Profile

lemonfair

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.

  • Website
  • 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

Hey Chef, What Can I Do With Eggplant?

One great way to use eggplant as a meat substitute (as Jeffrey suggests) is in the Farm Cafe's farmhouse veggie burger. Of all veggie burgers I've ever had, this one is most satisfyingly like a burger. This recipe used to be on the Farm Cafe's sute - can't seem to find their recipe at the moment - but this looks like it's pretty faithful.
http://www.food.com/recipe/the-farm-cafes-farmhouse-veggie-burger-451598

This was Duff Goldman's favorite burger on a Cooking channel "the best thing I ever ate-burger" episode

What's the Difference Between Dutch Process and Natural Cocoa Powder?

I like to use King Arthur Flour's Double Dutch cocoa blend, which includes some black cocoa. The darker color makes it seem more chocolatey, even though objectively it has a milder taste. No problem at all to use in a recipe calling for dutch processed cocoa. I especially like this choice for chocolate pudding.

It is possible to adjust a natural cocoa recipe for dutch processed. Reduce or eliminate the baking soda (unless there's brown sugar, which also needs the soda), and slightly raise the amount of baking powder You might have to make a recipe a couple of times to get what you want.

Are Heirloom Tomatoes Always Worth The Price?

Generally agree with this. But as you point out, many hybrids are picked too green and shipped, and that is the principal reason they don't taste as good as heirlooms - especially if they've been refrigerated, which tomatoes never should be.

I grow about 20 varieties of tomatoes each year, about half and half heirlooms and hybrids, and have grown at least a hundred heirlooms over the years. Some are knockouts, but a well grown hybrid grown to perfection is a thing of beauty too, and every bit as flavorful and juicy. Not all hybrids have been bred for long travel. The seed companies that traditionally catered to home gardeners - Burpee, Johnny's, Harris, Park, have for a long time bred flavorful, tender, hybrids for the home market.

Also, not technically true that heirlooms are not cross-bred. Cross-breeding is how new varieties are created. They are cross bred either intentionally or by nature, but the seed are then reliably able to produce the same variety again and again without being crossed each year (although there is some drift in varieties, as natural cross breeding happens in the field).

Hybrids have to be produced by cross breeding specific parents each year (done by machine, but still an exacting process), and the seeds of those tomatoes might or might not be interesting, but they wouldn't be true to type. Hybrid seeds can be expensive (the seeds of Mountain Magic, a great 2 oz sweet disease resistant red tomato cost 35-50 cents apiece). They are generally more productive and disease resistant, and often well worth the price.

Sun gold cherry tomatoes are now finally being shipped (Costco has them), but they have taken a long time to appear in markets because they are very thin-skinned and split if you look at them. They are also incredibly fruity and delicious. You're likely to find them in farmers' markets. I think lots of people probably think of them as heirlooms, but they're a hybrid.

Big Boy tomatoes from Burpee were one of the first hybrids, and appeared more than 50 years ago. The aroma is heavenly, and they are juicy and large. When we first grew them in the late 50's friends begged us for them.

Some of my favorite heirlooms are Delicious, Rose (another brandywine type of large pink tomato), yellow bell (from southern exposure seed exchange) and rutgers (this was introduced by the university in the 1930's, and when people lament "old time tomato flavor," it's the rutgers they are missing. The modern cultivars have apparently drifted from the original. Still a great tomato)

Tomatoes picked after they have significant color will continue to ripen on the counter (I wrap in tissue paper)with no apparent loss of flavor.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Maggie - I've liked the comprehensive articles you've had - all about grains, the current one about mead, etc. I do sometimes wonder what you'll do when you run out of food categories to be comprehensive about.

Max - your explanation here of dropping Talk was more direct and I expect honest than I felt we got at the time.

The Serious Eats Guide to Biscuits

No mention of flour here, but that might be because this isn't about recipes. I grew up with biscuits made with pastry flour, which made for a tender crumb. I now use a lower-protein all purpose (instead of the KAF or bread flour I have on hand).

How to Make the Best Pesto

Having grown basil for years I'm astonished you've ever seen a suggestion that the plants should be in flower when you pick the basil for pesto. By the time the plant flowers the leaves have often gotten thick and leathery, or at any rate are inferior to young basil. I cut the buds off to prolong the quality basil.

