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I live and work in Richmond, VA but have traveled around the US. I recently moved into a house that I am in the process of renovating. I finally get to cook again after a one year hiatus due to selling, staging, renovating, etc.
It depends. I tend to invite folks who like to cook and like to eat and so make fabulous food. In that case, I like to do both. Now, if we are talking about the in-laws, I'd much rather be the control freak and do all the cooking. They think gravy at Thanksgiving comes from a jar. ::::delicate shudder::::
Last Thanksgiving weekend, we did the gastronaut's tasting menu at the Inn at Little Washington with the wine flight. I think it was about $600 for the two of us, maybe a smidge more. I had talked about going there for 15 years. It was ABSOLUTELY worth it. Met Patrick O'Connell and toured the place. We even stayed the night. I'll have to save another 15 years to do it again but it was sublime.
We have a big 3 day party coming up and we've been practicing making these (Jelly shots). I'd LOVE to have the book to bring something show stopping and delicious.
We tried to make tequilla sunrises this weekend with limited success.
My mother worked at HoJos across the street from Disneyland in Orange County, California. I was very young but I do remember the fried clams. And ice cream in metal floral cups.
When I left Honolulu, my grandfather stopped in China town and got a dozen manapua from his secret source and brought them to the airport to see me off. It's one of my favorite memories of him. I remember how that smell permeated the plane. I'm sure the other passengers hated me but they sustained me through a very tear-filled flight. I've recently taught myself to make them and every time I bite into one, I'm transported back. They are the ultimate comfort food for me.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Virginia. Started out in Old Town Alexandria and have recently franchised out through the state and maybe to Maryland. Fresh ground meat, never frozen, cooked to order. Fries like boardwalk fries with provenence of potato in peanut oil. Best fast food burger to rival In and Out.
I love the way my galley kitchen functions. I have one long 9 foot countertop that sits opposite the sink and stove. It is open to the dining room, so I'm not excluded when I cook for friends. I have ample storage and work space. It's old but the appliances are newish, low to midrange, but they function well, mostly. I love the old stainless steel sink and double drainboard. It makes washing dishes without a dishwasher less of a chore. I love that it has great bright light and good flow.
I don't love the cabinets as they are small and a bit awkward, but we make it work. Someday, I will renovate this kitchen and make it more period and a bit more functional.
I love Jamie Oliver's chicken in milk recipe. Have never gone wrong with it and it is falling off the bone delicious. I strain the remaining liquid through a seive, mash up the garlic cloves and thicken it just a bit into a gravy. Serve over mashed taters and it is divine. I warn you however, it is not a pretty dish.
If you're into Thai food, and aren't a snob about leaving the confines of the city, Po Siam on Mount Vernon in Alexandria (Arlandria) is phenomenal! They serve the Thai royal family when they are in town.
I don't like lots and lots of pan taking up space in my small kitchen. I have two ancient cast iron skillets I use for just about everything (a 10 inch and a 6 inch). Both were free, cast offs. I used to use non-stick, but got sick of buying them over and over again. I have a wok, but I do a lot of Asian cooking. I have three different size dutch ovens (pasta pot with strainer, Le Crus 4 qt, and a 6 qt stainless steel) that I use constantly. I have two smaller sauce pans, a 3 qt and a 1.5 qt and I don't use the 3 qt so much. I'm only cooking for two, so that may influence what you use/need. I could probably downsize one of the dutch ovens/stock pots and one of the sauce pans and do just fine. I do have an anodized saute pan that I keep for when I need another large skillet for something.
I would avoid buying a set, because I think you get a lot of things that aren't of much use. Buy the best you can afford and do your research. I've just recently picked up the Le Crus and have fallen in love with it. Nothing sticks to it (so far) and it's steady heat performs so much better than the others I have had. I also recently picked up a copper-core All Clad and it is a dream as well. Having gone through more than my share of cheap cookware, I'm sold on the good stuff. It will last forever as long as it is cared for and never have to be replaced. Cast iron is inexpensive and readily available and I would be lost without mine.
As for aluminum, there is growing concern with what it leaches into food and its relationship to alzheimers. If you must go aluminum, go anodized.
