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What did you learn on Chowhound this year?

Just a few things that have made a positive difference in my life from the kind and generous souls on this board.

1. Fresh Spices! Wow, what a difference to toss out the stuff from the grocery store and buy fresh spices online and in specialty stores. Penzys and worldspice.com are now part of my life.

2. I can now say that I know how to make one fabulous cake.....Gramercy Tavern's Gingerbread Cake. (And next time you are in NY, stop by and have dessert there....absolutely wonderful)

3. When in New Orleans go to Bon Ton Cafe and order the crabmeat au gratin and breadpudding with whiskey sauce. You will be very happy.

4. When in Key West get a key lime pie from The Blonde Giraffe

5. The Libby's pumpkin pie recipe is delicous AND easy

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  1. I learned that there is a 5th "basic taste" that our tongues can taste. Known as Umami, it describes the savory flavor of meats, cheeses and broths. It is part of what makes bacon so delicious.

    1. I dont know how useful this is but I learned that two or more people that actually agree on something can be so blinded by being right that they cant see that they are arguing with people of a like mind!LOL......numerous example of this and I always get a kick out of reading through threads where I say to myself " are any of these people reading what the other is saying? they are all arguing the same side of the coin!" entertaining, but not so useful.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nkeane

        nkeane, you made my day! too funny & too true.

        Sal Vanilla (friend of Sal Monella?): great observation. I think one of my favorite threads this year was the one on "do you have a jar of bacon fat...."

        I've learned a lot on Chow this year:

        * about chilies from Hatch, NM (thanks Veggo). One of my New Years resolutions is to buy some & experiment. Of course I'll be able to find lots of recipies and suggestions right here on Chow.

        * about the glories of a rice cooker. I just bought myself a Christmas present -- a Zojirushi 10 cup fuzzy logic.

        * about the common threads that weave all of us "foodies" (ok, let's not get started on THAT posting that got so out of hand) together into one big crazy culinary quilt.

        * that even though FoodTV was, in good part, responsible for awakening an interest in food across America (and showing my then college-age son how to cook), I'm supposed to make fun of it. I still can't figure that one out.

        * that even the most experienced CHers have dark little secrets -- like exploding eggs in the microwave, or leaving the top off the blender;

        * that there are people right around the corner (or across the country) from you who love food experiences too & are right here on Chow -- nice people you never would have met if it weren't for Chow. There's a lot more intelligent conversation that goes on here than you'd find at a dozen cocktail parties.

        * about that tab on the box of platic wrap!!!!!!!!!;

        * about the celebration foods of different cultures, and the recipies.

        And most of all that there is a community of people out there -- people from all walks of life, all cultures, all backgrounds, all levels of experience -- who want to communicate their interest in food with others. Sometimes very seriously, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes in the third person (jfood?), but always interestingly. They speak my language, and that's a beautiful thing.

        Chow everyone!

      2. I learned that glass cutting boards dull expensive knives.

        1. Lotsa people like bacon and velveeta but are afraid that someone will see them buy it.

          1. I learned that I really did not know everything about using plastic or foil wrapping! There is this tab on the box...once pressed in, the tube doesn't fall out!

            A good lesson - even the simplest thing has more than meets the eye.


            3 Replies
            1. re: meatn3

              Your kidding?! I am going to investigate. OMG it is true.

              A handy thing: I store my tongs in the closed position by putting a toilet paper cardboard frame around the end.

              1. re: Sal Vanilla

                I've told several people about the little tabs on the plastic and foil rolls and not a single one knew about this (and neither did I till I read about it here).

                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                  Don't your tongs have a little "thingy" that keeps them in the closed position? It took me awhile to "discover" the one on mine - at the hinge end.

              2. Great post, Daisy M.

                A pork shoulder is a glorious thing.

                I have great new recipes in my file like goodhealthgourmet's Spicy Black Bean Dip and Jfood's Salmon Croquettes (or whatever was finally decided about what to call them! ;) ) There are several others but those two come to mind now.

                Reading here has taught me to relax about things in the kitchen and trust myself more. It will usually work out and when it doesn't, don't sweat it. There is always take-out. Enjoy yourself and whoever you are with.

                Good canned tomatoes are kitchen heroes.

                I could go on and on.

                Many thanks to all!

                1 Reply
                1. re: fern

                  I have to add one more thing. I've learned that EVERYONE on this board is more knowlegeable then I am....but no question that I have ever asked has been met with pity or disdain. I am always amazed and so grateful for people taking the time to answer what I'm sure seem like basic and obvious questions. The impact of the advice and guidance (and kindness) is so truly appreciated.

