• Location: Louisiana

Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 1)

He's right about the service factor. I avoid chains, but if a friend wants to go to Chili's or Chil-fil-A, I don't fight them. The ones around here have typical meh chain food, but the service is remarkably good.

Ask a Cicerone: Which is Better, Draft or Bottled Beer?

@DavidPD I'm with you on Fat Tire. We finally got it here in Louisiana, but only in the bottle. They sell it in the can in Arkansas, and the can is so much better and fresher tasting.

Now I need Newcastle in the can. The clear bottles result in it being a crapshoot whether what you buy is any good. I bought a 12-pack of cans many years ago, but have not seen it in a store since.

Our local brewery, Great Raft, sells in cans. It sells so fast in this area that the cans from the grocery store taste as fresh as a pint poured in the tasting room.

How do you like your hummus?

My taste is similar. I like the tahini, but not so much it makes a bitter hummus. Just a dash of cayenne. And I use granulated garlic rather than raw. After I hit about 45, raw garlic started to kill me.

I've heard of folks using peanut butter instead of tahini. Have not tried it but might someday.

Cook the Book: 'Joy of Kosher' by Jamie Geller

Does the salt count?

What to do With a Lot of Whipping Cream

When a problem comes along
You must whip it
Before the cream sets out too long
You must whip it

Whip it! Whip it good!

Inside the Secret World of Super-Premium Spanish Jamon Iberico

Our pigs supplemented their Purina Hog Chow with the hickory nuts that fell in their pen. Maybe we should have developed a special hickory-nut based American ham. Only $100 per pound, less than half that fancy Spanish acorn ham.

Latin Cuisine: Five Ingredient, One Pot, 30-Minute Colombian Chicken Stew

Made this last night with 6 drumsticks and just 3 large potatoes. Added some green onions, cilantro, oregano, celery and carrot. My Kuhn Rikon was over full. Came out very nice. I'm eating some for breakfast right now.

Did you Plan how your kitchen is organized, or did it evolve?.

We just gutted and remodeled our kitchen so got to start from scratch on organization. We talked over each step, and 95 percent of things have stayed as we agreed. Spices near the cooking area, plates and silver near the microwave and fridge, baking sheets over the oven, etc. The measuring spoons keep moving between near the prep area and beside the stove.

Back Of The House: The Life of a Cook's Illustrated Test Cook

I subscribe to CI magazine and site and catch the ATK and CC TV shows on PBS, but I get my biggest dose of them these days from the ATK Radio podcast. Most of the free one-hour shows end with a segment where Chris visits Test Cook Dan for an informative recipe discussion.

It's a great way to learn something and kill time when exercising or driving.

Food Huggers Help Keep Cut Produce and Open Containers Fresh

When I save a half onion in a sandwich bag in the crisper, it's ruin is not getting soft/slimy but getting dried out and flavorless. If these can stop that, then they may be worth a shot.

A Beginner's Guide to American Beer Styles

Nice read. I love that we Americans have improved our taste in beer, but I hope the hop craze settles at some point and our brewers make some good English style low-alcohol bitters. That is drinkability for me.


I thought of Game of Scones (baking) or Downton Crabby (seafood). Both are already taken.

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

There is a man in our town who used to have a high-profile job but went a little kooky a few years ago. He still dresses in coat and tie, but he keeps dog biscuits in his coat pocket. And regularly takes them out for a snack. Did not believe it until I saw it myself, twice now.

Manner Matters: Bread and Butter Basics

If the bread is sliced, I butter the slab and bite off it. Maybe takes two bites, and I don't usually put the bitten half down before I eat it. If it is a baguette or large item, I tend to follow the recommended procedure.

@dashofginger I will stop cutting my salad greens when restaurants make the salad in pieces small enough to fit in a human mouth without smearing dressing on the face. They often make salads to look pretty rather than be edible as is.

(moderately) enraging little debbie clickbait...

Swiss Cake Rolls in 26th is complete horse$#!+.

