I'm a gardening woman who loves comfort food and new food. I love to cook and eat seasonally. As a young woman I used to make all my own bread, put food by, cooked from scratch. Am returning to that more and more.

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  • Location: Vermont
  • Favorite foods: Tomatoes, potatoes, rice and beans, sour cream, chocolate, apple pie, roast chicken, pizza, cheese, avocados, root beer floats, onions, moxie, pickles, buttered toast with cinnamon sugar, bacon, BLT's, bananas, mushrooms, summer squash, maple syrup
  • Last bite on earth: mushrooms sauteed with butter, salt and pepper

Like Mushroom Pizza? We're Gonna Take You to Funghitown

It doesn't look to me like there's enough caramelization of the mushrooms for my taste. I'd probably bake with the duxelle and cheese (and get a little caramelization of the cheese, too), then add caremlized mushrooms when it comes out of the oven.

"mushrooms sauteed with butter, salt and pepper" has long been my "last bite on earth" on my profile.

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

TimedEating: Great idea! Though I think I'd try it with the whole shebang - onion, green pepper, tomato (all 3 of which I usually put on my pizzas)and zucchini and eggplant pureed and used instead of tomato sauce.

La Maison Sacre - and, PUPPIES!!

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

Prawo Jazdy - Reading Harold McGee I learned that old celery is likely to contain DNA-damaging toxins caused Psoralens. McGee says of Psoralen-generating vegetables (which include celery, celery root, parsley, and parsnips) - they "should be bought as fresh as possible and used quickly."

This was news to me, and I used to let it deteriorate in my crisper too, and still use it. no more.

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

Kenji - while you're trying out new summer pizza combinations, consider flat beans (like romano beans), one of my favorites. I blanch the beans first, but I'm sure there's a more flavorful prep. I usually use a bed of caramelized onions with a touch of garlic, then beans in inch long pieces, topped with cheese on hand.

Zucchini Is a Terrible Pizza Topping! (Unless You Treat It Right)

Free Radical: Each of us has our own little area of interest and sometimes knowledge: I believe it's "jibe with" you're looking for, not "jive with" - though if you want to jive with osmosis I'd be interested in seeing a youtube of that. :0)

The Serious Eats Tomato Shopping Guide

Love sungolds. "A few" will potentially overwhelm you, as they're very prolific. Not sure where you got this info: "they remain a bit more firm than the average cherry tomato, meaning they travel especially well." They are extremely prone to splitting, and do NOT travel well, which is why you so seldom see them, in either stores or farmer's markets. They are so outstanding that if they traveled better they would be ubiquitous.

The green zebras in the picture are not ripe. If you grow them, wait to pick until some of the light green has turned yellow.

Howard Li: Love Brandyboys (one of the Burpee "boy" series, like big boy, better boy, lemon boy). They taste as good as brandywines, I think, and are much more prolific and disease resistant. Rose is another heirloom pink beefsteak, offered by Johnny's Seeds, which I think is also the equal of brandywine but more prolific.

Subtle Steps Lead to the Best Tabbouleh Salad

I freeze from the garden packets of tabbouleh ingredients for the winter, and I've used the water that drains from the frozen tomatoes for soaking the bulgur. I find that it adds a cooked tomato flavor to the salad though, and prefer not to use it. Consider your own preferences once you've tried it this way.

I think you would not find so much liquid at the bottom of the salad if you did not use this much oil. The lemon juice is necessary, but the salad only needs a small amount of oil (no more than a Tablespoon, I find) to glisten the salad.

I prefer a little cucumber, and more bulgur, and am aiming for my own taste rather than authenticity, but I appreciate your pursuing this recipe. And a great "tabbouleh like" salad can be made with basil added to augment or replace the parsley. I always add mint.

The Good Bagel Manifesto

Buttered bagel halves toasted (pan fried) in a skillet are divine. Not the same item as a bagel toasted in a toaster of any kind. Because of the geometry of the bagel (don't know why it does this), the bagel half becomes concave when sliced, and so - even when weighted down with something - the rim of the bagel half will become crunchy and brown while the rest of the bread becomes lightly toasted. Doesn't need anything else at this point, but cream cheese is fine. This is a very good thing to do if you find yourself with a day old bagel.

No caraway seeds.

