I love food and I love feeding people and I love growing my own.

  • Location: Sumner, WA
  • Favorite foods: Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, rib eye steak, any fruit or vegetable except garbanzo beans that isn't canned, chocolate, Italian, Mexican, Asian, German, Jewish, Polish, French, etc., white button mushrooms, peach pie, strawberry ice cream.
  • Last bite on earth: Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, vanilla ice cream. Wait, a rib steak sandwich with a thick slice of tomato warm from the vine with a thick layer of Hellmann's and a sprinkle of kosher salt on a nice fat Kaiser roll. I take that back--make it lasagna.

Food Terms that should be banned from the media

"Artisan," like the paper-wrapped bread available at Walmart? I thought it was "artesian," like an aquifer. My bad.

The United States of Pizza: Illinois (Chicago Edition)

Cooking for a sick neighbor

Whatever you bring, make sure it's in sealed containers that can be refrigerated or frozen, and that the containers and food are microwaveable. He/she might not have much of an appetite right now, but whatever you bring will be available when their hunger returns.

A fruit platter of watermelon, cantaloupe, bananas, grapes, along with some crackers and cheeses and a box of assorted Popsicles would be very welcome, along with your pear sorbet. If you can find a recipe for sweetened ginger tea, bring a jug of that, too. (I use a thumb-sized piece of ginger, coarsely chopped, and let it steep for about three minutes (off the heat) in about three cups of water that's been brought to a boil. I add a tablespoon of sugar. It helps calm a churning stomach.)

Not too many people can stomach any dairy during treatments, except for maybe a taste of yogurt or a Fudgesicle. Most people complain that it coats their tongues and throats, but everyone's different. My best friend drink mug after mug of room temp Campbell's tomato soup made with cream, but mostly she was too tired to eat.

Favorite grocery store...

Tacoma Boys rocks! A thousand wines, incredible cowboy steaks, nice cheeses, un-ordinary pasta, and they practically force you to taste all the produce so that by the time you've finished shopping, you've eaten an entire fruit and/or vegetable salad.

affordable couverture chocolate?

Couverture chocolate is used for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing. It is not used for baking or pastries, which would be like mixing Beluga caviar with StarKist tuna.

There aren't too many companies that make couverture chocolate. Some of the brands readily available in the U.S. are Callebaut, Guittard, Lindt, Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger and Valrhona. I've used all of them except Lindt because they don't sell in bulk.

I use Callebaut, Valrhona and Scharffen Berger ($11 to $14 a pound at my local market) most of the time for truffles, ganache and dipping--things where chocolate is the predominant texture/ingredient/flavor. These three brands taste different from each other, and they're all incredible good. Plus, I just sound so hoity-toity when I say their names.

For baking--when the chocolate flavor will be cut with butter, eggs, flour and sugar, I use whatever is handy, of good quality but a bit cheaper, which would be Guittard and Ghirardelli. . .and good old Hershey.

Here are some online sources:
2 lbs. for $12

Jacques Torres

I've only ordered once from Jacques Torres: I just had to use his chips to make his chocolate chip cookies, and yes, it was worth the splurge.

It's a lot easier to find good chocolate these days, even at run-of-the-mill grocery stores.

Who else does Italian Christmas Eve??

chiff, your linguini makes me want to dive right into the bowl. Just beautiful, better than some magazine photos.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 99: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Serious Eaters

I made nine loaves of raisin bread to give away. Wouldn't you know, two neighbors went away for the holiday, so I was "stuck" with those loaves. It wasn't so much the buttered raisin toast we had with breakfast for four days: it was more a problem of me eating my slices slathered with cream cheese.

The raisin bread's gone and my jeans still fit, albeit a little more snugly. Fresh fruit for dessert from now on!

I hope your stocking was the only thing that got stuffed.

So. Recovering?

cybercita, here's a bit of restaurant first aid:

Wash the cut well.
Dry it gently but well; try to keep it from dripping.
Dollop it with some Neosporin Plus (or the generic equivalent--make sure it contains an anesthetic).
Wait a couple of minutes, then gently dab away the excess.
Smother the cut with Super Glue.
Wait for it to dry.
Cover it with a large Band-Aid, positioning it in a way that prevents the cut from reopening.
Wear a finger condom AND a disposable glove.

No blood-borne pathogens in anyone's food, no nasty bits to infect your cut, and you're back to prepping and cooking in no time.

The Food Lab: How to Cook a Perfect Prime Rib

Kenji, you deserve the ovation I received from my kids after serving the rib roast cooked to your specs.

I used to do the high heat sear/low heat finishing. I would get the center rarest cut and the people who preferred well-done would get the end cuts. (How I gave birth to those people, I'll never know--they sure didn't get my DNA.)

