Grew up in the Great Lake State state of Michigan, but relocated to Colorado three years ago (company made me an offer I could not refuse!).

  • Location: Colorado (and MI)
  • Favorite foods: Brother's grilled chicken, anything Mom makes, my own chicken tortilla soup.
  • Last bite on earth: Perfectly grilled ribeye steak.

Cinco De Mayo - What Are You Cooking UP?

Was going to make Chicken Tortilla Soup (OK, more Tex-Mex than Mex), but supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow in the Mile High City, so no soup!

Will probably go to Hacienda Colorado (again, Tex-Mex, or as they say, Mountain-Mex, than Mex). They make a really good carne asada and one of the best margaritas I have sipped, and I have sipped a lot of margaritas!

Using a sauce for chicken on something else

I bet it would be good just simply tossed with hot pasta! I wouldn't add any Parmesan, or other high sodium cheese, though.

Any notable meals in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest?

I am with @sobriquet, the Central Market Hall in Budapest is great. You can taste and sample your way through all the stalls selling meats, cheeses, pickles, bread, sweets, and on and on. For me, a memorable meal is tasting my way through markets like the Central Market Hall where people are selling centuries old family recipe sausages, artisan breads, and traditional food. While I eat at restaurants while traveling, I always make sure to hit the local farmer market. My best food memories, and the ones I talk about, usually revolve around these markets. They are also cheap!

Paris Restaurant Help

I used to work for a French IT consulting company and traveled to Paris and Behoust 4 times a year for four years in a row, but that was almost 10 years ago! Last time I was in Paris was three years ago. I always got my best recommendations from the hotel staff, asking the locals, and the concierge. However, if the concierge said to mention his/her name, I would take with a grain of salt since they most likely had a deal with the restaurant to steer people there! Don't be afraid to mention what your budget for the meal is. Some of the best meals I had were on these recommendations. Sometimes they were down an unassuming side street, completely charming, and very busy. Once you decide, have the concierge make a reservation for you. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended for any dinner, no matter what you decide on.

I did eat at Bistrotters the last time in Paris and the food was very good and a pretty good price for the prix fix meal. It caters to the tourist crowd and the prix fix with a glass wine will be about $55 US per person. Some of the local recommended places I enjoyed were much less. Also be be surprise to see the amount of game on the menus in French bistros. Game in France is considered a luxury item, and their way with it is fabulous.

Just a side note. I am not a big wine drinker, but LOVE Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume. It is a younger white wine and while expensive in the US ($40+ per bottle at an extremely well stocked wine store), it is very affordable in France. If you are looking for a white wine to try, I highly recommend Lacoucette.

Above all, have a great time! Paris is one of my favorite cities.

Steaks reverse sear method gone wrong!

I have not tried this method, but grill steak all the time. You may need to let the steaks rest longer than 10 minutes. I rest until the moisture beads on the top surface have been absorbed back into the steak. Sometimes 10 minutes (or less) is sufficient, sometimes it takes longer. Loosely tent the steaks with foil to keep warm while resting.


I am by no means an expert, but, along with what you are already doing, here are a few tips I personally found through trial and error:

1. After coming out of the frig, only let it sit at room temp for an hour. The cooler the dough, the better the rise.

2. Having a few large bubbles on the surface of the dough with wet tiny bubbles underneath, sounds like the dough is over-risen, which effect the rise in the oven, and not in a good way. Stacked tiny bubbles throughout is optimal. Make sure to store the dough in the coldest part of the frig, generally in the back. If stored in the front or on the door of the frig, the temp will be higher and the higher temp will cause the dough to ferment faster.

3. 17 ounces for a 15.5" pie is quite thin. Try making a 14 pizza using the same amount of dough and see how that works. I roll/pat my dough thin, but leave the outer edge just slightly thicker (thicker part is maybe 1/4 inch higher than the rest of the dough).

4. After shaping the dough, let it rest 10-15 minutes before topping. This relaxes the dough, providing better lift.

Good luck! Like I said, I am no expert, these are just things I have found through trial and error.

Getting high on Cinnabon?

I agree with the marketing to women and the fad quickly fading after the initial introduction.

