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arjava

Light and Fluffy Pancakes

I just tried this recipe and it turned out great. Made my own "buttermilk" with milk and vinegar, and added a little vanilla, just for fun. They turned out very light and fluffy, picture perfect.

I had just bought new baking powder and baking soda, so if your panners don't rise, that is probably the problem.

Grocery Girl: The Private Label Conundrum

What does "we pioneer ourselves" mean? I don't understand that phrase.

Grocery Girl: Salad Bars Make Me Happy

How does your "great New York grocery store" feel about you telling everyone that the "pre-packed salad" has "the greens going a little limp, the chicken dry as cotton"?

I was never all that enamored with Served, but this new column is dead air.

We Tried Ben and Jerry's New Schweddy Balls Flavor

"Give me a sandwich and a douchebag and there's nothing I cannot do!" I hope SNL never stops "dumbing down".

Served: Is Cheese Good for You?

I decided to give your column another try and got as far as "It's usually older customers....", and quit. Where I am, it's the young girls who are whining, "Do you have any fat free triple cream brie?" or "Why does this ribeye have so much fa-a-at on it? Don't you have any steaks without fat?" Then they bitch about it being tough and flavorless when they overcook it.

The Pioneer Woman's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

@CarrieV - Can you explain how, specifically, my first comment was so "unnecessarily negative" that you felt the need to single it out? I did my due diligence by looking at the woman's site, and I commented on it. So did a lot of your other readers.

The Pioneer Woman's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

@ Carrie V - Frankly, there are a lot of more critical posts in this thread about PW and SE, so I don't know why you singled me out. But if you're going to excuse coverage of a mediocre blog and reality TV personality by saying it appeals to your audience (your words, not mine) then, yes, you should interview other reality TV personalities that appeal to your audience as well. I never said ALL of them. I just pointed out that it's unusual for SE to spend ANY time interviewing or promoting reality TV food personalities. But if that's the way SE wants to go, for whatever reason, I'm sure those of us who prefer non-reality TV based content will somehow survive.
I don't care what SE does - it's Ed's baby and he calls the shots. I'll be disappointed for the two seconds it takes to remove your bookmark and replace it with a better one.

The Pioneer Woman's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

@Carrie Vasios - I did take a long look at "this very thread" before I posted, so yes, I can see she appeals to some. So I assume you'll be promoting and interviewing Guy Fieri, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen soon as well? They have fans here too and you wouldn't want to come off looking biased towards PW, would you?

The slippery downward slope towards mediocrity starts with the promotion of branded personalities over education and substance. You can make a star out of just about anyone if you throw enough money at them. That's the road FN chose - I guess it all depends on who SE is interested in keeping as their audience.

May I suggest a new blog...."Tablescaped". First article features cow patty centerpieces made of butter, with wrist band, hair gel and Underberg swag bags.

The Pioneer Woman's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

Two glowing articles within five days for a new FN reality TV show sounds like pimping to me. I didn't bother reading the first one, and ignored the second until I saw how many comments it elicited. That made me curious enough to visit the PW site. What I saw was a dump and stir cook who wants to be famous and has enough money to hire people to make that happen. I don't think I'm alone in feeling that SE is better than that. Or should be. I'm all for building relationships, collaborations and networking, but I thought SE was more about food and less about promoting branded personalities.

Sandra Lee is routinely served up as the queen of crap cooking on SE, but I've never seen Aunt Sandy make a cake with nothing but flour, sugar and fruit cocktail in syrup. (She does have some Cocktail Time recipes that use it though.)

Call me a jellus h8tr, but it's really disappointing to see SE following in FN's footsteps and dumbing down content to appeal to...whom?

The Pioneer Woman's Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

I've never heard of this woman before FN and SE started pimping her show, so I couldn't comment without checking her blog first. Yeah, that picture of her kid with his finger stuck halfway up his nose was real appetizing. I know, he's a kid, but it still isn't something I want to see on what's supposed to be a food site.

Juvenile writing, recipes that have been done to death, hundreds of meaningless pictures with trite captions, fake feel throughout.

Looks like some marketing agency interns were assigned to search the internet for the "next big thing" in food television.

I used to love FN and now it's a faded memory for me. SE is unfortunately following suit by promoting this sort of drivel.

Baltimore: As Good as Greek Pies Get at Matthew's Pizza

Mr. Arjava used to bring Matthew's pepperoni pizza home for dinner when we lived in Bawlmer. We always enjoyed it with a nice beer from Sem Lem.

Served: The Last (and First) Meal

So he was making this incredible dinner AND cooking for the restaurant too? Who is he, Batman? Come on.

Served: What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

I've had several careers including elementary school teacher, owner of two franchises, and project manager in both aerospace and biotechnology. I'm semi-retired now and eyeing yet another career.

