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

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.

Cook the Book: 'The Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook'

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.

Coconut: Way or No Way?

way. WAY. WAY.

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.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Edible Chocolate Box from Charles Chocolates

Pots de Creme or souffle

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.

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

Okay, so I'll be having a small crowd in the house a few nights after Christmas, but before New Year. I've got to please a variety of palates, dietary needs/preferences (pescetarians, no pork, vegetarians, no dairy, no carbs, etc.), and I have an extreme shortage of hands-on kitchen time at my disposal. A slow-cooked dish is definitely appealing.

I'm thinking of doing "Chili In Two Parts". One will be a pot of vegetarian chili beans, the other will be a pot of pure chili con carne (no frijoles). Both would be made with the identical chili powder blend and the same quantities of other ingredients (garlic, onions, peppers, etc.). Basically, I'd be making my usual beef chili with beans, except I'd be cooking the beef and the beans separately.

The idea would be that those who want only vegetarian chili or only chili con carne would obviously choose one or the other. Those wanting beef chili with beans would be able to mix the two in whatever ratio they prefer.

All would be accompanied by the usual fixins -- corn bread, shredded cheese, minced onions, etc.

What do you think? Is this craziness or am I on to something here?

HELP?! Hors d'Oeuvres Obstacle!

Please rescue me... I'm drawing a complete blank. I need two or three "plant-based" appetizers. Something that's somewhat nutritious and relatively low-cal to balance out a bunch of rich, fat-laden, protein-based snacks that are already on the menu.

Everything vegetable-like that pops into my head is too, too rich (spanokopita, mini quiches, etc.). Or else it's the totally boring stuff that nobody *really* wants to eat (crudités, fruit skewers, etc.).

I'm not feeding vegetarians, so that's not an issue. I'm just trying to balance that fatty salty protein overload factor.

It's a case of major menu-writer's block...


Le Creuset Question...

Does anybody have any pieces in the SATIN BLACK finish? It looks very cool, but I'm wondering if it's harder to clean, etc.

Just curious, before I add one to my wishlist.

Although I do love the colorful stuff, especially the cobalt, which is till pretty classic. But I'm tend to be wary about the colors getting tiresome after a few years (my first LC pieces were flame hand-me-downs from the 60s, which I despised in the 80s!).

Any feedback?

Serious Eats Old-Timers... MIA? AWOL?

Does anybody know what's become of chiff0nade? The website in her profile is not up and running and haven't seen her posting here lately. I hope "that man" didn't finally silence her... :-(

Actually, it may just be my own sporadic presence of late, but there are other names I've gotten used to seeing over the past year or two that don't seem to be showing up recently...

> Mich23
> Colorado Jim
> 2qrs
> Calichef
> hatlady
> Editmom

I can think of several others. Some have their own (active) blogs, so that's easy. Others? Poof! I know it's the nature of virtual communities, but my curiosity is always piqued when regular posters just suddenly go quiet.

Is there an SE Talker whose absence have you noticed? Or am I just weird? (ok, nevermind that last bit)

Weird Foodie Gifts

I stumbled across a Reuters news item about's list of Top 10 Stupid Gifts for 2008 and couldn't help being intrigued by the Wasabi Gumballs, which were evidently chosen from a wide variety of other stupid candies (a surprising number of which are bacon-flavored).

If you're looking to please (or insult) your fellow foodies with utterly pointless and stupid food-related "gifts" there are several other options, such as the Bacon vs. Tofu bendy toys, the totally gross Peter Petrie Egg Separator, or the Digestive System Puzzle (which incredibly appears on the site's list of worst selling items).

Anyway. It truly is a stupid website, but I found it amusing, so I thought I'd share (yes, I'm in one of those moods).

Bah humbug.

Another kitchen of the future from the past...

Back in April, you might have seen Kitchen of the Future, 1999 A.D. (1967) and/or Czech Out the Kitchen of the Future here at Serious Eats.

If you love predictions of what the future will look like, then you might also enjoy Tomorrow's Kitchen (1943), featured at the Paleo-Future blog (A Look Into the Future That Never Was). The piece appears to be a reprint of a newspaper article, but features some great photos from Life Magazine.

American Obesity and the Health Halo Syndrome

Although I am prone to overweight, mine has remained relatively stable throughout my adult life, something I attribute to moderation, and the belief that there are no bad foods, only badly managed foods. Years ago, I made a conscious decision to embrace those philosophies, eat whatever makes me happy, and carry an extra 10 pounds, rather than be subject to food nazism.

That's probably why I found the NYT article Health Halo Can Hide the Calories really interesting.

