I'm from sw Pennsylvania farm country, spent four years loving living in Pittsburgh during my college years, and now live in Flagstaff.

  • Location: Flagstaff, AZ
  • Favorite foods: eggs.

What dish best represents the food of your region?

Back home, Primanti's sandwiches for the city, and pepperoni rolls in the sticks where I grew up.

Here in Flagstaff, I'd go with Navajo fry bread/Navajo tacos.

gin & tonic with lemon

Order it with the grapefruit, no decent bar would charge you extra, they'll just use the rest of the can in another drink.

Ask the Critic: Best Murray Hill Eats; How Much Do I Tip a Bartender?

Also, I kind of want to start a band just so I can call it "quarters on the table."

Ask the Critic: Best Murray Hill Eats; How Much Do I Tip a Bartender?

$1/drink or 20%, whichever is higher.

High Altitude Lasagna Help.

I live at 7,000 feet and most recipes work just fine. In general, water boils at a lower temperature, so it can take longer for things to cook. Check out high altitude baking for a more detailed but easy to digest (hah!) explanation of how altitude affects cooking and baking. Welcome to high country! Also, beware that alcohol hits harder/faster at altitude until your body acclimates. It doesn't take that long usually, but it can take you by surprise.

Ask a Bartender: What Behavior Gets Someone Kicked Out of Your Bar?

I work at a historic hotel/restaurant/bar downtown where I live, and I'm often cocktailing the bar on the third floor. Throwing/spitting/etc anything off the balcony is an instant ticket out (ice, chew, spit, popcorn, anything). We also had a guy who was so drunk he was eating the decorative plants. That one was just a cut-off/escort out ... until he got very crass and rude with the bartender who was walking him down to the door. The last few sentences toward her got him 86'd for good.

And to everyone wondering why bartenders hate bloodies after noon, it's because the bar tends to be quieter in the morning hours, allowing the time it takes to make your bloody. In the evening, they're more slammed/less time to spare for it. They should make it regardless (it's their job!), just remember it takes a few more minutes to make a good bloody than to pull a draft.

Best Smoothies?

I try to keep dairy away from being a main ingredient in my meals, but my go-to breakfast smoothie lately has been:

1.5 c baby spinach
3/4 c canned peach and/or pear slices
1/2 banana
3/4 c simply apple juice
1 t vanilla
enough water to adjust for consistency

Favorite (and preferably easy) desserts?

A great simple desert is strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar or chambord. Ice cream or fresh whipped cream optional.

Please Stop Pairing Red Wine and Chocolate


Why do grocery store cashiers 'throw' my food?

I'm another who's never seen this happen. I'd describe it as more of a shuffle than anything, or they'll roll round-ish things. Maybe you look as grumpy as you sound in your post and they're reacting to that? Not that that's good customer service by any means, though.

Tips for repurposing vegan sour cream? It is otherwise inedible.

Of course it seemed weird, you tried to sub it directly in a way that you would notice the difference. Use it as you would sour cream in ways that do not showcase it, such as making sometime creamy. I've gone back to dairy, but when I was off it for a little while, I used the better than sour cream in saucy breakfast burritos. I never noticed much of a difference in this type of application and still got rave reviews from anyone else who was around for breakfast in my several-months-long breakfast burrito phase.

What's your best hack for store-bought food?

Season frozen creamed spinach, serve as a florentine sauce for store-bought ravioli or other pasta, with any meat on hand and some extra cheese.

Nuke creamed spinach, season to taste. Maybe add some drained, chopped artichoke hearts. Fry an egg or two, maybe a little bacon. Serve egg on veggie mixture.

One box frozen spinach, nuked and drained well. One can of beans, drained well. 1+c of salsa. Cook these things together in a large skillet, season to taste, remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat. Scramble 8-10 eggs separately, then fold into veggie mixture. Cook a package of flour tortillas one by one, making and individually plastic or foil wrapping each. Mark and freeze, best if thawed 12-24 hours before reheating. Reheat on one of "those" days.