Don't take offense by this, but stop referring to your Ivy League education, especially in the workplace. I've got my own advanced degrees from prestigious universities, as well as memberships in a couple of invitation-only intellectual forums. I've worked with people who have discovered major medical advancements, mathematical formulas, you get the idea. Nobody brings up where they went to school - it's considered pretty douchey. Your peers aren't impressed and the people you manage will just think you're a snotty, spoiled rich kid who likes to flaunt her privileged life.

None of that may be true, but trust me. No one likes a braggart. Let your excellence speak for you.

Good luck (sincerely) on your new endeavors.

Chopped

I agree with philandlauren - I don't care for the "and for the dessert round, you have puff pastry, alpine strawberries, creme fraiche and... natto!" I still watch it though, so I know I'm a hypocrite.

Trading Gas for Electric

I live in an apartment with a cheap crappy electric stove - I used to have a nice gas cooktop and double oven. It takes a while to adjust, but the main things are 1) there's more heat up/cool down time, if something is really overheating you have to remove it from the burner rather than just turn it down, 2) don't try to hurry things up by cranking it up and down, your food will suffer 3) you WILL get used to it with practice.

I can cook just as well on the electric, but it took practice. But, I would still get a gas stove if I had the choice.

Secret recipes: yay or nay?

Oh, on the OP, I get most of my recipes online, then tweak them to my taste. If someone asks for it, I tell them where I got it and how I may have altered it. I don't have any secret recipes. The few family recipes that I have don't have any measurements, so they'd be useless to anyone else.

Secret recipes: yay or nay?

@rookiekat - you'll likely get lots of advice on this, but here's what I'd do: Keep taking the recipe, but tape a card on the bowl or table that says something like "Rookiekat's Original (No Ketchup) Special Salad" and list the ingredients. Not how much or anything, just what's in it. You can say it's just in case someone has an allergy to an ingredient. If Miss Recipe Thief still wants to walk around talking about ketchup, she'll look pathetic. Besides, like dbcurrie said, everyone probably sees through her anyway.

Don't let her steal your accomplishment...bring it with pride.

How to Bake a Potato

Didn't we just go through this about a week ago? What, no one wants to talk about cupcakes or bacon?

Enough w/ the Cupcakes!

Oh FFS, it's cake and frosting. Any food can be made cutesy and gimmicky, have too much of one component or another, or spawn a wave of unitasker accessories. If it's good cake and good icing, what's the problem? The size and decorating is just part of the presentation. It's supposed to be portable and fun, like an ice cream cone or a cone of french fries.

I have a "cupcake carrier", which gets used often, mostly as an excellent dough proofer for bagels. I can stack two layers and it fits in the fridge nicely. I find lots of other uses for it too, including holding the occasional batch of cupcakes or muffins.

There's a lot of bad pizza places out there, and some, inexplicably, have lines out the door too. I can order a small pizza, no problem, but a small cake is verboten? And how many thousands of useless, stupid pizza gadgets are out there? Yet, there's no call to abandon pizza.

Drink the Book: 'Jelly Shot Test Kitchen'

Michelada jelly shots.

Alton Brown among us?

So does this mean that W doesn't really work at the restaurant supply place? The Mad French Chef isn't a mad French chef? Itchy and Twitchy aren't attorneys?? Colonel Bob Boatwright? Lactose Man? Are you telling me all these people aren't real??

I suppose you expect me to believe that the Chairman isn't an actual chairman either.

Your opinion on genetic engineering of plants

Research is "systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses" (Oxford English Dictionary). It is not compiling random opinions from unknown sources. In fact, that is the opposite of research.

I'm a retired molecular biotechnologist, and have written a couple of dozen of papers on genetic modification and bioengineered foods and medicines. I could give you some pretty valid arguments for both sides (as could other readers), but you have no idea if I'm telling the truth. How will you cite this "research"? Somehow I don't think "unverified blatherings of online food blog members of unknown backgrounds" will cut it with your professor. Even public opinion polls need to be conducted under controlled conditions if they are to have any scientific or research validity.

Why don't you pick a more challenging area of genetic engineering to write a research paper on instead of the overused good vs. evil angle? JMO. (And if you use it, I expect a citation, lol).

Foil on Baked Potatoes

I'm in the no foil, no oil group. Wash, dry, make a steam escape hole, throw in a 375 oven for an hour.

I don't order baked taters in restaurants because of the possible foil factor, although if I'm really in the mood for one I'll ask how it's made.

IMO this isn't so much a right/wrong issue as a personal preference. Moist potato skin is not as heinous as, say, flabby wet chicken skin.

Cook's Illustrated: Yea or Nay?

I still like CI. I tivo the episodes and watch the ones I want. I read the monthly at the library and get the annuals when I find them in used bookstores or Goodwill. I use them mainly for reference rather than following the recipes verbatim.

Anyone remember The Good Cook series from Time Life? They had the same "send it and hope she pays" policy. "According to the FTC" works wonders. "You sent this without my permission, so I'm keeping it, and no, I'm not paying" got the problem solved immediately. I also managed to complete this book series through used bookstores for cheap. They are traditional, some of the recipes are extremely time-consuming, but they provide a nice historical background and the pictures are helpful. A good reference series. But then, I like to read cookbooks for entertainment. Probably a lot of SE folks do the same.