I don't care for flavored liquors, with the exception of the occasional spiced rum cocktail. In college I did like Fuzzy Navels. Do they even make Peach Schnapps anymore? I better end now before I date myself further...

How often do you price compare when you shop?

I have several grocery stores within a few miles of home, and know from experience that King Sooper (Kroger to everyone else) has the best prices for most things so I mainly shop there. They also have the best sales.

I buy paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo, and cleaning supplies at Target, since their prices are better on those items.

I will buy store brand on items like tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, canned beans, sugar, dairy like milk, sour cream, cottage cheese. I buy national brand peanut butter, coffee, cream cheese, coffee, butter, hazelnut spread, jam and jelly, and storage bags and containers. I buy it all at one store since for me, time is money, and spending hours clipping coupons, searching weekly ads, and traveling store to store is not worth the money saved over the time expended.

I don't have a....

I do not have a stand mixer, food processor, mandolin, full set of measuring spoons (the teaspoon and tablespoon went missing who knows how long ago), electric skillet, ice cream maker (no a big ice cream fan so no biggie).

I do have some cast iron skillets inherited from Grams, a Lodge enamel over cast iron dutch oven (which I love), an immersion blender, slow cooker, and rice cooker, which I use to steam all kinds of things. I couldn't live without my sharpening stones, I have two, but do not have a honing stick.

Oh, and I use my microwave for storage!

Flour Types for Pizza Dough?

00 flour is readily available in the metro Detroit area and fairly easy to find in the metro Denver area, two places where I have homes and spend the most amount of time. I find it at just about every Italian grocery store, or green grocer. Heck, even some well-stocked supermarkets in Detroit carries it, and Whole Foods in Denver carries it. I have also seen very large sacks of it at Sam's Club in both Detroit and Denver. If I can easily find it in these two cities, I am thinking you can find it just about everywhere without having to order online!

Personally, I just use King Arthur AP flour for pizza dough, since I just have a home oven and stones to cook it on. My oven does not generate the extremely high temps a commercial pizza gets, nor do I have a wood-fed outside pizza oven, so 'fancy' flour just costs more, it doesn't do anything to improve my dough.

Remember, flour alone does not make a difference between good dough and great dough. Moisture content, salt content, kneading (or lack thereof), and fermentation methods, all play a crucial part. If you find 00 flour, but lack the technique to get the moisture and mix technique down pat, you will just have 'good' dough.

Home gardening?

I am trying again with growing veggies this year. I lived in Michigan for years, and could grow just about anything in the fertile, moist soil and could water with abandon. Occasionally we would be put on a water restriction, which meant you could only water every other day (based on odd or even address), and that never lasted more than a few weeks. My garden, both flowers and veggies, were wonderful.

I now live in Colorado. I figured I could grow what I did back in Michigan, since it is the same planting zone. But, nooooo, I am learning how to grow things all over again! The soil here is not as fertile, the high altitude makes the ground and air extremely dry, and water is scarce and water restrictions are severe and strictly enforced (I live in the foothills of the Rockies, not on the eastern plains). There are water cops that patrol and the fines are steep if you are caught watering or washing your car in the driveway.

I have contacted the local extension office to find out specifically what would grow well here, and will follow their recommendations. Hopefully, I will have more success this year!

What do you guys prefer plastic or wooden

I should have added, that for most people, the bacteria absorbed by the wood may not have any ill-effects on the people eating the food. However, if your family or guests are very young, elderly, or have any type of compromised immune system, you might highly consider plastic.

What do you guys prefer plastic or wooden

I like plastic. Wood, being a natural material, is a delightful, natural breeding ground for bacteria. I wash my plastic cutting boards in hot, soapy water after each use and they get a trip through the sani-cycle in the dishwasher at once a month. You cannot do this with wood. Heating and washing wood opens up the grain and bacteria can slip deep inside the board. Sometimes it sucks to the a Scientist, you know too much!

Has anyone ever made a Fiatone?

I grew up in a neighborhood filled with first generation Germans, Italians, and Poles. I remember the Italian, Catholic families making Fiatone to eat on Good Friday after Lent was over. (Not being Catholic, I do not remember the reason why - it was a LONG time ago).

