HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


cowering in fear

After about three years of reading many threads and making my share of comments, i find i must make a confession. i thought i was a decent cook, (not a great cook, not a chef) but i can see im not:

- i have almost every unforgivable ingredient in my kitchen or pantry including cream-of soups, green can cheese, bottled lemon juice, powdered milk, and store bought sauces and dressings.

- my knives are only moderately sharp, and my knife skills are frightful.

- i use my microwave frequently

- my freezer runneth over

- my vegetable bins more often resemble science experiments than someplace to keep food

- i still have some spices left over from the 20th century

- for things i've never made before, i follow the recipe verbatim

- i have never made roux, beschemel, white sauce, or from-scratch gravy (see cream-of soup above)

- i can't even spell beschemel well enough for spell check to guess what i mean.

- i own and use a crockpot

- i have a pre-logic rice cooker that i use almost daily

- i own and use a teflon skillet

- i have used soap on my cast iron (omg, i just heard three people drop dead)

- i do not have a single tin-lined copper anything

- i've actually served instant mashed potatoes (it was an emergency and no one died, i promise.)

So am I the only one that reads these threads and shudders in fear that I may be found out for the fraud that I am?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Nope, you're just the only one to admit it so openly.

    Keep doin' what you're doin' -- none of us is going to drop in on you and expect to be fed, so if your cooking style makes you happy and fits your lifestyle, then it's the right cooking style for YOU.

    I'm right there with you on a lot of your items (okay, I'm obsessive about sharp knives, but we all gotta be somewhere)...and I really don't care what a total stranger who doesn't know me or my food thinks about it!

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      drop by any time. we can always order pizza.

    2. Ah I am so glad you've said this, I've been cowering too! I consider myself an enthusiastic, rough domestic cook. I have never learned knife skills, Mr. Huntress has pointed out the damage I did to my favourite knife I wasn't even aware of, I use pasta sauce from a jar and rarely make my own, I don't always make my own stock, I have no idea what is in my freezer and honestly I'd never even heard about brining meat before cooking prior to frequenting these boards.

      I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses with a love for food in common. That's good enough for me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TheHuntress

        "I guess we all have our strengths and weaknesses with a love for food in common. That's good enough for me."


        1. re: shaebones

          I was thinking the same thing. Dude, you're still a CH crush.

        2. Go put on a chef's hat and stand in the corner.

          1. Aw heck, most of that is just fine. Even the best kitchens have microwaves in them.

            But about that green can cheese...

            13 Replies
            1. re: DoobieWah

              Yea, that's the one that got me too. The mashed potatoes are ok as long as nobody died ;)

              1. re: gaffk

                Hell, when I run out of Penko, instant potato will do and crisps up quite nicely on my salt cod croquettes and Buffalo wings .

                1. re: gaffk

                  I have a can of green cheese and for some jobs it is the best product. I use it to add salt to cheese sauces and it is a great addition to panko when pan frying. I would never serve it on the table.

                  Bottled lemon juice is good for making buttermilk and ricotta, and I keep it around for those times when my lemons have gone off or I need 1 tsp and I don't want to open another lemon.

                  Powdered potato flakes are great for breading meats.

                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    Yep, there are some darned good uses for bottled lemon or lime juices. But that green can hasn't appeared in my house for many decades as I am blessed to live in area with good cheese shops. But I will never yuck your yum and I too prefer panko for breading

                2. re: DoobieWah

                  Of course I have a microwave. How else will I reheat my leftover home made fresh pasta topped with a sausage I ground with my own blend of spices?


                    1. re: JuniorBalloon

                      After reading this thread I feel the need to confess. I actually do cook like this. I make my own pasta, sauce and grind my own meats. Not always, but of late it has been more often than not. I am even learning to cure my own meats and have recently made 5lbs of pancetta. I do not wash my cast iron with soap. I have sharp knives and now how to use them and keep them sharp. I occasionaly use a mortar and pestle to grind my spices...But even though the green can never enters my kitchen I would never look down on someone who does let it in, or tell them they are doing it "wrong".

                      Cooking and making food is primarily about feeding our families and friends and having fun. I have such a good time making things from scratch I can't imagine doing it any other way. If you're having a good time and enjoying your food that is all that matters.

                      Buon appetito!


                      PS I do use the microwave to reheat my home made pasta.

                      1. re: JuniorBalloon

                        "I actually do cook like this. I make my own pasta, sauce and grind my own meats."

                        I sometimes make my own pasta, almost always make my own sauce, I've made homemade sausage (have the meat grinder attachment for my KA 6 qt mixer) and I own a really big granite mortar & pestle that I regularly use to grind spices with.

                        Do I cook like that every day?


                        Am I above using frozen food & short cuts sometimes?

                        Not at all.

                        1. re: flourgirl

                          I nearly always make my own pasta, 3-5 times per week in the summer and and 1-3 times per week in the winter. The pasta maker never leaves the counter, and the pasta board for hand formed stuff never leaves the kitchen.

                          On the other hand, when making spaghetti sauce, I use Italian sausage, sweet peppers, cremini mushrooms, onions, black olives, artichoke hearts, occasionally some baby zuccs, diced Italian tomatoes; fresh garlic, basil, and oregano, etc....and usually some sort of jarred marinara sauce as a base. It's just quicker.

                          I know it probably seems dumb to use a jarred sauce when otherwise you're using all "real" ingredients, but to my way of thinking, it's essentially tomato sauce, just with a little extra seasoning, and it means I'm eating 3-4 hours earlier.

                          *sigh* Haven't had complaints, anyway.

                          1. re: Cady

                            With all the other ingredients sounding so wonderful, why not just use a can of fresh tomatoes that you crush by hand? If you want a thicker sauce, just add some tomato paste. Buy it in the tube and it just takes a second to squirt it in. I never cook my sauce for 3-4 hours since I like the tomatoes to have some texture.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              What a great thread! Love your sense of humor kaimukaiman. I agree with you escondido about the can of whole Italian pear tomatoes. I stumbled upon this idea many years ago when I was out of the usual fixings for my tomato sauce and I was amazed at how good the sauce turned out. It helps to have people to cook for that are appreciative and not critical. I would wish that for every cook.

                        2. re: JuniorBalloon

                          I cower in fear when I think of responding to anyone's mention of using the microwave. I never write this as a response on Chowhound: "I don't use a microwave, EVER." It's just tooo rude.


                          Yellow-bellied Coward

                        3. re: JuniorBalloon

                          I just spit out my overpriced coffee!

                      2. i've got too many cookery mags and books and yet i haven't anything in my repertoire. i love reading them and drooling over the photography more than doing the actually cooking.

                        and when i do cook i don't measure (save for baking, which i hate), don't follow recipe verbatim.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: Pata_Negra

                            Yep. That's what I do. "Oooh, look at those gorgeous & delicious food pictures!".... buys it, and never looks at it again. Well, I will look at it again if I'm really stumped for ingredients. But recipes? Meh. Guidelines is what they are.

                          2. I cop to some of the same sins (especially the bad knife skills, and I have the scars to prove it). However, I chalk it up to liking peasant foods. People seem perplexed by that and leave me alone. Happy eating.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: pine time

                              I'm sporting a bandage on the tip of my left thumb at this very moment. I was being sloppy at the board, and my hand slipped right *under* the knife. I've no doubt that I will continue to use those cheap knives the same way as I always have. I know I will; I've cut this spot on my thumb more than once.

                              I clipped the word 'SNOOP' out of a magazine, and taped it inside my medicine cabinet as a joke. Maybe I should peel it off and stick it in the pantry instead. :)

                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                "I clipped the word 'SNOOP' out of a magazine, and taped it inside my medicine cabinet as a joke. Maybe I should peel it off and stick it in the pantry instead. :) "

                                Love it!

                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                  You crack me up, lily. Have you heard of the marble trick?

                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                    No, and google won't tell me what it is either. It vaguely rings a bell though. Fill me in?

                                    1. re: onceadaylily

                                      The way I've heard it is that supposedly people have filled their medicine cabinets full of marbles before something like a dinner party, for example.. and when a "snoopy" guest opens the door and a ton of marbles fall all over the place, it makes for a rather unpleasant surprise and a lot of noise.

                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                          I like that trick MUCH better. I can only try to discern a trace of chagrin or amusement on the faces of my guests when they emerge from the restroom. But then I have to wonder if they have that look because the host is giving them a searching stare as they come out of the bathroom. :) The marbles dismiss that ambiguity altogether.

                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                            Phurstluv is right. You do have a way with words, my dear. :)

                                            1. re: inaplasticcup

                                              :) If only I could construct a cake as well as a paragraph.

                                        2. re: onceadaylily

                                          I would definitely fall for this. I don't care about the bathroom medicine cabinet, but I have an absolute weakness for snooping through other people's kitchens. Anytime I house-sit or pet-sit for friends the first thing I always do is go through the kitchen and pantry to see what sorts of foodstuffs and cooking implements they keep on hand. Probably bad, but I just find it irresistibly fascinating.

                                          1. re: mdzehnder

                                            People are less likely to be hiding secrets in the pantry than the medicine cabinet, and if you are going to be house/pet sitting there is a good chance you have a good reason for using some of what's in there.

                                  2. i use campbells soup ...i use the green can...(big one from sams) (i like it) but i do cook with regular parm ...
                                    no powdered milk tho..use actual milk for the 3yo..i use salad dressing from a bottle and the occasional bbq sauce..

                                    i have 2 good knives...

                                    i to use a microwave often...not for everything tho...

                                    veggie bins r usually where takeout leftovers go to die...sometimes we forget about them...

                                    spices i try to buy fresh or as needed..but i have received a spice rack as a gift that still has unopened jars in it..

                                    i try to follow recipes as well...unless im winging it...

                                    i have made rouxs..and gravy and bechamel is pretty much just roux with milk...

                                    i also have a crockpot...

                                    no rice cooker..(im the only one at home that eats rice mostly ..so i only make small batches)

                                    i have a few tfal's

                                    dont soap my cast iron tho...

                                    and no copper either...
                                    do have a nice set of calphalon tho..
                                    and a KA artisan...

                                    so i guess we r going to CH hell...

                                    but i dont worry about it...nor care what anyone else thinks...

                                    as long people eat and like and appreciate my food ...its all good...

                                    and dont die... :-)

                                    1. OP - if you are a fraud, then I am at least a partial fraud.

                                      I use bottled lemon and lime use and bottled salad dressing. If I didn't, I wouldn't get food on the table most week nights.

                                      I have a full freezer. It is full of free range chickens and heritage pork, do I get to knock off a point for that? :)

                                      Best not to discuss my veggie drawer of shame.

                                      I always follow new recipes.

                                      I have a big crock pot!

                                      I want a rice cooker

                                      I have a non-stick skillet

                                      - My husband sometimes requests instant mashed potatoes.

                                      The cast iron cracks me up. I grew up in a rural farming community around people that ate seasonally and locally because that is all economics allowed. People like my grandmother grew up cooking in cast iron because that was all they had. The only place you will find cast iron in those homes and farms today is rusting in the basement or barn.

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                        That's too bad, but understandable. Maybe, it could be passed on to someone who'd love to use it?

                                        1. re: Stephanie Wong

                                          Serious, one can't give the stuff away where I live. At auctions, they will throw cast iron in with box lots just to move it along. The antique stores and flea markets have stacks and stacks of frying pans. At every carnival and street fair, there is at least one person selling old cast iron frying pans that have been painted on the bottom to hang on the wall as decoration.

                                          I never see dutch ovens though, they must either still be in use or were repurposed for flowers years ago.

                                          Anyone searching for old cast iron, head to Central PA!

                                          1. re: cleobeach

                                            I have said before on here (too) many times that my grandmother used soap on her cast iron skillets every time she used them, and would have given you a clop upside the head had you implied that she didn't wash her pots and pans, thank you very much. And I used one of those skillets, which when it finally broke (I dropped it - oh, the pain!) must have been fifty or sixty years old, at least. Washing your cast iron is the least of your things to feel guilty about.

