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cowering in fear

KaimukiMan Jun 15, 2011 01:17 AM

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. c
    Cady Nov 30, 2011 10:27 AM

    KaimukiMan, I'm curious. What was the mashed potato emergency?

    I don't mind instant mashed potatoes if I'm in a hurry...I just don't think of them as mashed potatoes, the same way I don't think of McDonald's hamburgers as hamburgers or Taco Bell tacos as tacos. They actually taste good if you substitute butter/milk/water combo with chicken broth...they just don't taste like mashed potatoes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cady
      KaimukiMan Dec 2, 2011 10:38 PM

      The mashed potato emergency 8 dinner guests, friend was hosting. Planning a 'traditional' meal for some asian visitors. Distracted by the duties of hosting he had not put enough water in the potatoes and they burned to the bottom of the pan. I was already on the way to his house, got a text message - burnt potatoes, bring instant. So I did. We gussied them up with heavy cream instead of milk, lots of (unsalted) butter and a fair amount of grated cheese - which he was planning to use anyhow. All in all not a disaster, but embarrassing for two burgeoning foodies. We don't generally speak of it. LOL

    2. s
      Stegzy Nov 10, 2011 02:09 PM

      You just made my night. This was hilarious! I'm a chef by trade so I can't really relate to your post, but I admire your honesty and humour immensely. Thanks KaimukiMan!

      1. s
        snax Oct 28, 2011 07:41 PM

        I shudder as I add two good pinches of salt to my no knead bread mixture and wonder if the bread 'really' needs the salt. But I happily eat McDonalds fries which of course are laced in the stuff.

        3 Replies
        1. re: snax
          Rella Oct 29, 2011 07:52 AM

          IMO bread doesn't "need" salt (Tuscan bread). However, our bodies do 'need' salt.

          1. re: Rella
            pericolosa Nov 10, 2011 08:43 AM

            Yeah, sodium being the most abundant mineral already in our bodies, no? At the risk of being slapped for going off topic, the study that showed sodium to be a problem for people with high blood pressure actually only showed that it was a problem just for a miniscule percentage of those people who already were hypertensive at the time of the study. Sodium hasn't been shown to be a problem for the rest of us, even the rest of us who are already hypertensive, and there's no research that shows that it causes high blood pressure to begin with.

            Salt away!

            1. re: pericolosa
              hill food Nov 10, 2011 02:00 PM

              and we all need to relax about all the other crap that just. doesn't. matter. I have no doubt it doesn't exacerbate things, but there are so many other factors to worry about (personal attitude for one).

              so yes:

              Salt away!

        2. l
          lcool Aug 29, 2011 10:16 AM

          no problem with the instant mashed,a good thickener for many things

          I prefer some vegetables cooked in the microwave,broccoli & cauliflower or a quick blanch to speed things up

          DH would be lost without a crockpot

          Upping the body count.CAST IRON...not only does it get soaped here periodically,warmed and lightly re-oiled...once or twice a year some of it gets washed ..IN THE DISHWASHER (cancelled heated dry 99% of the time,great low PH well,never any spots on anything) with reduced soap,then warmed and oiled with flax seed or rice bran oil.

          stovetop cooked rice

          NON-STICK..one 14"skillet and one 2.5 qt sauce pan..both reduce the watching of a short list I make often.

          and regularly four legal pad size WOOD CUTTING BOARDS into the dishwasher... along with wood utensils

          the rest of your list isn't for me,but I don't have a problem with it

          1. PotatoHouse Aug 29, 2011 09:22 AM

            The crockpot is ok, it can be a tool.

            A microwave is for the sole purpose of reheating leftovers and making popcorn.

            I have used instant mashed potatoes (although they were only fed to my dying dog and Alzheimer's patient mother-in-law).

            I had serious chest pains when I read about the soap and cast iron (but I AM a three-time heart patient, so it MAY not have been your fault).

