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Grace/prayer at a dinner party

If you have a mixed group of believers and nonbelievers in your home, and your custom is to say grace, I say go ahead and say it. Although I think you should make it brief and generic. If nonbelievers are offended in some way by this, they should get over it and if they can't, they should simply decline your dinner invitation next time. Conversely, if your custom is to say grace and are a guest in a home where it's not the custom, I think you should simply give thanks for the meal silently and unobtrusively. As a Christian, I believe this is consistent with how the Bible addresses the question of aggressive public prayer and piety.

Tipping for Carry Out?

I don't usually tip for carryout. However, at the mom-and-pop, strip center Chinese place I patronize regularly I stuck a $20 in the tip jar at Christmastime.

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Non-Guac Ways to Eat Avocados

My own version of Green Goddess salad dressing: mashed and mixed with bottled Ranch dressing and heavy cream.

Alton Brown's 'Man Breakfast' with Bacon, Eggs, and Hash Browns

Oh, yeah. Before eating, flip those eggs over, yolk down, on top of the hash browns, break the yolks, and just devour the bacon as finger food.

Because this is my favorite breaktast, I have it down to a science. I don't bother drying the shredded potatoes, I just make a large, flat pancake of them in a skillet with a little olive oil, flip once when crispy. The moisture cooks out just fine. I cook bacon on a plate in the microwave between a couple layers of paper towels, one minute per slice, no messy splatters on the stovetop.

Photo of the Day: Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond Has a Messy Kitchen Too

My first reaction was "why would anyone admit to that?" My second reaction is that it's funny how all us "clean as you go" people felt compelled to weigh in. I don't like working in the middle of a disorganized mess (can't find the measuring spoons, etc., and have to stop and hunt for them), but I'm also at the age when I don't have the energy to tackle something like what's in the photo after I've already spent time cooking.

Chicago Essential: Pizzeria Due

My aunt was Ike Sewell's long time personal secretary. One of my favorite childhood memories is how she would arrive on the plane at Chrismas during the late 1950's to early 1960's with a couple pizzas in her luggage. She wouldn't have dared show up without it. I don't know what kind of crust Uno and Due are serving now, but it's ridiculous for anyone to claim that the franchised stuff even bore a resemblance. That crust was unlike anything I've ever tasted since.

Why did I even bother asking?

The fact that you posed the question tells me you already know what the courteous thing to do is: bring a nice vegetable platter, and if you know most people won't eat it, make it small enough that you can eat the leftovers yourself. I don't mean to sound snarky, but there may come a day when you'd be thrilled if you could see your dad (and maybe some of the other family that will be there) again for just one hour. These events aren't about food.

Kitchen Tricks: Squeeze Bottles with Built-in Recipes

Forgive me for veering off topic, but I keep two of these on the sink holding dish detergent and bleach. Very efficient, both for dispensing and space.

Served: The Restaurant Coupon Invasion

breezypdx hit the nail on the head. Where I live, there are many mediocre restaurants. My husband and I--retired and on a fixed income--simply do not feel we can afford to be out a substantial amount of money for a bad meal. Not even once. We use Groupons. We ask for no special treatment, and we tip 20% on the full, after-tax total of the check, unless we receive exceptionally horrible service. Will we be back to pay full price? Maybe, maybe not. Even if we do return, will we run up a large check? Probably not. If you don't want our business under these conditions, feel free to opt out.

The Nasty Bits: Chicken Heart Yakitori

There's a large Asian supermarket where I live. I wonder if I could buy frozen hearts. I've loved them from the time I was old enough to sit up in my high chair. That't be about 6tymumblemumble years now.

Is $5 Too Much To Pay For a Coke?

I don't buy soft drinks. Period. Well, maybe once or twice a year. If someone gets enough enjoyment out of paying for that flavored water, that's their business. But I prefer thinking about the literally thousands of dollars I've probably saved over the years --and thus can spend on things I get more enjoyment out of.

Are crockpots a crock?

My husband uses ours regularly to make chili. I think he's let it cook for as long as 15 hours. The flavors really do blend beautifully. I can't stand meat cooked in the thing. I keep hoping to find some other uses for it. Going to try the beans and caramelized onions. Maybe at the same time. Just kidding. But I do wonder how a big dollop of those onions would taste on top of a bowl of beans.

Your Ideal "Made-at-Home" Cold Sandwich is...

Swiss cheese with lettuce and mayo on any kind of whole-grain bread. Ate it nearly every day for lunch for about two years in college. 40 years later, it's still my late breakfast on the morning a week that I work.

What is Chinese Brown Sauce Made Of?

I'm not sure it's a "standard" brown sauce, but you can make a good all-purpose sauce with about a half cup each of soy sauce and mirin, and a about a third cup of sesame oil--let it boil down and reduce a bit, then thicken with cornstarch and cook till clear. Tasty on a lot of stuff, even steamed spinach.

What Are Your 'Dollar Menu' Favorites?

Although their budget sandwiches are priced at 2 for $3, I definitely prefer Rally's options to anything else out there. The Checkerburger is really decent as fast food goes, and their fish sandwiches are definitely the best available fast food fish in my area.

What Are Your 'Dollar Menu' Favorites?

I can go TheBC one better: I order the Ghetto Mac as a McDouble with a
SIDE of Big Mac sauce and if I'm eating it at home I add my own lettuce. Most stores charge a quarter for the sauce, but give me plenty for two burgers. So I save what's left over and slather it on a Gardenburger at home, along with shredded lettuce, a slice of American cheese, and the same rehydrated dried onions McDonald's uses. Bliss.

WHERE THE HELL DID _ _ _ _ _ _ _ GO?!

I had trouble processing the information that clam dip ever was available pre-made. I still love the stuff, and it takes only a couple minutes to mix the canned clams, cream cheese, a little bit of chopped onion, and a dash of Worchestershire. Just do it.

Need a #101 lecture on casseroles!

Buitoni, PF Chang and many Stouffer's items from the freezer case can be your friend when you don't have the energy to cook or want to spend the time or money eating out. I get that this is not the topic of the thread, and that these items are not in a league with the best homemade, but I'd rather have most any of their offerings than anything made with condensed canned soup. I don't have a philosophical objection, and at age 60 I'm all for anything that makes my cooking life easier. I just think it makes everything taste bad.

Who's over the Thanksgiving meal already?

Thanksgiving is just my hubby and me. He's not big on turkey, and although I enjoy the traditional foods, I just want them for ONE MEAL and then I want it to be over. Happily, more and more restaurants have begun to cater to people like us. I haven't actually cooked on Thanksgiving in years. Sure, I'd prefer to time-travel back to grandmother's house and the family gathering with 40 extended family members from all over the country, but the new way is okay, too.

Am I being too sensitive or do women still get the crappy tables?

I eat out with just my husband more often than not. In a half-full restaurant we are often shown to a table adjoining a heavy traffic pattern, next to a wait station, or just outside the restroom. Tables that any sane person would NOT prefer. 95% of the time, we ask to be seated somewhere else, and are accommodated. I always attribute this to the person doing the seating trying to get the bad tables filled up with people who are too shy to ask for something else, or who simply don't care if they have to listen to dishes crashing around or toilets flushing throughout their dinner.


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