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I may be a great cook, but I refuse to...

  • l

- deep-fry (too messy and smelly)
- make puff pastry (too fiddly and time-consuming; store-bought is good enough)

How about you?

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  1. I refuse to french my racks of lamb. I let my fast and brilliant butcher handle the task.

    1. ...make my own sushi. It's not quite the same thing as following the recipe for some standard Italian dish. Besides, I lack the resources to have just-caught fish flown in from the coast.

      2 Replies
      1. re: anthea

        Amen! Creating sushi at home is harder than rocket science. The rice is never the right temperature/texture/flavor, the topping-to-rice ratio is never right, the shape is never right, the fish is never fresh enough, etc.

        1. re: L. Bergeron

          Definitely with you! Sushi is going out food!

      2. b
        bobsyeruncle

        I refuse to make turducken.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bobsyeruncle

          Yes there is something just foul about stuffing a fowl with a fowl with a fowl...

          1. re: Aimee

            Thats a fair statment!

          2. re: bobsyeruncle

            I did it this Christmas ... perfectly OK but not nearly wonderful enough to do again.

          3. ...scale, gut, bone, and whatever else you do to a fish. It may be more expensive, but I buy fish fillets.

            20 Replies
            1. re: Jennifer

              I'm with you! I love fish and eat it often, but I was forced to learn how to "dress" a fish at camp one summer and I swore I'd never do it again.

              I'll gladly pay the premium at a good fish market to select my whole, so-fresh-it-needs-to-be-slapped, fish and kindly ask my fishmonger to do all the yucky work for me. This is why I'm certain I could never be a professional chef (even if I did have the talent, which I don't) -- I couldn't handle the bloody stuff. I know at various fine cooking schools in France you have to learn how to dress your own rabbit -- yes, you get it with the fur on. And all kinds of poultry comes to you with the head and feet on, etc. I'm all for eating this kind of whole, fresh, local food (it does taste the best, supports local farmers, and is more likely to be sustainable), but I'll leave the gross-out stuff to the professionals.

              Which is also why I'll never make try demi-glace myself. I will buy marrow bones and shanks and stock bones (all chopped up by that wonderful service person -- the professional butcher!) and make a good long-cooked beef stock, but I'll never be able to make the true demi-glace at home myself. Far too much yuckiness involved for me :)

              1. re: Mrs. Smith

                Mrs. Smith, I had to chuckle at your post.

                When I went to culinary school at Johnson & Wales, we took a meat-cutting course. There were people complaining of how gross it was to break down whole chickens into parts. These were whole chickens like you buy in the store, mind you--no heads, no feet, guts aleady gone, with the exception of the useable ones, mind you. Folks just had to disjoint the critters and practice deboning and that sort of thing.

                I had to laugh. My grandparents had a farm, see, and I know from gross. Butchering chickens is the single worst chore I ever took part in at the farm. The smell is awful, the plucking nasty, the innards awful and you do so many at a time--ugh. So, there I was surrounded by all these kids complaining about how gross these bloodless little headless and footless plucked chickens were, laughing my rear end off. When asked what I was laughing at, I explained, in full detail what gross really was.

                Another farm boy (his parents owned a turkey farm), got in on the act, and between the two of us we had cowed the rest of the class into silence.

                After that, folks were pretty grateful when the dressed carcasses of several veal calves and lambs came in and we had to take them down to primal cuts and then on from there, up to and including making sausage.

                In the next class, we were learning storeroom procedures and the school had gotten a fresh catch of sea bass, and they were still alive. The chef asked for volunteers to help clean and dress them, so of course, the two farm kids volunteered, because we already knew how to dress out fish. So we got to help teach the other students how to dress fish.

                The only ones I felt much sympathy for were the vegetarians--they were game to learn--they knew they had to learn to cook meat, but they got pretty green looking around the mouth, and one girl had trouble eating lunch later. I felt really bad for her.

                I will say this--the first few are always the worst. After that, it isn't so bad.

                1. re: BarbaraF

                  I often buy whole chickens to cut up as the price of cut-up chickens can be exorbitant. Every year near Christmas, my husband and I buy a turkey or two from a nearby cooperative. As these are 30-lb monsters, and I don't cook family Christmas dinners, I take the raw turkey, and cut it up into portion sizes I can use for cooking later. It then is wrapped and goes into the freezer. Same principle as the chickens, just a LOT bigger.

                  This year a friend of mine bought one as well. Although I had warned her, she was shocked when she saw the size of it. She asked me what she was going to do with it. I asked what she meant, and she said her family would never go through the whole thing. I stared, realizing she thought she had to cook the whole thing at once. I then told her to just cut it up. "How?" she asked.

                  I was stunned.

                  1. re: Colleen

                    I teach culinary arts both privately and publicly, and one of the lessons most requested by private students is how to cut up whole chickens. Believe it or not, lots of folks don't know how to do it!

                    I never got as fast at it as some of the chefs I know, some of whom have competed in such things, but I can break down chickens pretty quickly and cleanly. A pair of strong hands and a good knife are all that is needed, as well as a bit of knowledge of anatomy.

                    I use my hands a great deal, simply breaking the joints, then using the knife to cut the flesh and skin. All it takes is a bit of feel, and knowing where to apply pressure and how much of it to use, to pop the leg, thigh and wing joints easily.

                    A few years back, I had taught several private students in the span of a week how to cut apart chickens. For practice, we worked on, oh, I don't know, probably twenty chickens. (They brought their own chickens and took the parts with them. Some folks left me the backs and necks, so I put on a huge pot of stock while I was at it.) Anyway, around the end of the week, my husband had been complaining of his foot hurting, so later, I was rubbing it. My mind wandered, and I found my fingers probing the joints of his big toe--on auto-pilot, my fingers were finding the point at which with a quick pop and a twist, I could disjoint it!

                    Well, I dropped his foot, and had momentary shudder, then laughed at myself. I realized that my hands were strong enough to likely break someone's toes and fingers.

                    I, who do not get nauseous at taking apart animal carcasses for eating, got quite queasy thinking about how easily my hands could be turned to hurting a living being. It bothered me for quite some time, actually.

                    1. re: BarbaraF

                      I taught my husband how to do this, but he's never really gotten the "feel" for finding and popping the joints.

                      Your story was definitely scary--I certainly would have been disturbed if it happened to me. I've found that the hands of cooks/chefs and of masseuses are incredibly strong. They could do a lot of damage if they chose.

                      I taught myself how to joint chickens and how to fillet fish. I'm not very fast, but it gets done. I think I figured out how to do jointing and boning from my biology classes. I did a lot of dissections (not of humans, though--fetal pig was as far as we got). I also learned to cut meat in anatomy class. We were shown how to use (and sharpen) our scalpels, and were taught that slicing in one direction as opposed to sawing back and forth made a cleaner and neater cut.

                      I'm just surprised at how little people understand about where their food comes from.

                      1. re: Colleen

                        "I'm just surprised at how little people understand about where their food comes from."

                        Why are you surprised? It is an absolute (and somewhat unfortunate) fact of our day and age for most of us.

                        I am a perfect example. I love to eat meat---all kinds of meat. On the other hand, I consider myself to be an "animal-lover"---you know, watching Discovery, flashing my Greenpeace card.