            1 Reply
            1. re: PotatoHouse
              chicgail Aug 29, 2011 09:46 AM

              I use my microwave to heat up enough water for a single cup of brewed coffee in a cup (I don't have one of those single-serve coffee-makers). Also sometimes for melting cheese on crackers for a snack (I don't have a toaster over and heating up a whole oven seems foolish).

            2. whiteasianchef Aug 29, 2011 07:38 AM

              Don't feel bad! I graduated from Culinary school and have my own restaurant. I consider myself a chef but...

              I have a crockpot and use it, especially to keep things warm

              I use powder milk, you can buy it bulk and it last forever

              I use my rice cooker religously

              Now, I did almost die when I heard that you used soap on your cast iron

              1. p
                PotatoPuff Jul 27, 2011 08:20 AM

                forgive me chowhounds, for I have sinned:

                -I only use nonstick pots
                -I don't make my own stock
                -I love salted butter
                -I will not, and cannot eat, cook, or in any way associate with a fish, or anything that every swam or came close to a fish, including seaweed. Totally phobic. Even typing the "f-word" makes me a little edgy. My poor husband can't even bring this in the house. I fail at chowhounding.
                -I never sharpen my knives.

                I redeem myself by making my own salad dressing, all the time. And by having 5 types of salt that I use on a regular basis, not having a microwave, not eating processed meats EVER, and being able to properly pronounce and spell all French and Italian food terms. And all of the massive dinner parties I hosted out of a college dorm have to count for something.

                3 Replies
                1. re: PotatoPuff
                  kathleen221 Jul 27, 2011 07:41 PM

                  I think hosting dinner parties out of a college dorm automatically makes you a chowhound, no matter what kind of pots you use. =)

                  1. re: kathleen221
                    hill food Jul 27, 2011 09:55 PM

                    k221: the plural? really? not in my dorm.

                    1. re: hill food
                      sunshine842 Jul 28, 2011 01:44 AM


                2. bayoucook Jul 23, 2011 09:31 AM

                  Great thread! Looks like we might need a part II.

                  1. l
                    Laurenjo28 Jul 13, 2011 03:13 AM

                    And us "fraud" chefs rejoice! While I don't do all the things you listed I relate to more than a few. I'm breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I'm not the only one who commits the occasional cooking crime ;)

                    1. LindaWhit Jul 8, 2011 05:45 AM

                      I haven't read the entire thread, but I AM laughing at the 438 responses so far in just barely 3 weeks!

                      All I have to say is:

                      Not everyone is Alice Waters. Thank goodness. :-)

                      I can't recall ever serving instant mashed potatoes before, even when I was just starting out on my own. But you do what you can when you can and however you need to do it to get a meal on the table, and societal bullshit be damned. :-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        MGZ Jul 8, 2011 07:05 AM

                        Funny, to me, it's "societal bullshit" that accepts green cans and "instant" foods. It's just this tiny subcommunity, or at least some of us who populate it, that eschews such things.

                      2. jmckee Jun 29, 2011 07:16 AM

                        I am "guilty" of quite a few of these. You are not a fraud. I love my microwave -- especially for some vegetables (see Barbara Kafka's magisterial "Vegetable Love"). I wouldn't dream of doing an omelette in anything other than a non-stick pan. Tin-lined copper is for people who don't have enough things to do other than clean it and pamper it. Instant mashed potatoes make a great addition to breading, especially fish. I would never dream of deviating from a recipe for something new to my repertoire. My crock-pot is a staple of life for my busy family, and I regularly turn out magnificent food using it. Your first one? Can't help you -- except that there are a few bottled dressings / sauces we use.

                        I think you're normal. You have a life that exists beyond food. And you're obviously not a food snob.