I have a reasonable if not great owner run bagel shop in my Vermont town, perhaps due to proximity to Montreal. At any rate, line runs out the door at 6:30am.

Why a Bottle of Japanese Iced Tea is the Ultimate Summer Refresher

Max - it would be great if these were available from vending machines, but in the meantime, as you said "it's a chore" to find them, brewing your own makes great sense. Either a tea bag in cold water, or brewing up a gallon and storing in fridge, to dispense into sports drink bottles.

I prefer mint tea, myself, and just steep a bunch of mint (from my garden. Even in a pot on the balcony it will be prolific) with the tea, strain out, and it makes incomparable mint tea.

Children of the Corn: Baby Corn, Demystified

Octopod - how many ears most corn produces depends on the spacing and fertility more than whether you pick the first ears. And most varietites will only produce two and occasionally three ears (hence the suggestion in Niki's article to let the first ear grow and the second to be picked as baby corn.)

I grow corn every year, and most corn, when it's baby size, is not filled out the way baby corn is. I've never quite figured that out. But there is one variety, Mirai, which Park Seeds used to market exclusively as baby corn, and which they now market as a full size corn without mention of baby corn status. If you were interested in growing only baby corn I'd try this variety, and space the plants closer together, say 6 inches. I'm sure a good session with google would tell you more about growing baby corn.

15 Carrot Recipes for Spring

I'm curious about where anybody is getting "fresh spring carrots." Texas, California, the Gulf Coast? Most of the country has only just planted spring carrots or is only getting ready to.

Taste Test: The Best Supermarket Bacon

Astonished that Oscar Mayer came in first. I tried it once and found it pretty inedible. I'd been buying a higher end local bacon (McKensies), which I like, and then the meat man at my local market suggested I buy the shur-fine which was on sale. It was much better than the far more expensive bacon I'd been buying, and hugely better than Oscar Mayer. Not sure the coverage of shur-fine, but ought to be available in many affiliated stores in the Northeast.

rickZ beat me to the meat guy comment. And the issue for him isn't just that people may think they're not using nitrites because it says "natural cure" on the pkg, but that - as rickZ said - the amount isn't regulated and the product may not be safe. Rather a big issue.

Equipment: Why it's Worth Buying an Olive Oil Pourer

Kenji - if I understand you correctly you're saying that there's a significant difference in the amount of oxidation from a bottle with a separate pour spout and an olive oil bottle with it's own constricted inner pour cap? Once the bottle is capped there's no additional air going into the bottle, so I'm surprised there's this much difference. Or have I misunderstood you? Have you or has anyone done any tests on this?

My everyday olive oil is California Ranch and I keep it in the original, dark, bottle.

Freeze Fresh Herbs for Long-Term Storage

For mint I often process with sugar and then freeze it. If I just stored it in the pantry the moisture from the mint gradually darkens the mint. But it's great frozen this way, and all ready for fruit salads. I bet this would work well with any herbs you were freezing for sweets.

Drewgriz beat me to it. For those herbs I freeze in water I melt them first. This works especially well with dill and parsley, I find.

For basil I process with oil and freeze. Mostly freeze already made pesto or pesto without the garlic.

The Science of Pie: 7 Pie Crust Myths That Need to Go Away

Kenji - you don't address the flour issue at all, and I'm curious about how pastry flour affects any of your calculations. I've always had perfectly tender and flaky crusts, whether with lard or butter (I admit the lard makes an easier crust), and have attributed that to the pastry flour, which of course doesn't develop as much gluten.

Besides that, the crust will sink onto the top of the pie rather than popping up and leaving a gap (saw an ATK article a couple of years ago that went to great lengths to avoid the gap. All they needed to do was use pastry flour.) (Pictures of the pie at my verfoodie blogspot blog.)

So I'm curious as to why you use All Purpose. Is it just because of the easy availability? You can make pastry flour easily enough by using 2/3 AP to 1/3 cake.

Our Vegan Month Progress, Week 4: Temptation, Cheating, and What We've Learned

@wocowboy: Reading your comment I had to wonder whether you'd read through the repertoire of Kenji's vegan recipes - where nearly everything is NOT a mimicry of nonvegan foods. It is true that this year Kenji has added some foods to satisfy some traditional meat and dairy flavors, but the rest of what you say doesn't apply to this site's vegan recipes.

