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smallblondemom

After 27 years overseas my husband and I moved back to the USA and bought a bed and breakfast in Asheville, North Carolina (www.carolinabb.com). It's the perfect job for me: I get to cook for a "big" family, garden and decorate, which I would do anyway!

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  • Location: smallblondemom
  • Favorite foods: Seafood--any type, fresh peaches and tomatoes, cheese
  • Last bite on earth: Caviar and Blinis, The fish with beurre blanc I first ate in Paris, a green salad and a fruit pie

Pantry and Fridge Frustrations. Has It Happened To You?

This is the opposite side of the peeve: we own a bed & breakfast and my husband does the shopping while I am prepping the next day's meal. I CAREFULLY prepare a list, checking for things we are out of and may need as well as for the things I know I need. He takes his cell phone and calls me with any questions. Sounds brainless right? So why do we have five large boxes of crackers in the pantry and 20 pounds of onions? Because every once in a while he goes off-list and decides we must be out of something and buys it without checking with me first. Drives me crazy!

Missing out for a lifetime thanks to one innocent mistake.

Two things
1) rare hamburgers--it's probably the only time I got sick when I was pregnant. And I like my beef RARE. To this day I eat my burgers well done (which might be why I don't like them all that much)
and
2) Kimchi. Never, never, never get sick with something spicy like this in your stomach. 'Nuff said.

Is the physical cookbook here to stay?

Historically people don't get rid of something when something new comes along. The movies didn't get rid of radio, television didn't get rid of movies, computers have not caused TV's to disappear. These things have changed however in how we use them. So I'm saying, yes, physical cookbooks are here to stay. But in what form? That's the interesting question!

What to make with Roquefort cheese for dinner?

My mother used to put blue cheese in the center of our burgers. Alternatively you can put a chunk on top of a nice piece of steak. There's always that lovely stand-by: spinach, blue cheese, bacon, mushrooms and red onion salad. (You can add pears instead of mushrooms if you choose).

I was just thinking of SE talk

My pet peeve: people who feel like they have to give a joke answer to every question. It's annoying when you have a serious question and it deteriorates into a yuck yuck discussion. Humor is great and I love the truly funny comments but some people just try too hard.

Taste Test: Supermarket Chocolate Ice Cream

A friend of mine who works at one of these ice cream makers once told me that they make the chocolate ice cream last because it doesn't matter if the machinery is completely clean from the last batch. Nuff said.

Dangerous Oven

Thank you all and @Jim-Bob --that's exactly the information we have been looking for.

For those of you who have worked with/served food...

I own a Bed & Breakfast and I have been having this rant to myself in the kitchen and am more than happy to share it with you:

We send them a letter before they arrive stating that we are happy to accomodate special diets, so why wait until you sit down for breakfast to tell me you don't eat eggs?

It's a B&B, part of the deal is that everyone eats the same thing--no, you don't get to ask for 'scrambled eggs' because you don't like something. We serve a variety of fresh fruits, and other dishes. I can come up with something on the fly but it is so much better if you give me a little notice.

The biggest pain is the person who "doesn't want to be a bother", so they sit in silence and don't eat. It makes me nuts! I WANT to serve you a good breakfast. Help me out here and let me know what you need!

On the other hand, we also have people who give us a long list of "allergies" or "my husband doesn't eat XYZ" and then they get here and see the food and suddenly the allergy disappears!

And the number one irritant: the person who asks for the moon (Lactose intollerant, gluten-free, egg allergy, no white sugar) and gets it and never says thank you!

Favorite Kitchen Appliance/Gadget

I was given a number of really large pots and bowls when I was married which I still use 32 years later. I love my stockpot, the huge crockery bowl for bread, the beautiful large tray--so often these are things which we think we won't need when just starting out but appreciate having!

...squirted out of my nose.

I was talking in a restaurant and used my hands to make a gesture and smacked our waiter right in the balls.

Secret recipes: yay or nay?

I think I may have told this story before but here goes: when I was younger, I had a wonderful carrot cake recipe which I refused to share with anyone as I was under the impression that it was somehow important that it be "my" recipe and no one else's. Then we moved and the notebook with the recipe was lost. I was able to replace all the others because I had shared them (or been given them by friends) but that particular cake was gone for good. And it served me right.

I can still make a pretty good carrot cake and it is the cake that was sold by the slice at my kids' school fair as so many people want it. But I will give that recipe to anyone who asks. It hasn't affected the sale value yet!

The person who said it isn't the recipe but the cook is exactly right. Two people can make the same recipe and the dishes will be just a little different. I know this from my own experience trying to make sure my assistant innkeeper serves the same food I do when I am not here.

So share the recipe folks!

Bake the Book: 'Whoopie Pies'

Up to now, the only whoopie (pie) I've ever had has been made by me and it was the best. I am sure I could make my best even better with this book! (-: !!!! And I know that smiley face is backward: my husband says I need to get my head on straight!