Anyway, I do remember that some families made a sweet version, like a ricotta cheesecake, some families made a savory version, like a drier version of a quiche with a top crust, and some made a multi-layered meat version, like a calzone. Sounds like your wife's family made a quiche-like version.

If you search for savory quiches that use ricotta and sausage, you may find something close. You will just have to top with a crust.

Sorry, don't have a specific recipe, but recipes abound for savory breakfast pies that may come close.

When Breakfast Gets "Weird"

Put me in the substantial, savory camp, too. I may occasionally do cereal in the morning, but most likely leftovers from yesterday's dinner. I do, however, like traditional breakfast foods like eggs, pancakes, etc. for lunch or dinner.

@apopquizkid, it was probably the strong odor wafting from the pickled veggies permeating the entire office that people objected to, not the actual food itself! Pickled fermented anything can linger in the air for hours.

what are your favorite DIY kitchen hacks?

I have a few tackle boxes that I use to store items I don't use every day, one holds cloth/holiday napkins in the bottom, napkin rings in the compartment tray. Another one holds cookie cutters in the bottom, piping tips in the trays. Both are stored in the walk in pantry.

I have can caddies (you know, the ones that hold 12 cans in the frig? Not sure if that is what they are called, though), in my pantry that hold cans of tomatoes (diced, sauce, paste), cans of beans, broth, etc.

I also do the ubiquitous empty toilet paper and paper towel cardboard rolls to the hold cords of appliances. Not pretty, but effective!

What will you make for Easter?

My family has always been adventurous eaters, but when it comes to holidays, it is family tradition all the way!

Ham and fresh Kowalski kielbasa (Detroit area producer, been around 90+ years). Scalloped potatoes, and my SIL's awesome green beans (with sweet/sour hot dressing, crumbled bacon, and onions sauted until they are brown and crispy). Then there is always a relish tray, dinner rolls, and the ubiquitous butter lamb.

I am going back home to Michigan for Easter and cannot wait!

Deviled eggs

@tipsy, that is my family's deviled egg recipe, too, only along with the Miracle Whip, we add a squirt of yellow mustard.

I take deviled eggs for work potlucks. Cheap to make for a crowd, and everyone really likes them. Sometimes they do not make to the actual potluck, the set up volunteers tend to eat them all before everyone starts showing up.

I also do a deviled egg bar sometimes. Again, the basic eggs, then set out little bowls of toppings, like crumbled bacon, salsa, salad shrimp, etc., and let guests top them how they like.

Lamb Burger recipe conversion

I would experiment. Divide the ground lamb in half. Roast the spices, then mix a bit into half the ground lamb. Just use salt and pepper in the other half of the ground lamb. Grill. Serve the spiced version with sauce that does not contain similar spices as the ones you roasted (like tzatziki). Serve the S&P version with the sauce that has the flavor profile of the roasted spices. See which ones you like best!

How do you like your hummus?

I like a plain hummus, and one that uses a light hand with the tahini. I use hummus more as a spread than dip. I like to spread it on a soft pita, top with a little Middle Eastern cold, raw veggie salad, and enjoy. Or, if a have some toum, a thin spread of that, a healthy dose of hummus, a light sprinkle of sea salt, fold the soft pita in half, oh my do I love that...

A slightly crunchy Burger crust?

I love a thin, smashed burger with a nice crust, too!

A couple things I do:

I put a little oil in my cast iron pan, then use a paper towel (held with tongs so I don't burn my fingers) to wipe the oil around the pan. You should NOT see beads of oil, just a slight sheen. I use a 10 inch pan and only add about a teaspoon of oil. I find this really aids to developing the crust.

I also do not add salt to my meat mixture. I add it to the surface of the made patties, and am rather liberal with it. The salt crystallizes and helps enhance the 'crustiness.'

Traveling Mac and Cheese questions

I make my mac and cheese with a white sauce, and sounds like you do, just mix the grated cheese with the noodles and white sauce. I do not melt the cheese into the white sauce.

