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Cook the Book: 'The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook'

Oh gosh ... maybe a turkish-style lamb stew with okra, tomatoes, and eggplant ... or rose petal jam ... or manti ... OOOOH - or cig kofte - won't get THAT served in the US :-). Or anything that makes good use of Maras peppers. Or real, Israeli-style pita that comes out of the oven all puffed-up and fluffy ... so righteous.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: Edible Chocolate Box from Charles Chocolates

The Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Sundae at Friendly's with Double Chocolate ice cream. Probably the single thing in the Northeast that I miss the most!


Oh my gosh, yes! MN has a very, very strong streak of environmentalism and pride in their land (you'll realize soon after getting here that just about everybody has found a way to buy a little bit of lakefront property with a cabin somewhere in the state's wilderness, even the lower-middle class folks.) Being in touch with nature is a major priority here. Because of that, there's enormous pride in locally-produced meats, cheeses, produce, etc. The slow food/locavore scene is huge here (you may have noticed that a disproportionately sizable chunk of the posters here are Twin Citiesians). There are even several meat CSA's. We also have absolutely no lack of fine dining options, and at prices that are actually quite a bit cheaper than what you'd pay for similar meals on the coasts or in Chicago.

NYT cookies

Thanks for the responses! Even if it would be rather torturous to let nummy cookie dough sit unmolested in the fridge for that long, I think I could make the sacrifice in the name of scientific and tastebudinal discovery. The problem is that I, like HeartofGlass, am hesitant to sacrifice money and pantry space, both of which are in short supply, on two types of flour I'm unlikely to need in the near future. Mebbe I'll split the difference and allow the dough to rest, but use all-purpose flour.

Your Typical Breakfast: Weekday and Weekend

@sdownes - I don't really have much of a recipe, I'm afraid. I'm actually still working on perfecting the milk/egg/bread ratio (I usually use four eggs per dozen muffins, and eyeball the milk, pouring in more as needed. This past batch was the first one for which I've used actual bread rather than stale muffins, and I discovered that in order to get a good texture I need to make sure the custard mixture has plenty of time to soak into the stale bread chunks. I basically took the eggs, milk, bread chunks (also eyeballed), some spinach, some bacon, some cheddar, and some Penzey's Northwoods seasoning, (and S&P), mixed 'em all together, and spooned it into prepared muffin tins, ladling in extra liquid to make sure each tin was pretty full. Baked at 350, I think for about fifteen minutes total, maybe? I checked in at about seven minutes to see how they were doing, I do remember that.

Basically, you can take pretty much any bread pudding recipe out there, sweet or savory, and just put it into a muffin pan. Or adapt pretty much any quiche or frittata recipe as well. Here's a recipe for muffin pudding, also:

Hope this helps!

Your Typical Breakfast: Weekday and Weekend

I've posted about this before, but for weekdays I'll bake a batch of bread pudding type things in my muffin pan, going a little heavier on the eggs and lighter on the bread (or muffins - muffin-pudding-muffins rock!) than I would for a typical BP in order to get the protein in. I do both savory and sweet, and try to do something different every time. I freeze 'em, and put four in the fridge to serve as breakfast for M-Th (we get bagels at work on Friday).

On weekends, it totally depends on what I feel like doing ... might be a quick hash from leftovers, or my mom's recipe for killer home fries (it involves slicing the potatoes into thin rounds and pan-frying them with lots of onions, garlic, and spicy paprika). Last fall, I discovered the most deliriously yummy quick breakfast ever - a grilled peanut butter and pumpkin butter (from TJ's) sandwich.

Super-Cheap Duck Eggs!

Thanks for the advice! I've been thinking about doing a rhubarb custard tart for awhile; I just haven't gotten around to it. Do you think the tartness of the rhubarb would overpower the duckiness of the eggs?

Let's Talk CHOCOLATE...What's your favorite "eating" chocolate?

I, too, am a TJ's chocolate girl. I just love the round fruitiness of it. Every trip I make, I buy two bars of the dark chocolate with raisins and pecans, and break off bits of them for desserts until they run out.

As far as artisan chocolate goes, my absolute favorite, bar none, is from L.A. Burdick. Though, living as I do in the Midwest, the chances I get at it are few and far between.

How was your school's hot lunch?