Substitution for Marshmallow fluff?

I make my own marshmallow fluff for my whoopie pie filling (same recipe as yours!). It's dead easy, tastes so much better than the commercial stuff and you can freeze what you don't use for later.

Do you like buffets...really?

Hate them for the most part--too much food with too little care and originality going into it. Geared toward pleasing most people without chancing anything. I don't want a plate piled high, I want a reasonable portion of well-prepared food. And I particularly dislike breakfast buffets as I am not a big breakfast eater. All I want is some fresh fruit, toast and a cup of tea.

Musing on vanilla

In theory then, it shouldn't make any difference because the alcohol dissipates leaving the flavouring behind

"Nothing to write home about"

"To be honest..." Why? Aren't you usually?

Lemon Dessert Help

I use 2 limes and 1 lemon and add the grated rind from 1 lime and 1/2 lemon. It makes it slightly more citric and not so sticky sweet

Foods I refuse to eat in the name of "health"

Anything pretending to be what it is not: tofu "meat", margarine, "creamer"
turkey bacon (Bleech!). Celebrate the flavor of the food. If you choose to be a vegetarian then don't spend your time looking for meat "substitutes". Enjoy the honest flavor of what you are eating.

Hard-Core Cooking Projects

And then I just looked at Funghi Porcini's comment and realized that we posted the same thing at the same time!

Hard-Core Cooking Projects

Cassoulet for Christmas Eve--three days in the making but soooo worth it!

What atmosphere turns you on or off when you are dining out?

I don't mind children in child-friendly restaurants and a well behaved child in a good restaurant is nice to see. My reasoning being that, if it's a family restaurant than I should expect to see families. And God knows my kids acted up from time to time --I used to have to fly across the world with them. I always try to remember that THEY are the children not us.

The places I don't go back to are the ones where it is impossible to have a decent conversation because it's too loud. Doesn't matter if it's music, bad acoustics or the waiters chatting. I would like to hear my partners without straining. And my next to most uncomfortable place is one where it is soooooooooo quiet that a laugh seems out of place! Pretentious is bad, too informal is bad, too loud, too quiet...seems like extremes are the negatives for me!

This Week in Eating Out

Clue me in...what is that a picture of??????

Preserved: Strawberry Balsamic Thyme Jam

Try using balsamic vinegar and thyme in a blueberry pie--unbelievable!

Most Beautiful Thing In Your Kitchen

The view of the sunset out the window, in the summer I can see children walking back from the beach, sunburnt, cool and tired. In the winter the rabbits and deer share the field in front of the house, and always in the background are the members of my family cooking, talking and laughing

Jalfrezi curry...ever heard of it ???

Absolutely. Jalfrezi is a common curry in India. Most usually with chicken but it could certainly work with shrimp

Dangerous Oven

Recently we renovated our kitchen and bought a GE Monogram Professional Duel Fuel Range with an electric riddle After less than six months of use, (and by use I mean cooking 12-24 slices of bacon or sausages three to four times a week) the oven caught on fire underneath the griddle because of fat which had somehow leeched down there. We called GE and they sent a repairman who remarked on how clean we had kept the oven and how he had never seen anything like the grease which had accumulated underneath a permanent, not-easily removed griddle pan. He cleaned it and repaired it. A few months later GE decided to replace the entire oven due to another problem which it had developed. This time it was less than three months before, once again, the new oven caught fire inside (meaning between the range top and the oven, not inside the oven itself). Same problem. This time GE says we need to take the griddle off and clean under it even though their instruction manual clearly states that the griddle should NOT be removed for cleaning. Lots of back and forth and finally they are saying "the oven works as it was designed to" and that they have not received any reports of this happening to any other of their ovens. So, leaving aside the question of whether or not the oven was "designed to catch on fire", has anyone else experienced any fires like this in their ovens?

Balsamic Vinegar: How low will you go?

So the recipe calls for a cup of balsamic vinegar reduced to a few meager tablespoons. I am assuming you don't pull out the authentic Italian worth-its-weight-in gold variety, but what do you use? When do the knock-offs become nothing more than brown colored sweet stuff and how much are you willing to spend?

I don't refrigerate...

First let me state that I am careful about food, its preparation and storage. As far as I know I have never poisoned anyone. That being said, it drives me nuts when people get over anxious about food: throwing out unopened yogurt because it's one day past the sell by date, refrigerating absolutely everything, etc. So I don't refrigerate ketchup, jam, fake maple syrup, fruit and sometimes cheese. What don't you refrigerate?

Vegan, gluten-free, yeast allergy, vegetarian--one meal for all

Next weekend I have a mixed set of guests--all of whom seem to have a different food need. There will be 12 people in total and I need to come up with 2 two course breakfasts which can accommodate the following diets: vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, yeast allergy and no restrictions. I am happy to prepare two options on each course but not wanting to have to come up with five different ones. Ideas please!!!!!!!