I've observed this syndrome firsthand for a very long time. My own family has many weight-battlers, some of whom are morbidly obese. And I've watched those of them who are most obsessed with food *evils* pack on the most pounds over the years. When I say obsessed, I mean extreme fixation bordering on paranoia.

But there's a disconnect. They think I have terrible eating habits (you use REAL butter?!), and hint at how unhealthy my diet is (you eat fried food more than twice a year?!), and chide me for ordering a grilled filet mignon and steamed veggies, while they are "being good" and ordered "just" a salad (cobb, extra dressing).

I've learned that when I visit them it's critical to request a "very small portion" at dinner, because even though the plate I'm served holds only half as much food as theirs, it still holds more than I normally eat in an entire day (literally). And before I've finished even half that "small" plate of food, they're already going back for seconds! It boggles the mind. I want to scream, "Just because it's BROWN rice doesn't mean you should eat two double-size servings!"

So what do you think of this "health halo" syndrom? Have you observed it in others? Caught yourself falling into the trap? Is this the real source of our weight problems?

Kitchen Duty: My most dreaded and detested task is _____.

I’ve known people who insist that they adore everything about cooking and working in their kitchens. They have adamantly denied having a single thing they hated doing in their kitchens. But, a little probing and prompting has never failed to reveal at least one task which, for that person, was a genuine chore. It seems to be a very personal thing, and does not necessarily have any real rhyme or reason.

It might be the stereotypical oven cleaning. Or, the equally cliché scrubbing of crusty pots and pans. I’ve even heard much grumbling and groaning over something as seemingly innocuous as emptying the dishwasher. Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes it even involves food prep. Many, many passionately devoted cooks will admit they despise chopping garlic or onions. A surprising number of people find it revolting to handle raw poultry. Even something as simple as shredding cheese with a box grater is not off limits.

So let’s hear it Serious Eaters. Get it off your chest. Reveal you deep, dark kitchen nightmares here. You may or may not find out others share your secret, but you’re sure to be amused and entertained by the *silly* things other people hate doing.


p.s., here's a shout out to JEP!

I ate _____ for my Halloween dinner.

I ate grilled cheese and tomato soup at home while I answered the doorbell and chatted on a video call with Mr. LoCo (he liked seeing all the kids' costumes over the webcam).

It just seemed appropriate with all those kids running around. Although, I must admit to also enjoying a glass (or two) of Syrah.

What did YOU eat? And WHERE? And with WHOM?

Happy Halloween! Tonight, I handed out ___ to ___ kids!

Weekend Halloweens are weird. You might get overrun with kids until late at night (no school tomorrow), or you might get hardly any kids at all (too many parties and coordinated events). Curious to know what happened in other Serious Eaters' hoods...

To answer my own query.... I handed out medium-sized Hershey bars, Whoppers, Kit Kats and Reeses (all chosen because I'm not likely to eat them) to apparoximately 30-40 kids, MAX. That's about 1/3 the number we normally get, i know for a fact that a lot of neighbors had Halloween parties to attend, so no big surprises there.

Secret Supper Clubs, Foodie Speakeasies, Underground Restaurants

This hit my radar after I saw a USA Today interview with Jenn Garbee, author of the book Secret Suppers: Rogue Chefs and Underground Restaurants in Warehouses, Townhouses, Open Fields, and Everywhere in Between. According to the product description, here's how it works:

"In attics, garages, living rooms, warehouses, and wine cellars across America, underground chefs are taking the food scene by storm. They’re throwing dinner parties at the drop of a hat, evading the cops, enticing the food-obsessed, and making headlines. Whether it’s sophisticated fare in a funky Des Moines B&B or bacon-wrapped-bacon on a deck in Seattle, chefs and food lovers are circumventing the restaurant altogether, unconstrained by a written menu or a million dollar remodeling budget. In short, they’re reinventing the dining experience...."
I found the concept fascinating, so went on to read this piece in the NY Times, an older feature in The Monthly, and an amusingTime article from way back in 2006.

This was news to me (I guess I'm hopelessly uninformed). I'm not sure how I feel about it yet (still ruminating), but naturally my first thought was to find out what the Serious Eaters had to say...

Is it too early to talk about letters to Santa?

DISCLAIMER: Each December, my family celebrates its own version of Christmas. If your family celebrates some other mass-commercialist gift-exchange-oriented winter holiday, please rephrase the query to suit your needs, and post accordingly!