French and saute some onion, shred a good amount of cabbage. Whip up asian-style sauce of your choice, black bean sauce, thai-style spicy peanut dressing, whatever. Add cabbage to onions, stir in sauce, coat vegetables. Place frozen, store-bought potsticker/gyoza dumplings on top of the cabbage/onion/sauce mixture, cover and steam until done. Toss dumplings to coat with sauce.

Cook 1/2 lb. bacon, drain and cut into small strips. in a medium bowl, make a thai-style spicy peanut dressing (soy sauce, sesame oil, splash of fish sauce, peanut butter or satay sauce, rice wine vinegar, a touch of mirin or honey, and plenty of fresh lemon juice. Open a bag of pre-cut broccoli slaw (which is actually cheaper than the veggies, at $1.69/bag at my local stores) and dump into a large bowl. Use kitchen shears to chop slaw veggies into desired length in the bowl. Stir in the dressing, then the bacon.

Keep small (~5 oz) cans of seafood (tuna, salmon, crab) in the pantry. Next time you spy a loaf of bread you know you can't finish before it gets moldy (because we're bachelors, right?), cube it and toss it in a freezer bag and into the freezer. Or have bread crumbs on hand. Make tuna/salmon/crab cakes: can + egg + bread + mustard +seasonings. Serve with whatever else you have laying around the house, like perhaps a potato cut into wedges and roasted for 12 minutes on each side at 425F.

Biggest dining-out letdown?

Roka Akor in Scottsdale a few years back. A foodie friend gushed about it to me and my then foodie-bf, so we joined him on our way through town one night. He started ordering before we got there, which was fine because we were starving and he has good taste. However. The food was good, but the rest of it was overkill. The waiter in my face prattling on about the fresh grated wasabi on shark skin (or whatever). The sushi chef pressuring me into lobster tempura (sorry, but if I'm paying for lobster, you're not deep-frying it). Good food should be about good food, not being seen at the right restaurant. I never expect sushi to be cheap, nor do I *want* cheap sushi, but when the bill hit $500 for three of us ... I wanted to strangle my friend, who I was unfortunately not surprised to see literally buying into the hype and glitter of the scene.

Wine question

Not sure anything I drink would help with that, but perhaps a wine tasting gift certificate? Or go to a good local wine store, tell them your budget and your needs, and let them guide you.

How do y'all stay thin?

Varied diet/portion control + exercise. Yes, lots of things change as we age, but it's not a giant mystery.

Can You give me the name of all meats?

Gluten free and vegetarian

Frittata with a side salad, black bean soup with tortilla crisps, huevos rancheros, tacos, enchiladas (all on corn torts, obviously), rice- or rice noodle-based Asian dishes (though do check ingredients for wheat, as others have noted).

Cocktail 101: How to Make Cocktails for a Flask

I burned through a few bottles of Aberlour 16 way too fast last ski season that I had stocked up on in flusher times. A bit of water and any decent whiskey should do, but I'm considering going manhattan-in-a-flask this year given my newfound affection for bitters.

canned hominy??

Roast a few poblano chiles, chop and set aside. Cut a head of cauliflower into florets, steam to al dente. Mash a block of cream cheese and about a cup or so of cheddar into the cauliflower with some of the liquid from the hominy. Stir in the hominy and poblanos. Top with buttered bread crumbs and some crumbled bacon if you like. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350F.

The day before ...

Email autoresponder, written and set.
Ten days in Barbados? Best Thanksgiving yet!

Airport Food That Doesn't Suck

I'm flying into MIA on Thanksgiving - the Cuban place looks like a nice treat to keep my eyes peeled for. Thank you!

5 Colorado Beers To Drink Right Now

Left Hand milk stout nitro. Heaven in a glass.

Weekend Cook and Tell: Freezer Friendly Meals

I beefed up a delicious rajas con crema recipe by stirring in some white hominy, cooked chicken, and other compatible leftovers (a little bit of beans and rice), then baked for 25 minutes at 350F. Still haven't worked the kinks out of that recipe yet (might have to chop up the rajas to match size with the rest of the ingredients), but it froze and revived beautifully.