I realize you may be referring to other vegans you know, but a whole lot of omnivores (attested to by the staff in this report) have been pleasantly surprised by how delicious, satisfying, and worthy vegan eating can be. Not a hardship, except perhaps for the time to prepare a lot of it.

Our Vegan Month Progress: Week 3, Checking Privilege and Staying the Course

I love these updates. They summarize nicely the difficulties many of us have who don't have the resouces - in cash, restaurants or time, to help us along.

Clearly the best solution is for Kenji to get a kick starter going to produce some of his incredible meals as frozen foods for my neighborhood store.

Recipe Update: Even Better Vegan Mushroom 'Bacon'

The mushrooms could always be crumbled onto the pizza when it came out of the oven.

The Vegan Experience: Welcome to Year 4


In order for the cow to give milk she also needs to give birth, and the fate of the calves is not always a good one. So milk is not without consequence to animals other than the cow herself. That's another thing that has to go into the equation. I'm with you on honey.


The Vegan Experience: Welcome to Year 4

Been looking forward to this month all year. I'm only a part-time vegetarian, and since that's for both ethical and health reasons I think I'm better off being vegan than vegetarian when I'm not eating meat. I eat way too much dairy.

(I do wonder if it's possible that eating humanely raised and slaughtered meats (Flying Pigs Farm, for which SE did a profile, comes to mind) actually reduces the suffering to animals as demand prompts more farmers to change their practices. This may be better than a world divided between meat-eaters who don't notice, and people who don't eat meat)

Things I would like to see more of: standard comfort foods redone - mac and cheese, shepherd's pie, goulash, etc

Maybe some basic building blocs that usually have dairy, like bechamel and mornay sauce for when your full-on nacho sauce isn't the ticket. It would great to be armed with the tools for more vegan cooking without necessarily needing full new recipes. "What to use when you usually use..."

Would like to see an enumeration/reminder of how many vegan foods may already be in our own repertoire, and on SE - Good, simple foods like ratatouille, pea soup and other bean soups, baked beans, and so on.

(Cauliflower might figure into your mac and cheese recipe. Well cooked cauliflower has some of the right stinky notes and taste to mimic cheese.)

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Have been thinking more about this. There's nothing on the front cover to say this is a book of recipes. I might think, looking at it, "oh, this is like McGee with pictures," and since I've already got McGee I might pass it by. A really wonderful thing about the Food Lab is that you apply all that science to recipes, not just ingredients. Reminds me, in that regard, of Alton Brown's first book. But there he concentrated on technique more than recipes.

And while that was very useful your repertoire of recipes is so much more comprehensive, inviting, and diverse it deserves more than an egg on the front cover.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Oh, and I can hardly wait for it. Lots of friends are getting this for Christmas next year!

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

A lot of people who would really like the book already hard-cook perfectly good eggs, so the cover has nothing to entice them. It ends up being the sort of cover that serious eats folks get, but we're already going to buy the book. Find something that draws new people in more than this does.

Maybe 4 pictures that are different (and colorful) rather than a progression: 1) One of your great beef lessons, 2) something like pulled pork or chili, or homemade Chinese take-out (and the instant ramen would work here) 3) your veggie burger (it is a little complicated, but lots and lots of people are looking for a great homemade veggie burger) 4) vegan cheese sauce (but you'd probably need to label it on the cover so people would know).

How to boil an egg just isn't complicated enough to give people a reason to think they need to buy this cookbook.

And I'm hoping there's an option to buy a signed copy.

The Food Lab: My 11 Favorite Recipes of the Year, 2014

Kenji - You really are the best source for unique and reliable recipes on the web or tv, as well as reconsidered classics. I never miss a post, and am grateful for the work you do and the passion you bring to it - and the way in which you have shifted the way I cook. Vegan Month has been a real gift. The best to you in the new year and keep those recipes coming. (Can hardly wait for February to see what you come up with this year - i.e., don't even think of dropping vegan month)

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Nice gingerbread house. Love the little toasts as shingles.

But I gag on its being a "product." I don't much like any food being a product, and this seems as good a place as any to bring it up. I find this definition online - "an article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale." So the processed stuff on grocery shelves are products, but I think restaurant dishes only make the definition by a stretch of "refined for sale," and foods made in the home - or for that matter anywhere else not for sale, don't cut it. I guess it feels to me that to call a food a product reduces it to a level that is not about "serious eats," but about what can sell. Takes the passion for culture and history and flavor out of it.

