I love good food and love to cook (especially fresh and local). Schooled in the ways of Cooks Illustrated and Alton Brown, I've traveled the world to study local culture and cuisine. Facebook: and Twitter @agoodcooker

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  • Location: Whidbey Island, WA
  • Favorite foods: Thai, Japanese, fresh and local
  • Last bite on earth: One more bite of a sweet and spicy squid dish I had at a little place in Volcano, HI...alas, the restaurant is no longer there but the food was so good I had the same thing two nights in a row!

We Try New Lay's Canada Chips Flavors: Garlic Caesar, Maple Moose, Grilled Cheese, and Perogy

I bought all of these a few weeks ago when I was up in Vancouver so I could taste test with friends. The Grilled Cheese and Ketchup one was the hands-down favorite (and I don't even like potato chips very much), but the Maple Moose had an oddly burnt flavor and was declared "yucky" by everyone.

What are your Essential Kitchen Items?

I would be lost without my kitchen scale. I use it constantly. That and the coffee pot would be my priorities...

You favorite easy dinner

Breakfast for dinner is my go-to easy dinner. Spam or Portuguese sausage, eggs, and rice is our favorite. OR, Mark Bittman's spaghetti and eggs. That one is easy and delicious! (We have our own chickens, so there are always eggs at the ready).

Seasoning Salt on Your Burger

@AcaciaWildwood I also use it on homefries - it's a crave thing, I think.

Are you an onion crier?

Nope...but I can't get the smell off my skin (for days) so I wear rubber gloves. Forget lemon, salt, stainless steel, toothpaste...nothing works.

Seasoning Salt on Your Burger

I happen to like Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning (Spicy, please). But I tend to put little else on my bun other than the well seasoned meat.

Do you have food allergies?

Nuts and peanuts...raw onion and sometimes eggs. I eat nuts very, very rarely and suffer the consequences. Raw onions - I avoid like the plague. I hate getting a surprise one in a dish. As soon as I feel the crunch, I know I am screwed and will be sick for a couple days. Eggs...I do ok with free-range for some reason. Won't eat them in a restaurant - I get egg beaters instead.

Dinner tonight (4/23/2012)? Make anything good?

Beef stew (with local, free range beef) seasoned with red wine, sweet paprika, and sage! Delicious!! Will be even better tomorrow for lunch, I imagine.

"Copout" ingredients...."crutches"

Ahhh, are very punny!

Real Japanese Tempura

My favorite recipe comes from a cookbook I bought in Japan. I made it for my Japanese friend and she said it was perfect and authentic. It uses: 1 egg, 1/2c ice water, 1 3/4 oz flour, 1 oz cornstarch. Combine egg with water. Combine flour with corn starch. Add flour mixture to liquid and mix lightly. lightly coat vegetables, fish, shrimp with additional flour and coat with batter. Fry in 350degree oil.

"Copout" ingredients...."crutches"

My particular crutch, if you will, is bullion cubes...if a dish is lacking I might drop one in.

As far as your question...I hate when a dish is topped with all kinds of sauces - I want to taste the dish maybe enhanced by a sauce - and not taste only sauce. Everything does not have to have a sauce on or under!


@annzee The linked recipe also calls for more flour, more water, but less yeast. (and the same amount of olive oil). I don't know why, because it is the same people. The ratios I wrote (above) are what I have been using...and it works well for me! I've made three batches and never have been disappointed.


Speaking of pizza, I have to add that to my bucket list - learning to throw pizza dough! My pizzas have the weirdest amoeba shapes.


Yep! That's pretty much it - the amounts are a little different in the book but the proportions seem close. I'm not even kidding - this dough it the best - perfect elasticity and the flavor is amazing. (The book uses 2.75c water, 1.5T yeast, 1.5T salt, 1T sugar, .25c olive oil, 6.5 flour) As a matter of fact, EVERYTHING I've made from the book has been perfect - and I'm baking impaired. (haha)


@lux_lisbon Doh! It was a little late when I wrote that. The olive oil dough recipe is from a cookbook...isn't it a copyright violation to put it on here?


