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Vermicelli in Chili Oil, Soy Sauce, and Vinegar

has anyone else noticed that most "chili oil" is some random oil?
I seem to remember it being hot SESAME oil (back in the day) (like 2 years ago - ha)
The hot sesame oil is light years better (IMHO).

How do you take your coffee?

1) Black
2) Black (+ a few ice cubes)
3) Black

Ice purist???

Best ice I have ever found...Lang Ice Classic Cubes (perhaps only available in the Chicago area)

Gorgeous square cubes cut from one large block of ice using old-timey equipment.


Healthy and Delicious: Confetti Quinoa Salad

I have found quinoa (Ancient Harvest brand, both reg and the red variety) at my local grocery (the Jewel - Chicago-area) and it says that it is PRE-RINSED. Nice.
Also, I have substituted quinoa for the bulgar in this recipe (it is SO GOOD!)...

The one food you are SICK of this summer....

Ohhh - guys...this post makes me sad. It's like another post I read on another site where people were asked to report on the worst service they've received at a restaurant. I just think this type of discussion is...I don't know...kinda whiny...I don't get the point...
(I think I just made a bunch of enemies - that is not my intention)

I find the educational/helpful and inspiring posts to be wonderful (and there are so many people who write really insightful, witty, great things on this site, I visit often).
But when I read, "We have been traveling/being entertained and although it is very good I am sick of seeing brie" - oh....that makes me so sad. How about let's just be thankful to be entertained and traveling, or that we have the money to buy too much at the farmers market or that our garden is going gangbusters?

Again, I know that my opinion might be met with eye-rolling. I don't mean to offend - I just really enjoy this site for what I mentioned previously and I don't see the point of this. If you're sick of something - don't buy it or if you're growing it, trade with another gardener or give the food to someone else.

Esp when there are so many people who don't have food - period. Ya know?... (those poor people dealing with the flooding in Pakistan)
Anyway, thanks for reading.

Tito's Vodka

It's been my fave for years (I used to have to drive out of state to buy it before it was available in IL). Good stuff. His website is cute, too.
Tito and his wife seem like really nice folks (my co-worker knows them) (hey...I have an "in" - I should try to score some free vodka!)

Bread Baking: Babcia Bread

JERRY: That was our babka. We had that babka!

ELAINE: What's this one?

CLERK: That, Cinnamon Babka.

ELAINE: (gasp)

JERRY: Another babka?

CLERK: There's chocolate and there's cinnamon.

JERRY: Well-well we got to get the cinnamon.

ELAINE: No, but they got the chocolate. We'll be going in with lesser babka.

JERRY: I beg your pardon? Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, "Oh This is so good. What's in it?" The answer invariably comes back, Cinnamon. Cinnamon. Again and again. Lesser babka - I think not.

CLERK: 49?

ELAINE: I'll have a cinnamon babka.

JERRY: … and a black and white cookie, for me. Peace!

(Episode 77 - The Dinner Party...Long Live Seinfeld)

Knife Skills: How to Cut an Onion

@Gator Pam - yes, Jeff Smith - I remember that and I agree.

2nd comment - strongly dislike and disagree with this method for chopping onions. I'll have to take some pics myself (or a video) to show you my method which I've been using (with much satisfaction) for 10...15 years.

Basic instructions:

- Lop off a bit of root end AND other end

- Slice whole onion in half (from one end to the other)

- With one half of the onion flat-side-down, make slices, starting at root end (slices will look like rainbows if done correctly) - keep entire sliced half together, don't let slices fall onto board (this may sound difficult, but the point of your index finger works well to keep slices in place w/o clinging to knife blade)

- Rotate entire onion-half a quarter turn and then slice again - BUT angle your knife as you run it through the onion half to follow the arc (i.e. DON'T keep you knife blade straight up and down while you make these slices)

...OK - maybe a bit hard to describe via text alone ...I'll try to take pictures or something (like you're all waiting with bated breath)

I'm not as nerdy or uptight as I may sound - I just LOVE this method - and it drives me crazy to see anyone chopping an onion by holding their knife parallel to the board and slicing that way - totally awkward and unsafe.

Peking Duck Pizza at Costco (in Taiwan)

I've made a recipe for something like this from the California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook (I know, I was kind of skeptical but it was F*cking Awesome).
Worth the effort if you ask me.

Your Starbucks/Cafe order

Yea, shoneyjoe. I'll have the same...
Large Drip Coffee - Black
(with some ice cubes, please) (I don't like to wait)

Taste Test: Veggie Burgers

...btw, I was referring to the Dr. Praeger California Burgers above.

Taste Test: Veggie Burgers

As far as flavor goes (and aroma while cooking), Dr. Praeger gets high marks in my book. I stick them in the toaster oven and cook them for several toast cycles until they're GOOD & BROWN (helps them hold together). ...I guess you could bake them, too.
I swear, they smell like something deep fried whilst they be cooking. YUM.
A little melted cheese on top and a Natural Ovens bun...

Serious Heat: Roasting Chiles the Alton Brown Way

I just want to say that you are all great. What a fantastic string of comments. Everyone is so smart and informative and funny and helpful and sticking to the point. Ohhh, you guys...

the best cookbook for beginners

LoVe, LOvE, LOVE the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten (the one with the potato salad on the front).
It's so beautiful, but more importantly, it's very approachable, straightforward, simple and INSPIRING. She helps the reader to approach entertaining in the right (relaxed) way. Can't say enough about this book - my copy is in shreds from using it so much.

Do You Wash Melons Before You Eat Them?

I have heard that soap can leave a residue. I always use this veggie wash spray - it does the trick (you should see the color of the water after I wash strawberries with this stuff!). I put my produce in a bowl, spray on a bit of the wash, run some water in the bowl and agitate for a minute or so, then rinse several times until the water is clear.

Sack Lunch: Cold Sesame Noodles

I second the comment re: the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (possibly one of the BEST cookbooks ever written). She calls them Szechuan Noodles. So great. It helps to have a blender or food processor to combine the many (pantry staple?) ingredients. I make her recipe with Hodgson Mills whole wheat spaghetti. YUM. Love that Ina Garten.

food for a looooooong bus trip

Great, grainy salad I found in the Everyday Food magazine.
(WARNING: It's dangerously addictive...pace'll eat more than you realize, and then it feels like it keeps expanding in your tummy! haha...)

Bulgur Salad with Grapes and Feta Cheese
Serves 2
½ cup fine-grained bulgur wheat
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¾ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced scallion
¾ cup halved seedless grapes
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1. In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup fine-grain bulgur wheat, ½ teaspoon coarse salt, and ¾ cup boiling water. Cover; let stand until bulgur is tender, 30 minutes (Make sure all water is absorbed, otherwise, your salad is too "wet" instead of nice and fluffy.)
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Add 2 tablespoons minced scallion, ¾ cup halved seedless grapes, ½ cup each toasted chopped walnuts and crumbled feta. Add bulgur; toss.

Best Barbecue in Chicago?

Smoque (3800 N Pulaski) is the best in the city for my money.
It's BBQ perfected. Simple, great food done remarkably well.
And their sides (and salad!) are out of this world.

Smoke This

Yes, yes, yes! That Barry Sorkin...a brilliant guy. (And a nice guy, too!)
Best BBQ in the city by far.


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