As far as I recall, most of the food at my high school was pretty standard ...

with the very, VERY notable exception of the biscuits (45 cents!) they served for breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

OMG, were they amazing. Huge, flaky, moist, dripping with butter, with perfectly crispy crusts. Just salty enough. Un. Be. Lievable. I could live off them even now. Ten years later, those biscuits haunt my dreams.

At the end of my senior year (and this was before I had any notion of cooking whatsoever), I asked the lunch ladies for the recipe - and alas, they refused to give it to me! 'Twas a black, black day.

(And, by the way, if any of you happen to miraculously be in possession of the biscuit recipe used by the cafeteria staff at Clayton High School ... I beg you to share it!)

The Next Food Network Star - are we watching?

I'm actually a fan of the show. The competition combines two of my loves, food and performance. I enjoy the extra layer added by the fact that great cooking does not necessarily a great tv host make. Also, as intriguing as the food on Top Chef is, I just can't deal with that level of overwrought interpersonal drama. People are cruddy enough to each other in the real world - I'd rather not have my often precarious faith in humanity further destroyed by watching contestants psychologically shred each during my leisure time. And yes, I know that the show intentionally tries to portray the contestants in a relatively positive light because it's necessary to the branding of the new show that will hopefully be created. Don't mind. (Though of course, they have to have a delicious cartoon villain that people love to hate, hence the casting of Lisa. Those of you crying for her dismissal will be missing her like crazy once she's gone - count on it ;-)).

I agree that Nipa's coming off pretty badly. It's really a shame - she teaches at the cooking school I volunteer at, and I've audited one of her classes, and she was absolutely wonderful! Super down to earth, lots of fun, great food. Either she's super nervous and overcompensating as a result, or a victim of manipulative editing, or both.

Awesome Burger Haikus: We Have Some Winnahs!

My personal favorite was the Kobe beef one :-)

Burger Book Giveaway: 'Hamburger America'

I like mine with let-
tuce and tomato, Heinz Fifty-
Seven and ... french fries.

Burger Book Giveaway: 'Hamburger America'

juice juice juice juice juice
juice juice juice juice juice juice juice
dribble down my chin


Hmmmm ... I think my favorite "grating cheese" would probably be manchego, a classic Spanish sheepsmilk cheese. For pasta, it depends on what kind of flavor profile you're going for - fresh chevre (young - i.e. soft - goat cheese) usually improves just about everything it touches, though :-).

For sandwiches, grilled or no, I still adore smoked gouda. And my go-to decadent, yummy, snacking cheese is probably taleggio. It's a big, gooey, stinky, fruity, and usually relatively reasonably priced Italian cheese. Hope this helps some!

If you're feeling adventurous, have a nice cheese shop in your area, and want to try something really special, ask the counter staff for a taste of Truffle Tremor from Cypress Hill, a domestic artisanal cheese maker.

If you're looking for a sort of tasting primer on the spectrum of cheeses out there, and have some fun money available to spend on it, you could do worse than to check out the Award Winner's assortment from Wisconsin's Carr Valley ( It's only got hard and semi-hard cheeses, but it'll give you a sense of different milks, rinds, ages, etc. Another option is to take a cheese-tasting class. Good luck, and have fun exploring the magical world of cheese :-).

My favorite way to eat an egg is ____

joyy, a great way I've found of making eggy breakfast muffins for breakfast is to add some chunks of stale bread or muffin to them, so they're in effect bread pudding muffins (or muffin pudding muffins :-) - it's a great way to use up stale baked goods). The texture on them is quite nice, and there's a good balance of protein and carbs. They also freeze quite well, so with Free Bagel Friday I can make a dozen last for three weeks :-).

Oh, as far as my favorite way to eat eggs - I've mentioned these before on here, but I adore 1) shakshuka, and 2) a Turkish recipe in which eggs are poached in water with a teensy bit of white vinegar (I usually just fry 'em), covered with yogurt mixed bit garlic and a touch of salt, and finished with some butter melted with Turkish red pepper flakes. Heaven.

Cause and Effect

1. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and a global market within ten minutes' drive; several farmer's markets and CSA's, a Rainbow Foods five minutes away, the Wedge Co-op a seven minute walk away, and a Kowalski's next door.
2. Yup - I have a wonderful CSA in the summer, but without Trader Joe's there'd be no way I could afford as much organic food as I buy. When I can't get there for whatever reason, I try to buy organic if it's not too terribly expensive, but TJ's really enables good eating habits for me.
3. N/A
4. not all that much so far, but I tend to be very economical in my purchases anyway. I think I've been doing organic a bit less.
5. nope
6. MN - Twin Cities

Take to work lunches!

