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squid pro quo

A Serious Eater vs. college food.

If you're concerned about the freshman 15 (or 20, even 30) and the dining hall keep in mind that the quality of food in the dining hall tends to be pretty uniform across the healthy and unhealthy options. You're not going to find a dining hall serving amazing burgers, fries, pizza, and desserts while serving lousy vegetables, lean meats, and salads. Instead you'll probably find OK pizza, OK fries, OK burgers, and OK veggies, OK salads, OK baked chicken and fish, etc. Once you realize everything in the dining hall is at the same taste ceiling, so to speak (this realization usually happens around November of freshman year) you might as well eat the healthy stuff. If you're going to indulge in pizza, burgers, etc there will always be far better options off campus.

And be careful with the dining hall cereal bar! Those unlimited carbs will get you like nobody's business.

Make or buy paneer?

You can use Queso Blanco in place of paneer w/very good results. Look for a queso blanco package that is marked "for frying" so it will hold its shape (Ole brand marks their packages this way). It's getting very easy to find queso blanco now in regular supermarkets - paneer not so much :(

Standing Room Only: Tastee Freez

Dinner for Two: Gingery Roast Pork with Thyme

Ooh, I think I found Sunday night dinner! Pork tenderloin is on sale this week at the supermarket, and I've got more fresh thyme than I know what to do with in my container garden. But I've never heard of ginger preserves. If I can't find them, what would be a good substitute? Honey? Some other preserve mixed with minced ginger root?

Worst thing you ever ate?

Finnish-American style lutefisk. I was a kid, visiting relatives who made it. Imagine a huge mason jar filled with shiny, *jet black* clumps of lutefisk suspended in a grayish white froth of some sort. A taste so horrific that HP Lovecraft would be at a loss for words.

YELP NO!

Another nod for urbanspoon here

Suvir Saran's Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Sounds delicious - but won't bringing it to a boil in Step 3 cause the yogurt to break?

Suvir Saran's Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Sounds delicious - but won't bringing it to a boil in Step 3 cause the yogurt to break?

Do You Pick the Leaves Off when using Cilantro/Parsley?

I chop up the stems unless they are super thick. They have lots of flavor and when minced add just a tiny, but lovely, bit of crunchy texture.

The Vegan Experience, Day 4: What Cuisine Types Are Most Vegan-Friendly?

Re: Ethiopian food - you do need to watch out for niter kibbeh, a spiced clarified butter used frequently in that cuisine. Same thing with ghee and Indian food.

While it won't help much for dining out, for cooking at home, look into Lenten recipes from cultures that are historically Orthodox Christian. The fasting rules vary a bit, but generally meat, dairy, and most seafood are off limits for "Great Lent." So you can find a lot of vegan recipes from cuisines that are normally resplendant with meats and dairy (like Greek) that still taste "normal" like they're part of the cuisine and not missing something.

Eat This and You'll Feel Better

A spoonful of ice cream can make a migraine go away instantly. Apparently there's something about how the cold (but not frozen) slowly melting ice cream on the back of your tongue links up and stimulates the hypothalamus in such a way to end the migraine. I discovered this by accident during the one and only migraine I've ever had. Unfortunately this doesn't work for sinus headaches, which I get frequently.

Thanksgiving Appetizer Ideas

My favorite T-Day app is olive tapenade served with crackers. I usually put out baby carrots and nuts too - makes it very easy. An overlooked but easy and appreciated addition to the appetizers - a small bowl of chocolates. Think about it - chocolate is one of the few delicious flavors that rarely is seen on Thanksgiving.

How to experience a quintessential Thanksgiving/NYC?

Most of what makes a Thanksgiving "authentic" or "American" is the food. Think especially of dishes/ingredients that are characteristic of the USA - turkey, cranberries, pumpkin, squash, bread stuffing/dressing, cornbread, wild rice, sweet potatoes, even green bean casserole w/crispy onions from a can. And don't forget - American wines!

Other than that Thanksgiving is all about family and friends. Relax and spend time with them. Sleep in and watch the parade on TV. For the last few years, the national Dog Show has been shown on TV right after the Macy's parade. Maybe watch some NFL later on - for many Americans, it's not Thanksgiving w/o football!

Cooking sherry vs red cooking wine

Real sherry (as well as port and marsala) are cheap enough that there's no reason to get cooking versions. Cooking wines in general are awful. For recipes that call for red or white wine, I buy those 4-packs of small plastic bottles from Sutter Home. They're perfect for recipes that call for only a 1/2 cup or 1 cup of wine, taste *much* better than cooking wine, and aren't too expensive.