                        1. grayelf Jun 24, 2011 03:44 PM

                          Fun (and prolific) thread! I used to think that people would out me as a novice or sub par cook because I hadn't or couldn't make certain things. Spaghetti still sees me coming and leaps to form clumps in the pot. The SO is now in charge of all things starchy in the kitchen, except risotto, which I didn't learn how to make until two years ago. Ditto souffles which I am now happy to say I am quite proficient at. Pie pastry is my Waterloo, however, possibly because my mum makes a stellar one. Her tip that it just feels right when you've added enough flour/shortening/ice water: not helping :-)

                          Looking at the OP's lists of don'ts, I'm not sure they automatically would jeopardize cooking cred. Chef Knorr is no stranger to my kitchen and people still compliment my meals with enough regularity that I figure they can't all just be faking :-).

                          1. m
                            madmaya Jun 24, 2011 08:52 AM

                            only thing about food that worries me are all the chemicals etc added to boxed/bottled/canned stuff. TRY to avoid it ,doesn't always work .. rest of it is catch as catch can. What i do want is to be able to pull a meal together that leaves everyone happy n full .. so kudos to all of you who do that!
                            I love chowhound for the drool factor ..vicarious luscious eating ..YUM!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: madmaya
                              flourgirl Jun 24, 2011 03:48 PM

                              "only thing about food that worries me are all the chemicals etc added to boxed/bottled/canned has stuff."

                              That was one of my earliest motivators to really learn how to cook properly. I was buying too much processed food & not happy about it. Now I hardly buy any - and when I do, it very rarely has anything but natural ingredients - which is much easier to find now than it used to be.

                            2. mariacarmen Jun 23, 2011 11:23 PM

                              KMan, great, great thread. I fall somewhere in the middle:

                              i have never ground my own meat, owned a copper pan, deboned a chicken, baked to speak of. i have a few Le Creusets and then some old, rickety, scratched up and loose-handled Dansk non-sticks. My knives are decent but i rarely keep them sharpened. My knife skills are non-existent, but i never cut myself because i don't trust myself to do anything but chop/mince/dice slooooooooowly. i have no finesse, i don't plate well.

                              I don't use green can cheese, nor canned soups, nor jarred sauces, just because i don't like them. i do use canned/cartoned broth (but I also make my own, just not exclusively.) I had a fling with making aioli which i posted about ad nauseum here and on FB, which ended in me figuring it out but then losing the desire to do it much. (At least for now. I think there still may be a jar or two of failed mayo in the recesses of the fridge.) I love Best Foods mayo.

                              I will use frozen peas but all other veggies fresh. I use dried herbs and fresh. i don't belong to a CSA, i buy organic sporadically. I shop at my very local farmers' market sporadically - i just too often find really nice, CHEAP produce at my local latino grocers. I cook mostly with sea salt or kosher, but we do have a box of Morton's too. Sometimes i grind fresh black pepper, sometimes i use pre-ground. i love salted butter. i love unsalted too (i love butter!), but i buy almost exclusively salted. I have good Italian canned tuna in my cupboard, but Starkist is no stranger to me.

                              The BF once tried to slip a meal of Hamburger Helper by me. It didn't work. I ate it but it was awful! And i asked him to never do that to me again!

                              I am and have been very often intimidated by many of the so very talented, experienced, and learned cooks/chefs here on CH - especially those who really seem to know about food science, food history, etc. I'm just not that into it. But I've learned a lot from those people, from everyone here. The greatest thing this site has given me is a wealth of inspiration, reading about other people's food, about all the things people imagine and concoct, how much some are willing and able to take on,and how much passion so many bring to this thing we do to simply nourish ourselves, body and soul!

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: mariacarmen
                                TheHuntress Jun 23, 2011 11:48 PM

                                Well said!

                                1. re: mariacarmen
                                  Passadumkeg Jun 24, 2011 06:25 AM

                                  But can you make a saltena?

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg
                                    mariacarmen Jun 24, 2011 07:38 AM

                                    no dammit! i'll see myself out, thank you.

                                    1. re: mariacarmen
                                      Passadumkeg Jun 24, 2011 07:50 AM

                                      Saltenas are a 2 day project. On the very rare occasion, housebound w/ a blizzard, we make dozens and feeeze them. A lot of work!