                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                              Wow...how did I know that you were from Central PA before you even finished the first paragraph.

                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  Yes flowers. Poorly painted cows, sheep and teddy bears are also popular subjects. Add a ribbon bowtie and a sprig of baby's breath and you got yourself a piece of ticky tacky to hang on the kitchen wall to collect dust. I wil try to remember to take a picture next time I go to a carnival/street fair.

                                                  1. re: cleobeach

                                                    Hey! That sounds just like the one I have hanging in my ktichen. Mine has teddy bears, sheep, cows AND flowers. It's quite breathtaking.

                                                  2. re: cleobeach

                                                    OMG, isn't THAT the truth, cleo! When I lived in central PA, there was always tons of cast iron at country auctions - only the "name ones" like Wagner that were in mint condition went for any decent money.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                      I do think certain brands are collectable but I never cared enough to pay attention.

                                                      I chuckle to myself everytime I see a cast iron glory post. Not that is anything wrong with cast iron love, it is just so unloved where I came from.

                                                      1. re: cleobeach

                                                        I think cast iron is just too damned hard to season -- I've thrown out several items that just don't season properly no matter which set of instructions I follow.

                                                        I do wish I had one 8-inch seasoned cast iron skillet to try and reproduce my mother's cornbread. But that's all I'd want it for.

                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                          Sounds like you should skip the antiques and grab one of the new Lodge preseasoned pans - they are fantastic.

                                                          1. re: shanagain

                                                            Good to know. I was curious about them......

                                                          2. re: jmckee

                                                            I have had wannabe cast-iron pans made in China that would not take a proper seasoning evenly over the pan. Given all my other successes, I have to conclude that it's something in the manufacture and not all pans are created equal.

                                                            The Lodge pre-seasoned pan may be a good solution for you.

                                                            Love Lodge, but I myself don't like their pre-seasoning because it's done with vegetable oil and I don't like the tackiness. So I get rid of it and then do my own thing with the pan.

                                                            1. re: pericolosa

                                                              They may've changed how they season their pans - or at least how they ship. We recently purchased 12" pan for a gift and didn't notice that feeling at all, though I do remember it from mine. (ETA: a gift because the recipient mentioned that the last cast iron he bought leaked! So i'd definitely stick with Lodge.)

                                                              Really, though, even when mine had that slight tackiness to it, it just took about 3 uses to get rid of it.

                                                2. Yay! I Am normal! My favotite frying pan is about 20 years old and used to be teflon and is uneven but I love it! My go to dinner is Pot Roast Chicken which consists of chicken and thighs which I cut in a few pieces each with onions, carrots, potatoes and any other veggie with LawryS season salt (GASP)! And my very favorite taco is Jack in the Box! Abot once a week we will buy a *hitload of tacos at 2 for 99¢. Cheap for a yummy guiltu pleasure. Since being laid off I make just about everything from scratch now which led me to Chowhound. I can make $200 worth of groceries last for three weeks for two adults by shopping mostly at .99 cent only store and Vallarta

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Axlsgoddess

                                                    ooh that J-in-Box orange-yellow goo. make NO apologies!

                                                  2. When I first moved to London a couple of years ago I was so broke that fettuccine with a cream of mushroom soup sauce and a sprinkle of canned cheese dust was my luxury treat meal. I still make it now, with slightly nicer ingredients, but the cheese can has been in my fridge as recently as this year.

                                                    When I moved into my current flat (most rentals are furnished here) there was one pot, two sad looking frying pans and about three plates. I've added a couple of cheap pots, a decent heavy-bottom dutch-oven and some more plates. It is no showroom kitchen for sure. (We have good knives because my housemate is a chef - he never cooks at home, but he keeps those knives sharp).

                                                    My favourite hangover Sunday meal is a £2 Dr Oetker frozen pizza. And I probably got that hangover after drinking too much wine that only costs £5 a bottle.

                                                    My section of the fridge currently contains a pot of fage yoghurt, a pot of vanilla yoghurt with chocolate flakes, a block of cheddar cheese and half a lemon. Believe me when I say that at some point this week I'll probably make a 'meal' of having a little bit of each of these things. Oh, and I was supposed to try a dairy-free diet at some point this year. Hah!

                                                    I've made all of those sauces from scratch, yet hiding in the cupboard is a packet of instant cheese sauce and a tin of bisto. Yeah, that's right.

                                                    To me, being a Chowhound is having an interest in trying things, not whether or not you allow teflon in your kitchen. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd have a better freezer, but I bet Dr Oetker would still be lurking in there!

                                                    1. I have never cut up or boned a chicken.

                                                      I avoid any recipe that involves cutting a slit into a side of a piece of meat and stuffing it.

                                                      I use bottled salad dressing.

                                                      I buy pre-shredded cheese.

                                                      I eat frozen pizza, frozen entrees and lots of premade items from the deli.

                                                      I like grilled cheese made with Kraft singles.

                                                      My favorite cheese dip is made with Velveeta and Ro-tel tomatoes.

                                                      I use dried herbs most of the time and think fresh herbs (except basil for caprese salad) are overrated.

                                                      I don't like natural peanut butter. Give me Jif.

                                                      My knife skills are iffy at best.

                                                      23 Replies
                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                        borden cheese or lol....for grilled cheese

                                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                          Yes! Kraft on white bread grilled with salted butter.
                                                          Same bread for Jiff and plain grape jelly!! And a big glass of cold milk.

                                                          1. re: binkychow

                                                            I've never had a decent pb&j made any other way.

                                                            1. re: donovt

                                                              smuckers concord grape jelly... peanut butter...cut at an angle for dunking...dunk just long enough that the bread gets wet but not soggy enough to fall apart....

                                                          2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                            Is there ANYTHING better than Ro-Tel dip?

                                                            1. re: lemons

                                                              I make a number of sauces and dips from scratch, and the dip that my chowhound of a FIL likes the most is velveeta, a chub of jimmy dean breakfast sausage, and a can of rotel.

                                                              1. re: lemons

                                                                "Is there ANYTHING better than Ro-Tel dip?"

                                                                No. No, there simply is not. The post-apocalyptic times will not be spent fighting for water, shelter, and fuel, but for Ro-Tel and Velveeta. Jalapenos and onions will be saved for only the fiercest warriors.

                                                                Please, y'all, Texas has been readying for this for quite a while. I think we know what we're doing.

                                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                  The most hilarious CH thread I've ever been involved in involved certain people clutching their pearls in horror when it was said that if you're served chile con queso in most people's houses in Texas and New Mexico, it's going to consist of Velveeta, Ro-Tel and *maybe* a pinch of cumin. The phrase "gringo abomination" was used, as I recall, to which I replied "Go to Roswell or San Angelo and tell a local his abeulita's queso is a gringo abomination. When you get out of the hospital, let us know how it went."

                                                                2. re: lemons

                                                                  My mom first made Ro-Tel dip ages ago with Kraft Old English Cheddar - used to come in a (smaller) brick like current Kraft American does, but not with Velveeta, because she didn't like the stuff - still doesn't. Kraft stopped making the brick form, but it still comes in a jar. Try a couple of those, and 1/2 a brick of Kraft American. Has a LOT more personality.

                                                                3. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                  I hate natural peanut butter almost as much as any kind of crunchy peanut butter, even Jif. Maybe even especially crunchy Jif. It's so disappointing.

                                                                  1. re: shanagain

                                                                    I agree, but I think it's mostly because it doesn't have enough salt. I could get used to the weirdass texture.

                                                                  2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                    I don't cut up or bone chicken either. I'm perfectly happy letting someone else take care of that for me.

                                                                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                      With you on the PB for sure. With you on the salad dressing for myself, though if I'm cooking for others I make dressing.

                                                                      Disagree on the dried herbs. Dried rosemary, for instance, is useless—the aroma is totally gone.

                                                                      Gotta admit frozen pizza turns my stomach. I've never had one that didn't taste like cardboard and sugar. Why not just order in from a decent local joint? If it's a cost issue, I'd just as soon go without pizza.

                                                                      As for the chicken, I think everyone remotely interested in cooking should at least try that at least once. It's an eye-opening lesson to be sure, just like preparing a whole fish or making a Hollandaise or mayo from scratch. Once you've done it, then you can decide for yourself whether it's worth it or not. Some of these things can actually be fun.

                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                        I would said dried rosemary might be the only dried herb I don't mind. Once you crush it it has an interesting flavor that I like. It's dried basil that I really don't get into (although I have some).

                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                          I agree with you about dried basil.

                                                                          I will say the difference between dried herbs from a good spice shop and those from the supermarket is similar to the difference between dried and fresh in the first place. They can be all right, esp. when it comes to things you might not otherwise find fresh.

                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                            I've never had issues with flavorless rosemary. Yes, it's nowhere near the resiny, pine-needle-y kinda stuff you get when you buy fresh, but.... sometimes, that pine needle flavor can be overwhelming, while dried (I happen to like crushed, actually) is perfect for basting stuff for the grill -- vegetables, fish, meats. Oh, and don't get me started on rosemary potatoes. Don't use the crushed one for those, tho.

                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                              Fresh definitely has to be used sparingly. But for me the difference is so stark.

                                                                      2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                        Grilled cheese isn't grilled cheese unless it's made with some sort of yellow cheese and white bread. So, you are doing it right. And, you are right about fresh herbs. I grow herbs on my patio and still use dried quite often. And, if you can get it cut up the way you like it and don't cut your finger off, who cares about your knife skills? If you enjoy cooking and eating your own food, then keep doing it your way!

                                                                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                          There are wonderful cheddar and swiss cheeses that have not been artificially colored. White cheeses make just as good grilled cheese sandwiches...maybe even better.

                                                                        2. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                          I like grilled cheese made with Kraft singles.

                                                                          Phew. I thought I was the only one. :-) And I'm the same re: natural peanut butter - had to buy a jar at WF to have something at work, and I hate the stirring, stirring, stirring I have to do.

                                                                          But I will have to disagree on the fresh vs. dried herbs. Fresh thyme and rosemary are really different than the dried, IMO.

                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                            Agree t hat the fresh and dried are different. But once they have been dried, how long till they are useless? Mind you we are talking years not weeks or months.

                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                              Supposedly 6 months, but I've used them past that time frame. WAY past that time frame. ;-)

                                                                              I don't have anything against dried thyme or rosemary - I just prefer fresh for both of them if I have them growing or remember to pick it up in the store in the winter.

                                                                        3. Oh, good heavens, yes, yes, yes.

                                                                          I also don't own a whisk, I don't like wine, and I prefer an electric stove.

                                                                          1. The microwave is a great cooking tool. Ditto with the crock pot. And the "dumb" rice cooker (one of the few appliances that has a permanent place on my counter). Frozen is the best alternative to fresh. Teflon's the only way to go when cooking delicate foods. The fact that you can use soap on your cast iron just proves that it's properly seasoned. And no less a luminary than Julia Child herself said that instant mashed potatoes with plenty of butter will do just fine in a pinch.

                                                                            But seriously, stirring a little flour and oil together on the stove ain't rocket surgery, and having that in your repertoire opens up worlds of possibilities...

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                              "ain't rocket surgery"

                                                                              Haha! that's great. One of my best friends uses " it ain't brain science" all the time, but "rocket surgery" is so much better.

                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                I had a roommate once who would say, "rocket scientry." Good stuff.

                                                                              2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                I must be eating the wrong instant potatoes...I'd rather go without.

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  I was advised on CH recently to try Idahoan ("Buttery) and they were quite acceptable.

                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                    Yes, the Buttery Homestyle are an acceptable substitute, but they're the only ones -- even other Idahoan brand are rubbish.

                                                                                    1. re: laliz

                                                                                      I use the Idahoan regular, if I have to use instant. If you just fold in the liquid gently, the texture is pretty adequate. (I live in Idaho, and weirdly, the potatoes in the stores here mostly suck.)

