cayjohan's Profile

Title Last Reply

Sack lunches for little kid, no fridge

Ugh. I really think it's a downright unfriendly situation to have no refrigeration/no cooler/no personal insulated bags. Boo. In my years of lunch-packing for kids' camps and field trips, insulated bags were always allowed, thankfully. At least you can use one on non field trip days. Still, as I was thinking on your dilemma, I found this article with some pretty dismal numbers on how many lunches are at safe temperature even WITH an insulated bag and ice packs: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/wel... . I would guess you are in for a summer of creative wrapping, without doubt. Since your day camp seems not to care about throwaway lunch-packing, I'd go ahead and wrap up the whole packed lunch (with frozen juice box or water bottle) in layers of newspaper for insulation. Better than a paper bag for keeping things cool, solves any squishage problem, and adheres to "the rules." In addition (because this sort of thing makes me grumpy), I'd be pretty vocal in complaining about the no-insulated-bag/thermos-on-a-field-trip thing. It seems sort of unnecessary, right?

24 minutes ago
cayjohan in Home Cooking

Canned foods . I use them . Do you ?

This is the canned good that I am hankering to add to my pantry: canned Vorschmack. Take a look: http://www.suomikauppa.fi/product_inf...

I love Vorschmack enough to make it on the odd occasion, but I would much rather have this convenience. It could be horrid (I think it's a food that, mishandled, might have great potential for horridness, really), and it's certainly not cheap, but I am *this close* to ordering some. Just to see.

about 24 hours ago
cayjohan in General Topics

Favorite Chicken Salad Mix-Ins?

Double oooh. I am in a serious ras el hanout phase, and I realize I have not yet ras el hanouted chicken salad! I wonder how some olives and raisins would be in that...or, hmm, some preserved lemon?

1 day ago
cayjohan in Home Cooking
1

Canned foods . I use them . Do you ?

LOL on the Surly! My hub just restocked the Furious yesterday!

1 day ago
cayjohan in General Topics

Canned foods . I use them . Do you ?

I am bit surprised at how many have replied "beets." I am a canned-beet gal for all of the reasons mentioned, and: Biff a la Lindström, the Swedish ground meat and beet patty. Great dish, and so much more convenient with canned beets.

My pantry always has a large and varied stash of canned fish and seafood. In stock now:
Smoked oysters
Clams
Octopus
Salmon
Herring
Kipper snacks
Sardines with varying sauces
Smoked trout
Smoked mackerel
I also use canned crab meat (the refrigerated sort)

I always have Trader Joe's canned dolmas on hand.

Coconut milk

Canned pears - a bit too sweet for me, but I love, love, love the canned texture along with cottage cheese.

I have the odd can of tomato paste, but generally don't stock tomatoes canned, as I freeze mine.

I recently quit stocking any canned beans (other than refried blacks from TJs), as they just never got used. I use dried beans a LOT, and always have some cooked and ready to go anyway, so I freed up that pantry space.

Like another poster, I am not counting jarred things - it's Pickled Vegetable City in the pantry.

1 day ago
cayjohan in General Topics

Brand of sunflower seed butter that tastes most like Skippy PB?

Will your kiddo tolerate flavors in the Asian range? Maybe you could savory-up the sunbutter with soy, ginger, garlic, etc (within his tolerance) and use it as a sauce for, say, cold roast pork wraps or a dressing for cold soba noodles with shredded carrots and some sliced cold roast pork? (Assuming, of course, an insulated bag, or a thermos for the noodles.)

I'll add this, even though I am exhibiting a quirk: one of my favorite sandwiches involves peanut butter and bacon; maybe a good dose of porkiness via bacon would increase the appeal of the sunbutter?

1 day ago
cayjohan in General Topics

This Food Doesn't Look Like Food. But It Totally Is, We Promise.

Those rice soup bowls Crack. Me. Up. I can't stop looking at the photo. I've GOT to do this just to crack up all over again. I am generally unaffected one way or the other by 'cute' but this one just hits the funny bone right. Still giggling. I've got to make some soup.

Also: I am always amazed at elaborate melon-carving.

2 days ago
cayjohan in Food Media & News

Favorite Chicken Salad Mix-Ins?

So many wonderful combinations! I really sometimes forget how amazingly versatile chicken salad is.

To add to the other suggestions: try pickled vegetables. Dilly beans are great in chicken salad. Giardiniera. Pickled beets. And this: leftover three bean salad.

Also: try mixing in some smoked fish, if smoked fish rings your chimes. Really de-blandifies blah chicken.