                        I've grown up in cities all my life. I am used to my pork, chicken, beef, seafood, etc. coming in shiny packages under neat, neon-lit rows. No blood, no gutting, no mess. It's just "meat", rather than "living thing". Yet I've no doubt that seeing live animals slaughtered and prepared for my consumption would be disturbing and repellent.

                        This is basically an indefensible position, but it's a hypocrisy that I abide by in my daily life. I'm sure I speak for quite a few people.

                        1. re: Eric Archer

                          At Thanksgiving a few years back, I went to my husband's cousin's house. Her entire family has worked or works in the food industry. One brother is a meat cutter, one is a caterer, she herself is a well-known hostess in her circle of friends, and their mother used to own a restaurant. And then, there I am, a culinary intstructor.

                          The lady I was seated next to is a friend of the family, whom I had met several times over the years. A very nice lady, but, well, neurotic. She always regaled dinner guests with her latest neurosis, and this year, it was the fact that seeing meat that looked like it came from a living creature disturbed her and made her nauseous.

                          Now, I am a guest, so I did not indulge in my usual answer, which is simple: if it bugs you to think that you are eating the remains of what was once a living creature, don't eat it. Become a vegetarian. You can do it, there are lots of tasty things to eat as a vegetarian, and if you pay attention, you will get adequate nutrition. You might even be healthier. But don't sit at the Thanksgiving table and eye the platter of turkey with the drumstick that is turned toward you, shudder and roll your eyes and opine about how it bugs you while you are eating a bite of turkey breast that has been carved down into slices that did indeed come from a living thing, but don't any longer have the shape of living tissue.

                          So, I kept my mouth shut, but my husband said later that I had the look on my face that was eloquent in its impatience.

                          Across from us sat the hostess's mother, a dear older woman who has a wicked sense of humor. She leaned forward and said with a crooked smile, "Oh, the reason it bothers you is because you are used to buying plastic wrapped meat bits in the store and don't have to think about where it came from. I remember when I was a girl, my mother used to buy live chickens at the market. She taught me how to pick a good one, and then we'd carry it home, and if the weather was good, she'd take it outside to kill it. We had a stump she used as a chopping block. If the weather was bad, the killing and butchering was done in our basement."

                          She went on to describe in intimate detail how this process was managed, with helpful bits thrown in by her meatcutter and caterer sons, all the while the three of them smiling pleasantly.

                          The lady next to me squeaked a few times, but she did finish her dinner. She didn't ask for seconds on the turkey, though.

                          To my mind, it does not honor our bodies or the gift that the animals we eat give us by ignoring where our food comes from. At my grandmother's house, when we said grace, we often thanked the specific animal we were eating from that day, along with God. It was our way to remember that what we ate joined with us forever.

                          I don't think it is either physically or spiritually healthy to be so far removed from the source of our food.

                          1. re: BarbaraF

                            about twenty years ago, i was staying on my cousin's farm in norway during moose hunting season. severy few days, his wife and i come come back to the house from shopping to find a carcass lying in the driveway. the men would cut the carcass into large, rough chunks and put them into containers the size of a recycling buckets, and karin and i would cut and trim the meat into managable sizes, then freeze it.

                            i always said that if that experience didn't turn me into a vegetarian, nothing would

                            1. re: lynn

                              I've experienced the same thing in Northern and central-Northern QuƩbec.

                            2. re: BarbaraF

                              I worked with this woman who looked like a Norman Rockwell grandmother. Inevitably, on business trips after dinner someone would start going into what they did at previous jobs. We work in the medical devices industry and she had worked in the veterinary side for a while. At any rate here is this women who looks like your idealized grandmother telling stories about swine insemination, mainly about how they collected it and how to enter these facilities you had to go through stricter measures then to enter our clean room manufacturing facility. Damn funny stories, but not ones for the faint of heart.

                              1. re: muD

                                I met a woman who was h-o-t hot and knew it. Guys were always trying to hit on her. They would ask what she did, and she would answer, quite truthfully, with a little smile:

                                "I make high-precision, instant-read, digital rectal thermometers for cattle."

                                That usually shut 'em up for a minute.

                                1. re: snackish

                                  And then there would be a stampede?

                            3. re: Eric Archer

                              I guess you're right, I shouldn't be surprised. It's the way food production and society have gone. Our food has become more and more processed for our convenience and as a result we become more and more removed from our food.

                              I'm not saying we all have to go out and hunt our dinner. I'd probably go hungry if I tried to do that--as Eric Nicol (writer) once said, "There are no animals and few plants too slow and stupid to outwit me." I also agree that gutting is a messy, smelly job, as are skinning and plucking. I've done those very rarely.

                              I'm just surprised by people that don't understand [as an example] that gelatin comes from animal bones, or that find cutting up a gutted, plucked, cleaned, chicken carcass "gross." How is that gross compared to handling the cut-up pieces? Where do they think the chicken pieces they buy come from? I had someone get upset when I explained to her that the apples we eat in spring are generally apples that have been in cold storage since last fall. She thought they were "fresh grown." [?] Or going with my husband for the first time to a farmer's market. He thought there was something wrong with the apples because they weren't shiny, and with the tomatoes because they were too red.

                              I often tease a friend of mine--she doesn't know where food comes from and doesn't want to know--that she thinks chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

                              1. re: Colleen

                                My husband hated apples when I met him.

                                Actually, he barely ate a damned thing when I met him, but we are talking about apples, now.

                                This year, since we live near the largest apple orchard in Ohio, I took to buying fresh apples in season right at the orchard. They grow, oh, nearly twenty varieties of apples, plus cherries, peaches, pears and plums. The first apples I bought were MacIntoshes. I would eat one or two of them a day, and finally, he smelled one and said, "Can I taste it?"

                                He loved it. He took to eating two or three a day. Then, he started eating other varieties. He really liked the Winesaps and the Pink Lady, and he got to where he could tell which batch of cider had more of what variety in it by flavor.

                                All of this from someone who once hated apples. Why did he hate them? Because he grew up in Florida, and had been raised eating Red Delicious, which is certainly red, and smells good, but is neither delicious and has the texture of mushy sand.

                                He now is fully in the camp of eating locally grown, seasonal produce bought from the grower or grown oneself if possible. He has seen the light.

                                1. re: BarbaraF

                                  Red Delicious apples--an abomination upon the earth. I grew up in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, and while I lived there we rarely bought fruits or vegetables in the supermarket.

                                  My husband was the same as yours when I met him. In his case, he was a prairie boy--all fruits and vegetables were brought in underripe and expensive. He used to eat little of either.

                                  He rarely ate fish, and hated meatloaf, apple pie, and apple crisp. I finally coaxed him to try them all, and he loved them.

                                  I finally said, "Have you ever considered that your mother was a rotten cook?"

                                  1. re: BarbaraF
                                    r
                                    RWCFoodie (Karen)

                                    Sounds like my husband but his "I hate them" was tomatoes! He had never had a good "garden" or Farmer's Market tomato until I introduced him to them. What a revelation; he now loves them and looks forward to tomato season the way I always have...