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg
                                        mariacarmen Jun 24, 2011 10:18 AM

                                        i know, and i am REALLY impressed! do they turn out as good as you want them to? we did it once, and were not terribly pleased with the results.

                                        1. re: mariacarmen
                                          Passadumkeg Jun 24, 2011 05:10 PM

                                          The key is a cold saltenas w/ the chicken gell and a wicked hot oven. I turn ours up to max an hour before baking them, Not bad.

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg
                                            mariacarmen Jun 24, 2011 10:43 PM

                                            yeah, but the key to me is the flavah.... i had my first set of saltenas this trip from a chain there, Dumbo's (ugh, some of my family in La Paz has no foodiness to them whatsoever) but surprisingly they were really quite good, not bad at all - even the chicken one, which I never like. but then i had one from a tiny little place off El Prado called Chukisaka, which I was told means the saltenas were in the style of Sucre. I can't even tell you what the difference was - the dough sweeter, the filling spicier - but they were the real deal.

                                2. 0
                                  001mum Jun 23, 2011 01:02 PM

                                  I'm scared of sharp knifes :o
                                  and a few weeks ago
                                  cut off the tip of a finger using one of those
                                  *darn what are they called?*
                                  slidy things that can slice things really, really thin
                                  I thought the onion was big enough that i didn't need the guard

                                  USE THE GUARD!!!!

                                  20 Replies
                                  1. re: 001mum
                                    chowser Jun 23, 2011 01:48 PM

                                    Mondoline. BTDT. It's so sharp, you don't even realize you've cut yourself at first.

                                    1. re: chowser
                                      sunshine842 Jun 23, 2011 02:31 PM


                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                        chowser Jun 24, 2011 05:20 AM

                                        Sorry about the typo, I was typing on my cell phone.

                                      2. re: chowser
                                        LorenM Jun 28, 2011 05:21 PM

                                        Unless you run your thumb through the julienne blades like I did. I realized it immediately by the intense pain and buckets of blood that gushed forth. I effectively julienned it. I have been VERY leery of those things ever since. To be fair though, I was not using a guard.

                                        1. re: LorenM
                                          chowser Jun 29, 2011 05:41 AM

                                          Ow. After chopping off part of my thumb, I'm also very leery of mine but still use it on rare occasion. There was intense pain but it wasn't until a few minutes after.

                                          1. re: chowser
                                            Passadumkeg Jun 29, 2011 06:20 AM

                                            Back in my teen-years, all the men in the family used to go into the cellar of my grandparents' house and grate 350 lbs of cabbages into kapusta, in one evening, using on big wooden Swedish mandolin. We were PBR powered, but I remember no blood. Must have been the beer. I do remember the first time I was asked to use the mandolin, however. I was very nervous and frightened of the blade. I was surprised at the amount of force needed and that I had to lean hard on the 1/2 head of cabbage to get it to slice. A right of passage. These kind of family events and the tight Russian culture of the family are gone forever.

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg
                                              chowser Jun 29, 2011 07:26 AM

                                              What a great food memory. It's too bad it's a thing of the past. Maybe next time, I need to have a beer before pulling out the mandoline.;-)

                                      3. re: 001mum
                                        Dax Jun 23, 2011 03:04 PM

                                        I have a cheap mandoline with a cheaper guard but it slices well (not the best for julienning) so I bought one of those cut-resistant gloves and love it. I am on my 2nd one, having sliced through the first (but not my finger).

                                        1. re: Dax
                                          001mum Jun 23, 2011 08:14 PM

                                          a kevlar glove? most of the time I can't find an oven mitt or the pup has it off in a corner! yum
                                          the mandoline is now in the bottom, never used drawer
                                          I think cooking with limited appliances or conveniences is great. (just not all the time)
                                          My mum made terrific meals on a coleman stove when I was a kid. (mind you I was a hungry kid)
                                          Is there a thread on creative meals while camping?