This year, after the rest period, I sliced off the two ends and pan-fried them for the two well-done sons. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed the most (and moist) red meat ever on a slab of rib.

Thank you for giving my kids (and grandkids) another reason to idolize me.

theme party ideas please!

I vote for dbcurrie's multi-ethnic anything except Italian, Mexican and Chinese. How about something Anthony Bourdain has eaten on one of his shows? A Cajun/Creole theme would be fun, too.

A green party: I have a nephew who spent a year of his early childhood not eating anything unless it was green. He's normal now.

A Democrat party: All the food has to include fruits, nuts or flakes, or has been made in a crock pot. Ba-dum-dum. Hey, it's okay for me to say that--I am one.

Best bite of food ever

When I was 14, my dad made me a strawberry shortcake with a leftover dinner biscuit. It was heaven.

Back from the Front: Holiday meal report

Christmas Eve dinner for me and son #5: arroz caldo (gingery Filipino chicken rice soup, one of our tradition), pork tacos and fresh-baked cookies. Son #4 returned from his wife's grandmother's house with a giant platter of very hard and stale green and pink Rice Krispies treats with sprinkles on top, burnt PB sandwich cookies filled with green powdered sugar icing, some decent peanut butter fudge and a bowl of watery fruit salad (red and green apples, halved grapes, papaya chunks, canned pineapple and walnuts in instant vanilla pudding). Before the grandkids had taken off their coats and put away their shoes, DIL had already tossed everything except the fudge.

Snacks while waiting to see Rudolph's nose (there's always a plane flying somewhere on Christmas Eve, so we look out the front window and scan the skies for a jet's red light--Rudolph's nose--so the kids know Santa's near and they have to hurry up and go to sleep because everyone knows he doesn't bring presents if you're awake; we've spotted Rudolph's nose for 30 years now, through fog and cloud cover in IL and WA): hot cocoa with candy cane stirrers, big soft ginger cookies, those hard candy rainbow ribbons and chocolate-filled candy straws.

Christmas Day brunch for two grandkids, two sons and a DIL: I made a giant frittata using American fries, ham, red pepper, swiss, mushrooms and green onion. Raisin toast, apple turnovers and fruit on the side.

Dinner for 12: The perfect prime rib (THANK YOU, KENJI!!), cheesy twice-baked potato casserole (lumpy mashed baked potatoes, cream cheese, shredded sharp cheddar, butter, cream, green onion tops, bacon, S&P), crisp-tender broccoli (salpico, Na-na-Na, Na-na-Naaa), fresh green beans with bacon and red pepper flakes and sliced almonds, popovers, a run-of-the-mill tossed salad with lemon and olive oil dressing, key lime cheesecake (made with bottled juice) and Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan's recipe using seedless raspberry jam between the layers). There's a couple of slices of cake left, a small portion of cheesecake, and a couple of plates of cookies and candies leftover.

We're full of merry and bright! On to the New Year!

Open Thread: Home for the Holidays — Your Sentimental Favorite Pizzeria

Home Run Inn, Chicago and suburbs. Best crust in the world--it actually has flavor. Haven't been back to Chicago in three years. I think I'm due for a field trip soon.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: D'Artagnan Boneless Heritage Ham

Winter ham: Seedless toasted rye, butter on one side, cream cheese on the other.

Summer ham: A sturdy while roll with cole slaw.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Two Peter Luger Steaks

Bone-in ribeye, medium.

Do some people's eating habits drive you around the bend?

Isn't it wonderful that we're all able to make the people around us feel comfortable enough to express their appreciation by "talking" with their rear ends?

And I'm guilty of criticizing the food on other people's plates. Not outsiders, just my sons', as in "I don't see anything green on your plate." Jeez, the youngest is 25, the oldest 39--you'd think I'd get over it already.

I don't mind listening to puke stories--most of them are really funny or so gross that I can't help but laugh--but just don't tell those stories at the dinner table. Likewise, poop stories.

Help naming a beer.

That wasn't cheesy, winternutt. It's pretty funny, in a Ben & Jerry sorta way.

Jamie Oliver Wins 2010 TED Prize


Psst. . .Pass it on.

Anyone enjoy eating at Sam's Club or Costco snack bar?

Can't eat it anymore

I'm with gastronomeg. It would be awfully hard to choose one, but if I absolutely had to, I would choose from the Irish or the English (I don't think Jamie Oliver can single-handedly rescue the entire nation from boiled-to-smithereens vegetables) or whatever the Scandinavian country is that invented lutefisk.

