• Location: Cleveland, OHIO

What is Xanthan Gum?

I had found good explanations on how it is made, from what, etc, and it sounds "natural". Yes the allergy police were on blogs, not to belittle allergies. It is the consumer's responsibility to read labels, but also the producers' responsibility in labeling. The R&D for the BBQ I'm making is going well: acidity was within limits, water, etc., tastes great, bottles are sealing well. Next step is labeling. I need to send the label maker a list of ingredients. My 4th ingredient (by volume) is a Cayenne Pepper Sauce I like, with XG in it, derived from what - chissa'? - doesn't say. Part of our market is natural food stores. They may have issue with this. And do I list ingredients as "x, y, z, cayenne pepper sauce (cayenne peppers, vinegar, salt, xanthan gum, garlic),..." or try to find a sauce without it, or list ingredients of my BBQ, assuming XG is at the bottom of the list?
Maybe I'll just make my own damn pepper sauce (HA)!
Thanks for the insights.
Would love to read more about the viscosity and mixing. The "shake well" on labels has a whole new meaning for me now. I want to go to the cooler and read 'em all!

Short on cash but not on standards.

Pasta for sure. Aldi's is my go-to for a tight budget week. Their produce isn't organic, but it is cheap. I used to be a grocery/market snob, but sometimes necessity breeds wisdom.
Aglio olio with some fresh veggie in it is one of my faves. Full of flavor; ingredients on hand. Cheap except for the olive oil, but sub some other oil or butter for half the olive oil. Pasta water can thin out a lot of pasta dishes, too.

What kind of Bread is your Favorite for Panini's?

Cicabatta for sure. I also like day old foccaccia, if it's a thicker variety, because the oil in the dough makes it hard, and difficult, to use for anything else.

Can we move on from pork belly?...

I just ordered half a hog for my own personal use.
It's a lovely thing. I used to raise my own, for about .99/pound (cost of piglet, worming, feeding, everything but time). With the cost of corn, about 5 years ago, my cost went up to 1.99/pound. At that time the butcher was selling local hogs at 1.49/pound. HMMM. (No brainer, time especially) The pigs are probably from a farm raising its own corn to feed its own livestock.
Now it is at 1.89/pound. Still worth my time to get it from my award winning butcher, with a kill license, and get what I want, how I want. Pork belly, good. Pork jowl, yummy. And I keep the fat and make lard. No, it is not something I grew up doing, but I find what I make is better than Crisco any day of the week - for pie crusts, biscuits, fried potatoes, pancakes, etc.

What people are realizing now, is that heart disease and diabetes were not an issue back in the fifties (before processed food). Our grandparents ate bacon gravy over lardy biscuits with butter on their toast. And then they dunked the toast in the bacon grease. Never a fat farmer to be found, and no heart disease. I think most of my farmer forefathers (dairy/apple) died of aneurysms, and they were so god fearing they didn't smoke or drink, either.

In other words, eat what you want, but be wary of where it comes from. I am starting to think that USDA means very little. Pork fat for everyone!

Mangia!! Meatballs!

I never mix with my hands. Fluffing with fork seems to make a better intereior texture. I also like to keep it quite simple; good meat the biggest factor.

Help finding good, cheap knives!

Paula has a knife line now? I somehow find that funny! Some of my favorite knives (got lots, love knives) I got from hosting a Pampered Chef party. Cheesy, I know, but I like them. I probably wouldn't pay full price for them, but having the party made it worth it for me.

What the heck is THAT ???

I make lard, ouside. (Wish I had the link to the "bon App" article about nothing but the fats.) Anyway, my mother in law always kept to "pork rinds" - too gross. She would crisp them up on the stove, and stink up the inside. Nothing like the pork rinds in the bag, which I love, with guilt!

Abroad, when living in italy, before learning Italian, I ate sheep or goat brains, couldn't tell you which. (It was in Sardenia.) The texture is like you would imagine, and I ate it not to offend. The other was a soup (in Genova) with intestines in it. Tripe? Chew and chew and chew and chew. In either case, I wasn't told what it was until after I ate it. Once was definitely enough.

