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Baby shower for 30 - food ideas

You can totally keep it below $300. My friends are at that age where there are bridal or baby showers every month. I frequently get asked to handle the food. I made the mistake of making prosciutto-wrapped melon the first time I was asked. Man, was that an expensive mistake. Definitely keep it simple.

Costco for cheese, cold cuts, olives, mixed nuts, salad greens, standard booze. The Fremont Costco often has interesting frozen appetizers. Here are my repeat buys over the past 6 months:

Madama Oliva three-pack of olives in fridge section
Cambozola/Coastal Cheddar/Smoked Gouda (can't beat price)
Bakery Rolls or King's Hawaiian rolls for mini sandwiches (pulled pork is a fav... I make my own, but Costco does sell it)
Aidell's Pineapple Teriyaki Meatballs for lettuce wraps (cut in half, pickled own veg, assembled, and served on tray... a little sticky)
Sukhi's veg samosas
Tri-Tip (two to a pack, good price, great for crowds)
Almond Lace cookies
Kirkland Mixed nuts or Marcona almonds
Asparagus (blanched, served w/ soy-wasabi dipping sauce)
Grapes for cheese platter (way cheaper than grocery store)

Trader Joe's for crackers, cheese plate extras (fig jam, quince paste), smoked salmon (I like TJ's better than Costco), other frozen stuff (caramelized-onion feta bites - people love these for some reason).

People will definitely eat the salad, just make sure to put it in a big bowl. Don't ask me why this makes a difference, but it does. Baked pork buns are a great idea.

ETA: Smarty Had a Party is a great website for decor, serving stuff, cheap (but not bad quality) linens.

Turkey Valley Farms v. Mary’s Organic Halal Turkeys (plus Comments on Fremont/Milpitas Halal Meat Markets)

I had the unique experience of getting to cook the two side by side this year, so here’s the report back.

Due to Bar prep, DH banned me from my annual Thanksgiving running arounds which usually results in a CH post on some of the local turkey offerings and prices. My only job this year was to cook the turkey.

We were expecting 32 people, so MIL placed an order at Maiwand weeks in advance for a 20+ pounder. There was a shortage of halal turkeys again this year, so when I showed up on Tuesday there was no salted turkey in the fridge. Maiwand wouldn’t be getting their larger birds until Wednesday. Damavand had frozen solid Turkey Valley Farms. After following a bad tip about halal turkeys at Costco (how the Fremont location usually caters to the local demographic is fairly impressive), I called Tayyibaat in Milpitas and got the last 19 lb. Mary’s Organic. I hoped to get some extra turkey parts, as well.

There were quite a few people picking up and unfortunately, it did not appear that they had any reservation system in place. 20 minutes after my call, we ended up with two 15 lb. birds as that is all they had left. They were apologetic and someone was nice enough to carry the turkeys to the car for us. I really hope they get something into place, because in the chaos we were charged $2.59/lb. for both which I did not realize until we got home. TVF turkeys are usually $1.59-$1.99/lb.

There were appreciable differences between the birds. The TVF had less visible fat pockets. Mary’s giblets were larger and looked far healthier/fresher. The TVF liver and heart got tossed; oddly there was no gizzard or tail. The TVF looked like it had been pricked all over with a knife, but was cleaner than the Mary’s. I spent a good amount of time cleaning the Mary’s. Both were salted a la Judy Rodgers, air-dried for six hours in the fridge, and got a spice butter under the skin. Note: there was about 1 c. of liquid leftover from the TVF after salting. I have been buying organic, free-range, blah blah turkeys for so long that I forgot to check to see if it was pre-brined (didn’t taste it, though the drippings were SALTY). The TVF was served first and although no one knew there was any difference between the birds, a couple of people asked if I had done anything different to the second. FIL preferred the Mary’s. I thought the TVF was milder and slightly drier. It reminded me of the Butterballs I grew up eating.

In any case, not bad for the $1.50-$2 price range, imho. Hope you all enjoyed your holiday.

Mustard oil—super fiery?

Tandooritaco, do you remember which brand you bought from Vik's?

Turkey time

How did it go last year with the Willie Bird?