                                                                                2. I hate my cast iron pan but keep using it. I mean, I have tried 8+ cycles of seasoning, fried 20+lbs of bacon in the damn thing, and it still shreds everything -- including paper towels -- that touches it.

                                                                                  You're in good company ;). My grandmother's cookware was worse than what I had as a college student. She loved instant coffee and dashida, cleaned and reused containers until they fell apart, and used a rice cooker. But given a choice, I'd take a seat in her kitchen over Keller's or Morimoto's every day if I could.

                                                                                  1. Thank you for admitting these things KMan! You would think some people on this site raise their own cattle in a spare bedroom they are so anti-anything prefab. I am a very good cook who knows his way around a kitchen, but I can probably add a few more things to your list. Heck, I had my own baking business for a while, made custom decorated cookies and cakes before they were very trendy, all from scratch. I know how to bake. Do I use cake mixes at home? You bet I do and I'm not afraid to say it. Thanks again for a great post KMan.

                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                        Oh yes. They do go hand in hand. Forgot about that. :)

                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                          Oh- the carpet is made of chia sprouts...

                                                                                      2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                        Too funny - I'm sitting here laughing because I recently realized I was being seduced by all the talk lately about raising your own chickens. It's like I was being hyponotized or something. "Yes, yes, of course I want my own chickens. It's CRAZY not to raise my own chickens. Won't it be charming to have chickens running around the backyard. I need, I DESERVE, the freshest eggs every single day. MUST HAVE CHICKENS!!!"

                                                                                        Thank god I came to my senses before something really crazy happened. Especially since I live in area with lots of little farms and all the fresh eggs I could ever need....

                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                          I loved the eggs from my little backyard laying flock (had them before it was so trendy)- I still miss them, the gals laid blue and green eggs that were better than any I've ever had. But they were very messy, crapping all over the place, and they had a tendency to pillage the garden and went after the herbs and veggies rather than slugs and pill bugs and grasshoppers (maybe that's why the eggs were so good?)- I don't think I'd have them again just because of the mess and the fact that they attracted mice like mad (mice love the feed). They were a lot of fun, though, I wish I had somebody to buy fresh eggs from.

                                                                                          1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                            LOL! Yes, it was the mess I was reading about that was the biggest deterrent. My grandfather used to own a chicken farm in Toms River, NJ & I still remember those eggs. (I don't really remember the mess because I was too little to care.) I can see how it would be fun, but I still think I'm going to have to pass. It does help that I have local people to buy from, & this time of year it's particularly easy because they show up at local farmer's markets.

                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                              that post pretty much reinforces what I'd realized -- that I was a lot more enamoured of the IDEA of having chickens, than of the reality...the mess, the vermin, and having a few more critters for whom to arrange care before I go on vacation.....

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                Khaki Campbell ducks will keep your garden clear of all pests, fertilize it, the eggs are larger and for me, tastier and I prefer roast duck to roast chicken.

                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  I prefer duck, too -- but it doesn't change any of the things I really don't want to deal with. Still causes a problem for parties in the yard (at least chicken poop is smaller than duck poop!), the vermin like duck feed just as much as they like chicken feed, and I still have to find someone to close them up at night, turn them out in the morning, and feed them when I'm gone. (we're in town, so having ducks flying around the neighborhood would not win me neighbor of the month)

                                                                                              2. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                I'm emailing a link to your post to my husband, who thinks that if we just had a few chickens in the backyard, our lives would be complete. I have lots of people to buy fresh eggs from. I don't need chickens!

                                                                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                              I only make chocolate cake from scratch. I haven't been able to find any good recipes for any cake except chocolate. They are all too dry. But, I hate baking.

                                                                                            3. I don't cower here although I'm sure I'm nowhere near as good a cook as most of the people on this site (or even as good a cook as I think I am.)

                                                                                              I come to this site because I learn something new almost every day. I'll never be the person who posted 400 times about his canele experiments or even the one who wanted to know where to find the proper bacon for cassoulet, but I do usually find something interesting to take home to my own kitchen. And every once in a while, I cook or bake something that people gasp in delight over (at least they say it's delight!) and that makes all the failures acceptable to me.

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                " I'll never be the person who posted 400 times about his canele experiments"

                                                                                                Hey! I resemble that comment. It's funny how you can quickly browse through a thread, missing most of the stuff, but catch a comment about you. Was it really 400 times ? :)

                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                  If it was, they were all interesting and useful.

                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                    I'm exaggerating, but only slightly! Honestly, I'm very impressed, not only with your baking skills, but with your attention span. Even if I wanted to make something perfectly, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the perseverance to go at it for that long.

                                                                                                2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

                                                                                                  I too have cream-of soups in my pantry. Sometimes I use them in recipes in my crock pot! I've used bottled lemon juice and powdered milk (that's for a recipe my daughter wanted to make from a Rachel Ray cookbook (blasphemy!) for an Orange Julius type drink). I use store bought sauces and dressings.

                                                                                                  - i use my microwave frequently (me too!)

                                                                                                  - my freezer runneth over (me too!)

                                                                                                  - my vegetable bins more often resemble science experiments than someplace to keep food (me too!)

                                                                                                  - i still have some spices left over from the 20th century (me too!)

                                                                                                  - i can't even spell beschemel well enough for spell check to guess what i mean. (me too!)

                                                                                                  - i own and use a crockpot (me too! always looking for new recipes!)

                                                                                                  - i own and use a teflon skillet

                                                                                                  - i do not have a single tin-lined copper anything

                                                                                                  - i've actually served instant mashed potatoes (it was an emergency and no one died, i promise.)

                                                                                                  Glad to know I'm not the only one! I'm cooking for two teens and they don't always want gourmet and sometime I just don't have the time.

                                                                                                  1. Why would anyone, great or not, fail to follow a recipe to the letter for the first time? After you know what you get from the recipe by following it verbatim, then you can start coming up with your own variants.

                                                                                                    But that bottled lemon juice has GOT to go. I buy big sacks of lemons and squeeze them with my Cuisinart citrus juice extractor gadget. (The one that is a sort of electric-powered reamer, not a infomercial-type "Juicer.") I freeze the juice in small plastic freezer jam jars so I can always have real lemon juice on hand in a pinch.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mandycat

                                                                                                      when you do like i do, and get four recipes, mash them all together, and come up with one you like.
                                                                                                      puerto-rican picadillo was last week. fantastic! (and using some of the brine from the olives actually worked. color me surprised).

                                                                                                      or when you KNOW someone screwed up an ingredient #.

                                                                                                      1. re: mandycat

                                                                                                        I also freeze lemon and lime juice, but I use ice cube trays and then throw them in a ziploc. Makes it very easy to pull out just what I need.

                                                                                                        1. re: mandycat

                                                                                                          I actually rarely follow a recipe to the letter, even the first time; I generally have a good enough sense of what it offers vs. what my tastes are to improvise. (For instance, when a recipe calls for 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon of a spice—screw that. I season to taste, period.)

                                                                                                          However I don't presume to know whether that makes me a better or worse cook.

                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                            Tata - Yes - when a recipe calls for 1/8 or 1/4 of something that I don't have on hand, I'll not go to the store - screw it. However, once the meal is made, I'll try and check and see if it would've made it better and if I'd make it again.

                                                                                                            1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                              Actually, I meant I generally use rather more of the spice than is called for. But yeah, if I don't have something that's called for, I'll try to make do as best I can. There are some spices that are integral to the character of a dish, but there are some that aren't.

                                                                                                          2. re: mandycat

                                                                                                            Because one might have ADD and a latent anarchistic streak.

                                                                                                            Hey in times of needing tartness, bottled citrus juice will add something, if not everything. We had a REALLY hard freeze last January and I haven't seen blossom one on ANY of my citrus trees since, although thank God most of them came back. Don't tell flood victims that they're gross for having mold in their houses, either, Mandycat. XOXO

                                                                                                          3. I feel so much better after reading this.

                                                                                                            - I too have canned soups in my cupboard. Because I like to eat them.

                                                                                                            - my freezer is stuffed, with a pretty even mix of individual portions of meals that I made from scratch and Lean Cuisines.

                                                                                                            - I no longer buy powder milk since I discovered the kid-sized boxes of milk (like juice boxes) that are shelf-stable for months, so now I have those on hand for emergency usage.

                                                                                                            - I like bottled salad dressings. I like to have multiple dressing options available with zero planning or effort.

                                                                                                            - I own one really sharp knife that I received as a gift several years ago. Within a couple weeks I had sliced my hand open, and now I'm afraid of it. So I went back to using the dull knives so I can saw my fingers with minimal risk.

                                                                                                            - I also own and use a crockpot. Don't have a rice cooker, but then I make rice very rarely.

                                                                                                            - My most-used pan is a non-stick skillet. I have one cast iron pot gathering dust on a back shelf.

                                                                                                            - I'm a much better baker than a cook, and most of my baking is done from scratch because I think it's fun, but I also have Dr. Oetker cake and brownie mixes in the cupboard for when I'm short on time and/or ingredients.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                              My most used pan is a small non-stick frypan because I like a fried egg for breakfast. It is also useful for other cooking. I inherited my grandmother's cast iron frypan in 1985 and have never used it because my cleaning mantra is "Let it soak, let it soak, let it soak".

                                                                                                              Also I generally use dried herbs because I can buy a dozen eggs for the price of a bunch of fresh herbs.

                                                                                                              1. re: cookie monster

                                                                                                                I love to bake and cook - and I always have boxes of Ghiradelli brownies in my pantry.

                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                  That Ghirardelli brownie mix is some handy shizz...

                                                                                                              2. I have found my people!

                                                                                                                I always wash my cast iron fry pan in soap and water - and the finish is perfect.

                                                                                                                I served canned soup to my children, and they grew up and went to college and graduated and are productive members of society.

                                                                                                                My knife skills are marginal, and yet the food tastes good.

                                                                                                                I don't care what temperature the water is when I make tea - and I often make it in the microwave.

                                                                                                                I love milk chocolate - you can keep all that nasty bitter dark stuff for yourselves.

                                                                                                                If I didn't have a hyper-productive lemon tree, I'd buy the bottled stuff.

                                                                                                                My vegetable bins are filled with what appeared to be good ideas at the time and are now timed experiments in the process of decomposition.

                                                                                                                I buy big blocks of cheese, shrink wrapped.

                                                                                                                I use packaged stock and broth.

                                                                                                                But, worst of all, frequently I don't buy organic.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                  My vegetable bins are filled with what appeared to be good ideas at the time ..........


                                                                                                                  Oh how this makes me chuckle.

                                                                                                                  1. re: 512window

                                                                                                                    What Window said... except for # 2 and 3 (lol we all have our own things)

                                                                                                                  2. LMAO. I started one of those threads you're probably talking about aware of the fact that there are lots of chowhounders whose baselines are much higher than mine, and then much lower than mine, and in between as well.

                                                                                                                    But what I love about the discussion is that one of us will make a statement about the superiority of one ingredient or process and be eloquently/humorously/thought provokingly challenged by someone with a different perspective.

                                                                                                                    But I think your OP is great. Made me smile.

                                                                                                                    1. My comment du jour on fancy cooking is that I sent the menu of a local fancy restaurant to my son and DIL re their upcoming visit to see if they'd like to go there for a treat. They responded that their dogs would appreciate the Crispy Pig Ears and the Roasted Bone Marrow but would almost certainly refuse the Braised Stinging Nettles.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                          oh, this is OT but NEVER give a dog RAW pig ear, unless if your sense of smell can be suppressed 5-ish hours later. funny, as it seemed like such a good idea at the time.

                                                                                                                          and hey Q for menu selections like that I'll wear drag and be a pseudo DIL for the night. Hell I'll never see these folks again! just ease her in slowly, side dishes and all.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                            LOL! Reminds me of being forced to take my Grandmother to CeCe's pizza, because that's what she liked. Tried to get her to try "real" pizza at a fancy Italian place, and she wouldn't touch it. At 85, you weren't going to change her mind.