Although it’s only October, and most people’s minds are on the election and the trainwreck known as The Economy, my mind has begun drifting to the pressing matter of wish lists. I’ve begun nagging the youngest of our children (teenagers) to get their lists to me ASAP if they hope to have any chance of influencing my purchase decisions. I've asked Mr. LoCo, the man who has everything, to drop me at least a few hints. I adore my family. But since their last-minute shopping crises invariably become mine, and since those crises typically involve gifts for me (which is really not at all cool), I’ve also begun working on my own wish list to help prevent any such unpleasantness.

My letter to Santa tends to be quite detailed, especially if I’m requesting things for My Kitchen. I tend to specify brands and model numbers. I offer vendor recommendations wherever possible. Sometimes I even include MSRP to help the kiddos be responsible bargain hunters. (yes, I have OCD tendencies.)

So, although I do actually keep up an active wish list pretty much throughout the year, I’m oh so curious to know what will be on the wish lists of Serious Eaters everywhere! I do have an ulterior motive: In the past, you’ve mentioned some things that were on YOUR lists that I later wished I’d thought to put on MINE!

So, what are kitchen contraptions are you coveting this Christmas? HHHhhhmmmm?

Food Name Redundancies

Although I do realize that many not true redundancies, because they are used to distinguish the exact type of a thing, they still crack me up. What type of fish? Tuna fish! A few others that come to mind…

Cheese quesadilla. It's just a quesadilla, a little quesada. Queso=cheese, –ada=–ful, and –illa=small. Obviously it's meant to distinguish a plain (or real) quesadilla (tortilla filled with cheese) from the now ubiquitous gringo-ized versions (e.g., chicken and bean quesadilla), but seeing it on a menu always makes me cringe.
Shortbread cookies. I know it’s meant to describe the exact type of cookie, but shortbread is shortbread is shortbread. The word cookie isn’t even necessary, okay?
Chai tea. Chai means tea. I know that many Americans think chai is a specific spiced tea drink (actually masala chai) but do the coffee houses have to perpetuate this error by listing chai tea latte (tea tea milk) on their menu boards?
With au jus. Since au jus means with juice or in its juices, the word “with” is not needed. I know in the US we actually use the entire term “au jus” as a noun, as in, “Please put the au jus on the side”, but still…
Real horseradish. Okay. It’s not actually a redundancy. But please. Is there fake horseradish out there? Without fail, when I request plain or pure horseradish (i.e., not creamed), the server responds, “So you want the ‘real’ horseradish, right?” Oh jeez.

Feel free to list the others I missed…

"If allowed only ONE topping on a cheese pizza, it'd be _____."

Just finished munching on a slice of cold leftover pizza for my too-lazy-to-cook weird Sunday morning brunch, and this query-a-la-JEP popped into my head...

No cheating! You can only choose ONE topping! But, if you want to trade the cheese or sauce for another topping, go for it!

Happy Sunday!

More Fish Fat, Less Human Fat?

I take high doses of cod liver oil as a source of vitamin D to control psoriasis symptoms (it’s been very effective). I’m also supposed to take fish oil, but for some reason, I’m not very good about that. About 3-4 weeks ago, I ran out of cod liver, and so did the only nearby store that carries my brand. So, in the interim, I’ve been taking high doses of fish oil (5g or more).

Over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed some unexpected weight loss. My habits are unchanged—still eat a few more calories than I should, still drink wine more often than I should, still don’t get as much exercise as I should. If anything, my calorie intake has been higher than usual (a few extra glasses of wine here, some uncharacteristic ice cream there, topped off by a couple of virtually unheard of non-diet sodas). My activity level has definitely not increased. In fact, I was so sick two weeks ago that I literally spent five straight days on the sofa (still trying to get caught up!).

Yet here I am in jeans that are a little less snug and T-shirts that aren’t emphasizing as much belly pooch. I don’t have a scale, so I can’t say how much I’ve dropped, but it’s not a whole lot. Enough that my clothes fit better, but not a size smaller (damn). I was a bit concerned, so I spent several days analyzing my routine to see if it could be called “unexplained weight loss”. The fish oil regimen is the only difference, which didn’t seem like a logical cause of weight loss. So, I googled “fish oil weight loss” and was VERY surprised to find at least some anecdotal evidence that it might be the source of my slightly slimmer physique.

Now, I happen to read a lot of articles on science, nutrition, health, etc. (pet subjects), so I can’t figure out how this one missed my radar. But I’m very curious to hear what my fellow SEers know about it, and wondering if anybody has had similar experiences.

Enlighten me.

Free Vita-Mix Blender... Am I crazy?

I was given a Vita-Mix 5000 as a loan repayment. In spite of the over-the-top sideshow-style sales pitch they're famous for, these things are supposed to be fantastic, not only in terms of incredible power, but also because they are virtually indestructible. Supposedly, many chefs swear by them (???).