Traveling Mac and Cheese questions

Need to know how you prepare mac and cheese when you have to travel with it.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to wait long after I get to my destination, and it's only about 20-30 minutes that it will be out of the oven before it's eaten, so it won't get warmed up when I arrive. (If I had longer once I arrived, I would bring the elbows undressed, heat the sauce and pour it over, and stick in the oven - but I won't have time for that unless I alter my plans).

I tend to like my mac and cheese either stove-top or right from the oven, and have found in the past that the mac and cheese absorbs too much sauce if it sits or has to be reheated. And if I heat it too long I've had it break.

Do you use a bechamel, or evaporated milk, or cream, to mix with the cheeses in this case?

I tend to use cheddar and muenster, but could add some american if it will help keep it creamy.

I also usually mix the cheese sauce with the elbows, and layer it with a little grated cheese between the layers, which comes out nice and stringy.

I've read through a lot of the past threads, and don't see this particular topic addressed.

What say you? What's the best way/recipe to deal with pot luck mac and cheese?

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

I'm living in the house I grew up in, and therefore inherited the kitchen organization. Having been used to the sugar in this cabinet, canned beans in this one, spices here, and dishes there, I haven't ever really stopped to ask myself, "How would I organize this kitchen from scratch?" Some things are in different places than they used to be, but not a lot.

Seeing the kitchen slide shows has renewed my interest in starting over, taking everything out of my cupboards and off the bookcases, and seeing what makes sense. In particular, I have some difficult-to-get-to space in corners, which tends to end up with canned or boxed goods that don't get used before they are too old to be edible, and the space should really be filled with seldom used bowls, etc.

I have very tall kitchen cabinets, and I am Not Tall. I loved Kenji's kitchen where the dishes are all on the lower shelves of several cabinets, instead of stacked up in one cabinet. Never thought of that, and I need to redo my kitchen for that reason alone.

How about you? How did you organize your kitchen?

Any good tips, like Kenji's with the dishes?

What do I need from the Korean grocery store?

I asked a friend in DC to get me some Korean crushed red pepper for making kimchi, and she sent me 3 pounds (!!) of Foodcell coarse red pepper powder.

She's offered to send me some more stuff and I don't know what to ask for. I don't have a Korean grocery store here, and other than bulgogi I haven't made a lot of Korean food. I expect there are other Asian ingredients too, and I'm just wondering what might be useful. I've looked at recipes here on site and I think I can get most things locally.

What would you suggest I ask for? I'm thinking dry ingredients, since she's mailing them. And if you know of any great dry prepared foods, that would be good too. (She sent a couple of dry miso soup mixes. haven't tried them yet).

Hot Pockets vs. Calzone dough question

I'm looking to make some hot pockets to freeze, and not having made either hot pockets or calzones, or frozen burritos, I'm not sure what sort of dough works best. My assumption is that for a calzone I'd use a basic pizza dough, and for a hot pocket I might use a dough with more oil, or maybe even butter cut in so it's more like a pastry dough. (And if I cut in butter would I leave out yeast?) I make my own tortillas, and wonder if that dough would be fine - basically flour, oil or butter, and water.

I'm curious about your experience making any of these. How would you differentiate between them?

I did find this hot pocket recipe from "A beautiful ruckus." which doesn't have fat but is a fairly sweet dough. Opinions? I'd like a dough I can roll out pretty thin.

3 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Dry Milk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
2 1/2 Tbsp Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water

Can I refrigerate chocolate buttercream to use tomorrow?

I'm not in the habit of making buttercream frosting, and when I have I've made it the day I use it. But I'm hoping to make some chocolate buttercream today to frost cupcakes tomorrow. Not a meringue buttercream. cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, milk, and butter.

Can I make it today, refrigerate it overnight, and take it out of the fridge early to warm up?

And if anyone knows what the missing step 2 is on this recipe, please let me know for sure. I assume I just need to add slightly soft butter in pieces once I've mixed the other ingredients.

