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Hydra

What Cookbook Would You Buy For a First-Time Cook?

I vote for Joy of Cooking too. Though I rarely open it these days, it was immensely important to me when I first started seriously cooking.

What's the Difference Between Jam, Jelly, Compote, and Conserve?

Great explanation! Thanks. Now, to the increased availability of sugar. That actually began to happen much earlier than the 19th century with the intensification of sugar production in the Mediterranean in the 14th century then really taking off in the 17th century when large-scale sugar plantations appeared in the West Indies. This was made possible through the use of slave labor, and sugar accounts for the overwhelming majority of the 10 million enslaved Africans who were forcibly hauled across the Atlantic to the New World. Nowadays, however, most commercial sugar is derived from beets grown in places like North Dakota. Cane sugar is wicked expensive to produce in the absence of forced labor.

It's at this point that I like to toss a bunch of candy to my students and watch then recoil. Sugar has an ugly and brutal history. But man, the beet stuff is great in jelly!

7 Ways to Use a Cast Iron Frying Pan (Besides Frying)

Tortilla press, weighing down the lid of a steamer full of greens. I love my cast iron. If I had to grab one pot and run, this would be it.

What's the Best Way to Store Tomatoes?

I agree with Kenji. It would be useful to run this test on tomatoes that hadn't already been subjected to gassing and or refrigerating.

What's the Best Way to Cook Whole Grains?

I gave up on the pressure cooker years ago for the reasons outlined in the article. It didn't produce a superior enough product to justify the extra clean up (let's not forget that pressure cookers have more nooks and crannies to clean than a plain-jane pot). I especially don't like it for beans because of the blow out problem. I'd rather take my time with a long slow cook and get beans that retain their shape. Now, if I were to abandon my vegetarian ways and want to cook a nice elk pot roast, then yep, the pressure cooker would come out of the cupboard.

What's the Best Way to Cook Whole Grains?

I gave up on the pressure cooker years ago for the reasons outlined in the article. It didn't produce a superior enough product to justify the extra clean up (let's not forget that pressure cookers have more nooks and crannies to clean than a plain-jane pot). I especially don't like it for beans because of the blow out problem. I'd rather take my time with a long slow cook and get beans that retain their shape. Now, if I were to abandon my vegetarian ways and want to cook a nice elk pot roast, then yep, the pressure cooker would come out of the cupboard.

10 Amazing Late Night Restaurants in Washington, DC

Jack Rose is amazing: we went in for the whiskey and were bowled over by the food. It is a win-win destination.

Extra Large, Cage-Free, and More: How to Shop for Eggs

@Sobachatina, you are so right. Chickens are the ultimate omnivore. In fact, I tell people that they really don't want to know what my hens eat ...frogs, lizards, dog shit, manure, bugs of all kinds .... HarHarHar!

Extra Large, Cage-Free, and More: How to Shop for Eggs

@monopod, I've got a small flock too, and don't wash my eggs until I use them. When I do, I usually scrub them under warm water with soap. This was the recommendation of a biologist friend/fellow flock keeper.

Savory Grits With Slow-Cooked Collard Greens From 'Afro-Vegan'

That's it. I'm buying this book.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Why does Hambone have shaved ankles?

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs

omg. I cannot wait.

Does Pre-Salting Make for Tougher Scrambled Eggs and Omelets?

This is interesting; thanks, Daniel! I'm curious though, what if we were to run this same test with eggs of different ages? We know that the quality of the albumin changes as eggs age, which makes me wonder if the reaction to salt likewise changes with the aging of eggs. (I'm asking only out of curiosity - I have always and will likely continue to mix a little salt into my eggs before cooking.)

Cook the Book: 'Afro-Vegan' by Bryant Terry

Hahahaha! Dr ROK should win.

Cook the Book: 'Afro-Vegan' by Bryant Terry

Wild huckleberries picked along a high Cascades trail, morel mushrooms harvested from an old forest burn, cutthroat trout from a mountain lake, and only because my Mother read Bradford Angier one summer when were kids, skunk cabbage.

Cook the Book: 'Afro-Vegan' by Bryant Terry

Wild huckleberries picked along a high Cascades trail, morel mushrooms harvested from an old forest burn, cutthroat trout from a mountain lake, and only because my Mother read Bradford Angier one summer when were kids, skunk cabbage. Euuuu.

Knife sharpening for lefties

Just to add a quick comment/observation: most of the knife sharpeners sold for home kitchen use drop the blade between two angled whetstones. You probably wouldn't want to use one of those gizmos with a single-bevel edge. On the other hand (sorry, bad pun), if you're adept with and have a whetstone, you should be able to maintain a single-bevel edge yourself.