Cook the Book: 'The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook'

Rajas con Crema, from Simply Recipes. The mushroom bourguignon from smitten kitchen (same recipe in the book as on the blog?) is also a personal favorite, but I haven't made it recently so I can't claim it for this, I supposed.

12 Delicious Zinfandels to Drink This November

I like Klinker Brick old vine zin. Very tasty and usually somewhere in the $15-20 range.

extra orange segments

I'm making candied orange peels (orangettes) and ginger for Christmas treats, and I'm wondering what I'm supposed to do with the rest of the oranges when I'm done. I have about 3 lbs of navel oranges - recipes/ideas please?

Chinese food in Vegas?

I'm swinging through Vegas on the tail end of my birthday road-trip. And seeing as there is no edible Chinese food where I live (outside of what comes from my kitchen), I try to find some on the occasions when I find myself in bigger cities. I'll be in town less than 24 hours, but I could pull off dinner or lunch hours depending.

thanks in advance!

What to serve with bone marrow?

So I've decided that I'm going to finally take a crack at roasted bone marrow. Seems indulgent and fancy enough for a valentine's day meal, yeah?

I'd be content to call it good at that, but the guy I'm cooking for is a big eater, and this dinner falls on his one day off between week-long work trips of very long hours (bookended by very long drives), so I kind of feel the need to have more food on hand for a meal than just the marrow/bread/parsley salad.

So what goes well as another course? Or should I just go for a bigger quantity of the marrow/bread/parsley salad combo because I'm going to love it so much I won't want to eat anything else ... :P

(sidenote: I eat pretty much anything, and dude will eat anything I put in front of him [even eggplant - score!], so the only real restriction here is that it goes well with the marrow dish)

favorite way to use up leftover pie crust dough scraps?

So I have a few rounds of leftover pie dough hanging out in my freezer from my mini Thanksgiving pie marathon ... not enough to make another pie though.

Short of happening across a cheap, small tart pan with which I would essentially just make a very small pie ... I'm looking for a fun and kind of adorable way to use it up.

I know about twisting strips of it on a pan, brushing with melted butter and cinnamon/sugar before baking, but I figured you guys might have some fun new ideas for me. Got anything?


What's for dinner tonight?

After a brutal work week plagued by bad choices in convenient food, I'm very excited to be cooking dinner for an awesome girlfriend I haven't had a chance to catch up with in the past few weeks. Yay! I'm thinking chicken, rotini, and artichokes in red sauce, toying with the idea of tossing in some goat cheese.

I'm not terribly attached to the idea though, and I haven't seen one of these threads too recently ... so I want to know: What's for dinner tonight at your place?

pig roast?

So at a bbq last night, I was reminded about how awesome pig roasts are, and I've always wanted to do one (haven't been to one since I was about 10 or 12). In the same conversation, a newer friend and I realized our birthdays are only 10 days apart, and we're now kicking around the idea of doing a joint bday party - with a pig roast!

Do any of you have experience doing pit roasts? Any good resources you can point me too? I know a few people in town here who've done them, so I will have some good guidance, but I want to hear your best ideas/tips/etc.


Food log apps?

I finally joined the 21st century and upgraded to a 'big girl' phone (droid) recently ... now I want to find a food journal/log/diary/whatever app - any recommendations?

I'm really not looking for calorie counters at all, just a food log.


chile water?

So I've got some posole on, after a mis-step in burning my chiles (oops!). Thing is though, I noticed how colorful the water I soaked the chile pods in was the first time I de-seeded, so I saved it, and used it to soften the second (non-burned) set of chile pods that ended up getting pureed in stock for the posole. I sipped a taste of it, and it seems too flavorful to just toss down the drain. However, I can't think of anything to do with it. Any ideas?

What's the oldest food you've ever eaten?

I was talking to my dad the other night, and one thing he told me is that he likes to cook now and then, easy stuff like pasta. He also told me he likes to eat canned meat (that my mother prepared so much of when the both of them fell hook line and sinker for the Y2K hype) ... I was a little repulsed that he was willingly eating 12+ year old meat, despite the fact that my mother was an avid and expert canning fiend, so I'm sure it was technically safe to eat.

