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pellegrino31's Profile

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Do you wear an apron when you cook?

Almost always! I bought a cute bib style one awhile back from Anthropologie that was on sale and I wear it all the time. I don't do well when I get stains on my clothes, even my around-the-house-clothes - it's like a phobia or something.

In fact, I often keep the apron on when I'm eating...kind of like an adult version of a bib. I'm not usually a messy eater but again, it's that phobia of getting my clothes stained. I've been known to wear the apron even when I have friends over - who just have come to accept that I'm a little bit of a nut when it comes to these things.

Feb 20, 2014
pellegrino31 in Not About Food

What time do you normally eat dinner?

I live in NJ about an hour south of NYC. I work from home, husband is in his NYC office 2-3 days per week and home the other days. We have a 19 month old and on every other weekend we have my stepson.

Our toddler eats dinner around 6pm and then we have dinner after his bedtime which usually means around 7:30-8pm. I know we should be better about eating dinner with our toddler but since the round trip to daycare can often be long (it's only 8 miles away but traffic stinks) and his bedtime is 7pm, it makes it tough to fit it in. On the upside, it gives us time to have a relaxing meal without the wiggly toddler.

Jan 24, 2014
pellegrino31 in Not About Food

Wedgwood or Apilco?

My dishes are Apilco Tres Grande from W-S and I love them. They have a nice heft and durability. I use them every day. I've had them for about 10 years. I do have one cereal bowl with a chip after a mishap taking the bowl out of the dishwasher and knocking the edge of the counter top. Haven't had any issues running the plates/bowls through the dishwasher either on the top or bottom rack.

When I was getting ready to purchase the dishes, I was only comparing them to similar options from Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, etc. So I don't know how they would stack up to Wedgewood - I mean, I know they have a fabulous reputation but in my mind I always thought of the brand as something you would have if you want a more formal china set.

I liked that the Apilco white was a clean white and not with a grey or cream undertone. I haven't experienced any discoloration but I have been a little fussy about making sure certain foods like beets or tomato sauce don't sit on the plates or bowls for very long.

I didn't care for the cup either so I just bought the dinner plate, salad plate and cereal bowl.

Good luck with your decision!

Jan 17, 2014
pellegrino31 in Cookware

Couple brings crying baby to three star Michelin restaurant.....;

Completely agree. When my son was 8 months old the idea of going to anything remotely like Alinea was out of the cards. That kind of experience was meant for the pre-baby life. Or for a night we had a babysitter. My son at that age was well behaved but crap, he was still an infant. You never know when a perfectly happy moment is going to turn into a perfectly chaotic one.

I think for some it's hard to get used to the fact that you actually do have to change your life when the baby arrives. It's just how it works. It means certain things are off the table. I'm not of the camp that as a parent you have to suddenly lose everything you want and need but at the same time you have to think about the situations you're in a little more carefully. I am of the mind that while I adore my little son, the world is not supposed to accommodate him for every little thing.

And jlhinwa, I'm also with you on having a general policy against disruptive patrons in general. It's easy to point fingers at only babies and kids and parents (and I realize the original topic is all focused on a baby); I've had some meals ruined by annoying adults at a nearby table.

Your best items at Sam's Club

In the Princeton, NJ area store they have a terrific spinach and artichoke dip (I can't recall the name on the container). And they usually carry party size bags of Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips for around $4 which is a steal.

Jan 13, 2014
pellegrino31 in Chains

What food like/dislikes do you have that are contradictory and make no sense?

I'm with you on the steak/chicken thing. Bone-in rib eye is one of my favorite things to eat and I will pick meat off the bone but I get skeeved out dealing with chicken bones.

Jan 10, 2014
pellegrino31 in General Topics

Depressed and Lost Appetite

So sorry to hear about this. I had a similar experience about 6 years ago and for several months during that time, I ate very little. When I did eat, it was junk (I recall many evenings spent eating Doritos and watching tv in bed). I lost about 20 pounds.

During that time, I still liked to buy groceries for some reason but never wanted to make food for myself.

