xo_kizzy_xo's Profile

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Food Arts magazine is shutting down

In a way, unfortunately, I'm not surprised. Many of us read FA back in culinary school. I subscribed to both and Pastry Arts & Design (I think they're sister publications) only because I had the student discount. I don't remember the subscription price without the discount, I remember thinking "Wow, most people aren't going to be able to afford that!" I certainly couldn't once I lost the discount.

If your focus, as a magazine, is narrow, you're not going to get the advertising dollars you need to survive in this day and age. FA is a victim of the times. That's unfortunate because I really enjoyed reading it back in the day.

Sep 15, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Market Basket

OP, I do a monthly-or-so pantry run at the Brockton MB (I don't live in the immediate area so I consider it a short road trip too!) It's not as huge as the Chelsea one but plenty big enough. It's one of the newer stores, so even if there's a pallet in the aisle you can still get around it fairly easily, depending on how many people may be in front or back of you. Hint: Go mid-week in the early afternoon if you can. Little to no crowds :)

"No Strollers — No High Chairs — No Booster Chairs"

We have friends who have a toddler. They eat out frequently. They investigate all the restaurants in the area first, either by asking about it here (they're both chowhounds!) or going on Yelp or Zagat or getting friends' recommendations.

Their toddler acts up on occasion, of course, but by and large she's very well behaved. Our friends bring a "goody bag" for her with toys, paper/pens, books, whatever. They get a booth and put their daughter on the inside so she can't escape :D Most of the time she's perfectly happy scribbling while watching everybody. She's only thrown one tantrum in all the times we've joined them, and her dad quickly nipped it in the bud.

I don't like saying this, but it'd probably be a different scenario if 1) she didn't have the parents she has, 2) she had siblings, and/or 3) economic circumstances made eating out a rarity.

Aug 11, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Get Ready For More Feces In Your Chicken!

That's exactly it :nodding: I'd love to eat safer, more humanely-raised meat, but I think it's only cost-effective depending on where you live. I don't like in an agricultural state, so the cost of, say, CSA shares (no matter the CSA) are prohibitive for someone with my budget. I looked into a couple of CSA meat shares last year and nearly collapsed at the price for a quarter share.

I'm willing to bet that our prices at farmers' markets are also more expensive than in other areas of the country.

Aug 04, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

A better idea for Dunkin Donuts

You're not the only one, JT. I'll only drink Starbucks coffee if I'm desperate. It's too acrid and bitter for my taste. I'll take DD regular coffee/iced coffee any time. Plus their coolattas are THE summer drink in these parts.

As for the rest of their offerings...eh. I've had better baked goods, but they're passable for a FF outfit.

Jul 27, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Top Chef Restaurant Wars

Crap, I just saw the announcement over on FB and sent in my email. No response. I suspect they've already picked everyone by now :/

Is the traditional German bakery finished?

Yep :nodding: I've worked with several decorators who had had their own shops and/or home businesses, and all of them came to work for us at various times. The problem now -- as with almost all retail corporations -- is getting enough hours to qualify for the benefits. Not many of them hire FT anymore, and if they do, it's almost always for management.

For several years I worked overnight shifts. I wasn't crazy about them, but I took them because I was guaranteed I'd never lose my position. Nowadays I can only think of a couple of places which might still have overnight bakers. If they don't, they probably go in around 4AM like I do.

It makes me wonder what's going to happen down the line...

Jun 05, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Is the traditional German bakery finished?

I know. However, my official position is still listed as "baker". One still does need some finesse to shape dough into salable product :)

The other thing is, even as dumbed down everything has become, there are very few takers for any open position. It's not just with my chain -- it's everywhere.

Jun 04, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Is the traditional German bakery finished?

Years ago I worked in one of the few supermarket chains in my area which still had a mostly scratch bakery. I learned the craft from two older men who taught me everything they knew -- not just bread, but also pastries, decorating cakes, you name it. One took early retirement when the chain was bought out by a bigger chain with a semi-national presence because, as he said, "That's the end of the line as far as actual baking is concerned and I refuse to go that route."

I now work for another chain and it's true, we don't do any scratch baking. Frozen dough is brought in, thawed overnight, and I shape it into different loaves come morning. Muffin batter is already frozen pre-deposited into paper cups that must be thawed before baking. All of our "artisan" bread is par-baked.

From a corporate standpoint it makes sense, and I get that. OTOH it sometimes leaves me wondering if I still am truly a baker.

Jun 04, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Grumpy White's...what's going on?

That's weird. Last time we went to Grumpy's there was a bit of a wait because the dining room was full (it was a Saturday night), but we expected that. Nothing overly long, though.

Where Have All the Greek Restaurants Gone?

:nodding: My maternal grandparents ran one of those diners/takeout places when they first established themselves here. 17-18 hours/day, 6 days a week. The only time the family got together was for Sunday dinner at home. I remember my mother telling me the menu was hybrid -- half Greek for their fellow immigrants, but they also offered a lot of "regular" type meals for the Irish folk, which basically translated to "bland".