He then told me that the oldest canned food he'd eaten was 25 years old, stuff he found at his parents' house about 10-15 years ago. Apparently he tried that just for the hell of it, admitting that it loses taste after that long (YA THINK!?!?!!!).

I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, and while if something was canned properly, I might have a bite just to see how it is from something fairly old, the whole eating 12+ year old canned meat without the pretext of 'just to see' or 'this is the only way to survive' is still weirding me out a little.

What's the oldest food you've ever eaten? and ... WHY!??!?

Attn. tea snobs: recommendations?

Ok, so I'm on a big tea kick lately. To make a long story short, I've failed utterly at tracking down the brand/company that made the most lovely tea I've ever had ... though I doubt that's the only company that puts out that quality of product. It was a really nice full-leaf blue flower earl grey, and the company packaged loose leaf in tins with a black (with some white patterning) design, and the earl grey had a blue sub-label. If you know what this is, please tell me! If not, any suggestions on really, really, really good tea?

Don't get my wrong, I actually like my Sweet Dreams and Constant Comment teas of the bagged variety. My local coffee roaster's shop sells a blue flower EG that looked just like it, but was nowhere near as nice. I'm (obviously) not much of a tea snob, but I want some top-shelf in my stock, and the tea I can't track down was closer to the tea equivalent of what Kona is to coffee. I want rec's for that kind of tea.


Green Bay recipe idea?

I'm working on the (internal) office newsletter today, and I usually use whatever someone sends me for the recipe section (sometimes just out of courtesy, and sometimes it actually looks good!).

For this month, I'm thinking a Steel City recipe and a Green Bay recipe would make for a good recipe corner. I moved here from Pittsburgh, so I don't need help with the Stiller side, but aside from CHEESE!!, I'm not sure what to include for the Green Bay side.


ham sides?

So for my local orphan Christmas dinner (half a doz or so friends without family obligations), my hosting friend invited me to help him cook! He's stuck on the idea of ham, which is fine except for my personal aversion to it since my mother went with it so often.

Now I can't think of what kind of sides to make with it - it's christmas, so I'd like to stray from whatever else one might serve when making ham for dinner on any given day of the year (for my family - potatoes au gratin). But I'm kind of at a loss. Part of me wants to do twice-baked potatoes, but translated into a casserole so no one has to feel like they're restricted to a certain portion. Outside of that, I'm a little stuck. The only thing I know for sure that I want to make is sour cream apple pie.

Also, any extra interesting/special ideas for the ham glaze? I was flipping through what I could find on my laundry list of cooking blogs, but most of those recipes were for the blogger's standby classic and I was hoping to find something a little different.

Any ideas?

how many Thanksgivings are you having?

ah! So I'm not even big into holidays, but I just realized that with my work potluck today (trying out the hominy casserole I asked about last week!), a friend's early Thanksgiving tonight, another friend's Thanksgiving (which will be my only one on the actual day of), my mother's day after, and one after I get back that another friend hosts since she's always back with her parents that weekend, I've got 5 Thanksgiving meals this year.

And it's not just general holiday entertaining - each meal is distinctly and deliberately Thanksgiving food. I guess my friends are either foodie to start with or they GO foodie and create excuses to make a Thanksgiving meal if their social calendar prevents them from playing host on the day of. Not that I'm complaining though! Are any of you hopscotching your way through multiple renditions of the holidays this year?

southwest potluck ideas ...

So a community group I help lead at work took my suggestion to inspire better participation/contribution for the potluck portion of the meetings by picking a theme for each meeting. Someone volunteered to make chili, so they're going with southwest.

I'm all over it, except I'm limited to a crockpot or something that can be served cold or room temperature. I'm thinking the Pioneer Woman's hominy casserole - but I'm wondering if anyone has had luck doing anything similar in a crock pot ... help!

If I can't get any yay or nay on that, I'm looking for other crockpot or cold/room temp suggestions (not enough time to do a trial-run, and even if I do I'll need a back up if it bombs!).


vegetable shortening vs. lard

I grew up using and learning to properly care for my mother's cast iron, and she bought me some of my own as the best housewarming gift ever for my first apartment. It was one of the few really valuable kitchen lessons she taught me that stuck.

