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GardenStater

We Try Everything On Taco Bell's New Breakfast Menu

Funny--growing up in North Jersey in the 60s and 70s, we never had Taco Bell (or really any Mexican food--I never ate a taco until I was in college). So even though they're around now, I've never eaten at one. I stopped into a TB once, looked at the menu board, and walked out. But hey, this is America--go for it, folks!

Snapshots From Pizza Town USA, 'America's Favorite Town' Since 1958

I grew up in Pompton Lakes, NJ, where we had our own Pizza Town, USA. (Don't know if there were any others, but this was definitely the same place, down to the Uncle Sam sign, etc.) It was great, and during my junior/senior HS summer, they stayed open until 3:00 a.m., so it was the go-to spot after downing multiple beers. I miss it still.

Culinary land mines

Funny how cilantro is something that few people are neutral about. I happen to love it.

Mushrooms. I just don't like the texture. Ever since I was a kid, they're the food I just don't like. I can tolerate them if I must, say in a hot-and-sour soup or (maybe) a pizza with everything. But they're just slimy and rubbery, and I don't like 'em.

I'm also allergic to shellfish and stone fruit (peaches, apricots, etc). But generally, those are easy to avoid.

Poll: How Do You Eat Your Leftovers?

Totally toaster oven. Microwaving just kills a slice. I prefer to wait 10-15 minutes. The only difference between fresh and reheated is a crispier crust. Sometimes I'll toss a little (OK, a lot) extra mozzarella and some pepperoni slices on that bad boy, just to make it extra-delicious!

Lahmacun From 'The World's Best Spicy Food'

This looks really good, but I'm confused. The description talks about a food that's "rolled up," and refers to "...larger, milder pides, most often known as Turkish pizzas." Yet the recipe doesn't mention rolling, and the photo shows what clearly looks like a pizza. What gives?

Photo of the Day: 'Undead Gaffigan' from Zombie Burger in Des Moines, Iowa

@Jonny Cooks: No, people make their own choices. AndroidUser is correct: Having one of these (or something similar) every once in a while doesn't make people fat. Choosing to eat bad food all the time (and not exercising) makes them fat. It's all about individual responsibility, not some silly sandwich that's sold for two days at a restaurant in Des Moines.

Fried Homemade Pickles with Ranch Dressing From 'Kitchen Confidence'

I love fried pickles! But could I make this recipe with regular store-bought pickles? (The refrigerated kind that stay crisp.) Making the pickles seems like a lot of work for a recipe like this.

Inside the Secret World of Super-Premium Spanish Jamon Iberico

Excellent article. If I hit the lottery, I'll be sure to buy a 5J ham as one of my first purchases!

Every Bar Should Have 'Everything' Fried Pickles

I love fried pickles. Not sure I'd travel all the way from NJ to Bay Ridge to try them, but if I'm ever in the neighborhood...

In search of: Popcorn Popper

I used a Whirley Pop (or similar) for years. It finally broke. But it makes the best popcorn, faster than a microwave!

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Local Neighborhood Restaurants in NYC

Does anyone else find it odd that Jim Lehnhoff speaks of Taylor Ham, but the photo shows a sausage and egg sandwich?

Pantry Essentials: All About Ssämjang

@rondertaker: They still haven't fixed it on the home page!

Pantry Essentials: All About Ssämjang

"Panty" essentials? Looks a bit messy to wear on one's loins. ;-)

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Recipes for Entertaining

One of my favorites is Bo Ssam (the Momofuku recipe is easy to find). It's kind of like Korean pulled pork. Delicious, easy to make, inexpensive, and lots of fun to eat with a group of friends!

Arrogant Swine's Whole Hog Barbecue Opening in Brooklyn This Summer

"But when someone's looking at me they're thinking, 'He's Chinese,' I'm not. I'm American."

Hear, hear.

Introducing Our New Etiquette Column, Manner Matters

I'm with the people who suggest asking for separate checks. If it's a small group, it shouldn't be a big deal. It would probably net the server a larger tip, to boot!

Steakcraft: Uncle Jack's Kicks It Old School

Great--now I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

Staff Picks: What's Your Recipe Deal-Breaker?

