It has long been my ambition in life to walk comfortably in as many worlds as possible: I explore food as the connecting thread.

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  • Location: Evanston, IL
  • Favorite foods: Avocado, 60% dark chocolate...or darker, Chewy, crusty bread right from the oven, Combinations of hot/cold, e.g. Pizza with fresh salad, hot fudge sundaes, etc. Authentic ethnic foods.
  • Last bite on earth: Perfect french fries with my homemade turkey gravy.

The Real Reason Sugar Has No Place in Cornbread

I agree, I wonder if the commercial component to this article plays a role.

I, myself, use Indian Head stone-ground white cornmeal (cheaper and IMO better than Anson Mills) and love it. I use 1 and 1/2 cups cornmeal to 1/2 cup flour, and I do add 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar - it doesn't make the cornbread sweet, it just takes the "dusty" edge off packaged cornmeal. My recipe comes from my Kentucky in-laws, who turn up their nose at the sweetened varieties.

Has anybody tried the Cook's Illustrated no-wheat version that toasts the cornmeal before cooking?

Publishing an e-cookbook

I'm also going to do this: I plan to convert my blog into a cookbook. Thus far, I've found that you can import HTML directly into a program called Sigil, and it will put it in a format that won't change with the different readers. Then you can use Calibre, another program, to convert it to the different platforms you can sell it from (Kindle, Nook, etc.) I know this is an old thread, but if anyone has any other tips, I'd love to hear them.

Open Thread: Do You Lick Your Beaters?

Yes, beater-licking and finger-cleaning of the bowl is something our family fights over. It seems to have been hardwired into my son genetically. We didn't realize when we got the KitchenAid how desperate that would make the situation: with a hand mixer there was at least detente: one beater for each boy and the bowl for me!

What to do With Leftover Condensed Milk

As a sauce for fried mantou! That's how we use it! (Plus, we buy the tiny six-packs from La Lechera, so they're single-use)

I also make my pumpkin pie with condensed milk, and have made a custard base for fresh berry pies with it...but you need a whole can.

Taste Test: British Digestives

Love digestives and found a great resource - HMart. There is a whole shelf of Korean versions, and as long as you're aware of which ones contain seaweed, Bob's your Uncle! (I particularly like these: )

PSA: You Have 4 Days Left To Eat Kumquats

@esk6805 the seeds are very bitter and IMO unpleasant-tasting. Your kumquat experience should be something like orange ZEST, not pith - but in a juicier form. If you've accidentally bitten a seedy, dry one, you won't get that. Think orange sweet-tart candy - especially the "super-sour" version, and it's about right. Or Cuantro in a chewable form. I love eating them like grapes (we sometimes roll them in sugar first.)

Typically, the smaller the kumquat, the less seedy - but you can always cut them in half and squeeze out the seeds before you bite.

Chicago Chain Restaurants That Don't Suck

And I forgot one of my favorite local chains: El Famous Burrito! If you are going for consistency over excellence, they are a good fit!

Chicago Chain Restaurants That Don't Suck

Was going to second Naf Naf. Good stuff - particularly the "fries." Plus their locations are spread around town a bit more than Pita Inn (which I also like.)

You could also include the Tony Hu empire, particularly his collection of Lao Sze Chuans (honestly, I've only tried the Chinatown location)

No-Churn Lime Ice Cream Pie (No Ice Cream Maker Required)

BTW - the filling made a FANTASTIC cake filling for my Lime in the Coconut Cake (lime chiffon cake with coconut cream frosting.) I just whipped it to fluffiness after it had set for a while - it was beautiful.

Sweet Hacks: 10 Easy S'mores Variations

If you make your own marshmallows (like we do) you can kick it up even farther: cocoa marshmallows, berry marshmallows (we used freeze-dried berries ground to powder.)

Then, you can riff on the idea of cream or custard pie to make your 'smores: e.g. cocoa marshmallows and Mimicao cookies; berry mallow, chocolate and Bordeaux cookie; Vanilla mallow, lemon curd and lemon cookie; berry mallow, jam and almond cookie - the possibilities are endless.

Bake the Book: Hollyhock Clafoutis

I don't pit cherries when I make clafoutis: I find it adds a slight almondy flavor, and I make it more often when I don't have to bother with pitting. Nobody in the family minds.

American Flag Fruit Salad

If you're looking for a white fruit that doesn't oxidize, peeled lychees work really well, especially in a berry-heavy salad.

Payard's Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches Are a Mashup We Can Get Behind

I meant does having ice cream inside make the macarons sticky, since they ARE supposed to melt in your mouth?

Payard's Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches Are a Mashup We Can Get Behind

Do the macarons get sticky in your fingers when you eat them? (I mean, more sticky than the traditional cookie?) I might try to make these...

I Made A Spanish Tortilla Out Of Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

Another option: boxed potatoes, like the "Au Gratin" kind. Also lovely, thin slices and if you toss the "flavor packet" in the trash where it belongs, they are a great substitute for fresh potatoes. You do have to boil them first to rehydrate, so they aren't as quick - but they make a lovely tortilla if seasoned properly.

I do a lot of scratch cooking and often friends are surprised to see these boxes in my pantry (I keep them for emergencies - If I find my potatoes have gone off, dinner isn't ruined) - but I never use the sauce packet, I just make my own or do an entirely different recipe with them.