My favorite commercial variety, VegetaBalls from a NH company, uses some butter and tastes like it has a little lemon in it, but it's not on the label. The basil is a nice bright green though. I really don't like the oxidized flavor of basil that's sat even a little while, and make it so that I can use it immediately. This means, for me, it's hard to take a pesto dish anywhere, unless I've mixed the pesto with mayo for a pasta salad. I'd love to find a way around this problem though. Have tried a little Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid, or vitamin C tablet). Don't remember that it makes a huge difference.

I always use grated parmesan.

Sunflower seeds make a great-tasting pesto, but it's unappetizingly greyish. I usually use walnuts when I don't have pine nuts.

Giveaway: Win a Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer

Roast beef. Pink

Jam-Making 101: How to Select the Best Fruit

Right on about all of this. Although if using commercial pectin to make jam I find you can get away with fruit that's a little riper than you would if cooking down fruit and sugar. I think the fact the fruit isn't cooked as long makes up for the lack of unripe fruit.

A couple of years ago one of my batches of blackberries was fully ripe, and I was astonished how insipid the jam tasted, compared with the brightness of the usual mix of ripe and unripe berries. Didn't even taste as much like blackberries.

Nice copper pot!

12 Things You Can Do with Silicone Muffin Cups (Besides Bake Muffins)

Some new uses here. Thanks. My primary use is for bento boxes.

Can also use them to make chocolate cups to fill with things. Paint the melted chocolate onto the cup (inside or out). Can make your own reeses' cups this way, or large truffles, etc.

Win a Copy of 'Fruitful: Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes'

Cook the Book: 'The Nourished Kitchen' by Jennifer McGruther

Homemade relishes and pickles

Are the Rules of Big-Pot Blanching True?

"That's because human error and overcooking will have much more drastic and negative impact on the quality of the vegetables than those other variables."

Daniel - and for the above reason, the problem with the asparagus that was air cooled is that it was overcooked. So it would seem to me you need to test the air cooling technique with asparagus that hasn't been blanched for as long a time, since there is carry-over heat. Perhaps if you'd blanched the asparagus for 30-60 seconds longer and then put on ice the texture wouldn't have been any better than the air cooled.

My only experience with blanching is for freezing (or pickling), and in that case I'm paying attention to published guidelines, rather than a subjective assessment of when they look blanched. For green beans, for example, it's 90 seconds after the water returns to a boil. And then, having been blanched with a double pot pasta cooker, they are immediately pulled and turned out into a sink full of cold tap water til cool. I can only do this twice (with 12oz beans) before the water is slightly warm and I dump it out to start again. Since it takes this volume to cool the beans quickly, I can see that the running under tap water doesn't work.

For this purpose I never salt the water. Never occurred to me, family members wanted low salt, and we wouldn't buy frozen vegetables that were pre-salted, would we?

For spinach or chard I steam blanch, and that is more of a guessing game - until not much more than wilted. But I can't see dropping leaves into large pot of water. In this case I cool in small amount of water with ice.

I do like the idea of blanching on harvest. Will have to do that with veggies I'm going to cook anyway.

Does Refrigeration Really Ruin Bread?

Reading back through the comments I see I should have said it's important to nuke bread slices just until they are barely warm, or warm enough to change the starch, and therefore the texture.

It's not necessary to add water to bread that is seemingly dry because it's been cold, since it actually hasn't lost water - it's just bound up in some way with the retrograded starch (I think this is from McGee, but I haven't gone back to check). Cold bread is not truly stale bread, it just feels like it. When it's warmed again it will be just as moist as it was before, assuming you haven't otherwise dried it out.

Does Refrigeration Really Ruin Bread?

Daniel: The microwave doesn't crisp the crust again, so if that's important to you it wouldn't be useful. But it reverses the retrogradation of the starch, and you get a nice soft freshly baked texture.

How to Make Super Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

You don't need either hands or a processor to cut in the butter. Kitchens used to have pastry cutters, a hand tool with a group of parallel blunt blades (or, less effectively, wires) that you cut the butter up with in the flour. Or you can just use two dinner knives, one in each hand, to slice through the butter from opposite directions.

Yes, you can make square biscuits. The sharper the blade that cuts the dough, the more your biscuit will rise. Using dull cutters, or a glass, will smoosh the layers together a bit as you're cutting, and they'll bind together and keep the dough from rising. So using your sharpest knife will give you better biscuits than an inferior cutter.

So this is actually a recipe you can make well without any equipment. Can even use a glass to roll the dough with if you don't have a rolling pin. A perfect recipe for a beginner.