Trader Joe's YAY/MEY/NAY - September 2014 [OLD]

Pinole is my local store, too. They often have "distribution problems." Still love that location though...

Sep 27, 2014
adrienne156 in Chains

Where to buy British foodstuffs?

Have you tried the Raley's on Paseo Padre? My local Raley's has a pretty respectable selection of British foodstuffs. And, Raley's is just around the corner from Whole Foods which should have British items, as well.

Where can I find a Havana/Spanish Latte?

I know you specified SF but on the off chance someone looking outside of SF stumbles on this thread, East Bay Coffee Company in Old Town Pinole does a lovely Havana.

Weight Watcher's Foodies -- Spring Fling Edition! May 2014 [old]

Berheenia, I totally feel you on the non-dieting spouse front. Just last night I tried to tempt him into quinoa by making what he loves and calls "fancy rice" but with quinoa (really just my take on mexican rice - olive oil, garlic, caldo de tomate bouillon, chopped tomato, sprinkle of cumin, couple pinches of red chili flakes). I was met with a sarcastic "yaaaay." I was happy though. :) Ever consider making a few cups of quinoa for yourself and leaving it in the fridge? Leftovers steam up well in the microwave and I do it because I get annoyed with having to wash quinoa, but don't mind throwing a 1/2 c. of rice in the cooker for him.

May 14, 2014
adrienne156 in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's YAY/NAY - April 2014 [OLD]

Will give it a try. Thanks!

Apr 30, 2014
adrienne156 in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/NAY - April 2014 [OLD]

I really like the frozen Garlic Naan. Amazing how little time it takes to heat up in the toaster oven.

Apr 22, 2014
adrienne156 in Chains

Trader Joe's YAY/NAY - April 2014 [OLD]

Thanks for nay on the pizza. SO and I were just gnawing on the TJ's Organic Woodfired Siciliam Style Pizza last night and I turned to him and asked "This kinda tastes like cheesey, mildly spicy cardboard, doesn't it?" And we realized that we've never really had good luck with TJ's pizzas. The tarte d'alsace is always a hit and the wild mushroom flatbread is fine, but not the pizzas. If the crust is just right, some of the toppings are still frozen. If the toppings are nice and melty, the whole thing could probably be used as a frisbee. I know it's not the oven (calibrated it recently before making a huge batch of macarons).

Apr 22, 2014
adrienne156 in Chains

Weight Watchers Foodies -- No Fooling, It's the April Edition!

I cancelled my WW membership last November after not regularly tracking for a couple of months and then got back on in February. I regained all I'd lost in the past year which admittedly wasn't a heck of a lot since I was being a bum (14 lbs.).

Roxlet - you were right about the juice cleanse thing I was doing from Costco. Yes, I did lose weight (prob mostly water weight), but it was way too hard for me to be that disciplined every single week, eating vegan Tues-Thurs. I lasted 3 weeks and felt amazing, but my schedule doesn't allow me to eat at exact times which the cleanse required. I'd recommend it in times of desperate measures.

I was just going through emails and saw the Hungry Girl email from today and decided I'd come say hello. The HG email had a few 2 ingredient recipes that looked like great snacks - 3 hard-boiled egg whites with salsa (1 PP), bag of coleslaw mix w/ 1/2 cup of seasoned rice vinegar (1/4 of recipe/1 c. = 1PP). What're you guys snacking on nowadays? I recently realized that my snacking on hummus has been adding up.

Apr 21, 2014
adrienne156 in Home Cooking

Bengali food - some things I am having difficulty in identifying

Mera joota hai japani, yeh patloon englishtani
Sar pe laal topi roosi phir bhi dil hai… Bangali.

Parts of this post made me laugh out loud (while other parts pulled at my heart). Even I’m a bit intimidated by maccher tel, GTM Uncleji. I’ve had too many overly fishy muri ghontos to delve deeper into the fish parts, but I suppose I need to get over that. The wiggly bits and all form of shellfish are fine though.

I don’t mean to say that any one ethnic sub-group has the monopoly on this or that, what I was trying to communicate is that I would like you to please teach me/CH what you know. Also, I am not familiar with the term “Ur-vegetarian.” Would you be so kind to explain? Please let me know if I’m asking too many questions.