I have never eaten fresh truffles, but have had lots of truffle oil and truffle butter. Love love love it on pasta and with eggs, and just smeared on fresh, warm bread. YUM. Would love to win this as my partner is a fiend for truffles.
I just picked up a blue and white striped one from William Sonoma and I love it. I can't believe I've gone all these years without!
1. Cook at home 4x per week as opposed to going out.
2. Eat more consciously (ie: local, in season, better for me, portion control, etc).
3. Cook more adventurously. Try those hard recipes that take 3 days. Follow them scrupulously (I tend to improvise).
4. Bake bread 2x per month
5. Grow a real garden.
6. Give up foods that serve only to fill me, but not nourish me.
I often send gifts of Virginia Peanuts from the Peanut Shop. I've given and received H&D fruit of the month club that has always gone over well. I've received a cheese of the month club that was big fun. I've also done some wonderful cookies from Big Island Candies. They ship really well and are quite delicious!
I love my chocolate chip cookies to which I add cinnamon chips, orange zest, and a couple of other wonderful ingredients. I also love my lavendar shortbread dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with lavendar salt.
Oh, but you missed so many good and inexpensive bubblies! Gruet is from New Mexico and is wonderful and less than $20 a bottle.
I also always keep bottles of Cava from Spain or Prosecco from Italy, and many of these I can find for well under $20 a bottle (sometimes less than $10). Excellent, light, fresh, fruity. Crystalino is another favorite.
Last weekend I did a balsamic roasted butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce. Because I did the stuffing the week before, I could easily make and serve the ravioli without spending hours in the kitchen. I've also done chicken filets quickly as well. Served on a bed of rice and then sauced, steamed/roasted veggies on the side, easy but elegant.
I did this but in a more grown up version. I made a dark chocolate ganache with orange zest (lime zest, mint, rosemary would also work too), froze it, and then put it under a broiler for 3 minutes to toast the marshmallows. You can also vary the crust some by adding chopped nuts, cocoanut, or ginger snaps (for gluten inclusive people). It's better than smores cause it's less messy!
I learned to cook a little bit at home, but my mom was a pretty mundane cook when I was a kid. I'm guessing budget and time was responsible for that. In any case, I learned the very basic stuff. Though I lived at home during college, I had lots of study sessions and those demand good, brain food. I started cooking different things then. Once I moved out, I continued to branch out. My cooking really started to take off when I left the DC are and moved to Richmond. We lived kinda far out in the 'burbs and far from interesting restaurants. I had to learn to cook to eat the way I liked. I also finally had a decent kitchen to cook in. Those two items meant that my cooking blossomed. I feel like I'm still learning all the time. I would call my self a decent home cook, but I could be much better.
Summer food IS joyous food. That's why I eat; it brings me joy. Sunday, we had friends over for a waffle brunch and I made homemade cherry syrup from some cherries I picked up at the farmer's market. It was absolutely delicious! Last night we finished off the cherry syrup over some buttered almond ice cream. DE-light-ful!
Ooooooooooh, good thread. It happened to me once that I can remember (or at least, this one time was the most memorable, I'm sure it's happened more than that). I was making a special roast, taters, veggies, the whole deal for a new beau. She brought a jar of canned gravy, and instant potatoes cause she didn't like the menu. Needless to say, that relationship didn't go far.
And yeah, I get insulted when people salt their food before tasting it or drowning it in ketchap. TASTE it first, then decide if it needs additional seasoning.
Salt & Pepper
If I have these on hand, and a few veggies, I'm good to go!
There used to be a horrible Chinese restaurant in Kaunakakai, Molokai, Hawaii called the "Wok Inn". It was such a scary restaurant, the locals called it the Wok In, Crawl Out.
In Richmond, VA, 821 Cafe on Cary Street. Great and cheap. Specials are usually terrific and nothing is over $12. Add in good beer and it's a place we meet friends frequently.
Yesterday: Homemade cinnamon rolls, roasted red pepper soup, loaf of no knead bread.
Today: New England Clam Chowder and Clamcakes (grandma's recipe), kale chips, and chocolate pots de creme.
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