CI provides solid info on good, basic American fare. It's a great starting off point for someone who wants to go beyond dump and stir. If I want authentic ethnic recipes or techniques, there are plenty of other good sources.

No More Good Eats

Thanks and good luck, AB!

Bitchin' Kitchen on Cooking Channel

Has anyone seen Bitchin' Kitchen with Nadia G on the Cooking Channel? Love it, meh, or no thanks?

I'm willing to give new shows a few viewings; it sometimes takes a while for one to find it's groove. I found her personality forced though even if she is as cute as can be. I watched an episode called "Makeup Meal" - what to cook for your mate when you've screwed up and they're mad at you. It's a really cute concept and parts of it were a little funny, but other parts were offensive. Specifically, Nadia made a comment something like, this is so good it will keep him from "punching you in the liver". I'm paraphrasing, but the liver-punching part is a quote. Call me too sensitive, but if my man punches me in the liver, I am not planning a special dinner for him. He'll be eating in the county jail. I don't find jokes about domestic violence appropriate for a cooking show. But, I'm not in their target demographic, so perhaps I'm just too fuddy-duddy to appreciate the humor in it. (Yes, I do realize that she's playing a character, but still...) The food looked okay but nothing revolutionary. Pot pie with store bought crust, apple crumble, pretty standard stuff. There were zucchini blossoms, but overall it didn't impress.

What do you think? Is this Jersey Shore/Guy's Big Bite/Semi-Homemade hybrid a hit or a miss with you?

"Private Chefs of Beverly Hills" Has FN Completely Lost It?

Mr. Arjava may be the best husband in the world, but his cooking reality show addiction has me thinking of doing an intervention. Now, I can sit through "Chopped" or even the occasional "Ace of Cakes" without fussing too much. But yesterday he DVR'd a FN show called "Private Chefs of Beverly Hills". I kid you not.

PCoBH is sort of a mashup of "Million Dollar Listing", with snotty, hipster private chefs in place of snotty, hipster realtors making food for "Real Housewives of Whatever". In this episode, some PCs cooked meals for 1) a high school girl's Homecoming party 2) a man who wanted to pretend he cooked a romantic dinner for his SO and 3) something else (I will freely admit that I was so bored I forgot).

Standard reality show format - client meets with PC to go over details. But wait, a twist! There will be two PCs for each event, and they don't like each other! They snipe at one another! They disagree on what to make! There is much eye rolling, snarky comments, clueless spoiled teenagers and other contrived drama. One "highlight" - the SO of the guy pretending that he cooked her dinner looked into the kitchen window (eating on the terrace, of course) and the PCs dropped to the floor and were crawling around. The food was entirely beside the point.

Unfortunately, Mr. A deleted the episode already (even he couldn't stand it) so I can't tell you when it was on other than sometime yesterday. There's no info on FN's site that I can see, and Googling it didn't help. Did anyone else see this hot mess and what did you think of it? Or was it (please, please) just a bad dream that I had?

Dinner Tonight: Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes

Though it's never occurred to me to throw green grapes in a skillet until they collapse into tart bursts of sweet and sour, I certainly wasn't against the idea. So when Lidia Bastianich recommended it as part of an Umbrian dish from central Italy, one that complemented the juiciness of pork sausage, I jumped on board. More

Watermelon Cake

Made with sour cream and boasting an achingly delicate crumb, the cake is tinted pink and then studded with mini chocolate chips for "seeds". The finished cake is frosted with pink and green icing to bring home the watermelon effect. More

Wok Skills 101: Indoor Smoking

While you're never going to be able to slow-cook a whole slab of St. Louis style ribs on your stovetop, a wok is an excellent way to add a bit of light smoke flavor to smaller foods. It requires no special equipment other than a wok and a rack. Since the whole thing happens in a tightly sealed foil tent, very little smoke actually enters the room (less than say, searing a few steaks off). More

Knife Skills: How to Sharpen a Knife

Personally, I find nothing more frustrating in the kitchen than a dull knife. Not only does it make prep work a chore and your finished product less attractive, it's also downright dangerous. A dull blade requires more pressure to cut into a food, and can easily slip off of a tough onion skin and into your finger. Ouch. Here's a slideshow on how to sharpen a knife with a sharpening stone, with recommendations on what stones to buy. More

How to Make Olive Penguins

Penguin parts. These are probably meant for six-year olds, but they still provide me with gobs of joy. All you need is a black olive (for the penguin head), a bigger one (for the bulbous bod), a little carrot medallion (with a triangle sliced out for the beak), and a mozzarella ball (or cream cheese works). Extra credit if you can make them an edible igloo. It's pretty self-explanatory but check out mathea.tanner's adorable Flickr photos or if you really need step-by-step instructions, here you go. [Flickr: mathea.tanner] Related: Photo of the Day: Penguin Tteok... More