I think I’ve never realized that pui shaak is slimy because the dishes we have at home are usually in the teeniest amount of jhol. Kabocha squash is so underutilized in the States. Fantastic texture. Chingri diye mishti kumra (kabocha squash mashed with shrimp) is my comfort food. The way I was taught – peel and 1” cube one whole kabocha squash. Bring just enough water to cover, spiked with a scant ½ tsp. turmeric and salt to taste (bit less than you would for pasta) to a boil. Add squash to turmeric water, reduce to simmer, and cook until just tender. Drain, but set aside some of the cooking water. In a deep skillet, sauté ½ a med onion, tejpatta (bay leaves – how many depends on where they are from… [Indian] store? 2-3), and 2 halved serrano chilies until onion is translucent and then add 8-10 cloves of chopped garlic, cook til garlic is golden. Sounds like a lot of garlic, but the main flavors of this dish are toasted garlic, shrimp, and velvety and slightly sweet squash with a bit of a kick at the end. The shrimp is where my mother and I differ – my mother adds about a cup of shrimp (31-40) at the golden garlic stage and breaks it up as it cooks so that the shrimp flavors the oil. I add whole shrimp before the garlic stage and then fish them out so they don’t overcook to be added toward the end. Once garlic is golden, add cooked squash, a bit of sugar (I would think gur is traditional), and mash. Fry another 5 min or so, adding the cooking liquid as needed so the mixture doesn’t stick and you maintain a mashed potato consistency. Mix shrimp back in and I add about 1/4 c. of beresta (fried onions) as a final touch because I can’t seem to figure out how my mom gets that flavor in.

Your Gota Shiddho sounds delicious and is right up my alley. It’s on the menu for next weekend – thank you very much! And, doi with crushed jalebis. Mishti (sweet) doi or tok (sour) doi?

As for moving the conversation, we’ll see. I wanted to post the link below here, because I think the local, sustainable efforts in Bengal should get more exposure. The gentleman with whom I wanted to share information about Bengal Palm Sugar Organization is the History Chair at DU. With the basic information I had, he suggested Ubinig as a resource being that they are at the center of the Nayakrishi Andolon (New Agricultural Movement) in Bd. Have you had any conversations with them?

Also, my father is happy to speak to you, but he is an accountant so any Skype sessions will have to wait until after April 15. We’ll set that up through Facebook.

Mar 31, 2014
adrienne156 in General Topics

Bengali food - some things I am having difficulty in identifying

Actually, I am privy to some of what is happening in Bdesh right now. What is terrifying to me is that there does not appear to be any realistically viable plan to save the region from itself. I just can't wrap my humanistic brain around the politics.

I would never laugh at the suggestion of a 25-30 quart brazier. What do you think lives in our garages over here? Cars? My soon-to-be MIL is beside herself over what I am going to be feeding her son because the largest pot I am registering for our upcoming wedding is 10 qts.

I speak shudho basha Bangala (I have never seen it spelled this way, live and learn), understand most Sylheti, but do not read or write either. Hence my abysmal Bangla to English spelling. Smt. Siddika Kabir’s navy and rose covered book is on every one of my relatives’ shelves, but I have yet to find a decent English translation. A friend and I toyed with the idea of doing a blog where we watched our mothers follow the recipes verbatim and recorded their actions in English, but life happened and here we are cobbling recipes off the internet. I would actually like to learn the Rarh Brahman versions of dishes to learn what they are meant to taste like in their original form. I am adept enough at my families’ E. Bengali renditions of different dishes, but in my humble opinion, I think the beauty of [Bengali] cuisine falls in the plethora of vegetable preparations. And, to really understand something, you have to start at the beginning, right? (Or, at least some semblance of the beginning.) Why avoid pui shaak (basella alba)? The one in my mother’s garden is currently staging a coup d’etat over the poor apricot tree and needs to be put back in its place. In the mean time, I’m diving into

As for the research, I spoke to my father briefly last night and he said he may be able to find people for you. My father’s dissertation at Berkeley was on the effects of the jute industry on Bengal, so I may have found you a kindred spirit in him. We are also having dinner tonight with an old DU friend of his from out of town who focused more on socio-economic history (I am unclear on the emphasis) who I would like to speak to about your work. Do you have an abstract of some sort that you can email me that I can present to them? My contact info on my page is my junk email, but I will check it and then send you the email address I usually use. Also, the Chow team has been very accommodating in allowing us to have these conversations here and I wouldn’t want to wear out our welcome.

