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.

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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

Helga's Meatballs and Gravy With Carrot-Apple Mashed Potatoes From 'Marcus Off Duty'

BKF: yellow onions usually refers to the long-keeping onions that you'll see in mesh bags through the winter. They are very sweet, but that is not noticeable until they're cooked, and the sulfur compounds (which enable them to keep through the winter) are driven off.

White onions and red onions are seemingly sweeter when raw than yellow onions, but I don't think they have as much sugar and aren't as sweet when cooked. They don't keep as long as yellow onions (not as much sulfur), but you'll still get them all winter long now because of transportation. Minced onions benefit from a rinse in cold water after mincing, to rinse off the sulfur compounds that have formed on the cut surfaces.

Vidalias are the sweetest raw, and are grown in soil relatively deficient in sulfur. It's why they must come from a particular area to be called vidalias. Other areas grow the parent onion, called a granex, but they are usually not as sweet because of different soil with more sulfur. You can buy seeds or plants of granex and see how they do in your garden.

Tacos de Canasta: How to Make the Perfect Potluck Taco

Great idea. I go to a pot luck once a month, and the other way of doing pot luck tacos is just to let everyone know to bring something to go in a tortilla, with one or two people bringing the tortillas. We end up with great pot lucks, and with some folks not having gotten the message there are always things like mac and cheese or potato salad to go in the tortilla too.

The Best Squash Lasagna

I second the question re: regular no boil lasagna noodles. When I make a tomato based lasagna I always use uncooked regular noodles, not even bothering to soak them. It solved the too loose lasagna problem for me. I'll grant that I need to cook the lasagna closer to 1 1/2 hours, covered for most of that time, but it sure saves time at the front end.

Not sure how you would get the liquid component right at first with this recipe, but I'd be interested in knowing if you ever use unboiled regular lasagna noodles in recipes.

Win a Copy of 'Marcus Off Duty'

Spanikopita if I've got a half hour notice. I almost always have the ingredients on hand (frozen spinach). Otherwise it's likely to be taco salad with whatever I've got in the house.

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Is there any way for me not to have to click 3 times to see the slide show? I'm on Mozilla. I click on the front page and that brings me to a slide show icon in orange at the top of a picture which I need to click on, and then click again to start the slide show.

Do Yolk and Grease Really Ruin Egg Whites for Beating?

Great test. It looks in your picture of the side by side beaten eggs that the clean eggs still look stiff but have wept liquid after time. Is this so? Why is the plate wet?

I love these things that are unquestioned received wisdom. One of my favorites is "don't rinse mushrooms because they absorb water." Funny how I've never run into soggy mushrooms in the woods. (Alton Brown weighed mushrooms pre and post rinse and found negligible absorption)

This Week at Serious Eats World Headquarters

Yes, more info on Yuba, please.

Use Your Cast Iron Pan and a Tortilla to Make World Class Bar-Style Pizza in Under 12 Minutes

Kenji - Glad to see this (I think it was about 6 months ago you said you were planning to, Life has intervened, hasn't it).

I've been making pizzas from tortillas for several years now, and am very satisfied with them. I don't have a cast iron skillet at the moment, so I bake them on parchment paper on a half-sheet pan. But I usually brown the bottom of the tortilla in a nonstick pan with some olive oil before I start assembly.

I brush the top side with olive oil too, and this helps get them crispy enough for me, but not cracker crisp as yours are. I also use very little sauce. If I use as much sauce as you have here they won't get as crisp. I make sure the cheese is out to the edge but not the sauce. Then there are little spaces where the tortilla has crisped on its own without any topping.

I don't truly preheat the oven. I turn it on when I decide to have a pizza, prep the pizza, and by then 10 minutes or so have elapsed, and the oven hasn't fully preheated. I put the pizza in the oven and it takes about 15 minutes to bake at about 410. Shouldn't work, but it does. The tortilla is so thin, and with the oven still heating there's enough heat to crisp it up.

I love how quick this is, and that I can have a credible pizza on a whim. I always have a margherite pepperoni in the fridge.

Forget Pie, Love Apple Crisp: How to Make the Perfect Crumb Topping

Max - thanks for the response. I understand about needing to pull in google hits, and so yes, if not market-tested it is apparently market-directed. Just keep finding ways to acknowledge that your idea of perfect might not be everyone's.

Win a Copy of 'Plenty More'

The eggplant burger from Farmhouse cafe

Forget Pie, Love Apple Crisp: How to Make the Perfect Crumb Topping

Max - looks like a very nice recipe. I prefer a little oats and walnuts (oats as a crisp variation in Fanny Farmer from way back when). But I also often don't peel the apples in a crisp, unless I'm making it for unsuspecting company.