It took me awhile to bounce back to a new normal but it eventually happened; and let's face it going to therapy helped too. I started eating normally and eventually had a new boyfriend (who is now my husband) who adores all things food and I felt like a new person.

Honestly, it probably took me a year to recover. Everyone is different so don't rush yourself. Good luck.

Jan 08, 2014
pellegrino31 in Not About Food

Excellent book on feeding your kids

Thanks for sharing, I'm curious to read this. I too never understood why kids ate differently than their parents...until I became a parent myself! My husband and I are knowledgeable about food and nutrition yet are no match for our 19 month old son. He ate everything when he was a baby but in the past several months has alternated between hunger strikes and eating only specific foods, despite our attempts to try otherwise.

Peeling a half boiled egg... Ready to lose my shit over here...

Me too, it gave me a good laugh but I also wanted to cry since I've had mixed luck with peeling eggs. There have been times when I dumped all my eggs into the trash and had to walk away.

I've found that standard grocery store issue eggs are a little easier to peel for some reason but I don't know there is any real proof to that except my muddled memory. I haven't ever attempted a soft boiled egg for fear I will not be able to get the shell off and I'll throw the entire egg against the wall.

Dec 19, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

New Yorker annual food issue 11/4/13

I love the food issue. I particularly enjoyed the article by Gopnik on rediscovering bread and pastry baking. I'm not good at baking at all but I really appreciated the art and science, not to mention the love, that goes into the process. I also loved how in the first break of the article he mentioned how at that point there should be some background on the history of bread making, blah blah blah, to poke fun at the structure of a typical New Yorker article.

The story about animals and the history behind how we've decided some animals are on the ok list to eat and others are "forget it" was well written as well.

I haven't gotten to the pepper article yet, that will most likely be bedtime reading tonight.

Big decision! Agricola or Mistral?

Agricola has a great atmosphere and full bar but the food has been underwhelming on my visits and the service can be so-so. It's not that the food I had was bad, it just wasn't all that exciting. For example, everyone and their mother has been doing kale salads forever. Agricola's was good but not a standout. Same with the scallops. The beef in the burger is good but the onion roll that it is served on is impossibly chewy.

I admit the only time I've sampled food from Mistral was from their booth for Jazz Feast but I was super impressed by their ability to make fried chicken to order - on the street. The chicken was delicious (served with homemade kimchi which was very fresh tasting) and way more ambitious than what you'd expect for a booth on the street.

Not to make the decision harder, but it really depends on what kind of experience you want because they are quite different. If you don't care about cocktails, then I'd give Mistral a shot.

Nov 21, 2013
pellegrino31 in New Jersey

What type of beef to use for homemade baby food for a seven month old baby?

Is there a particular reason for not using ground beef? The reason I ask is that I found ground meats (whether poultry or red meat) to be a little bit easier to puree for baby food.

I saw below about pureeing avocado - I did this and it worked fine. I squeezed some lemon juice on the top before I froze the avocado in ice cube trays to prevent a lot of oxidation but otherwise it worked just fine (and defrosted very quickly too which was nice).

I also made spinach, kale, beets, butternut squash, peas and broccoli.

Nov 15, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler breakfast ideas

:) There's so much pressure on being the "right" kind of parent these days that I forget that a lot of this is trial and error. The truth is that we're doing the best we can. It's not always easy to remember when we're struggling over breakfast.

I also have a stepson (he came into my life when he was 3.5 years old) and I remember up until age 5 or so, eating was always some kind of drama because he was so interested in doing something else! Then as he got older he realized it's actually better to eat and then he can go on with whatever else he'd rather be doing.

Awhile back he was with his mom, his mom's friend and her daughter. Daughter was 5. Stepson was 8 at the time. He told me about a meal they had and he said about the daughter: "She ordered a cheeseburger and then it arrived and she didn't want it! She wasted food and money!" All we could do was laugh and tell him yep, that's what little kids do.

Oct 23, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler breakfast ideas

The sunflower seed butter is actually quite good - we have to use it when I give my son sandwiches for daycare; the facility is nut-free.