                          2. re: BarbaraF

                            In college, I was the typical liberal arts student, but I consistently amazed my wife-to-be (biologist/scientific illustrator) how well I knew basic anatomy, to the point where I could help HER. The light went on when she saw me boning a chicken, which I'd done THOUSANDS of times in the restaurant. Yes, cutting up twenty chickens (or more) every night really taught me how bipeds are built.

                            1. re: BarbaraF

                              This is a little off-topic but one of the funniest real stories I ever heard concerned a couple of guys who wanted to butcher a whole turkey themselves. City boys with that how-hard-can-it-be attitude. They read up on it and after they dispatched it they knew they had to dunk it in scalding water, so they filled up the bathtub with hot water (as in down the hall). They dunked the turkey for the recommended time and then decided it would be best to two-man-pick-up and run it like mad down the hall and outside to commence plucking. So they picked it up, shook it off over the tub, and started running down the hall to the outside. Meanwhile a six or seven year old that lived there was going to his room, he thought, rounded the corner from the kitchen to the hall, and to his surprise, got body-slammed by a dead, hot, sopping wet turkey.

                          3. re: Jennifer

                            I used to always buy fillets too. Then one day I got the right knife and with a little practice it takes no time to fillet a fish, and I find that it tastes much better, fresher, when you filet and cook right away.

                          4. ...make another apple pie. EVER. Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" was a complete idiot. Also, making a decent loaf of French bread, or sourdough, or Limpa, is best left to the pros. That's why God made bakeries, no?

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: peg

                              Regarding apple pie: Make a tarte Tatin instead. Not only is it just delicious (more so, in fact, in my opinion, because of the heavy caramelization factor), but it's much easier than making a pie. And everyone will think you're oh-so-sophisticated, just because you've made something with a fancy-ass French name.

                              -- Paul

                              1. re: Paul Lukas

                                ....much easier indeed. I think one has a much greater degree of control over the taste, too, in that the base is comprised of a nice, buttery applesauce, which you get to TASTE before the sliced apples go on top. With a pie, you don't if it's awful til you cut it. Bah!

                                PS a nice peach crisp beats them both!

                              2. re: peg

                                Make artichoke bottoms as a fancy-schmansy container for something else. Way too much effort for too little reward. I now make artichokes only for myself so I can let the butter drip down my arm and make as much of a mess as I please.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Brazen little me. I have served artichokes at dinner parties and taken back the bottoms for use in pasta or for stuffing with crab as the next course.

                                  1. re: scottso
                                    h
                                    Head Gazelle

                                    Do you mean you served whole artichokes, and your guests ate the leaves, but not the bottoms?

                                    I think that's the best part. How did you keep people from eating the bottoms? Tell them "No next course if you eat the whole thing?"

                                    1. re: Head Gazelle

                                      Artichoke leaves are an old family favorite. My mother used to make a dipping sauce of mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice. When we get to the heart we rip out the choke and divvy it up. Lovely.

                                2. re: peg

                                  Have you ever made Julia Child's thin apple tart? Much easier than pie with a lovely subtle flavor. If you are willing to make and easy tart shell you get a similiar effect. I make it when I am too lazy to make buy.

                                  1. re: peg

                                    God may have made the bakeries, but somebody closed all the real ones. Finding someone who uses a natural leaven and a brick oven is not possible in most places.

                                    1. re: muD

                                      I dunno...I don't have much problem finding good bread here. But in a city as big as Chicago, one should be able to find decent bread (or at least better than what I can produce, which ain't sayin' much!).

                                    2. re: peg

                                      But making apple pie is easy! I find them less trouble to make than cakes.

                                      1. re: peg

                                        I'm no pro, but I find French bread and sourdough easy. But then, I watched my mother make bread from when I was a toddler and started making my own when I was a teenager. These days, I no longer use commercial yeast. All the bread I make is from wild yeast, aka sourdough but without the sour.

                                        1. re: peg

                                          I could be wrong, but I think the original term was "easy as eating pie" and somehow it got shortened.

                                          1. re: Michelly

                                            Wow, I never knew that. It makes sense now. Thanks for that tidbit.

                                        2. Hmmmm, deep-frying. Has anyone used an electric deep-fryer? Is it just another electric gadget like an electric steamer, or does it actually do a good job of regulating temperatures and do what it's supposed to do (i.e., contain the smells and the splatters). Can it make good frites, tempura, etc?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Hanna

                                            They definitely do contain splatters and regulate temperature. I covet my brother's, and would get one too if I had the counter space.

                                            1. re: Wisco

                                              I used to deep-fry in a deep cast-iron skillet--until about 10 years ago, when I bought a Dazey (now owned by Rival) 6-quart electric fryer. It DOES control the temperature, and if the food you're frying is dry, there are no splatters. There's a fry basket included, you need one quart of oil, and I paid only about $60 at Zabar's.

                                              Tonight, in fact, I'm making Buffalo wings and deep-fried jalapeƱos stuffed with cheese in a beer batter. Granted, I don't deep-fry very often, but health-wise, if the temperature is kept at 350 or above, very little of the oil gets absorbed by the food.

                                              1. re: Tom Steele

                                                Oh sweet Jesus. That menu right there is enough for me to consider purchasing one right now.

                                            2. re: Hanna

                                              I'm old school. I deep fry in a pot on the stove. I've never had a deep fryer.

                                              1. re: LMAshton

                                                I deep-fry in a wok. Much safer because of its shape. This is just some tempura ingredients, Vietnamese nem, or smelt. I don't want to deep-fry any more often!

                                              2. re: Hanna

                                                I have one and don't use it often, because it needs a fair amount of oil and then I have to use it and use it before the oil goes bad. It has a lid and a carbon filter, but I think it cooks better if the lid is open. I put paper bags under it or newspaper. It is nice, but like I said I don't use it often, after all there's fried food all over the damn place at every restaurant at every turn in the road.

                                                Also, I've never, ever used the broiler in my oven. Too much splatter, too much mess, too hard to clean. I'll use the grill instead. We have several.

                                              3. v
                                                Vermont Cheddar

                                                Make my own pasta. Life's too short. I would rather pay lots of money to eat ravioli made by the pros at a good restaurant.

                                                1. Render lard ever again.

                                                  1. - bake duck at a high temperature as many recipes would have you do. Way too much smoke and the smell stays in the kitchen for a long time.

                                                    - make Mexican and American Chinese food. Too much chopping and the need for exotic ingredients in small quantities that you may never use again.

                                                    - bake bread. I'm a good bread baker but it's a time consuming and labor intensive task and I've not made a lot of breads that were better than what you could get in a decent bakery.

                                                    - Southern fried chicken. Yuck! Too messy and not very healthy

                                                    1. Sever chicken wings at the joint. Disgusting.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. Great thread!

                                                          I join you and others in refusing to deep fry, also in refusing to make sushi at home--there are things that restaurants are just better equipped to do. Bread is a therapeutic pleasure (when I get around to it) but certainly nowhere near as good as what I can buy easily.

                                                          1. try making hollandaise (or its like) sauce again -- a waste of of butter as it has never ever set up for me.

                                                            1. I used to make puff pastry (because I like pastry making, not because I felt like I had to) -- until I bought DuFour puff pastry. My homemade puff was put to shame by it, and now I just use that.

