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annatr

  • Location: Boston
  • Favorite foods: Anything (vegetarian) that's brutally spicy, offensively stinky, or burnt beyond recognition.

Carrot cake

I wouldn't do that, as I think even regular shredded carrots are too dry. I prefer the Silver Palate method, which involves cooking the carrots first and then running them through the food processor--makes for a very moist cake!

Serious Exercise for Serious Eaters

One thing I would highly recommend is to find someone with whom to exercise, no matter what kind of exercise you are doing. It helps if that person is more motivated than you are. I've found that it's very easy to convince myself, alone, that oh, I can really skip the gym today. But if someone else is expecting to meet me there, I'm significantly less likely to give myself a pass. Being a self-motivator is great, but sometimes a person needs a swift kick in the pants.

learning to like beets?

Depends on what your problem with the beets is. If it's not the earthiness, then: roast, in foil; peel, dice, mix with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary (a must) and thyme. Something about beets and rosemary just works. It is pretty earthy though. Goat's cheese works fine with this if you feel like it, but I'm personally a little sick of the beets-and-goat-cheese pairing.

If it's not the earthiness, then go the citrus route. I would still recommend roasting, just for the simplicity. Boiling is kind of...wrong, and frankly, whose countertops like grating? You could roast them, cool, then mix with lemon juice, oranges, grapefruit...

Famous people, famous food quotes

No love for the gun/cannoli dilemma?

MacGyver cooking tips?

I have found that you can really open anything with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Wine bottle? Absolutely. Can of soup? Sure, just watch out for jagged edges. Note: this is not usually a necessary technique, but can come in handy if you've just moved and can find your toolbox but not all your kitchen supplies. Or if you're an impoverished (and disorganized) grad student.

Too many cooks spoil the pot.

Ugh, I get so annoyed when someone tries to interfere with my cooking. And I guess I make that clear enough that it hardly ever happens! There are some good strategies to preempt the problem, though (which is always better than having to try to fix it once it's happened!). For one thing, you can make sure that there are designated items on which people can nibble. They're not going to eat all your ingredients if there's an appetizer tray sitting in front of them! For another, think in advance about specified tasks with which people can busy themselves--tasks they can't really screw up too badly. Have those tasks ready to go when they arrive and then get back to what you're doing.

It also helps to have a tiny kitchen, this is true. However, some people will still try to jam themselves into said tiny kitchen and get in your way. So whether you have a large or small kitchen, try to arrange things so that there's at least a little bit of seating in or near where you're cooking--and set the appetizers there. I think that for some guests it's not even necessarily about wanting to take over the kitchen, but simply that they've just arrived and are eager to chat. Seating and snacks will allow them to do that without interfering with your process.

Quiznos vs. Subway: Toasted Sub Showdown

I prefer Subway, but with certain caveats. A cold Veggie Delight made in the basic way is, frankly, not that great. But I use the following procedure: always Honey Oat bread; the plain wheat is kind of nasty, if you ask me. Also, I ask them to use spinach (they keep it around for salads, not subs, but I've never had anyone say no to this request) instead of iceberg lettuce (tends to ruin a sandwich. Next, I always have them put on the cheese, then the spinach, and then toast it before adding any other ingredients. This way the spinach wilts a little so the sandwich does not get unmanageably tall. Then all the vegetables. All of them. Then finally spicy mustard at the end. (I once made the mistake of forgetting to have them toast the sandwich until the end, and um, toasted mustard is not so nice.)

And a few people have commented about the relative lack of protein on a Subway sandwich: what I do if I'm going to be eating the sandwich at home is to pull it back open before consuming and then add either some better-quality, more substantial slices of cheese--and then retoast in my toaster oven to make sure it melts--or a few spoonfuls of hummus.

As you can probably tell, it has taken me some time to figure out all of these specifications. But if these steps are followed, yeah, Subway wins. Quiznos I don't really think is redeemable--especially for someone like me who is obviously just a *little* bit of a control freak. Ahem.

I need suggestions for new and different raw veggies to munch on

Someone mention rhubarb upthread, and I just wanted to mention that from what I've heard, it's poisonous raw. Have I been misinformed?