What food smell do you hate?

Subway's smell on its own doesn't bother me much. However one day I was shopping in my city's older downtown area and went into a small antiques store. This store shared a wall with a Subway. Antique stores have their own particular odor, and that smell combined with the smell of the next door Subway was positively ghastly!

anyone want to go in on some MANX meat?

A lamb with 4 or 6 horns? Isn't that in the Book of Revelations somewhere?

An Italian PB&J: Pistachio Butter and Dried Cherries

Pistachio butter sounds delicious but it looks awful - not just the color but the texture. I'd have to enjoy it with my eyes closed or the lights off!

Poll: How Do You Remember School Cafeteria Pizza?

OMG, I had totally forgotten the side of corn on pizza day til now! I hated the cafeteria pizza. Soggy, underdone crusts, with rubbery freezer-burnt tasting cheese that fell off with one bite. Pizza at home was usually Domino's or Little Caesar's, so I wasn't picky, but this stuff was inedible. It was so far away in quality from all other kinds of pizza that it genuinely depressed me as a third grader. Eventually I just brought a sack lunch on pizza day.

What to do with Ghost Chili Peppers?

elephant repellant - that's what they're used for in India.

Hangover Helper: The Dirty Sanchez at Torchy's Tacos, Austin

doisedoi - actually that's the last thing you'd want to plug into a Google search - what has been seen cannot be unseen! Urban dictionary is a safer alternative for these sorts of things.

I usually am amused by "racy" names for food in college towns. I went to grad school at Rutgers where the grease trucks sell fat sandwiches called "fat b---h" "fat balls" etc. But this reference is so disgusting and nauseating that I can't imagine wanting to eat it (especially while hungover). Too bad, because it does sound delicious.

Do you like buffets...really?

I can't stand Chinese buffets and American style buffets, and avoid those restaurants like the plague. Indian buffets are usually great tho - most Indian style dishes hold up quite well on steam tables. But usually when I eat buffet, it's one that's set up at a wedding, hotel, or party for work. Quality can vary so much - it's all about the kinds of foods that hold up well or do not hold up well on a steam table/sterno warmer. Some caterers and party hosts get this, some have no clue.

Cook the Book: 'In the Small Kitchen'

My first kitchen was in an apartment in Rome that I shared w/3 other girls while studying abroad in college. It was about the size of coat closet. There was an under the counter fridge, then a sink, then a small gas stove. The only counter space was what was above the fridge. There were cabinets above the cooking area, with the spot above the sink occupied by a drying rack for plates (I thought this was a great idea, and wish it was found more in tiny kitchens in this country). The stove was gas, but had to be lit with a match or firestick. The entire kitchen could be closed off from the rest of the living/dining room by an accordian style folding door, but we never did that.

Some (but not much) cooking equipment came with the apt, so we cooked most meals there. Because the fridge and storage space was so limited, we definitely followed the Italian pattern of going to the market almost every day. It was a fun experience, although my cooking skills at the time were so limited that I mostly just made pasta w/jarred sauce and soup from mix (I found a delicious German brand). One roommate made Nutella muffins once, which was pretty impressive given the limited cooking equipment we had.

Where To Eat Near Times Square, NYC

John's Pizzeria on West 44th. It's an attractive restaurant (used to be a church) with a semi-open brick oven kitchen. The pizza is very good and there's a nice selection of toppings (hello eggplant parmigana pizza!) The best part is the price - I took 6 hungry college students there for dinner on a Saturday. We didn't have alcohol (school trip) but got soda and enough pizza to have some leftovers. Total *with tip* was $96 - less than $14 per person, which is unheard of 2 blocks from Times Square.

Goodbye, Dumpling

This is heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss, Kenji. Rest in peace, sweet little Dumpling.

Mixed Review: Frontera Guacamole Mix

With guacamole, less is more. Garlic, minced chiles, kosher or sea salt, and some lime juice. I've found that using only half or a quarter of a lime works better - lime juice can really overpower the avocado flavor.

What to do with leftover roast duck?

I roasted two ducks for Christmas dinner yesterday. It was delicious, but there were still leftovers. I am left with 2 duck leg quarters, a few slices of breast meat, and 2 carcasses with some meat to pick. Does anyone have a good idea/recipe for the leftover cooked meat? I'm already planning to make stock with the giblets and picked-over carcasses. But I'd like to do something nicer with the meat. Thanks!

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