alanbarnes's Profile

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Which cuisines don't use garlic?

Vaishnavas, Krishna devotees, and some other Hindus (including those who subscribe to pure brahmana-style cooking) avoid members of the allium family. So not only garlic, but onions, leeks, scallions, and chives are off-limits. Apparently they excite impure passions and increase ignorance.

In my case, that explains a lot.

Mar 19, 2014
alanbarnes in General Topics
3

What Do You Wear When You Cook?

Cook naked! It scares the kids, but teaches patience with the bacon. Seriously, though...

Winter - jeans, t-shirt, Doc Martens.

Summer - shorts, t-shirt, bare feet.

I have no hair and wear no jewelry (or false eyelashes), so those aren't an issue.

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

Feeling burned by Swiss Diamond pans. Nontoxic, reliable alternatives?

Birds are definitely more susceptible to PTFE fumes than humans. A dose that might give a person mild upper respiratory symptoms (aka "Teflon flu") or even no symptoms will kill a parrot dead.

But you still have to get a dose. And the only way that happens in a residential setting is when you overheat the pan. Having room-temp PTFE in your body isn't a problem (in fact, it's an important ingredient in numerous medical implants). If you scratch the surface of your skillet and end up ingesting a little bit of the stuff, it'll pass right through you. On the other hand, if you heat a teflon-coated pan to 750F, you're going to have problems.

In your shoes, I'd continue using the Swiss Diamond pans. You like 'em, right? That's got to count for something. Don't go scraping the bottom with a butter knife and they should provide you with years more good service. You can easily avoid atomization of the PTFE by never heating them empty or using them on high heat.

IMO PTFE has its place in the kitchen. It isn't good for everything, but it's perfectly safe if you don't abuse it. Use it for gently cooking eggs and delicate fish; don't use it for searing steaks or blackening catfish. My two kids grew up eating food cooked on Teflon, and they're perfectly normal. (So did I, and although my daughters would deny any claims of normality, they wouldn't blame it on cookware.)

I totally understand why other people make different choices. Get the best info you can and make your own decisions. Just my $0.02...

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Cookware

Feeling burned by Swiss Diamond pans. Nontoxic, reliable alternatives?

If you don't want PTFE around, that's certainly your call. But FWIW, the stuff only off-gasses at high temperatures. High as in the food in the pan will be on fire before it becomes an issue. Just FYI...

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Cookware

Spaghetti with meat sauce...and cinnamon sticks

Cincinnati chili is so much more than just the spices. It's one strange creature indeed, with its origins in Greek cuisine, adapted to the tastes of the (mostly German) residents of the Queen City, and served atop spaghetti or miniature hot dogs. The first time I had it I was appalled. But it grows on you; my wife is going back to Ohio in a week, and if I'm good she'll bring some back...

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in General Topics

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Sour salt is just powdered citric acid. It's used in pickling and canning and is useful any time you want to add sourness to a dish without other flavors. I keep it around for homemade tonic water, but that's another thread...

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

Authentic sesame noodle recipe?

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

cowering in fear

The microwave is a great cooking tool. Ditto with the crock pot. And the "dumb" rice cooker (one of the few appliances that has a permanent place on my counter). Frozen is the best alternative to fresh. Teflon's the only way to go when cooking delicate foods. The fact that you can use soap on your cast iron just proves that it's properly seasoned. And no less a luminary than Julia Child herself said that instant mashed potatoes with plenty of butter will do just fine in a pinch.

But seriously, stirring a little flour and oil together on the stove ain't rocket surgery, and having that in your repertoire opens up worlds of possibilities...

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in General Topics

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Okay, somehow the last part of my post disappeared.

I love beets in salad. Roast or steam them (the microwave is great for this if you just have one or two), cut them into dice, and toss them on some dressed greens. (The pepperiness of arugula plays very nicely with the earthiness of the beets.) I like to add some nuts for crunch, and a bit of cheese is welcome too. A couple of times lately I've incorporated deep-fried balls of goat cheese into salads for warm gooey deliciousness.

