• Location: So Calif
  • Favorite foods: It'd be MUCH easier to list my dislikes!

Latest Comments

Cook the Book: 'Gourmet Today'

At about age 12, ordered the Betty Crocker cookbook for myself through a book club... before that I'd always used my mom's really old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.

Best food quote ever

Well, probably not the best ever, and maybe not so much a food quote, but spoken by one of the best foodies ever, and certainly words to live by...

“Life itself is the proper binge.”
--Julia Child

"UPSCALE" Mac n Cheese -any ideas?

Well, hard to give advice as not sure what you mean by "no other weird ingredients" -- does this mean you want it to be strictly macaroni and cheese without anything else? If so, the only way to make it more "upscale" would be to use very high-end gourmet cheeses. Which ones depends on your taste (or that of the people you're serving).

If you just mean that you don't want to add anything hugely distracting from the mac'n'cheesiness of the dish (e.g., peas, chunks of ham, etc.), but don't mind one or two unique ingredients to give it a bit of a twist, then I'd recommend dusting the top, sparingly, with shaved truffle. It is sublime. Or add a splash of sherry or white wine or cognac to the bechamel (to give it a bit of a raclette or fondue quality).

Sweat the the shallots or onions with some minced pancetta for the bechamel.

Is the celebrity chef culture over?

Part of the confusion stems from the erroneous categorization of people like Tyler Florence and Alton Brown as "celebrity chefs" -- whether you like them or not (and I do like AB), the vast majority of the people starring in current Food Network shows are "television personalities" not celebrity chefs.

Celebrity chefs are people like Boulud, Waters, Atchez, Keller, Adrià, Ducasse, Vongerichten...Stellar chefs who are so well-known, they have achieved fame and celebrity.

Regarding sponsorships, an endorsement or sponsorship of some particular product does not necessarily represent a sell-out. It depends on a number of things, including the endorser's qualifications, his/her reasons for endorsing, the product being endorsed, etc. That said, Food Network represents the commercialized, dumbed-down version of foodie-ism. Its TV personalities are employed in the field of commercial television. Engaging in commercial sponsorships and endorsements is part of their profession, so it's not exactly a sell-out. Furthermore, it makes perfect sense that they endorse mediocre, dumbed-down products that no *real* foodie would ever use (e.g., Applebees, TGIFs). After all, FN personalities are mostly just mediocre, dumbed-down versions of real celebrity chefs, on a network that mostly caters to a poorly informed, dumbed-down food audience. There are a few notable exceptions, but this is pretty much the reality of the current Food Network.

For the most part, the public that is interested in FN personalities and the products they hawk is going to be interested in whatever the commercial media tell them to be interested in. If they are told to be interested in local foods, they will promptly become interested. If they are told to jump on the organic bandwagon, they will obey. If they are told that Sandra Lee is a great chef, they'll believe it. Just tell them the flavor of the day, and they'll like it.

In general, serious food enthusiasts are not FN's target audience. Likewise, FN fans probably do not comprise a significant portion of the target audience of the Kellers or Adriàs of the world.

Issues with fresh fruit and my 3 yr old

Take the advice of those who've recommended seeing a new doctor. This sounds a lot like a common condition usually referred to as "toddlers diarrhea" -- it is believed to be caused by diet. It also sounds very much like the typical manifestation of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in very young children.

Both conditions are easily diagnosed with a few tests to rule out other more serious conditions (e.g., blood sugar, fecal sample, etc.). They are also treated with dietary changes -- usually increased fat, reduced fluids, restricted intake of fruit juices and sugary drinks, increased fiber from whole grains and vegetables, and possibly a fiber supplement. They typically require no medications. IBS may be outgrown, but not necessarily. Toddlers diarrhea takes care of itself (usually gone by kindergarten if I recall correctly).

As pointed out, fruit is not essential, provided the child is consuming adequate quantities of vegetables.

Again, you definitely should see a new pediatrician, particularly in light of your child's developmental delays.

Do not try to diagnose and treat him yourself (aside from withholding fruit and fruit juices which obviously are causing distress). These gastric symptoms could be related to another more serious condition requiring more aggressive interventions.

Good luck.


Why not use bresaola?

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Zingerman's Praise the Lard Gift Box

Fried chicken and oniony crisp-tender hush puppies deep fried in lard that my FIL rendered himself from a nice big piece of hog jowl the previous day.

Lard-frying. Epiphany.

Feedback on an odd idea for feeding a fussy crowd, please?

Oh, it's so nice to be validated by Serious Eaters! Blush...

Regarding a starch base, I was actually thinking of doing baked potatoes to fill with chili and fixns (versus rice or pasta, although I love chili over spaghetti). That would be in addition to the option of pouring it over cornbread (my crowd is mostly of Southern heritage, so pouring chili over corn bread is a natural).

Also, although sour cream tends not to be very popular with my people, it will definitely be there as an option. Along with various hot sauces (Tapatio, Pico Pica, Sriracaha, Franks), red pepper flakes, minced fresh chiles (serrano, jalapeno), fresh-made pico de gallo, Herdez salsa, saltines, chopped scallions, cilantro, and probably some crushed tortilla chips.