                                                                                                                            1. re: arashall

                                                                                                                              My grandmother is similar...if the restaurant doesn't have one of the 5 or so things she eats "out" then the food is "weird" and she pouts. We spend a lot of time at Friendly's.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                              Don't ever combine crispy pig ears or hooves in the house and an excercise ball as a computer chair. I did that once and one day there I am typing away and there was this loud bang and suddenly I'm lying on my back on the floor wondering what the hell just happened with the dog shoving her big wet nose in my face from above.

                                                                                                                            3. We should start a club. Crock pots are great, I love having a rice cooker, and, yes, I use all kinds of short cuts in my cooking. Even worse? For a small handful of things, I like the bottled lemon juice better than fresh. (*ducks the rotten tomatoes*)

                                                                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Terrieltr

                                                                                                                                Nothing wrong with rice cookers. Most Asians use them to cook rice and they are the rice experts. They do such a great job.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                  I think rice is like everything else—if your goal is to become a knowledgable cook (and I'm assuming we're still to some extent referencing the thread about credibility that inspired this one), you should learn how to make it without a cooker for the sake of experience. But once you've acquired that skill, then by all means.

                                                                                                                                  Never have perfected rice cookery myself, by the way.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                    Good point, tatamagouche. (Every time I think about abbreviating your name, I realize I don't understand it. Is it a Japanese/French fusion type thing? A reference to body parts perhaps? But I digress...)

                                                                                                                                    As an Asian person who grew up with a rice cooker, I prefer the stovetop method for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the constant buildup of steam and the nooks and crannies into which all that starchy steam likes to find its way. There's a reason some sushi chefs spend years learning to make consistently good rice. It takes a kind of skill and intuition an automated device can't learn.

                                                                                                                                    Plus I do think it's a good idea to try the stovetop method a few times just in case the rice cooker dies on you for some reason.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                      I grew up in the middle east... the ottoman empire knew a thing or two about rice as well :) I cook it on the stove most days....and for a proper pilaf...well.... no rice cooker will do! You are correct, plasticcup, there is an art to good rice making.

                                                                                                                                      My confession: I have a very cheap Black and Decker rice cooker for days where I am tired and/or just don't care....I store it next to my cream o'crap soup :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                        LOL. I don't do cream o'crap, but I've got packets of Goya sazon, canned beans, assorted instant noodles, Best Foods mayo, and a box of Hon Dashi with me at all times. There's no crime in making life easier and in a way that doesn't compromise your own standards, whatever they may be.

                                                                                                                                        We all have varying levels of dedication to cooking as well as varying opportunity to exercise that dedication. I'm pretty lucky that I'm at a juncture in my life when I can dedicate most of my days to the pursuit of becoming a better cook. Not so long ago, I couldn't.

                                                                                                                                        I would eat rice made in a rice cooker in a heartbeat. I just don't like to use them. :)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                          Yes, well said.

                                                                                                                                          I would never assume (either) that anyone having those convenience items (food, gadgets, etc) in their pantry doesn't KNOW how to do things in a different way. There is a time and place for everything in my world.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                          With all my ignorance, she tricked me, too. She subsequently has followed me ... Boston...Denver...who knows next where the feather falls.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                              You would be a GREAT food blogger in Mexico....

                                                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                            Much as I love oysters, have never heard of these. Thanks to you both.

                                                                                                                                            Learn something new every day. :)

                                                                                                                                  2. All of these skills (i'm sure you have many more!) actually put you, a real human being, in a real kitchen, preparing real food. Remember some folks "make" dinner while sitting in the driver's seat of their car. You Rock!

                                                                                                                                    Arise, go forth, and cower no more.

                                                                                                                                    1. I must have a spot in kitchen hell alongside you... DH is perfectly happy to eat pre-prepared factory-made meals, and I am lazy enough that I sometimes provide them. At least when I DO make things from scratch he's now able to tell the difference!

                                                                                                                                      I don't even own a decent cutting board, let alone 'good' knives. I do most of my cutting on a spare dinner plate with a small knife. Somehow it doesn't affect the taste of the food, even if it's murder on the finish of the knives!

                                                                                                                                      And on I could go...

                                                                                                                                      1. I too wash my cast iron pots and pans with soap and water, as did my grandma who I inherited them from, and nobody has died yet.

                                                                                                                                        I don't care if you eat Cheese Wiz out of a can on Wonderbread...if that makes you happy and works in your world embrace it and be proud. Life is too short to be ruled by the standards of others

                                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: dragonchowmein

                                                                                                                                              "if that makes you happy and works in your world embrace it and be proud. Life is too short to be ruled by the standards of others"

                                                                                                                                              I had no idea there were so many Libertarians on here. ;-)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                actually, Doobie, I'm more of bleeding heart, left wingnut, liberal, but I see your point ;)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dragonchowmein

                                                                                                                                                    >>I had no idea there were so many Libertarians on here. ;-)<<

                                                                                                                                                    >>Doobie, I'm more of bleeding heart, left wingnut, liberal, but I see your point ;)<<

                                                                                                                                                    And this is where folks of seemingly different sides can see how often they share the same view. o/\o ^5

                                                                                                                                              2. I have great respect for all who admit to shortcuts and junk cravings. even a couple of well-revered folks who passed in the last year or two admitted to secret trashy indulgences. it only increased my respect.

                                                                                                                                                never apologize and never look back (just don't tell me they're tuilles pommes de terre (sp? grammar?) when it's just a bowl of Ruffles - although I'll eat those too).

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                  Ruffles aren't far enough away from the potato to be tuiles de pommes de terre, but Pringles certainly could be called that! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                    Pringles *are* called that in France.

                                                                                                                                                2. Truly appreciate the supportive and funny comments. I have learned a lot on these boards in the last three years, and i'm sure i will continue to over the next few. who knows I may even feel inspired to make a white sauce one day.

                                                                                                                                                  (and for those of you worrying, that green can cheese has been in the back of the fridge for a long time, but you never know....)

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for your interesting post. Remember -- the Hawaii board just wouldn't be the same without you. You have helped so many people.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                      At least you know it won't go bad :-)

                                                                                                                                                    2. I never realized how bad a cook I am.


                                                                                                                                                      1. Ha!

                                                                                                                                                        I hate my KA mixer.
                                                                                                                                                        I use cheap iodized salt for most everything.
                                                                                                                                                        Speaking of, I like salted butter.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm also pretty sure lower middle class is the new poverty and is defined by dried versus fresh chives.

                                                                                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, thank god one of the salted butter contingent spoke up! When I tried to buy unsalted, my boyfriend, in a panicked voice, asked, "WHY?" (He loves salt.) I said, "I don't know." I put it back, grabbed the salted, and we're fine with that.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                            unsalted for cooking, salted for toast.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                              Once upon a different lifetime, I bought unsalted for baking. I've only recently acknowledge that I suck at baking, and left the choice to the constraints of budget and preference of boyfriend.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                You and me both with that sucking at baking thing...

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                When I was still a teen I went to acapulco- all the butter there then was so fresh-churned andwonderful and totally unsalted. I got in the habit of sprinkling a little salt on my buttered bread and God help me I do it to this day, but usually only with unsalted butter.

                                                                                                                                                              3. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                I'm actually pretty good at baking and I find that in many things,such as shortbread, salted butter actually tastes better, so I buy both. For toast, which requires lots of salt, I buy (and love) that Land o Lakes butter/canola blend to spread on it. Yummy, yummy, salt and fat.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                  I make great brownies and cookies, pretty good pie when I buy the crust, and have made exactly three cakes that were splendid (out of the roughly fifty cakes I have attempted, forty-seven of which were a dry crumbly mess). When it comes to baking, salted butter is the least of my problems. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                  All this talk is making me think I should try again. I am resisting this urge. Thanks for the rec on the spread though. My boyfriend is always pushing to keep one on hand for toast and grilled cheese for those times that I've forgotten to put butter in the dish to soften.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                    That LOL stuff is good and I bake with salted butter all the time. I've yet to have any salty results.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                                      The only time I noticed was in a frosting recipe. It tasted so salty. Otherwise, I use salted for the rare times I bake. No one notices around here.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                    hahaha I agree. I even use salted for baking. My reasoning is salt makes everything better. right?

                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                                    I much prefer unsalted butter, but it's not because I think it's superior to the salted kind. Just like it better.

                                                                                                                                                                    Glad I'm not the only one who isn't enamored of the KA mixer.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                                      YAY salted butter! I use unsalted for baking and that's about it. I love salted butter. I prefer European butter though when I can get it. I'm finding that "normal" butter smells and tastes funny sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                                        I bake all the time and only use salted butter. For whatever reason, I rebel against the idea of needing two kinds of butter in my frig. (Although I do have a package of Kerrygold salted set aside for something special.)

                                                                                                                                                                        If a recipe specifically calls for unsalted, I use salted and just decrease the amount of salt in the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kathleen221

                                                                                                                                                                          Glad to hear I'm not the only that does that. And I've never had a single complaint about the results.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Terrieltr

                                                                                                                                                                            Devil's Advocate Reply:

                                                                                                                                                                            - Buy only unsalted butter and add the salt of your choice.

                                                                                                                                                                            I use Kerrygold (both salted and unsalted) for my 'good' butter; butter that accompanies food of higher quality.

                                                                                                                                                                            Generally I use Kirkland butter for adding to olive oil when frying. Or for clarifying.

                                                                                                                                                                            I know though that you are not fearful of using both kinds :-))

                                                                                                                                                                        2. >>>
                                                                                                                                                                          My vegetable bins are filled with what appeared to be good ideas at the time and are now timed experiments in the process of decomposition.

                                                                                                                                                                          Last night, DW and I cleaned veggie bin only of the former healthy items that were "past it" and left the good things. The bin is now clean and empty and awaiting tomorrow's shopping trip.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. And, really, what's wrong with having a full freezer. Where else are you supposed to put the ice cream and popsicles?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. KM, we are brothers who haven't met. To continue the confessional among non- catholics:

                                                                                                                                                                              1) my death-by-garlic Caesar salad begins with Paul Newman, and I turbocharge it.

                                                                                                                                                                              2) my hollandaise is from a packet

                                                                                                                                                                              3) I have a jar of Iranian Caspian Sea beluga caviar that is 38 years old.

                                                                                                                                                                              4) I discovered a partial pint of chicken livers in my fridge that was older than wine I drink.

                                                                                                                                                                              5) My gringo chicken mole uses Dona Maria as a base.

                                                                                                                                                                              6) I over-nuke Stouffers' frozen mac and cheese by 50% because I want it wrecked.
                                                                                                                                                                              7) I bought a new set of knives after my recent move to Dallas because I didn't bring any. Knife sets should include a complimentary box of Band-Aids. I needed them, which speaks to the woeful condition of my knives in my Florida house.

                                                                                                                                                                              Phew! It's off my chest.

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                as for 3) -- still edible, or is it a science experiment?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                  It's now a paper weight. It has changed colors over the decades, from nicely punctuated black dots, to an overall muted gray-blue. I won't open it. I made the mistake of opening the liver to see how bad it smelled, as men do when they fart in bed and lift the sheets.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For the livers, I dug a hole and buried them - they were that bad - during a frozen winter that rivaled Napoleon's misadventure in 1812.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh my. Allow me to share a little anecdote apropos.... picture this:

                                                                                                                                                                                    Bonn, 2002, my first summer back in Germany. The setting: Galeria Kaufhof, Gourmet Supermarket (really, it's a nice upscale supermarket chain in Germany - probably on the lines of Wegmans, price wise). I purchase a glass of trout caviar, because... well - one of my favorite breakfasts in the fatherland is a slice of well-done toast with a shmear of cream cheese, trout caviar, and a good squeeze of lemon. Fresh lemon.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Anywhos. I purchase said glass of caviar, curious as to why the top seems to be all bulgy and stuff... I open the jar at home and think 'hmm. this doesn't smell right'. Needless to say, I don't have any.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Later that evening, I am in the car with friends, carrying the jar of caviar with me, hoping for a second opinion. Now - I am not exactly sure why I needed any reassurance, because once I opened the jar in the car.... it was pretty clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Still love trout caviar, tho. And sorry -- *totally* OT.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Confessions

                                                                                                                                                                                - Go to pot luck dish is cheesy potatoes made with cream of chicken soup, Ore-Ida hashbrown potatoes and topped with crushed potato chips. People rave about the dish and ask for the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                - Microwave is used to reheat frozen vegetables and canned veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                - My rice cooker is a sauce pan. A teflon sauce pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                - Frozen pizzas and frozen burritos are yummy. Hot Pockets anyone?