Worst meal of your life

I feel so bad for all of you! Like Laura J, my experiences have been with lousy service rather than bad food. Or the quality or quantity of the food wasn't worth the price. I've had "meh" but not "ewwwwww."

Two of my sons love those Jack in the Box tacos. Gaack. Where did I go wrong?

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Southside Market Sausage

Po-Boy's in Puyallup, WA and Branks in Sumner, WA--both smokers are in the parking lots, so you can watch. And sniff!

Cook the Book: America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Disaster--Christmas in my first house and I was making goodie plates for my new neighbors. I made a double batch of pecan sandies and it's a good thing I sampled one. I forgot the sugar! I can still remember the awful taste of baked flour and butter. Disaster averted--I was able save the rest of the dough by blending powdered sugar in the remainder of the dough.

Triumph--Making cucidata from Uncle Rome's family recipe and hearing him tell my cousins, "These are like I remember, only better."

Need recipe to use up peach yogurt. Cookies would be great.

Not cookies, but we love yogurt pie when it's hot out. It's just half yogurt and half whipped cream sweetened with a little powdered sugar, in a graham cracker crust. Freeze it, let it sit at room temp for 10 or 15 minutes, cut and serve. You can turn the filling into frozen yogurt bars, too.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Zingerman's Praise the Lard Gift Box

The first time my mom made me a peanut butter and bacon sandwich ranks right up there with the first time I smoked a pork shoulder for pulled pork.

C is for Christmas Candy, too

Thanks to finewinendine for starting the Christmas cookie topic. I was going to add the candies I make for gifts, but thought it should be another topic.

So. . .I make Peanut Butter Balls (I think they're also called "Buckeyes" and "Globbies"). I think it's my #1 most-requested recipe. (A stick of butter, two cups peanut butter, 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar all mixed together with two cups of Rice Krispies. Roll into balls and dip in melted chocolate coating (sold as Almond Bark for about $2.50). Makes 50-75, depending on size, for about $6. For Christmas, make a double batch, one chocolate and one pastel pink and green by melting white chocolate and coloring it with Wilton pastes.

If there's any melted chocolate left, I dip pretzel rods and sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles.

Homemade Mounds--a stick of melted butter, a can of sweetened condensed milk, a bag of coconut and four cups of powdered sugar mixed together and rolled into 2" logs, then dipped into melted chocolate coating. About $8.50 for 100 candies.

Truffles, using any recipe, and dipping them into tempered Scharffen Berger. No one gets these or the chocolate cherries unless they're related.

Chocolate Covered Cherries--they're not hard to make, but it takes a lot of time.

Male Fudge (with nuts)--the recipe for No-Fail Fudge from the jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Female Fudge (without nuts)--the Better Homes and Gardens recipe from the red-plaid book. Peanut Butter Fudge, also from the fine folks at Marshmallow Fluff.

Divinity. I have six recipes. Sometimes I get it right. I keep trying. Almond Bark and peanut, almond, cashew or sunflower seed brittle.

I start the candy-making two weeks before Christmas because they stay fresh-tasting a lot longer than cookies do. I don't start the cookies until the week of Christmas, when I'll make two or three batches a night or as needed.

Any other sweet gift ideas?

Kolacky, Kolache, Kolachy, Kolach

My mom was from the Philippines and didn't move to the states until 1955, when I was three. One of the first recipes she wrote down was for Kolacky, which she pronounced "Ko-Lots-Key." I have her hand-written recipe, which I would never pass along because the cookies were so tough and hard that they couldn't be eaten unless they were dunked in hot tea. It calls for a half-cup of cornstarch to be added with the flour, and the dough is rolled into logs, wrapped in wax paper and chilled, then sliced, topped with fruit filling and baked. Bad, bad recipe, but she made them every year for Christmas until I started baking.

When I was in my mid-teens, I got confused when I found recipes titled "Kolacky" that resulted in fat puffy yeasty buns topped with fruit, or recipes for flat brioche-type pastries that look like Danishes and recipes for rich buttery cookies with cream cheese or cottage cheese in the dough, which is cut into squares, topped with fruit filling, has two corners pinched together before baking and is dusted with powdered sugar after baking. There are recipes for European, Moravian, Bohemian, Polish, New York, Texas and Oklahoma kolacky.

No one I've asked agrees what a kolacky is, much less how to spell or pronounce it. Is it Koh-lotch, koh-lotch-ee, ko-lackey, ko-lots-key? The only thing anyone agrees on is that they are topped with fruit or poppyseed filling.

For the past 40 or so Christmases, I've made two kinds: I follow the cream cheese recipe on the back of the can of Solo filling, adding a half cup of pulverized walnuts and topping half with apricot, half with one of the red flavors to look festive; and I use Julia Child's recipe for brioche to make the puffy yeasty kind with prune (stop yer snickering!) or poppyseed topping.

