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BevMo vs. TJ's

Apologies for my unfinished thought. The disagreement was on,

"The average BevMo wine customer is often in a transitional phase -- as I mentioned above, supermarket selections don't work anymore, and a speciality retailer is still intimidating. The average BevMo customer does not "stay" a BevMo customer."

Although I do shop at specialty wine shops, my disagreement was that I have no issues shopping at BevMo or TJ for the glass of wine I have with my dinner.

Mar 06, 2007
librarian in Wine

BevMo vs. TJ's

Respectfully, I have to disagree with you. Maybe the TJ, BevMo and supermarket in my area have a better selection but I find them absolutely fine when it comes to buying everyday wine ($10-$20 range). They're also good for the occasional gem that you can cellar for 1-3 years. I find them convenient with a good value point for my dinner wine. I don't shop there for entertaining wine or gift wine but I don't drink those every day.

Mar 06, 2007
librarian in Wine

Split Pea Soup - what did I do wrong??

Over heat, try thinning it out with a 50% water & 50% broth solution. Dilute it slowly until you get to the consistency that you want.

Feb 28, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Dinner Party Wine Etiquette

My husband and I are well known winos, er, wine appreciators. Our friends frequently bring a bottle of wine as the hostess present. As this is a present, we generally put this away (after writing the giver's name on the bottle for a thank you note when we drink it). When we plan dinner, we plan the wines to go along with it.

We have had occasion when our friends have offered to bring the wine for the dinner. Please note that this requires that more than one bottle be offered. Our ratio of bottles to guests is generally 3:4. As you can see, this often gets too expensive for a guest to undertake. Should you really wish for your bottle to be consumed during the dinner, call ahead of time and ask if you can bring a bottle for the meal.

Alternately, if its just a matter of you feeling that your friends are keeping the "good stuff" for themselves while they serve you swill, bring a bottle of Yellow Tail as your hostess gift.

Feb 27, 2007
librarian in Not About Food

newlywed would love some of your tried and trues

Better Homes & Gardens is a classic. In fact, everyone in my family gets a copy of it when they first move out on their own.

I usually refrain from buying a cookbook until I've tried a few recipes from the chef (you can use foodnetwork.com for a lot of them).

I use a lot of online recipes (just make sure you bookmark them if you use them so you can find them again - conversely, make sure you delete the bookmark if you hated it). I tend to check out epicurious.com and allrecipes.com. Every once in a while I'll venture over to recipezaar.com or another website. As mpalmer6c said, eventually you'll be able to look at a recipe and know if you'll like it. After a while, you'll be able to look at a recipe and figure out how you want to modify it.

I would recommend keeping your portion sizes regulated (if the recipe says it serves four, serve two portions and store two portions) and look to mix some lower calorie/lower fat recipes in there.

Feb 27, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Just over the border from Burlington Vermont?

The Eastern Townships has some excellent chow (restos and food products). You can also search out products in the Southwestern Townships (circuitdupaysan.com). My favourite would be a little gem of a cafe in Stanstead (literally on the border of Canada and the US) just up from the customs station. I believe its called Millie's cafe. Its worth the trip.

Feb 21, 2007
librarian in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

getting ready for Lent- I've stocked up on lentils...what are your favourite recipes?

I'm a vegetarian after I gave up meat for Lent (that was 1994). I haven't given up dairy for Lent but I did give up white sugar.

* Pizza with lots of veggies but no cheese (my personal favourite is artichoke, black olive, roasted red pepper and spinach). Btw, making individual pizzas is excellent if your spouse hasn't given up meat/dairy for Lent.
* Pasta primavera (whole wheat pasta), lots of veggies and a tomato sauce.
* Burritos with pinto beans, spanish rice, sauteed peppers/onion, lettuce, black olives, salsa, etc. etc. etc.
* Vegetarian Hoppin' Jack
* Quinoa salad - cook and cool quinoa, add veggies, nuts and a vinaigrette.
* Cuban black beans over rice
* Garlic hummus on Ryevita paired with some marinated veggies
* Stir-fried veggies over quinoa or whole wheat couscous

My best advice is to keep a well stocked pantry so that when you find that *stellar* recipe online, you can run to the kitchen to make it. Also, play with oils (might want to get a mister) to find out which ones work best in a particular dish (I stick with olive and canola for cooking, I have specialty oils for dressings, etc.) Keep nuts and seeds handy for snacking (and for throwing in salads). Experiment with vinaigres, peppers, onion and garlic.