How often do you price compare when you shop?

I always compare prices, read ingredient labels, consider distances between point if production and point of consumption, and stock up on non-perishables when conditions line up. Getting the most nutritional and environmentally sound bang for the buck is important to me.

I don't have a....

No mandolin, no double boiler, no bread machine, no 8" cake pans, no mini-muffin cups, no popover pans, no Dutch oven, no lots of stuff. I do now, however, have two cutting boards (needed a small one to dedicate to horse drugs) and have a nice supply of whet stones that are used to sharpen all sorts of indoor and outdoor implements. Favorite mantra: use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

Flour Types for Pizza Dough?

I think I'm with Traveller on this. Any bets that those peasants who made pizza for generations worried too much about the flour they used? I'll be they made do with whatever was at hand.

Home gardening?

I'd be delighted if we could keep this thread going too! Thanks for the seed vendor tips, lemonfaire and pepperhead212; and I have to say that I am seriously humbled. While I've gardened for close on 30 years, I have never achieved the variety that some of you have. Plus, 2,000 square feet is a humongous garden! I definitely need to step up my game.

Once I'm confident that I'm saving my seeds properly, I'd like to start swapping (don't want to give anyone duds). At the moment though, most of my "swapping" is one way - the grown kid (also a gardener) occasionally bequeaths me a mixed bag of tomato seeds saved from her CSA and farmers' market purchases. I call them my mystery tomatoes. :-)

Zinnia1, do you have a source for compost? The more organic matter you can work into your soil, the less water you'll have to use. If you can spring for it, a drip system might be a good idea too. I've never installed one, but my mother, who gardened for decades on the east (and very dry!) slope of the Cascades, used drip lines almost exclusively for her gardens, veggie and flower. Between super-absorbent soil and water-saving irrigation system, you might stay off the water-police radar.

Home gardening?

What great information and insight! I should be polite and name everyone I want to respond to, that would take forever. I agree heartily with the comment about taking care of the soil - whether its in raised beds (that I used almost exclusively for vegetables while living in New England - got tired of the darned rocks) or containers or a chunk of the backyard. Because I've got horses and chickens, I can generate lots of compost that always finds its way into the vegetable beds. This will be only the third growing season in my current home, so the soil is still very much a work in progress.

Mulching is my lifesaver. So is the recent 'acquisition' of a serious gardening buddy, a friend who had never grown a single vegetable, who wanted to learn how, and who has volunteered one day every other week for the past two years. After a lifetime of doing all the work on my own, I was amazed at the difference an extra set of hands can make.

Since I have been gardening for many years, there are my old faithfuls (legions of tomatoes of wide varieties, eggplant, peppers, greens, beans - dry and snap, squashes) but I have also gotten in the habit of trying something entirely new every year. Three years ago it was okra. Now that I'm in a warmer climate, I thought why not, and omg! I fell in love! I eat the babies right off the plant. Last year the new veggie were sweet potatoes, which I'm just now finishing off. This year I'm trying my hand at kohlrabi, which is something I can't get in the local groceries.

What I don't wolf down during the summer, I can, pickle, freeze, and/or dry. (My ultimate goal is near self-sufficiency.) I love the idea of drying tomatillos. I had never considered that. I dry (and freeze and can) tomatoes like crazy, and have recently taken to powdering some of the dried tomatoes. Reconstituted 1:1 with water, the powder is superb on pizza. My brother thinks it would make a great bloody mary, especially if I reconstituted with vodka. (Hahahaha!)

With seeds becoming so darned expensive, I save leftovers from one year to the next - storing them like the rest of you do - and I've started saving seeds from the heirloom tomatoes, and any that volunteer in the compost pile eventually find their way into the garden.

I have struggled with squashes since moving to the mid-South. The bugs think I plant them for their exclusive benefit. Greens are also tricky. The summer heat and humidity usually do them in. This year I'm trying to get around the greens problem by planting early in raised beds (the ground is way too soggy yet to work in). We'll see. In the meantime, I have several flats of assorted tomatoes, eggplants, and at least five different kinds of peppers sprouting in a sunny porch.

Maybe we should touch base in August and September with pictures of our summer produce and the luscious goodies we make from it?

