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belinskaya

  • Location: Washington, DC

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

This may have just saved me a fortune this winter - current office has neither fridge nor microwave, so I've been subsisting on sandwiches and salads for six months and occasionally ending up at Panda Express in desperation for hot food. Panda is too expensive (and sodium-ridden) to get me through winter, so this is freaking genius.

(now just need to sneak in an electric kettle contrary to fire code.)

Who Knew Butter and Dairy-Free Cookies Could Be So Good? New Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough From Hampton Creek is Solid

Yeah, @ironbarista has the most important question. Sans eggs, you eliminate the reason people who dislike fun won't eat cookie dough. (and, obviously, make it more possible for people with various allergies, immune disorders, etc. to join the ranks of the people who can indulge in fun.) Is the dough worth eating raw, as all good dough should be?

Lunch Hack: Use a Pizza Wheel To Chop Your Salad Directly in the Bowl

@NYBITECLUB: Good one!

And to add: as someone who misses Will Gordon and is now reading Deadspin about beer that I don't even like (because Will is awesome), @expensiveeats does NOT speak for me. A lot of factors go into personnel and editorial decisions, and I'm confident Will wasn't fired because he was too awesome for your "pristine site". (My suspicion is that there were contract issues and that cutting Drinking the Bottom Shelf was an early concession to no longer posting straight-up negative content.)

Also, was this site EVER non-yuppie? I do kinda miss Eat For Eight Bucks, and even that column was distinctly yuppie. Food stamp challenges are also plenty elitist, since that's who takes them and then writes about how much it sucks, and the only way to manage those things decently is to make a giant pot of beans and rice and pretty much go vegetarian, if not vegan, for the week. Because Kenji's vegan stuff concentrates on whole foods - veg, beans, rice, etc - rather than tons of more expensive smoked seitan or whatever, it's useful, accessible, and not necessarily pricy.

Kenji, I hope you keep all your thumbs. No one needs special candles on the birthday cake.

The Food Lab Turbo: How to Make Lighter Tuna Noodle Casserole With Just One Pan (and No Knives!)

Since when is tuna casserole not a one-pot dish taking 20 minutes, tops?

(yes, my mom never baked it because if you forgo any sort of topping, you can get it on the table in less than 20 minutes. You just mix your sauce over low heat in the same pot you cooked the noodles and peas in. It all stirs together just fine.)

From Scientific Cuisine to Southern Icon: The Real History of Pimento Cheese

These articles are fantastic! I've been somewhat disappointed with the changed focus on Serious Eats from time to time (a lot of the fun - and the fun writers - is gone), but articles like this are a huge asset and are keeping me checking in every day.

@scalfin: Visit the midwest. Velveeta is everywhere.

15 Lesser-Known Berries You Should Try

I finally had the guts to buy a half pint of gooseberries ($6!) at the farmers market this year. One orchard does small quantities of red and golden currants and gooseberries, and they're the only source I know for fresh of either of those things, but ouch, the price for something to experiment with.

Why does the US not like sour fruity things as much as I do? Gooseberries are awesome! Followed a BBC recipe for a simple fool, and wow. If they didn't cost so much, I'd try more recipes! Same problem with rhubarb - I grew up with it free because it grew without any intervention in my grandmother's back yard, but the costs to buy it are just insane and it only comes from a few producers (I can get it from that orchard and one other are my farmers market, or I can pay $5.99 a pound at Whole Foods for brought in from CA). Why does no one want these? I'll eat them all! Or would if I could afford it.

5 Rules of Hong Kong Dining That You Should Know Before You Go

Chiming in to agree that this was fantastic.

Taste Test: 1 Day, 23 Pop-Tart Flavors

Toasted unfrosted cherry is the taste of Saturday morning. the perfect accompaniment to Muppet Babies and National Geographic Explorer on TBS. Frosted acceptable if necessary. Strawberry in a pinch. When you're permitted one Poptart a week (not one packet, one poptart), a box lasts a while.

It wasn't until college I was able to try the Smores ones. OMG. I'm not allowed to buy those anymore, otherwise I'd weigh about 100 pounds more. Those really are the best ones.

And yes, do Toaster Strudel! I was actually allowed those (and toaster muffins) as weekday breakfast for some unknown reason. Seriously, parents - you wouldn't buy sugary cereals, but you'd let me eat those things? I was never fond of the frosting packets, though - I'd eat them naked and we'd end up with a bunch of strings of frosting packets in the freezer. It's so tempting to try again, though I know they're probably utter crap. I still love the idea of them and would like some reassurance that they're tasty junk rather than sad crap before I waste freezer space on them.