For re-heating purposes, don't be tempted to add extra cheese to the recipe than what the recipe calls for in relation to the white sauce. Cheddar, in particular, releases a lot of liquid fat (oily) when heated and extra liquid fat from extra cheese when reheated can cause the white sauce to break during reheating. This results in a mealy texture, instead of smooth.

Culinary land mines

I am the opposite of @CheesePlease, don't like mayonnaise at all! Miracle Whip, love it. I like a lot of food listed here, with the obvious exceptions being items like hair, gristle, veins.

Most of my land mines revolve around current trends:

Anchovies do not add a 'meaty, nutty' flavor to sauces, just a fishy flavor. I do like them on pizza, though.

Lemon does not add a 'bright' flavor to everything, just a lemon flavor. In lemon-based recipes like lemon pie and picatta recipes, I like it.

Dark chocolate does not add a 'complex' flavor, just bitter. Same goes with nutmeg added to cheese sauces. It does not add an interesting flavor, just odd.

Olive oil does not have to be drizzled on everything. It just adds an oily slick.

Did you Plan how your kitchen is organized, or did it evolve?.

Mine is pretty much set up the same way Mom's was, and Grandma's was before her. Pots and pans in a lower cupboard next to the stove, glasses in a cupboard next the sink, plates, bowls, etc. by the dishwasher. Flatware is in a drawer next to the dishwasher. Spices are by the stove, dry goods on either side of the frig. Specialty cookware that doesn't get used that often or are large in size (slow cooker, rice cooker, food processor, stand mixer, etc.), are in the walk-in pantry that is in the hallway next to the kitchen. I like clear counters, so the only thing left out is the coffee maker, a crock full of wooden spoons by the stove, salt & pepper (and I have pretty generous counter space!).

I can cook easily in the sister's kitchen, since her's is set up the same way, like Mom's! Completely lost in my sister-in-law's kitchen, her's is set up like her Mom's, and I cannot find a thing. I automatically reach for a glass in the cupboard by the sink, only to find mixing bowls. SIL keeps her glassware by the frig.

Work Pot Luck

Are those with the dietary restrictions the majority, like over 50% of the people, or more like 4 out of 30? If it is just a small number, I agree with @breezycooking, make whatever you want!

If it is the majority of the people, you could do a pulled bbq chicken in a slow cooker. Use a halal chicken. Serve with pulled chicken with buns, the celiacs will just forego the bun.

If you are looking for a salad, here is one of my favorites. I take it to a lot of potlucks, and it goes over very well. I also take to picnics where there are not restrictions, and it goes over there, too!

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen?

Was chatting with co-workers last week, and was surprised at how many (north of 75%) did not have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen, or by their outdoor grill.

I have always keep two handy, one under the kitchen sink, and one near the outdoor grill. I also make sure they are charged and not expired.

I have only used one once, thankfully. My neighbor's turkey deep fryer boiled over and caught fire, and I grabbed my fire extinguisher out of the garage and ran over and put the fire out. Afterward, he went to the hardware store and bought several.

Anyone serve punch anymore? Recipes?

I have recently inherited my grandma's circa 1920 punch bowl with 10 cups and a ladle. It is very art deco, absolutely beautiful (yet funky - just like Grams was), and weighs a ton!

I want to bring it out for Easter and serve something fabulous in it. Any suggestions? Can be non-alcoholic, but Grams like a kick to her punch, so I am sure she spiked hers. I only remember this because us kids could drink the punch from the bowl!

Anyone else over the love affair with all things Asian-inspired?

Is it just me?

I like Asian-influenced food as much as the next person, but I have grown weary of all the attention, restaurant reviews, and recipes that took over the SE site in 2013, and 2014 seems like more of the same.

I know, I can visit other SE categories (pizza, etc.), but Asian-influenced flavors are creeping up there, too.

Why do grocery store cashiers 'throw' my food?

Every time I go to the grocery store, be it national chain or local 'Mom and Pop,' I get steamed. The person checking me out will scan my products and with a flick of the wrist, toss my products onto the conveyor belt to the waiting bagger. The bagger will then drop my products into a bag. Whenever the checker scans eggs, I always tell them "Don't toss the eggs, they will break."