What did I miss for fixins? I like mine with cheese and onions, so the rest is not in my area of expertise...

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: D'Artagnan Boneless Heritage Ham

Mustard (pretty much any variety) and cheese (pretty much any variety). Preferably on seeded rye. Ideally, grilled.

Serious Eating resolutions for any?

My serious eating resolution is to keep doing it.

I eat ____ because it's good for me (but I don't really like it)

IMHO, unless you're a person who refuses to eat anything but ground beef and fried potatoes, there really is no single essential food that anybody should be forcing down their piehole just because some expert has told them that it's vital to their health. Completely beyond my comprehension.

@huney, are dairy, eggs and nuts also a problem for protein? And why not take iron pills? Seems silly to eat meat that you don't like just because of a dietary need that you should be able to satisfy in other ways.

@yogurt-eaters who detest yogurt... I don't get it. There's nothing magical or miraculous about yogurt that you can't live without. Millions of adults eat no dairy at all and suffer no adverse health consequences. Forcing yourself to eat it because it's "good for you" is just utter silliness. If you do not like it, do not eat it. If you feel it's essential, why not add it to a smoothie? Or eat frozen yogurt? Tastes like ice cream. Still good for you.

@radley... i'm over 40 and I do not eat oatmeal. It is not very compatible with IBS so I avoid it. Also, oats are not widely eaten in most of the world (see yogurt above). But, if you feel consuming them to be absolutely essential, why not try something different? Granola for instance?

@chisai... amen about the things I try to eat less of... but even then, there's nothing I don't eat just because it isn't good for me... MODERATION!

Nigella's Ham in Coke-what ham?

I've never made it (don't care for sweet ham preps), but she says "mild cure" -- that means cured. There's no question about that. Specifying mild suggests that she's recommending that's not very salty (e.g., not Virginia ham), and not too smoky-tasting (or probably not smoked at all).

Gammon joint is just another term for ham.

If she herself has recommended a boneless one, then that's what you should use. If it's not specified, I'd use one with a bone. The meat texture is almost always superior, the bone imparts flavor to the meat, and when the ham's all gone, you have a nice bone for soup as @onepct pointed out.

I don't think it matters whether it's fully cooked or not, but you might have slightly better texture with an uncooked or partially cooked one.

Whole Wheat Pasta: Way or No Way?

No way. Texture is all wrong. Whole wheat bread is standard in my house. We are huge vegetable eaters. Beans are eaten at least once a week. I serve brown rice 5 times as often as white. I'm sure as hell not going to worry about eating a little *unhealthy* fiberless pasta when that's what I'm in the mood to eat. I want to like what I'm eating. If it's served to me, I'll eat it and it's fine. But to cook it just because it's a little healthier than white? Nah. I'd just as soon do without.

HOWEVER. Like other posters here, I do use Barilla Plus for most of my run of the mill weeknight pasta dishes. Those who aren't familiar with the Barilla Plus product need to be clear, this is not a whole wheat pasta. But it's extremely high in protein, omega 3 and fiber due to the addition of legume flours and flaxseed meal. It is delicious and virtually impossible to distinguish it from regular (white flour) dried pasta. In fact, it tends to require a bit more cooking to reach al dente than regular pasta, so it basically cannot get mushy like the whole wheat ones. An excellent healthied up alternative for those of us who cannot abide the texture of whole wheat pasta!

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Southside Market Sausage

Bad to the Bone -- San Juan Capistrano -- only decent place I've been able to find for real BBQ near where I live.

Also, don't love their ribs, probably because it's not actually a BBQ joint, but Houston's has a really tasty bbq SAUCE.

trying to change eating habits

Yep, what @Heart said... if your kids were small, it might be one thing, but they are teens (aka pseudo-adults), and hubby is responsible for himself. However. If you are the one doing the grocery shopping and the bulk of the meal prep, then that is the focus of your responsibility in their eating habits. As so many others have so wisely pointed out, do not buy crap and do not serve crap.

In my house, the policy is, always has been, always will be, "This is what I've made. If you're not hungry enough to eat something nutritious, then you're probably not truly hungry. That said, you are never required to eat all of what I'm serving, but proper manners demand that you taste the food you are served before deciding not to eat it. Please take at least one bite of each thing. If it's unsatisfactory, get yourself up and make some cereal or a PB&J sandwich, because I am not a short-order cook."

My teens eat what I make, and fortunately they love my food. But, even if they aren't always huge fans of the veggies on their plates, or wish the chicken were fried rather than grilled, they never, EVER complain that somebody has gone to the trouble to lovingly prepare them a tasty, nutritious meal. That's just plain bad, disrespectful behavior, and I won't put up with it.

In summary, assuming you're the shopper and cooker, you must buy only the foods you'd like to see eaten. You must prepare only the meals you think are worthwhile. If food is going to waste, get in the habit of informing everyone of tonight's menu, in advance, and asking them if they plan to eat what you are making. If they whine and complain, make less. If there's still most of a meal leftover, cheerfully pack it into containers and announce, "Well, I guess I know what we're having for dinner TOMORROW night!"