                2. 1. Fine sandpaper can be used in lieu of a brillo pad on my All-Clad when I've burnt grease on the interior
                  2. Criticism of Southern food (of any sort) will have staunch defenders on your tails
                  3. Manners remain a heated topic, as we've all had (and have been) idiot friends, family, and waitstaff
                  4. Gourmet raw food can be fattening
                  5. I should have registered at a restaurant supplier for bone china instead of WS porcelain
                  6. Other people also transport their kitchen wares to their relatives/friends houses

                  1. I have learned that there is always more to to learn and that when it comes to food & drink. The 'hounds know best. Thank you everybody!

                    1. I've learned that a majority of restaurants come and go. Those that do remain, may change menus, chefs, and atmosphere to appeal to today's foodies. Through Chowhound, we are able to stay current and dine at some of the best places in the country and the world. Thanks everyone.

                      1. Besides the many tips, suggestions, recommendations and shared knowledge I have picked up from everyone here, for me the most important thing I have learnt is that there are many, many other food-crazy folk out there; that I am not alone in thinking, dreaming and obsessing about food and the endless and wonderful possibilities it offers to broaden the mind, soul and spirit...for the first time I have felt a sense of belonging that I never encountered before so for that and for this fantastic arena to indulge in my passion, I'll be forever grateful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Paula76

                          That is it exactly - the sense of being part of a community. I moved recently, and just lost my job. Chowhound gives me a way to still interact with others.

                          I am learning how to cook more economically from the boards. The past few years have meant a lot of eating out - I lived an hour away from work and traveled an hour or more during rush hour which didn't leave a lot of energy to cook. I'm getting more confident in the kitchen after a two year hiatus thanks to the wealth of knowledge here.

                          Sharing family recipes and food ways makes this community something truly special.
                          I just made latkes and applesauce - two items I haven't made for I don't know how long. I'm making my Nanny's cheese latkes tomorrow! Joan Nathan's really - but I didn't know until I called to get her recipe and she told me to look in the cookbook she had just given me!

                        2. I learned how to make perfect sugar cookies! And I learned that I am not the only one who like potato chips on sandwiches! Oh, and where to eat on Cape Cod and where to eat in Amsterdam. Plus a million other things.

                          Many thanks to all the Chowhounds...

                          1. I've learned that Chowhound is The Source! Yes, there's Epicurious and a host of other web sites for recipes, but CH is the place to come to first. Same holds true for cooking techniques, cookware, and a host of other topics. But the one thing that stands out from all the rest, for me, is restaurant recommendations. There's NO source I trust more than CH when it comes to restaurant recommendations, particularly when I travel away from home.

                            1. I met a CH'er in person. I learned some fantastic "chow tips", and I learned that plastic wrap has TABS so the damn roll does not come out and fall on the floor when trying to cover Aunt Sall's crappy potato salad.. :D

                              1. I have learned to bite the bullet and post! I have lurked for a few years, and have been too intimidated to post. I am new, and so far eveyone has been very nice and helpful.
                                So thanks to all of you.

                                1. I have learned not to take it personally when my painstakingly crafted, multiple-times edited, laugh your socks off post is unexplainedly deleted! Serenity Now!

                                  1. Good news bad news.
                                    Bad news first. I'm surprised at what fussy eaters so many hounds are. These "what food do you not like" posts are endemic and if read from a distance, are a bit neurotic. What a spoiled society we are. Think about it. ( Yeah, yeah, I know my Spam aversion is psychological.)
                                    Good news. Living in rural Maine and teaching is a small, poor, high school, I find chowhound an outlet for creative food idea. I lived a long time overseas and in New Mexico and find folks where I live now to not care, are bored in fact with the foods I miss and they truly do not understand my aversion to local "Mexican" restaurants they adore.
                                    I have made "friends" on line, have met some and now have some new real life chow buddies.
                                    I truly appreciate how helpful local hounds are when I travel. I learned to get around Austin, through the generous help of the local board. I got suggestions, used google map for the locations and got a quick reference as to the lay of the land. Thanks. the same for the NJ crew for suggestions to my childhood area that has changed sooo much.. And finally I just got an offer to go hounding in the Boston area for Mexican food, which I am going to do. What a wonderful means by which to travel, explore and meet people w/ common interests. Sure as Hell beats going into bars in strange cites. I try to help out for the Aadia Park areas as well, so contact me.
                                    Happy Hounding in the new year. May you share your new finds and share the wealth.
                                    Lastly, I understand the mods need to edit me and thank them.

                                    1. So much more about the time of others.The generous and sincere sharing at many levels by many.When the original subject hatches so many disparate responses from simple to snarky is very entertaining.Getting much better at phrasing to avoid deletes,no desire to eliminate deletes.

                                      1. i learned that bacon really does go with porridge and tapioca pudding.

                                        i learned that soursop and custard apple are actually two different fruits, though closely related.