I'm not sure where I got the recipe. Cook's Illustrated, maybe? I'll look in the morning. It's quite a long process...involving (along with the aforementioned pump) a wire hanger and an electric fan! I'm glad no one came into my house when the duck was hanging from the middle of the kitchen ceiling overnight dripping on newspapers on the floor.

cleaning a grill pan

@bleu - oh! I just saw your comment. Great minds...

cleaning a grill pan

I love Dawn Power Dissolver Foam. It even gets baked on crud off my cookie sheets. It's supposedly safe for all types of cookware (although I've had a hard time finding it lately)


For @annzee and @lux_lisbon - I've recently been making the pizza dough (and other breads) from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." The olive oil dough is second to none. In my opinion, it's better than any pizzeria crust and certainly better than anything I ever made before.


I recently had this conversation with my husband! Here are a few from my list in no particular order.

1. Homemade pasta
2. Pozole
3. Jam/jelly
4. I also want to learn to can

(PS - @Maggie Hoffman - I made real Peking duck once - bicycle pump and all - and it was one of the best dishes I have ever had/made!)

Sandwiched: Monte Cristo

Ingredients are on my grocery list...can't wait!

Judging a restaurant by its....?

Judging a restaurant by its....?

Cleanliness - without a doubt. I've walked out of more than one place because it was filthy (as was said about, a dirty bathroom = a dirty kitchen)

Poll: How do you like your fries?

Fresh cut, piping hot, malt vinegar and salt - none other.

What to do with a ham bone, no beans or peas please?

I make German green beans (assuming you were strictly talking about dried beans), potatoes, and ham. Delicious and simple. (Make the stock, rescue any ham bits. Simmer 1" chunks of unpeeled russet potatoes and green beans in the stock. Add the ham back in and serve.)

Sage advice

I can't find who said or where I read (on SE) to garnish food with fried sage leaves, so this is a general THANKS for the advice. I made my usual beef stew tonight but braised the beef with sweet paprika, fresh sage, and red wine instead (the flavor of the meat was to die for). Then, on a whim, I fried a couple dozen fresh sage leaves in 1/2T olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to finish. I ate a few before they even made it to the stew! Sooo good! I will be doing this again... (the residual oil is delicious too)

Speaking of knives...(and fish help)

Now that I live back out here in Washington State, my family frequently brings me whole salmon. I really need to buy a good fillet knife and learn how to prep a whole fish. It's not very pretty right now. What's a good way to learn how to do this (fillet, etc.)...


Infinite expiration dates

I recently read an article (I hope it wasn't here) about ingredients that never go bad. I can't find it now but remember salt was one of the few items on the list - and I think corn syrup. I ask because I have a jar of cream of tartar I probably got as a wedding gift some 23 years ago. I can't find any information about how long it lasts. And, I think dried legumes last forever too. What other items in your pantry have infinite expiration dates?

I can't believe I used to eat THAT!

I was in the gas station today and saw a jar of bright red pickled "Hot Mama" sausages on the counter. I can't BELIEVE I used to eat those...

What did you eat in your younger/dumber days that absolutely appalls you now?


I suppose I am the last one to "find" aioli and imagine the uses are endless. What do you use it for and what is your favorite flavor? (I'm making breaded chicken topped with a lemon/taragon blend tonight)

Posole recipe

I had the most delicious posole served with lime wedges, fresh oregano, cilantro and thinly sliced onions and jalapeños every Sunday morning at the Old Town Mexican Cafe Restaurant in San Diego and would love to make some myself. I don't know where to find a good, authentic recipe though. After beating my head against the wall, I decided to ask here. Help!


Do you cook with it? How?
And, along those do you use Herbes de Provence (with or without lavender)?

