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Janel

The Vegan Experience: How To Make Simple Saucy Pasta Without Butter

Thanks! I'll keep an eye out for it. It's my favorite shape for fancy mac 'n cheese.

The Vegan Experience: How To Make Simple Saucy Pasta Without Butter

Where do you find cavatappi? A store here used to sell it but they were bought out and don't carry it anymore.

Do You Compost Your Food Scraps?

We have a compost pile in the back yard but it's frozen a third of the year so we also have a NatureMill composter. Between composting and recycling we only have one small bag of trash each week while our neighbors have a huge cart full or overflowing.

Portland composts and they switched to picking up compost and recycling every week but regular trash every two weeks. My dad complains and says it's too hard for old people to separate their garbage. My inlaws are a lot older than my dad but they separate everything because they live on a farm and don't have regular trash pickup so they try to keep trash to a minimum.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Baking Steel

Very thinly sliced smoked chicken sausage and pineapple.

A Pizza My Mind: Pepperoni and Pineapple Pizza

I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves a P&P pie. The spicy pepperoni is a big improvement over bland ham. Sometimes I use thinly sliced andouille instead if I'm out of pepperoni. Since we usually have the bigger pineapple chunks on hand, I like to crush them a bit and squeeze out some of the juice so it doesn't make a puddle. Why is it so hard to find the cans of small pieces at the grocery store?

Chichi's Chinese: Non-Rice Vermicelli

Or you can just go with the original meaning of the name: little worms. Yum.
I too love the sweet potato version but they're hard to find where I live so I stock up when I get the chance, or ask my mom to bring them when she comes to visit.

Soda: My Lifelong Fresca Obsession

The sugar version of Fresca (and it's cousin Toronja Jarritos) will always remind me of traveling in Mexico. The tiny, middle-of-nowhere restaurants usually only carried Coke and Fresca, and I'm not a huge fan of Coke. There's one taco shop in our town that sells the Toronja Jarritos in the green bottles so I always get one when we eat there and daydream about driving around southern Mexico again.

The Urban Gardener: Foraging Berries in Brooklyn

Our town has an old cemetery where there is no grass but many family plots have trees and flowers planted around them. One plot has two pie cherry trees at the end (not on top of a grave) and we pick the cherries if we can beat the birds to them. We can't buy fresh pie cherries here for any price so the cemetery cherries are great. Every summer we're grateful to the family that planted those trees. I wish more landscape designs used fruit trees but perhaps the land owners don't want to deal with the fruit if it doesn't get eaten.

Super Bowl Giveaway: California Avocado Gift Box for Guacamole-Making

On rice cakes with smoked oysters.

Chocoholic: How to Make Chocolate Cherry Cordials

I can make fondant in my food processor? I have been wanting to make these but scraping and stirring fondant for 20 minutes sounds like a royal pain. We had a bumper crop of pie cherries in July so I made old-school maraschino cherries with Luxardo and I think they would be divine as cherry cordials.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Korin Knife

Global 10" Sashimi knife. It has the reach of a chef's knife but it's lighter and easier for my small hands to use.

Cereal Eats: We Admit Our Cereal Habits

Trader Joe's O's eaten dry by the handful, alternating with sips of homemade chai latte (Davidson's organic classic chai loose leaf with agave syrup and 1% lactose free milk, hot in the winter, chilled in summer.) On rare occasions I'll eat corn Chex with cold 1% in a regular bowl but only because the pieces are so sharp that they're painful to eat dry. It takes me a long time to go through a box so the dust is always really stale by the time I get to it.

My husband eats corn flakes with soymilk. He drinks plenty of skim milk plain but will only use soymilk on cereal.

Sponsored Giveaway: Enter to Win Tervis Products

I have two favorite, nearly identical glasses that I bought in Mexico years ago. They are heavy blown glass with blue and green stripes. They are surprisingly tough for glass. I dropped one from the counter and it bounced off the composter, across the slate floor, crushed two unfortunate tomato seedlings and hit the cat. It didn't even have a chip from all that. They remind me of tropical vacations whenever I use them.

Spice Hunting: Black Mint

I didn't mean to sound so pushy, but being a stickler for proper plant names is my day job. If they can't tell you the scientific name for the plants, ask more about the whole plant. Mints are rarely more than three feet tall while huacatay can be five or more feet tall. The mint usually has many stems with few branches while the huacatay typically has one central stem with many branches. If all else fails, the mint will have white or purple flowers and the huacatay will have yellow flowers later in the summer.