                                                                                                                                                                                - Plain white bread makes for delicious post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hahaha. I stocked up on Hot Pockets when they were on sale and I had no appetite or desire to cook. Of course, both came back with a vengeance, and those Hot Pockets are taking up space in my little freezer that I could use for home-made leftovers. They're Pepperoni Pizza, however, so it's a quick fix when I have a craving.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I do use jarred pasta sauce. I sometimes make my own, but usually spend more effort on whatever it's going on, and there are a few good brands around that I can kick up when I need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                    My boyfriend loves Hot pockets, but the have to share space with my burritos, next to our shared stash of Stouffer's French Bread Pizza. (I like to rub the frozen burritos with water, tuck it into a foil boat, sprinkle in a bit more water, seal it up, and bake them. They soften nicely.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    Plain white bread is also my choice for the turkey, cranberry, and mayo sandwich . . . also the tomato sandwich. And the biennial fluffernutter craving that seems to come every other August to my unairconditioned apartment (usually a reliable precursor to a craving for Fruit Pebbles with whole milk).

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                      I love the stouffer's spinach souffle. It's horrid for me, but so yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tzurriz

                                                                                                                                                                                        in the RTE world, Stouffer's spinach souffle does merit credit.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                                                                      My dad bought Wonderbread once a year for his 2-3 cold turkey sandwiches (complete with stuffing and cranberry). Never had sliced white bread besides tha growing upt.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Oh, indeed, yes indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                                      However, I've also gotten inspiration from here - like a LOT - hence I come back for more. You have a rice cooker and I do not. You're ahead of me in the gadgets department.

                                                                                                                                                                                      My knives are only sharp when SO comes over to help w/ a meal and takes the knives out to get re-sharpened.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I do not feel intimidated by all of the knowledge and experience on CH, I just feel more inspired and (of course) sometimes put off. But I'm glad we're in the same boat. I've yet to contribute I actually nuked a hot dog for dinner on the "What's for dinner" thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Love the confessionals! I cooked (sous chef) for a living for several years and have great knife skills but own cheap knives. I cook a nice meal for myself on weekends but during the week I eat single serving processed soups and stuff or the occasional Taco Bell since I work too damn much. I often use paper plates and plastic cutlery (single. Have no one to impress). I like milk toast sometimes and like Miracle Whip for some things. I will eat Chef Boyardee right from the can. Velveeta+tomato sauce+bacon and onions+zucchini= delicious! I do make my own gravy, bechamel but use bases for my stocks and only use potato flakes as a thickener and occasional breading but on occasion will buy the pre-made homestyle mashed potatoes in the plastic tub. I buy cheap coffee. Don't use recipes though unless I have absolutely no clue. Butter- agree with Sunshine unsalted in recipes, salted on toast and baked potatoes. I could go on.....

                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LorenM

                                                                                                                                                                                          Ahh, yes. Paper plates. When my children where younger, we got into the habit of using paper plates before going off to practice. Eventually paper plates became our standard for most meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                          On the upside, paper plates can be thrown into the city's green bin - less guilt. lol.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LorenM

                                                                                                                                                                                            It's HARD to avoid processed stuff when cooking for one. My cooking skills are all geared towards a family of four, so whenever I make something, I have to ask myself "Do I want to eat this for the next three days?"

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Terrieltr

                                                                                                                                                                                              as i said.... my freezer runneth over

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I'll admit that I once made a Paula Deen recipe... and liked it!

                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche


                                                                                                                                                                                                Halve the butter. Double the hot sauce. enjoy. This is our 'beach week opening night' recipe three years in a row. with a fourth coming up.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Reston

                                                                                                                                                                                                Bonus points if it was those buttered canned peas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. No SPAM!
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Bad experience w/ instant mashed potatoes in the military.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Never owned a crock pot, cooked in a cast iron Dutch oven over a wood stove for 30+ years. I just bought a small crock pot at a yard sale, but haven't used it yet.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. No Teflon, I've been exposed to too many poisonous chemicals and and don't need more.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  5. No Campbell's, again since Nam I have an aversion to food in cans (C-rats.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  6. Raising 5 kids, the green can is a staple, along w/ tarted up Ragu.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  7. I cook in quantity and reheat in micro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I guess this is a pretty appropriate, fun response to the other thread[s]. I'll add. My confessions:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I own and use teflon

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - No copper. No All-clad. No Le Creuset. Nothing impressive. My pots aren't even sparkly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - My freezer is very crowded

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I have some very old spices hiding near the back of my spice rack

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - For all the shit I talk about canned stock, I use at least one can a week. I used one today

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I don't bother with sea salt

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I have an electric stovetop

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - ...without an exhaust system

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I know nothing about wine

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I make instant ramen for myself on a regular basis

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I abuse sriracha like the lamest of hipsters

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I use salted butter almost exclusively (rarely, I'll suck it up and buy unsalted for baking, but not often even then), and I don't see what the big deal is

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - I've worked on my fried chicken for years and I'm still not sure I like it as much as the Colonel's, at least when I luck out and get a good batch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    - What's wrong with liking good old Hellmans mayo, anyway?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I LOVE Hellman's (known as Best Foods in these parts). Also do ramen at least every other week - it's a godsend when you're hungry but don't really give a crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I take the ramen and go to town on it - adding pulled pork, bacon, shrimp, poached eggs, corn, mushrooms, carrots matchsticks, pepper matchsticks, radish, ginger, green onion, nori strips, sesame oil - basically whatever I have in my fridge that I want to use up. It's a symphony of colors, textures, and MSG.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Feels like I'm back in college. But a lot more sober.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                            +1 (My favorite addition is... wait for it... sriracha and lime juice.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                                                                                                                              >GASP!!!< Me too!!! Well that and chopped fresh cilantro and green onions... :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And lunch today in 3..,2.., (I always add cilantro if I have it - lately I've been lazy and end up with nasty cilantro soup in the rotter before I use it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think this makes us hipsters, by the way. I'm going to buy you an owl pendant from Modcloth to commemorate the moment. Or Oldsters, because I'd probably just find you the one my grandmother had in the 70's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or....cook the Ramen,drain the water, add a pat of butter...and the "seasoning packet"......stir vigorously..... I am sure it is extra, extra bad for you this way...mmmmmm.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                              cook the ramen, drain the water. put it in the fridge (uncovered) for about a half hour or so to dry out a bit. A bit of sesame oil (or whatever) in a hot fry pan, dump in 'fried rice like add-in's' - meat, veggies, egg, whatever. Throw in the noodles and let them fry a bit. Stir in about 1/2 the seasoning packet (save the other half for next time you make fried rice, with no broth you don't need the whole thing.) Let it sit for a few minutes and let the noodles get almost crispy on the bottom, slide 'fritata style' onto your plate and enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                That sounds like one of the tastiest hangover cures everrrrr... 'Specially the crispy part. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just cooked some ramen this way. Fried in mix of canola and sesame oil, added some diced red pepper and 2 eggs, seasoned with 1/2 packet and a little hoisin sauce, browned and crisped on the bottom, garnished with green onion, paper thin slices of ginger, shredded strands of nori, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Drizzled the whole thing with srirachi, after my fashion.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously, try this: Dry toast broken up ramen in a pan before adding liquid/seasonings/other ingredients. You usually won't need the entire packet of seasoning, because it adds so much flavor. I've converted absolute food snobs to the benefits of ramen cooked this way. Husband and I call the extra flavor kick "Toasty-flavins" ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My non-foodie friends are always shocked that I eat ramen on occasion. It's funny. They do it, why shouldn't I?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cady

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've never tried this with ramen. Funny thing is, I'm used to doing pretty much exactly this with fideos (or broken angel hair pasta 'fauxdeos'), but I never made the leap in my mind to try it with ramen noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. KM, your post has us all "confessing." I enjoyed reading everyone's else's, so here goes for me:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't cook ethnic, unless you count spaghetti or stir frying

