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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.


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