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Yeast Whisperer

I like to cook. I think I actually like to cook more than I like to eat.

Donna was born and raised and well-fed in the Chicago area, where she developed a love for interesting ingredients. When she moved to Colorado, she suffered from a lack of Chicago-style Italian sausage, gyros, and pierogi, among other things. So of course, she made her own - and then went on a mission to make as many things as possible from scratch - at least once. She still hasn't mastered Cheetos.

  • Website
  • Location: Colorado
  • Favorite foods: It's easier to list what I don't like. Raisins! Ptooey! Coconut: just say no! Nori: no way.
  • Last bite on earth: That depends on when the space ship is due to leave.

Gadgets: Mastrad Minute Cooker

The minute cooker is simple. A somewhat square (wider at the corners, gently curved in the center), somewhat flat bowl nestles in a silicone base with a silicone lid. We gave it a run for its money to see if it would steam our food as efficiently as promised. More

Gadgets: Swissmar Cheese Holder

The Swissmar cheese holder's three short prongs poke into a hunk of cheese to grip it without stabbing so deeply that the cheese begins to crack or tear, allowing you to slice the cheese without using your hands to hold it. Meanwhile, the knob is big enough to hang onto easily. More

Sift'n Sieve, a Tamis With a Built-In Scraper

If you've watched enough food shows, you've probably seen chefs using a tamis—a drum-like sifter that can be used for puréeing berries, smoothing mashed potatoes, or getting the lumps out of flour. That's what the Sift'n Sieve ($17.99) from Chef'n is, but instead of being made entirely of metal it combines a plastic rim with metal mesh. More

Gift Guide: 12 Kitchen Gadgets We Love

From stocking stuffers to extravagant, indulgent gifts, it's time to make that list and check it twice, whether you're shopping for your best pal or making your own wish list. If you're celebrating twelve days of Christmas, here's a gift for every day. More

Gadgets: Sharpen Your Pizza Wheel

Have you ever sharpened your pizza wheel? Have ever even thought about sharpening it? Yeah, me either. I mean, it's not like you need a sushi knife for whacking your pizza into pieces, right? So when I saw that a pizza wheel sharpener ($14.99) existed, I was surprised. Then again, now I have a pizza wheel that might actually be sharper than it was when it was new. More

Bread Baking: Stuffing Buns

No, these buns aren't made from stuffing—they're made to taste like stuffing. Of course, every family's stuffing recipe is different, and some are very, very different. But this one hits all the typical flavor notes. More

Don't Like Deep Frying At Home? Try the Philips AirFryer, a Convection Oven on Steroids

I see that I didn't mention the potato capacity, although I did note 2 pounds of chicken wings.

My average batch of potatoes, when I was cooking fries, was 2 pounds.

Don't Like Deep Frying At Home? Try the Philips AirFryer, a Convection Oven on Steroids

Holy cow: http://q-n-c.com/

Quick n Crispy. The cheapest one, according to the website, is $3295.

Food Huggers Help Keep Cut Produce and Open Containers Fresh

They also have one for avocados, which I'm curious about.

@Beavis, I think that since the onion half wasn't peeled, that probably also made a difference, but I honestly forgot that onion was in there because I didn't smell it every time I opened the bin.

The smallest one in the photo - the yellow - is actually on a square-shaped glass. I don't think you'd get one to fit a sardine can, though.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

I've heard great things about the Whirlypop here and elsewhere. I think, though, that if I'm going to get it, I'd probably pop for the stainless steel model, since that one has metal gears. The Amazon reviews on the standard model have a lot of complaints about the plastic gears on the aluminum model. Apparently they used to be metal in years past, but now they aren't.

They also have a model that's designed for adding caramel or flavorings, which could be interesting.

@Adam, I've seen that concept of heating and cooling the kernels before, but if I'm remembering correctly, it wasn't as long as 5 minutes. Basically, just heat, then take off the heat, for maybe a minute - long enough to find the bowl and get the butter out - then put it back on the heat. That's on my agenda to test as well.

Popcorn is a daily occurrence here, so I've been trying different methods. I've just recently been using a cast iron wok. Last night, it was two batches. The first, I tried the method where you wait until one or two kernels pop before adding the rest of the popcorn. I had a few charred pieces, but not bad considering I didn't do any shaking or stirring. For the second batch, I tossed in the oil and added popcorn right after I unloaded the first batch. The wok was already really hot, and the popcorn started popping right away. No burned kernels since nothing was sitting at the bottom very long.

Downside to cast iron wok is that it takes quite a bit of time to heat up - much longer than a thin metal pan. But, if I wanted multiple batches, the wok would probably be a good way to go.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

@Adam, I had the same result with fresh popcorn. I wouldn't call it tough, as in chewy, but it was more crunchy and solid rather than light and fluffy and tender. It certainly didn't pop any bigger than the popcorn from the night before.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

I just made a batch in my wok with a pizza crisper pan on top (holes in the pan) and that was a tad too holey, so I put a spatter screen on top of that. The spatter screen alone wouldn't have worked well, but on top of the goofy pizza pan (why do I even own that???), it was fine.

It worked really well, letting steam escape and no pot shaking. I had 3 or 4 unpopped kernels from the batch. I'm going to try the heat and cool method next. I've seen that elsewhere, but this is the first time I've seen it suggested to let it heat and cool twice.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

@Les ah, this is giving me ideas. Thanks!

In search of: Popcorn Popper

@lemonfair, one of the reasons I'm looking for another method is that the shaking of the pot has worn the enamel off that particular burner grate and the bottom of the pot I use is showing a similar amount of wear. The metal-scraping-on-metal sound isn't all the pleasant.