                                                              I only occasionally deep fry. I have to say, it is very messy. A couple of things I've learned that help a lot:

                                                              -Having a deep fryer -- having a lidded, ventilated, filtered deep fryer really cuts down on the stove mess. Also, it's easier to obtain and maintain the correct temperature, and the food absorbs less oil. The handy tube for draining the fryer helps in countertop mess too -- you can pipe that thing right into the strainer over the oil receptacle. I don't haul out the fryer every single time I deep fry, but whenever I do a big batch of something, or when it's something extra-special. I probably deep fry something about once every 2 months -- say 6 times a year, maximum. The things I deep fry are just special, occasional things, that can't really be done any other way: real chicken fried steak (the Cook's Illustrated recipe -- I do not use the DeLonghi for this recipe), tempura appetizers, deep fried sage leaves (also a yummy appetizer), the once-a-year treat of Scotch eggs (don't ask), and an occasional fry-up of fish and chips, or simply good homemade french fries to go with food for a cookout. Other than that, I skip deepfrying myself most of the time.

                                                              -Having a disposal container. Before I decide i'm going to fry, I do definitely make sure that, if I'm going to keep the oil, I have a big enough, covered (preferrably airtight) container to refrigerate the used, strained oil in. Also, if I'm going to discard the oil (if it's been used 3-4 times already) I make sure I have some large plastic carton (juice or milk bottles work well) to pour the oil in to discard it ready before I start to fry.

                                                              -I cool the oil to room temperature before I discard or store it. Nothing like trying to pour hot oil into a container and spilling it! If I used the Delonghi, I just leave the oil in there with the lid closed (to minimize smell) for a few hours, and then decant and store or discard. If I use the stove, I leave it in the cooking pot for a while also.

                                                              I occasionally "deep fry" (in about an inch) corn tortillas for tostadas. I always just discard this oil afterwards, as it somehow absorbs the corn-tortilla flavor every time. I do this in a skillet on the stove.

                                                              I agree it's somewhat of a pain -- that's why I don't do it that often. Also, I don't think that there is anyone in America right now who 'needs' more deep-fried food in their diet :)

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                Yum... Scotch Eggs. Haven't made those in ages. They do work baked in the oven, too, although the coating tends to crack.

                                                                What do you do about "cleaning" the oil? That's what always puts me off--having to filter, fry ginger or potatoes in it to get rid of stray odours, then strain again. It's a real pain.

                                                                1. re: Colleen

                                                                  Actually, I've never heard of "cleaning" the oil that way! I simply strain through a small sieve and cheesecloth and that usually seems to be enough. I haven't noticed any odors in my oil (though I do really only use it 3-4 times maximum). Please explain the potatoes/ginger process!

                                                                  1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                    It's not a big deal, but I'd always been told that potatoes fried in the oil (slice up one potato) would absorb stray odours as potatoes are neutral in taste and smell themselves. It seems to work. I was always under the impression that the oil needed to be strained before doing this, but perhaps not.

                                                                    The ginger is used when stronger-smelling things, such as fish, have been deep-fried in the oil. After you've finished frying, slice up some fresh ginger and fry it in the oil. Then cool and strain. Supposedly it's a trick a lot of oriental cooks used, and it seems to work.

                                                                    I know the oil can only be used a limited number of times before the oil starts breaking down, so you're right to use it only 3-4 times.

                                                                2. re: Mrs. Smith
                                                                  c
                                                                  Caitlin Wheeler

                                                                  My dear Mrs. Smith, you must expand your repertoire to include deep fried zucchini blossoms. One of the joys of summer, and about the ONLY thing I deep fry. You should be able to get them at farmer's markets in SF.

                                                                  Link: http://www.livejournal.com/users/amuses

                                                                3. ...follow a recipe explicitly.

                                                                  I've worn several different hats working at a Japanese restaurant (making sushi, tempura, working the broiler, and yes, even washing dishes and clearing tables), and I don't mind doing any of that at home. For some reason, though, I can't bring myself to follow even the simplest recipes without tinkering with it. I cook by feel, gut instinct, taste, smell, etc...I've always thought of recipes as being too restricting and...um...anal. Hence, I don't do much baking, which reminds me of chemistry lab. That's not a knock on bakers OR chemists...I'm just not one!

                                                                  1. 1. Bake bread - yeast and I don't get along.

                                                                    2. Ever, ever, ever cook another beef tongue again. But I'll sure eat it if someone else does.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Donna - MI

                                                                      See my post above re: tongue. Is there, I ask you, a more revolting thing to cook?

                                                                      1. re: Nyleve

                                                                        Chitterlings (chitlins). Brain. Kidney.

                                                                        Don't look so good, don't smell so good.

                                                                        There is a reason that innards are called offal.

                                                                    2. Kill a live lobster by plunging a knife behind it's head. I had read numerous recipes that described doing this and decided to butterfly and grill some lobsters for a dinner party. Once the guests arrived(to watch a football game - which is when I exit to make dinner) I took the lethargic lobsters out of the refrigerator and put them in the sink.

                                                                      I took one and plunged the knife in - as the recipe instructed, not only did it start flailing and flopping but so did all of the lobsters in the sink as if they knew this was their demise! After I thought the poor thing was dead I butterflied it and it started flailing again.

                                                                      So I made myself a BIG drink and finished the job and the dinner, one guest got an extra lobster because I couldn't bring myself to eat the poor devil.

                                                                      1. I cannot think of anything I would refuse to do, I can go along with not killing a lobster as described below, I usually have the lobster sellers do that for me. What I don't do anymore is make jams, jellies, preserves or conserves,we don't eat them so there is no point. And canning and pickle making. Just no time. Once in awhile, if I can get really good green beans I will make hot dill bean pickles.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                                          I don't mind killing lobsters, but I certainly agree with you on the jams and jellies - not because we don't eat them, but because it takes 3 days afterwards to get the kitchen clean enough so that we don't slip, slide, or stick to something when we go in there.

                                                                          And I certainly won't make home-made tomato ketchup ever again. It tastes wonderful, but having to start at about 7 AM and in effect stir continuously until about 1 AM the following morning is more effort than it's worth. You start with a bushel of tomatoes and end up with a relatively few jars of the final product and a feeling of "Is that all there is?"

                                                                          1. re: Sandy

                                                                            I used to feel the same way about making apple butter, but now I just throw it in the crockpot and peek every few hours.

                                                                            1. re: Kasy

                                                                              I don't eat much jam but I love making it -- it's therapeutical for me. How long it takes (all the steps: the stirring, filtering, checking, etc, plus the need to set aside large chunks of time for it) have an odd calming effect on me. And I love working with fruit, touching it, smelling it.

                                                                        2. Wash dishes! That's what a dishwasher is for.

                                                                          I, too, will not deep fry (too messy), make puff pastry (no idea even how), make homemade sushi or pasta.

                                                                          I also refuse to use a microwave (as I've said before, I don't see the point in them), or follow recipes blindly.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: bigskulls

                                                                            What do all you people that won't deep fry do? I mean, don't you every once in awhile HAVE to eat fried food?
                                                                            Every couple of months I have to put up with the mess in order to have deep fry night, where everything goes in the grease. Everything.

                                                                            1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                                              Don't get me wrong, I do plenty of frying (or sauteeing or whatever you want to call it), just not deep frying, where the oil gets all over everything.

