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Weight your own vegetables at Wegmans

In Maryland, where I grew up, we never pre weighted the produce before taking them to the checkout line. It's only been in the last five or ten years that a few supermarkets started introducing them. They're now more ubiquitous, but from what I see in the lines not that many people bother pre weighting the produce. Those who do tend to be the ones in the self checkout lines.

Nov 25, 2014
Roland Parker in Chains

Best recipes for homemade Christmas gifts

I remember the thread from last year. It's one thing to exchange homemade goods among friends who you know well and trust each other, it's another thing to receive homemade gifts from students whose families you really don't know and have no idea what their houses are like. I'm not overly fussy but I can see why people will be. And some of the teachers mentioned they did have worries about rogue pupils sneaking poison or whatever into a baked good as a trick on a teacher.

Along with the germ phobic people, another reason for rejecting homemade food gifts was that it's simply not the kind of food they enjoy eating.

I have in the past received various homemade treats at Christmas. Some of it was well received. Others were not, such as homemade chocolate bark or homemade candy, because we're not a chocolate family and we don't really eat candy. Such gifts sit in the cupboard for months before finally being tossed out or given away to the cleaners.

Then I've also received homemade baked goods that were simply way too sweet for my taste. Some people will make "homemade" cookies out of prepackaged cookie dough (this was one of the common complaints mentioned by teachers in the thread last year) and frost it with readymade frosting. Every year I bake hundreds of homemade cookies, so I don't really need any more cookies and if it's clearly from a Pillsbury roll, it's going to be crumbled and fed to the birds.

And as much I enjoy a good jam or marmalade or chutney, I unfortunately don't use them very often. Many people also don't and the jars usually sit in the fridge for ages before being tossed out, and there have been years when I received a homemade jam only to discover that last year's jam was still in the fridge!

I love the concept of people making and exchanging homemade goods, much more so than buying useless gifts. But unfortunately there's still a tremendous amount of waste involved and I've long stopped giving away homemade treats at Christmas unless I know the receiver intimately and know they will definitely eat what I'm giving to them.

Nov 25, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Weight your own vegetables at Wegmans

It's the norm, rather than the exception, for produce to be weighed at the cashier and not beforehand. It's only been relatively recent that weighing scales issuing price labels were added to the produce section in some supermarkets. In a way I'm surprised supermarkets are now allowing people to weigh the produce in advance because the temptation to cheat must be very real. You can slip in an extra apple or carrots too easily.

I've used the weighing scales a few times but always find it quicker to let the cashier weigh and scan the produce for me.

The woman behind you was being a moron.

Nov 24, 2014
Roland Parker in Chains
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Buying Cherry Liqueur or Kirsch in the area

I have bought small bottles of kirsch at the Wine Source in Hampden, for baking purposes. It was perfectly fine.

NYT Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States

If in doubt, article in the Sun:

http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013...

Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

It's a peculiar (and thankfully for me) food tradition but one I don't regret!

NYT Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States

Not everyone likes sauerkraut but this is the one state food that the NYTimes got correct. So many people in Maryland make and eat sauerkraut
only once a year - Thanksgiving. It's an established tradition widely covered and widely known within the state, especially in and around the Baltimore area.

Water conscious methods for hand washing dishes

Having lived in England for a number of years and who still visits the UK twice a year on average to see family and friends, I'm curious as to what those "pretty strange hygiene habits" are? We can't be talking about not taking showers or using soap or deodorant?

Nov 21, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

dessert uses for egg yolks

Yes, you can freeze yolks but you need to add either sugar or salt to them.

I usually have the reverse problem. What about custards or creme brûlée?

There are recipes for all yolk cakes floating around the internet. I've made a few in the past, and they were very yellow and quite good. My favorite was a yellow layer cake with chocolate icing.

Here's a very comprehensive listing of all yolk recipes and it conveniently breaks down the recipes by the amount of yolks you have! Not all are sweets, some are savory.

http://www.fortysomething.ca/2010/04/...

Nov 21, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Request for duck and prime rib but one oven

Traditional prime rib recipes have you set aside the beef, covered, to rest for a while before serving it. You can use the time to roast a duck.

Nov 21, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

NYT Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States

I'm from Maryland and can't argue with sauerkraut.

NYT Thanksgiving Recipes Across the United States

Upstate New York has one of the great apple growing regions in the United States and is known for the variety of apples cultivated. So there are valid reasons for giving apple pie to New York.

And I love a good apple pie more than most desserts.

Water conscious methods for hand washing dishes

Well, a possible alternative is to use paper plates and plastic utensils for when you have a large gathering. Throw it away afterwards. Save the water for washing the pots and pans.

Not very environmentally friend but if water is a priority it *is* an alternative.

If you want to still use regular dishes, then scrape off as much of the food debris as possible and stack up the dishes. Fill up a basin with hot soapy water, as hot as you can get it without burning yourself. Dip the dishes into the basin, scrub ferociously for a few seconds, redip into the basin one more time, then quickly rinse off and put it aside to dry. Save the pots and pans for the end and let them soak in the basin for a bit before scrubbing them. You will use far less water than the dishwasher.