                                          1. re: 001mum
                                            hill food Jun 23, 2011 09:15 PM

                                            indeed, several takes.


                                            1. re: 001mum
                                              EWSflash Jun 26, 2011 07:14 PM

                                              Where do you get a kevlar glove? I just watched somebody using one in the last couple of days- I don't remember where it was, but thought it would be great for roasting chiles on the grill.

                                              1. re: EWSflash
                                                Cady Jun 26, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                You can get one on Amazon. I'm not sure how useful it would be for heat applications, though - I've only seen them used with mandolines/cutting.

                                                1. re: EWSflash
                                                  Kelli2006 Jun 26, 2011 10:49 PM

                                                  If you want it to save your fingers while using the mandoline you can find a Kevlar and fish cleaning glove at sporting goods stores or by Googling "Rapala Fillet Glove"

                                                  They are about $15.00.

                                                  1. re: Kelli2006
                                                    pericolosa Jun 28, 2011 10:48 AM

                                                    For mandoline use, I have been pleased with the Whiting Davis Mailite™ safety glove.

                                                    For oven heat applications, I have a pair of long Orka silicone mitts. I'm not sure that they'd permit enough fine motor control to handle chiles on the grill. Then there's the whole open flame thing....

                                                    1. re: pericolosa
                                                      sunshine842 Jun 28, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                      I used to date a fighter pilot (oh these many years ago) -- he had in his kitchen a flight glove made of super-heat-resistant material (kevlar, I want to think, but it's been too many years) -- it was as thin as a woman's knit glove. He'd put a hole in it, so he could no longer use it for flight.

                                                      It was a little unnerving to reach into a hot oven with such a seemingly flimsy piece of equipment, but it was *awesome* to have a heat-resistant glove with so much sense of touch.

                                                      Wish I'd thought to keep it! (yes, I know that's probably the $3000 Ove Glove...but I loved it.)

                                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                                        Kelli2006 Jul 23, 2011 01:22 AM

                                                        Those flight gloves are available at any army-navy surplus store for under $30.00. They are made of Kevlar.

                                                        I have 2+ pairs of motorsports racing gloves (I raced sports cars semi-professionally) in the mid-late 90s and nomex Kevlar gloves were part of our firesuits. I have an old pair of OMP gauntlets with holes in the wrists that I could use.

                                                        1. re: Kelli2006
                                                          sunshine842 Jul 23, 2011 01:40 AM

                                                          Nomex -- that's what it was.

                                                          Next time I'm stateside, I'll have a look.

                                                      2. re: pericolosa
                                                        Dax Jun 28, 2011 02:50 PM


                                                        I used this one until it ripped using the mandoline but did not cut me. Not sure the brand we have now.

                                                        I also use a Orka silicone mitt on the grill and for the oven.

                                                        That chain mail glove is awesome but spendy!

                                                        1. re: Dax
                                                          pericolosa Jun 28, 2011 06:28 PM

                                                          >That chain mail glove is awesome but spendy!

                                                          Hence eBay. If I hadn't lucked out there, I'm not sure I would have sprung for it. Ease of cleaning is worth a lot, however.

                                                          I haven't ever been able to wrap my head around the idea that anything so closely resembling a textile glove such as the BladeX5 could really be slice- protective. Lack of faith in advertising, perhaps? Tho' I could probably have gotten over it if I hadn't found the mail glove and had bought one of those instead. We'll never know, now...

                                                          I'm envious of sunshine's having had both heat protection and dexterity. The Orka mitts are a piece of cake in lots of ways, but I dread the moment when I fumble something and ruin it because of the lack of tactile feedback. Still, it was a great day when I realized they were perfect to use for flipping a large bird in the oven because they are so easy to clean.

                                                          1. re: pericolosa
                                                            chowser Jun 29, 2011 05:41 AM

                                                            Heat and protection is a great combination. I could use it when I'm shredding potatoes for gnocchi. I think one reason I don't make it often is because of that.

