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Holiday Party Dress Codes

Oh Lordy. Presumably these are you friends. If you want a fancy party, just tell them so in the invite.

Dec 13, 2011
jlgarret in Features

Inviting Vegetarians to Eat Corpse

This is such a lovely example of how thoughtful folks who consider the situation from others' perspectives generally get it right when it comes to good manners! (Notable exception: cross-cultural stuff that makes it hard to correctly understand the situation from others' perspective).

Sep 23, 2010
jlgarret in Features

Yeah, Sure, "Let's Have Coffee"

Why not give a date-like brush-off:
"Things are really crazy for me right now, But if you check that place out let me know how it was!" I think the key is to do it with a smile. I've found a big "thank you" can sort of confuse people into not being upset by the brush-off (e.g. "Thank you so much for tracking me down! I had fun talking to you too! Things are really crazy for me right now...but if you check that place out..."). No need for the wall of silence!

Also, it's worth remembering that it takes balls to ask a stranger out for coffee or to share a meal. It's hard to make friends. It's worth honoring that bravery with an honest, and not-to-be-taken-personally brush-off.

Mar 24, 2010
jlgarret in Features

You Can't Take Him Anywhere

I think the LW sounds like a nice lady who loves her BF but wishes he had some skills in this one area of etiquette. I bet they're both nice and fun. Could they take a couples etiquette class before the wedding (does such a thing exist)? Could she tell him how sexy it is when he uses the right fork (that usually works)? Or, likewise, that insulting the cooking or cursing at the table is a turn-off? As far as "changing" him to the point that he's comfortable enough at the fancy-pants dinners that he becomes the life of the party?: That might be aiming a little too high.
Another thought: Are there any men at these fancy dinner parties that could take her fiance under the wing and school him a little?

Mar 17, 2010
jlgarret in Features

Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian?

I'm vegan and happen to have only ever dated meat-eaters. I'm living with a meat eater now and the grill is our best friend. Both BF & I love to cook, but we basically don't prepare meat in the house. BF eats meat off the grill all the time & when guests come over we often serve them grilled meat if they want it. I'd recommend exploring the grill!

Good luck! It sounds like you two are respectful of each others choices -- what a great foundation for a relationship!!

Jan 24, 2010
jlgarret in General Topics

What is your favorite Food TV show?

hulu.com has a food show, Diary of a Foodie, that Gourmet was making. It's excellent. Though I doubt there will be any more, there are 10 episodes for free on Hulu, now.

Jan 24, 2010
jlgarret in Food Media & News

What sauce goes with sage-y chickpea puffs?

It's the cayenne that *makes* it. I used pomegranate/cranberry juice. The cranberry makes it taste like fancy cranberry sauce, which actually works just fine.

1/2 onion (very finely diced) sauted in olive oil
Pom/Cran juice (10 oz?)
1 glug malbec that's been opened a little too long (= wine & vinegar)
S&P&cayenne

Reduced.
Thickened with a little corn starch, 'cause I'm impatient.

It's waiting in a creamer to drizzle over the puffs.
YUM!
....
I think peach would be lovely for the summer.

Dec 31, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

What sauce goes with sage-y chickpea puffs?

Oh my goodness! That sounds delicious. Pomegranate is both pretty, "in", and has just the right sassiness to zip up these vegan hors d'oeuvres. Perfect for New Years. Thanks! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Dec 29, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

What sauce goes with sage-y chickpea puffs?

I made a bunch appetizers for New Year's Eve. Basically, they're veggie burgery stuff (chickpea/mushroom/brown-rice) inside a puff pastry shell. The dominant flavors are sage, thyme & soy sauce.

I baked a couple tonight to test them and they're very pretty but pretty bland. I have 30 more assembled in the fridge waiting for Thursday to bake. I'm hoping to think of a dipping sauce to serve with them to give them something extra. I feel like they need an acid, but maybe something sweet too. Maybe hoisin? Or something with balsamic vinegar? Any ideas?

Thanks!

-Jessica

Dec 29, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Humoring Picky Kids

I remember too, when I was growing up, that my father had to forbid use of the word "disgusting" at the dinner table. My little sister was a picky eater and found quite a bit of the delicious food my mom served "disgusting". I suppose there are two issues here: nutrition and manners. Freaking out because of what's on other people's plates is a manners issue and should be dealt with as such.