                                                                              I guess I satisfy most of my deep fried food cravings -- which can be signficant -- during lunch, which I eat out. I did try a deep fried Mars bar once, and much as I wanted to like it, I didn't.

                                                                              1. re: bigskulls

                                                                                I now have a side burner on my gas grill outside. Any deep frying (apprx annual occurance) gets done out there now.

                                                                              2. re: Bobfrmia
                                                                                c
                                                                                curiousbaker

                                                                                I sometimes wish I could get fried chicken, but generally, I don't have fried food cravings. I live in an apartment without any sort of exhaust fan and with no real cross-ventilation to speak of. Deep-frying would be hellish. Heck, cooking bacon leaves the air pig-scented for days.

                                                                                I'll agree with the people who say puff-pastry (maybe if I had a food processor, I would do the quick version), and add danish/croissant dough. I hate, hate, hate skinning hazelnuts, but love them too much to vow off.

                                                                              3. re: bigskulls
                                                                                s
                                                                                scratchbaker

                                                                                Microwaves are great for getting frozen butter to room temperature so you can bake without having to plan way ahead; melt chocolate without bothering with a double boiler; starting broccoli for a stir fry to skip the lid/steam step; speeding up baked potatoes (nuke, then bake to dry and crisp the skin), hard cook eggs that get chopped and added to the other ingredients, etc. I have saved a LOT of time with a microwave and get the same results as if I had followed the original recipe steps. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it!!

                                                                              4. Ever make an angel food cake from scratch again.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Taralli

                                                                                  Wow! To me angel food cake is only slightly more involved than a "regular" cake. Did you have some sort cake catastrophe?

                                                                                  1. re: Taralli

                                                                                    Angel food cake will screw up for me maybe 1 in 15 times. You must have gotten unlucky and the screw up happened on your first try.

                                                                                    I have been making angel food since I was in junior high. My Mom was a great baker, but for some reason believed angel food was too hard to make. Then I won some goofy essay contest and a (even goofier) local news personality made me his "good egg of the day". I am not making this up. The prize was a carton of eggs. (BTW, this was around '79...not during the depression) Anyhow, my Mom had no choice but to let me turn those 12 egg whites into cake, and it worked great.

                                                                                    It really is less time consuming than a regular layer cake. You just have to follow the rules. If you want to hear them, sing out!

                                                                                  2. I will deep fry, make puff pastry (neither of them very often), but I will not peel chestnuts again. I tried to use them for stuffing last year; I made crosses on them, boiled them, and then peeled them -- it was still so hard, my hands hurt for days. What was I doing wrong? (or is it an inhuman task?).

                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: AndieCat

                                                                                      I laughed really hard when I read your post. My mother's special Thanksgiving stuffing involves chestnuts. It is a Thanksgiving Eve tradition in my childhood home to sit around and peel chestnuts until our fingers are raw. This year my sister put her foot down and bought the peeled chestnuts. I always enjoyed the comradery of shared pain for a purpose. Feel sorry for my children - very sorry.

                                                                                      I am with the sushi and pasta crowd. I took a sushi making class and even the instructor's sushi came out like a fistful of raw fish and rice mashed together unappetizingly. Yuck. I also made my own gnocci once. I don't know what I did wrong, but as soon as I dropped them into the water they turned into little mashed potato sponges and soaked up all the water. They tasted like I had fished some mashed potato out of the sink - Yuck again.

                                                                                      1. re: AndieCat

                                                                                        The frozen ones from Trader Joe's peel real nice in most cases. I was with you until I discovered them, and I have a recipe for a chestnut/fennel/walnut confit from Joel Robuchon that is one of my favorite things on earth.

                                                                                        1. re: snackish

                                                                                          Where can I find the recipe for this confit? Sounds delicious.

                                                                                          1. re: snackish

                                                                                            I adore that confit as well. A truly great recipe. It's from SIMPLY FRENCH by Patricia Wells and Joel Roubuchon. Couldn't find the recipe online, but the book's a classic. Also has a recipe for the best roast chicken ever. Well worth buying

                                                                                          2. re: AndieCat

                                                                                            No, you were right. Peeling chestnuts is a pain in the a**. I did it once for stuffing--never again. Next time, I'll buy them peeled.

                                                                                          3. cook anything I won't kill.

                                                                                            Which is why I am a vegetarian.

                                                                                            1. Deep frying? Ah, of course I do that. Else, how to make spring rolls, lotus seed filled sesame balls, shrimp toast and other such tasty bits? Beignet? Oh, these things are fun once in a while.

                                                                                              Homemade pasta? Of course, it is not for every day, but it isn't so hard as all of that! And it is quite fun, really. One of my favorite labor intensive things to make. I grew up with my Gram teaching my Mom, her daughter in law, how to make the homemade noodles her mother in law, the German lady, taught her. And Mom taught me--for chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. I took that knowledge and applied it to making Italian filled pastas, and Chinese dim sum.

                                                                                              I like making laminated doughs, but not so much at home. They are messy and time consuming. If I had more counter space, I might make danish again. That was fun. Strudel was fun and I might make that again, if I had enough hands to help stretch. Maybe a strudel making party.

                                                                                              Sushi? Ah, I got pretty good at that, too--my rolls are really nice, though I only make vegetarian. I don't like the idea of making raw fish sushi without real training how.

                                                                                              My rule is this: I will likely never again make a wedding cake. Certainly not one for my own wedding. Nor, will I ever again make a Norman castle with five turrets out of sugarcubes to go on top of a wedding cake again. I am not a pastry chef, and so, while those wedding cakes did look great, tiers and castles and roses and all--and they tasted great--they gave me grey hairs and shot my nerves.

                                                                                              So, never again with the wedding cake thing. Nope. Nada. Not going there.

                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: BarbaraF

                                                                                                I have a questions for those pasta-makers out there.

                                                                                                Does anyone use one of this Simlac(sp?) knead-and-extrude pasta makers? The machine is expensive, but it purports mix, knead, and then extrude the pasta for you, so all you have to do is dry it and cook it. Is it worth it? How does it compare to the real thing (which is kneading, and keeping from drying out, and then rolling, and then cutting, etc, and to me, a non-Italian, looks like a collossal pain) made at home? Is it totally not worth the money? Or does it make pasta that is better than dried/storebought, but maybe not as good as the truly handmade?

                                                                                                I make lots of futzy, fussy, pain-in-the-neck things, but for some reason I have this phobia about making real homemade Italian pasta. I've eaten other people's (good cooks, by the way, in other things) efforts and found them to be awful -- either grainy, or stringy, or uneven, or too floury, too eggy -- none of them were good like an excellent imported Italian dried pasta, or a fresh pasta bought at a good Italian deli. These people making the pasta were not novices, and are very accomplished cooks. This makes me nervous.

                                                                                                So, is the Simlac a good place to start? Must I have an Italian granny teach me? Or do I just need to go to a pasta-making class?

                                                                                                1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                  Mrs. Smith--I was taught to make noodles by hand, mixing, kneading and rolling and cutting by hand. When I found an Atlas manual pasta maker (get this--at Walmart, on sale for ten dollars!)years ago, I snagged it up, because it does the rolling and cutting part of the job, which, to me, is the worst part.