                                            2. Sue in Mt P Jun 23, 2011 12:59 PM

                                              Y'all! Shew! I feel so much better.....

                                              1. amyzan Jun 23, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                KM, you are a man after my own heart and apparently, habits. I do keep the soap out of my cast iron unless it holds fast to some dire crud hot water and a plastic scrubbie won't vanquish. One pan was my grandma's and I have an unhealthy attachment to it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: amyzan
                                                  KaimukiMan Jun 23, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                  I don't use soap often. But sometimes, as you pointed out, it just needs it. I've even been known to let soapy water soak things for a couple of hours. Of course that is followed by a quick swipe of oil and back on the burner for a few minutes.

                                                2. Dax Jun 22, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                  This is my favorite thread on chowhound in ages. I am here to learn but am so far from a "real cook" it's laughable. I still try though ...

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: Dax
                                                    flourgirl Jun 22, 2011 11:56 AM

                                                    I still laugh when I think back to how bad of a cook I was when I first got married. I wish Chowhound had been around back than - it probably would have made my journey a little less painful. And I'm still learning. Always. There's always more to learn, which is one of the things I love about food and cooking. It's really an endless passion and I can't ever see a time when I will feel like I've learned all there is to know and it's no longer interesting for me.

                                                    1. re: flourgirl
                                                      chowser Jun 22, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                      Amen--I was a terrible cook when I was single and then first married.At best I would follow the recipe exactly--not having any understanding of what I was doing or why, just following the steps. I made a cheesecake w/ a base of cake mix and everyone raved so I thought I was doing well. The thing is, the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Back in my box cake, follow the recipe days, I thought I was a pretty good cook. Ha, I've learned so much on CH and learned how little I know.

                                                      1. re: chowser
                                                        flourgirl Jun 22, 2011 02:21 PM

                                                        "Ha, I've learned so much on CH and learned how little I know."

                                                        So true. I can't count how many times I have been humbled by the knowledge that other CHers have and share about ingredients, food culture, cooking techniques etc. But it also inspires me to keep reading, keep trying new techniques and to stay open-minded about food and cooking.

                                                        1. re: flourgirl
                                                          DoobieWah Jun 22, 2011 02:27 PM

                                                          I believe it was Socrates who said " The beginning of wisdom is understanding how much we do not know."

                                                          Smart guy, that Socrates.

                                                          1. re: DoobieWah
                                                            buttertart Jun 23, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                            "Where three people walk together, surely one among them can be my teacher." Confucius. The amount of intellectual capital on this board is staggering.

                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                              inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 07:22 AM


                                                            2. re: DoobieWah
                                                              tatamagouche Jun 24, 2011 07:35 AM

                                                              Actually, I learned it as ""The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing."

                                                              From Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

                                                              1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                DoobieWah Jun 24, 2011 08:12 AM

                                                                I often remark that I will take my wisdom wherever I can find it.


                                                        2. re: flourgirl
                                                          Cady Jun 22, 2011 02:54 PM

                                                          My first husband cooked for a living, so I really didn't even *begin* to learn until I was 30 or so. Eight years ago, when my second husband and I moved to a place where the nearest decent restaurant or grocery store with a semi-acceptable variety of ingredients is 65 miles away, I finally started working at it.

                                                          Friends and family think I'm a good cook, I think because I make dishes they consider exotic to be making at home. But there are so many really basic, normal things that I can't do. Minor examples: I couldn't cook a grill steak or prepare a roast to save my life; if I'm simply steaming vegetables (rather than sauteing, roasting or frying), I have no clue how long they'll take...I just taste and taste until they're done.

                                                          1. re: Cady
                                                            KaimukiMan Jun 22, 2011 04:54 PM

                                                            I'm betting that chowsers cake mix cheesecake was still better than what a lot of people pull out of the freezer case, and that manymost of us, even though we don't really know what we are doing still manage to turn out pretty decent food. The reason is that we do care. You take the time to check the steaming vegetables, rather than letting them cook to mush, and I'm guessing when you are ready for a serious piece of meat you will be checking chowhound and other sites so you at least understand in theory what you are doing, and when you look at the meat in progress, it wont be a surprise. It is in the caring and the striving for better, even within some limited means and experience that good cooking occurs.