Mar 28, 2014
adrienne156 in General Topics

Bengali food - some things I am having difficulty in identifying

“Icchamati” – I love this. (And, I will admit that I first Googled and then said the word out loud… Shameful.)

Yes, I know about patali/nalen gur (date palm sugar). What I wouldn’t do for a cup of pure patali gur just to be able to make my Nani’s payesh one last time. Sigh. There is no question that the history of modern Bengal is inexplicably intertwined with language. My father was a professor of history at DU and a journalist during the war. My lullabies were Tagore. Although my field is the legal side of child welfare and trafficking, the struggle you are describing to me is not completely foreign. I understand exotification. I also understand something of the rawness that you speak of as even though I am sure your descriptions are based on personal knowledge, some of the religious generalizations make me prickle a bit. Not all of us living abroad are “ABCDs” (speaking of irritating language). I honestly did not expect to have such a deep conversation on CH, and I thank you for it. And, please do not apologize for becoming “exercised” – adda is in my blood. I almost made a cup of tea before responding to your post.

In my home, words were used interchangeably – I don’t recall either mangsho or gosht being more prevalent, perhaps mangsho. And, daal is eaten toward the beginning of the meal. Actually, my family follows the sequence found on the “Bengali Cuisine” Wikipedia page, at least as it was however many years ago when I read it… (But, this may say more to you about my mother’s family than I understand. I also don’t want to go into much detail here because it is off-topic.) Lau, sheem (sp? scarlett runner beans), laal shaak, and many other popular [Bengali] vegetables grow well in California (southern, especially well). Choto maach (I use the term “small fish” generally, here) is found abundantly in California, as well. I made my first choto maach (I actually used local smelt) with a posto-sorshe bata (ground poppy seed and mustard paste) dish a few months ago. Family members were pleased.

I read what you had to say about the loss of our food culture in the Bengali foods thread that was split from the Los Angeles board. One of the biggest problems my generation has is that our families pushed us academically which led to graduate and post-graduate work, and often careers in very demanding fields. When I ask my mother to teach me things (and I WANT her to teach me, she is well-known for her cooking), she tells me to focus on my education. And so I turn to the internet and cobble together recipes that are sad approximations of what they should be. (I think we can agree that a Desi teaspoon is not a teaspoon.) …So YES – please teach me. But, please teach me – US – about the traditional things. I want to know the difference between a labra, a ghonto, a charchari, and a paanch-mishali and I think other Hounds might be interested, too. A bhaatey is made by mashing vegetables with rice? The only poda I know about is the sweet pitha.

Bengali food - some things I am having difficulty in identifying


I was actually not responding to you, but to the OP and sharing the little experience I've garnered growing up in a Bengali-American home. But, thank you for taking the time to write a response to me.

"Bhorta is east Bengal's grand attempt to pronounce BHURTA! People, if you can pronounce -awe-, is it so impossible to pronounce -uh-? As in duh? Moral: don't fly in aircraft piloted by those who cannot care enough to get their language straight."

Was this meant to be offensive? My Bangla in English writing is notoriously bad (I've made this disclaimer on CH in the past), but I am 100% a Bengali-American and I do very much care... I'm just a little ignorant. (Funnily enough, this is actually my next project after the bar - learning to write the different forms of Bangla.) I am not ignorant, however, to the the sociological implications of which side of that border you're on. The younger generations of the diaspora (I'm of the former-Sepia Mutiny set) tend to focus more on the shared experiences in an effort to cultivate our cultural identities. Mustard oil, hilsa, and greens are common topics of conversation when it comes to food. :)

Moving along, I had to Google piper chaba, but those leaves look very similar to something that grew in my grandmother's roof garden in Khulna. Is this not commonly used in modern [Bengali] cooking? Where and how have you seen it used? Very interested.

I've had the sorshe koi maache bhapa (sp?) with kochu leaf prep you mention. Divine.