Does anyone have fond memories of making these with their mother or grandmother? Which version--cookie or bun or Danish? And please tell me how you spell and pronounce it.

For bareneed--Ginger Ale and Vegetables

I stole this technique from Alton Brown. I didn't try it at home first, just plunged in and used it as a side dish for a catering job. I cooked and delivered it, and a daughter-in-law's mother was one of the servers. She reported back that the church ladies loved it so much, they came back for seconds; for the first time in recorded history, the carrots ran out before the meats (ham and turkey). I tried it with yellow sweet potatoes next, then orange ones, and the same thing happened--vegetables POOF! disappeared. I dunno--they're good, but I'd rather fill my plate with the expensive stuff on the buffet table.

Here's Alton's recipe:

In my version, I add a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and omit the chili powder and most of the parsley. Sometimes I omit the parsley entirely and sprinkle on some thyme.

For sweet potatoes, I peel and slice them about half an inch thick, then pour over enough ginger ale to cover and sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of grated ginger. If the sweet potatoes are done before the ginger ale is reduced, I put them into a casserole and boil down the soda until it's syrupy, and then I enrich it with a goodly dollop of butter.

Have fun with this--I've tried 7-Up, Sprite and Mt. Dew, too, but I like ginger ale the best. I think I'll try sweet potatoes with Dr. Pepper sometime before Christmas. It sounds good to me.

Your Clever SE Name

When I registered on SE, I used my plain old boring given name. Most of y'all have creative, punny, descriptive, regional, food-ish names: gastronomeg, pavlov, 1stmakearoux, climbhighinAK, yayfood, finewinedine. Even dbcurrie has a food name.

I wish I had been as clever as you. So, everyone, not just those listed above, tell me the story of your SE name.

Stop jayne3433, please

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One-pot meals

When the weather gets chilly, I love one-pot meals, a little because of the easy clean-up, a lot because the whole house smells so wonderful.

One of my favorites is corned beef and cabbage, and another is similar--chicken, stock, potatoes, cabbage, carrots and green beans with salt, pepper, a knob of ginger and and a couple cloves of garlic.

And you?

RIP Sheila Lukins

So sad. From her I learned about Serrano ham got ideas for beautiful flavor combinations I would have never thought up myself, like combining apricots and mustard.

Today: Frank Bruni on NPR

Frank Bruni, formerly of the NY Times--but you already knew that, right?--will be on the NPR show On Point this morning at 11 am.

Ex-Cons in the Kitchen--Will it Play in Chicago?

There's always been an ex-con or two in the three kitchens I've worked in since the 60s, so I think the only thing new about this concept is the fact that they're advertising it. It sounds like a worthwhile program. I'd eat there if I lived in Chicago.

An article I read said it was causing a "red-hot controversy."

Compatability Bologna

Supposedly, what's between the bread can foretell how long you and a partner will stay between the sheets. For the record, bologna isn't one of the options; neither is grilled cheese.

For the article, go here:,0,7257304.column

For the personality traits that go with the sandwiches, go here:,0,1652565.photogallery

I'm a Libra/club; he's a Saggitarius/BLT; 21 years.

Contest for fans of Good Eats

This is what I get for hardly ever watching the Food Network anymore! I had to find out about this--probably the only chance I'll ever have to throw my unworthy cooking self at Alton Brown's feet--from a neighbor.

Food Quiz

Last week a woman I work with who is my age (AARP eligible) showed me a label from a cake container and asked me to pronounce a word and tell her what it was. It was "ganache."

I explained ganache and went on to tell her about chocolate truffles.

The poor dear has been avoiding ganache her entire adult life because she thought it was the shiny fruit in fruitcake. Her daughter shared some of a ganache cake bought at WalMart, of all places, and Betsy didn't want to touch it until her daughter swore to God that there was no shiny fruit in it.

Just thought I'd pass along this little quiz that is in today's Chicago Tribune. The first question is about ganache.,0,3799092.triviaquiz

The Dining Dead

This article from the Chicago Trib is sad, and it happened to me last week. We sat at the bar in our favorite tavern, ordered dinner, stared at the Mariners game, and after we had eaten and the plates were cleared, the bartender asked, "Are you two feuding, or did someone die?" I realized we hadn't said one word to each other about the kids, work, friends, chores around the house, what we were going to do over the weekend, what new noise my car is making, nothing, for pretty close to an hour.

We usually laugh about lot of things and complain a little about something. I mean, even after 24 years, there's always stuff to talk about, right? Maybe we were just tired I just hope this doesn't become routine.,0,633573.story

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