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have no idea what sriracha sauce is, or where to find it. Obviously I've never used it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I cook for Mr. Sueatmo who eats almost anything I make for him. But frankly it isn't because I am a great cook. Mr. Sueatmo will eat just about anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make my own vinaigrette, but really how hard is that? I also like Hellman's. I don't care for Dijon mustard, preferring Gulden's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My stainless pans are old, and they didn't cost all that much. (They work fine, though.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I use non-stick on occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I buy only discounted knives and other kitchen tools. I never pay full price.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I prefer the Joy of Cooking to almost any other, newer cookbook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't worry too much about toxins in plastics, or spend too much time sanitizing my counter tops and cutting boards. So far we are still alive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I buy too much produce. I throw out too much produce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Every piece of meat I cook has probably been stored first in my freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't care for the recipes in Cook's Illustrated. Too much work, and they don't taste that great to me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I use jarred spaghetti sauce, and I have for decades. I like canned tuna. I eat reduced fat cheese. I have never eaten anything Ben and Jerry's in my life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't like tofu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              37 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Joy of Cooking is one of my gold standards, too- I have a thing about following recipes (as in I don't) but i have three different versions of TJOC and can always find some reference to what I want to make.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You would like tofu if you knew what sriracha was. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never been a tofu fan, but my daughter gave up meat for Lent one year, so we used tons of tofu. I learned that if you marinate (I use the term loosely, because I'm pretty sure people don't marinate sponges) it in some type of hot chili sauce, such as sriracha, it develops something approximating a flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But, as I've said many times, it's perfectly okay not to like a food and not to try other people's brilliant suggestions for getting you to like it. I will never eat another Brussels sprout even if you bread it and deep fry it in bacon fat, then sprinkle a ton of salt on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i once saw a great recipe for Brussel sprouts. I think it involved caremelization of the leaves in bacon fat. I did make it, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but have lost the recipe. Wish I still had the recipe, just for you !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sriracha? I don't eat anything I can't pronounce. Besides, I can't eat spicy hot food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No sprouts. None. Never ever again. I'm with Isolda.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree that you get to decide what foods you like; actually I like Brussels sprouts fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So far I have resisted kale.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have one recipe - and only one recipe - for brussel sprouts, in which they actually taste really really good. It's a salad from "Bottega" by Michael Chiarello. Otherwise I can't abide the things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that includes carmelizing the leaves in bacon fat. THAT didn't even do it for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I fix these in the microwave, sometimes sliced and sometimes not. Somewhere I have run into the idea of Brussels sprouts roasted. I have a hunch they would be good roasted. To me they taste like a mild cabbage. I like them steamed, kissed with a little butter and garnished with caraway seeds. This is one veggie that Mr. Sueatmo announced he liked way back when. So I've always cooked them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              suetmo - I stand corrected. I have - two - and only two - recipes for making brussels sprouts taste good. I completely forgot about the roasting. They are really good that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How funny we all are. Brussel sprouts are one of out family's favorite veggies. We grow it, we buy it, we saute it we oven roast it, we mike it and we even stir fry it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In Norwegian they are called rosenkoll or rose cabbages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Like several other 'greens' it seems to me that Brussel sprouts get a peculiar somewhat bitter flavor when cooked, and when cooked 'wrong' that flavor takes over the whole dish, especially to people who are sensitive to that flavor. I know lots of people who avoid cooked cabbage for the same reason, not to mention kale, spinach, asparagus, etc. It is a flavor that children are especially sensitive to. vinegar seems to be the most common 'deterrent', but if over done that can lead to a whole other flavor issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had Brussels sprouts arrive with a meal in Zurich, and was pretty skeptical, as I'd only ever had the nasty, bitter, grey frozen kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But oh geeze -- they'd been halved and steamed until just crisp-tender, then sauteed in brown butter and garlic. I ate every last one of them and gave seriously consideration to asking for more, but settled for asking if the chef would tell me how they were prepared (he did -- that was the whole message -- sauteed in brown butter and garlic, but I'd asked to make sure I hadn't missed something. I hadn't).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I still make them like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think I posted on a thread over on the home cooking board about Brussel Sprouts, I grew up hating them but since have found good ways that even entice fussy toddlers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sunshine, I grew up with really fresh sprouts, still on the stalk. In fact, I didn't even know you could get them precut until I moved to New England because my mother always bought them on the stalk. Still a big yuck for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We love 'em all, but I was nursed on home made Russian saurkraut.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Baked Brussel sprouts bring out the sugars.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Too right- the first time I ate cooked cabbage that wasn't overdone I was AMAZED at how sweet and wonderful and nonsulfuric it was, same with brussels sprouts and broccoli and gai lan and all those other cruciferous vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They are divine cooked in the oven in cream, butter, and parm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, thanks for the thought, Souschef, but I think that caramelized bacon sprout concoction was the very one my neighbor inflicted on me years ago when she heard I didn't like those bitter little balls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not wishing to inflict my biases on my kids, I prepared the Brussels sprouts our CSA gave us with lots of salty butter. My DD, who was then about 12, loved them. My son took one bite, then rolled around on the hardwood floor moaning, "Poison! I've been poisoned!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think it's the bitterer cruciform veg thing. I can go caulifloiwer, broccoli, and gai lan, but no raab or sprouts. My mom used to cook sprouts until they were exactly like sodden balls of waxed paper (my dad was English and liked them that way), but I've tried them every which way from Sunday since and no thank you. Since I like almost every other foodstuff including some of the wild and wackier ones (except canned tuna and lima beans, those of you who are fond of them go in peace but please don't save any for me), I figure I don't have to hand in my CH card for sprout aversion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Brussels sprouts are thought of as bitter? I had no idea. I always thought they were on the milder end of cruciforms, like broccoli. But I'm right there with you on the bitterness of rapini. Cook that wrong and it's inedibly bitter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My wife swears up and down that pepperoni is spicy, which I've never understood. Tastebuds are weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It can be; I think it's traditionally made with both red and black pepper. (Maybe spiced rather than spicy is the more accurate term for most of us, however.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "My wife swears up and down that pepperoni is spicy, which I've never understood."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with your wife. As well, a number of people on this board have said that there is no heat in black pepper, something with which I completely disagree; there's a lot of heat in black pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If Brussels sprouts are past their prime, or have been frozen, you bet your sweet bippy they're bitter, bordering on inedible. Fresh and properly prepared, they're awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              SOME pepperoni is spicy...other pepperoni is downright bland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They're awesome...IF you like them. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I didn't when I was a kid -- because the nasty little grey-green frozen ones were the only ones that made it to our table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Once I found out what they were *supposed* to taste like, it was a whole nuther deal!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I once referred to brussels sprouts in print as "the Yoko Ono of vegetables." A lot of the animus towards sprouts comes from people who have never even tasted them, because they're the canonical disgusting vegetable. So it's partially received wisdom, although obviously there are of course people who really dislike them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When you're growing brussels sprouts, they're best harvested after a frost to be at their sweetest. Kale is the same way. Frost makes them produce extra sugar - it's very obvious if you cook some before and after frost; there are several veggies like that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Though I think there are some brussels sprouts cultivars that are bitter regardless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I actually like raab/rapini. It is very bitter, though, so I theorize that I lack the ability to taste whatever it is in Brussels sprouts that offsets their bitterness, whereas I can taste those flavor components in raab, gai lan and other bitter veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My husband is a non-taster of PTC, the usual benchmark for ability to taste bitterness, but he can't abide raab, so this whole thing must be a lot more complex than whether one is sensitive to bitter flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I get a flowery note as well as the bitterness that really puts me off (similar to the habanero floweriness, goodness only knows why). I'm much fonder of salty and tart flavors than bitter. Husband loves bitter and sour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today I thought of another way I am not a true foodie. I still eat the old fashioned American way I learned as a young girl. Not for me the holding of the knife in one hand and the fork in the other. No. I put my knife down across the plate, transferring the fork to my right hand. I see people, even my own children, eating the "Continental" way. (It is the Continental way, right?) But I still handle the knife and fork the old fashioned way. So far no one has threatened to kick me out of a resto or anything, and my kids have never made fun of me (for that.). But I definitely see that "my" way of eating is totally out of fashion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Does it really make a difference if you freeze and then dethaw your meat first? I usually stock up on meat -- meat that I buy fresh and then cook right away is the exception, not the rule.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm a cheapo when it comes to buying stuff as well. I suspect that one does not need to buy top of the line cookware, like Le Creuset (I'm looking at you, Sur La Table) in order to cook well. I can't help but feel that store is for poseurs and suckers. Over a thousand dollars for an espresso machine to entertain company? Really?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow, this comment got diverted into other channels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lapelosa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It doesn't make a difference to me! However I sense that some like to buy their meat almost daily, and eat it "fresh." This is not practical for me, or most people that I know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                While I like good kitchen tools, I don't think you have to have the most expensive stuff to do good work in the kitchen. I've just spent some time in the Portland Pearl district. I stayed away from Sur la Table, but did visit and purchase from Boxer Restaurant Supply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lapelosa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes and no. If you really try, you can tell the difference between 'fresh' meat and previously frozen. Of course fresh meat isn't fresh, all meat is aged one way or another at least a little bit. But that issue aside, unless you are eating the meat plain and virtually unseasoned, like a prime steak, or - on the other extreme - where the meat has been frozen too long and without adequate protection and it has become freezer burned, then most people are not going to notice the difference most of the time, especially in dishes with other strong flavors like a spaghetti sauce, chili, or stew.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for bargains in cookware, everyone has their own thresholds of pain. I have a friend who has never owned a decent knife. I have mid-range knives and I don't know how he survives. Another friend only buys cookware from thrift shops. Most of them should have been tossed out rather than resold. Loose handles, dents that prevent even heating, yet she turns out wonderful meals time after time. Buy what works for you, and get rid of what doesn't work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agreed. And I never thought of it as "thresholds of pain" but that is what it is. I am often amazed at what I will/won't buy. I'm willing to spend a little for a useful tool though. Although I am having trouble parting with the dough for an immersion blender, which I really want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The friend might like a nice pan for her birthday. Using it might be a revelation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The friend likes jewelry and nice dinners for her birthday and christmas. Most of the time she settles for nice dinners. Were I to present a pan, i suspect i would end up feeling it crack my skull as I was chased out the door with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I should mention that she has a housemate that seems to take great pleasure in destroying kitchen equipment. Friend keeps her two good knives in her room and brings them out only when she is cooking least the (otherwise wonderful) housemate use them to open paint cans or some other obscure use. We have learned that corkscrews are not good for chipping ice, that old paint should be tossed out rather than strained, and that immersion blenders are not the right tool for mixing grout when you redo the bath.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        OK! :D 'Nuff said. I sure feel sorry for the immersion blender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some people just need killin'. I think your friend lives with one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. This thread sounds a bit like an "(Insert Addiction Here) Anonymous" meeting. "Hello. My name is Al, and I'm not a true ChowHound."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In my defense, I admit to being a "tool snob." I want good quality tools that are comfortable to use, well built, perform well, and will last. This is true in my workshop, my tool barn (I don't have a garage), or my kitchen. That doesn't mean I buy the most expensive, and I try to get the most for my money. That means Bosch Factory Reconditioned tools instead of FesTool, and Craftsman instead of SnapOn .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In my kitchen there is a mish mash of equipment and tools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - My $800 GE gas range works fine. It has a great simmering burner and a high output burner. Its single non-convection oven works fine, too. For me it does everything my sister's $5k Wolf does, and I didn't have go shore up the kitchen floor (like she did) to put it in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I have a pressure cooker and not one, but two slow cookers. I regularly use my microwave, and actually use my toaster oven to cook in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - My assortment of pot and pans include Cuisinart, Farberware, Henckels, and RevereWare. Some tri-ply, some disc-bottomed, and some non-stick. I have a couple of cast iron frying pans and a griddle I use frequently. Not a copper pot, All-Clad, or LC in sight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - An equally odd assortment of knives. Though the majority are Wustof, there's also a Forschner, a Henklels, and a Joyce Chen. My favorite chef's knife is, in fact, my santuko.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I have better than average knife skills, thanks to a friend/neighbor who is also a CEC, and showed me what to do. And, yes, they have to be kept sharp. That's what my Chef's Choice 130 is for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While the freezer and larder is generally free of prepared, boxed, pre-assembled, etc. I must confess:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Canned broth, jarred gravy, pasta sauce, and canned mushrooms (stems and pieces) can be found in the pantry. There's also stuff in there that's been there longer than I've been married.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - Store bought chicken breasts, pork chops, vegetables, burittos, and hot dogs are in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I seldom use fresh herbs. I don't use enough herbs when I cook to make having fresh ones on hand practical. I end up throwing most of them out. Same with lemons and limes. Hence a selection of dried herbs and spices, as well as bottled lemon and lime juice. At least the spices are from the likes of Penzeys or The Spice House.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - My "Secret BBQ Sauce" secret? It comes from a bottle. It is, in fact, half Bone Suckin' Sauce and half State Fair Chicken BBQ Sauce, mixed together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I can't tell the difference between salted and unsalted butter, so I buy salted...it keeps better. Country Crock is more apt to be the "spread of choice" on toasted items, even "good" bread, in this house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I don't own a pizza stone and don't intend to get one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  - I don't make my own bread, pizza dough, or pie crusts. In fact, dough always seems to get the better of me, and I hate the flour mess it leaves behind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Despite my frequent perusal of these boards, and all I have learned from them, I readily admit the above transgressions, and many more unconfessed ones, will continue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We split some discussion about shopping for ranges to a new topic on our Cookware board. You can find that thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790706