What To Do With Overripe Bananas (Other Than Make Banana Bread)

I ordinarily don't link my own stuff here - but I have the ultimate quick and healthy recipe for this - my Fried Elvis Oatmeal (you can also not fry it, but then it's just PB and Banana oatmeal, really...)

When our bananas get black, we toss them in the freezer for this purpose. I like the recipe because it doesn't require eggs or added sugar (we sprinkle some on top when I remember, but it isn't necessary) and it comes together very, very quickly - you don't really even need to measure, just add ingredients until it is gloppy, pan-fry and go! You can even make a vegan version by using non-dairy milk.

Taste Test: Muir Glen's 2012 Reserve Tomatoes

A general point - I use canned products a lot for my blog and at home, and I'm finding that no salt added products are generally higher in quality than their salted counterparts.

I can't imagine that most companies are making a totally different product for salted and NSA, so I think this is because of the salt itself. It must break down the product slightly - it's particularly noticeable in meats (tuna, for instance) where the salted products are mushier.

Do You Compost Your Food Scraps?

In Evanston, IL the City upcycled old broken garbage carts into free composters by drilling holes all over them - we use one (I added worms to mine) and it works fabulously well. (BTW, Citrus composts just fine - it's a myth that it does not.)

Protip: instead of an expensive compost-carrier/bucket, I use a large cheap stainless-steel flour canister. Works just fine, and the seal on the lid keeps out the smell.

Can You Cook A Steak By Dropping It From Space?

I loved that post, too. Now we should all get together and find a way to spam "What if" with more physics-related-cooking posts.

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

@Seeker - those are similar (the filling and brand is the same) but that version is kind of like Pirouettes on steroids; there's a little less cookie to those than the ice cream cones.

Not that I'm obsessive about this or anything...;-)

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

@seeker - Just to make sure we're comparing apples to apples, there is a gummy version that isn't the same thing. The chocolatey ones apparently come in a couple sizes/flavors, but the shells I remember were quite crunchy, but the chocolate is aerated, so it does kind of evaporate.

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

Me, too - but I can't find them anywhere!!!!

Taste Test: Asian Chocolate-filled Cookie Snacks

By far my favorite of these chocolate-filled snacky things are Glico's Caplico "ice cream cones" especially the ones shown in this flickr page (not mine)

Unfortunately, I can no longer find them in the Chicago area. We used to give them out for Halloween...

Sunday Brunch: Potato and Corn Empanadas with Aji

Goya makes two or three kinds of refrigerated or frozen pre-formed empanada dough. It's not the same as homemade, but it is passable. Check your local hispanic market or the international freezer case in your grocery store.

FWIW, empanada dough (made with oil) is extremely easy to make, esp. if you have a tortilla press: make dough, divide into individual portions rolled into balls, squash balls into rounds in tortilla press, fill and cook.

Gadgets: Ninja Cooking System

I'm gonna try the cheesecake thing and see - but why wouldn't it work in a regular slow cooker? It is, after all, a custard - so low and slow in a water bath should work fine.

I want to try that slow-cooker bread. I wonder if this gadget would give it a crust (though chances are probably not.) I bet you could address the crisping issues if you got this and a brulee torch.

Might be the perfect cooking tool for a college student on their own for the first time...

Any possibility of getting "digest" notification on comments?

I love wading into a controversial topic as much as the next guy, but the sheer volume of email notifications I get when I do makes me reluctant to participate. While some may consider that a side bonus, I think maybe there are others in the SE community who feel the same way.

I do like having a notification system, because oftentimes I'll forget to check back - but is there some kind of middle ground? A once-a-day or weekly digest roundup? Usually, I wind up clicking the "opt-out" link at a certain point - not because I'm not interested in what people have to say, but because I can't keep up with all the deleting.


Suggestion for Photograzing

I'm a big fan of Photograzing, appreciative that I've got some links up there, and also that y'all focus more on the food than on the photo styling because that's why I'm here. I also appreciate that a slightly smaller proportion of the links are desserts than on other sites - and that you don't tend to offer boxed-mix "recipes." Thanks, and keep up the good work!

I've just started using Pinterest, and wanted to suggest that you include a "pin" button on each photo that links to the photo's link-through page - I wanted to make sure I credited both Photograzing AND the linked post, and it took a little noodling to get there (for anyone else looking for this, click on the post title and not the picture, when the single photo comes up, pin that.)

Thanks again!


Help! Hamantashen-style mini-pie crimp fail!

OK, so I got rhubarb at the market, and happened to have a pineapple laying around, and decided that instead of pie, I wanted to make little tartlets kind of like the breadier Hamantashen (was hoping for lower fat in the crust)

I found this terrific ricotta-cheese dough recipe that gave me the desired lower fat, yeasty qualities I was looking for. In the photo on the recipe site, the end result has corners drawn up not dissimilarly to Hamantashen, except square.

So I made my filling, rolled out my proofed dough (I added a bit of Chapati flour and the dough was beautiful. Just gorgeous.) and cut it into circles. Added filling, crimped three corners with a hard pinch, baked as directed...and took flat circles of pastry with a lump of filling on them out of the oven. Sort of like ugly pineapple-rhubarb pizzas. Tasty - the dough is exactly what I wanted, tender, lightly bready - but ugly.

OK, so I thought maybe a double-crimp on the corners. Nope. So I thought maybe an egg wash before crimping. Nope.

The dough is nontraditional and extremely soft, but I have to think I'm missing something here. Any ideas how to keep my little triangle corners crimped?