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How to Make Yogurt

To the raw milk yogurt makers -

Does anyone struggle significantly getting it to "set up?" I can't get it to a good consistency; this last batch I made had a thick top layer but then was basically sour milk below. I've tried it via the slow-cooker method (heat for 2.5 hours on low, sit for 3 unplugged, and then incubate for however many hours). I've also tried heating it on the stove to 110 and then incubate in an unplugged slow cooker filled with water heated to 110. No dice. Any ideas for future successes? I've been using generally about 2T of starter. Should I use more for unpasteurized milk?

Foodie game

Cook the Book: The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook

I am new to this game. Well, since October, but I still consider that "new." Meal planning is difficult, but as I just finished that for the upcoming week I can't get proscuitto and melon off of my mind, as that's what I'm having tonight! Gloriously gluten free, indeed!

Taste Test: Granola Bars (and Friends)

@Katie Potato - I've never seen honey on any of the ingredient labels on the KIND bars I've eaten. Are there specific flavors to which you're referring?

Cook the Book: 'In The Green Kitchen'

It's really important to have everything ready to go before you start cooking. It's amazing how much damage a few extra, unnecessary seconds on the heat can do to certain ingredients.

The Food Lab's Top 10 Pieces of Kitchen Gear

Oof. Tiredhead. I have it. Now exacerbated! ;)

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Hits America

As an elementary school employee, the first thing I thought while watching this show was, "Hmmm...I've seen that menu somewhere before. Maybe today, for both breakfast and lunch?" So immediately I realized that while it is reality TV, which particularly on ABC means schlock production and upped drama, it still is a real "plot." It's not The Hills, or even Wife Swap, for pete's sake. This is happening every day, across the country. (FWIW, I live very far away from WV.) I, too, could have done without the crying because it just embarrasses me when people on TV do it, but why do I think it might have been semi-genuine? From what I understand, Jamie Oliver is pretty consistent in his message for good, local, healthy food (and Bettie1, it's okay to eat pizza. Seriously. It's even okay to eat things that are, GAH!, fried. As long as the ingredients are natural and we consume when we're hungry and in moderation, don't try to paint him as the anti-Christ for offering up a recipe like that).

I sure do hope to see some change enacted, whether it be a direct result of this program or not. I work at a pretty affluent, high SES school, and like I said the menus are pretty identical. I'm sick of seeing obese children, little girls with horrid 'muffin tops' protruding up and out of their too-small jeans, cellulite on 4th graders. I even tired of seeing the apparently 'healthy' kids suck down enormous bomb ice cream pops after their lunches of mashed potatoes and french fries. This is ridiculous. We are killing ourselves. It bothers me very much.

And Jillian, you don't need me to say it, but keep the HUMOR coming. Some people can't laugh for anything. Even I can, and I'm obviously pretty worked up about this issue. ;)

Cook the Book: 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes'

Hands down, red velvet cake. No matter in which form, from which bakery (or my own kitchen!), whether topped with a roux or cream cheese icing (preferably roux, though), and finished off with walnuts or pecans (preferably walnuts), it's still my absolute favorite slice of cake. That gurgling you hear right now is my stomach growling...

The Food Lab's Top 10 Pieces of Kitchen Gear

@gargupie - Definitely make some hummus at home. Much much better than what's commercially available (shocking statement, right?). I use Ina Garten's recipe as a jumping off point, and vary each time I make it, depending on how I'm feeling. Play around with it, and make it your own. :)

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/hummus-recipe/index.html

Depending on how you feel about garlic, you might sub in elephant garlic, instead. It's a little milder to some people, apparently, and might make this recipe a little better, according to some friends.

Cook the Book: 'Salt to Taste'

Can I do a whole category? If so, then root vegetables in general. If not, butternut squash; sweet, savory, any which way. Yum.

Baking Bread

Put me in the serrated knife category. Sometimes, I would go so far as to use my mini-serrated-pseudo-tomato-slicing knife.