Footlong Lobster Rolls Near the Bronx Zoo: A Trip to City Island

This article reminds me of so much that I miss from Will Gordon on this site (I suspect he's firmly in the "monkeys make everything better" camp, too). The funny, highly individual voice that tells me useful things about the food while being entertaining as heck. I don't like beer, and I read Will's beer reviews on Deadspin strictly for the writing. I will devour anything else you're willing to publish from Allison accordingly.

The past couple days have had really good content - interesting, useful, somewhat unique, and well-written. Keep it up!

Taste Test: The Best Fast Food Chicken Nuggets

The reasons why particular things rated low were extremely useful in figuring out in what ways tastes differ and what marginal products were still worth using.

I trust the taste tests here the way I do Consumer Reports ratings - seriously tested and willing to give the good and bad of all tested products. I understand the pressures, being ad-based, so while I mourn the loss of the previous way of doing things, I recognise that you don't have the freedom of a self-financed group like Consumer Reports and respect that you've chosen to maintain as much publishing integrity as possible while mollifying the people who keep the computers on.

Budget Wine Hall of Fame: 24 Great Bottles for $20 or Less

I suspect CandiRisk is right on a lot of this - wine pricing varies so much regionally (even county to county, much less state to state) that strict price levels are hard to match. I'm lucky enough that I have a county liquor store walking distance from my house; the beer/wine places are required to purchase wholesale from the county, so the county store undercuts their prices, but they are more convenient for a lot of people. The same inexpensive bottle will be up to $5 more expensive if you don't visit the county store (as I have learned to my chagrin, since the beer/wine places keep later hours than the county store and are admittedly more conveniently located). But some of these beer/wine stores carry a very different selection - one is run by a guy who really enjoys wine, so he has a lot of interesting bottles, but for slightly more than they really ought to cost when one notes the general markup.

Vinho verde should never cost more than $10, Montgomery County! NEVER!

I sometimes feel like these articles need a baseline so that we, around the country, can understand. What is the average non-sale price of Woodbridge or YellowTail? Then we can get a sense of how many dollars above that baseline (or perhaps percentage increase in price) the authors are actually suggesting looking. Just a quick footnote with jurisdiction (state and perhaps county) and the baseline price for context.

The Tea Cup and the Dragon: Secrets of China's Favorite Green Tea

Fantastic article! Especially the lack of judgment, especially from the experts. (compare to the tone some have perceived in some of the coffee articles in the past.) I'm not a drinker of fancy green tea, but I feel I learned a lot of really useful advice for drinkers of any tea, including cheap tea bags.

And I'll join the chorus of "if a trip to India is offered, send Max to Darjeeling!" Sri Lanka is also an entirely acceptable option, I'm sure.

The Best Food to Order at Panda Express

Since I'm stuck in one building all day with only mall food court options for lunch (our only Mexican choice right now is Taco Bell, which is why the coming of Qdoba next month is super exciting even if we'd all prefer Chipotle), I have been thrilled to have Panda as an option. Because while I usually bring my lunch, I just got moved to the office with no fridge and no microwave, and sometimes I just want some hot food that's reasonably tasty. Panda is a godsend for that - the steamed veg is never mushy, the things that claim to be spicy have actual flavour (though not necessarily a lot of spice), and the meat is identifiable. The Shanghai Steak they have right now is totally worth the upcharge. And if you check the nutritional info online, the only real issue is the sodium, but I eat low-sodium at home anyway, so I think I'll live.

Yeah, when I started working there three years ago, I told myself I was above wasting money on any of the terrible food options, but we all have those days when groceries didn't happen or everything in the fridge looks too boring to eat or you're leaving for vacation directly after work and don't' want to deal with dirty lunch dishes. And for those days, Panda bowls are my salvation.

We Taste 9 Fast Food Vanilla Milkshakes (and Risk Permanent Brain Freeze)

For those complaining about Chik-fil-A, keep in mind where a lot of their stores are. Can you guarantee that franchisees of other chains in those regions are not making large donations to similar causes?

Example: I live in a very liberal county in Maryland, so I've not been to my local Chik-fil-A in a few years now. However, I'd have zero qualms about patronising them over other restaurants in, say, parts of Utah, as I suspect my money would be going to similar places. Your local grocer may not be perfectly ethical on this stance, either. At that point, you might as well go where the food is best.