Oct 18, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler breakfast ideas

I hadn't heard about the Ellyn Satter book and just looked it up on Amazon. I love that there is one chapter called "Is Your Toddler Jerking You Around at the Table?" I need to read that book!

Oct 17, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler breakfast ideas

Absolutely - we use the Cook's Illustrated pancake recipe. We usually halve it which then results in 1 cup of flour. We've found that a ratio of 2/3 cup white flour to 1/3 cup buckwheat strikes a nice balance.

I'm relieved to hear others having similar struggles with their toddler and food. Before I became a mom, I had all these visions of having a mini Chowhound which I know might happen eventually but for now we're in heavy rotation with PBJ/mac and cheese/grilled cheese and the like.

Oct 17, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler breakfast ideas

It's so crazy and tiring; I understand what you're going through - I have a very determined 16 month old on my hands. Some days he's very hungry, other days he just wants a cracker and milk. I generally find my little one eats better/more variety at daycare then he does at home - I think it's watching his little friends eat or something - so I try to pack more variety for his weekdays.

Egg omelets with cheese have been the standard breakfast for awhile. Prior to that it was waffles with cream cheese. My son also seems less interested in french toast these days, though he likes the syrup.

We make buckwheat pancakes (actually a mix of buckwheat and white flour) and that has generated some interest.

My son also likes avocado which he eats in chunks but it could also be spread on toast.

I also made some spinach/egg/cheese bites from Weelicious that were happily eaten one day then thrown on the floor on subsequent tries. They were delicious though, my husband and I ended up eating them ourselves.

Whole wheat muffins with blueberries or raisins also do well around here. I recently saw a recipe in the NYT for muffins with grated vegetables that I've been meaning to try.

Does your son eat meat? Maybe he'd try sausage or something like that?

Good luck. Eventually they grow out of this, right?!

Oct 17, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Food Should Taste Good-brand Chips

A little bit of both I think - but I guess the base more so because it is the main ingredient. Honestly I just ate them plain because they were so damn good but they were also quite delicious when eaten with spinach/artichoke dip or a sharp cheddar cheese spread.

I hunted around and you can get the chips on Amazon - a 20 oz bag is $20! Costco was selling it for something like $6 or thereabouts.

I've tried other brands of brown rice/gluten free crackers with a similar ingredient list and they aren't as good as the FSTG version. I hate when that happens - love something and it goes away!

Oct 16, 2013
pellegrino31 in General Topics

Great dinner at ONE 53 in Rocky Hill

Thanks everyone...we can't wait to go back. Now we know it's not just good, it's also worthy of getting a babysitter for.

Foody4life - we did consider the ice cream sandwich but I'm a sucker for bread pudding. Next time we'll get the sandwich!

Oct 16, 2013
pellegrino31 in New Jersey

Food Should Taste Good-brand Chips

I love their chips, particularly the multigrain tortilla and sweet potato.

Several months ago, the Costco near where I live was carrying FSTG Brown Rice crackers - they were gluten free and something between a chip and a cracker. They were amazing! But they have since stopped carrying those chips. After some hunting around online, I found out that they were being tested out and have limited availability. They were so good, I keep hoping they will show up at my grocery store soon!

Oct 15, 2013
pellegrino31 in General Topics

Great dinner at ONE 53 in Rocky Hill

My husband and I had dinner at ONE 53 this past Saturday night...we were so pleasantly surprised after being more or less disappointed with restaurants in the Princeton area. This was the one place we put off visiting after having less than satisfying meals at Elements, Mediterra, Eno Terra, etc. The best meal we've had has been at Peacock Inn but it's quite pricey for visiting on a regular basis. We like Teresa's very much but the no reservation policy makes for a long wait (and we're on the clock with the babysitter!).

We started with the roasted cauliflower with romanesco sauce and the grilled octopus. Really enjoyed the octopus - nicely grilled, not chewy at all. Alongside the octopus were perfect little cubes of fried potatoes. Husband had a bourbon sour and I had the ONE 53 martini. Both very nice cocktails.