I say 'would' because I haven't been able to make my bread for such a long time. Sniff....

The world is ending! Food rationing is in effect, choose wisely!

Hmmmm...

Protein: eggs, cheese, beans (My husband gets to make his own selections, right???) If not, strike the beans and throw in beef to thrill his soul.

F/V:
Bananas
Strawberries
Brussels sprouts
Butternut squash
Onions

S/H/O:
Olive oil
Balsamic
Garlic powder (can't give up any of those fresh F/V at the moment!)
Dill
Basil
Dijon
Powdered chipotle

....assuming that salt and pepper are a given. If not, strike the dill and give me a twofer on them, please!

pumpkin shortage

Oops - I forgot the "where." Dallas (Plano).

pumpkin shortage

I can still find WF's organic plain in a can. No Libbey's to speak of; not even their mega "pie mix" cans.

Cook the Book: 'The Best Soups in the World'

Any roasted vegetable puree. Root veg truly has my heart, but I'm happy with any and all.

Cakespy: Velveeta Fudge

I don't mean to speak for everyone, but I think part of the reason some people (me) will comment on a topic they find appauling (Velveeta) has to do with the environment in which it is posted. I am a little surprised to see that this website is encouraging its use. I would love it if it didn't. It's seems to me like the overall shift in cooking EVERYWHERE. You know, the one away from real food toward chemicals. The one that intimates it's much easier/faster/yummier to slop crap on a cracker than to roast vegetables. The one that's on TV very much near 24 hours a day. It just makes me sad, which encourages me to comment on an article such as this in a forum such as Serious Eats, even though, no, particularly because I abhor the material in question.

It's not a matter of writing off all "comfort, down home food." It's a matter of embracing that food, actually, and holding it up to a higher standard than to say it's okay to molest it with junk like Velveeta. At least in my opinion.

Thanks for reading. Let the ripping to shreds commence.

I can't buy bottled water anymore. Just can't.

@snowpeech - Plastic bottles are completely safe for reuse? Really? I totally missed that. I don't think I've ever heard anything other than reusing plastic bottles (like the thin, commercially available Ozarka, Dasani, etc.) is a horrible idea. Bacterial buildup creates the need for washing (of course), which causes an even greater amount of breakdown and leeching into whatever liquid is inside.

Additionally, I've heard that while waiting to be shipped these cases of bottles can potentially be exposed to temperature variations, sometimes extreme, again setting up the perfect opportunity for the plastic to breakdown and leech straight into your water/soda/etc. This may be an old wives' tale though. Any input from anyone on it?

I have a stainless steel bottle and use it daily. When I had my first "a ha" moment about ceasing the plastic bottle consumption habit, I bought a fully "reusable" hard plastic container. Then I learned about the dangers lurking in that material (#1? #7? which is safe? Which will kill me?) and promptly found my ss bottle. I've never looked back.

Incidentally, that caused me to begin thinking about similar health and envirnomental dangers throughout my life. I used to go through mountains of disposable dishes/utensils due to lunches at my desk. (I used to microwave styrofoam!) My husband and I no longer heat leftovers in plastic containers; I make him be the guy who brings ceramic dishware/silverware for his lunch. He thinks I'm marginally crazy (and he's probably right about that...in some instances!) but I'm happy he's doing it. No more leftover chicken with a hot side helping of PCBs.

I'm certain most of you made these changes long before I. I'm just happy I realized the above when I did, so I could do my part to keep my family healthy and reduce my excessive consumption.

Gadgets: Yogurt Maker by Waring Pro

Two quick questions:

I have routinely made yogurt at home for a while now, with varying results. Does anyone have input on whether or not the end product will be more consistent if I plunk down $40+ on an appliance like this?

Also...I am drinking less and less cow's milk these days. Has anyone used nondairy sources, and how did the process change for you? (I'm currently dabbling in almond milk, if that matters.)

