Aya Kristen Alt

I like food.

  • Location: Upstate New York
  • Favorite foods: All of them except raw carrots.
  • Last bite on earth: My grandmother's katsu kare.

Pine Nuts, Sumac, and Parsley Are Unlikely but Delicious Partners for Scrambled Eggs

you have sumac AND parsley on your cutting board.

The Best Gas Grills Under $500, 2015 Edition

Yeah... I'm liking my grill... and it sears well enough for my purposes - I got awesome grill marks on my grilled tofu, and on salmon burgers. After reading your review I went out and bought a steak last night just to see how it did - was only fair for the sirloin; tried to do a reverse sear and ended up with medium rather than medium rare trying to get nice grill marks (would have nailed it on charcoal). But all in all I'm pleased.

The Best Gas Grills Under $500, 2015 Edition

Oh. Doh. I should have just read your review on your website!

The Best Gas Grills Under $500, 2015 Edition

How do you reckon the Lowe's Charbroil Commercial 3 burner compares with Home Depot's Charbroil Gourmet 3 burner? Originally I had thought it was just cosmetics, but now looking more closely, the infrared plates seem to be different - closed to the cooking surface.

I got a floor model Gourmet 3 burner that had a dinged case for about $250 a few months ago and I'm loving the convenience, and one of the things I love is that I can toss a handful of wood chips into the trough to add a bit of smoke easily. Doesn't sound like that would be the case for the Lowe's version - but it sounds like witha cooing surface closer to the grates, it might be more fuel efficient and sear better?

Not terribly important since my grill's been doing a find job for me, but just things to consider.

The Good Bagel Manifesto

veggie cream cheese.

The Pressure Cooker Makes Rich Chicken Chile Verde in Under 30 Minutes

Why is there cilantro on the table?

Use Your Pressure Cooker to Make the World's Fastest, Easiest Chicken Enchiladas

A pre-emptive:
Why is there cilantro on your table?

The Vegan Experience: How to Make a Rich and Creamy Loaded Baked Potato Soup

So I did this... I'm pretty sure my cauliflower must have been at least twice as big as yours. Needed a TON of extra almond milk and stock to even start to blend it.

How to Make Vegan Chorizo That Even a Carnivore Will Relish

I boiled up some dried lentils and then dried them (my whole foods does not have canned lentils)... which seemed counterproductive. It worked fine.

The Art of Tarte Flambée: Alsatian Pizza With Fromage Blanc, Bacon, and Onions

@nick.W is there a brand of soy yogurt you like? the commercial ones all seem too sweet to me - and I've never ventured to make it at home myself, though I make regular yogurt all the time...

How to Make the Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen

So I made this with shirataki tonight (blizzard... can't venture out for ramen) and it came out AMAZING. The best ramen I have ever made, by far!! It took about 2.5 hours total from start to finish (and that includes wine breaks) - definitely worth it! My house smells fantastic!! This is going to be GREAT tomorrow after skiing.

I would say the on;y things I noticed- to make the shitake-soy tare, I ended up using more like 3/4c each soy and mirin, to actually cover the mushrooms, and for the mushroom oil, again, I needed about double the oil to come even close to getting all the mushroom into the oil - I figured if it wasn't even in the oil even after softening up, then it wasn't enough oil. OTOH I eyeballed my 1/2 ounces.

Also, as my local whole foods did not have dried porcinis, I used dried oyster mushrooms instead. I doubt my palate would know the difference.

The Ultimate Rich and Creamy Vegan Ramen With Roasted Vegetables and Miso Broth

Made this. Worth it. Did it o a weeknight. Dinner is at 11PM but worth it!

Better Than Parm? Dried Olive and Miso May Be the Ultimate Pasta-Topper

...must make MORE... all gone already!

Why My Fridge Is Never Without Shirataki Noodles (and Yours Shouldn't be Either)

I have been eating these for years and years. So good so many ways - like I keep pho stock frozen so it's really easy to heat that up with some noodles, toss in veggies and herbs and meat and have faux pho... or stir fry them pad thai style... or use them instead of rice in ochazuke.... they even make a good quick chicken noodle soup. They do NOT do well as a pasta substitute. They're just so convenient that I always have a drawer full of them in my fridge. I personally prefer the texture of the tofu ones in most instances.

Better Than Parm? Dried Olive and Miso May Be the Ultimate Pasta-Topper

Caponata: The Flavor-Packed 30-Minute Sicilian Dish We Should All Be Eating More Of

The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

(but I guess the fact that I make it so often tells you something....)

The Best Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

I've made this like a dozen times now... and it NEVER comes out that orange. Boo!

Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast)

duxelles. should have doubled the recipe.

Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast)

I've just made the fillings so far and the mushrooms alone are out of this world.