Leftover Strawberries in sugar syrup

A number of our guests slept in this morning (daylight savings!) and I find myself with about two -three cups of sliced strawberries which have been macerated in a simple syrup of sugar and OJ. Any suggestions for what to do with them? In the past, the container sits in the fridge for two or three days and then I toss them! It seems such a waste.

Food Blogs-how do they work?

This question is kind of out there and may be too specific for Serious Eats but if anyone will know the answer, it will be someone on this site! As previously mentioned, my husband and I own a small bed and breakfast in the south. I do all of the cooking and also manage the website, blog, facebook and seo. We are trying to position ourselves as a "foodie" B&B (for want of better word) with breakfasts that are a cut above the usual strata and pancakes. My blog posts are often (although not always) about food, fresh produce, restaurants in the area etc.
I would love to have our website linked to some food blogs or sites that people interested in good food and a comfortable bed in a great city would be likely to visit. How do I find out if there are blogs with links? Any other suggestions for good sites to link with. I am not looking for paid advertising. Help and suggestions would be appreciated!

Anything but eggs!

I have a guest coming to stay at my B&B for five days and she is allergic to eggs. Help! I need some ideas for egg-free breakfasts! Any suggestions would be very much appreciated. Nothing too fancy because I also have fifteen other people to cook for including one who is allergic to milk...

How many grinds of the pepper mill equal...?

This may be a stupid question but for most of my life I've been winging it with the pepper mill. Everyone agrees that pepper should be freshly ground, so what do you do when a recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of pepper or some other definite amount? Do you grind it over a piece of wax paper and then measure it, or have you figured out how many turns of the mill it takes to get a specific amount? (Or do you cheat and use the pre-ground stuff--shudder!)

Twice Baked Cheese Souffle

Has anyone ever made these? I followed the recipe as written (I thought) but when it came to the second baking--never rose again! I have checked online and my recipe was not significantly different from anyone else's. How cooked are they supposed to be at the end of the first baking? Maybe mine needed more time in the oven? They were hard to remove, stuck on the bottom and were relatively soft...

Pre-sliced ham. Why?

Every Easter and New Year's I find myself in the same predicament, searching high and low for a ham that is NOT spiral cut.. I mean. really folks, is it that hard to slice your own ham? It makes it much harder to cook a moist ham if it's precut and don't even mention the abysmal "glazes" they include! What do you do for ham?

Fennel Pollen

Does it really have a flavour or is it just a gimmick? The other day I had a wonderful goat cheese ravioli with roasted butternut squash and fennel pollen. I couldn't identify the pollen by either sight, scent or taste except something in that dish was wonderful! Has anyone out there had a run in with fennel pollen?

Challenge: Six weeks with only a hot plate and a microwave

Our kitchen is being re-modeled (yeah!) but for six weeks I am limited to a small hot plate and a microwave with no refrigeration to speak of unless it stays cold outside. Available cooking space is about two square feet (unless the hotplate is set up) and the sink is a bar sink. (You guessed it, I am cooking in the pantry). I am not totally adverse to frozen meals although I would rather not! Suggestions?

Power of the Hood: Question for the Appliance Geeks!

This is pretty technical (at least I think it is): we are remodeling the kitchen in our Bed & Breakfast and will be upgrading to a GE Monogram 36" range and oven. It's a pretty powerful unit. We have chosen a Sirius hood because of a good experience in our home kitchen but are questioning whether 600 cfm's is strong enough or do we need to go up a grade? Does anyone have any experience with professional ranges and power of hoods? (Oh the the things I learn about in my life!)

Can't eat it anymore

Last night we got to talking about different cuisines and the question came up: "If someone told you that one culture's cuisine was going to disappear from the face of the earth which one would you vote to have go?" I, personally, chose Greek. What about you?

Shipping Home-made cookies

So my Dad is old and blind and lives pretty far away from me and I can't be with him for Christmas. We've pretty much exhausted the talking books and clothing route for presents. One of his few remaining pleasures is food and people usually send him lots of cheeses, wine, and chocolates. Among the things he used to really enjoy which he doesn't get any more are home-made cookies, little mince pies and fruitcake (not the store-bought bricks but the real thing). So I thought I would send him a care package of Christmas cooking from my home. Does anyone have any experience with shipping cookies, etc? The mince pies are rather fragile. Tips and advice would be appreciated!

Blueberries and Balsamic Vinegar in Pie?

They are having a buy-one-get-one-free offer on blueberries down at the market and I was going to make some pie. I was thinking of trying something different and adding some balsamic vinegar. I see lots of recipes for "blueberry balsamic vinegar" so they must go together. Has anyone ever tried this? Any other interesting additions to blueberry pie?

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