turtle, cannelini, cranberry, navy beans:
On high, the beans boil slowly and are done in about three hours. Very creamy and tender; beautiful for side dishes, spreads and soup. Even chilled, they were too soft--for my taste--to use in a salad.
On low, I've come back home after 6 hours to find them cooked through, but still firm enough for salad.

Garbanzos stay firm regardless of setting.
Haven't tried the quicker legumes like lentils, dahl or split peas.

For my uses, my weekly pot of beans is cooked on high. I put a little into a wide variety of dishes all week long to boost vegetable-based protein, fiber and stretch the budget. Also, turtle beans are a great base for fried eggs. Yum.

As usual, depends what you like and what you want to end up with. Hope this helps and HNY.

Jan 04, 2010
meowzebub in Features

Sourdough on the Endangered List

each to his/her own taste. I personally don't like Boudin. It's very heavy and moist to the point where the crumb is cold and damp. Reminds me of those poultry ads where the mascot chickens blow up with added water. ick.

I enjoy the family-owned Semi-Freddi products; particularly the baguettes.

From what I remember, kvahedi is correct that the Cheese Board's sour loaves are excellent, but the inconvenient location, zero parking and smug-itude of the co-opsters have erased TCB from my shopping list.

Jan 03, 2010
meowzebub in Features

Potato and Parsnip Mash

agree: The lamb shank is COMPELLING!

You don't want to stand over the stove, babysitting a side dish, for a family holiday dinner like Passover. but, for a regular dinner, when the main and other courses are going along by themselves, I steam-fry my "'taters and 'snips". That is, heat a small amount of stock, steam the cubed veg for a couple minutes, then uncover and toss; re-cover pan and repeat until tender. If veg or pan start to caramelize, add a couple Tbl stock or water. Can also add a larger amount of liquid to start.
Concentrates flavor & natural sweetness, rather than boil them out.

Nov 26, 2009
meowzebub in Recipes

Oh glorious day! Oh wonderful year! Oh lucky me! I finally, finally, finally get to host Thanksgiving. I banish thee jarred gravy (tell me about your single favorite dish)

Brussel sprouts with chestnuts.
I steam the sprouts, roast the chestnuts; when they're ready and hot, toss with melted butter, a good dash of powdered ginger and freshly fine ground black pepper. Be generous with the butter and pepper. I use salted butter, so I don't add more to the dish. But I recognize that I'm a light salter, so I always have salt on the table.

Love, love, LOVE bs&c. Freshness of the sprouts + richness of the butter + sweetness of the chestnuts + taste treat of the spices. The mix of textures is amazing. Love, love, LOVE!

Trimming the sprouts is a little tedious, but peeling the chestnuts is a burnt finger tip horror. So, it's definitely a celebration dish. But it's so pretty in the serving dish and delish in the mouth, it's always worth it.

Nov 07, 2009
meowzebub in Home Cooking

How to Eat More

When I clicked on the link to this article, I thought it would be "save room for (pie, coffee & cookies, tomorrow's tailgate menu, whatever)". In other words, how to eat well, but NOT overdo the dinner so one can enjoy all the phases of the long festive weekend.

Then I read this dreck: What a stupid concept. And how poorly executed.

Nov 07, 2009
meowzebub in Features

Thanksgiving for Six

Great topic!
Back in college, we had post Thanksgiving to celebrate with friends who g=left town for the holiday. Always a trial to set the menu when half the people were still grossed out from overeatin and the others could have a Thanksgiving feast every month year-round .
My best menu was one breast and both legs roasted over a pan full of dressing, with cranberry relish, yams and, my fave, buttered Brussel sprouts with chestnuts, ginger and black pepper. The other breast, I used to make a mushroom and herb stuffed roulade; with endive salad, and steamed turnips and sweet potatoes.

Today, I would add warm spiced hard cider and pome-tinis.

Nov 07, 2009
meowzebub in Features

How to Host a Turkey-Free Thanksgiving

I agree wholeheartedly with the house rules you specified at the beginning of your response.

My first impression is, "How hostile!" I mean, what if Xians wanted to "help out" by bringing their delicious baked ham to a Jewish home for the Xian friends? Eating non-kosher food won't kill any Jews, but it does damage them with uncleanliness, which is similar to how many non-meat eaters feel about animal products.

I hope "Wife" was able to let go of her hurt and anger, to see this as a teaching opportunity: Most kids prefer a carb-y dish--like potatoes--to meat, anyday. Seriously, try to serve pork chops WITHOUT apples or ketchup to most kids, and you'll get sulks to outright tantrums.

In-laws are thoughtless people. I hope they take the care to observe their kids' spontaneous choices, recognize their error and start RIGHT NOW to correct their attitude/behavior, so it doesn't become the kids' inheritance.

Nov 07, 2009
meowzebub in Features

Losing faith in cast iron cookware

I'm wondering why you have to scrub your pans. If you're cooking on low to medium flame (and once cast iron is up to temperature, that is what you should be using) AND allowing the food to caramelize, there is no sticking. In fact, if the food is properly browned in any kind of pan, there is going to be minimal or no sticking.
NOTE: Every time you scrub cast iron, you remove the seasoning. Ditto for using soap (does not leave a soapy taste unless you're not rinsing well).
It's ironic that people buy non-stick cookware because the coating actually prevents proper caramelization (to get it up to temperature, you need to heat the pan to the point where the coating deteriorates and gives off toxic fumes), so, 90% of the time, you need to spray or oil the pan to prevent sticking. Crazy.

If you're done with cast iron and want to try stainless, remember to heat the pan, THEN lay the meat in the bare pan, or add a thin layer of oil for veg/other foods. For meat/poultry/fish, let it brown whereupon it will release from the pan.
For the veg/other, pay attention to your food; it will tell you through sight or sound whether it needs stirring, et c.

I suggest you're ranting against an item you haven't been using properly. Perhaps you might try the tips and suggestions in these replies before you condemn your purchases. But buying a whole "wardrobe" of cast iron without any experience, and now, considering a very expensive new copper "wardrobe", leads me to believe you're more likely to keep jumping from one quick fix to another.

Nov 04, 2009
meowzebub in Cookware

Cocoa-Cayenne Popcorn Balls

Amazing flavor out of regular pantry items.

I didn't have an orange lying around, so added a few drops of orange oil + 1/2 tsp crystallized orange juice (True Orange). Smashing! a big hit with teens.

Definitely getting a starring role on my holiday gift plates. I'm going to test out chipotle instead of cayenne. Thinking the smoke will enhance the cocoa, like boutique chocolates. Anyway, THANKS!

Nov 03, 2009
meowzebub in Recipes

Eggnog Popcorn Balls

Really enjoyed this (tho' not a hit with teenagers). I used "butternut" flavoring from King Arthur, instead of vanilla. Very, very good.

Nov 03, 2009
meowzebub in Recipes