Oh, the kitchen sent out an amuse bouche of ravioli in a cream sauce with candied pecans and fried sage. I want to say it was butternut squash ravioli but my memory is totally escaping me. Anyways, it was delicious.

For entrees, I had the Muscovy duck breast cooked medium rare. I loved the duck and most of the accompaniments but felt the plate could have been edited down. The duck was served with a cherry sauce, shredded brussel sprouts, cubes of parsnip (or was it turnip?) and young carrots. It was just a bit too busy. My husband had the roast chicken which was fantastic. I love it when restaurants offer up amazing roast chicken.

We shared the chocolate bread pudding for dessert which was much better than most bread pudding desserts I've had - their version was very moist and almost like pudding.

All in all, a wonderful meal.

My other complaint which is not necessarily just towards ONE 53 - why do restaurants around here who put themselves out there as being serious about their food insist on having a TV at the bar? I get it at places like Triumph Brewery but it just seems kind of ridiculous at a place like ONE 53. Anyways, we'll be happy to go back there, it's just one of those things that make the restaurant feel like a chain restaurant.

Oct 14, 2013
pellegrino31 in New Jersey

What to make when you have a newborn...

Congratulations on parenthood! When my son was born in 2013, we made a lot of this - farro, lentil and sweet potato stew:

The stew also freezes really well. You can dial down the curry powder to make it less spicy. We made that stew so often that whenever I eat it now, I can still hear phantom strains of my son's little cries from when he was a newborn.

Like a lot have already suggested, we also did our best to make a batch of something that would last a few days - so we'd make a lot of quinoa or brown rice and then serve it with different things each day...sometimes marinated and roasted salmon, tofu and vegetable stir fry another day, etc. We ate a lot of roasted salmon usually marinated with some combination of dijon mustard, soy sauce and brown sugar. It was very easy to make and required minimal effort to get something healthy.

Another staple was pasta and meat sauce - we'd use either ground beef or ground turkey. Filling and if you watch the pasta portion, still relatively healthy.

We really enjoyed cooking and all things food related before the baby but once he was born, we couldn't keep up the energy to find just the right [fill in the blank] to make a meal special. Some days even assembling a salad was too much. So we gave ourselves a break, took shortcuts when needed and kept things simple until things got a bit easier and we had more time (and energy) to drum up more involved meals.

Good luck! The early weeks are tough but it gets easier. I didn't believe it when people told me I'd miss the newborn stage but my son is 16 months now and I kind of miss some of that time.

Oct 09, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Toddler Friendly Meals

I'm in the thick of that now too...have a 16 month old son who would eat just about anything pureed when he was having baby food but since about month 10-11 has become more and more picky. He will eat any fruit however so at least I don't have to worry about scurvy.

We keep trying to introduce new foods but sometimes to avoid the battle we resort to the easy stuff - PBJ, macaroni and cheese (with pureed squash that he can't see), pasta and sauce with hidden vegetables, etc. Our pediatrician assured us that he will eat when he's hungry but he's at a stage where there are a zillion more interesting things going on than sitting and eating.

One thing that we realized was that it wasn't necessarily the food but how we served it. For awhile he loved eating bananas sliced in pennies. Then he refused it. Then he'd only eat it if we'd hold the banana and he could take bites. Now we're on a phase where we give him big chunks and he likes to eat that way. He'll eat a whole banana now like that.

Same with PBJ - he stopped eating his little squares and then we cut his sandwich in quarters...he was happier.

He wasn't eating any kind of meat for a long time but then we gave him a little fork and he liked trying to pierce the food and feed himself. If he couldn't get the food on the fork, he'd just use his hands.

And yes, we sometimes let him eat by taking a spoonful of food and then going back to his toys and repeat. We got him to eat palak paneer that way and I felt particularly proud of myself until I tried to wash said paneer from his shirt which inevitably got ruined.

Oct 04, 2013
pellegrino31 in General Topics

What's the most useful wedding gift that you have received?