Nov 19, 2014
Roland Parker in Not About Food

Frosting without Butter?

If you are in Korea you must have access to tofu, no?

There are a few recipes for tofu frosting online. I cannot vouch for them but they may be worth a try.

Nov 19, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Can someone please identify the make of this pot?

If I had to guess at something, it's a cheap generic knockoff of a Le Creuset pot and sold cheaply at Target or Bed Bath Beyond, although there is something vaguely Ikeaish about the design.

Could be completely wrong, of course.

Nov 19, 2014
Roland Parker in Cookware

Restaurants near the Hippodrome in Baltimore

Sticking strictly to Mount Vernon, there's also Marie Louise Bistro a block or two north of the Monument on Charles Street. Several decent Thai options including Stang of Siam on nearby Calvert Street (probably the best Thai in the downtown area, although Thairish is apparently still going strong with its limited menu). Sascha's, on Charles, does a decent soup/sandwich lunch. Minato, a Japanese sushi bar, is also quite decent.

There's also City Cafe on Cathedral Street for modern American bistro food.

Is Mekong Delta still on Saratoga Street?

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Baltimore is my hometown and it's where my parents and sister's family still live. We also own a house in Baltimore.

But I have lived overseas for the majority of my adult life now. In Dubai for the last seven years, Jakarta before that (with a few years in Baltimore in between) and London even before that.

Like Phil, I've experienced the frustrations of being an expat in a country without a consistent supply of high quality fruits and vegetables. As Phil describes, it's very much hit or miss. The supermarket may have a wonderful batch of, say, apples just in, then for the next two months it's nothing but dreary flavorless apples. Or tomatoes. Or broccoli. And it doesn't necessarily matter if it's overnighted from Holland or the US. The UAE is a high income country but the logistics of importing almost everything that is to be consumed is still developing and the sheer distance means most of the produce that is imported are produce cultivated to travel well and in those produce the flavor is among the first to go.

Then we do have the origins of where the produce comes from. I'm in a position where I can buy carrots imported from Australia and carrots imported from China (the Chinese produce are always among the cheapest) so one can directly compare and contrast. And as someone whose family travels greatly and widely, not everything is equal worldwide and this applies to produce just as well.

Nov 18, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Pie??? in Baltimore

Bonjour bakery on Falls Road just off Lake Avenue. Excellent French pastries and bread. They even sell quiches. They have a side business selling gourmet hot dogs called "Haute Dog Carte" and despite the twee name it's very good.

Downtown has Patisserie Poupon with two locations, one on Charles Street and the other on East Baltimore Street, it's where my wedding cake came from. Then there's Bonaparte in Fells Point. Of the two, Patisserie is better.

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

I'm not sure why people are being hostile to Phil. Having similar expat experiences I can completely understand where he's coming from.

It's very possible that China has developed the logistics to raise large volumes of low quality raw ingredients for export and domestic consumption but not the better quality produce that we've come to accept as the "norm" in more developed countries that also have the market that demands fresher and better tasting produce.

I have bought produce from China imported to my current country. It has no flavor. It's practically pointless.

Nov 17, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Similar to Phil's experiences in Hong Kong, I am an expat in a country where almost all produce is imported and usually from quite a distance. I'm also American by birth. The quality of produce at a typical American supermarket is much better than at an average supermarket where I now live. The typical supermarket produce is pretty poor, with minimal flavor and quite often with a bitter edge to the flavors. Ever had broccoli that tasted metallic? You're not going to get the depth of flavors from truly fresh produce that you find in the US or Europe or Australia.

I do have the option of paying a lot more for very fresh and recently imported produce flown from Europe at the high end options in my current city. Most people don't.

Nov 17, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics
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What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

I know what you are saying. I suppose I wasn't clear enough or used the wrong wording. For me a cuisine implies a strong culinary heritage backed by a fully developed and complex culinary tradition. I have noticed that in cultures that have had a strong monarchial system tends to be the countries with a notable cuisine, because the "palace" culture of the aristocracy, underpinned by the wealth of that class, is what allowed for the resources, lifestyle and means to develop a notable cuisine. In those days the diets of the peasantry was extremely basic and limited, it was in the houses of the affluent and aristocracy where cooking truly flourished.

Places that never fully "developed" tend to be the places that lack a recognizable "cuisine" and the foodstuff tend to be very simple and bland. For me, the Philippines falls into this category, as does much of Africa or the Pacific Islands. And in other places there's an extreme reliance on unorthodox foodstuff, which tends to be quickly abandoned by most of the population as the society grew more affluent, that you really would have to be adventuresome to want to continue eating these ingredients.

Nov 17, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics

Pie??? in Baltimore

Atwaters could be an excellent option. We mostly go there for sandwiches and soup. I've never had their pies but their breads and other baked goods are very good and I'm sure their pies are equally as good.

There are not many bakeries in Baltimore, particularly the old school type bakeries that would sell traditional pies. There may be one or two places left somewhere in the NE Baltimore region but economic factors took care of the other ones. Atwaters is probably the closest to a good bakery in the north Baltimore region, other than the various French options.