When Breakfast Gets "Weird"

Breakfast can range from the more-or-less traditional (oatmeal laced with a great big handful of blueberries, for instance) to the less-traditional. Yesterday morning, it was a large bowl of mustard greens sauteed in olive oil, garlic, red pepper into which I had cracked a couple of eggs to poach: a virtuous start to the morning if there ever were one. And yes, I'm a committed desk diner. Just ask my keyboard.

Deviled eggs

GretchinF: you're my new friend! I've gotta try some of your combos.

what are your favorite DIY kitchen hacks?

I've been using cardboard boxes for years (decades?) as instruments of organization in my freezer. Never considered them a DIY hack. :-) Ditto the vinegar & dish soap fruit fly trap - costs nearly nothing, works like a dream. Tall spoons in the can on the counter work great for drying plastic bags, the pint-sized zip-locks of which are later used for single-servings of any dish that goes into the freezer. Stored flat, they freeze into stackable "shingles." The upright paper towel holder does double duty as drying rack for my precious collection of bread bags. I'm sure there are more things I do, but they're so natural they don't jump out at me as anything particularly novel. :-)

Home gardening?

What with the 17% jump in home gardening since 2008, I'm curious how many SE'ers are among that number. Who grows a part (or even all!) of what they consume? Do you grow stuff and then figure out what to do with it later, or do you grow to meet a known need (ie: plant okra because you love it and can't buy locally)? Got any labor-saving tips to share? Do you save your seeds or buy new? Garden in containers, community plot, or the back forty? Do you preserve your harvest, or gobble it down in a frenzy of seasonal eating? Tell all!

Oodles of Eggs

The girls are now producing 6-12 eggs a day (young hens, longer days, what can ya' do?) and while I have a good friend who will take many of them off my hands, I'm left with a 'fridge full and am in need of fresh ideas for using them. My preference is for recipes that 1) use serious numbers of eggs and 2) can be frozen - either before or after cooking.

Thanks!

The Food Lab Turbo: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Lasagna

If ultimate indulgence, supreme creaminess, and a ridiculous amount of tasty goo are what you're after, this recipe—a layered lasagna with mushrooms, seared Brussels sprouts, and plenty of cheese—is a good way to get you there. The mushrooms and Brussels sprouts? Yeah, they're in there too, but they are there entirely for the sake of pleasure. I add Brussels sprouts to my rib-stickers not because they're green and healthy, but because they're damn delicious. The green and healthy part is just an added bonus. More

Social Circle Macaroni Pie from 'Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking'

The name "macaroni pie" is confusing on multiple fronts. This recipe, from Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart's Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is neither a pie nor made from macaroni. It also obscures the fact that the dish in question is actually just custard-style macaroni and cheese. But this old-school title is also a reminder of the history of the dish. More

Time for a Drink: Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is, of course, a staple of the American brunch and a universal hangover cure. The drink's origins are oft-rumored and still open to the kind of disputed bickering that is absolutely painful on a weekend morning, so it's best to move onto the heart of the matter: what's essential in your Bloody Mary? More

Pickled Red Tomatoes

Late summer and its joyous glut of tomatoes is a bittersweet time for a canner. Tomatoes signal the end of summer fruit and bring with them the knowledge that the growing season is nearing its end. However, there's just so darn much that can be done with tomatoes that the possibilities make this preserver positively giddy. More

Strawberry Balsamic Thyme Jam

This jam is insanely delicious; equal parts sweet and sophisticated. The balsamic vinegar adds depth of flavor and brings out the juicy, sunny taste of the strawberries. And the thyme, oh the thyme! It provides an addictive, lemony, herby essence.... More

Rosemary Lemonade Cake

I developed this recipe for folks who can't seem to get enough lemon. The addition candied lemon zest lends some texture and gives the cake a beautiful appearance. I've added rosemary to highlight the tangy flavor of the citrus, but you may substitute chopped thyme if you prefer. The cake is finished with a "lemonade" soaker, which gives it tang and keeps it very moist. More

Rachel Allen's Brown Soda Bread

For many years, I assumed that Irish soda bread always meant a slightly sweet, caraway and currant laced bread easily mistaken for a giant muffin. Frankly, I never liked this version of the quick bread, much preferring to eat "real bread" with my soup. It's a good thing I was mistaken about the scope of soda breads. Most of these loaves, like those featured in Rachel's Irish Family Food, are a much simpler (and more appealing) combination of flour, baking soda, and buttermilk. Rachel Allen's brown soda bread adds a bit more oomph with a hefty dose of whole wheat flour, a couple tablespoons of mixed seeds, and just a touch of butter. The resulting bread is an exemplary accompaniment to any number of soups, pickles, marmalades, or a generous swipe of butter. More