                                                                                                  You can mix and knead in a food processor or Kitchenaid mixer. I still do it by hand, that is, when my carpal tunnel isn't acting up. I like the feel of the dough under my hands.

                                                                                                  I wouldn't get the similac--too expensive, and my chefs in culinary school said that the plain old manual Atlas was the way to go.

                                                                                                  Recipes--follow Marcella Hazan's recipes. Don't use semolina--not when you are starting out and learning to do this. Marcella is very strict on using regular flour, and she is right. It works beautifully every time.

                                                                                                  1. re: Mrs. Smith
                                                                                                    c
                                                                                                    Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                    I'm not personally a pasta maker (though I have particpated in the making of pasta!), but I have been a daily reader of this site for 4 years, and here's what I've learned from pasta-making chowhounds and from other people I know:

                                                                                                    1. The mix-and-extrude machines make bad pasta. Fresh pasta should not be extruded; extrusion is for dried durum wheat pasta that you buy.

                                                                                                    2. People universally rave about the pasta rolling attachment for KitchenAid stand mixers - let the motor do the cranking so you can concentrate on getting the dough how you want it.

                                                                                                    Finally, my own thought: fresh pasta is made from flour, water, eggs, and salt - cheap ingredients. Someone who's willing to try and try again to get baked goods just right (yes, I'm looking at you, Mrs. Smith [g]) shouldn't fear giving it a go a few times in order to learn.

                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                      (cringe, snivel)

                                                                                                      Oh, I'm not afraid of trying, but I've never personally known anyone who makes it at home well! That's my fear. That it's really not possible to make it delicious and wonderful without being taught by a master/mistress of the dough. I wish I knew a pasta maker who could tell me it was all right. The people I knwo who make either a) make bad pasta that I can't eat, but they think it's good (one friend in particular) or b) people who have made it a few times and have quit in disgust because they couldn't ever make anything edible (several friends)

                                                                                                      Well, at least I'm glad to know that the Similac is not the way to go. I'm eliminating the many options.

                                                                                                      I've heard the manual Atlas is cheap, reliable, and easy. I have a big Kitchenaid mixer, and I've been pleased with all the attachments I've bought for it (vegetable strainer, grinder, and grain mill), so that's another option.

                                                                                                      I think I will have to just try it, and plan to not serve it to anyone for a long time until it's good.

                                                                                                      I did this with my own baguettes, so I'll forge ahead.

                                                                                                      Look for updates as I make batches.

                                                                                                      Any pasta making tips are appreciated!!!!!

                                                                                                      1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                        Second the recommendation for learning to make pasta via the Marcella Hazan method. Very simple. Follow the directions closely. I knead by hand, although have friends who will do their dough in a kitchen aid. The one thing I find helpful when learning is to keep adding flour slowly until you get a dough that is the right consistency (should be moist but not sticky). This takes practice, but you sound like a good baker so it should not be difficult for you to master. I roll out my dough using the hand-crank atlas as well.

                                                                                                        I find that it is very much worth the effort to make your own pasta if you are making lasagne or ravioli. Especially with the lasagne, a freshly made, very thinly rolled-out noodle makes all the difference.

                                                                                                        1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                          I make good pasta. I'm Italian by proxy and learned from my Mother-in-law, the hard way. She used to slap my hands if I kneaded too long. Bless her.

                                                                                                          First, for about 3/4 of a pound of finished pasta, you take two cups of wheat flour and dump it on your wooden cutting board. Form a well and add a large (not an extra large) egg to the center of the well. I use two chopsticks to mix it up well. You will have a gluey, sticky mess at this point. Remember that the moisture in flour varies, so this is something you'll just eventually get the feel for. You want a texture that sticks to your fingers, yet still slips off easily.

                                                                                                          Now, your going to begin kneading. You only want to do this for two-three minutes top. You'll sprinkle flour on the board and on top of the pasta and knead away. If the pasta is sticking to the board, add more flour. Up to about 1/4-1/2 a cup of flour will be incorporated.

                                                                                                          Personally I don't think someone without a sensous touch should bother with pasta. It's totally about the tactile sense. If you don't have it, your pasta will come out all wrong. But you bake bread, so I think you'll catch my drift here.

                                                                                                          After you've kneaded the dough you'll need to let it rest for 20 minutes. Then you'll roll it out. Turning it several times and adding a little more flour if it's sticking.

                                                                                                          Here's the tricky part. You need an Atlas pasta maker. The bare bones model. You click it to its thickest setting and add about a 1/3 of the pasta square thorough its mechanism. You do it two times for each click of the machine. You continue until it's the thickness you desire and then cut it with the machine to whatever pasta you're making. You'll need two to three goes at this. After you cut the pasta, you'll hang the pasta for some slight drying. I use a broom stick suspended over two chairs. Or you could use a long handled wooden spoon over two cans, etc.

                                                                                                          I use a very large stock pot filled with water which I salt heavily once the water is at a full rolling boil. Add your pasta and cook for one minute at the most. You'll be amazed how quickly it cooks.

                                                                                                          Add your pasta sauce to a nice large saute pan on medium high head. Mix in your drained pasta and finish it in the pan.

                                                                                                          Voila.

                                                                                                          You're going to need to do this two to three times before you get the true feeling for it. But it is so worth it. I buy dried pasta twice a year now because the fresh is just SO much better.

                                                                                                          Note: you don't need to put salt in the pasta mix. It tends to dry it out and make the pasta fall apart. That's why I salt the pasta water heavily.

                                                                                                          When you graduate to wanting to make spinach, tomato or squid ink pasta, give me a holler.

                                                                                                          How's the baby coming along Mrs.?

                                                                                                          1. re: Bryan

                                                                                                            Great information. Between this post, Marcella Hazan's writings on pasta making and an Atlas machine, one cannot really go wrong.

                                                                                                            And it really is so much better than dried pasta. You will be surprised.

                                                                                                            1. re: Bryan
                                                                                                              m
                                                                                                              Marcia M. D'A.

                                                                                                              This is pretty much what my husband does, minus the chopsticks. He is the pasta maker in the family and I do the sauce. We have a basic Atlas that is around thirty years old and has seen much use.
                                                                                                              And you are right, Bryan, about getting a feel for the dough. The proportions can vary due to the weather and different moisture content of the flour,too.

                                                                                                              1. re: Marcia M. D'A.

                                                                                                                My mother learned from her father in law, and then she taught me. It's definitely easier when you've seen somebody work it enough, you get a feel for the dough, and that is critical. I also echo the Marcella Hazan rec. Once I graduated from mom's recipe to adding other things (eg spinach), I relied on Marcella (god bless her!).

                                                                                                                Smokey

                                                                                                              2. re: Bryan

                                                                                                                Thank you for all the advice, Bryan! This is a good primer for me -- like having a friend in the room telling me what to do and to not do.

                                                                                                                Baby is hungry, which is why I'm thinking of making pasta these days. I'd better learn now before he comes!

                                                                                                                1. re: Mrs. Smith
                                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                                  Marcia M. D'A.

                                                                                                                  When Baby Smith is a bit older, he will enjoy turning the crank of the pasta machine, if you get an Atlas. My son is thirty and helping make pasta is one of his fondest memories.