When you start to eat meat again - go slowly to avoid getting sick (your system won't be used to it). Good luck to you!

Feb 21, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Calling all veg heads - what are your common pitfalls when ordering at non veg restaurants?

I think most vegetarians (myself included) realise that going to a restaurant that serves meat is going to be a compromise. I do my best to stay away from the soup, anything that requires stock/broth and anything fried (same grill/oil as the meat).

I have a few restaurants that I know I can go to without problems, if I'm out with friends, I'll try to steer them towards one of these. If I'm going to a new place, I'll look up the menu online before I go. If it is a nicer restaurant, I do call ahead and ask.

In terms of "going with the flow" - look for the pasta dish. Even if they don't have a pomodoro sauce, most restaurants can cook make an olive oil and garlic dressing for it - ask them to toss some veggies in with it. If all else fails, go with the salad and bread. I always keep peanutbutter & crackers in my car as a fall back so my blood sugar doesn't suffer.

Feb 17, 2007
librarian in Not About Food

Stomach Flu--What to Drink? Nibble?

Actually, stay away from Gatorade, sodas and juices for the first 24 hours (they all contain too much sugar which make people feel worse). Try a gastrolyte, pedialyte or use the WHO field substitute:

Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar (or honey) with 1 teaspoon of table salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. (Baking soda may be substituted with 1 teaspoon of table salt.) Mix in 1 liter (1 qt) of clean or previously boiled water.

Drinks should be sipped, not gulped. Aim for 1 drink every 15 minutes (this is from the hospital but it never works that way).

Be careful about water consumption the first few days - too much can cause seizures due to the loss of electrolytes.

If the person feels like eating, try the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast - dry). Do not eat any dairy products for 3 days after the symptoms have ceased.

For the caregiver - consider alternate sleeping arrangements if your spouse is sick and use a different bathroom than those who are sick. Use gloves and a mild bleach solution to clean the house (depending on what is causing the gastro-enteritis the person could be infectious anywhere from 2 hours to 48 hours before symptoms show). Quarantine sick people to their bedrooms and the bathroom (boring but it keeps the bleaching routine to a minimum). Wash your hands frequently and give everyone a refresher on how to wash their hands (lots of soap and friction, sing happy birthday twice then rinse). Do not prepare foods until you know that you're not infected (or you'll just re-infect everyone).

Good luck!

Feb 15, 2007
librarian in General Topics

Your opinion on wine tasting fees?

I'm in favour of wine-tasting fees simply because I hate to feel obligated to buy something whether or not I liked the offering. Having said that, it has been my experience that most wineries discount the wine tasting fee if you make a purchase.

Feb 07, 2007
librarian in Not About Food

Cheap, yummy lunch in Canoga Pk. Any suggestions?

Les Sisters - 21818 Devonshire (1 block east of Topanga) in Chatsworth. Incredible southern food (don't be afraid of the catfish). No reservations, park on the street, small place - get there early to get a table. If you get the lemonade, make sure you add sugar before you drink it.

Woodlands - (woodlandschatsworth.com). Very good Indian food however it is vegetarian (if that puts you off). Tight parking lot but no available street parking.

Vincenzo's Pizza - (vincenzospizza.com) Chatsworth location is nearby. I'd advise against getting a slice (why get a slice when you can call ahead and a personal pizza). My favourite pizza outside of Brooklyn.

San Carlo Italian Deli - 10178 Mason (in the large strip mall). Packed but efficient. You'll love any sandwich you get.

Feb 07, 2007
librarian in Los Angeles Area

Not-to-be-missed Food Festivals?

We're looking for festivals anywhere. If its in our neck of the woods, we can take a weekend for it. If its not, we're hoping to ask early enough that we might be able to schedule a vacation around it. We're not adverse to hopping on a plane to try something excellent.

Feb 03, 2007
librarian in General Topics

Not-to-be-missed Food Festivals?

My husband and I have been planning our year according to which food festivals we consider to be worth travelling for (either by car or plane). Since we're both chowhounds, we're looking for gems that we might have been overlooked or not heard of in our part of the world.

What food festivals do you consider worth travelling for? Please include name, location, general date and website if available.

Feb 03, 2007
librarian in General Topics

Anything remotely "chowish" in Disney World? At all?

As a tangent - Epcot holds a Food and Wine Festival in Fall which is really quite good.