Also, a cold borscht can be a tasty summer treat. For the simplest version, just simmer cubed beets in broth with salt, pepper, a little onion, and a bit of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, and/or sour salt) until tender, then chill. Top with sour cream and diced cucumber.

Jun 15, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

What are some of your favorite recipes?

Food. All of my favorite recipes involve food in one form or another.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

Words that Annoy You in Restaurant Reviews

Hey, when you use uni as a pigment it's very smooth on the palette. Somewhere between sienna and cerulean.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Food Media & News

Recipe? SF burrito beans

The papal schnozz itself. I saw a big package of them at the grocery (Save-Mart?) and decided to give 'em a whirl. They've got a smokier flavor than a lot of the pork products I've used.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

Spaghetti with meat sauce...and cinnamon sticks

Indeed. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cumin, and - the secret ingredient - a bit of unsweetened chocolate. I love a 3-way.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in General Topics

Recipe? SF burrito beans

If you eat beans every day, your system adjusts. The fruit loses its music.

Lately I've been using smoked turkey tails instead of ham hocks, and have been very pleased with the results.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

Words that Annoy You in Restaurant Reviews

I agree completely that the word's overused. In the right context it's informative, but much of the time it's just noise.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Food Media & News

Copper River salmon at Tom Thumb $9/lb.

Wild Copper River Sockeye is currently $9 a pound here in NorCal at the grocery stores and Costco.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Dallas - Fort Worth

Share your recent cookware/kitchen-related purchases here!

I don't think you have anything to worry about. The two lowest settings on my cheap countertop induction unit do cycle the power on and off every second or two, but that doesn't keep it from maintaining a steady simmer; the thermal mass of the pan smooths out the ups and downs.

This might be a problem if you were working with a very delicate sauce, especially if you were cooking it in a very lightweight vessel. But for everyday use? Shouldn't be a problem.

What you do need to be aware of is the possibility for uneven heating. I've been using cast iron (bare and enameled), and the center the pan gets much warmer than the edges. Good disc-bottomed cookware (or occasional stirring) will ameliorate this problem, but it's something to be aware of.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Cookware

Words that Annoy You in Restaurant Reviews

Unfortunately, "home-made" tends to mean anything but. Things sold with that label are almost never made in a home, and rarely even in a restaurant. It's become a meaningless marketing term.

"House-made" still has some meaning. I like to know if a mid-range place is whipping up its own salad dressings or an Italian place is curing salume in the back. "House-made" is an effective way to communicate these things.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Food Media & News

Amount of salt in restaurant food?

Restaurants use a LOT of salt in their food; it makes things taste better. When everything's balanced it doesn't taste salty, so unless you're especially sensitive you don't notice it. But it's there. In spades.

I think it was Tony Bourdain who commented that people at home would be shocked by the amount of salt professional cooks add to things. This is true whether you're eating at Applebee's or Ad Hoc.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in General Topics

What hot dog brand is best?

It may just be a NorCal thing, but I've started to see Casper's hot dogs in the grocery stores. Lots of garlic and a snappy natural sheep casing. Yum.

To the OP - I've never seen a Farmer John's dog with natural casing. The ones I have had were pretty disappointing - is there one in particular worth trying?

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in General Topics

Breaking in our new induction range

If you use a lot of aluminum cookware, you'll likely have to replace that. And if you've dropped $15,000 on an extensive collection of Mauviel copper, induction is probably a bad choice for you. Also, anything that stands more than an inch or so off the stove surface (like a dutch oven with legs) or has a footprint narrower than 4" across (like a round-bottom wok) won't work. Aside from that, though, everything in my kitchen works like a charm. Stainless (yes, I know, supposedly some stainless isn't induction-compatible, but if mine is any indication it's pretty rare), cast iron (plain and enameled), carbon steel (ditto) - no worries.