The $29 Thermopop Digital Thermometer Measures Up

I'd like a pink one for christmas please, ok, thank you.

The Best Spiced Nuts From Trader Joe's

chili lime almonds I recently bought were a bummer... apart from the lime leaves, barely any chili lime flavor - used to be they made them the same way they used to make the chili lime peanuts and chili lime mixed nuts - that is, with visible pieces of lemongrass, whole chilis and lime. This new bag stinks.
I do like the chili lime cashews too, but the flavoring mix they use on that seems sweeter and less spicy, and combined with the cashews' natural sweetness they are a bit too sweet for me.

The Food Lab: How to Make Vegan Stuffing That Really Rocks

Yeah, no. This requires cranberries. And to not be puddingy.

The Food Lab: How to Cook Mussels (The Easiest Choose-Your-Own-Adventure One Pot Meal Around)

This spurred me to mussels tonight... though they run $7.99/lb at my whole foods (on sale for $6.99 today). They seem to vary between coming from PEI (like today) and from Washington. Still cheaper than other shellfish, that's for sure!

Also... yes. They're blue mussels, not black mussels, which are an entirely different genus and which I've never seen in the US....

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

That's not a peregrine...

Atkins diet - for @umama

@umama, in response to a post in the chipotle bbq angus mcdonalds thread, to avoid hijacking it -

You must be reading a revisionist version of the diet, as the original version does not have any fruit (except tomato and avocado) as permitted foods, and an extremely restricted list of vegetables. And it only allows the introduction of these vegetables later in the diet. It does not "encourage" fruit and vegetables in any way. It grudgingly "permits" a handful. It explicitly encourages the consumption of salt if you experience "weakness due to weight loss." It encourages the consumption of processed foods - explicitly mentioning ham, hamburger and corned beef as examples. How are those not processed foods?

I have the 1992 version of the book; I don't know if there was an earlier one (ie maybe it's "revisionist", I don't know), but the fact of it is, you're flat out wrong.

During the initial, strictest (2 week) phase of the diet, you're REQUIRED to eat vegetables - pretty much anything with a low glycemic index (but not tomato; I'm not sure why you mention it except as further example that you're mistaken about the diet). As you progress, you start adding more items to your diet. More, higher glycemic index vegetables (like tomato), low glycemic index fruit like berries and melons, legumes, and eventually other fruits, starchy veggies and whole grains.

Certainly, for my part, when I started following the Atkins diet nearly ten years ago, even during the initial strict phase I was eating FAR more vegetables than I ever had, even when I was trying to eat "healthy".

In no place in Dr. Atkins' book is salt advocated for feelings of weakness; the book acknowledges that dizziness and weakness are common during the first two weeks and suggests drinking lots of water, slowing down weight loss by eating more vegetables and nuts/seeds, and making certain of adequate calcium, magnesium and potassium intake via a multivitamin as your body adjusts.

What is banana cream pie?

I've never had it! But I've had a request for it, and the only explicit direction I got was that it was to have a pastry pie crust, not a graham (or vanilla wafer) one (which I would have preferred) because hey, that's what he likes.

Beyond that, I've been scouting recipes, and it seems like some involve banana flavored puddingy stuff inside, and some involve vanilla flavor, with sliced bananas mixed in, and some involved whipped cream, some involve meringue (but it's not a banana meringue pie...) so all you connoisseurs out there... what's a banana cream pie to you?

Chicken Pot Pie

The ATK recipe just reminded me about this question about semantics... I love chicken pot pie, but I always like to make it with a biscuit crust. I roll it out and top the pie, so it cooks up crusty on top and soft on the bottom - basically like a cobbler.

So is what I make a chicken pot pie (that's what I call it)? A chicken cobbler (sounds like a dessert)? Chicken and biscuits (what my boyfriend calls it; seems to me that ought to be more like distinct biscuits on top rather than a sheet of biscuit, but hey whatever)? Chicken and dumplings (that's what my brother calls it, but seems to me the dumplings oughtta be fully submerged)?

It's good stuff regardless!

The benefits of organic beef

A line in Kenji's prime rib article got me thinking. He wrote:

Very recent legislation mandates that at least 30% of their dry matter intake needs to come from pasture for 120 days out of the year. That's good news.

I happen to disagree (with the good news part, that is). I think it's illustrative of the kind of thinking that many of us put into our food choices. On the one hand: cows crammed into dark, smelly, dirty barns. On the other: clean, happy cows on lush verdant pastures, chewing their cud and leading a carefree existence. Of course mandating that organic cows have to get a certain amount of pasture is good news, duh! So let's buy organic meat!

Wrong. In implementation, anyway, though perhaps not in spirit.