This was mentioned already but I'll second it - a wooden salad bowl. I had it on my registry as what I thought was a nice to have but it's turned out to be something we use several times a week. Makes even a run of the mill salad seem like something special. Sometimes we'll use it to serve popcorn for movie night at home.

Sep 24, 2013
pellegrino31 in Not About Food

Non-Wedding-Wedding Venues/Food Ideas

Congrats! In case you're not completely walking away from a food truck idea...and not knowing your budget...but the Nomad Pizza truck is a great option - they are based in Hopewell but will travel within 30 minutes - possibly further for an extra charge.

They offer pizza and salad and also have pricing that includes dessert (in case you are not doing any kind of cake). Their pizza is fantastic.

Sep 23, 2013
pellegrino31 in New Jersey

Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day - October 26

The only time we made CFS was a few years ago and followed the Cook's Illustrated recipe:

The breading came out perfectly. We had trouble finding cube steak at the time and used something else which I apologize that I can't recall exactly what it was. The steak part was ok but I think if we found proper cube steak it would have been better.

I recently had the pleasure of having the CFS at Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, MO (2x in one week!!) and it was amazing. Best I've ever had. I always order my CFS with the gravy on the side so as not to lose that great crispy exterior.

Sep 17, 2013
pellegrino31 in Home Cooking

Amazing pizza at Nima's - Gassville, AR

I didn't think it was an overpowering sauce either way (not too salty, not too sweet). I do recall that the sauce was used quite sparingly.

Sep 16, 2013
pellegrino31 in Central South

Amazing pizza at Nima's - Gassville, AR

Being from NJ now (and previously in NYC for 12 years), I have to admit that I didn't expect to get incredible pizza in a small Arkansas town but Nima's is pretty remarkable. And no I don't work for them - I was visiting my in-laws who live in Mountain Home. My in-laws heard about the place and that they have been winning some pizza awards so we were intrigued to try it.

We ordered the Supreme (pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onions) in a family size sheet which was a crazy amount of pizza for 6 of us. But for $27 how could we resist?

The crust was not too crisp and not too chewy. I would describe the style of pizza to be something between thin and thick crust. What we really loved was that the peppers, mushrooms and onions were diced small so that each bite had some of each rather than having long strings of peppers or onions that don't always cooperate when you bite into the slice.

My only minor criticism was that the sodas were all from a vending machine - pizza like that deserves to have fountain soda with it. And probably beer (I didn't see that they serve it).

Now that we're back home, our usual slice place still keeps us happy but we think about Nima's quite fondly.

Sep 12, 2013
pellegrino31 in Central South

Rye in Kansas City, MO - anyone tried it?

Thanks everyone...we sadly didn't get a chance to make it to Rye but it sounds like we need to put it on our list for the next visit (and I thought it was in KC but thanks for clarifying...I assume everything is in KC but that's just my bad habit).

Sep 12, 2013
pellegrino31 in Great Plains

Agricola, Princeton

I'd been holding off posting anything about Agricola after we tried it for brunch back in June - but I had to echo your service issues. Agreed they were very nice but it was not at all efficient or polished like I'd expect for a place like that.

One of our friends ordered soup and there was no soup spoon brought with it. Drinks came out but just for a few of us, then it took awhile for the rest of our party to get their drinks. A few of us ordered coffee but only one of us got a spoon to mix the cream and sugar. My friend ending up using the same spoon to eat her soup because it took forever to get our server to come over.

My husband ordered one of the sticky rolls and a few minutes later, the server came by with a sweet roll on the house. I would have thought they should mention that - the roll is like a small cake and had my husband known, we wouldn't ordered the other one.

As for the food, I thought brunch was just meh. I really wanted to like the burger but the onion roll was way too chewy and had little give. They'd do better with brioche. The egg dishes we had were fine. My friend did enjoy his kale salad which was the highlight.

We don't get out as much lately now that we have a toddler but honestly I have very little interest in returning for a meal even if we were sans toddler for a night. I might like to sit in the bar and get a drink since the atmosphere there is quite nice.

Sep 10, 2013
pellegrino31 in New Jersey