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Manner Matters: How to Deal With Lateness

What do you do about the opposite problem? A friend of mine used to have a friend who loved to host, but couldn't get organized. My friend accepted invitations to her home only to find out that no matter how late she came, her friend would be in the shower, with the meal not even prepped. One Thanksgiving, knowing how she was, my friend and her husband (and I) still went to her house for Thanksgiving dinner -- to find that there were a number of guests, and dinner was being prepped. It was evening, however, and the turkey had just entered the oven. Not wanting to wait until midnight to eat, my friend and her husband found a supermarket with two unclaimed pre-made dinners and bought them.

As I said, my friend *used* to have a friend....

Everything You Need to Know About Baking With Chocolate

znyk42, all the recipes from my first cookbook, the Better Homes & Gardens, I use that have chocolate in them use either unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder (or chocolate chips, but that's another story). This is great, because you can control the amount of sweetness from the get-go. My BH&G is from the '60s, and pretty much all cookbooks for home cooks from back then used unsweetened chocolate for baking because finding anything else in the supermarket was almost impossible. Of course, your typical supermarket unsweetened baking chocolate is not top-of-the-line chocolate, but even so, brownies don't last long in my house.

I'm Writing a Cookbook. Now What?

Ocean, it is likely that part of "the ingredients just taste better there" does have something to do with buying, cooking, and eating in one's homeland among people and places that are dear and familiar.

However, any gardener will tell you that differences in soil, water, fertilizer, and atmosphere are going to create some difference in taste. Kind and amount of processing will also make a difference. Using the best local, organic, peak of the season tomatoes in Memphis to make a tomato recipe means that that dish will taste different enough for the eater to notice if the same eater eats the same dish made with exactly the same recipe using the best local, organic, peak of the season tomatoes in Guanajuato.

Same with sugar (and other processed foods). The cane used in making sugar sold in Mexico is most likely grown there, in very different soil than that of Hawaii. But no matter where the cane comes from, sugar is processed differently in Mexico than it is in Hawaii.

If you grew up with the way things taste in Mexico, you probably will think that the same dishes made in the U.S. don't taste as good, simply because they taste different. I hope you get to visit and cook in Mexico someday and decide for yourself which is "better."

The Food Lab Turbo: How to Make The Best Egg Salad

Wow, so many great ideas. For me it's always been pickle relish, mayo, and celery -- that's it. But now!!! Giardiniera sounds wonderful. Olives. Bacon. Pickled mustard seed! Tarragon! Sage!

Must buy more eggs. Immediately.

What's the Difference Between Tex-Mex and Mexican Food?

@realeaty, I have no idea where in San Diego to find decent poutine or a Nanaimo bar (sigh).

Frankly, I don't care what label you put on it. If it tastes good, I'll eat it. So when I'm at Juanita's in Carlsbad, I don't care where she and the other cooks were born; I just want her Dos Manos Burrito. Betty's in Chula Vista changed hands a while back, and although the cooks there are definitely Latino, I have no idea where they come from. Still, I always leave with a big bag of pork tamales. Hey, I even like the black bean nachos at Baja Fresh.

Manner Matters: The Finer Points of Eating With Your Hands

What confuses me here is the "a napkin" comments. I guess I need to watch neat people more and learn from them, because I have never been able to eat corn on the cob, fried chicken, or barbecue anything with my hands without getting enough on my face and/or hands that a napkin is called for after every bite (in my defense, I should probably point out that I have never had enough hand-eye coordination to play any videogame, even Pong). So if there are no wipes (and I've never been to a barbecue or picnic where there were any), one is likely to pile up the used paper napkins to mountainous heights. Is there a way to avoid this?

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

I'm so sorry about all this. I have enjoyed the Talk section so much and really hate to lose it; it's one of the main things I come here for. But I don't use social media, so I guess I will be visiting only rarely in the future.

What a loss.

Cinco De Mayo - What Are You Cooking UP?

I have two pretty severe restrictions: I have less than an hour to cook on Mondays, and Mom doesn't like Mexican food either. I love it, so sometimes I sneak in a Mexican recipe with no corn, chiles, or cilantro, and easy on the Mexican spices. It can be done.

I'm celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a frittata that will have shrimp on one side and spice-rubbed chicken on the other, plus some bacon, green pepper, green onions, tomatoes, and big chunks of avocado. Cheese on top. Mom should be okay with that.

why are food scenes important to the film industry?