A lot can be said for texture, almost as important as taste and appearance!

Cleveland, OH food ideas?

I also love Tommy's on Coventry. Lemongrass. Slyman's. Murray Hill Italian places. There is a great little Middle Eastern place by the West Side Market, too. Can't recall the name; walk around. Hope it's not snowing, but Buffalo - you're used to it!

Cleveland is known for immigrants. You go to different areas on the edge of town you can find pockets of good stuff. Don't think you want to get that involved, right? Coventry and Murray Hill have great galleries, as does Tremont.

Cleveland Rocks!

Why Post?... Several reasons.

And I'm commenting on my own postl Oh well.

Why Post?... Several reasons.

Not at all, but from the sounds of it, I would probably like your kitchen, and it is at least 8 hours away!

What does California Cuisine mean to you?

I disagree, to some extent, and agree, also. Because of California's cuisine, I think we have embraced our own heritage a little more; Alice Waters madde it hip.

I live very close to Ohio wine country, and the wineries here have made a name for themselves,too, in recent years, and one of the reasons is the globalization of food (technology).

Some things that we hold dear in the heartland,like fresh veggies, we take for granted, and a lot of my friends drive to Wally World to buy produce. It's cheap,it's convenient, and it hurts the local markets. But keep in mind that California's growing season is a lot longer than it is in the Midwest. And we might have the lakes, but they have the ocean. (We have snow, they have earthquakes!)

I would love for more people to buy local, (those that don't grow local) but financially that is not a possibility in March.

Why Post?... Several reasons.

Not asked in a malicious way at all, Now that I see it!

Why Post?... Several reasons.

Where the hell is Colwyn, Pa?

Why Post?... Several reasons.

@Monkii, posting the original thread is 90% selfish, what happens thereafter is not. Basically you agree with me. And like I said, sometimes the original post is not selfish at all. "Depends on the week." St Patrick's Day was a good thing for me to look forward to; maple syrup is always a good thing. Next, I don't know. Thanks for the comment on the other thread. First thing, clean out the oven chimney....

Need a Blog for my Portfolio...Help!

As you can tell by the name, I'm italian, but the other half of the family is hillbilly. I would love to know how to feed my hillbilly diabetic mother in law how to eat well. Creamed chicken and biscuits, Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes, pot roast (no carrots). If it's green, she won't eat it, not even sugar free jello, I mean gelatin.

In other words, whatever you name your new blog, clue me in!

I love my kitchen because _____

@ecca (and others) The other night when I was cleaning the counters, I kissed my Kitchen Aid mixer. I hope no one was looking. I have a mediocre electric stove, but that has never bothered me. Perhaps another thread, but I have always had an electric stove at home, and a gas stove at work, and boh (shrug my shoulders here).

I bought the old family farmhouse and totally get the window thing (ell).
This part of the house is circa Civil War and I get breezes from all sides, newish windows now, but still I gotta be careful where the bread dough sits. Like all old houses, pre-depression anyway, no storage. I also have utensils hanging from the rafters, that YES, I do use, and I have a framed magazine picture on the wall.

The saving grace of my kitchen is the fireplace my father built, yes built, from the basement up. It is about 11 foot wide at the base, with a 4 foot fireplace. It burns 24/7 in the winter, so we cook on it at least once a month. He built in an oven (separate fire source than the fire place, smoke joins the chimney, somewhere, hopefully) on one side. My parents gave up on that shortly after completion (30 years ago), and I haven't tried since buying the place some years ago. Love ya, pop, but a little scared! Oh, today is the 25th anniversary of his death, and no, I am not that old, he was just that young. May be a good day to try what he called the "dutch oven".

Need a Blog for my Portfolio...Help!

how about "Be all you can Eat"
"No small fEAT"
"Army of Fun Food"
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell, just Eat Well"

Okay, the last one was a joke, but it would get a lot of hits!