Jan 25, 2007
librarian in Florida

Cinnamon Rolls - Tips, Tricks & Recipes

We're having friends stay overnight next weekend and the husband happens to be a cinnamon roll fanatic. Now I make a pretty darn good cinnamon roll but, like most chowhounds, I'm always looking for something better.

Any tips, tricks or recipes for home-made cinnamon rolls (or even sticky buns)? Preferably with an overnight raise so that I can make them the day before and cook them in the morning.

Thanks a million!

Jan 22, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

What do you take to eat on a plane?

When I'm flying from home, I usually make scones and cookies the day before. I can usually bring some hard cheese (acceptable to most customs agents) and some honey (use that 3oz container to get it through security). I'll also bring my own tea bags. I'll bring some hard candies just in case. I buy water once I'm past security.

When I'm flying back (and I don't have the luxury of a kitchen), I usually carb-load before the flight and grab some form of bread from a bakery to take on the flight with me. Tea bags. I buy water (again) once I'm through security.

Jan 22, 2007
librarian in General Topics

Frugal meals

All these recipes remind me of when I first got married and we were living in England. We had Yorkshire pudding at least once a week (milk, eggs, flour beaten together and cooked in a greased pie pan - we couldn't afford proper pudding tins) with frozen veg (carrots were the cheapest) and OXO gravy.

Soups, particularly bean soups and lentil soups, will be a live-saver for you. Make a big batch of split pea and barley soup (split peas, barley, water or stock, carrots, celery, salt and pepper then simmer for several hours) or black bean and rice soup (pretty much the same recipe - add cooked rice in at the end to prevent it from starching the water or disintegrating). Even a minestrone (tomato paste, water or stock, veggies, salt and pepper - add cooked pasta just before serving if you want) does well.

Stock up on frozen vegetables when they're on sale. If you're near a university - shop at the local store where they expect student budgets. Don't knock ramen. It's unhealthy for you but you don't have to use the little sauce packet - use a boullion and some veggies. You can also check out mattfischer.com/ramen for more ramen recipes.

Save a little of your budget each week and invest in spices. They can really liven up your meals so that you don't feel like you're eating the same meal every day of your life.

Good luck!

Jan 19, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Life After Lasagna: Veggie Suggestions for Easy, Make-Ahead Dishes for a Crowd?

Quinoa Casserole - Cook quinoa (about 1/4 cup per person, ration of quinoa to water is 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, cook covered for 15 minutes. If desired, cook in broth or herbed water). In a large pot, saute some chopped onion (or garlic) with some olive oil, add vegetables (about 1/2 cup of veggies per person - broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, cauliflower, spinach, whatever you like) and saute for a moment, add 1/2 cup of water and cover pot, steam for about 5 minutes. Add quinoa and mix well. If desired, add grated cheese to mixture. Personally, I like to add a little Tabasco Green. Put in a casserole dish and sprinkle with cheese (if lacto) or cover with tin foil (if vegan). Cook at 350F for about 20 - 30 minutes.

Spanikopita is a great suggestion. If you can't find / don't like working with phyllo, you can substitute flake pastry. With the flake pastry, you don't have to cook immediately.

Stuffed peppers always look nice. I'd do them on the horizontal so that they take up more of the plate (visual thing).

Jan 18, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Honey

I agree with getting a variety of honeys and trying them out. I wasn't a big honey fan growing up, I found the taste to be overpowering. Once I got out into the big wide world, I discovered honeys other than clover honey. My favourite has to be raspberry blossom honey with apple blossom or blueberry coming in a close second. I'm not a big fan of clover honey or buckwheat honey. I've even taken to eating honeycomb every once in a while.

I use honey as a sugar substitute. I put it in sauces, dressings and marinades. I'm partial to it in green tea (but never in black tea - I'm quirky). I bake with it. I also like it straight with warm cornbread. Ah, and I make a wicked honeybutter for my scones.

Jan 18, 2007
librarian in General Topics

What would you do with these cute little guys?

For some reason, I'm thinking of putting them on top of a pumpkin-ginger cheesecake.

Jan 18, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

pals coming for drinks and...What else?

Salsa Fresca

Time (start to finish) - about 60 to 90 minutes plus 1 hour rest time.