Still, even though I know better, I flaked last week and left one of my favorite cast iron skillets on a hot burner, dry, for the better part of an evening, and it's killed the seasoning.

The Lodge website says to use melted vegetable shortening, but I have an irrational dislike of veg. shortening, so I bought lard instead. Plus, bacon, chicken, and generally most animal fats do really well to keep the seasoning in good shape once it's seasoned.

So now I want to know why Lodge specifies veg. shortening for seasoning? Is vegetable shortening somehow objectively superior?

white beans?

I went through my pantry yesterday and discovered a lonely can of great northern beans. I think I grabbed them meaning to get chickpeas at one point. I know I want to make something like this, but I'm just cooking for me so I'll be halving the recipe ... and now I'm out of ideas on what to do with the rest of the beans. I've been using black beans for huevos rancheros and burritos lately, so I want to change it up a little.

Any ideas?

how do you bleu?

I bought a little wedge of a great bleu cheese (name totally forgotten) for a warm red cabbage slaw recipe a few weeks ago (red cabbage, bacon, red onion, bleucheese - divine!).

I thought for the longest time that I didn't like bleu cheese, but I started nibbling on the wedge of bleu a day or two before I made the slaw, and I found I really, really liked it. My roommate, whose foodie palate and knowledge far surpasses my own, said he really liked it too, so I figure it's one of those instances where sometimes you think you don't like something until you try it done right.

Anyway. I've got a ltitle bleu cheese craving now, but I'm not entirely sure what to do with it. what's your favorite thing to make with bleu cheese? Not just a recipe that calls for it, but something that makes it a star but not lone ingredient.

And yes, I realize that I could just cut pieces off and eat it alone, and I will do that, but something tells me I shouldn't go through an entire wedge like that :P

yet another request for help with a food blog name ...

So ... I've always loved food blogs and always toyed with the idea of doing one. And now I have my motivation: the repeated theme of griping on the internet about how it's hard to figure out how to cook for one (I've seen it some here on SE and I noticed it on HuffPo too), and how there should be a column/cookbook/site/etc devoted to this dilemma.

I've been cooking for one on and off for a while (back in "on" mode for the better part of this year), and I figured what the hell, there seems like an interest and I feel like if my cooking fits one niche over another, this is it. Why not?

I like to think I eat healthier than the "average" american, but I'm not a health nut, I like meat and meatless meals alike, and the main 'solution' behind the problem of cooking for one is pretty much meal planning around a combination of single-serving only recipes, recipes that make enough for dinner and lunch, and large batch cooking, since focusing too much on any one of these results in just eating the same thing all the time or cooking constantly to avoid that. yay balance.

Thoughts so far, mostly boring and mostly taken:
cooking for one
table for one
joy of cooking solo

Also, I know you're not supposed to shamelessly self-promote, and I don't know if this counts as this, but I don't have an endless amount of free time on my hands, so if you have any good ideas or tricks you'd like to share along this theme, I'd like this to be the kind of thing others can share their ideas on in posts, not just comments. So let me know if you'd like to maybe contribute, if it's ok to put that kind of thing here.

thanks guys!

steamer love

So I finally decided to try SE's sichuan-style braised eggplant recipe ... which means I had to go buy myself a little steamer tray - finally! (left my big steamer trays with the 12 qt stockpot behind with my ex - too small a kitchen where I was going to take it with me).

Anyway. Turns out I LOVELOVELOVE the steamed eggplant this way and am looking to make the steamer a staple in my kitchen instead of a guest star, especially since I'm trying to lose a few pounds.

What's your favorite recipe starring a steamer?

fall grilling?

Ok, so I know it's still hot most places, but it's getting cold enough here that I need to dig out the heavier blankets at night (or at least close my windows). I've been busy and not really cooking much lately, so I'm thinking a good fall meal might be a nice kick in the ass.

I made a fair amount of non-summery dinners this summer (mushroom bourguignon, for instance), so I'm thinking I should start being more seasonally appropriate, but I'd like to hit the grill before it gets too cold out for that to be convenient.