Common names can lead to confusion because there are no rules about using the same name for multiple plants or multiple names for one plant. Sage and sagebrush are a good example (and also from the mint and aster families, respectively.) Sage is a tasty herb but most sagebrush is not something I would want to add to my food, except tarragon which is a type of green sagebrush.

Spice Hunting: Black Mint

Here's a photo of Tagetes minutia, Huacatay (garden marigolds are Tagetes patula or erecta.) It has pinnately compound leaves and a round stem. The secondary veins in the leaves are almost perpendicular to the central vein and terminate at the leaf margin. The photo at the top is a Mentha with simple leaves and a square stem, probably black-stem peppermint. The secondary veins curve toward the tip of the leaf and do not meet the margin.

Spice Hunting: Black Mint

I'm curious why the photo at the top is a true mint and not huacatay. It's kind of confusing because huacatay looks nothing like true mints.

It's fairly easy to grow but some people have an allergic reaction to it. It's always a good idea to try a small piece of a new herb before eating an entire dish of it.

10 Salads We Love

This is one of my favorites, though we substitute pecans for the pistachos most of the time.
Grilled California Nectarine and Butter Lettuce Salad
http://www.eatcaliforniafruit.com/recipes/recipe_Detail.asp?rID=255

Survey: What Pizza Topping Is a Dealbreaker for You?

Lately I've seen a lot of photos of pizza with an egg (or several) on top. That would be one pizza that I could not stomach. Not only is the egg gross but it's stuck to the other toppings so there's no way it's all going to come off easily.

Poor Maraschino Cherries, Everyone Is Always Picking on Them

I made real maraschino cherries this year from home-grown sour cherries and Luxardo liqueur. The liqueur was pretty expensive but worth the end product. They taste nothing like the neon red ones from the store. Did I mention the cherry pies and tarts and crisps. The tree cost $25 and has been worth every penny.

Mixed Review: Crate & Barrel vs. Trader Joe's Cornbread

The best way to get a really good crust on cornbread is to put 1 tablespoon of butter in a cast iron skillet, get it hot in the oven while you're mixing the cornbread. When the mix is ready, take the skillet out, swirl the butter around to coat the pan, and add the batter. It cooks a little faster this way so keep an eye on it. Also, add a little ground nutmeg, it tastes great.

350 Million Barrels: Why Food Waste Matters

The hardest thing for us is using all of the produce before it turns funky. It would be nice to buy smaller bunches of herbs; how is one person supposed to eat half a pound of cilantro before it turns slimy?

What's Your Favorite Gas Station Convenience Store for Snacks?

For anyone with a sweet tooth, Eddie World in Beatty, NV has an amazing assortment of candies. Their ice cream selection is also pretty darned good. Any time I go through Beatty I bring home a couple pounds of stuff I can't find anywhere else, like those gummy raspberries with the sprinkles on the outside. A trip to Death Valley isn't complete without a stop at Eddie World.

Cook the Book: 'Good Meat'

I was so excited about the university ag programs that I forgot about our other animal product sources. We get chickens and turkeys from Mike and Terri, eggs from Kristen, and honey from Frank. We also get feral pig meat from our friends in California. It's a great combination: reduce numbers of an invasive species, help out farmers whose fields are torn up by the pigs, and fill the freezer at the same time.

Cook the Book: 'Good Meat'

If you live near a university with an agriculture program, check to see if they sell meat. All of the universities I have lived near have excellent animal husbandry programs where the students are involved in every step from breeding and rearing to butchering and marketing. The animals are usually pastured and given minimal grain supplements and no antibiotics or hormones.

The quality is excellent and it supports students who are learning a better way of raising livestock. Of course, every program is different so you should ask questions when deciding whether to buy.

And, the prices are comparable to grocery store prices.
For our wedding reception we bought racks of lamb for $7 a pound! Half the price of ones shipped all the way from New Zealand. They will also cut custom pieces for us (asian style ribs and onglet steak for instance.)

Poll: Do You Buy Store Brands More Often Than Name Brands?

We shop at Trader Joes a lot and most of the items available are the store brand. Many of their items are much better than brand name equivalents and a lot of them are organic for the same price as the regular grocery store items.

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