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: I meant to say:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "My WHITE $800 GE gas range works fine...."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Kaimukiman, I love you for being so up-front. I also can agree with a lot of your bullet points.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But I have NEVER used soap on cast iron. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. -"A pre-logic rice cooker." That made me smile. When people ask for rice cooker advice on CH, I've had to remind myself that my cute little red cooker, with its 'cook' and 'warm' settings may not give me quite the expertise I need to advise others, no matter how often I use the thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I love my ancient crockpot. I like how I have to puzzle out the layering, and which ingredients need a bit of cooking beforehand, and how it doesn't overheat my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I drink dirty martinis. Let me clarify that, to truly own the horror show in my cocktail glass: dirty *vodka* martinis. That probably should have been number one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I use Telma mushroom cubes as a cheat. That reminds me . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I became a pescetarian this year, and then started randomly getting hives from fish. I'm an accidental vegetarian. Forget meat, I can't use bacon grease, or duck fat, or any kind of offal (well, maybe caviar, if I'm in the mood to be blotchy), or a carcass for stock. I've yet to make a vegetable stock worth a damn, and am grateful for Better Than Bouillon vegetarian bases.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I have a cast iron skillet, and a ruined (not by me) wok. I received excellent advice on fixing the latter and curing both a year ago. I haven't done it yet. And now that I'm an accidental vegetarian, I can't cure my cast iron with bacon grease. The boyfriend broke down and bought an HA teflon wok. We use it. It makes very nice fried potatoes, actually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I've said this here before, but my freezer makes great use of my Tetris skills.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I eat microwave popcorn. I grew up on popcorn made on the stove, or fresh out of whatever nouveau device had hit the market, but I like the whole 3.5-minutes-and-done popcorn that I can get in a tidy box.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -I bought my paprika in 2002, from a restaurant supply store, when my boyfriend and I first moved in together. I can't throw it away. Sometimes I want to, but I can't because my great-grandmothers would haunt me, and there are memories attached to that large container. I just keep using it. Also the dried dill that we bought during the same trip (the one the boyfriend picked out).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Hi everyone, I'm bulavinaka - I have a vast collection of domestic and imported bullion cubes."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Hi bulavinaka."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Some have become part of the slow movement - so have I - my vegetable bin is actually my 'slow' composting bin. I am a produce abuser and neglector."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "We're not here to judge you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "And as much as I have neglected and abused produce, I've actually purchased on occasion - and eaten with great prejudice - fruit out of season from the Southern Hemisphere."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "I've abused my poor kids as well. I have cocoa powder - make that powders - but instead of making cocoa from scratch, I... I... I use Milo because it's so much easier and well, they really like it... I suck at being a dad..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "This one is beyond us - send him off to Betty Ford..."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I forgot to add out of season produce to my list.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sometimes one just needs to break the rules and have a peach pie in February...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                *whispers* I use canned peaches for my peach and custard pie. I *hate* removing the stone. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think Betty Ford can squeeze you in... ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ooo, domestic and imported bouillion hoarder here as well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I make stir-frys in a skillet-gasp. And they taste good. I hated my wok. It's actually in my trunk waiting to go to Goodwill. My best friend, who is Asian, taught me to make fried rice, and she does not use a wok, nor does her mother. I felt like I had permission after that to cook it in my skillet like they do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I too find that using woks with lower BTUs and/or electric heating elements can be frustrating. Woks need direct heat up the sides as well as from the bottom to function as they were intended. At the end of the month, I'll be moving to an apartment with an electric coil heating element. If not for the propane stove I've bought for such purposes, my wok would not see the light of day in that apartment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4. I'm so happy you asked. I stayed away for about 2 months because I kind of thought I was outclassed. I have to say that I really avoid the cream of crap soup but it does happen. I thought I was a pretty good home cook too until I got here and found out that the food I've been cooking is nothing but plebian junk. Then I realized that the others here maybe know more than I do and I can learn alot and that doesn't mean that I have to cook overpriced stuff every day but maybe I can be a better home cook because lots of the folks here seem to be in the food biz and I can learn something. But, I decided to not be intimidated. And, guess what, I just got offered a restaurant job after being laid off from my 21 year job. It's bechamel, btw, and I 100% understand where you're coming from, this is my first time here in a few months but I came back because I want to be a better cook. I think everybody uses a crockpot and has old spices but that's not what this place is about, it's about stuff you can't get from food.com and most people have a teflon skillet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The answer is no, you're not the only one who is intimidated but I just happen to be here after a long time because I missed what I was getting here and I decided that just because I'm not a food professional doesn't mean that I shouldn't benefit from the knowledge of people here. And, home cooks have something to contribute as well and I think it is appreciated here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Floridagirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good luck and CONGRATULATIONS on your job offer too. Also, Welcome Back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. forgive me chowhound, for i have sinned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i make my deviled eggs with hellmans, french's and old bay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -my secret meatball sauce base is mccormick's brown gravy mix (actually use mccormick's gravy for steaks, roasts etc. and canned mushrooms heated up in the gravy are divine. i grew up on this stuff and prefer it to pan drippings, reductions, etc. sacre bleu!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i use canned beets in my borscht (why cook your own when these are pre-cooked and there's no mess)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i enjoy frozen jamaican beef patties

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i like jello

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i have a plastic jello mold

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i like nestle's quik

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i use jarred spaghetti sauce (although i have switched to silver palate)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i have a freezer full of "wow! this is a great price! let's buy a bunch and save" cryogenic experiments in various stages of shrinkage and freezer burn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i found a 12-year-old, four-pound box of 10-and-under shrimp in my freezer and used them to make shrimp ettouffee. (usda states Food stored constantly at 0 °F will always be safe. Only the quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. cut off the most obvious freezer burned parts. the result was great. the "parched" shrimp absorbed a lot of the sauce and were extra-spicy. no left-overs and no gastrointestinal distress)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i like canned soups, cream and broth based

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i like ramen soup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i do not like caviar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    -i do not like offal (other than liver and trotters)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have a plastic jello mold, too, and I paid too much for it on Ebay. I use it for one purpose, making my grandmother's ice ring recipe to float in her Methodist punch. And that ice ring has, horrors!, maraschino cherries in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a massive collection of random ramen packets acquired from little Asian shops.... I tuck them into cases when I travel (in case of late night munchy attacks) so sometimes find them in weird places around my bedroom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. ahahahahahahahaaa!!! Great post!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        " i have used soap on my cast iron (omg, i just heard three people drop dead)"


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          How did I not know that I wasn't supposed to use soap on my cast iron?! My grandmothers and aunts did, and I still do. All of mine is old and well seasoned. But I always dry them and re-oil them if they need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That just cracked me up because some CHers treat you like you must be a brainless, know-nothing idiot if you dare to admit that you use soap on cast iron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have several cast iron pans I use all the time - and they all have a beautiful finish. I don't use soap every time I wash them - generally I don't need to - but once in a while I just find it to be necessary. And my pans are just fine. But yes, I always dry them well, and like you, I re-oil if they need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There is absolutely no way my grandmother didn't use soap and water on her cast iron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shhhh. They might hear you. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, I believe you. I can only imagine the severe eye-rolling that some previous generations would give people today who get so "precious" about how they treat stuff like cast iron pans. It's ridiculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I will say that I have noticed that if I use soap every time I wash the pan, it does remove more of the finish than not using it does. But using soap once in a while works well for me. I certainly wouldn't attack someone who chooses to wash their pan with soap and water every time they use. It's their pan to do with as they please. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You are also not supposed to wash crepe pans, but I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Okay but if you don't wash cast iron pans with soap, don't they feel all oily and greasy and dirty? I don't have one so I don't know how it works.. Isn't it all dirty from the slivers of garlic and all oily!? I can't imagine storing it away with my other nice CLEAN, non-sticky pans =s

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: youngnsassy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      yns, check out these earlier threads on CH; sedimental's in the first link is the usual way to clean cast iron once they've been seasoned. Most people do *not* use soap. But do whatever works for you.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you! I don't know much about cast iron cookware, going to slowly read through them now!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I soap the cast iron almost every time I cook. Follow up with a good drying over a burner and spritz of oil, and all is good. All of them have a great finish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The cast iron police are dropping like flies around us :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: odkaty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think it was the early '60's goormay boom that discredited washing cast iron, omelet pans, and whatnot with soap. If it was used in our house, it got washed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      no, actually it goes back a long way. when my parents got married in the early 1950's my father's great aunt gave my mom one of her cast iron pans, along with an admonishment not to use soap on it. mom wasn't a cast iron kind of cook and no one is quite sure what happened to the pan. dad probably used it for some project or other that left it unsuitable for human use. Grandma's meat grinder disappeared after dad used it to grind up inner tubes, no I don't know what he was grinding up inner tubes for, but apparently the best way to do it was the meat grinder, no doubt he would now use a food processor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The ground up inner tubes...are we related? Sounds like a brainwave my dad might have had.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. I commit many of these sins on a daily basis. The most recent one: we started a small container garden after finally moving into a place with a balcony. Planted all sorts of herbs, etc. Realized, after planting mint (we'll use our herbs all the time!! mentality) and having a crazy amount of it, the only thing we know how to use mint in is mojitos. And have only used the basil on take out pizza. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DCLindsey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Use that basil whole or cut into ribbons with sliced fresh tomatoes, sea salt, olive oil and balsamico, and a fresh white baguette, and you're in heaven !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And add a little blue cheese and shove it under a broiler till the cheese melts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  THEN add a couple of thin slices of avocado and you're floating somewhere just north of Heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We call that Doobie Bruschetta,.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (OK, we don't really call it that. But we should.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    chiffonade (is that how it's spelled?) it and put it in a green salad, or in spaghetti sauce, or in your thai curry. makes a nice garnish for almost any soup. Or just put a stem with some leaves in a pitcher of ice water instead of lemon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, I can never remember "chiffonade". Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That reminds me - maybe there should be a different discussion of well intended chow attempts? I also have the issue with well intended vegetable purchases that then turn into a science experiment. And, the weekly disposal by my boyfriend of the bread "I am saving to turn into croutons! And bread crumbs!" which I have done...once. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: DCLindsey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's not to everyone's taste, but Tabbouleh is easy to make and will run you through a LOT of mint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. After a spirited, albeit necessary, exchange of e-mails with TheChowhoundTeam, it has been determined that all future posts from those of you who have contributed to this thread will bear an asterisk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What, no scarlet letter over our avatars?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            *oh well*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            yep, that was me, using Knorr ready-made Bearnaise on my salmon en croute for company last night (but I *did* stir in fresh tarragon, chives, and dill, so THERE)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have to confess that I've seen those packages but never bought one. It's the hollandaise that tempts me, though. Was the bearnaise any good? I figure I'd have to doctor whatever I bought, but if it's there's hope for it, I might try it out on my unsuspecting in-laws. Mwah hah hah hah hah!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Bearnaise was pretty good -- I used it as a sauce on salmon in pastry -- a bed of spinach frizzled in olive oil and garlic, then the salmon, and a drizzle of herbed Bearnaise, then wrapped in feuillete pastry and baked. Great stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just out of the box, it was just okay -- but the herbs really saved it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The carbonara and bechamel are pretty good, too -- I still prefer to make my own, but there are just times you gotta do what you gotta do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't try that with anything other than Knorr brand, though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Carbonara sauce out of a box? I'm trying to imagine what that would be--powdered egg and bacon? I am curious to try Hollandaise from a box, but the carbonara flummoxes me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it's got cream in it, per the label -- so I wouldn't in any way suggest it was a *real* or remotely authentic carbonara -- but it's edible on nights that the main objective is something to eat NOW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've used - and often use, actually - the Knorr hollandaise sauce mix. It's not hollandaise, obviously, but you'll find it tastes similar to a lot of chain-type hollandaise sauce, as that's what some use. It's much thinner, but it tastes OK, and is ready in just a few minutes. It's great for those times you decide at the last minute you wanted some with your asparagas or whatever. Also good for quicky weeknight dinners. If I'm planning ahead and have the time, I'll make it, but Knorr is a good substitute if I'm lazy or under time constraints.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wow - you mean I made it on to a list?!?!?! WOOHOOOO!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. No. You're being totally illogical here. Whether you are a decent cook or not is judged by your actual audience. You can focus on process and procedure as much as you want but in the end, it is the outcome that makes the determination: i.e., are you, your family, and friends getting fed and having a good time? And are they coming back for more? So, for starters, throw away that neurotic list of do's/don'ts that you just compiled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Do not allow that other thread or chowhound article to influence you in any negative way. It was supposed to be silly and light-hearted, but clearly it got carried away when some people used it as an excuse to impose some sort of cultural absolutism (such as the only great cook is the Western style cook just like the ones on certain TV shows—or, even worse essentially saying that only chefs can be great cooks, which totally misses the fundamental point of cooking).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: calf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Though I like the sentiment, I'm going to take a little issue here, calf. If your family and friends are getting fed and having a good time, for sure you're a great host. If they're coming back for seconds, possible that you're a great cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do appreciate your comment because it reminds those of us who might get a little pedantic about the whole cooking thing that in the end, it's all for naught if we can't share and enjoy the fruits of our labor with good people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But rather than taking on a neurosis, I actually think Kaimuki Man was poking a little light-hearted fun at those of us who sometimes get our chopsticks stuck up our butts about the whole process (which was a self aware comment, by the way...).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ...I actually think Kaimuki Man was poking a little light-hearted fun at those of us who sometimes get our chopsticks stuck up our butts about the whole process...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, no need to be careful how you sit....... just eat with the chopsticks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The mental pictures are rapidly degenerating !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, now I'm going to have to go put my wooden chopsticks in the dishwasher to sanitize them. There may not be room, though, because my cast iron skillet is so huge....kidding, kidding!!! Don't call the cops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: calf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "...such as the only great cook is the Western style cook just like the ones on certain TV shows—or, even worse essentially saying that only chefs can be great cooks, which totally misses the fundamental point of cooking."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Did anyone say this? If anything, the opposite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: calf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Calf: Kaimukiman has a pretty thick skin, is wont to dabble in sarcasm, and has learned not to take anything in here too seriously, which was his point in the original post. Your very kind response is much appreciated, and Kaimukiman mostly agrees with everything you said. This was also intended as a fun post, and reading the replies and discussion has been a lot of fun too. And yeah, his friends tend to not miss his meal or party invitations, and always ask what he is cooking, so he must be doing a good job of doctoring the cream of soup with the packaged spice mixes or whatever. Thanks calf, and appreciate the support inaplas and al b. (along with the rest of you.) Especially rewarding to see some voices i haven't seen much of for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        excuse me while i go design a chopstick extractor.......