2 days ago
cayjohan in Home Cooking
1

Vegetable gardens 2015

>>I make my man stare at it with me<<

Yes. This happens here too. All. The. Time. From both of us (we're empty-nesting, so we need to coo at something, and vegetables and cats seem to do it :-P) There are so many shades to the feeling, as you know - the homegrown does indeed make you want to Do Right By the Vegetable.

nw, I recall you like potatoes. I know nuthin-about-nuthin about growing potatoes in CA, but we've been loving growing Viking Purple potatoes here in MN and it is certainly not just for their production or flavor or performance in keeping (although they are "all that"); no, it's largely about how damn beautiful they are.

See? I've got to post a picture again and coo...

May 22, 2015
cayjohan in Gardening
1

What's for Dinner #365: A Broad Abroad [Through May 23, 2015]

My husband came home early today with two welcomed things: a willingness to help plant the yard with what seems to be every coleus variety in the known universe, and a couple of beautiful rib-eye steaks. He appears to be self-bribing, and I have no complaint. The steak will go with chickpea/quinoa tabbouleh and some garden lettuce. Patio dining with a freshly zhuzh-ed garden will be a nice Friday date.

For later, I have the latest incarnation of some (wholly and unashamedly bastardized) fruitcake I am playing around with. This one is tart dried cherries, dried pear, walnuts, and 85% chocolate, chopped, along with orange zest and a hefty addition of ras el hanout (!). It's sort of addicting. I know, as I just had to check (and recheck, and recheck) to make sure. :-)

COLD VEGETABLE & PASTA/GRAIN SALAD! Home Cooking Dish of the Month (May 2015)

Lately I've been relying on a regular appearance of chickpeas+quinoa done as a tabbouleh, with a *heavy* emphasis on the parsley element. Lemon and olive oil dressing. Sometimes some dill. Usually some finely sliced quarters of red onion to please our onion-loving palates. Some variant on this is handy for me to take to potlucks so as a person with celiac I have a heartier, more meal-like option than just green salad. I like curly parsley for this, as it holds up well structurally.

I thought of this thread with my peripatetic daughter's latest entry into her food wish-list after a year of traveling: chirashizushi, vegetarian. I'll go out on a limb and suggest that, yeah, that sort of fits the bill for the dish parameters, right? I'll give her her wish - we'll use kanpyo, mushrooms, carrot shreds, omelet, pea pods, cukes, greens...you know: whatnot. Am looking forward to the dish, as I'd completely forgotten what a nice option it is.

Home Cooking Dish of the Month (June 2015) Nominations!

Love the idea of COLD MEAT DISHES! (Assumed to also encompass the picnic-worthy world of pâtés and terrines.)

May 22, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking
1

Advice for new food gardeners

So true! And there are other "helpers," too. While digging potatoes last fall, we were beyond thrilled to find a least a half dozen toads burrowed in. Toads will eat amazing amounts of bugs. I'm in the process of cobbling together some toad-friendly hidey-places and a small water source to hopefully get our gang of toads to take up residence again this summer.

May 22, 2015
cayjohan in Gardening

Vegetable gardens 2015

You are not alone! It's completely magical isn't it? I admit: I find myself regarding our homegrown produce with a little more, um...reverence, for lack of a better word, than other produce. Probably not fair, but there it is. Jiminy, at dinner last night we were Contemplating and Discussing the lettuce leaves just picked...and (of course) they were the Most Beautiful Lettuce Leaves Ever (EVER!). We get ridiculously sunk in vegetable appreciation during garden season. So satisfying.

May 22, 2015
cayjohan in Gardening
1

Vegetable gardens 2015

Same here with Animal Control pickup, but check for your local procedure. Sometimes you can get a loaner trap from AC, but the loaners here are perpetually checked out, so it made sense to just buy one. Once you trap the intruder, just call for pickup - AC will transfer into their own pen, so you don't have to give up your trap.

May 21, 2015
cayjohan in Gardening

Vegetable gardens 2015

Boo! Hiss! I am generally at war with one groundhog or another (I wish they weren't such handsome critters, really). Yes, get a live trap. The problem is baiting them when there is so much produce free for the taking *outside* the trap. My animal control guy urged using cantaloupe as bait, the more fragrant the better, as apparently groundhogs really like Big Aroma. Success, when other baiting had been ignored.

May 21, 2015
cayjohan in Gardening

What's for Dinner #365: A Broad Abroad [Through May 23, 2015]

Hidden bugs aside, don't eat raw morels. They need to be cooked.

May 21, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking
1

What's for Dinner #365: A Broad Abroad [Through May 23, 2015]

Lamb! Yes! Back to the freezer to exchange ground pork for ground lamb...while rolling that little lamzy earworm around in my head!