Dec 15, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Dinner Party for Beginners: Shrimp Pasta

I love this. Thanks! I'd love to see more like this. Maybe a new "Dinner Party for Beginners" regular feature!

Dec 13, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Humoring Picky Kids

Pretty much all small kids go through a picky eater stage. Extreme Picky Eating is also linked to genetics (fear of new foods) and it's probably a good thing that some of us humans aren't interested in trying those new berries on that new bush.
Research shows it may take 2 or 3 weeks of presenting a new food for kids to get comfortable with it. The first few times, it's still a new bush. The next few times they may not mind looking at it, but won't touch it. Then they'll try it but spit it out. Then they're take a few bites.
Patience, patience parents, patience.
Also, parents should know that kids' caloric needs drop (in proportion to body weight) around 3 years old. They're just not growing as fast. So limit nutrient-empty foods and give lots of healthy options (does mac n' cheese count as healthy? I'm not entirely sure). Very few kids would starve themselves. They'll be fine.
Patience, patience, patience.
And lost of healthy options over and over and over.

Dec 08, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Sneaking Food into Movies

I suppose the question isn't can you (obvious you can) but should you (that's trickier). I'm not sure if the high prices are a grave enough injustice to condone bringing in your own food. I mean, yeah, I do it. But I'm not sure I SHOULD.
But, as this isn't an ethics column, but an etiquette column, I suppose the only thing to really worry about is annoying other guest. Do not, for example, lean over and taunt the people in front of you with descriptions of how delicious your spicy cinnamon and sugar popcorn is in comparison with their stale, popped-off-site, transfat bucketful. That would just be rude.

Dec 02, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Vegetarians at a Barbecue

I can think of no better way to reinforce the vegans-as-judgmental-weridos stereotype than TOTING ALONG YOUR OWN HIBACHI to a friendly barbecue! That is nothing shy of ridiculous.

I say eat at home, call ahead, or BYO veggie burger and shut your trap about meat cooties for one night. If you're really that sensitive then eat before you go. That's what other fundamentalists with dietary rules do. That's what I used to do before I stopped taking myself so seriously.

Oct 06, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Mark Bittman: Expert in Residence!

I just checked at my local nothin-fancy grocery store and they carried smoked salt! (Maybe not as good as Welsh stuff, but...still...)

Sep 14, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Pond Algae as top dressing?

Update on the algae:
I wrestled with algae blooms all summer. It's a small pond with lots of nitrogen-hungry plants and fish that I do not feed. Their job is to eat mosquito larvae and algae. They've doubled in size and yet, still the algae problem...
But that's another story...

I've stopped using the algae as top dressing because my dogs have developed a taste for it and steal it from the garden. :) Instead I just throw it in with my regular compost. I bet it's helping keep things moist and nitrogeny in there.
@ Bulavinaka: it is hair-like. Thanks for the tip of not letting it mat up. I've been conscious of "sprinkling" it evenly into the compost bin.

Sep 14, 2009
jlgarret in Gardening

Raiders of the Lost Drink

Oh lord. Everyone ought to relax. I'm in my 30s and my friends are sophisticated, nary a frat boy amongst us, and yet...yet...when the beer runs out we're pretty much done. In some ways this is being socially aware. It seems like a hint to move on, no? You don't have to go home but you can't drink here.

And I absolutely do hide the fancy stuff that I'd be pissed if someone got in to. That way I can graciously say "help yourself to anything!" Yes I make a pitcher of cocktails (often n.a. because of my many friends who don't drink). And yes I set out wine, etc. But the beer stays in the fridge (because I'm just having a party for friends and how else do people do it!?). And anything in there is fair game 'cause that's the kind of party I throw.

If you're throwing a party with a bartender, then obviously Helena's advice is not apropo. She's talking about a paper napkin type affair. Different strokes for different folks. If you don't want people scrounging in your kitchen (totally defensible, but not the ONLY way to host) then just shoo them out. And keep an eye on things. And don't invite me or Helena.

Sep 04, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Kamut with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese

It reheats beautifully, too. I bet it would freeze well!

Sep 03, 2009
jlgarret in Recipes

Kamut with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese

Made this tonight. Kamut was new to me and really yummy. It's "tooth" reminded me of wheat berries, but maybe even a bit more chewy. I used tofu instead of blue cheese and it made a delicious full meal (though, no doubt, very different in flavor and saltiness from the recipe as intended).