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LMK when it's on the market will ya...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: calf

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          RE "Whether you are a great cook is judged by your audience": One of the sweetest things I have ever read on chowhound was a man's memory of making "chocolate eclairs" with his grandmother when he was four. Turned out it wasn't chocolate eclairs at all but a disgusting dish of layered instant pudding, graham crackers, and Redi-Whip but, damn, he got to lay the crackers on the pudding, and what four year-old wouldn't love that concoction. He was a lucky boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There was a recipe for that very dessert in Cook's Country this month, so apparently a lot of people know and love it, name be damned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow. i'm pretty lucky that my mom made cream puffs, eclairs, and angel food cake from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You mean your stoner mom? Gee, now that's a surprise :-D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  She even did that before she started getting high!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Add me to the list of "cheese of doom" users. I tried to like parmigiano reggiano, I really did. I've bought it like 3-4 times. The real stuff. I've tried it grated (too hard!) and then star-grated into powder, just like the green can stuff. I used it in various dishes. I just don't care for it much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: phrekyos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Raising and putting 5 kids through college means a lot of chicken legs, Ragu and the green tube. All are now hounds.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kaimuki, if I remember correctly you are also a SPAM man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: phrekyos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And it definitely doesn't make any sense to pay parmigiano prices if it doesn't do anything for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. You made my day! Some day, will you make my dinner?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I thought at first glance you were simply taking things on the inter-webs a little too seriously... but maybe not? I usually try not to post on these threads on Chowhound (what "foodie" thing/food/gadget do you have/love/hate/use that all "foodies" should type threads). Although I think you are taking things a little too seriously, I think I'm one of those folks you've aimed at, so here goes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I have no canned cheese, canned soup, or salad dressings (I even make my own mustard, Q-sauce and ketchup), I have powdered milk for making yogurt..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - My knives are wonderfully sharp and I sharpen them by hand with japanese water stones. This to me is about taking care of tools -- which is what a knife is, what good is a rusty saw? Or a car with no brakes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I don't own a microwave, not for fear out of poisoning, but simply a space thing and I've found I don't miss it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - My freezer is full of chicken/beef/lamb bones for stock, and homemade frozen stock.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Bad food gets thrown out... sometimes lettuce is nasty, but that's about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I grind all my spices (except a few like anatto) from their whole form myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I think recipes are there for a reason -- to be followed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I have roux all the time (which serves as the based for the others)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - No space for a crockpot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I don't own Teflon, too ephemeral for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - I have multiple copper pans, I love them, and non of them are tin lined. Ever had a steak cooked in a copper pan? It's great, but your can't do it with tin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think you're a fraud, just maybe not living up to the standards of others -- but that's Ok, that's why we all have opinions which, of course, are like.... well, you know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mateo21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's great for you and your family and guests. We ALL applaud your dedication. After all, that's why we're here - to share and learn to do it better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But you will admit that absolutely great food can be produced without adhering to your standards.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe I was correct about hurt feelings, based on the tone of your first sentence, Doobie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To answer your question -- I suppose that depends on your definition of "absolutely great".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think this discussion bridges an number of different topics -- in terms of gadgetry, I completely agree that great food can be had without adhering to my "standards". But the right size screw driver helps the job go much better, similarly to a sharp knife or a good quality pan; you can certainly dice an onion or saute vegetables with poor quality equipment, but why make it harder? Maybe that's why people use cream of onion soup, rather than dicing up a pound of onions and sauteing them then finishing with cream to make their own (maybe their knives are dull and won't cut well, and their pans would burn the cream sauce).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When it comes to ingredients, however, I'm much less willing to accede. To me cream of mushroom soup tastes bad. Green-can parmesan tastes bad. Thus, my answer: it depends. I don't think "absolutely great" food can be made by boiling pasta and tossing it with jarred sauce and green-can cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mateo21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      it's great that you have the time in your life to do all of this. I'm guessing that along with all the things you don't have in your kitchen, you can add children, pets, a spouse, and a demanding job that sometimes takes up far too much of your life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some of us don't have that much time, and there are times that getting something on the table that resembles actual food is the primary objective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thus "absolutely great" sometimes has to go out the window in favor of "food...NOW". At least we're not succumbing to one more takeout pizza or burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think we'd all prefer to turn out absolutely great every time...but life just doesn't always give us the time, ingredients, patience from our families, or even the give-a-damn to do it every single meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It would just be nice to not be sniffed at and derided because sometimes we just have to do what the situation calls for sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mateo21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Au contraire, mon cheri.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I meant exactly what I said. I attempted to fortify that sentiment with my second sentence assuring you we ALL applaud and aspire to such dedication and adherence to such high standards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As I said, "...that's why we're here".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But let me assure you that "absolutely great" food is made regularly by everyone reading your post regardless of the number of cans of condensed soup in their larders.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For one reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Because they care.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It's why they read these boards. To do it even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But I state unequivocally that Chowhounders with microwave ovens, and crockpots and store bought ketchup are getting rave reviews for their dishes on a daily basis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Believe it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DoobieWah

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Doobie, you're aiming the wrong direction -- I was replying to mateo21, in fact agreeing with you totally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, thank you. I was also replying to mateo21.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: mateo21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mateo, if you have the time, the energy, and the interest in doing it that way, I take my hat off to you. Well, if I had a hat I would. I trust you cook the way you do to meet the standards that make you happy, I hope I didn't make you feel like a target, was never my intent to target anyone, just to admit that I don't live that way. Some of my choices make no sense to you, some of yours make no sense to me, but they clearly work for you, and I admire that. I'm single, I'm self employed and my kitchen is 5'x8'. I fix most of my own meals, although I do eat out for dinner way more than I should given my budget. Such is life. I make a point of inviting people over for dinner every couple of weeks, and I bring food to potlucks a couple of times a month on the average, in the summer almost once a week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KaimukiMan -- thank you for the polite reply. My OP wasn't meant to disparage others from cooking the way that they do, however, I often find people almost inherently offended at the fact that I cook the way that I do -- in so far as assuming my snobbery at their cooking at any chance I can. The closest I can come to demonstrating this in other situations is occasionally I'll run across someone when they ask how I am doing, and I reply, correctly that "I am well"... I've gotten a number of "offended" remarks using the grammatically-correct well, rather than the accept colloquial "good". Does that make sense?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is a shame that other responders above assume I do not have a spouse (almost, actually, I cook like this and am planning wedding) a pet, or a demanding and unpredictable job -- all of which I do, though I don't have any children yet. Either way, what is important here are priorities -- and just like you said, KaimukiMan some of my choices don't make sense to you and that's Ok. I suppose ultimately I wanted to point out the other side of the street; sometimes "people like me" are treated (unwarranted, I might add) with contempt because of their chosen allocation of time -- I spend too much time, money, energy, and life cooking. I often wonder, as I assume you do, why the jealousy/anger/contempt that I read in the above posters? I'm not sure, but I relish the equipment I use, the hours I spend in the kitchen (while potentially ignoring other aspects of life deemed "important" -- too whom, I might ask...), and the joy and vitality I experience while cooking, and sometimes cannot understand why anyone would settle for Cream of Mushroom soup when compared the experience to be had for all senses in preparing your own version.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: mateo21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        mateo, I think this thread is full of tongue in cheek confessionals from many of us who do take cooking as seriously as you do... most or some of the time. Where you might have interpreted the OP as an affront to your level of dedication, there are a lot more posts (I started one of them) that could be construed as taking pot shots at those who don't share the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That said, I think it's great that you choose to dedicate so much of your resources to cooking well, and I don't read your reply as being particularly nasty or derisive. But are you sure you don't have some teeny tiny cheat lurking somewhere in your fridge or pantry? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yes! TELL! TELL! we all do somewhere inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, mateo21, you should look at the thread to which plasticcup refers! We're all having a ball over there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. It's like they say, "critique the chow, not the chowhound" right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I've been washing my cast iron frying pans (two) and Dutch oven with soap for thirty years and they have great smooth finishes. My other pans are old, battered Revereware bought used thirty years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What's with the hate on rice cookers? No Asian or Hawaiian household is complete without a rice cooker. I use mine for brown rice all the time. The last few years I've been using it to make the morning oatmeal (rolled oats from the health-food co-op) as well. One of the best ideas I've ever had. No more burned oatmeal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Wow, 233 replies in 3 days--there are a lot of us foodie frauds out there! We had a potluck last week and everybody raved over my Swedish Meatballs.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frozen meatballs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 cans cream of mushroom soup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sour cream

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 hours in the crock pot, no need for salt since all the processed stuff is so salty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My husband's hand-cut coleslaw with caraway seeds was shunned. Too weird looking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: whs

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I make my hand cut coleslaw wirth craraway seeds too! :) And it's a very popular dish with my extended family and close friends. My mom and I still both make it pretty much the exact same way my russian/jewish grandmother made it for the deli my grandparents used to own in Newark, NJ.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just braised a head of cabbage last night with ground caraway. The flavors were really nice together. I'll have to remember to use seeds in my next coleslaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And, keeping to the thread, I hand-cut too. I've grown to hate my mandoline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In my childhood we used to grate over 300 lbs of cabbage on a mandolin to make Russian kapusta or saurkraut. My grandfather, dad, uncles and I would be down the cellar drinking PBR (before it was hip) and taking turns on the mandolin. Now that's a Father's Day memory.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now I use jarred, but not canned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I grew up *around* PBR, and I laughed when my boyfriend ordered it at a pub a few years back, and told him he should have worn his John Deere hat, just to really fit in. "It's the special!" he said defensively.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for sharing the cabbage memory. I'm jealous of people who grew up helping in the kitchen, Passa. Even if it involves a mandoline.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My favorite C&W song "Red Neck White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also grew up with PBR and like you onceadaylily, can't help poking fun at its new popularity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If Gennesse goes hipster, all with be lost....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mickey's Big Mouth


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I wish I didn't know what this was. College memories....shudder....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                oh but as a roommate in college pointed out - a bottle of Mickey's is both a beer AND an ashtray.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                and if anyone from STL is around, once we stopped in Forest Park (we're 17-19) to take a leak and of course park police were immed. on us, and after shining the flashlight in the back seat, officer just asked (with clear nostalgia tinted disdain) "oh boys is 905 the BEST you can do?" umm well yes sir. (locally sold brand made by G. Heileman) but he didn't confiscate or ticket.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oly... omg, that does bring back memories... or partial memories as the case may be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Could be a whole new thread on the beer board, just the name followed by people's reactions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Primo, Hamms, Olympia, and other nearly forgotten names.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There's a whole thread on "Things I ate or drank in college that I'll never do again" that's good for a lot of laughs. And painful memories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And are you featured prominently in that thread ? :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Um...here and there...but my baddest days were in high school.