I had intended pork larb for dinner, but lamb is sounding pretty great right now, so lamb larb it is. I have a lot of green onions on hand, so I'll likely roast a bunch to go with - I love the roasted taste as a larb garnish. The usual array of herbs and whatnot will go with, and I just toasted up a batch of rice to grind.

Linda, you remind me that I need to start harvesting the trough of lettuces I have going in the greenhouse. It looks so pretty that I have been holding off, but: it's time. First salad from homegrown this year! Yay!

I'm sticking that sumac mayo idea away for future reference; sounds wonderful.

What's for Dinner #365: A Broad Abroad [Through May 23, 2015]

Well, let me say this: IF one has to cook a hypothetical sowbug, a good method is to bury that hypothetical sowbug somewhere in a mess of asparagus and morels and roast it. Tasty business. :-P (At least the interwebs informed me that hypothetical sowbugs are indeed edible.)

I'm operating under the assumption that we *magicked away* any remaining hypothetical sowbugs, however. We do what we must, right?

I really think the really big morels are a *lot* easier to clean than the smaller ones, as the crevices are larger and it's easier to spot the critters and get rid of grit (though clearly this was inadequate this go-round, despite several good soaks; might have to try a saltwater bath next time). I love that I have my own secret morel stash in my teeny urban yard; I can let the shrooms get larger without worrying about anyone else foraging them. We've had some doozies over the years. Last night's were, after roasting, still about the size of lamb chops (!!!). We've got rain forecast for the weekend; I'm hoping for some more morels to maybe coincide with some garlic scapes for another bout of roasting. Mushroom gluttony wins out over the hypothetical bug!

Shopping for fryable cheese

Finnish "bread cheese" would work great. Here's a link with some info: http://mehungry-phyllis.blogspot.com/...

May 21, 2015
cayjohan in Cheese

What's for Dinner #365: A Broad Abroad [Through May 23, 2015]

eatingjoy said above: "I have been reading along with such interest! Your travels, local shopping habits and wonderful dinners. Wow what a thread of delicious meal planning!! Thanks for sharing so generously."
*****
I second all of this; this thread is such a great read and source of inspiration! I get caught up in the reading and forget about posting; I should rectify that, since I feel like I *know* all you posters already anyhow from the long history of the topic. Still, we in this household go through very long stretches of time where WFD is Yet Another variation on a legume soup, and Normal People would be bored silly with the theme, you know? <wink> I've been pretty inspired lately, comparatively, so I might as well share it with you nice folks.

Today's WFD is morels from my yard. (One reason I love my yard.) BIG morels. I am roasting them with asparagus. Scrambled eggs with manchego to go with. Morels+asparagus+eggs is annual meal "thing" with our household.

When the pan was prepped for the oven, I spotted a sowbug crawling out of a morel. I know this happens with morels; I just haven't had it happen, either out of luck or ignorance (and I am a fairly picky washer-of-morels for Just This Reason). Then I saw another. And one more. One can spend a lot of time trying to spot rogue sowbugs in what seems to be a perfect camouflage for sowbugs (please see photo). WFD appears to be interrupted by a sowbug surveillance mission. The oven has signaled me that it has reached temperature, so I am switching into "If I can't see it, it doesn't exist" mode and popping the the pan in the oven. I'm sure it would likely not be my first sowbug.*

My daughter has been studying in Ireland this past year, and was hoping her return date would coincide with the morels so she could reprise her farewell meal-of-morels before she left last year on the same date. Not quite; the mushrooms came early, and she's not back for a week. We, of course, "tortured" her with a photo of morels on Facebook. <grin> We had a bumper crop in the yard last year, and at the time we calculated the going market value of the morels my daughter ate alone - it was somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy bucks. My people seem to be shameless mushroom gluttons.

* For the past high school Speech season, I mentored a teenaged family friend through development of his speech, which advocated for the use of insects in the human diet. It was a great time, I learned a lot, and he delivered a great speech. He'll get a kick out of my sowbug hunt.

Fried shrimp

I do the same, but with olive oil for poaching. It's my favorite method for virtually fool-proof shrimp.

May 20, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking

What Oil for Mayo?

Does the peanut oil provide an discernible flavor? I haven't used peanut oil in years - used it during an Asian food phase for the peanutty flavor described in recipes I was seeing at the time, but never really got the flavor, and just fell out of using it. I generally make mayo with grapeseed oil and prefer it over olive, but now I am wondering if a peanutty mayonnaise would taste sort of...delicious. Does that flavor come forward, or are there other reasons for preferring peanut oil? (New to hexane considerations...not an issue with peanut oil?)

