Simple Pleasures

Bread and butter. Store-bought whole wheat bread and unsalted butter. Sometimes that's the only thing that will do.

But the banana and almond butter sounds delicious!

Manner Matters: Dealing with Dietary Demands

After I served a friend a salad garnished with cute little slices of hard-boiled quail eggs, I discovered he wouldn't eat eggs (his wife thought my serving him eggs was hilarious). After I served another friend a carefully prepared salad, I learned that he wouldn't eat any vegetables (his wife thought my serving him salad was hilarious). I now ask not only about allergies and special dietary restrictions, but preferences. Most people say, "Oh, I eat anything," and I say, "Everybody's got something they won't eat. What about liver? Beets? Fish? Mushrooms? Avocados?" After that, friends will often remember something they can't stand. It makes the ensuing dinner much more pleasant.

Home gardening?

I currently have big pots of thyme and salad burnet that I use. The basil is coming up well (started from bought seed), but the dill (started from saved seed) is not (sigh). The rosemary is being overshadowed by the lavender but still offers enough to cut and use, and the mint is glorious. Here and there we have nasturtiums that provide tasty leaves, flowers, and seeds.

Last year we had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and lettuce, but the heritage patty pan squash never did make it, which was really disappointing. They looked so cute before they fell off the vine!

Many years ago, Dad planted what is now an enormous avocado tree. I can't keep up with the avocados we've been getting this year, which is kind of a nice situation to be in.

Suggestions for dessert tasting menus

I like the theme idea. What about everything that will go with Nutella, or one of the other chocolate-hazelnut spreads recently discussed? Cookies, bananas, pound cake, angel food cake.... Or just those sorts of things and different spreads, such as lemon curd, marshmallow crème (with Sriracha?), peanut butter (with cinnamon?), cinnamon cream cheese, etc.

One year I gave a "Dead Bunnies" (post-Easter) party and offered the biggest hollow chocolate bunny I could find with dips (raspberry, marshmallow crème, and peanut butter). Guests were encouraged to break off bits of bunny and dip them. It worked pretty well.

What will you make for Easter?

Thank you, spilk -- THAT'S how I'll be doing the lamb this year!

What will you make for Easter?

I like lamb for Easter, but I'm not sure yet how I'll make it this year. But it's definitely coming with local asparagus, homemade rolls, and a big See's Bordeaux egg for dessert.

Deviled eggs

I love deviled eggs too, but I haven't made them successfully for years -- for some reason, they're always dry and tasteless, but adding more mayo or more pickle relish makes them goopy. So I am very much looking forward to everybody else's recipes!

What is your favourite kosher food?

ephraim, that's probably avgolemono soup. You can find lots of different recipes online. I used to have a Greek cookbook with a wonderful avgolemono sauce for chicken, too.

Did you Plan how your kitchen is organized, or did it evolve?.

sbertie, I'm with you. I'm currently working in my mother's kitchen, so I can't change anything, but I often think about how different things would be if it were mine!

Last time I lived alone, I had what was close to the kitchen of my dreams (I had to add one thing: a bookcase for my cookbooks). It had huge amounts of storage space and counter space, and the microwave was bolted under one of the cabinets, leaving the counter space under it free. What looked like it had originally been a broom closet had shelves in it, so that became my pantry, with everything organized according to how often it was used. I had space for a neat little set of tiers for my spices, so I could see all of them. My mother's spices are on a couple of lazy Susans, which is also convenient.

predson, you floored me when you said you were a professional designer but had put a single sink in your kitchen. That would drive me nuts -- but then, when I live alone, I wash my own dishes by hand unless I have a large party to clean up after, when the dishwasher gets some use. I can only assume that you never hand-wash dishes?

What is your favourite kosher food?

Joyva halvah -- the chocolate-coated kind. Don't judge.

What's for breakfast these days?