A Beginner's Guide to Onions

Nice article. The business of various onions being available year round is a matter of importing them from various areas of the country. And I'm pretty sure that in most places spring onions are not the same variety as fall onions. Freshly harvested onions are not necessarily sweeter or milder than "old" or cured onions. Pungency depends more on variety and to some extent the soil, though the two work together. The vidalia onion grown in Georgia is the same variety as yellow granex grown in some other places. I believe the Maui is also a granex.

The keeping ability of onions depends to a large extent on the amount of sulfur, which accounts for the pungency. So sweet onions without much sulfur don't keep anywhere nearly as long as yellow onions, and this may be part of the reason we grow and eat more yellow onions. A properly cured yellow onion will keep at least 9 months, sweet onions more typically about 4 months.

As it happens, yellow onions actually have more sugars than most "sweet" onions, and this is noticeable when cooked, and the volatile sulfur compounds are driven off.

Also, bulbing in the onion is governed by day length, so there are "short day" onions for the south, and "long day" onions for the north (we have longer days in summer than the south does). Growing the wrong onions will mean the onion doesn't produce a bulb, or only a small one. There are some neutral day onions now that can be grown in either place. (The Walla Walla grows in the north, the Granex in the south).

Does Refrigeration Really Ruin Bread?

I'm surprised you didn't refresh by nuking. I do this, and it only takes a few seconds and doesn't need a heated oven.

It takes me quite a while to eat a loaf of bread, and usually have bread toasted when I do eat it. So I keep in the fridge, and if I'm either toasting or pan toasting I find I can just take it from the fridge and toast, without noticing any difference between that bread and unrefrigerated bread.

If I want to eat the bread without toasting, I nuke for about 15 seconds, and find it returns to fresh quality.

Indian Spices 101: How to Work With Dry Spices

Great post. Looking forward to more.

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

No crunchies in my egg salad. The brain keeps checking it out to see if it could possibly be shell. And for that reason, chives for the onion flavor. And then just a touch of yellow mustard with the mayo, salt and pepper.

I have what amounts to a unitasker for egg chopping, though it could be used for other things. A scalloped metal ring with a handle. Very sharp, very efficient.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

And Kenji - sounds like you're off on an exciting adventure, and thankfully we still get to ride along. Happy traveling.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Will miss the drawings especially - though I tend to anthropomorphize my food too much as it is, so maybe now I can stop feeling sorry for radishes etc as they go under the knife (shudder). And who will look after the manatees?

Best of luck to you Robyn

Gadgets: Get Your Garnish on With the Mastrad Spiral Veggie Slicer

Donna - are the blades actual metal blades (which don't show, as you said they were inside), or are they plastic "blades," the way there are, for example, graters made entirely of plastic. Just wondering about durability and life-span of the tool.

This looks really practical and just what I need.

Eggplant Meatballs From 'The VB6 Cookbook'

These eggplant burgers (Farm Cafe's Farmhouse burgers) are outstanding and simple, and might be a good place to start looking for modifications to vb6's meatballs.
http://www.food.com/recipe/the-farm-cafes-farmhouse-veggie-burger-451598

Kenji's vegan burgers also use egglant, but are more comples

Bake the Book: A Lighter Way to Bake

chocolate silk pie

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Asian Greens

For those of you who garden, lots of these are available at Johnny's seeds, in Maine. Not difficult to grow, not deep rooted, so a pot with potting soil would do. Really fresh greens can't be beat.

http://www.johnnyseeds.com/c-358-asian-greens.aspx

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.

http://www.marthastewart.com/318413/ultimate-chocolate-frosting

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:
http://southernfood.about.com/od/greentomatoes/r/bl30515t.htm

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:

http://www.greenmountaincompost.com/

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

http://www.wcax.com/story/19266557/compost-contamination-results?clienttype

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?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/15/dining/at-the-iowa-state-fair-deep-fried-butter-on-a-stick.html?_r=1&hpw

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:
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/sweet_potato_black_bean_chili.html

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

Saw your comments where you mentioned making breakfast burritos in volume that you could freeze. I have 2 teenage boys that "love" their breakfast. Would love to have your recipe... More

Santa-themed Character Bento

[Photograph: bigdaikon.com] "These people hate Japan, bentos, especially charaben, and kids. They are English teachers in Japan. Surprising—not." http://bit.ly/7ZrCfk —@makiwi, referring to the forum this image was posted on There's some ugly sentiment in the discussion that Makiko Itoh (of Just Bento) links to in that tweet, but the Christmas-themed bento photo posted there is undeniably great. An Old Saint Nick made from rice, a hot dog reindeer, some other stuff I can't identify (is that an egg snowman?). What's not to love about this Japanese character bento (aka charaben)?... More