6 tomatoes (the reddest tomatoes you can find but not roma) - chopped into pieces about the size of your thumb nail and de-seeded
1/2 onion (your preference) - chopped into pieces about the size of your pinky nail and separated (very important or guests get a huge chunk of onion in their mouth)
1 clove garlic (more if everyone likes garlic) - minced
1 bunch cilantro - rinsed and rough chopped (I usually only use the leaves - time consuming but a better taste for me)
2 small jalapeno pepper - deseeded, deveined and diced (sized about a quarter of your pinky nail)
Juice of one lime
Freshly milled black pepper - to taste
salt - to taste

1. Put tomatoes in bowl and add salt (brings out the flavour of the tomatoes and doing it at this stage means you won't oversalt the salsa). Mix.
2. Add onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, black pepper and lime juice. Mix well.
3. Rest for 1 hour before serving.

If you have anything left over (my husband swears its better the next day but then you're getting out of "fresca" territory) you can use it with grilled chicken or in burritos.

Jan 18, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

pals coming for drinks and...What else?

Salsa Fresca is always a hit, if a bit labor intensive. Let me know if you need the recipe.

Jan 17, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Vegan Dinner Party Ideas please :)

For dessert, how about poached pears with chocolate sauce (dark, obviously) and nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts)?

Jan 17, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Plating food or Family Style?

I let people serve themselves because most often, I'm mixing a group of people of myriad food allergies, food preferences and eating styles (don't ask). I generally put food out "buffet style" on a separate table with ingredient cards.

If I'm serving a number of courses, then I'll let everyone know ahead of time (in case they want to save room).

I keep throw-away containers on hand to get rid of leftovers. If I'm certain something will be a hit, I keep recipe cards ready too.

Jan 17, 2007
librarian in Not About Food

Interesting hard ciders, at the LCBO or at restaurants?

FYI, you can search the LCBO's inventory at www.lcbo.ca.

Jan 17, 2007
librarian in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Need Ideas for Office Breakfast Club

Crepes. Make (or buy) them ahead of time. Then set up a small "buffet" with various fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and sauces.

Jan 16, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Ideas for Jazzing Up Plain Fat Free Yogurt

Yes, you are correct, I'd left out the garlic.

I looked up Fage yogurt. We are able to get a Greek-style yogurt here but it has too much flavour (if that makes sense) and it tastes bitter to me.

Jan 16, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking

Supertasters Unite!

I first found out that I was a "supertaster" when I used an ex-boyfriend's toothpaste. It was the absolute worst thing I'd ever tasted and I thought he was playing a trick on me. Evidently, this company had put out the toothpaste without having a supertaster on the panel. The toothpaste was recalled and given to the employees for free. (This was in Europe)

Nowadays, I have a system. It sounds horrible but my husband tastes a lot of stuff for me first. He's learned through trial and error what I'll be able to handle and what's going to just send me over the edge.

We've also worked on my tolerance levels by feeding me small pieces of food that I find objectionable and preparing them in different fashions to see if there is one method that is better than another.

We do tend to avoid all "chemical" types of food and almost everything from a box or tin. Of course, going over to someone else's house can be troublesome if they heavily season their food.

Having said all that, for all the pitfalls there are to being a supertaster - I'd hate to give up the symphony that is chocolate.

Jan 15, 2007
librarian in Not About Food

best chocolates in montreal?

In West Island there is Bangerter of Switzerland (www.chocolatbangerter.com). The chocolates alone are worth the trip (in summer he makes his own ice cream). I can also recommend his cakes.

South shore there is Aux Trois Chocolats in St-Remi (887, rue Notre-Dame). I've yet to meet a sea salt caramel that is better than hers.

There is a sales location for Chocolats Genevieve Grandbois inside the Atwater Market.

Then again, if you really like this girl, you might just want to pick up a copy of the Montreal food guide (available at the cash register at Hamel's in the Marche JT and a million other places around the city) and take road trips to see just where the best chocolates are.

Jan 15, 2007
librarian in Quebec (inc. Montreal)

ISO Cheap, but elegant fare

I usually stick with food that can be eaten with the fingers without creating too much mess. I'd go with tea sandwiches (cucumber w/ garlic-pepper-lemon-cream cheese spread, salmon - if you can't afford sliced salmon, buy tinned salmon and mix it with some cream cheese, smoke flavouring and lemon, roast beef w/ horseradish-pepper-cream cheese spread). I'd also make scones served with clotted cream (if its affordable in your area), lemon curd (not too difficult to make if you can't find it at a decent price) and honey-butter (easy to make your own). Then plan to serve a dessert of individual fruit tarts and make some elegant cookies.

Jan 14, 2007
librarian in Home Cooking