So far I'm thinking sweet potatoes (especially since my sort of signature grill item is potato wedges), but I'm kind of at a loss for other fall grill items. any ideas?

the great egg freakout '10

The egg dilemma is all over the news. I don't spend the $4+/dozen for the pricey eggs from happy hippy chickens, but I buy Hickman's Farms eggs (not totally local, but in-state) thinking hey, if I can't afford the full-on organic stuff, the more local the better, right? I got lucky on this one!

Are you rethinking cheap/mass produced eggs? Patting yourself on the back if you already avoid them? Did you get sick? (I've had salmonella - my heart goes out to you if you did get sick).

what's your new thing?

I've recently gotten into drinking scotch and whisky.

I also kicked myself out of a pathetic breakfast-skipping funk to find that no matter how much I intended too, I just never found/made the time to make a big batch of breakfast burritos for the freezer. So now I just prep once a week by draining black beans and roasting/slicing poblanos and make one every day in the morning. I like these better than the freezer ones I usually make (the freshness AND the switch-up of ingredients), and I'm still kind of jazzed on my new favorite foodie things.

What's your new thing? Favorite current twist on a classic? Favorite new staple in your foodieness?

what's for lunch?

I've been gone for a while from here, and I've also been slacking on cooking lately - moreso than usual, even for the summer. But I'm climbing back on the horse. After I made my breakfast burrito this morning, I threw together a veggie wrap, but almost changed my mind when I realized I had forgotten to cut up a carrot and roast/slice red peppers las night. So I improvised with what I had ... and didn't realize just how good it would be until I dove in a few minutes ago. I'll be making this again. Soon.

whole wheat tortilla, mixed spring greens, cucumber, mango, black beans, and goat cheese, with a light drizzle of balsamic. yum.

what did you eat for lunch today?

veggies in crockpot pasta dish: to pre-cook or not to pre-cook?

ok, so I'm bringing in the veg-friendly dish to an Italian-themed potluck for a work meeting in a few weeks, and I've decided that the best way to have a hot meal ready at noon when I'll be in the meeting most of the morning is a crock pot, since there's no oven in our work kitchen.

I'm aiming for a crockpot ravioli thing, but I want to add some vegetables as well - namely mushrooms (and maybe some spinach), but I'm worried that they might release too much moisture if they cook down from raw in the crockpot and make the finished product too watery, and I haven't done mushrooms in the crockpot before so I'm not sure how they will hold up if I cook them first.

thoughts? thanks!

gluten-free in Vegas?

So I'm headed to Vegas this weekend with the girls from my softball team. I've been there once before and have seen all the threads here that others have posted ... but one of the girls is gluten free.

Another one of the girls is getting married this summer, so we were going to go to Tony & Tina (or something?) and do the VIP thing that includes an Italian dinner ... when our GF friend piped up that she probably couldn't do dinner there. So I figured maybe a little research before-hand would be a good idea.

Any suggestions? I'm looking at gf-vegas sites, but we'll probably be sticking to the strip despite the fact that we'll have a car with us (see also: booze!) and I'd appreciate any foodie input since I'm seeing things like PF Changs on the GF-friendly vegas sites ...


Serious Heat: Silky, Spicy Mole Sauce

Mole brings together the wonderful worlds of chile and chocolate. The smooth, flavorful sauce is very versatile. It can smother enchiladas, chicken, sweet potatoes, you name it. The concept of mole is that the sauce is the main event--what it's served with is in a supporting role. More

What Do You Do with Frozen Tomatoes?

That ain't cod roe. Photograph from Eat to Blog Howard of Eat to Blog froze a few tomatoes last summer with the intention of using them in the winter. When he realized he didn't know how to use them, he experimented by grating them and using them in a pasta sauce. What does tomato snow taste like? It tasted exactly like fresh tomato, but the temperature and texture of it was all different. The pink flakes liquified almost immediately on my tongue, leaving only the taste of tomato behind. He adds that the frozen tomato flakes retain raw tomato flavor while eliminating the texture, a plus for those who hate the texture of raw tomato. Do you have suggestions... More