Unequivocally mandating that for a cow (or its milk - I will mention milk a lot because I am from the Northeast and familiar with dairies, not beef operations, but when it comes down to it, cows are basically all cows) to be certified organic, it MUST get 30% of its dry matter intake from pasture for four months out of the year is, for most of the country (I'm thinking maybe an exception in Alaska, maybe??) not going to make for happy cows. Here's why:

Cows are happiest at ambient temperatures between 20 and 70 degrees F; they suffer cold and heat stress at temperatures outside this range. In most of the US, it's often higher than 70 (not taking into account direct sunlight) during the time of year when cows would be grazing on pasture. With heat stress, cows eat less, pant, and sweat, which means that their metabolic maintenance costs increase (by up to 35% in some studies). In other words, for a dairy cow, she will eat less food when it's hot, and a much larger proportion of the energy she gets from that food will go towards trying to keep her cool rather than producing milk (continued...)

Why didn't anyone tell me?!

I only get to Trader Joe's once every few months, but I always stock up on chili lime mixed nuts (they didn't have any yesterday, hope they weren't d/c like that chili lime peanuts, because the chili lime cashews just don't cut it) and other various TJ only things.. but... yesterday... I found that......

Thai Green Curry Tuna is back!!!

At like $1.50 for a pouch packed with huge chunks of tuna and tons of flavor, it's the best quick lunch ever, especially for a poor student like me. It was discontinued sometime back in 2008 I think, and I've been missing it ever since!!!

I'm going to do a little dance!

Maillard and cows!

I was in a seminar about dairy cow nutrition this evening, and we were talking about proteins. The professor out of the blue asks,

"Has anyone here heard of the Maillard reaction?"

I was zoning out because I'm not a hard core dairy person like all the other folks in the room, but a second later I was like oh, hey, wait, yes I have! I had to grin when I raised my hand. Of course the best I could come up with spur of the moment as to what it was was the brilliant,

"It's what happens when you sear meat," which was not so applicable to the cow nutrition topic, followed up with the brilliant "It's, like, a cooking thing!"

I was the only one who raised their hand, anyway, thanks to SE. Apparently, when things such as soybeans are roasted at too high a temperature, or when haylage ferments and reaches too high a temperature, Maillard reactions happen that bind up some of the protein such that it can't be utilized by the cows. Apparently this happens most frequently to the grain byproducts of distilleries such that it's generally suggested that farmers limit the amount of grain they're getting from distilleries because while it might test at a certain level of protein, Maillard reactions may have rendered a large proportion of it unusable.

I thought that was pretty interesting, anyway.

How do you tell people their food could be better?

What do you do when someone thinks that everything they make is awesome, due to lack of experience? How do tell them without being rude?
My friend grew up as a vegan, but ever since I introduced her to cheese, has decided she can't be. She buys soy milk, eats tofu scrambles instead of eggs, and so on, but is not averse to eating mac & cheese, making brownies with butter and eggs, etc. She didn't grow up eating much variety of food, I gather (a really good restaurant, according to her, is Olive Garden), but of course since I am such a glutton, I've introduced her to a lot of things. She'd never had a croissant before a week ago!

My dilemma in this instance is that she is always baking things, but she only uses vegan recipes - cupcakes with "buttercream" (usually turn out greasy, overly sweet, gritty frosting, so on), waffles (sweet, chewy, dense, heavy), scones (sweet, chewy, soft, dense, pale underbaked blobs) and so on. She thinks these things are amazing, and I kind of want to be like, uhm, dude, they're edible, but you need to try a scone made with cream and butter and then tell me you think your dough blobs are amazing. Every time she does eat something traditionally baked with dairy, she's like oh! that's what it's supposed to taste like!

She makes her stuff, she eats it, and she thinks it's delicious, and that should be all that matters. It's awesome that she's getting into food, trying new things, and making it herself.

It's hardly my place to be like no, you should taste other, non-vegan stuff (because I think it's better). But it's hard for me to keep my mouth shut when she says OH! I made these AMAZING muffins AND they're vegan! and I get excited and then try them and think oh, ew, these are kind of gross. Especially since it's not as if I'm an authority on food or anything. But I want to tell her, you're not baking vegan for health/ethical reasons, and you know you like things made with dairy, so why aren't you doing it? It's like pretending.

Thanksgiving pregame ftw

Roasted bone in turkey breast w thyme under the skin, dried cherry and apple stuffing (because wtf is "dressing"), roasted buttercup, parsnip, carrot and turnip, buttermilk chive mashed potatoes, broiled broccoli w lemon and garlic, cranberry wild grape sauce, dressing, walnut (cuz pecans are too expensive) pie, strawberry shortcake and pepppermint brownies ftw!!!