I have not touched one in more than a decade, but inhaled box-fulls in my youth. They beat the hell out of everything in their top 10.

Need input on buying a smoker

I second the Weber Smoky Mountain. And the Virtual Weber site and bulletin board linked above have all the info on the models and how to use them. Throw the directions away and read that board. It is my BBQ Bible.

I have the 18.5" WSM, and it is great, but I also smoke smaller cooks on a Weber One Touch Gold grill. You need to learn some tips to keep temps low and slow on the grill, which is a good dual-purpose option if space is limited. There is also a new 14.5" WSM out this year that may work for you.

If you get a 18.5, make sure it is a 2014 model. It has a couple of new features (grommet for temp probe cables; handles on bottom rack) worth getting.

Craigslist can be a good way to find an older one for less money. They last forever, so used is still good.

Cook the Book: Lonely Planet's 'The World's Best Spicy Food'

A ham sandwich. With slices of raw habanero on it. It was like a branding iron on my teenaged tongue.

Cajun Injectors

The only time I use my injector is when smoking meats. I inject brisket with beef broth. Pork butts get some shots of apple juice, water, sugar, salt, and Worcestershire per the famous Chris Lilly recipe.

Shepherd's Pie From 'My Irish Table'

I always used cubed meat too, beef or lamb.

Cook the Book: 'My Irish Table' by Cathal Armstrong

Lamb stew, stewed cabbage, and a Guinness (not stewed)

Video: Comedy Duo Kills it With Dramatic Reading of Domino's Pizza Facebook Complaints

Loved it! Real life morons are so much funnier than anything you could make up.

Substituting yogurt for sour cream in dips?

I use yogurt and skim milk instead of the mayo, milk, or sour cream called for on the Ranch Dressing/Dip packet mixes. Works great. I use more or less milk to get the thickness I like.

So You Think You Want to Open a Brewery...

I'm one of those people who would never start a brewery or similar business because I immediately think of all the legal, financial, labor, and paperwork headaches that would go with it.

People who are the opposite of me, and dream of only the good and fun aspects, are great. They are the ones who so often start new business for the rest of us to enjoy as their customers. They only learn of the bad things when it is too late.

I'm afraid this article, interesting as it is, will deprive us of a few of those foolish dreamers.

Ask a Cicerone: The Best Brown Ales

I am hoping that Americans will grow tired of high-hop, high ABV beer so that more of our craft brewers will make low ABV British style ales. I much prefer these types of beers.

Tea taste test/brand preferences?

I enjoy Yorkshire Tea. Each bag is strong enough to make two cups of good tea. Just a swirl or two thru the cup (with a spoon; the bag has no string) is good. PG Tips is my runner-up.

Why do TV cooks dump seasonings in a pile?

TV cooks on, for example, America's Test Kitchen will add salt, cumin, pepper, paprika, etc. to the pot by just dumping the whole measure in a pile in the middle of the pot. Then, without stirring, they often just slap the lid on and "simmer for about an hour" or whatever.

I tend to sprinkle seasonings and spices around the pot rather than just dump them in a pile. If I dumped, I sure as heck would stir before I put the lid on to simmer.

Does anyone really cook like that? Is there some TV production reason they so often just dump it and ignore it?

split articles and slideshows are EVIL

Slate has posted an excellent article about one of the features of this site that I dislike very much: all the slideshows that may in the short run generate more page-views, but in the long run make me use the site less.

I used to visit daily, but the annoyance factor has made it more like weekly, and I won't click on a slideshow unless I am so interested in it that I can tolerate all the clicks and delays it will take to read it.

First world problem, but still a problem.

Slate says: Splitting articles and photo galleries into multiple pages is evil. It should stop.

Pagination is one of the worst design and usability sins on the Web, the kind of obvious no-no that should have gone out with blinky text, dancing cat animations, and autoplaying music. It shows constant, quiet contempt for people who should be any news site's highest priority--folks who want to read articles all the way to the end.

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