Need point cut brisket help asap

Am cooking my first brisket, previously frozen. boiling per instructions on the pkg, which said a 3 pound brisket would take about 3 hours, and should reach 166 degrees. I had a 4 pound brisket

I've been away so I cooked in oven at 210, covered with water, for about 3 3/4 hours Came home and the temperature was more like 170-176 (not a good thermometer). I assumed it was done. Took it out. Cut some off to sample and it's a little tough, so I thought it might be overdone But the internal fat/collagen has not rendered, so I'm wondering if it's underdone. Have put it back in the hot water.

Any advice? Do I let it simmer longer in a 210 oven? Take it out, cool, cook slices more when I eat it? Take it out, cool, bake it tomorrow? It's not particularly edible at the moment.

What do you put in macaroni salad?

I have to make a dish for a potluck brunch tomorrow. It's hot enough here so I don't want a cooked dish. Think I'm going with macaroni salad.

My usual mac salad dressing is slightly sweet, more like a coleslaw dressing - mayo, sour cream, vinegar, mustard, black pepper and either sugar or sweet relish.

I like something sweet as an add-in too, preferably red grapes, frozen peas, or diced apple, along with the usual scallions and celery. Right now I've got snap peas from the garden which I'll blanch and cut, and I think I'll use chard stems instead of celery.

What do you add to your macaroni salad - just a few things or does the macaroni end up being incidental? What sort of dressing?

What Tomato varieties are you growing?

I'm not sure there are many places that have ideal gardening weather right now, but I'm sure many of you have planted or at least planned. (Here in Northern Vermont it's 80+ and my very sandy soil is baking. But I'd rather be here than in Minnesota).

For hybrids I'm growing Sun Gold cherries, Mountain Magic (late blight resistant), Big Mama, Super Sauce, Big Boy, and Lemon Boy.

For yellow or orange heirlooms I'm growing Yellow Bell (a favorite bell shaped paste from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange), Kellogg's Breakfast (orange beefsteak), and Jubilee, a great orange.

Also growing Rutgers, Delicious, Rose (a Brandywine type from Johnny's Seeds), a mix of heirlooms so I don't know what I'll get, and Cherokee Purple

The Cherokee is new to me, and I'm growing it on a friend's recommendation. I'd be interested to know your experience with it. I can still adjust numbers.

How has Serious Eats changed what you eat?

Over time what I eat has been changing subtly, and it's clear some of that is from reading Serious Eats every day, several times a day.

1) There are so many great vegetarian recipes here, and blogs that get linked to, that I'm eating vegetarian more of the time (I've resolved to be vegetarian at least half the days this year). It gets easier all the time.

2) Kenji's vegan months have inspired me, and I'm choosing to eat more vegan meals, even when that means just leaving out the cheese I would have otherwise included in a vegetarian meal. Easier all the time.

3) I'm more conscious of adding new dishes and combinations to my repertoire, rather than sticking with the group I've been pretty happy with.

4) I've been happy to rediscover the worth of some food and ways of eating I grew up with, as more Serious Eaters are attracted to making preserves, pickles, sweets from scratch, etc. I'm freezing and canning again.

5) I treasure my garden even more, and recognize that being able to eat ripe tomatoes warm from the plant is a privilege I've taken for granted.

How about you? How has Serious Eats changed the way you eat or what you eat?

How do I cook pork for fried rice?

I love commercial pork fried rice with the pinkish pork. Don't think it's ham as it has the texture of pork loin, but it sure isn't plain pork. What do I do to the pork to get that effect? Cook it with a sweet and sour sauce? Ah so sauce?

Merry Christmas. What's for Dinner?

Good Christmas morning all.

What's on your Christmas Dinner menu?
Other Christmas food traditions?

Ours is pot luck, and will start with a Beef Roast and Yorkshire pudding, the principal reason we have the roast. Then green salad, carrot salad, roast root veggies, potatoes,relishes, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cookies, and whatever else people bring.

If you win Powerball today...

What food related things will you spend some of those millions on - and how will you endow Serious Eats?

I'd need a new kitchen in a new house for starters. Probably hire a private chef - or better yet, hire a pile of chefs for a week at a time in exchange for a healthy donation to a charity of their choice.

Vermont is moving in some interesting directions in the food world, and I'd want to spend to encourage more of that - growing cooperatives, communal cheese caves, sustainability, etc.