This was spur of the moment. Another dress rehearsal in two weeks!

I love thanksgiving. And my brownies. I don't bake but was inspired by a pound of free unsweeened cocoa I was given. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......................

A word of warning to bulk food buyers...

So I've been stuck in Ithaca all weekend (I'm usually off playing in the mountains) going crazy. Mostly plying with my brand new slow cooker, but also, yes, studying. Studying makes me want junk food (I deserve it, right?). So after a weekend of eating reasonably healthy slow cooker food (chicken chile verde, pho, chicken soup) I was really craving a burger and fries. There's a 5 guys downtown but I didn't feel like driving, so I figured I'd be efficient, save some $$, maybe be a little healtier, stay home and make black bean burgers and sweet potato fries.

Well, in mixing up my totally awesome chipotle black bean burgers (I'd have used black soy to be even healthier but felt like I was giving in to my bad food urge by using regular black beans, I know, my brain is dumb), I grabbed what I thought was wheat gluten from the pantry and dumped it in. Instead of getting nice and chewy, my mix went all crumbly... and smelled distinctly beany.

D'oh! I'd grabbed the soy flour instead of the wheat gluten! That's what I get for not labelling any of my bulk purchases!!!! They're still edible, but alas.....

Always label your bulk purchases!

Help me clean my pot!

Long story short, I have 7 lbs of butternut squash, two apples and an onions worth of squash soup that sat simmering on a stove overnight and is now about a 1 inch layer of black burned crud stuck to the bottom of my anodized aluinum calphalon stock pot. I might be able to get a good deal off with a screwdriver, I hope. But what about the rest of the burned on crud. If this wasn't an old pot that I got from my grandmother, I'd be almost inclined to toss it. I was thinking maybe oven cleaner?? or maybe trying to just dry the crud out and burn it off or at least so I could just crunch it out, in the oven (hello smoke) or on the grill??!!! ARRGH and meanwhile now I need to make a bunch of other stuff to take to a party instead, I was thinking little mini hor d'ouevres sized squash and sage pizzas, and some blue cheese stuffed grilled figs, and maybe some melon with cracked black pepper and prociutto for the meat eaters.

ALSO. How do I get the stink of burned squash out of this townhouse? It's not mine (I'm housesitting... that's kind of what contributed to my inability to properly turn off the stove last night) and I'd hate to leave it n a stinked up state for the owners who get back on tuesday....!!!

talk format

It would be nice if rather than straight chronological order, active topics in the talk section would be moved to the top of the list, as they are on most messageboards. It would be so much easier to find and keep track of "hot" topics of conversation.

I'm sick of eating local.

Okay, not really. I'm all for the whole locavorism movement. But I'm really sick of everyone shoving it in my face. Seriously, just do it! Why make such a big, self-congratulatory deal about it?

If I get invited to a potluck, I don't want to be told "May I suggest your ingredients come from an x-mile radius (unless it's wine, ha ha ha)" and then, on top of that, see a bajillion cc'd replies with "I'm bringing greens from my garden" "I'm bringing tomatoes from the guy down the street" "I am coming back from CA that day, and if I bring CA wine, does that "count" as local?" and so on.
Maybe I'm just crabby because I've gotten two such invites in the last two weeks.

And then, I really can't stand all the restaurants popping up everywhere who claim that their emphasis is local and seasonal, and it's nothing of the sort. If you're a "local and seasonal" food restaurant in Lake Placid, NY, in early June, you shouldn't have corn chowder on your menu. And you sure as heck shouldn't tell me that you're out of the "sardine fish fry" because of the gulf oil spill. WTF??

Ethical eating

Long before I was aware of the factory-farming reality of most supermarket meats and poultry, I read an article about how veal was produced. The article in question painted a very grim picture, and as I was still in elementary... More

Shabu-Shabu 70 on the Upper East Side: What All Neighborhood Sushi Should Be?

While the New York of 2010 may seem to have as many Japanese restaurants as hot dog carts, they're not all created equal. Sure, Manhattan has an impressive number of high-caliber sushi destinations, for those times you're willing to shell out for omakase—but you'll pay dearly for the privilege. What we're always on the lookout for? What Ed Levine once called the "Sushi Holy Grail"—neighborhood restaurants that do simple sushi, right, at a reasonable price. More

Pizza Girl: Statistical Analysis of a Delivery Shift: Part 3

How much time do I really spend driving during any given shift? How much time do I spend folding boxes? What is my average hourly rate per shift? I often have questions like this, and the best way I could think of answering them was to track my every movement during a shift, so I recorded everything I was doing, from my clock-out time to the time I spent folding boxes. Over the next few weeks I'm going to take that data and see what sort of useful information I can pull from it. (see also: Part 1 and Part 2) More