I have a fantastic leak-proof travel mug that I pack soups, stews, various noodle dishes, salads, etc. in every day. I slide it into my purse on its side, and nary a drop has ever escaped. It's compact, environmentally friendly, and opens me up to pretty much any one-pot meal imaginable. Plus, there's automatic portion control :-). I usually made a big vat of something or other at the beginning of the week (this week, it's korean beef and noodles). I think I got mine at Sur la Table - it's made by Oxo, but I don't know any more than that. Head to a really good kitchen store and tell them you need an absolutely leak-proof mug; they'll point you in the right direction. As I recall, it was a bit pricey, but it's paid for itself many, many times over. Best of luck with your new job!!! :

food for a looooooong bus trip

"When I'm planning on being excessively bored, I always prefer snacks to meals. Sometimes eating is the best entertainment you'll have for a while, so why not drag it out?>>

Lol - I concur!"

Is what I *meant* to post.

food for a looooooong bus trip

In response to Hilary: As a veteran of many Greyhound marathons, I can definitely say - expect the worst. The food facilities will be worse than you think, the people on board will be worse than you think (once you leave the Northeast the passengers get sketchier by several orders of magnitude), and the service will be worse - made sure you know exactly where you're going, have your luggage with you at all times, and don't be afraid to ask the drivers and staff at the bus stations many questions, even the same ones over and over, even if they yell at you - it's not being shrill and high-maintenance; I've saved myself from being shipped off to parts unknown several times this way. Keep checking the schedule, and don't relax until your driver actually says "this bus is headed to so-and-so." If they try to route you someplace else, ask why, and don't stop till you have a straight answer - again, even if they yell at you. (Oh, I could tell you stories ... many, many, many stories ...)

Other tips: try to look as dirty, unattractive, and unlikely to have money as you can - trust me, it'll cut way down on harassment. Keep your cell charged. And if you're a woman traveling alone, it's definitely preferable to have two seats to yourself if possible - so when you get on the bus, or when it stops to pick up more passengers, lay yourself across both seats and pretend to be asleep till everyone's seated. Won't help if the bus fills up, but it'll keep you comfortable as long as possible. Oh, and the buses can smell pretty bad, so if you're sensitive to smells you should definitely think about bringing some kind of essential oil you can dab on yourself. It also really helps to carry a blanket or two, since we're out of coat weather - you need something between your head and the window and/or the seat bar when you're resting (you could even kill two birds with one stone and douse the blanket with your favorite scent). And dress in layers, like you would on a plane, since temp can be unpredictable.

Stay safe! Hopefully I haven't scared you too much ... it's often unpleasant, yes, but if you use common sense it's not so dangerous - there are, after all, lots of people around all the time. And it'll be an adventure to remember!

One last thing - bring your own toilet paper; the bathrooms are usually out. And disinfectant gel. I'm normally against disinfectant gel because it contributes to the development of superbugs, etc., but once you see the bathrooms on the buses and in the stations you'll understand.

Good luck!

Cook the Book: Cowgirl Cuisine

My mom doesn't cook much, and her reperoire is quite narrow, but the few things she does make are her own recipes (with the exception of my grandma's chicken soup and kneidlach), and are fabulous. I have two favorites: 1) Her cottage fries, which are liberally doused in spicy paprika, covered in oil, and fried with onions until there's a glorious mixture of soft and cripsy in the pan. No other cottage fries I've ever tasted have even come close. 2) Her meat sauce, which is utterly dissimilar, and to my mind, way better, than traditional ragu. The meat is the main star of her concoction, with only a teensy bit of tomato sauce to amp up the juices. She cooks it in a skillet along with green peppers, mushrooms, worcester sauce, liberal amounts of oregano, and who knows what else. Served over linguine, it's the best Shabbat meal in the whole world!

Oh, and she knows her way around a capon better than anyone I've else I've ever encountered, too :-)

Cook the Book: Lidia's Italy

My chevre, persimmon, and caramelized balsamic vinaigrette bruschetta


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