Pie??? in Baltimore

Where are you going to be in Baltimore?

If you're visiting family in, say, Howard County, I wouldn't drive all the way to Eddie's in North Baltimore just for the pies or DPP in downtown. Wegman's in Howard County will have perfectly good pies.

Likewise, if your family is near the Hunt Valley Wegmans north of the city, that's a good option. Wegman's in-house bakery is pretty good.

Cheap/Bent Restaurant Flatware

I had a similar experience once when we broke up my grandmother's house after her passing. I found a box that had dozens of small silver demitasse spoons with hotel and railroad names on them and I couldn't believe that my grandmother, an archetypical country club matron if there was one, would stoop to theft! My mother explained that in those days (30s-50s) it was popular to collect these spoons as souvenirs and hotels sold them in their gift shops.

Using dates as a substitute for sugar

I don't live my life in fear of sugar and as far as the doctor says I'm in excellent health and have a low BMI despite baking frequently. All my grandparents consumed sugar regularly, in coffee, tea and baked goods, although never in large quantities at any given time, and they all lived well into their 90s and over 100 in the case of one.

If you don't consume sugar very often then you have even less to fear.

Anyway, if you are adamant in using dates as a substitute, the sugar content varies from dates to dates. Medjool dates have much lower sugar content than other types of dates. The sweetest dates I've had were Iranian although it's unlikely you'll find that in the US!

Nov 17, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

What type of cuisine do you NOT like?

I have never enjoyed most Filipino food. I can't call it a cuisine because I don't think one can legitimately describe it as such. But whatever passes for food in the Philippines is not something I like. Either too bland or mushy or too heavy on the organs and the seafood tended to be heavily overcooked. Having said that, there were one or two dishes I did enjoy and the baked goods aren't too bad, even if nothing to write home about.

Some of the regional food in China is pretty dreadful. A lot of traditional Indonesian is terrible. They're definitely for the more adventuresome who get a thrill out of the novelty rather than the actual flavors.

There are some good Russian food but I don't find much of the cuisine palatable. The Russians and Eastern Europeans are fond of "salads," which seems to be a blend of everything (meat, grains and vegetables) in a heavy dressing. I'm also not fond of herring.

American junk and fast food. Starchy, salty, mushy, too sweet, all in one! Even worse are the overseas knockoffs of American fast food chains.

Egyptian. As with the Filipino food, I can't call it a "cuisine," but what passes for food in Egypt is mediocre and bland. Bit of a shame given the Levant has a wonderful culinary heritage.

Nov 16, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics
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Using dates as a substitute for sugar

Is there a particular benefit in using date in lieu of sugar? I eat dates regularly partly because I live in the Middle East and dates are extremely sweet when ripe and have a very high sugar content. I've been offered ripe dates that tasted like eating pure sugar.

But the flavor is lovely if used in the right dishes. More "earthy" cakes and loaves would work well for dates, such as the carrot cake as already mentioned, or zucchini or banana bread. Gingerbread would be another excellent baked good where you can substitute dates for sugar.

Nov 16, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Dubai with a 5 yo for 1.5 days

Hi,

I live in Dubai.

First of all, keep in mind that the Dubai Mall on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day will be absolutely jam packed with people. Unbelievably packed. I don't know what your New Year's eve plans are but avoid going to the mall or the burj Khalifa if you can. But you will still see the fireworks from a distance and they're unmistakable.

If you do go to the mall, there are a number of excellent Lebanese restaurants on the LG level, overlooking the outdoor lake. Wafi Gourmet is an old Dubai standby with fresh and very good Lebanese mezze platters and grilled meats and shawarmas. Next to it is Karam Beirut, which is another excellent Lebanese option.

Where will you be staying? It might be easier for me to give you recommendations for where to eat if I know the location of your hotel. Given your limited time in Dubai I wouldn't want to suggest places on the opposite side of town. The food options around the old souks and the Bastikaya quarter are unfortunately limited.

Christmas dinner - Not Turkey...

The recipe I used in the past is from the Time Life series, the Classic French Cooking volume, published back in the 1960s. I don't have the book with me and I can't give you the instructions. There are a few references to it online but I haven't found a full link.

But there are other coulibiac recipes, including one from Julia Child, floating around the internet. The one from the classic French was more complex than those, but they still look very good.

Nov 14, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking

Christmas dinner - Not Turkey...

Coulibiac? It's a wonderful layered salmon dish baked in a pastry crust. I make a fancy version with layers of salmon, wild rice, sauce, crepe, dill and baked in a brioche crust. It does require several days of advance preparation but Christmas only comes once a year.

Nov 12, 2014
Roland Parker in Home Cooking
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Holiday Food Customs

We always have hard sauce with plum pudding but never pies. The British put hard sauce/brandy butter on their mince tarts. It's intriguing. Do you serve the hard sauce with a specific type of pie or any pies that happen to be around?

Nov 10, 2014
Roland Parker in General Topics