Added some fresh thyme, too, which just seemed to make sense.

I'll definitely be making this more often as the weather cools.

Thanks, too, for a different way to use my slow cooker!

Aug 31, 2009
jlgarret in Recipes

Stain-Free Partying

I didn't know that about white wine! Interesting, MakingSense!
This kind of anxiety is why I bought a dark leather couch (that and the tumble weeds of dog hair that so easily wipe off).

Aug 12, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Mark Bittman: Expert in Residence!

With no business replying:

If the dough for the flatbread will hold it's own shape, just press it out to 12-in roundish, and leave some space in the corners of the pan. Voila!

Aug 05, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Mark Bittman: Expert in Residence!

@ Pikawicca:
Interesting idea! A few questions:
-What is a stovetop smoker and is there a way to smoke without one?
-Do you notice that the flavor of homesmoked tomatoes is significantly better than the canned ones (I think I've used some smoked, canned tomatoes from, maybe Muir Glen)?

Aug 05, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Mark Bittman: Expert in Residence!

I'm vegan and until they invent a pig made of vegetables, I'm constantly on the lookout for something that'll sufficiently sub for pancetta/bacon. The best I've come up with is garlic & smoked salt. I bought the smoked salt somewhere in Berkeley (which is completely unhelpful, I know, but I imagine a search online would turn some up). It really adds depth and you don't need very much at all. The little bag I bought has lasted 2 years and I'm about 1/8th through it.

p.s. I think it's awesome that you're on this culinary hunt for the pleasure of others!

Aug 05, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Recipes You've Never Heard of Outside Your Family

No kidding. I guess there's no substitution for schmaltz. I miss her.

Jul 06, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking

Leaving a Massive Tip

Yowza Springs. I think the point is that the server could've turned the table and had a fresh group of paying (and tipping) customers. No one is telling you you must. But it sure would be nice.

Jul 02, 2009
jlgarret in Features

The Basics: How to Make Lentil Soup

Lixer- It shouldn't really matter. If you like a big lentil-to-veg ratio, add more lentils. If not, add less. Start with maybe a cup?

Jul 01, 2009
jlgarret in Features

Pond Algae as top dressing?

I have a pond that's a prolific algae farm. I'm always tempted to plop the algae around my veg garden plants. Can anyone think of a reason not to? Also, I often water with pond water. I figure it has all those bits of organic junk that might be enriching. But maybe I'm missing something. (This is my first season with a back yard or garden).
Thanks! Jessica

Jun 30, 2009
jlgarret in Gardening

Garden planning system for remembering everything?

Wow! These are great suggestions. I love the idea of taking photos (especially because that doesn't rely on a dubious "artists" rendering of what was planted where. I also think an expandable notebook is a great idea. It might just be a 3 ring binder in my case. Month by month notes? Genius! Any bits of info you WISH you'd remembered to put down...or that I might not think to record but will wish I had next spring?

Jun 28, 2009
jlgarret in Gardening

Garden planning system for remembering everything?

I'm enjoying a relatively successful first year garden. It's small and conservatively planted, but I'm pretty darn happy with it! As we move into the exciting part of the season (several baby tomatoes have come to roost! and teeny tiny green beans! and carrot tops! and....) I'm already looking ahead.

Is anyone willing to share their Time Tested Garden Planning System for keeping track of what was planted where and what did well? Other factors I should consider/record? My planning this year mostly boiled down to what had the prettiest pictures at the local nursery. I'm guessing there's a better way.

Jun 28, 2009
jlgarret in Gardening

Recipes You've Never Heard of Outside Your Family

My Grandma Helen, who just passed away, used to make me Heavenly Rice. It was cooked rice + cool whip + mini marshmallows + crushed pineapple. Delish! I continued to eat this by the pile even after I became vegan. You can't hardly tell grandma that you're no longer into Heavenly Rice, now can you?

Incidentally, my Grandma Sylvia used to make me special vegan matzah ball soup. One time I asked her for the recipe (I was doing my own seder and hadn't figured out a vegan version as good as hers). She told me "oh, honey, when I'm done I just take the regular matzah balls out and put them in a special container for you. I didn't figure you'd mind if you didn't know." That always cracks me up when I think of it.

Jun 27, 2009
jlgarret in Home Cooking