If I were still in Memphis, I'd be about to make the annual transition from oatmeal with dried fruit to homemade granola and yogurt. It's never really cold enough for oatmeal in San Diego, though, so I normally have 99-Cent Store Cheerio knock-offs (I can't tell the difference) with almond milk and whatever fruit is in season (the apple guy at our farmers market has THE most delicious apples!).

If I really want something different, it'll be poached eggs on toast or in corned beef hash, or eggs scrambled with tamales, with salsa or pico de gallo.

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

AnnieNT, you can use anything from plain yellow mustard to something really grainy and delicious with wine in it. Depends on what you like. The recipe I have is 1/2 cup mayonnaise to 2 teaspoons mustard, but that's adjustable too, of course, depending on how much you want the mustard to shine.

Manner Matters: Bread and Butter Basics

Amy Vanderbilt's New Complete Book of Etiquette (1967 edition, so not that new, but still), p. 245: "Toast and the various hot breads -- scones, English muffins, Parker House rolls, and so forth -- may be buttered whole while they are hot, then broken or cut with the butter knife to be eaten in manageable pieces."

Me for Amy Vanderbilt. I have never in my 61 years seen anyone break off a piece of bread of any kind, butter it, and then eat it. And I went to boarding school, where the teacher at the head of your table insisted that you eat that fried chicken with a knife and fork.

Molly, I'm sure your way of dealing with bread at the table is correct in some cultures, but not in mine -- Mom, a Southern lady if there ever was one, told us only that we must break our bread (once, into two pieces) before buttering or eating it. May I ask, where did you get your information?

Where to eat in San Diego (4 days)

More about Coronado: Candelas (at the Old Ferry Landing) has some unusual and very tasty stuff, including a number of Paleo selections (try the burrito wrapped in jicama). I highly recommend the Aca las Quesadillas -- it's in the appetizer section of the menu, but it's a full meal.

Try taking the ferry over to Coronado (you can bring a bike or rent one when you get there); it's very pleasant.

Café 1134, on Orange closer to the Hotel del Coronado, is great for breakfast.

Good luck in the race!

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

Want to wow guests? Steam an uncut head of cauliflower until fork-tender. Let it cool down a bit. Mix a little mustard with some mayo and slather the cauliflower, then sprinkle on not more than three-fourths of a cup of grated cheddar. Bake ten minutes at 375F. Gorgeous and tasty.

My favorite, although I like the Frosted Cauliflower recipe a lot, is Moosewood's Cauliflower Curry. That page in my cookbook is very stained.

Bakery in San Juan Capistrano?

Sorry -- the only bakery I remember on the California coast (from the '60s) was the one in Carmel that used to make bread that looked like alligators and turtles, with the eyes and (in the case of the alligators) teeth added in icing.

Unless there was something special about the bread, I would think you could make almost any of your favorite bread recipes and add (soaked) dried fruit to the dough and they'd be good. I wouldn't try it with a no-knead bread, but in a good challah, yum!

Behind the Scenes In Kenji's Home Kitchen (A.K.A. Home of The Food Lab)

I understand that space is at a premium, but are you saying that when you want to use the oven (which must be pretty frequently), you have to take a bunch of stuff out of it (and where do you put it while you're working?) and then, after you're done with the oven, put everything back in? That would drive me nuts.

Anyone serve punch anymore? Recipes?

Tipsykit37, I remember those sherbet punches too! Delicious, fun, and (as I later discovered when I grew up) easy. Zinnia1, if your party will have children at it, you couldn't do better than a 2-liter bottle of ginger ale, a carton of pineapple juice, a carton of orange juice, and scoops of rainbow sherbet. Very Eastery.

Food-related deal breakers when dating?

Believe it or not, I almost got engaged to a guy who didn't like cheese (we always went out to restaurants, and why would it occur to me to ask? Who the hell doesn't like cheese?). I would have a problem with someone who didn't like any vegetables at all (used to have a good friend like that, but fortunately he was married to someone else, so it was her problem!). One of the very good things about my ex-husband was his interest in eating things he'd never had before. It's thanks to him that I know how good meat can be with fruit (no big woop these days, but in the 1970s it was rather unusual).