What I always found interesting was that neither of my grandparents wanted to continue the old world traditions once they landed here. My grandmother, in particular, wanted to assimilate so badly that she convinced my grandfather to pay for her to take elocution lessons so she's lose her accent. My grandfather eventually did the same. Neither of them spoke Greek at home and didn't force my mother and her brothers to attend Greek school. By the time my mother graduated from high school -- this was right before WWII, BTW -- the only remnant of her heritage she had besides "the store" was her surname and my grandmother's Sunday dinners.

Thankfully she passed down a lot of recipes to my mother, who in turn passed them down to me. My grandmother was illiterate, so my mother had to transcribe how my grandmother made something by following her around with a notebook and pen!

5 reasons your partner doesn't go to the farmers market with you..

I rarely go to farmers markets not because I don't like them (because I do), but because the ones around my way all operate during my work hours. The very few I've managed to catch with-husband-in-tow are in no way the kind depicted in the article. My town's market, for instance, has maybe 6-8 vendors at most and if you want to chat, great. If you don't want to, they won't hassle you. Same time with the next closest market.

Mar 22, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Church Suppers

A few churches around my way (I'm in suburban Boston, btw) used to hold dinners a couple of times a year when I was growing up. I honestly can't remember a recent one, so I'm presuming they've discontinued them either because of a lack of time among would-be participants and/or the labor involved would outweigh the profit.

Top Chef: The People's Couch

Reminds me of a show I once caught where Martha Stewart's daughter and her friend watched an episode of MS Living and snarked all the way through it. It wasn't funny or snarky in the least, IMO. I turned it off thinking, "Please tell me Martha didn't OK this."

I don't know if it's still on and frankly, I don't care. Besides, if people are going to talk about a show, I'd rather read it than hear it...unless, of course, I'm one of the ones talking :p

Feb 15, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Wahlburgers

We ate at Wahlburgers a few months ago. Nothing special, IMO. I've had tastier burgers elsewhere.

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #14 - 01/15/14 (Spoilers)

I'll only order it if there's nothing else on the menu which tickles my fancy.

Jan 16, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #14 - 01/15/14 (Spoilers)

I've switched to thighs, too, if I'm cooking chicken. My feeling is that chicken is too "pedestrian" for most chefs...?

Jan 16, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

"Mix" cakes vs. scratch cakes

There's less margin for error in using a boxed mix. I have a couple of friends who are licensed home bakers, and they both use doctored mixes for this very reason. When you're baking in bulk, it's a necessity to simplify things as much as possible. They both make their icings from scratch, however.

There's also the consistency issue, in which a boxed mix will almost always win out over scratch. One thing that those chemicals in boxed mixes do is stabilize the rest of the ingredients. For example, you wouldn't want to make a from-scratch angel cake on a damp day because the humidity in the air would affect the egg whites you'd be using. That issue is moot if you use a mix.

I'm all for doctoring a mix. I've got my own little tips and tricks for doing it, as do the bakers I just mentioned above.

I have nothing against scratch cakes, but I find them to be much drier than boxed mixes, doctored or otherwise. I don't know about anybody else, but I'm not a dry cake fan. If I make or eat cake, I automatically expect it to be moist AND yummy.

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #14 - 01/15/14 (Spoilers)

Yeah, I agree with the poster who said that this episode was rather "elf-ed" by concentrating more on Nick than anyone else. When the judges started complaining about Brian's chicken, though, I knew he was toast.

Roy Choi didn't bother me. I got what he was saying about the difference between thinking like a chef and cooking from your soul. Po' boys are yummy pedestrian food, whereas everyone automatically tried to "elevate" them because that's what TC does to cheftestants. I've also been around managers a hundred times as tough, so compared to them, he came off as a kitty cat to me :shrug:

As for the chicken breast...I think it was Bourdain who once said something like, "chicken breast is what you order when you don't know what else to eat" or something along that line. From a chef's viewpoint it's the blandest protein out there.

ETA: Am I the only one kind of sort of hoping Nina falters next week and Shirley ends up being the only female in the finale? I don't dispute Nina's culinary talent in the least, but there's something about her that rubs me the wrong way enough to make me hope she doesn't win...

Jan 16, 2014
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #9 - 12/04/13 (Spoilers)

And my first thought is, why bother being part of TC if your heart really isn't in it? The feeling I got from her elimination comment at the end was that even though she said "it was the hardest thing I've ever done" (paraphrasing here), it was more like "I've never had to compete like this because I've always been the best and I'm a bit snippy because I now have to compete."

Or least that's how she came across to me.

Dec 05, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #9 - 12/04/13 (Spoilers)

Sara's been doing that fake robotic thing, IMO, for awhile now. When the whole thing about the tickets vs. verbal fire happened, I figured she was a goner.