I make up a big batch of topping and store in the fridge, and then have a few weeks when I can make a small personal sized crisp while baking something else.

But I really hope Daniels' perfect roast chicken and your perfect apple crisp topping aren't going to start a trend on serious eats for perfect recipes - especially, God forbid, if that's been market tested. If this is the perfect recipe than all others you may offer in the future will clearly be inferior, and why do that?

And I know you know that personal preference plays a big role in what we think is perfect. So I'm hoping to see more "My favorite crisp topping so far" sort of recipes.

How to Make Traditional Cassoulet (And Why You Should Put Chicken in It!)

Kenji - I'm surprised you cook the beans til just short of done, since they're going to bake for so long. What's the reason for that?

And after telling us earlier this summer that we don't need to soak beans before we cook them, you're choosing to do it here. Is it to take advantage of the brine?

Did you by any chance try a version without soaking the beans, and/or without cooking them so much before they went in the oven?

Turn Your Pasta Into Ramen With Baking Soda

ATK adds baking soda to a number of things to change texture - 1/4 tsp, for example, to the water you boil wild rice in, to keep the rice from blowing out by the time the interior is cooked. It also reduces the temperature at which the maillard reaction happens, so that - according to Chris Kimball - it will actually happen at the boiling point. Wonder if that's why the noodles turn yellow?

It would be neat for you or Kenji to do a compilation of the odd uses for baking soda to take advantage of knocking down the temperature of the maillard reaction.

Taste Test: Pepperoni Sticks

Meat guy - thanks for the comment. As soon as I read the first complaint about "uncured" stuff I thought I'd have to search my email archives where I copied a previous comment of yours and sent it somebody. This is much easier!

Cast Iron Cooking: Crispy Baked Pasta with Mushrooms, Sausage, and Parmesan Cream Sauce

This sure looks like an updated tuna noodle casserole with sausage instead of tuna (and panko instead of...and etc.) Wondering if - with the American chop suey and this - you're dipping into the classic mid-century hot dish repertoire. Great idea if you are, and if you're not, then think about it.

(I'd add celery for a vegetarian version, with limas - fordhook if you can get them, though they have disappeared from the frozen food aisle up here).

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous)

coxzoo: Yes, for me BTB is in the same place as the dried bouillon.

American Chop Suey: The Cheesy, Beefy, Misnamed Stovetop Casserole That Deserves a Comeback

Growing up in Northern Vermont with parents from Massachusetts, this was Goulash at home and American Chop Suey at school. I loved it then and still do, make it at least once every 5 or 6 weeks, more often in the winter.

Grew up with the ingredients being very simple, like Andrew Coes' 1910's recipe (above, in comments) - macaroni, onions, tomato, and beef. In fact, I wonder if this is why it fell out of favor. Most of us want more flavor than this now, although I make this version as a simple soup with more tomatoes, and just black pepper and salt as seasoning, and love it.

I now add oregano and garlic and rarely green peppers, but never put cheese in the dish itself. I sometimes melt grated cheese on top of the bowl of it that I'm eating.

This is comfort food for me even more than mac and cheese. Seems more righteous for some reason. Glad to see the article. I believe Stouffers just calls it "macaroni and beef," btw, in the frozen aisle, so I'm surprised there are folks who don't know it, unless Stouffers only sells it midwest and east.

The Lazy Cook's Way to Great Black Beans

This is very much like my own favorite black bean/rice dish. I also don't saute the aromatics, but I want onion in the final dish and so mince it first. I had gotten my recipe from someone who had taken a sabbatical in Columbia and served black beans and rice at a dinner party. I couldn't believe how good it was, and it is still one of my favorite foods.

For the orange I peel large sections of zest and cook with the beans, without the juice or the bitter white. The peel softens nicely and is good to eat, though I sometimes remove it, too. In a pinch, if I don't have an orange, I'll use a little orange oil. Not as good, but passable. I also finish with a little lemon juice at the end. I serve with hot sauce (my preference is goya salsa picante) and sour cream or greek yogurt. I've just barely started adding a bay leaf, and I'm undecided.

Why You Should Refrigerate Tomatoes and Ignore Anyone Who Says Otherwise

I've got pretty strong opinions about growing and handling tomatoes, but I'm a little baffled by some of the complaints here.

That said, I think that the "should" in the title is most of the problem. "Why it's okay to refrigerate tomatoes" would have accomplished what you wanted without telling us what to do. (After all, most of those nameless interweb people probably google "Is it okay to refrigerate tomatoes?"

Puppy Chow: The Must-Try Chocolaty, Peanut Buttery Midwestern Snack

Never heard of these. The peanut butter I use is natural without any hydrogenated stuff in it. I wonder if the mix will stay sticky instead of hardening. Anybody have any experience with this?

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).

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?

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