Boiling Bacon With Parsley Sauce From 'My Irish Table'

Um, shouldn't it be "parsley" instead of "parlsey?

Glazed Donut Bistro Brings Outrageous Mash-ups to Los Angeles

Um, shouldn't "beignets wrapped in fried chicken" be "fried chicken wrapped in beignets"?

So what did you have for St. Patrick's Day?

Tipsykit37, I am so sorry about your illness. You're probably better by now, but if not, St. Brigid (another great Irish saint) can be helpful.

I can't believe I never thought of braising the corned beef in beer! Sounds delicious -- as does the whiskey/marmalade/mustard glaze and many of the other things everybody mentioned. Thanks guys!

Worth the wait?

Thanksgiving turkey is worth the wait.

Those little meringue "cookies" with miniature chocolate chips and bits of pecan are worth the overnight wait.

Stained glass "cookies" are worth driving to every store in town to find colored miniature marshmallows (I hate that a lot worse than waiting).

Tongue is worth the 3-hour boil. Mmmm, tongue sandwiches!

Come to think of it, I just boiled a corned beef for almost 3 hours, and it was totally worth it.

Pantry Essentials: All About Wasabi

I've never tasted real wasabi, but it's on my bucket list.

I used to dredge sashimi-grade tuna in "wasabi" powder, cover it with cracked black pepper, and sear it in (mostly) sesame oil. Wonderful stuff.

Irish Potatoes: The Sweetest Candy You've Never Heard Of*

I tried a See's potato one year and was very disappointed. The interior was almost chewy, and I couldn't taste any cinnamon on the outside. One of the few things from See's that I will never buy again.

Must plan trip to Philadelphia next March for Irish Potatoes and scrapple.

So what did you have for St. Patrick's Day?

SE has been so full of great stuff for St. Patrick's Day that I'm wondering what everybody had?

We had corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes...but it was sweet-and-sour red cabbage and the Ultra-Crispy Roast Potatoes that are so unbelievably, delightfully crunchy. And sweet-and-sour red cabbage is really, really good with corned beef.

Missing my stove

Thanks to a gas leak I made the mistake of reporting on Thursday, we've had several hideous days with no stove and no hot water that we didn't heat in the microwave. We can still use the oven, toaster oven, and microwave, but no stove. I had planned for meals up to today, but I thought we'd have gas by tonight, and we don't -- and no guarantee of gas tomorrow.

Any suggestions for all-oven or oven-and-microwave meals (protein, veg, and starch) from the immense body of knowledge that is the SE community?

Beans: Canned or Dry?

Seems like most of the recipes I see that have beans as an ingredient say to use canned beans. I don't get it. Is it just because they're faster?

If you use dried beans and cook them yourself, you can choose the cooking liquid, the spices, and the amount of salt. You can cook as much as you want and portion it out for the freezer. Dried beans are a lot cheaper and take up less space in the pantry.

So what's with the canned beans? Enlightenment, please!

Too much thyme

I bought an innocent-looking thyme plant at a nursery and it just took off. I now have way more than I will ever use, but I hate to just let it go to seed. I'm afraid the idea of thyme pesto is not very appealing to me (wouldn't it be horribly strong?), but any other suggestions would be very welcome. It's just common thyme, not lemon thyme or anything exciting.

Single-use ingredients

Have you ever had to buy a lot of something for one recipe that then sat in the back of your refrigerator for, oh, say, a year? Never again will I buy a whole tin of tahini, a whole jar of tamarind paste, an entire bag of rye flour.... There ought to be some way those of us who live alone but like to cook could buy just the amount we need -- or could use up the rest of an unwanted ingredient without making enough food for an army.

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