Video: How to Preheat Your Pan

You might have learned how to tell when your pan is hot enough in home-ec class: just observe a water droplet or two on the pan's surface and wait for it to bead up and roll across the hot pan. But did you know this trick has a name? It's called the Leidenfrost Effect. Ideally, you want a mercury-like ball of water to hover over the pan, which happens at 320°F or the Leidenfrost point. The water should evaporate more slowly than it would at lower temperatures but if many tiny bubbles form, that means the pan is too hot. This neato two-minute video from Rouxbe, the online cooking school, explains the very good life knowledge. Watch it, after... More

The Perfect Jelly Doughnut

With Hanukkah starting tonight, it's time to talk jelly doughnuts. The Jewish holiday is all about fried foods since the oil symbolizes the miracle of the Temple oil that burned for eight nights. But unfortunately, jelly doughnuts can get eclipsed by the latke—maybe because they usually suck. They seem great in theory but are often a tasteless wad of dough filled with stop sign red slime. But the half-Jewish side of me squealed when I found this perfect jelly doughnut at Almondine bakery in Brooklyn. After the jump, a little spin on the jelly doughnut. Hint: bunnies are involved.... More

Need Ideas for Grapefruit

I have a nice box of grapefruit (gift from sister) and I'm looking for what to do with them. I usually just eat them peeled and sectioned like I'd eat an orange, or put them in a fruit salad. Have... More

C is for Christmas Candy, too

Thanks to finewinendine for starting the Christmas cookie topic. I was going to add the candies I make for gifts, but thought it should be another topic. So. . .I make Peanut Butter Balls (I think they're also called "Buckeyes"... More

Pumpkin Pie Alternatives for Thanksgiving

[Photograph: Robyn Lee] The canned-pumpkin shortage is worse than originally predicted. If you were going to use this ingredient in your Thanksgiving pie this year but can't find it, we've come up with a list of alternative pies that don't use pumpkin. Why not try one of them this Thanksgiving? We give you 40 pumpkin-free recipes to consider (after the jump), but first, here's our favorite pie crust recipe: Cook's Illustrated's Foolproof Pie Dough. [Special @jaydeflix/simon addendum: You can always roast fresh pumpkins for your pumpkin pie—if you can find them; heavy rain this year has negatively affected pumpkin crops in parts of the U.S. Alternatively, Carri points out, "You can also use cooked butternut squash or yams in... More

Changing E-Mail address

Pardon me for the silly question, but I must be missing something here...I'm trying to change the e-mail address where the newsletters go to, and I can't seem to find where to change it when I "view/edit my account." Help?... More

How to Make Edible Salad Tossers

[Photograph: Dessine moi un objet] One perk about cracker-based cutlery is the easy clean-up after use. Crunch. The design blog Dessine Moi un Objet shows you how to make these salad tossers (as well as a salad dressing receptacle) from dough. Though the site is in French, the step-by-step photos are pretty explanatory. One disclaimer: maybe don't use these around impressionable children—they might think it's acceptable to eat utensils. [via The Kitchn] Related Do Biodegradable Spoons Ruin the Ice Cream Experience? Spatula Taxonomy An In-Depth Tribute to Sporks... More

Question About Favorites

Just a quick question...does SE keep all the favorites you click over the months/years? Or is it just the last 20-30 or whatever? I feel like I should know this but I don't. Sorry! :)... More

Video: Chez Pim's Super Easy Pie or Tart Dough

"Everybody should have a go-to pie dough or tart dough that they do in their sleep," says Pim Techamuanvivit (aka Chez Pim), who recently came out with a cookbook called The Foodie Handbook. Here she shows us her go-to, which really does look ridiculously easy. Making a pie crust from scratch always sounds intimidating but this approach is more like playing with Play Doh that happens to turn into a deliciously flaky, buttery crust. (And you can do it straight on the countertop. No bowl required.) Pim finishes it off with frangipagne (she blends the almonds herself, avoiding almond meal) and fruit for a rustic galette. Become a pie dough expert in four minutes, after the jump.... More

Bread Shoes

[Photographs: da da da] Hollowed-out loaves of bread designed by R&E Praspaliauskas are available at dadadastudio.eu for €22 a pair. Or you could find two shoe-sized loaves of bread and make them yourselves (for purposes unbeknown to us). If you need more instruction, here's a video on how to make bread shoes, after the jump.... More