I seem to have arrived late to this party. I'm in agreement with many others, in that my two deal breakers are deep frying and too many unusual ingredients.

I love deep-fried foods (in moderation), but the oil is a real pain to deal with and clean up. What to do with the used oil? And all the splatter. No thanks.

And if I read a recipe that's got 40 ingredients, half of which aren't already in my pantry and I'm almost certain to never use again ("1/4 teaspoon unicorn tears" "1/2 cup yak milk"), I'm out.

In Defense of Eating Alone

I enjoy eating alone, but only at the bar. For some reason, dining alone at a table strikes me as strange (NTTAWWT, as they said on Seinfeld). And the service is normally much faster at the bar. The real advantage, as the author and others pointed out, is that I can bring along a book or a newspaper, but if someone's nearby who wants to chat, I've got an instant dining companion. (And I don't have to split the check with them!)

Another Newbie in Need of Dough Help (Lahey no-Knead)

Whenever I make pizza dough, I let it warm up to room temperature before stretching it out. Cold dough won't stretch as easily as warm dough. Since your kitchen is so cold (how do you stand it?), that might be part of the problem. Another solution is to use a rolling pin and stretch it out in stages: Roll it out as much as you can, let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then start rolling it some more, and so on. Good luck!

Best day for cooking...what is in your oven?

Didn't cook anything yesterday, but I'm off from work today and tomorrow. Since I made a roast chicken for New Year's Eve, I'm planning to make some stock today. Here in the Garden State, we're hunkering down for a blizzard, so it should be a good thing to make.

Poll: Do You Cut Your Burger in Half Before You Eat It?

@destruya: In my experience, most chain restaurants will refuse to cook a medium-rare burger, because they're fearful of lawsuits if somebody gets food poisoning. The best you can get is medium-well. That's why I prefer getting my burgers from small, family-run places that know how to cook a great burger!

Poll: How Often Do You Eat Burgers Without Any Cheese?

Odd to read all the anti-American (cheese) comments. To me, American cheese (the real stuff, not the "pasteurized process cheese food product" slices) is the perfect accompaniment to a burger. And lots of dill pickles, please!

Poll: Do You Cut Your Burger in Half Before You Eat It?

Hey, Burgerzilla: I'm all man, and I cut mine in half. Sometimes. ;-)

I'm with Skizziks--I never used to, but now I generally cut burgers in half. Not fast-food burgers, since they're generally small, with thin patties. But if I'm out at a bar and order a cheeseburger, it just seems a little easier to manage and neater when I tackle it in halves. It's probably just from years of looking at the gorgeous burger photos on this website!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Baking Steel

Cheese. That's really all you need.

Thanksgiving cook/8K Runner

OK. So I've been on a big-time fitness kick for the past 5 months. Exercising all the time, including running 5Ks every weekend. I'm signed up for an 8K (5 miles) on Thanksgiving morning, but I'm responsible for cooking the meal. I'm an early riser, so no problem at all waking up at 4 or 5 AM. But from about 8AM - 10AM, I'll be AWOL. Any thoughts about preparation? Can I make the stuffing the night before? What else can I do in advance? I just don't want to get caught short.

Good eats in Roanoke, VA?

Hi, folks: I'll be stopping in Roanoke, VA on my way to my niece's wedding in early April. I'll be traveling alone, and that's the halfway point. Curious about a good place for dinner that night. I'm a burger-and-beer kind of guy, but I want local flavor, maybe barbecue. Not looking for a white tablecloth place, but rather a local joint with character. Any suggestions?

Great Corporate Food Gift?

Hi, everybody:

I work for a national company that employs more than 20,000 people. My department is tasked with finding a great employee gift for the summer.
In the past, we've sent steaks and ice cream (people can go online and place their order to arrive when they want it). This year we want to try something different.

Any ideas? Some thoughts:

1. Cost (including shipping) can't exceed $75 each.
2. Need to have options for kosher, vegetarian, etc diets
3. The company needs to be big enough to handle thousands of orders at once.
4. The population skews young--most employees are 40 or younger.

Thanks!