I also vote Tom Jones. That pear.... The risotto scene in Big Night comes in a close second with me.

I could go on for ages about the food in the Nero Wolfe books and how one of the (many) reasons I think none of the Nero Wolfe TV series made it is that you just can't do the food right on TV. I have the Nero Wolfe Cookbook, and believe me, it ain't boring -- you might think some of the dishes were bland because they don't lean heavily on spices, but they taste amazing. I will never fix scrambled eggs any other way. And I think I can manage most of the ingredients in the Bailey's Royal Medley box from The Red Box, but I can't find an appropriate box!

How do you avoid overspending?

We lived in Japan for three years and didn't have a car, so I had two baskets put on my bike and went grocery shopping every few days. Most Japanese have small dorm-size refrigerators, so they kind of have to shop every day. In those days, I made up a full week of menus and shopped by it -- not a lot of impulse buys, because we couldn't afford it.

These days, I make sure there's always pork, beef, chicken, and fish in the freezer so I can impulse-buy good-looking and interesting vegetables at the farmers market and be sure a workable meal will be possible. I agree entirely with Breezycooking about the ability to change gears!

San Diego - where to eat?

Not all the best restaurants in Coronado are on Orange Ave., but of those that are, Cafe 1134 is good, especially for breakfast, and if it's a nice day, try their back patio; Primavera has good food and atmosphere; Yummy Sushi, despite the name, has a number of yummy things (including sushi) and a good view of the ocean. Down towards the bay, Tartine (just east of Orange on First) has lovely food and pastries. In the Old Ferry Landing (east of Tartine and on the bay), you can get good food (including many Paleo options) and the best view of the bay at Candelas. Sundays at 2:00, the Old Ferry Landing has a live band; people often come to sit on the grass and listen or get up and dance.

Don't waste your money eating at the Del (the Hotel del Coronado), but it's definitely worth your time to go in and look around.

If you like, you can take one of the ferries across the bay to Coronado and rent a bike when you get here. The island (okay, it's really a peninsula) is almost completely flat and small enough so that you can get from one end to the other in 15 or 20 minutes by bike.

5 Bourbon-Infused Sweets to Make for Your Kentucky Derby Party

Yuuuuuummmmmm. I could probably eat those pecans for days. Especially if I was wearing a flowery hat and looking at beautiful horses.

Additional sweet: Soak dried apricots in bourbon for a couple of days (or a week, or a month). Dry. Dip in melted dark chocolate. Let set at room temperature. Eat in air conditioning or you'll get the chocolate on your mint julep cup.

Staff Picks: Design Your Dream Ben & Jerry's Flavor

Wow, what a great bunch of ideas. I'm swooning over the tarragon & blood orange, Banana Bonanza, Meyer Lemon Mascarpone, pistachio with figs and rosewater, Pearl Jam (and my own crunchy raspberry, of course)! I hope B&J's is paying attention!

Like the texture of stone ground mustard, but love peanut butter

Looks very tasty! I would buy it. Hope they can sell it eventually.

Staff Picks: Design Your Dream Ben & Jerry's Flavor

Freeze-dried raspberries (like the ones from Trader Joe's, light and crunchy) covered with dark chocolate. A raspberry coulis swirl. I can't decide whether the base should be sweet cream (if vanilla, very easy on the vanilla) or chocolate. If sweet cream, there should be sheets of that kind of faint-inducing chocolate that appears in Moose Tracks.

Sonic Hopes to Open 1,000 Locations in the Next Decade

Yahoo, more Sonics in San Diego!!! When I moved back here I was devastated to discover that the nearest Sonic was way out in East County -- much too far to drive for a Breakfast Burrito and Sunrise Shake. Now maybe they'll be closer!!! I can't wait!!!

Although Cafe 1134 in Coronado makes a great California Burrito and has a nice variety of breafasty drinks, it ain't no Sonic.

Walmart Goes Organic, Farmer Suicides Increase, and More in Food Policy This Week

I have often thought that methane from cows is a resource we shouldn't be wasting. Surely there must be a way to gather the methane and use it -- how difficult could it be to rig up a methane extractor in the barn?

I have considered enormous tent-like structures over fields, but somehow that doesn't seem as practical....

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!


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