I'd want to find a way to pay for pet food for some of those who suddenly find they can't support their pets.

And for all those currently registered on Serious Eats, a copy of Kenji's book when it comes out.

How about you?

Did you lay in food for the storm?

Here in Northwest Vermont I've been a little more casual about this storm than I probably should have been. Went to get water today and of course there weren't any gallons. I don't lose water without electricity, but there's always the unlikely possibility that the supply would become contaminated.

I figured I'd open canned goods if we're without any electricity for any length of time. (I'm more concerned about an unsteady elm tree that looms over the garage)

How about you?

Any of you being evacuated?

Do you eat off the back of the fork? Why?

I think I'd never encountered this until watching the food network. I always figured the front of the fork is sort of like a spoon and holds the food better.

Did you grow up eating off the back of the fork? How do you decide which things to eat off the back of the fork, and which off the front?

Are there some circumstances when you do one or the other?

Questions about sauce for borek

A year ago a local restaurant came to our farmer's market and sold borek, (they might have called it boreg) a meat/onion mix rolled up in hand-made phyllo dough.

It was very good, but the dipping sauce that came with it was dynamite, and I can't find anything that sounds like it when I google (and the restaurant, the Euro, doesn't list borek on their menu.)

The sauce was clearly dairy based, but had an additional sharpness. Might even have been yogurt and mayo mixed with something else. Had a bit of a yellow cast. Was the texture and thickness of sour cream. Was definitely not just yogurt, which is what seems to be what's listed when I search for "dairy sauce for borek."

I don't have any idea whether it was the chef's recipe, or if it's traditional somewhere. Any ideas?

Can I use tomatillos instead of green tomatoes for this?

I'm planning to make some green tomato mincemeat, but don't really have enough green tomatoes left, at least not enough for all that I'd like to make.

I have oodles of tomatillos though, but not a lot of experience using them.

The only things I've ever done with green tomatoes is make green tomato mincemeat and use them in a relish that combines red tomatoes and green tomatoes. So I don't have any idea if they behave the same way in recipes.

Have any idea if I could make the substitution>

This is like the recipe I use:

Horse manure can lead to herbicides in your compost

May affect you in other states:

This year Vermont has been dealing with a problem with persistent herbicides in compost, which cause a tight curling of tomato leaves, but also poor germination, stunting, and low productivity in some other vegetables.

There have actually been 3 herbicides found, including Clopyralid and Picloram. Nobody had registered with the Ag Dept that they were using these herbicides. Horse farms were one of the sources, and it turned out that some Purina feed included the Clopyralid.

The herbicide is not harmful to humans (in theory, and according to the VT Dept of Health). It passes right through the body, which is the problem for compost. The herbicide in the feed ended up in the manure, and survived the composting process.

The herbicides have a half life of 1-2 years. It affects plants in very, very small amounts, much less than the amount allowed in human foods. The use of this compost is not going to affect organic certification, but it sure messes up the garden.

I got some bad compost last year, from a different company than produced most of this year's problems. (The UVM and state plant pathologists thought my tomato problem was herbicides, but it wasn't confirmed, and because no one had registered its use it was a mystery.)

THE POINT OF ALL THIS IS, if you're using horse manure in your compost, or buying compost, it's really, really, important to pursue this, and particularly to find out if the horse feed being used is Purina.

Some federal agency or other is pursuing this nationally, because it may prove to be a national problem.

The problem here was actually identified by the principal seller of compost, the Chittenden Solid Waste District, which collects a wide variety of organic wastes from the Burlington area. Their web site has a lot of information:

And a link to an article on the local WCAX news:

What's the most decadent thing you've eaten at a fair?

This article in the NYTimes - "State-Fair calories: Do They Really Count?" actually has David Kessler endorsing the one-time indulgence of things like deep fried butter, at the fair.

I look forward every year to a fresh blackberry ice cream cone, made from the milk of cows at the fair. And I once had a beautiful piece of fried dough. Otherwise, I can never quite bring myself to eat the blooming onions or sausage with peppers and onions. That doesn't keep me from coming home and eating potato chips with onion dip though.

I feel like my horizons need broadening. What do you indulge in when you go to the state fair?