                                                                                                                  Food memories can be such lovely ones, and I'm sure any child of yours, Mrs. Smith, will be blessed in that department as well as others.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                                    You're so welcome. Sorry 'bout the typos.

                                                                                                                    If you're in a pinch and need help over the phone, feel free to e-mail me and I'll give my phone # and answer any questions you may have.

                                                                                                                    Regards,

                                                                                                                    Barbara

                                                                                                                2. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                                  I received a pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid about two months ago. I used to bake bread (don't bother much any more since I can buy such great loaves here in NYC) and do quite a bit of baking, but pasta intimidated me. I must have studied half a dozen cookbooks before just jumping in and trying it. I've ended up using Marcella--who else?--for water, egg, flour proportions. I hand knead. And then go back to Marcella for machine technique. I made perhaps three test batches (the first just to clean the machine, the second two to experiment with thicknesses, cutters, and cooking times) before feeling confident enough to try something for company.

                                                                                                                  In just eight short weeks I've made fettucini a number of times, pumpkin ravioli (following some earlier tips on this board to freeze what I wasn't going to use immediately), and Marcella's classic lasagne bolognese with spinach lasagne. I'm a total convert. It's been an absolute revelation. Not only is pasta a great deal of fun to make (although I do end up with pasta drying on nearly every flat surface of my apartment; sort of looks as though a noodle hurricane had passed through), but it's as though homemade pasta is an entirely different ingredient from store bought. It's so smooth and silky. Now the emphasis is on the pasta itself as opposed to on the sauce.

                                                                                                                  The only thing I've found to be at all tricky is timing the cooking of the noodles. The fresh lasagne, for example, cook in just seconds. The ravioli not much longer. So if I'm cooking for company, everything has to be ready to go (plates hot, sauce just made or reheated, guests approaching the table if not already seated) before the pasta hits the water.

                                                                                                                  Try it. I can't believe you won't enjoy both the process and the results as much as I have. And once you have the technique down, it's almost like making pastry crust. You can make a batch of noodles faster than you can go to the store to buy them. And the difference in quality is comparable as well.

                                                                                                              3. re: Mrs. Smith

                                                                                                                I had one for a while, and eventually threw it out. It was very loud and didn't make good pasta. There are some helpful videos on YouTube that show how to roll pasta.

                                                                                                            2. s
                                                                                                              steakandeggs

                                                                                                              bouillabaisse- or however you spell it- to many layers of seafood to ruin. and ruin it I did...

                                                                                                              1. Bring risotto to a potluck, or make risotto in any situation where I can't expect my guests to eat when I tell them. Nor will I locate a cheesecake pumpkin, and grate it by hand for pumpkin risotto.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Mr.B
                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                  Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                  Refusing to serve risotto other than a la minute (and in warmed dishes) is just common sense!

                                                                                                                2. I refuse to make dim sum. My non-Chinese friends always assume I know how to make dim sum dishes and are horrified when I tell them "hell no-- Chinese people go OUT to eat dim sum". Nobody (except American people) ever makes dim sum at home!

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: chococat

                                                                                                                    The only dim sum I ever knew Chinese Americans to make at home are dumplings at New Year's, where everyone gets together and makes and eats them together. But a variety of dim sum? Nope--I've not heard of families really doing that, either.

                                                                                                                    Me, I enjoy making dim sum stuff and just celebrated New Year's and a friend's birthday by having a dim sum party. We made buns, dumplings, spring rolls, turnip cake, scallion pancake, and other goodies, and drank much tea while we cooked and ate. It was fun, and to me, making little fiddly-futzy things like that is relaxing.

                                                                                                                    The fact that I don't live where I can just go out for really good dim sum also has something to do with my penchant for making it.

                                                                                                                    1. re: BarbaraF

                                                                                                                      Are dumplings hard to make?
                                                                                                                      I love them but I have never tried to make them at home.

                                                                                                                      I know you can get the skins ready to go, so it's only a matter of preparing the filling, right? or am I kidding myself and it's much harder than it looks?

                                                                                                                      --Maria

                                                                                                                      1. re: Maria

                                                                                                                        If you use the gyoza wrappers to make them, it isn't that big of a deal. It just takes time to shape them, and make them look pretty. The best way to get around that is to do as Chinese families do on New Year's--everyone helps make the dumplings. If you have many pairs of hands doing the shaping it isn't any trouble.

                                                                                                                        The filling is simple. The sauces are simple, and they taste quite satisfying.

                                                                                                                        Making the dumpling wrappers themselves, which when I feel like playing with dough I will do as I like the freshness of the dumplings made that way, adds significantly to the time and difficulty factor of making dumplings.

                                                                                                                        But, me, I am a white chick from West Virginia. If I can learn to make really good dumplings, anyone can. If I can teach other folks how to do it, anyone can get the hang of it.

                                                                                                                        It isn't hard to make one or two varieties of dim sum at home. The difficulty comes in when one tries to match the variety that is available at a good dim sum restaurant or teahouse. That is virtually impossible to accomplish at home. It is also nearly impossible to reach to the heights of the really fantastic dim sum chefs who turn thier dumplings into little works of art, jewels on a plate. That is beyond the skill of most home cooks of any nationality.

                                                                                                                        But if you just want some dumplings, by all means, get some wrappers, make some filling, and go to it!

                                                                                                                    2. re: chococat

                                                                                                                      Ditto here. I remember once one of my (white) friend's mom mentioned to me, with some pride, that she knew how to make dim sum. She seemed surprise to learn that my family never made it at home. Then I asked her what dishes she knew how to make. She just looked at me kind of blankly... apparently she did not realize that dim sum ususally consisted of lots of different little dishes. At that point this conversation was just too painful for words, so we changed the subject.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jujubee

                                                                                                                          The buffets in Central PA call one type of dumpling dim sum. I learned from my friend in San Fran what it really is.

                                                                                                                        2. re: chococat

                                                                                                                          I can relate! I remember when I was a little kid, my mom taught my brother and me how to make dim sum...to keep us in touch with our Chinese roots, I guess. Years later, I asked her why we never did it again, and she said, "I wanted you to know HOW it was done...but there's no way we can match the variety and quality at home without a lot of money AND hassle!"

                                                                                                                          1. re: chococat

                                                                                                                            Hah, this reminds me of working in Manhattan in the early 80's with a guy from Hong Kong. We would all go out for lunch together, and we would all pick up chopsticks except for him, who grabbed a fork and always told us that we were totally ridiculous.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Pat P

                                                                                                                              Oh, but chopsticks are fun to use. And they are extremely versatile kitchen implements. They can be used as tongs, as whisks, as sculpting tools, and as a steaming rack.

                                                                                                                              1. re: BarbaraF

                                                                                                                                And as hair ornaments!!! I always think it looks swell when a woman just kinda sticks the decorative ones into a bun/chignon/French twist. I'd do it too, but alas, my hair is too fine :-(

                                                                                                                          2. r
                                                                                                                            RWCFoodie (Karen)

                                                                                                                            Work with phyllo dough! Spawn of the devil himself. The first time I worked with it I had beginner's luck and everything was great. Then I decided to do appetizers for a party and it was pure misery. Probably because it had been frozen too long but I just won't subject myself to that torture again any time soon...