She never especially looked excited to be on TC, IMO. She's always had that "dont' touch me" attitude going on, at least to me.

Dec 05, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Walmart has absolutely no shame

It's definitely a belief, at least where I live. Sure, most of their prices are lower than other retailers, but when it comes to food, they're not much lower than the chain supermarkets -- maybe $.10-.20 cents at the most. I've seen items on sale at the supermarket that are lower than Walmart's.

Nov 19, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Does anyone manage to shop in one supermarket, or do you have to make the rounds to find what you need?

We do a bulk shopping run every month/month-and-a-half at either Costco or BJ's. We supplement it with what time/finances allow.

Stop & Shop is the closest supermarket to the house, so if I need something at that very moment, that's where I go.

Hannaford is the second choice -- a bit further than Stoppy, but depending on the time of day, there's a mess of traffic to contend with on the way there.

I seldom go into Shaw's/Star, even though there's one a mile or two from our house. Last time I was in there it was too depressing for me to explore.

MB is a bit of a haul for us. I have done monthly runs there, though, when I haven't had the chance to do Costco/BJ's.

If I'm in a TJ area, I'll pop in, but I don't make a point to do it often unless I'm looking for something specific.

Trader Joe's Yay/Nay Thread - November 2013 [Old]

A TJ's just opened about 10 miles from me, so yay! I checked it out yesterday and saw most of the items already mentioned in this thread. They were sampling the corn pudding -- sweet but not cloying, and lighter than I'd expect a corn pudding to ordinarily be.

YAY:

Pumpkin butter! I mostly use it as a schmear on my morning bagel, but I've also put it in oatmeal and plain yogurt. Can't get enough of the stuff.

Salted caramel chai latte! I bought this on a friend's recommendation. It's the perfect evening drink. It's sweet with chai undertones.

Pumpkin bread mix and cornbread mix! Hands down the two best mixes I know of.

Chocolate peppermint bread mix! The cashier was telling me that they tried it in the break room (I guess it's new?) and everyone swooned over it. It certainly looks dark and chocolaty on the box and it has peppermint candy chunks embedded in it.

Dukka! I've been looking for dukka for some time now, and I was getting to the point where I'd have to buy the spices individually in bulk. I happened to stumble upon this and I was estatic because there's a couple of recipes calling for it that I've been dying to try.

MEH:

Most of the frozen items. Have a lot of them been discontinued or perhaps the frozen section of this particular TJ's is smaller than other stores? Where's the roasted veggie pizza?

NAY:

I still won't buy their produce.

Nov 16, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Chains

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #7 - 11/13/13 (Spoilers)

It's very underwhelming. Nina may be "the one to beat", but even she isn't wowing me the way other frontrunners have wowed me in previous seasons.

DDD bleach blond has new FN food competition show

Are you talking about Grocery Games? They've already aired the first two or three episodes.

I think it's an intriguing concept, TBH. It's part Chopped and part scavenger hunt with a bunch of curve balls thrown in for good measure, and not all the contestants are formally trained.
My main criticism is GF himself. I can take him in small doses, but that's it. He grates on me after awhile.

Nov 12, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

FDA moves to ban trans fats

And you are obviously not a cake decorator.

Nov 10, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

FDA moves to ban trans fats

It depends. Yes, one does use butter in dough, but there are two schools of thought to the icing: Purists use only butter. However, it gives the icing an off-white color and doesn't keep well. That's where the shortening comes in. Butter-only icing can also be finicky when it comes to decorating, much more so than shortening-based icing.

Processed dough -- the kind you find in the refrigerator case or in factory-made product -- contains shortening. Some vendors have already reformulated their recipes, and there is a difference.

Nov 10, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

FDA moves to ban trans fats

There's been a lot of discussion about this in the online baking/pastry communities because, as you know, shortening is the bedrock of products such as icing and pastry dough. When no-trans fat products were first introduced, there was an outcry among cake decorators because there's a distinct difference in both working with no-trans fat as well as mouthfeel and taste. With everything going no-trans fat, all manufacturers are now going to have to come up with a formula that works or else cake (or pastry), as we all know it, won't be the same.

(I realize I'm overgeneralizing here, but I hope you get the drift. I don't want to go into details because it is a rather heated topic).

Nov 10, 2013
xo_kizzy_xo in Food Media & News

Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #6 - 11/05/13 (Spoilers)

I was talking about this general phenomenon with some friends a few months ago regarding another reality competition show, and all of us cited TC6 as one of the examples of what a reality competition show should be :)

One friend surmised that it's because once people in general know "how to play the game", they're less likely to stick their necks out, lest they become a target.

Another surmised that it's "goodwill toward your competition in lieu of being portrayed as "whatever": by the producers because you don't want the public to have a certain opinion of you.

Both are totally understandable, but, for me, it does make for rather yawn-inducting TV no matter how compelling the game/competition itself may be. If contestants/cheftestants are so overly concerned about being on TV, then maybe they shouldn't have applied.