Everyone has to make their own decisions based on their available options and in a well-covered topic such as this, there's no more discussion, just shaming of people who have this as an available option. And that's just mean.

Back to topic, I miss Steak 'n' Shake. I want an orange freeze so badly. I don't even have a Dairy Queen nearby! Maybe I'll walk over to Potbelly this afternoon. Banana shakes with real banana, not flavouring.

Taste Test: The Best Frozen Puff Pastry

Oh, and as to the article itself, SE, thanks - I'm frequently cooking dairy-free for friends with allergies, so it's good to know that Pepperidge Farm makes a good option.

I'm one of those people with a tiny apartment kitchen with next to no counter space plus two roommates, so getting any extra fridge/freezer space is a luxury. Cooking projects, as opposed to food, are pretty rare, and baking even more so, as I can do some things on the dining room table, but flour and carpeting are a terrible, terrible combination. It's not just the time savings that make certain premade ingredients valuable: it's the ability to be a much better member of society by not demanding more than my share of space or kitchen time when I'm making something for a potluck.

Taste Test: The Best Frozen Puff Pastry

Based on the commentary, yes, Candide, you are alone.

Let us remember the wise teachings of your tutor, praise the little spirochete without which we'd have no chocolate to eat, and accept that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Washington, DC Cheap Eats: 10 Great Dishes Under $10

Bub and Pop's - just want to make sure anyone not in the know can find it :)

Lunch in the Loop: Devouring the Hot Dog Salad at Rudy's Bar & Grille

Congratulations on the job! At least during the sucky unemployment, you had Cricket to keep you company. (I did 18 months without even a mouse to keep me company whilst scraping together temp gigs at the height of the crash.)

I want that martini milkshake.

Behind the Bugs and Critters We Ate in the Bronx This Weekend

Too many pictures for it not to be real - it'd have been a lot of photoshop or staging of patently weird things (note the label on the sushi).

However, despite my skepticism that raw porcupine is really a good idea, I'm more concerned with why the seeming MC guy is still in curlers. What new hipster fashion hell have I just discovered?

Taste Test: Dennis Eats All of Cricket's Cat Food

I love you, Dennis. Especially the stuffies gathered round to witness your debasement.

Does Cricket also eat crickets, spiders, whatever arthropod comes into her path? Because I know you share those, too, if she does.

Open Thread: Do You Lick Your Beaters?

It was a sad, sad day when the mixer died and we had to replace it. The old mixer was a lovely shade of avocado green (which will give some idea of the vintage) and had those fantastic wide blade beaters where each of the four blades was curved like a little scoop to be perfectly emptied with a swipe of the tip of your tongue. Great licking.

All the new mixers (this was in the 1990s) had those crazy thin newfangled wire things that are so much more difficult to clog and have so little stuck to them at the end that licking has become pointless. Yet I do it anyway, because it must be done, even when disappointing.

I swear the rubber scrapers have gotten better, too, leaving less in the bowl to lick. Or my mommy was kind to me when scraping the bowl, which is also a reasonable hypothesis.

Lunch in the Loop: Perry's Deli

Congrats on 200! I look forward to all your articles even though I haven't lived in Chicago in more than 10 years.

I look forward to more videos, too - and I don't usually watch videos online!

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

Roasted with smoked paprika. I could probably eat the whole head.

Also, this recipe is great: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/cauliflower-with-saffron-and-pasta It reheats well for work lunches, too - I keep the feta on the side and mix it in single portions. (haven't tried it with shrimp yet) I sometimes roast the cauliflower then mix it with the onions and seasoning for extra browning action, but that does mean getting another pan dirty and is obviously not required. As a side dish, it doesn't even really need the pasta, but the pasta makes it a filling main. Could easily go with rice, too.

Looking for a Horseshoe Sandwich in Chicago? Visit 6 Degrees in Bucktown

Horseshoe days were the best of the not-pizza days in the high school cafeteria - half a burger bun, hot ham, tons of crinkle-cut fries if you were lucky (if you weren't lucky, they were kinda thick and rarely fried well enough), all smothered in cheese sauce for $2. One of the best things you could do with government cheese.

Chain Reaction: We Try the Dunkin' Donuts Eggs Benedict Sandwich

I don't think you can make happy trees with this stuff. They would be very sad trees, indeed.

I feel like the only thing truly good from Dunkin is the French Cruller. Even the classic Boston Kreme donut could be better but does hit the spot as morning junk food after a long week at work.

Seattle Recs?