                                                                                                                            I'm also of the "no deep fat frying" school of thought. Probably if I had one of the new fancy deep fat fryers with baskets, filters, spigots to drain off the fat, etc. I might give it a shot but they are just too expensive. Plus if I got one then I'd eat more fried food and be even more over-weight than I am already :-)

                                                                                                                            1. Is the correct answer "cook gerbil", Lemmiwinks?

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                That's right! Cooking gerbil would be.....cannibalism! I am the Gerbil King, and would never do such a thing to my loyal subjects.

                                                                                                                              2. PIZZA !!

                                                                                                                                maybe it's a NY thing, but it never comes out as good as any of my favorite places (unless you're Francis Ford Coppola have a pizza oven in your home :-)

                                                                                                                                1. s
                                                                                                                                  scratchbaker

                                                                                                                                  I refuse to make something I don't like to eat. That eliminates anything with okra, for example, or lemon meringue pie.

                                                                                                                                  1. Cook tongue. Every again. My mother always used to make it, and so did I until...last year. Saw a tongue at the store, bought it thinking it would be a good thing to make. Couldn't handle it without gagging. Last tongue in my kitchen ever.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                                                                                                                      You just ruined one of my fondest childhood memories!! My Mom used to make beef tongue and I've ordered it at Delis for years. I always said I'd love to make one at home but never see it at a market. I was just thinking about asking the meat manager to order one for me.

                                                                                                                                    2. I may or may not be a great cook, but I refuse to prepare Rat.

                                                                                                                                      http://www.snopes.com/photos/food/rat...

                                                                                                                                      1. Make my own pasta, usually.

                                                                                                                                        1. Pan fry bacon. I hate it and have refused to do it for years! However, I recently wanted some bacon grease and so had to give in as SO wasn't home and pan-fried a batch and to be honest it was less traumatic than I remember but it's still on my list of things that SO usually does.

                                                                                                                                          1. I am not a great cook, I'm just a good cook, but I do not

                                                                                                                                            --get into canning
                                                                                                                                            --skin anything live-caught and whole except fish (and that upon request only; I generally like the skin and prefer to just fillet)
                                                                                                                                            --make my own yogurt, cheese, etc

                                                                                                                                            1. -sushi
                                                                                                                                              -kill the live lobster, turkey, chicken, etc.
                                                                                                                                              -broil steaks (I cannot for the life of me do this without setting off the smoke detector-I guess I am dysfunctional)
                                                                                                                                              -croutons/stale bread pieces for stuffing (I buy that, it's too easy and how much better would my stale bread taste anyway?)
                                                                                                                                              -gut/descale/otherwise clean fish

                                                                                                                                              1. Many good answers here that I share. I refuse to make pasta, nor allow shellfish or stinky fish like salmon to be cooked in my home. I am not a shellfish eater and the nauseating smell lingers forever. I don't bake bread or make pies either.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                  Wow I can't say I've encountered much smelly shellfish or salmon unless it's gone bad though it could be that I like it and so the smell of lobster and salmon doesn't register in my brain as bad. I have a good friend from Maine who also hates shellfish and has to deal with constant exposure

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                    As a kid Inthought it stink up the whole house.

                                                                                                                                                2. I agree with everyone who listed deep-frying, puff pastry, sushi, prep fish, and pasta. But I'm surprised by all the people who won't make pies - to me, that's easy as - well, you know. I'm ashamed to admit it, but the thing I won't do is carve meat (like a whole turkey, chicken, etc.). I'll make it, but I always make someone else carve. This is something I really need to learn to do myself.

                                                                                                                                                  1. ...ever make mayonnaise again. All that work, and guess what? Tastes like mayo.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Not great, just good here. And I refuse to:
                                                                                                                                                      -get into baking-everything is so exact, there is no tinkering
                                                                                                                                                      -deep fry a turkey
                                                                                                                                                      -refuse to share a recipe-that's just rude
                                                                                                                                                      -cook a holiday meal for my family-my mom has a good heart, but she could make criticizing an olympic sport

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                        Have you had deep fried turkey, though? It's lovely and moist! I actually prefer it now to oven roasted.

                                                                                                                                                      2. What I won't do? Cut up and joint chickens or other animals. I know how to and have done it enough that I'm pretty efficient at it. But my joints just can't handle it any more - it's just too painful.

                                                                                                                                                        Have never made puff pastry - probably won't. But I'm tempted to give rough puff pastry a try. :)

                                                                                                                                                        Deep frying? I do that fairly regularly. In a little pot on my stove.

                                                                                                                                                        There's not a lot I won't try at least once. Oh, but steaks? I absolutely suck at steaks.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Hubby was considering doing his own sushi, but now I guess I'll have to warn him.

                                                                                                                                                            As for me: killing, cleaning, plucking, skinning, and gutting an animal is something I'd be happy never having to do, but IF it came to that, I suppose I could do it, if it were a chicken or a fish (I draw the line at rodents and rabbits [technically not a rodent] as I've had too many personal relationships with those animals).

                                                                                                                                                            What I would make if I had the time and space: pasta, yogurt, and more bread (I do make a loaf here and there).

                                                                                                                                                            What I wouldn't even if I had the time is cheese, sausage, and pickling/canning, smoking, curing, etc.

                                                                                                                                                            I DO shallow fry, but I abhor dealing with that greasy grundge that gets all over the place!

                                                                                                                                                            What I won't do ever again: make mayo (like another poster said: all that work and it turned out like mayo), baked beans (again, two days of soaking and cooking and it tasted like I'd just opened a can), and make my own beauty products like masks and toners.

                                                                                                                                                            Haven't tried puff pastry yet, or croissants, or choux...maybe this year....

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                                                              If you deep fry in a Dutch oven, there's not much that 'escapes.'

                                                                                                                                                              I've been making bulk sausage for a few years now and love it. Haven't done the casing thing yet thought.

                                                                                                                                                            2. deep fry a turkey. You can burn down your house doing that.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                That's why you fry a turkey outside! I bought a turkey fryer for my niece and her husband and has fried turkey's at least once a year since then. Always great! He also uses the set up for steamed oysters and fried fish.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                                  I know of a case where the turkey was be fried outside, and it caught the house on fire.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                    My brother is a cop and has been on a lot of fire calls and is supposed to know better, but he set fire to the siding of his garage and also a pile of firewood. They say to not leave the deep fryer alone for a reason.

                                                                                                                                                              2. -- cook any non-crustacean that still has a head attached. Doing that put me off duck for a year. I know I'm a wimp.

                                                                                                                                                                --make bread

                                                                                                                                                                --make fried chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: YAYME

                                                                                                                                                                  Clean whole squid!! Asked the wife if she would like calamari for lunch. 3 hours later we went to eat..

                                                                                                                                                                2. Roast my own coffee beans (tried it 4 times and the entire house/yard smelled like a roaster for over a week).
                                                                                                                                                                  Make my own cheese or yogurt-I'd rather leave it to the pros.
                                                                                                                                                                  Make my own wine or beer-too impatient!
                                                                                                                                                                  Hunt...I love and respect my butcher
                                                                                                                                                                  Forge-concerned I'll pick the wrong mushroom or herb

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Cook lobster at home. I swear I smell it for days! Don't have a heart to kill em either.