                                        i learned that i take guilty pleasure, sometimes, in the snarky posts.

                                        i learned that i really and truly heart certain chowhounds i have not yet met and that this is sort of weird, but that the weirdness is ok, because a lot of other people experience this, too. and we're all alright, we're all alright...

                                        i learned that i can get almost every episode of no reservations on youtube ... and that i can watch it surreptitiously at work.

                                        i learned that the home cooking board really is the best board on the entire site even if one does not cook at home. so long as you have an opinion on home cooking, it's all good. :)

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: cimui

                                          I just learned that bacon goes well with tapioca pudding and am eager to try two of my favorites in combination before the year is over!

                                          I learned that even the learnèd can succumb to hype.

                                          I learned that I'm not the only who believes that economy, class and flavor need not be mutually exclusive.

                                          I learned that there is great Thai food to be had in New York.

                                          I learned how to read the Chinese character for beef and the wonders of Chinese food malls.

                                          I learned that you, like, don't even have to know anything about food or writing to be a like food blogger as long as you like totally have your finger on the pulse of popular culture. Like cool!

                                          I learned that deep down inside this young man, is a crotchety old snark who comes out every few posts.

                                          I learned more about Indian food than I did in the 21 years I ate at my father's dinner table.

                                          I learned Dubai is a culinary cornucopia.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            next year i'm going to learn how to do that cool accent grave over letters! =)

                                            re: crotchetiness, maybe it's like that "we're all a little bit racist" song in ave. Q... "we're all a little bit crotchety, we're all a little bit crotchety!" i'll have to do a better job of looking for evidence of it in your case, though.

                                            oh, the bacon tapioca thing ... i think we have to thank goodfoodgourmet for that combo. she still has some tricks up her sleeve despite her devotion to good health. ;)

                                            happy new year, jungmann! i wish you and all hounds a wonderful, joyous one filled with good food and good friends with whom to share it!

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              Find the "Character Map" on your computer by going to the Start menu, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools. The CM has all the diacritical marks. I'm computer-clueless but I searched until I found my umlaut!

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                Thanks! I've wondered how to do that. Now I have a new project for a night when the boards are quiet!

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  this is fun -- thanks, greygarious!!

                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                    Szhoszheya? That is what you wrote in pseudo Russonorwegiturkian! Be careful :o)

                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                      no, no, i really meant to say that... =P
                                                      congrats on being a grandpops! nice way to ring in the new year!

                                          2. Every once in awhile someone will post a question and it will bring back such a strong memory. Someone asked, "what did your father cook when you were a kid?" And then I thought of my Dad, who died when I was a teenager, making a big pot of popcorn with real melted butter and lots of salt. It just all came back to me and it was so nice to remember. Someone recently posted about Howard Johnson's and I remembered about their peppermint stick ice cream....and so did others on this board. Priceless!

                                            1. Well, I learned not to take it personally when I post opinions and not one single soul finds it interesting enough to respond to it.
                                              I also learned that although I truly love to eat, love to read about food, and am usually entertained if not amused by the chowhound snobs who post on here, I'm not sure what the true definition of a chowhound is.
                                              I love it when someone asks a question that inspires me to reminisce about good food memories.
                                              And I learned that I am not as discerning about good food and drink as I thought I was and that I don't care.

                                              8 Replies
                                                1. re: PDeveaux

                                                  Agreed! Well done. There are things more important in life than the place setting, water spots on stemware and how perfectly done a hamburger is.

                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    I'm gonna disagree with one point: there are few things in life more important than a perfectly cooked hamburger :-)

                                                    1. re: ajs228

                                                      Hamburgers schamburgers, go East young man and eat a Blake's Lottaburger w/ double green chile for me will ya?
                                                      I just became a grandfather 9 hours ago and food seems secondary. Life is really about family, relationships, the natural world ( Go visit Edward Abbey's house for me too, please.) and then food's place within those boundaries. Eating and/or cooking alone is a drag, no matter how the burger is prepared.

                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          Now you're gonna get it. Baby photos!

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            I'll just trump you with pics of my daughter.

                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Hey, five of a kind beats a queen. (Joking)
                                                              I'd love to see 'em.

                                                2. The best tip was Scuzzo's idea of using the waffle maker for sliced eggplant. It also worked well on zucchini and as a panini press.

                                                  I learned that lots of people waste lots of food, and don't put their freezers to good use, judging by the numerous "will the Snail Darter Soup I made on Tuesday be safe to eat on Thursday" and "I made too much" questions. Either that or I've turned frugality into an obsession.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    Yes! I love the eggplant on the George Foreman grill with parmesan cheese! I also learned that the people on the New Orleans board are so nice and incredibly helpful. I asked for some suggestions for just one meal and I swear I wanted to invite the whole board to join me.