The wok method sounds interesting, if I don't have to shake it. The only wok I have is cast iron, so I don't want to have to move that around. It doesn't have its own lid, but maybe one of my larger pot lids will work. I'll have to give that a try.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

I'm such a troublemaker ;-)

In search of: Popcorn Popper

@Maggie, I've considered the brown paper bags, but for the amount of popcorn that gets devoured, we'd have to make a couple of batches in the sandwich sized bags. I'd rather have a big bowl that I can microwave and then just chuck it into the dishwasher.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

@Rohnjoberson, the "somebody" who has the popcorn habit can use the extra calories from the added oil.

In search of: Popcorn Popper

The whirly-pop looks interesting, but that's one more pot I have to find room for. I'd buy it, though, if the popcorn was better or easier than using a regular pot on the stove.

Benefit of a microwave bowl-like device is that it might nest with other bowls for storage.

I considered figuring out some kind of MacGuyvered microwave-in-a-bowl thing, but none of my popcorn-sized bowls are microwave safe.

Why would salt not be included in yeasted & sweet bread recipes?

There's not that much salt in salted butter if you're using a tablespoon, but if you're making something that uses a vast amount of butter, like croissants, there is a difference.

That said, unless a recipe includes a whole bunch of salty ingredients, like parmesan cheese, olives, or whatever, then for sure I'm going to add salt. I use it in all my breads and in desserts. Even in ice cream. Not a ton of salt, but a little.

Vegan Mayonnaise Taste Test Produces Surprising Results

I have to say that I like the SE policy of positive reviews. Because bad reviews still give attention to a product. People who skim articles might say, well, I thought I saw it mentioned on SE, so it must be okay.

Sometimes it's fun to be snarky about a product (food or otherwise) but I would much rather call attention to things that aren't awful, dangerous, un-tasty, defective, or otherwise not fit to be purchased. There are other sites for that. I come here to see what's new, interesting, tasty or useful.

That said, not everyone has the same taste, so of course not every product is good for everyone. I'm not vegan and never really thought about buying a vegan mayonnaise, but after this review, I'm curious enough about this one to consider buying it if I see it somewhere.

Slice Your Cake and Stack It, Too, With the Zenker Cake Slicing Kit

@negoiants, it's a yellow cake with layers of soft caramel, almond filling, and almond-flavored buttercream.

Yogurt Knife Recomendations?

Well, it is a multi-tasker ... ;-)

First Time Making Bread, help!

Yogurt Knife Recomendations?

What an amazing coincidence. I have this one up for review in a few weeks: http://goo.gl/s0qEIq

Bake Bread More Easily With the Folding Proofer from Brod & Taylor

Yeah, I don't think this will get much use in my house in the summer, because we don't have ac and the issue is finding a cooler place rather than a warmer one. Usually I resort to using cooler water for the dough and if that's not slowing it down enough I toss it into the fridge to let it get a little chill time.

A wine fridge might work for the cooler temps, though. I think they're about 55 degrees, so maybe putting it in there, then turning off the fridge would work?

Get Cracking With the Nutcracker From Drosselmeyer

I've only seen a shelled black walnut once in my life, so I don't know if this would handle them or not. I think (but I'm not sure) it might be a little too large to fit.

Refreshing Green Juice

That's the point of this series - juicer recipes. If you don't have one, it would be difficult to make most of these recipes. Some, you could put in a blender or food processor, then strain, I suppose.

Gift Guide: 12 Kitchen Gadgets We Love

Make Beer Can Turkey Easily With the Turkey Cannon

I love Alton Brown, but his "unitasker" theory annoys me a little. Some things are designed perfectly to do one specific thing, and that's fine with me if they do the job well. I know some people who have beautiful roasting pans, but they only use them once a year when the cook turkey. No one would call a roasting pan a unitasker, because in theory you could use it for a lot of other things. But some people treat them like unitaskers. Considering you could use this for any bird from 4-20 pounds and you can use it on the grill, in the oven or in a smoker, that's a decent number of uses.

Parker House Rolls

@Snacky, there are probably a billion ways to make any bread recipe. A bit of butter in the fold would be fine.

Pumpkin Sweet Swirl Buns

Yup, you can grind them yourself. The hazelnut meal I've bought in the past has included the skins, but if you want to go all fancy, you could remove them and toast them. Stop grinding when you've got small bit, but before it turns into hazelnut butter. If you want it a little chunkier, it would be fine, too. It won't affect the formula of the recipe at all

Bread Baking: Caraway (Stone-Ground) Rye

There are a lot of different rye flours available, including light rye, medium rye, and pumpernickel flour. However, my local grocery chains tend to have one brand and one type, and that's stone-ground rye. It's a coarser, grittier rye than most of the others that I buy online, but it still makes a nice bread. If your local markets have other varieties of rye flour, use what's available or what you like best. More

Bread Baking: White Potato-Egg Sandwich Loaf

In this bread, instant mashed potatoes create a softer, fluffier texture. I almost always use them in dinner rolls for that reason. The instant potatoes I buy are little more than dehydrated cooked potatoes, with no strange preservatives, chemicals, or flavors. The resulting bread is a very pale yellow, and very soft and fluffy with just a hint of flavor from the egg. More

The Top 50 Talk Threads of 2009

In the Best Thread Overall nominations post some folks were asking about the top threads of 2009 in terms of most-favorited or most-trafficked. I'm going to list most-favorited first, since that's probably a truer reflection of popularity among SE'ers than... More