I must admit, it seems very well-designed, and I'm definitely tempted by the huge 64-ounce jar...

Nevertheless, it seems a bit gimmicky, and I can't get past the feeling that it is just one more item to fit into my appliance cabinet. And I've already got two blenders.

So I've decided to sell this one. It's practically brand new, and used ones sell $300-$400 in my area. Even if the ones that are really old and really used seem to go for about $250! I posted it on craigslist yesterday, and I've already received three emails.

Am I crazy to let this go? Will I regret it? Are they really "all that" and more?

I need some Serious Insight... Please share your experience/knowledge!

Robin Bellinger?

Okay. So, having been AWOL for several months, I decided I would do some searches and check up on various of my favorite Serious Eater old-timers...

I checked on Robin, but I don't see anything from her since August.

I also see no announcements indicating that she is no longer "Eating for Two" although she most certainly must have delivered her wonderful little bundle of joy by now... Right?

Can anybody give me an update??? I'd like to extend my congratulations, if appropriate...

Adapting a baked custard to stovetop...

My family has long enjoyed pieless pumpkin pie. That is to say, I make pumpkin pie filling in a dish instead of a crust, baked in a water bath. As some of you know, Hubby is living without an oven. He's craving pumpkin pie. I know we can adapt the custard to stovetop, but I have no expertise. I'm pretty sure we can adapt it fairly easily to a double boiler, but I'm thinking the texture/consistently might be better if I have him rig up a steamer.

What do you think? I've never done a steamed custard, and have only a rudimentary grasp of rigging up a stovetop steamer. Will it be too difficult for him? (He's somewhat of a beginner.) BTW, we have Skype and webcams, so I can provide nearly "hands on" assistance.

Ideas. Tips. Detailed directions. I'll take what I can get.

Long-shot, I know... Recommended restaurants in the UAE?

Primarily in need of some great spots in Abu Dhabi but Dubai recommendations would be useful as well.

Hotel restaurants are fine, as they frequently offer the best dining options in areas like this, but some lesser known local places would be terrific, too.

Not at all fussy... interested in classy high-end joints and cheap dives alike.

If anybody can help, thanks!

Ideas? Oven Recipes Without An Oven!

I'm baaa-aaack (again)... this time for real. I've missed all you wonderful Serious Eaters, and I know I've got a two or three months of catching up to do.

I'm starting by trying to pick your brains...

Amanda's post, An Oven-Less Dessert: Steamed Devil's Food Cake, sounded fantastic, and reminded me that I am in serious need of some serious help in this very department. Great timing, Amanda!

I've just returned home after several weeks in Bangkok where Hubby has accepted a long-term work assignment. I went over to help him set up housekeeping in the beautiful new apartment he'll be living in for the next six months or so (until he finds a condo or house).

Upside? It's furnished, has daily maid service, and a great view of the city. Downside? It's very small, and therefore short on one or three things that we take for granted, including a conventional oven/broiler. Not a huge problem, but not exactly ideal, either. Especially when you consider an all-American boy from the South who misses home, family and his favorite foods.

Until he moves or buys a big toaster-oven, I'm trying to come up with traditional oven or broiler recipes adapted to stovetop or microwave. I've set him up with a few ideas, including Salisbury Steaks (to replace meatloaf and gravy), and microwave "baked" apples sprinkled with crumbled shortbread cookies (to replace pie). But I need more!

The only rule:

All dishes must be relatively quick and require only basic kitchen skills. His cooking experience is limited, and he works long hours, so he has very little time to make a meal.

I'm so seriously glad to be back! Thanks in advance for your help and ideas!

Talk Home Page... Topic Reply-Count Problems

Noticed the number of replies listed for posts on the Talk Home page are often wrong (not updating properly?). Not a biggie, but if you use that page to monitor discussions at-a-glance, you may not realize there are actually new posts...


Artist's Table: Jacques Pépin and Itzhak Perlman... WOW!

I had the incredible good fortune of just happening to catch this show on a local PBS station yesterday. It was sheerly by chance, as I would normally not have the TV on at that time of day (damn... I wish I'd gotten it onto the DVR). In true Jacques fashion, it was absolutely charming. He and Perlman have wonderful chemistry. This is a real not-to-be-missed item IMHO. Watch your local listings, as it does not seem to be one PBS' bigger national items, and appears to be picked up by each local station on a case-by-case basis. I'm going to keep my eyes open in hopes of getting it recorded.

Meanwhile, you can listen to the audio portion of the show at its website.

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