Dishing on a Dish in a Kids' Book

Sure, now it sounds good, especially with some pasta, homemade foccaccia, salad... but I was definitely a picky kid.

Processed Cheese... healthy or not?

Grilled American cheese on white bread is the bomb! Yumm.

Okay, think like a parent. I don't think cheese is the biggest problem schools have. They could forgo cheese altogether and better than nothing: serve lo-fat milk (cheaper than yogurt, I think, or at least good yogurt). And most kids will drink milk, if not chocolate milk. The cost for good cheese probably does exceed their budget, and money well spent on healthy cheese (which one is?) could be spent on fresh fruit, or chicken that doesn't come in the shape of my big toe. My daughter LOVES cheese, and I hate to break it to her that one day her hips might not love it as much as her taste buds!

Has anybody cooked with Kraft Cooking Creme yet?

Who's that food network shortcut cook, semi- something. It sounds like something she might feature in a recipe. I would probably use it on bagels, toasted day old bread, and maybe in a dip when fresh herbs are hard to come by. Thanks for the "hint"!

Has anybody cooked with Kraft Cooking Creme yet?

I really want to read the other blog now!!! Where is it? A hint, pleeaase!

Expats: What foods do you miss from back home?

A little late, but when living in Italy i missed peanut butter, maple syrup, and at Thanksgiving I really wanted a pumpkin pie. I tried to make one from a pumpkin, but couldn't get across to my Italian friends the different kind of pumkins, so I didn't use a "pie pumpkin". It was yucky!

Corned Beef/cabbage/carrots/potatoes/baked beans

@ madeirasara - It was St. Patrick's day, by the way. A general interest in what other people are eating on holidays is a legitimate question. And I just read the bacon thread, so .... Did I mention I used bacon with the cabbage. Maybe you woke up grumpy - 4:30 AM.

How's Your Bacon?

Paula Dean or Rachel Ray?

I have to respect how they worked their way up but their voices grate on my nerves, as well. I'd love to see them in Ramsey's kitchen! I could probably get past the voice (think Julia) if their food were more interesting. Another annoying thing - the made up words, acronyms from RR. I think they are both successful for entertainment value, and maybe cooking advice for the novice. (Another annoying one - Giada.)

What is Xanthan Gum?

I've been reading up on this ingredient. It seems almost as dubious as MSG or HFCS, but not as well known. A true allergy is as real as a TRUE allergy to MSG, and I'm curious if any SE people have come across this issue. I want to use a sauce with XG in it in a bottled product I'm making, but wondering if I should avoid it, especially for the natural food market. Hmmmm. Thanks.

Organic Certification, is it worth it?

My familly is looking to retail farm products. Some retailers, natural food places, want "certified organic". Looking into the cost of getting certified makes me think it is a crock of s*%@! I don't get it - what started as such a good thing way back when has become a money maker for these organizations that "certify" according to guidlines set up by the government. How has it come to this? I can claim "organic" until I reach $5000 in sales. After that it would cost me around $800. EVERY year. Doesn't seem cost effective for a seal that would make consumers buy my product. It would take a lot more than $5000 dollars in sales to justify paying for this certification! No wonder it costs so much to buy organic at your typical grocery store. Again, How did it come to this?!?

Why Post?... Several reasons.

Unless it is your job to start threads, 90% of us would probably agree that starting a topic is very selfish. The most obvious reason would be:

a. to gain information on a specific question, answer unknown
b. to get feedback on a general idea
c. to research current trends, products, style, etc.

There are also other reasons to post questions or opinions:

d. to spark conversation, and thus new ideas
f. to fuel our own creativity and that of others
g. to connect with people who share a similar interest
h. to share ideas with others that might have the same passion
i. to feel better about ourselves and what we choose to pass our time with.