As far as the "various steps," it really isn't that difficult. You turn the heat up; you turn the heat down. It looks a little different, and most stoves use a touchpad rather than a knob, but the fundamental idea is the same.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

BYOB and Liability

Hate to break it to you, but the good old days weren't.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

Putting pizza stone on charcoal grill

If I were making 50 pizzas a day I wouldn't need a cheat. But every "scrambled pizza" reminds me that I don't get nearly enough practice.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

Putting pizza stone on charcoal grill

It got a mention above, but the SuperPeel is supposed to make it bonehead easy to peel and unpeel pizzas, bread, etc. Mine should arrive just as the weather heats up enough to preclude baking...

http://www.superpeel.com/

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Home Cooking

BYOB and Liability

You're right, it ultimately does come down to the facts. But personal injury cases are inherently fact-driven. They're seldom decided at the pleadings stage or on summary judgment. For better or worse, it's just the nature of the beast.

Which loops back in to the OP's question - because the facts of each individual case are different, it's impossible to give a simple yes-or-no answer to the question of whether liability will be imposed.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

BYOB and Liability

Several people have answered the specific question put in the original post. And the answer is "it depends."

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

BYOB and Liability

Yeah, those really were the good ol' days, weren't they? Back when drunk driving was legally and socially acceptable? What's the world coming to?

Frankly, I'd rather live in a society where I'm less likely to get killed by someone else's irresponsibility. If that means I need to take a cab home occasionally and retrieve my car in the morning, it's a price I'm more than willing to pay.

Jun 14, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

I just died in your fridge tonight ... it must have been some kind of mold...

One time when I was a kid we were moving inland from a coastal location. My folks cleaned out the fridge, but my dad left a couple of trays of bait (squid, I think) in the freezer, figuring he'd minimize the stink in the trash by pitching them right before the fridge was loaded. He specifically told the movers not to put the fridge on the truck until he'd removed and disposed of the stuff.

Needless to say, they ignored him, and then refused to unpack the boxes they had loaded in front of the fridge. It spent several weeks in transit and storage, and temps were pretty warm. By the time we got it back, the smell was unbelieveable. And it never came out. That refrigerator had to go to the big appliance store in the sky.

Jun 13, 2011
alanbarnes in Cookware

BYOB and Liability

"... at which the underwriters for the establishment will usu. step in and negotiate a settlement to avoid costly and protracted discovery. " Sorry, but that's incorrect.

Anybody who works in the industry can tell you that insurers segregate payment accounts and decision-making authority for indemnity and defense. Adjusters do not consider the cost of conducting litigation; their analysis is limited to the issues of liability and damages. You can disagree as to whether it's the best way to handle claims, but the fact is that it's the model insurers use.

As far as the moral wrong, it depends on the jurisdiction. In most if not all jurisdictions, the establishment has to have actual notice of serious intoxication. Not some suspicion that the customer wouldn't pass a breathalyzer, but objective things like loss of gross motor control. Some places also require constructive notice that the customer will be driving.

Liability doesn't attach for serving one drink too many. But if a bouncer pulls a puking drunk out of the bathroom, physically places him behind the wheel of a car, and orders him to drive away (yes, this is an actual case) the bar can and should be held liable for the injuries that driver causes to innocent third parties.

Jun 13, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food

BYOB and Liability

I'm all for personal responsibility. Specifically, I believe that nobody should be immune from liability for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their tortious actions just because someone else might be more culpable. The legislatures of most states (and the courts in all of them, I believe) agree. (Section 876 of the Restatement of Torts is on point, too.)

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating that the drunk driver have a remedy against the place that served the drinks. And AFAIK that's not a claim that's going to go anywhere fast in any jurisdiction. But I have no problem with providing an innocent third party with a claim against the establishment under appropriate circumstances.

I use "appropriate circumstances" advisedly. Strict liability would be problematic here. But in most (all?) jurisdictions, civil liability only attaches when the restaurant / bar / server's conduct is pretty egregious. There's a lot of false information out there (much of it disseminated by institutions that purport to teach servers applicable law), but I haven't seen a single published case where a restaurant or a bar owner was held liable without having engaged in conduct that any reasonable person would consider irresponsible or worse.

As far as proximate causation goes, it's a no-brainer. When a customer is noticeably impaired, planning to drive, and nevertheless served additional drinks, an automobile accident is exactly the type of harm that would be anticipated. Palsgraf, baby...

Jun 13, 2011
alanbarnes in Not About Food