A friend and I will be in town for a couple of days at the beginning of May connected to a show at the Paramount Theatre. We'll be staying downtown (a couple blocks from the Paramount), we won't have a car, and we may be a little pressed for time due to curtain times.

Looking for:
Dinner Saturday evening before an 8 pm curtain
Breakfast/lunch (maybe brunch) Sunday (options for both helpful as we intend to get up early and explore a bit)
Dinner Sunday (no timeframe)
Breakfast Monday before going to the airport for an 11:45 flight out.

The twist in all this is that my friend is diabetic (type 1), so as much as I appreciate coffee shop pastries to start my morning, breakfast for her really needs to be protein-based (eggs, sausages, something v. low carb).

My priority is to go to Pike Place Market, look around, and eat fish (since I am too polite to eat all the loads of carbs I want in front of her). Her priority is to get a look at the central library.

How do I best make this work to keep her fed appropriately for breakfast without breaking the bank or running all over town? Where should we eat tasty fish without spending more than $25 a person on entrees? If she wanted to use some carb points for something exciting, what sweets cannot be missed at Pike Place Market?

Thanks for any direction you guys can give! It's the breakfast thing that has me thrown off most. In London, there's greasy cafs all over that have us covered; in NY, there are diners everywhere. Seattle? That's a new world.

What to bake with sour cherries?

Picked up a quart of sour cherries at the farmers market this morning knowing how hard these things are to find. (Also picked up a pint of sweet cherries, but I know what I'm doing with those - rinse and stuff face.)

I'm also a nice person who intends to share with my roommates, one of whom is deathly allergic to milk products (and peanuts and tree nuts - almonds are fine). Thus the original idea of a clafoutis or this lovely tarte aux griottes is completely out.

Currently thinking Sour Cherry "Clams" from this website, using vegan puff pastry, but I'm open to any and all ideas.

So what would you do with a single quart of sour cherries?

Pie plates - glass/ceramic vs metal

I'm in need of a pie plate/dish/pan. Growing up, my mom had old (over 30 years old) lightweight metal ones that I'm used to. A couple apartments ago, I acquired a couple cheap kitchenaid dark metal ones that I could not stand and thus left with that roommate. The KitchenAid issue was largely that it has handles on each side, so it is impossible to get a nice crust edge. Also, we did something in washing them that caused the underside rim to rust almost immediately.

Looking today for a replacement, it looks like glass or ceramic are everywhere and metal are impossible to find. Are glass/ceramic plates actively better, or are they just considered more attractive right now?

I can find metal tart pans easily, but not a basic pie plate. What's the difference in functional terms? As in, I know a tart pan's bottom comes out, the sides are fluted and straight rather than angled, etc., but why are metal tart pans so easy to find and metal pie plates not? What does the different material do for each type of baked good?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Diet sodas - recommendations?

A friend was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes this spring, so while we've been managing ok, I'd like to pick up a six pack for her or at least make some recommendations of diet soda other than Diet Coke that does not suck.

Her favourites before the diagnosis were San Pellegrino Limonata and any variety of ginger ale, so these are the ideal flavour profiles, but really, any recommendations on anything would probably be helpful to a subset of readers.

We're both in Maryland - she has access to the usual national brands; I've got a few more options what with a nearby Whole Foods, Target, and can probably access some specialty varieties in various places as I'm in the DC suburbs. (She's on the Eastern Shore.)

Thanks!

Pork Shoulder + Crock Pot = ?

I have pork shoulder in the freezer (2 pieces weighing about 2 pounds each). I have a crock pot. First attempt was a pork/sweet potato stew that came out fairly decently and got me through a cold and nasty week.

Now, what else should I do? I'm thinking maybe a pseudo-carnitas, as that might have multiple applications and thus be less boring (single cook here, so whatever is done will be protein for a week).

Recipes? Suggestions? When left on my own, I have a tendency to buy a bag of frozen veg, a bag of frozen shrimp, and a bottle of teriyaki sauce and just eat stir fry all week, which gets really old really fast. The pork roast purchase was an attempt to move beyond that, but I need to actually cook it instead of have it continue to sit in the freezer.

Maple Black Pepper Pork Chops

I am addicted to this dish. Usually I have to cook so many new dishes a week, I don't have time to revisit the really impressive ones. But I've made an exception for this one. I understand on paper it doesn't sound like it should work. The recipe from Eggs On Sunday uses a lot of maple syrup, Too sticky sweet? Nope, everything is balanced by the cider vinegar and black peppercorns, which transform into this rich, meaty glaze that miraculously makes each bite taste like the best rib eye you can imagine. More