Cast Iron

To segue off the dutch oven conversation...In the world of stainless steel, non-stick and aluminum...who prefers to use a plain old cast iron skillet and for what?

I have to give a shout-out for my ancient 11.5" cast iron skillet handed down to me from my grandmother (have her 8" and a little 5" too but don't use them often). It has to be at least 80 years old and still is my go to for many things (like last night's Bifteck Sautee Marchand de Vins).

I know it was already discussed a bit here...(good article, by the way)

Silly Question - cut or burn

I've often heard cooks/chefs either regularly cut or burn themselves when cooking. I'm wondering which you are...

Despite the fact I cut off the tip of my right hand middle finger with my Japanese Benriner Mandolin (OWIE!), I appear to burn myself more often than not (although I have little sensitivity in my fingertips anymore - it freaks my daughter out when I touch or turn over super hot stuff while cooking)

Are crockpots a crock?

I have never understood the charm of crockpot cooking. I've never used one and had the dish turn out to be even satisfactory. I have tried countless times and countless recipes but always end up disappointed by the flavor. I feel crockpots cook the life out of whatever I put in them. Does anyone else feel this way?


Last night I experimented with cinnamon on my broiled pork chops and it was delicious! I can't believe I lived this long without using cinnamon in savory cooking. I combined 2T oil (I used canola but am sure olive would work too), 2t kosher salt, 2t fresh ground black pepper, 1t garlic powder and 1t cinnamon and rubbed it on five bone-in pork chops and let sit for an hour before broiling.
My question is...What other dishes to you sneak cinnamon into (aside from baking).

Vinaigrette tip

I was making a balsamic vinaigrette last night to put on my steamed broccoli and thought to grab my aerolatte milk frother instead of partaking in the tedious process of continuously whisking while slowly drizzling the olive oil. It worked like a CHAMP and my emulsion was complete (and stayed combined) in mere seconds. Not only does it make wicked good frothed milk, but it also makes a mean vinaigrette!

Impending Oscars: Favorite Food Movie, please

I know there are a bunch of great ones out there. The movie does not have to be food themed necessarily but perhaps has a strong epicurean element. I've seen list after list and think I've watched most of the good ones (less Tampopo and Big Night which I've heard are delicious to watch) but am looking for suggestions. PS - As much as I love the eye candy that is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I - for some reason - can't think of it as a food movie...PPS - My favorites are Eat Drink Man Woman and Babette's Feast...and I love to watch Paul slice garlic in Goodfellas

To blog or not to blog...that is MY question

I love food and I love to write...thus, I love to write about food. I've tried the blog thing for about a year to satiate my desire to write about food but apparently don't know how to get anyone to read it but a few loyal friends and family (yes, yes, I have/had visions of Julia & Julia dancing in my head). Since food blogs are a dime a baker's dozen, why should I keep writing? My love of reading my own writing is not quite enough anymore (Does that sound vain? I don't mean to be.) If I, in my own little mind, think I have something important to say, how can I better share it with the world - or at least a tiny corner of it?

Stupefied in Seattle (close enough, anyway)

Sandwiched: Monte Cristo

I can never make up my mind between savory and sweet, particularly before noon. Pancakes? Eggs? Waffles? Bagel and lox? I just don't know. Once in a while I strike gold and find a Monte Cristo and all my troubles and uncertainties are resolved: filled with ham or turkey and cheese, fried à la French toast, served with red currant jelly (though I like to drown mine in maple syrup if it's handy, too). The best of both flavor worlds. More

Scooped: Prosecco, Lemon, and Ginger Granita

I often hear people lament their inability to make frozen desserts for lack of equipment. But nothing's quite as satisfying as pulling dessert out of the freezer at the end of a long meal—nodding, yes, it is homemade. For these occasions, we have granita, one of the easiest and most elegant desserts ever made. The ingredients couldn't be simpler, the technique no more elementary. And they wake up the palate like nothing else. No ice cream maker required. More