Cakespy: Velveeta Fudge

I am so happy to see a response about queso w/o Velveeta. I didn't even know of this Velveeta (apparently) = queso thing until recently, when I watched somebody chop it up and throw it into a slow cooker with a can of Ro-Tel. Wow.

Mayonnaise in Your Chocolate Cake?

I have a wonderful sour cream chocolate cake which I assume employs many of the same prinicipals. It is just about the best damn cake ever. :)

food allergies :(

@LauraJ - I got diagnosed from two doctors back in October. I had a physical during a time when my regular GP was on maternity leave. So "fresh eyes" looked at my history and, taken with some other weird things that were happening to me, the substitute doctor ordered a blood panel that I had never had before. Once those results came back positive for problems with gluten, she referred me to a gastrointerologist who did more specific blood tests. Those results confirmed the first ones, and added more information to the picture (the presence of gluten-specific antibodies). The GI recommended an endoscopy; I don't think I'm going to have that for a couple of reasons. Mostly, it's a cost/benefit issue. Blood work is more than 90% accurate and there is no medication available; it's all diet modification.

@jennifermarie - Not really. Hence the near-tearing up! There are some commercial gluten-free products, and some are really good. But I can't just walk into a bakery (or even a regular restaurant, sadly) and order any little thing my bread-loving heart desires. I am trying different GF breads at home. I got a bread maker for Christmas and I'm excited to use it. The GF doughs are harder to work with than regular ones, so the machine will be very beneficial for kneading and overall dough handling.

food allergies :(

Recent blood work let me know I get both IgE and IgA/TTGA responses to gluten. (Meaning, I get physical allergic reactions and have antigens/antibodies internally attacking it.) Fun stuff for somebody who was baking at least two loaves of bread a week.

Right before I was diagnosed, I was actually subconsciously routing myself home from work so that I could stop at various bakeries at get rolls or some other bready goodness as a snack. I could almost tear up right now...seriously.

Creamy Creamless Carrot Soup?

May be too simpleton-y to even type, but still, what about subbing in a thicker yogurt?

Gui Fieri's REAL name?!

Wow. Although @therealchiffonade and @jerzeetomato certainly don't need me to back them up, these users are anything but the names that have been used to describe them in this thread. This is very sad to me. I am all but nonexistent here anymore, and instances like these are in large part the reasons why. I truly hope this changes, but I don't know that will.

@dbcurrie - I agree with your sentiments. Should someone express discomfort with names/slang/terminology used when "talking" with them and the speaker had no intent to offend, it seems to me that efforts should be made to consider others' feelings. Maybe we're in the minority.

Masa

Holy Hell. Is the food made out of gold and diamond particles?

Sorry - is my Small Town Girl showing?

What should I do with 10.5 lbs of brisket...

...purchased during a weak moment made weaker, since it was on sale? DH loves him some meat (and could probably eat the whole thing in two weeks of work lunches were I not the dietary drill sargeant I am); me, not so much these days, especially when it's red. So it's basically going to be just him gnawing away at this. Can I cut it down and freeze it in hunks, or would that make it harder to cook than just cooking it all at once? Got any great recipes/prep techniques I can use on this beast in my fridge? Thanks in advance for the help and suggestions!

5 Ingredient Fix? Really?

Okay, so I'm watching this Claire Robinson girl right now (and by watching, I really mean it's on in the background), and I'm a little astounded that we have a whole half hour devoted to making bacon and french toast, essentially. I by NO means am an accomplished cook, but I feel relatively certain that I don't instruction devoted to combining eggs and cream to make french toast. And using brioche? Wow. Never would have thought of that. Brilliant.

Sorry for the negative nature of this post. I'm just disappointed that this 'filler' is on when I'd really love to be watching somebody else, like Alex G.

Sourdough starter

Questions for you bread-o-philes: How do I know when my sourdough starter is ready for use?

Also - is there a formula for substituting starter for dry yeast, or should I just not use a recipe that specifically calls for the dry?