I am sure other people have other reasons, but there are mine. To me, cooking is an art - an outlet for creativity, and one week I feel very creative, the next I might be very curious, the next I might be very complacent, and then next I'm downright fed up with the whole affair and depressed altogether (hamburgers and pasta all week long). So, guess which period might see a lot of my posts? (okay, the answer is: curious and creative)

This recent fascination with other people's posts (I have never posted anything in a desire to get the most comments!) and comments kind of defeats the purpose of the freedom we have at SE. I recently closed my restaurant (great economy we got goin' on, great winter, too) and I don't like the way some of my own comments have been received - makes me want to keep my opinions to myself. But like Timeo... said, there are a lot of us with good hearts that sincerely just like to talk about food; and quite often a good friendly discussion is thwarted because of a few lousy comments. The other freedom we have is go click on another thread!
Your anonymity might protect you, but other people's feelings can still be hurt.

PS If I think of something else, can I comment on this later?

Corned Beef/cabbage/carrots/potatoes/baked beans

Cleveland Ohio has the oldest St. Patty's parade, and all the friends were over after. With a lot of kids coming I did everything seperately: Corned beef plain as plain as corned can be, steamed carrots, butter and garlic redskins, cabbage fried with bacon, and other sides. I was surprised by how many adults didn't mix, and the kids loved tasting everything - not all mixed together. (The only thing missing was Pavlov's baked beans!!! Found that recipe yet?) As I sip a Guiness and watch the fireplace hoping one of these a**es does the dishes, I wonder if your dinner was a little different than normal? Corned beef and coleslaw hot dogs, maybe? (Hmmm?--Yum!)

Guiness Stout & Corned Beef?

I heard someone say they do their corned beef in Guinness. Anybody else use Guiness? How much? With the spices and the cabbage, carrots,etc? Just curious, and if it sounds good I might try it.

Maple, Maple, Maple!

I am surprised not to see anything on the topic. It is maple syrup season, and if you have the oportunity to see the process, it is labor intensive, done by families passionate about keeping the spirit alive. The United States is one of a few countries in the world that produces maple syrup, thanks to Native Americans, and it is such a versatile natural sugar source. Yes, it is expensive, but it takes 40-50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. (Store brand syrups have like 2% maple flavoring.)
My question is what do people like to use syrup for besides pancakes?
My mam uses it to sweeten her oatmeal.
I like maple cream on homemade biscuits.

Jalapenos are poppin out of my garden!

Great year for peppers with all this heat, and I am wanting to try fried jalapeno poppers. The recipes I've found all vary in prep,ingredients, mostly baked, etc and none really appealed to me. I was wondering if anyone knew how they do it for the restaurants. At all the places I've worked, we had them delivered in a box! Any ideas?

Wings and Dings

I'm sure it's been done before, but I must have missed it.... What is your favorite wing recipe, hot or otherwise? Now that football season is "hot" and heavy, I've done wings two weeks in a row. They have been so successful (more successful than my Browns!!!) that the fans said keep it up. I now bake them then broil them, not that it helps much to make them healthy, but it beats cleaning the fryer. For an aside, do you like the wings or dings? I always make the dings in the garlic butter for the SO, and the wings in the hot for me. Franks is the fave for the base, but a little tapatio for heat. I love HOT HOT HOT so of course some pepper flakes, cumin for smoky...

Jambalaya, please.

I just returned from a visit south and got all the fixins for Jambalaya, including some fresh chorizo. What are some of your favorite recipes for it, and what kind of rice do you like to use? I'm making it tonight, so any help would be appreciated.

Green Beans Galore

I've been eating and freezing green beans for a week now, and it is amazing how many beans one plant produces let alone a 20 foot row! I would like to save some freezer room for other veggies, so now we must eat all the green beans that are left. (tragic, isn't it?) But I'm a little tired of steamed and boiled and boring. What are some of your favorite recipes? I imagine beans are used in almost every ethnic culture, and the possibilities must be endless....

Sauces: All I want is a good remoulade recipe

I've looked everywhere for a good remoulade, and there are thousands of recipes. I've tried the traditional and the new "light" crap. I just want one that tastes GOOD. Does anyone have a suggestion? We all know the key to any meal is the sauce; it's all about the sauce!

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