novice/intermediate cook, just recently started trying to improvise instead of following recipes to the letter. currently investigating making my own bread, because nothing beats toast made from homebaked bread...

  • Location: amandae
  • Favorite foods: watermelon, tomatoes, goat cheese, mushrooms....
  • Last bite on earth: my husband's chicken marsala....mmmmmmmmm.....

Latest Comments

Why is my cake dry?

if it was a handwritten recipe it could be as simple as a typo or a mis-read.

Who is hosting Thanksgiving?

the actual day we do a big thing with the husband's extended family, generally bringing one dish to add to the table. not sure yet what we'll be bringing. then later that weekend we do a smaller thing with my side of the family, which is just my parents, brother, and sister-in-law. that one rotates among our three houses, and this year is at my parents'. so we'll probably bring a dish or two. but next year it's here, and we'll be in charge of the turkey, stuffing, bread, and any other new sides we want to try.

Stuffing or Dressing

my mom grew up saying dressing. don't know about my dad. i heard it enough from my mom's family to know what they meant, but we always said stuffing in our house, and i've never called it dressing.

Seafood and Dairy: Way or No Way?

if someone tried to take my NE clam chowder away, there would be blood tonight...

frozen soup tastes different

i'm inclined to agree that it's because of the noodles...since they weren't part of what you originally cooked and froze, they definitely would have soaked up some of the flavor and left the broth seeming a little bland. next time you freeze some leftover broth like this, give it a taste before you add other ingredients to it, so you'll know for sure.

I am a Snickering Kit Kat what are you?

we don't get enough kids by our house to make it worthwhile (since we'll just end up eating all the candy at once and get sick) but it would be reese's peanut butter cups for us.

my mom (still) gives out goody bags rather than candy...always has and probably always will. they usually include stickers, little fun-shaped erasers, pencils, party favor-type toys, etc. it embarrassed me when i was little, because i personally didn't want that stuff, but kids always seemed to like it.

What IS The Best Tip, Trick, Recipe etc You've Gotten At SE?

@janaatwg - well said! i love the exchange of ideas and hearing people's opinions on current food issues, but there are some threads that get out of hand.

i don't think i've actually USED anything from SE that i would consider life-changin, mostly because i haven't been able to do much cooking lately, but i have lots of things bookmarked to be tried when circumstances permit. i mostly like being able to come here and pose a question and have people who know what they're talking about answer!

Food for thought, Food not Lawns, your vote is it viable or not?

i don't think my husband would ever go for not having any lawn...we currently have no grass at all in our sizable backyard due to many trees and years of compaction, and he's constantly trying to convince me to spend a few thousands (that we can't afford) so we can end up with a nice lawn. me, i find grass overrated. i wouldn't mind in the least if my entire lawn was clover or violets, like my parents' yard (which my dad constantly tries to get rid of). they're pretty, they're green, they don't grow very high, and they feel good underfoot. i've yet to find anyone who agrees with me.

i tried the first two summers in this house to have a veggie garden, but we don't have enough sun because of the trees. my main requirement for our next home will be a large section that gets full sun for most of the day, so i can see whether or not my thumb is actually green. ;)

Online Cookbooks?

i don't keep recipes online, but i would sure love to be able to afford joining this:


if you do the pureed style you probably won't even notice the skins. if you do the chunky style you might, but even then it probably won't bother you.

Is there a cure for Pine Mouth?

this is making me not want to try pine nuts! what causes this??

How to pomegranate?

that's what i've been trying for, but i still don't seem to have much luck!

Work or play?

it's work when i'm tired from a long day and still have to get food on the table, play when i've been able to relax a bit before getting started. it was easier before i had the little one underfoot! but i do love to try new recipes, new flavors, and i'm dying to try making my own bread. and christmas cookies have become a new big thing with me the last few years, ever since i participated in a cookie swap at work. i'm looking forward to getting the little one involved, though this year might still be a bit too early for that.