Thanks! You bread-brainiacs are the best!

Best lobster bisque in North Dallas?

Good morning, Serious Eaters! I have to make it up to my husband that he didn't get to eat any lobster bisque on Valentine's Day, which is one of our sacred traditions. Any suggestions about where to take him, north of 635? Thanks for any and all help here!

Did Ina mispronounce something.....

...or would I have been over-pronouncing? On yesterday's BC repeat, I distinctly heard her say "pie-ella" several times for paella. I would have definitely expected her to say it "pie-aye-ya." So what's the deal? I assume Ina would know, but I can't imagine it having such a pedestrian pronunciation.

On a related note, I always thought endive was "in-dive" until I was ridiculed into saying "on-deeeve." Horrible mistake by me, or food-snobbery by the person who ridiculed me? Is it all a case of tomayto/tomahto? ;)

Problems with cooking/baking with reduced-fat/FF items

I was just reading the thread about cream cheese frosting help and got a thought/question. I know it's not preferable to use fat free, and sometimes reduced fat, items when cooking and baking. But why is this? Is it because these items are basically science experiments that deviate too far from the original food they are supposed to be? It's so confusing to me, because you'd think you're doing something better for yourself, but so often your results are disappointing either because of taste or texture.

Conversely, are there any 'healthier' substitutes with which you guys find consistently good results when using them to cook or bake? For instance, does somebody always feel confident with substituting Neufchatel or the like for full fat cream cheese or half-and-half use of applesauce and oil?

*As I'm new to this site, I didn't want to force people to rehash an old issue, so I did do some searching through previous posts to see if this topic had already been addressed. I didn't see one that seemed to fit the specific question I have.

Help with bread

Hi there - I am a relative newbie to this website/blog, and I love it dearly! I can hardly wait until lunch to read the things that everyone is saying. You guys are wonderful. Having said that, I need your help. I am desperate to make a fabulous loaf of bread. I have searched this blog for advice (I'm actually eating a turkey sandwich right now on beer bread from a recipe I found in the archives, and have intentions of making Seriously Multi Grain bread this weekend!), but I don't quite see what I need; hence the new thread.

I have tried so many ways, done much reasearch, and am guessing my mistake(s) comes down to improperly kneading my dough. Does anyone have any specific advice/insight/hints for this problem that would translate well to written word? I need help with knowing how to move my hands, how it should feel, and exactly when I've reached that magic level of elasticity.

I am falling in love with bread-making, and I want to my end result to show that love! Thanks in advance with any advice you can offer.

Gluten-Free Tuesday: One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Not only do I prefer the texture of boxed cake, I also love the ease. Open a box, dump in a few ingredients and in two minutes you have batter. Would it be possible, I wondered, to create a homemade, gluten-free, one bowl cake recipe? Turns out, the answer is yes. This cake, which was inspired by the classic gluten-filled Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" recipe, comes together quickly. White rice flour, cornstarch, and just a little sweet rice flour combine to create a cake that has a texture that's very similar to boxed cake—only better. More

Gadgets: Yogurt Maker by Waring Pro

[Photo: Amazon.com] Having dealt with lactose sensitivities much of my life, it was fairly recently that I was able to open my culinary landscape to include what I'm sure is one of your routine snacks: yogurt. It was a kid in the candy store kind of situation—I was at a fancy brunch party where the host had made everything from the muesli to the buckwheat waffle batter himself. The homemade parfaits looked so good, but dare I try them? One spoon (and a fifteen minute pause), then another (then a fifteen minute pause) and there were no signs of protest from my often-vocal belly. I'd conquered the yogurt battle, for once and for all! So how does all this... More

Meat Lite: Nutty Pasta

Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless. —Editor [Photograph: Joy Manning] This dish has been a weeknight... More

Help with Brussels Sprouts

What is a good way to cook brussels sprouts for people who have had them in the past and say they don't like them? It seems like I have seen different recipes for roasted or sauteed ones, but not sure... More