ETA: Please call me Mohua. I reserve my bhalo nam (to my parents' chagrin) for those who would appreciate it and can pronounce it correctly.

Mar 26, 2014
adrienne156 in General Topics

Bengali food - some things I am having difficulty in identifying

The long red stems are laal shaak'r data ("red greens/spinach" stem) or data shaak (greens known for their stems). Don't remember how they're prepared, but probably steamed and stir-fried with shrimp or in a light sauce with shutki (dried fish).

Kochu shaak (taro leaf) is one of my favorite things of all time. Cooked down into a sweet bhorta (mash) with - of course - stir-fried shrimp.

Mar 25, 2014
adrienne156 in General Topics

Is Anyone else on Pinterest? Let's follow each other!

Done and here's mine:

I've got a few different food related boards.

Feb 17, 2014
adrienne156 in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's Yay/Nay - February 2014! [OLD]

I'm pretty familiar with fresh ghost peppers so was super excited to find this. It is delicious, but really a different level of hot from anything you find in the average grocery store. I would recommend just tapping the grinder against your hand so the smaller bits fall out to start, taste, and move up from there.

Feb 12, 2014
adrienne156 in Chains

Berkeley Eat/Study/Seduction Spot

To be believable you're going to need tables big enough for one, potentially two laptops plus books (assuming), Wi-Fi, and access to plugs. What day of the week? I can't imagine being able to study at Bette's on a weekend day... I'd feel weird pulling out a laptop when people are waiting in line to eat, but maybe that's just me. Elmwood Cafe and Rick and Ann's will work.

Large Indian Grocery Stores like 99 Ranch, etc.?

The Fremont location has been a South Asian market for decades. NIB carries some Om Shakthi spices and I like that brand of cumin...

Weight Watchers Foodies -- Bermuda Triangle Edition, Part 2! December 2013 (OLD)


Dec 27, 2013
adrienne156 in Home Cooking

Wading through South Bay's great Indian restaurants

Probably aamchur - dried green mango powder. It's used a lot in chaat, for flavoring in general, and sometimes as meat tenderizer.

Weight Watchers Foodies -- Bermuda Triangle Edition, Part 2! December 2013 (OLD)

I buy it on Amazon.

Dec 10, 2013
adrienne156 in Home Cooking

Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - December 2013 [old]

Someone brought a bottle of that Smirnoff Caramel vodka to Thanksgiving and I dumped some into a cup of hot TJ's Spiced Apple Cider. Sweet, but not bad.

Dec 09, 2013
adrienne156 in Chains

Hong Kong East Ocean in Emeryville - any recent info for dim sum?

I'm a fan of their turnip cake in xo sauce. Haven't been in 3+ years though...

Turkey time

Looks like a broad breast to me. Good looking bird, too.

Poutine or cheese curds - in 2013?

I've heard Bisto is a good option for the gravy.

What's your job and are you happy with it?

No kidding! EBCLO? I'm a certified law clerk for Legal Aid Society in Contra Costa. My want to practice dependency is what brought me to law school. Just finishing up my 3L year and working as a legal assistant doing workers' comp to pay the rent.

ETA: Law school is torture, but I love my jobs.

Nov 20, 2013
adrienne156 in Not About Food

Turkey time

Nonono! Don't drive to WF. I would definitely hit up the turkey farms near you before I drove an hour to "Whole Paycheck" (their relatively low turkey prices actually surprised me this year). You'll definitely get the best price buying directly from the farms. Branigans is in Woodland, so are you in that general area? If you want to go the grocery store route, there are Nugget Markets near you.

Really, the turkey you should get boils down to what's important to you - organic, free-range, broad-breast, heritage, blah, blah, blah. You can spend anywhere from $.99/lb. to $10/lb. I've been slowly making my way through the different brands by reading these boards over the years and found that I really like Mary's, but decided to switch it up the last couple of years. I had a BN Ranch turkey last year that I paid an arm and a leg for and while I know other Hounds have had great success, it was the first turkey that I just totally clobbered. Combination of mishandling before I got it and then a major case of user error. Poor turkey.

If price were not an issue for me, I would get one of the Sonoma County 4H birds Melanie mentions above. I think they're $7.50/lb. this year. I doubt you could find a better treated turkey.