Do grocery stores actually teach this 'flick and toss' method? I am spending hard earned money for these items, and do not want my items tossed onto a conveyor belt! Especially if I have spent time picking produce only to have them bruised by the tossing and then dropping into bags.

Any checkers or baggers want to shed light on this? Is this part of the training?

Halloween Pumpkin Carving and Seeds - What do you do?

I like to carve happy faces in my pumpkins and then roast the seeds simply tossed in a little oil and salt. After Halloween, I will pick up a bunch of pumpkins on the cheap just to get more seeds!

Do you have this problem with Jack-o-lanterns in your area, too?

Bloody Mary Garnishes for Kentucky Derby Brunch

I am hosting a Kentucky Derby brunch this year. While Mint Juleps are classic (but in my mind, a waste of good bourbon), I want to do a Bloody Mary bar. I am going to do pitchers of my special Bloody Mary mix, bottles of vodka, and a variety of garnishes for guests mix their own drinks and select their own garnishes.

I am a Bloody Mary purist, I like just a celery stick garnish. My sister, she will add as many garnishes as a swizzle stick or two will hold.

What are your favorite Bloody Mary garnishes? I want to provide a variety of garnishes for my guests.

Cold Cereal - Favorites from Youth, Favorites Now

I love cereal. I eat cold cereal for breakfast on occasion, but mostly eat it for a late day snack.

Growing up, Mom always cooked a hot breakfast before we went to school -- eggs, pancakes, etc., oatmeal, or my favorite, Cream of Wheat, always served with some kind of fruit. Cold cereal was a rare treat on Saturday mornings. My favorites among the rare childhood cereals were Quisp, Rice Krispies, and Grape Nuts. I also remember being super excited when Cap-N-Crunch made an appearance!

Some cereals as an adult I loved were Raisin Squares (no longer available), and Olympic Cheerios, on available during Olympic years.

Now I eat Total Raisin Bran (which I prefer over Post Raisin Bran), Honey Nut Cheerios, and still like Rice Krispies.

What are your favorites from childhood, and what are your favorites now?

Anyone have any luck growing herbs indoors?

I have a nice herb garden in the summer, but I am not having much luck growing herbs indoors in the winter. I have tried everything from buying established plants to trying to grow them from seed. I have more luck with the seed, but can never get a plant established enough where I can actually cut and use the herbs.

Do you have any luck, and how do you grow them? What herbs will grow indoors with some success?

How do you save money at the grocery store? Coupons?

Last week I took my Mother for a doctor appointment and while in the waiting room, saw an episode of Extreme Couponing. Sure, the people saved money, but I do not need 50 boxes of laundry detergent!

I do not use too many coupons, generally the coupons I find are not for items/brands I usually use. I tend to go for in-store specials, 10 for $10, that sort of thing. I also look at the Manager Special section of the meat department, the meat that is nearing expiration, that I will cook within a day (I stay away from the poultry, though). I also buy seasonal produce to save money.

What do you do to save money at the grocery store?

Hometown food cravings while home for the holidays

I am flying to my home state of Michigan tomorrow for Christmas. Whenever I fly home from my current location (which I love) Colorado, I start drooling over childhood eats I cannot find here and plan on indulging in and just cannot duplicate at home. Here is my list:

Yes, I am going there, White Castle hamburgers
Kowalski natural casing franks
Alexander Hornung Smoked Liversausage
Buddy's or Louis' pizza
Elaine's Bagels
Vernor's Ginger Ale (and maybe some Faygo Red Pop)

Where are you going and what childhood, local foods are you planning on indulging in?

Exploding food and the aftermath

My first experience with exploding food was years ago with a can of frozen orange juice concentrate. I placed it in the sink to thaw, and left several hours. I returned home and noticed dried bits of 'stuff' adhered to my upper cabinets. Traced the source to the now blown apart can of concentrate. To hours to clean the dried bits of pulp off about 70% of my cabinets, the ceiling, etc.

