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.

Latest Comments

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!


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