Food-Related Trivia Games at Sporcle

If you love trivia games and don't mind being sucked into a vortex of time waste-age, visit Sporcle, a website with over 1,900 games that test your knowledge of various topics in time limits of ten minutes or less (and you don't even have to waste time pressing "enter/return"). Here are some food related games. [via Metafilter] Highest selling quick serve restaurant chains Foods in French Foods in Spanish Musical bands or singers that include a food in their name Name the candy from its slogan American breakfast cereals available since the 1960s Cereal mascots Largest pizza chains in the U.S. Jelly Belly flavors Types of pasta Top cocoa bean producing countries... More

Serious Green: Movies That Go Beyond Food Inc

©iStockphoto.com/thebroker This summer's Food, Inc. has brought food consciousness in the U.S. to a whole new level. If Food, Inc. made you hungry for more info on food production in the U.S., you should get your hands on one of the movies below. These films range in theme from school lunches to genetically modified foods. People can talk and write about food production and industrial feed lots till they're blue in the face, but seeing sometimes makes all the difference. Food, Inc. was groundbreaking because it was the first enviro-food film to be screened at major movie theaters across the country. But the small, food-focused films that follow after the jump played at independent festivals and then never seemed... More

Reuben Sandwich, Step-by-Step

Photograph from A Cheese a Day It's amazing how much goes into the making of the most basic elements of our food culture. We consider ham and cheese sandwiches, or PBJs, to be simple foods, but we don't often make our own cheese, bread, or peanut butter. Maybe that's what makes Jeremy's project at A Cheese a Day even more admirable. Not only has he set out to make a cheese a day, he also decided to make a Reuben sandwich entirely from scratch. He baked the rye bread, pressed the Swiss cheese, cured the pastrami, and mixed the Russian dressing. And made it seem possible for the rest of us to follow in his footsteps.... More

Strange home-made pizza

This weekend, I made for the very first time, a home made pizza. I made the dough, a basic sauce, mozz cheese and fresh basil. It was edible. Are there any good/strange home-made pizza ideas out there? I am not... More

Baking in Glass vs Metal

Do you get different results baking in glass vs metal? I have made Gourmet's Banana Cake with Coconut Frosting several times recently (one layer cake). The recipe calls for a metal pan, but I've always chosen glass. Am I somehow... More

Michael Ruhlman's New Book: 'Ratio'

Food writer Michael Ruhlman's new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking looks intriguing—and immensely useful. Instead of rote recipes, he teaches the reader to use ratios in cooking. From his blog post talking about the book: When you are dependent on recipes, you are a factory worker on the assembly line; when you possess ratios and basic technique, you own the company. With ratios (1:2:3 makes a basic cookie dough using 1 part sugar, 2 fat, 3 flour), you need only remember the proportion of ingredients, and from there you can improvise. You're freed from books, recipe cards, or print-outs. Or, as Ruhlman says about the 5:3 bread dough ratio (flour-to-water), "With this bread dough... More

Focaccia, the Easiest Homemade Bread

Photograph by Blake Royer Thought no-knead bread was easy? Try this focaccia. Blake Royer of The Paupered Chef (and co-writer of Serious Eats' column /dinner_tonight/">Dinner Tonight) had tried the famous no-knead bread once, but it was still too much of a hassle to time everything correctly. So what do you do when you want fresh bread for dinner? Enter focaccia. Using a Nigel Slater recipe, Blake makes the dough with just an hour of rising time and then it's off to the oven. Brushed with a thyme, garlic, parsley, and olive oil topping, and studded with olives, this quick focaccia is a hearty supplement to any meal. Related I want a soft focaccia bread recipe [SE Talk, 04/5/08] Cook... More

You live where?

I've been a SE follower for a few months or so, and have gotten to know several of the regular posters by name. Is there a way to tell where everyone lives...not addresses, just by state or large city? I... More