"Eyeballing" your cooking

Same answer here as a number of you: I never measure when cooking, and I'm more likely to measure when baking. There are some baking recipes, though, that I either have memorized or feel comfortable changing once I understand how the ratio is working. With bread dough I just pretty much know what it's supposed to look like, although I do make sure I at least have some idea of how much flour I have in the bowl so I don't incorrectly estimate the quantity of yeast I'll need.

Not going to claim this works out 100% of the time, but then again I don't think recipes work 100% of the time either--and I probably learn more this way.

Wedding Cake Help

I also highly recommend the wedding cake recipe/tutorial on Smitten Kitchen. I used it to make a three-tiered cake and the whole process was a delight--no major hitches, very successful result. The only thing I will say about that recipe is that you may want to either a) make a slightly larger batch of buttercream frosting or b) consider fondant (although, um, yuck), because made according to the directions, I had to disguise some areas on the cake where the frosting was really way too thin.

Which is your favorite meal?

By far, dinner. The end of the day is the time when I tend to be most relaxed, and I can enjoy eating so much more when I'm relaxed. Plus, I have so much more time to put into the preparation. Breakfast is usually eaten at work, so it can't be anything complicated or interesting; I'm not much of a lunch person, although I do usually have something small in the afternoon--but again, it's more a matter of satisfying hunger than enjoying a meal.

HELP!!! Cream Cheese Icing Falling off my cake

Sounds like it could be a temperature issue; make sure the cake is adequately cooled before icing (and make sure the icing is adequately cooled too). Could also mean the icing is too oily--you could try mixing in more confectioners' sugar.

Emotional Eating: Strange Cravings when you're ANGRY!

Wine. I can't eat when I'm angry.

Memphis recommendations?

Saigon Le is absolutely my favorite for Vietnamese. Whenever I go home to Memphis, getting takeout from there is my no. 1 priority.

Also seconding @dbrackst: I'm not a meat-eater, but all my local friends who are tell me that Corky's is totally overrated.

The Beauty Shop is fun for brunch if you're into a fun, kitschy atmosphere.

And I love the Cupboard for Southern-style fare: it's a great spot for a lunch of sweet tea and meat-and-three (or, in my case, veg plate). Can't go wrong with their Italian spinach, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, baked apples, spiced beets, corn muffins, yeast rolls, and (I hear) chicken-fried steak. (If you do go, though, listen to my recs as far as the vegetables go...a few other things I've tried have been less than stellar.) What I totally love about the Cupboard is the old-school, down-home vibe; they get a really varied clientele and everyone's friendly.

One generalization I'd make about Memphis cuisine is that you're better off sticking with ethnic or Southern cooking. Yes, there are some good "fancy" places, but to me it's not the best city for spending lots of money on supposedly fine dining.

Washington D.C. Best Restaurant/Best Birthday Dinner Spot?

My vote would be for Cafe Atlantico.

need vegetarian menu for meat eaters

What's the weather like where you are? If it's still temperate, you might try something in the stew realm: I've had good luck serving West African groundnut stew (Moosewood recipe, tweaked) to meat eaters; vegetarian chili can also work well, as can Brazilian black bean soup/stew, or even just a really good beans-and-rice dish. If it's more summery, you may want to avoid things so warm and heavy. You could try a Middle Eastern spread--hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, and so on. A make-your-own burrito bar could also be fun: just warm up some tortillas, cook some black or pinto beans, and make other obvious accoutrements available. Or go Asian and do a vegetable stir-fry; if your family really is scared of tofu, you could add nuts (as is or as sauce) to up the protein. If you do Asian, you could also have people make their own summer rolls--really quite easy, and very fun.

Whatever you do, I'd recommend not trying to substitute for meat. In my opinion, the main reason non-vegetarians think they hate vegetarian food is that the only vegetarian food they've been exposed to tries--and inevitably fails, often miserably--to mimic non-vegetarian food.

Ethical Dilemma: Blogging about bugs

If they were truly horrified, that indicates to me that it was probably an anomaly; plus, they comped your meal, which further suggests that they were appalled at the incident and that they value your business. I'd say, especially given that it's a small establishment, that the right thing to do would be to hold your tongue--unless you hear of or experience similar problems at the restaurant in the future. Surely nasty things happen in all kitchens at least occasionally.