Finally, moderation is key. The previous advice of make your transition gradual is very good. Be sure to engage in LOTS of discussion with the family about what's going on and why. They need to understand that this is motivated by love, and that if they must eat crap, they'll just have to get it for themselves (much like refusing to supply an alcoholic with booze).

Just remember. There is no bad food, only badly managed food.

HELP?! Hors d'Oeuvres Obstacle!

Wow. Lots of excellent ideas. It's amazing how many of these are things that I actually make on a relatively regular basis. Don't know why they didn't pop into my head before. I think I'm just having panic-induced stupidity because I'm so excited to have hubby here for two whole weeks, and I just want everything to be so perfect for him! Guess I should stop and take a deep cleansing breath!

@Jerzee, yes, the vodka things sound like lots of fun! Thinking of doing a test run of those today while I clean house and wrap gifts... hahahaha... *hic*...

Actually, I may take some of those *deconstructed* (flinch) Bloody Mary things to stepson and DIL's holiday party next week (although she is preggers and probably won't appreciate them).

Anyway. Thanks for all the lovely suggestions. I'm feeling inspired, and the clouds are lifting! Feel free to keep adding to the list, because I think I'll bookmark it for future reference!

SE Talkers are the bestest!

What to feed hubby who is in the DOGHOUSE?

Call me a fuddy-duddy or whatever, but frankly, the whole thing strikes me as more than a little bit childish.

Clearly, he's already suffering the consequences of his actions. Presumably, he's already experiencing deep regrets for his less than stellar behavior. He's an adult who used poor judgment. He is responsible for his own actions. Why does that reflect poorly on you? You're not his mother. Which is also why it's not your job to "punish" him or "teach him a lesson". You should have insisted on making an early exit from the party at the first sign of over-imbibing, long before he became "the life of the party". That was the extent of your responsibility for his actions. You did not do that, so you are complicit, and now you also must live with the fallout.

By trying to rub salt in his wounds, you're behaving just as badly as he did. No, that's not right. Your behavior is actually worse. He made a mistake that hurt your feelings. You're going out of your way to be intentionally cruel.

Sorry to lecture. But if you loved this man enough to marry him, why on earth would you want to torture him and cause him more pain? Why would you want to throw fuel on the flames of what is already an unpleasant little moment of ordinary marital discord?

If I were you, I'd go out and do something that makes you happy -- shopping, lunch with a friend, a tromp through the park, whatever. Leave hubby a note saying where you've gone, explain that you're trying to cool off and clear you head, and inform him that you'll be wanting to have a heart-to-heart with him when you get home. Add a P.S. asking him to please clean the bathroom and change the bedding.

When you get home, talk it over. Calmly. Like adults. Tell him how his behavior made you feel and explain your work-related worries. Let him apologize. Let him try to make it up to you.

You'll be glad you did.

Merry Christmas!

If you were to subscribe to one food magazine, it would be _____

Wow. Hardly any votes for Gourmet? I'm not a huge fan of paper magazines that come in the mail, but that's one of the few I actually take. It does what a food mag should do -- provides interesting, very well-written articles on a wide variety of food-related subjects, and a well-balanced mix of recipes, ranging from everyday quick meals to complex, skill-challenging dishes. And it's all pulled together with that absolutely gorgeous, mouth-watering photography (ultimately, the pix are probably the final selling point for me).

As far as Cooks Illustrated is concerned, it is a valuable product, but I'm only a fan of the online subscription. I've subscribed to the paper mag a couple or few times over the years, but I always end up letting it lapse. Although it's a great source of good, solid information, as a magazine, it's just not worth it to me. In terms of value, I think you get MUCH more bang for your buck with the web service, since you are then able to search through all the years of CI data on the web, plus you get their videos and whatnot, and don't have to keep track of magazines.

Crab cakes for Christmas?

Costco often carries Philips crab, but they're not consistent about it... sometimes it's Star-Kist (which is actually surprisingly good quality).

Definitely worth a look-see though.

Middle Eastern Minty Mayo

Are you sure it's mayo and not a yogurt-based sauce?


Trader Joe's used to sell them pretty much every single Christmas -- but that was back when TJ's was a different (better) store. I don't recall seeing any when I was there yesterday... but I'll look again tomorrow, since I'm going back to return the bread I bought yesterday and did not notice was mouldy until I got it home (I've actually brought home something spoiled every single one of my last three TJ's shopping trips, but that's a story for another thread).

I'll let you know if I see any.

Is anyone here a paying member of Cook's Illustrated's website?

Well, in July 2007 they reviewed thermometers for barbequeing. They actually weren't all that thrilled with Polder Digital Dual Thermometer/Timer (recommended with reservations), because apparently it took 45 minutes to get an accurate reading. WTF?

That's the only review of a digital that is not an instant read that I was able to find on the CI website.

If he's looking for a thermometer that he can leave in the roast while it cooks, the one CI liked was the Polder Dual Sensor Meat and Oven Thermometer. It is NOT digital and does NOT have an external timer unit, but they said the dial was really easy to read. It runs about $10.


LoCo hasn't favorited a post yet.