Two years ago my sister hosted Thanksgiving dinner. She wrapped the excess stuffing in a foil packet and placed it in the oven with the turkey. Unfortunately, she wrapped the packet too tight and about an hour before the turkey was done, her oven door blew open sending steaming hot bits of stuffing all around her kitchen - floor, cabinets, windows, everywhere. Luckily, no was in the kitchen at the time, including the dog!

I just had a bottle of red wine explode on me, an spent a while cleaning up. Have any similar stories to let me know I am not alone?

Advice on how to hard boil eggs at high altitude

I just moved to a city that is 5400+ feet above sea level. I like to have a supply of hard boiled eggs in the frig for a quick source of protein (I pop out the yolks) on mornings where a fast bowl of cereal is all I can muster. I have gone through about 3 dozen eggs in the past few days experimenting with cooking times. My eggs are either too soft, extremely hard to peel, cracked with the whites leaking out, or so over-done they are inedible.

I have read a lot on the internet about high altitude cooking, but would rather have some tips from people who actually cook at high altitudes!

Do buy whole chicken and cut it into pieces yourself?

Don't know why, but I am always surprised at the number of people I know that do not cut up their own whole chicken. Most do not know how and some are afraid of handling raw poultry. They buy pre-cut chickens instead. I am not talking about buying a package of just chicken thighs or breasts, but a pre-cut chicken with breasts, wings, legs, thighs.

Mom taught us kids how to cut up a whole chicken when we were wee little kitchen helpers. We can all cleanly dispatch a chicken in no time. Plus, we can save backs and wing tips for stock, and the neck/gizzards/livers for another use.

So, I am curious, do you cut up your own whole chicken?

What to look for in a wine steward?

I have just recently started to appreciate wine. I would like to build a relationship with one of the local wine shop stewards to aid me in my exploration of wine, but how do I go about it? What questions should a good wine steward ask? What questions should I ask of the steward?

I will tell you that my favorite wine is Ladoucette Pouilly Fume. But at almost $40 a bottle, it is not always in my budget, and I try to support US companies as often as I can. Should I start by telling the steward this?

Any guidance is truly appreciated!

PBS "Create" Channel - new or just recent in my area?

Anyone else getting the PBS "Create" channel? I live in Michigan and came across the Create channel several months back. It broadcasts all day long the home/cooking/travel shows that used to be only broadcast on Saturdays in my area. My local area broadcasts some favorites like Jacque & Julia, Lidia Bastianich., Ming Tsai, Sara Moultan, America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Country (which I love - I am a recipe tester for both), Joan Weir, etc. If anyone is looking for these shows (as an option to FN), check it out Create if you haven't already!

Now - it only they would broadcast in High Def!

Do you have paczki on in your part of the country?

Mmmmm, Polish paczki (pronounced poonch-key) -- my ultimate Fat Tuesday treat. Paczki are jelly donuts taken to the extreme. They are larger and with a heavier dough than a normal donut, traditionally filled with prune, raspberry, or strawberry jam, and glazed.

I live in Michigan in an area with a large Polish-American population and paczki have always been a part of the Fat Tuesday tradition for me (and I am neither Polish or Catholic)! Around here, everyone is Polish on Fat Tuesday and eats paczki, just like everyone is Irish on St. Pat's Day. I was surprised the first time I was out-of-town on Fat Tuesday and no one there ever heard of them!

So you enjoy paczki in your part of the world, and where do you hail from?

Help from diabetics, newbie getting overwhelmed by diet/info

My 77-year-old Mother has recently been diagnosted with diebetes. Fortunately, she is not on insulin (only glucose pills), and I am taking care of her and her nutritional needs. I am attending diabetic classes in two weeks and am trying my hardest to meet her 60 grams of carbs (plus protein, fats, etc.) per meal guidelines hoping to keep her on the tablets rather than insulin.

My greatest challenge is making sure the carbs are met without having her eat volumes of food, or foods that are high in carbs but also sugar (like fruit juice), or foods that are high in carbs but also fiber, that negate the carbs.

There is so much information on the internet and in the library and from the doctors regarding the diabetic diet that I am getting overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions on foods that will help me get through the next few weeks that are high in carbs but low on volume that could help me narrow my research? Any help is greatly appreciated.

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