May 15, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking

Recipes for Impromptu Casual Summer Entertaining?

Some things in my pantry for easy and quick:

Canned fish. So many options, like a salmon spread, or a quick green salad with tuna chunks, or pasta with canned smoked trout and whatever green stuff you have. I also always have smoked fillets of various fish in the freezer along with IKEA gravlax; one can pull together a pretty nice appetizer plate with those.

Pickles of all sorts. Giardiniera, mushrooms, green beans, asparagus, peppers, beets. You can gussy up the most basic cheese and crackers with some great pickled vegetables.

Olives. I like having fancy olives around. It looks like I *have tried.* <grin>

Feta cheese. I always have feta around, as it suits us - especially in the summer. For a quick snack plate, I think it's just great with whatever fruit and/or veg you have. Or, it's great for a fast pasta+greenstuff. And, it's not an expensive cheese. (TDQ, in MSP, go to Holy Land for feta. Keeps very well, and the varieties are wonderful.)

Trader Joe's canned Dolmas. Zero effort other than a can opener. Well, some effort - rustle up some herb+yogurt dip/sauce. And: dolmas have just a little whiff of fussiness about them - nice for an app plate. Toss on some pickled things and olives and feta and sardines...see my strategy?

I also generally have savory vegetable pancakes/fritters/waffles in the freezer. We eat them often and I always make extra, as some sort of flat, tasty thing can make even peanut butter taste company worthy. They reheat well. Spinach and onion waffles with smoked fish on top? Yum. For ready-made, no-work? Trader Joe's frozen uttapam are great for a snack. The uttapam (ignore package instructions and heat in oven at 350 for around 10 minutes or so) are great with any yogurt-y or herb-y dip/sauce/spread the fridge can cough up. Or, just use the chutney that comes with; it's a tasty frozen food to have on hand.

Great Seafood

In case anyone wants to buy from Fabian, attached is the information for early next week (May 18,19). Note that it's the last sale for five weeks.

We bought shrimp last time, and were extremely satisfied.

May 15, 2015
cayjohan in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Need inspiration for vegetarian, company-worthy dinner

Great idea! And with not too much extra work, making individual pies is nice for a dinner party.

New veggie side dish recipes, please!

You might consider trying savory pancakes or fritters. Very versatile flavor-wise, and you can load them as heavily or lightly with vegetables as you please. I don't have a recipe, as my veg pancakes are generally ad hoc affairs with whatever needs to be used up or is over-abundant, but here's a few links to recipes with varying strategies of pancake-izing vegetables:

http://www.recipecan.com/blog/asparag...
http://www.closetcooking.com/2010/07/...
https://baketivities.wordpress.com/20...
http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/cheesy-...
http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2013...

A lot of vegetable pancakes freeze well; I like to make extras of spinach pancakes for the freezer.

Also: most things that can be pancaked can be waffled. Savory vegetable waffles are delightful.

What's your absolute favorite/best apple dessert?

I hope you try it! I like it partly because it is so, well, "surprising." I would guess that most of us think of apples in dessert as meaning pies and strudels and cobblers and such warm-spiced, denser, cozier dishes. Apple snow really steps out of that context. Fluffy+apple-y is delicious. And simple for entertaining: plop some apple snow in a cute little footed goblet and your guests think it's some sort of magic. Not to mention it plays well with many menus. I highly recommend it.

May 15, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking

Need inspiration for vegetarian, company-worthy dinner

I would make a vegetable tagine. No end to the combinations of vegetables and non-bank-breaking legumes. The North African flavors makes it feel a bit festive to me. And: it's just *stew* really, which is pretty friendly for the comfort-cravers, and easy on the cook. Cous-cous (or cauliflower 'rice') accompanying, confetti'd with a good amount of, say, pea pods/peas (for seasonal), lots of fresh parsley/cilantro/mint, scallions. Some asparagus?Maybe salad of shredded carrots and raisins? I'd a lot of success feeding groups with differing diets with some variation of this. Plus, it makes for a beautiful plate.

May 15, 2015
cayjohan in Vegetarian & Vegan
1

What's your absolute favorite/best apple dessert?

For an apple dessert of a different stripe: apple snow. Here's a recipe for one: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddri... , but it's really not much more than applesauce+meringue+whipped cream folded together and is dead-simple to make. I like to use lemon zest in the applesauce, and sometimes a little whiff of ground coriander. It takes well to the *warm* spicing apples like, but I think I like the citrus zest better...and now I have to make it with orange zest per Querencia's post above, as that sounds delicious!

May 14, 2015
cayjohan in Home Cooking