Need help making blackberry cordial

Made blackberry jam yesterday, and have 6 cups of pulpy juice left to do something else with. Might just make a syrup with it, but I'm interested in making a blackberry cordial

Online I find many recipes start with soaking berries in vodka, but that's out since I already have the juice. Some use brandy, some use vodka.

Can I make syrup first and then just add vodka to it when I want to make a cordial - in other words just use it as a flavoring for a drink?

Anybody had any experience with this, or something similar? Would appreciate any ideas/advice you can give me, including the amount of sugar to use.

What are you planting in your garden this year?

It's finally a nice warm sunny day, and I've been out getting some seeds planted. The poor seedlings I've been nursing through cold and cloudy weather (some in the greenhouse of my car, on the back shelf) are basking in the warmth and a couple of hours of sun while they start their journey to toughen up for the real world.

What are you planting in the garden this year? Anything you're trying for the first time - or is this your first year? What are you doing differently from last year?

What are you looking forward to the most?

I'm planting more tomatoes (about 84, 12-13 varieties) so I can can or freeze more, and make more salsa. I froze so many peppers I haven't yet bought any since last summer, but I'm planning on even more. And I'm hoping to find a good recipe for kosher dills that will stay crisp once canned. I found I don't like frozen kale all that much so I'm growing more chard.

Can't wait for the first sun-warmed, ripe beefsteak How about you?

Desperately seeking steak help

Cooking for a client (who needs to put on weight, no less) and he wants a steak - a sirloin. I tend to think of sirloin as pretty dry. But then I practically never cook a steak for myself. If I want a steak I go to a steakhouse.

What kind of sirloin am I looking for? I think I'll probably manage to not overcook the steak, which seems the only danger, but I'm concerned that the meat won't have enough fat to stay moist.

Am I wrong about that? Give me any hints. I'm buying the steak as well as cooking it.

Can I use Marmite instead of Shiitakes?

I've got a vegetarian chili recipe that calls for 2-3 dried shiitakes to be ground with spices. I'm thinking it must be to add some umami, and I'm wondering if I could substitute marmite, and how much I'd use.

I know Kenji said he uses it for soups. I've never used it in anything, though there's a jar sitting in my cupboard. I tasted a tiny amount and thought it was vile, so I'm not going to be joining the marmite on toast crowd.

What do you think of this, and do you use Marmite and how?

Fooproof way to remove hot pepper from your hands!

I've thought about trying this method for awhile, because I know capsaicin binds to oil. It's pretty logical, but I haven't heard anyone mention it before. I licked some tomato off my finger today when making sweet potato black bean chili. I'd chopped jalapenos for it, and of course my lips burned.

I washed my hands in vegetable oil (a couple of tablespoons), wiped off as much oil as I could, and then washed the remaining oil off my hands with hand soap. No burning on my lip. Rather cautiously, I then touched the inner corner of my eye. No burning! I guess I might not advise that if chopping habaneros, but nonetheless, this removed enough capsaicin so there was no burning.

I make Ukrainian Easter eggs, and to finish them I roll them in polyurethane in my hands. The polyurethane doesn't penetrate the skin, but there's a problem getting rid of the polyurethane. (Mineral spirits or turpentine are toxic). The magical thing to do is wash my hands in oil, wipe them off, and then wash with soap. No more sticky polyurethane. So if you find yourself with polyurethane on your hands know this works for that too (probably for oil paints as well). Originally read this tip in a craft magazine.

Here's the sweet potato black bean chili recipe, btw:

Sometimes it really is a smile, not a chicken or a banana.

We've talked about the serious eats logo some time ago, but I noticed the other day that beside the "start a topic!" balloon it's been turned slightly so it's definitely a smile!

I was one of those who instantly thought banana when I first saw it. And was it ever yellow? That's how I remember it.

What was your first impression?

(Have already said on another thread that I'm without my part time job as of today. Too much time on my hands, evidently.)

How did you do with 2011's New Year's Food Resolutions?

Mine was to eat meat no more than half the days of the year. I lasted until mid-summer, keeping track every day of where I stood. Then I just sort of lost interest, and definitely ended the year eating meat more than half the days.

I think I'll probably make the same resolution again this year. All the reasons of health and ethics I made that resolution still hold for me.

How about you?

Joyyy's breakfast burritos

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Video: How to Preheat Your Pan

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Bread Shoes

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