I make better _____ than _____.

I make better CalmTheHellDown sauce than @truthman2008.

Costco and Big Box stores for food: way or no way?

Like some of the other posters, I appreciate certain aspects of big-box stores, but I'll confess to being a bit terrified by them. They make me feel like I'm one of the kids in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids," and not in a good way.

One thing that I do *highly* recommend looking into at Costco is yeast! If you're even a semi-regular baker, it's so worth buying a box of yeast--it costs under $5, I think, for probably 100x the quantity of those stupid packets. Even if you don't end up using the whole thing, you'll still save a ridiculous amount of money.

quiche making suggestions

Mushrooms would be good. Frankly, if it were I, I'd skip the tomato, though--too much soggifying potential. How about asparagus, mushrooms, onions or shallots, and fresh thyme?

What Do Fiddleheads Taste Like?

I have to say, I don't really think fiddleheads taste like asparagus that much at all, although there is a textural similarity, at least in the stem part of the fern. To me, they taste like grass, but not in a bad way; or maybe I should just say they taste like greenness. They appeal to me much more for their appearance and texture than for their taste...

"fix" an unripe avocado?

The paper bag with banana works, and in my experience takes overnight, not multiple days. So yeah, ripening them this way won't give you an instant result, but will definitely speed up the process, and will give you *good* results. If you're really in a pinch, yeah, you can nuke them, but in my experience this can result in an unevenly "ripe" avocado, and the flavor won't necessarily be all that it could be. Personally, I believe that unless you can wait the day or so it will take to truly ripen them (paper bag method or whatever), waiting is worth it.

Fiddleheads

I've heard that if fiddleheads aren't thoroughly cooked for at least ten minutes, they can be dangerous to eat. Anyone else heard this? Is it true?

You can only eat one type of cheese for the rest of your life...

I'm going to go with sharp cheddar. It's not my favorite in all contexts, but its versatility gives it the win in my book. Can be melted in a sandwich, eaten straight or on a cracker, thrown in a salad, grated on pasta, and so on.

What to do with abundance of baby salad greens?

Quiche? Frittata? Thrown on pizza? Briefly sauteed? All together in a pesto?

Grappa serving suggestions

A friend recently brought me a nice (I think) bottle of grappa from Italy, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm not in love with it straight (although I don't hate it), so I'm wondering if anyone can think of ways I could perhaps use it in a cocktail? Or maybe just ways I should be serving it to improve the experience--alongside what foods? at what temperature? The only restriction is that I'm *not* interested in dessert applications at all. Thanks!

Searching for a Long-Lost Cheese

Years ago, I tasted what remains one of my favorite cheeses I've ever sampled, but I don't know the name of it. This was at Jaleo, in DC, c. 2001 or 2002. The cheese was served with a fig spread and small toasts. I don't know if it's was made from goat's milk, cow's milk, or anything. The texture was intriguing: creamy, spreadable, but with a nice element of grittiness or chalkiness. The taste was nutty, and though it wasn't a stinky cheese it wasn't a sweet or neutral thing either. That's about the best I can do description-wise. Does anyone remember this particular plate at Jaleo, or have any ideas about what that elusive, beautiful cheese might have been? I just checked the Jaleo menu online and none of the cheeses are ringing a bell, but maybe I'm missing something.

Worst Sandwich You've Ever Had

Mine would have to be the sandwich my grandparents used to eat for lunch on a regular basis: iceberg lettuce and tons of majo on squishy white bread. That was it.

There was also the great PB/amba/tomato/marmite debacle of '06. Eesh.

How much salt is too much salt?

I've noticed recently that when I see Food Network chefs seasoning their food, they routinely use an amount of salt that looks really extreme to me--every millimeter of a dish covered. I know that salting is a matter of personal taste, but the dishes they prepare would turn me into a raisin in no time. Have others noticed this, or am I being salt-phobic? (For the record, I do not consciously avoid salt for health reasons or anything.) And if it's not just me, what are these guys up to?

Boston CSAs?

I'd like to begin using a CSA, but since none of my friends in the area do so, I'm not sure where to go. I'm in the Cambridge area and don't drive much. Has anyone around here had a good experience with a CSA? Thanks!

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