Autumn is here! What is your favorite apple?

ooo, thanks for the tip! i'll have to check out my good apples and learn how to apply that.

my criteria would be hard to quantify without being able to point at a good one vs a bad one for you...they have to do with color of skin, tautness of skin, patterning on the skin (some of them have lighter freckle-like spots), occasionally the overall shape of the apple and its size, but the deciding factor is almost always the smell. i figured out that a certain nuance of the smell almost always indicated a mealy apple, so even if all the other factors look great i won't buy an apple that smells wrong. this is 20+ years worth of only eating Granny Smiths, so i definitely figured out what i liked!

interestingly, the store where my mom buys her apples has a handy poster that puts all their apple varieties on a scale of sweetness and crispness, so you can choose new varieties to try based on your preferences. i think that's how she got on to the Honeycrisps, but it's certainly useful for people like me who are super picky about apples.

Autumn is here! What is your favorite apple?

for me it was Granny Smith, all the way, up until last year when the Honeycrisps came out. my mom gave me one and it was awesome. in all the bunches i've bought since i've never had one that wasn't delicious...and i can't say that about my Grannys! but i've honed my Granny senses to the point where i know exactly what to look for (and smell for!) so i don't get too many bad ones anymore. i just won't buy them if they don't fit the criteria.

i've tried some of these other varieties mentioned, but i really can't stand a soft apple. probably why i like the two varieties i do! and Red Delicious apples are the epitome of why i don't like soft apples. blech.

How to pomegranate?

i'd love to hear some advice on how to PICK a good pomegranate...i seem to have the worst luck and always get ones that are under-ripe or past their prime or have been battered and bruised.

ipad apps for cooking

if you ask me, the iPad itself is the best thing for cooking from online recipes/directions, video or no. you can prop it up easily, don't have to plug it in, the battery doesn't run down, and it's easy to scroll and turn pages. i steal my husband's now whenever i'm cooking something new...much much better than my laptop.

Liquid Smoke

i've only ever used it in a recipe for slow cooker pulled pork, which called for 1/2 cup of the stuff. i wasn't able to stand being in the house all day, the smell was so strong! it ended up tasting great, but next time i will definitely dial the amount down. i don't think i would use it in anything else.

i read somewhere, i think America's Test Kitchen?, that you should not get smoke that has any sugars in it. can't remember why, but if you're buying smoke you should just get smoke.

I know it's an old wive's tale, but I _____ anyway.

ah, i had it backwards. that explains a lot! thanks.

i had never heard the knife thing, but i did find it entertaining when at a couple of weddings the newleyweds received knife sets...from exes. :D

I know it's an old wive's tale, but I _____ anyway.

i'm confused about the whole high-altitude boiling thing. my understanding is that it takes longer to come to a boil (bubbling energetically), so by the time it actually boils it's at a higher temperature than it would be at sea level. if that's the case, couldn't you set a thermometer to the sea-level temp and start your cooking at that point? i mean, i guess with pasta you actually need the energetic-ness to keep it from sticking together, but it's the temperature that cooks the food, right? sorry if this is a dumb question, but since it came up here i hope you don't mind the tangent.

i always salt my pasta water, no oil. and if you plate the pasta immediately upon draining, it shouldn't stick! my husband doesn't seem to get that concept, so our spaghetti noodles are hard to portion out from the sticky mass he lets them get into! :)

Homemade sauces as gifts

@SconnieGirl - that sounds yummy! Would you be willing to share the recipe? I'm pretty sure my mom would love that one!

Why "Keen-Wah"?

@dbcurrie - you just made me spit out my soda laughing. :D

How do you Polenta?

i made "instant" polenta from a box once, and once i just used the cornmeal i had on hand. i think flavor-wise i preferred the cornmeal, but the texture wasn't very good on either of them. but then, i have no idea what i'm doing when it comes to polenta! :)

The Crock Pot Broke

you should come to my town! always four or five crockpots in each of the various thrift shops i go to. breadmakers, toasters, coffee makers, gadgets and gizmos galore! that's too bad that they don't have much where you are, though.