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                              Cady Jun 22, 2011 06:39 PM

                                                              lol. You're right in that if I'm actually *required* to cook a roast, I'll understand everything about it - so much as I can from reading - before I start. (In the meantime, thank god for DH, who is killer on meat. lol.) And it's because, yeah, I do care about what I'm turning out, even if it's only a bowl of mashed spuds.

                                                              I avidly follow threads here about things I haven't - *and never will* - cook. But it's still fun to "know", if you know what I mean.

                                                              (And I would have and use a microwave, but unless my generator is on, I wouldn't have enough power to run one, so we don't bother! :P)

                                                          2. re: flourgirl
                                                            onceadaylily Jun 22, 2011 06:00 PM

                                                            My first dish was "Italian Chicken". While I am still proud that I had the magic to saute chicken breasts beautifully with no tutorial (no internet in '93, and not one cookbook to my name), there was Hunt's canned sauce and the green can involved. But I was so pleased at how it came out, and with the raves from that newly-moved-in SO, that I made it every other night . . . until I was asked nicely to stop. I made it every other night because other dishes did not turn out nearly so well. I remember feeling bereft at losing the crutch that dish so quickly became. I still smile, remembering that.

                                                            1. re: onceadaylily
                                                              Cady Jun 22, 2011 06:17 PM

                                                              "...until I was asked nicely to stop."

                                                              lol! About 30 years ago - sheesh I'm old - I made some sort of a chicken vegetable rice soup thing...at least that was what it was supposed to be. I used WAY too much rice, and worse, two of the "soup vegetables" were broccoli and cauliflower. They were cooked until they were paste, essentially.

                                                              Anyway, first hubby, trying to be encouraging, raved about how good it was. A couple of months later, I was looking for something to make for dinner, and suggested the chicken/rice/broccoli/cauliflower thing. Husband turned stark white and assured me that it probably wasn't a good idea. ;-)

                                                        3. susancinsf Jun 21, 2011 10:44 PM

                                                          I can't follow a recipe exactly ever: does that make me chowish and creative or just inattentive? I do think it is one reason I am a better cook than baker; I just don't think I have the patience and attention to detail that really outstanding baking requires.

                                                          I have knives so bad even my husband, who is no cook but who does have engineering tendencies, complains about them. I think it is that lack of attention thing, again. I do notice the difference that really good knives make when I get to use them, though, so I secretly wish hubby would take it on himself to buy me a few good ones AND keep them sharp for me (in case anyone reading this wants to clue him in on my next birthday).

                                                          I do have a wonderful oven, stove and hood set up that probably cost mid-four figures, and a very pricey dishwasher to boot, but that was because they came with the house, purchased post housing crash, when we bought it...(yes, I'll admit the kitchen was a big selling point, but no, I don't do it justice).

                                                          I subscribe to a CSA and have a garden so the veggies in my cooler are generally organic, interesting and reasonably fresh, though I usually have too many of them and am not good about making stock out of the ones I don't use.

                                                          Plenty of my spices are from the 20th century. Indeed, my BIL (who is Indian and thus makes his own curry combinations) grumbled on his last visit that I had enough curry powder to last my entire lifetime and that I should never buy it ever again.... I do still use it now and then though, when BIL isn't around (I like it in mac and cheese and even put a touch in my curried vegetables).

                                                          I have a programmable rice cooker I can't program anyway, so either hubby makes the rice or I make it in a pan (though I like it baked in the winter).

                                                          I don't even own a cast iron skillet. They scare me.

                                                          I will admit that I don't get the part about the freezer. I suppose it depends on what one finds in the freezer that runneth over. I do sometimes make homemade chicken and beef stock, and you can find that and veggies and fruits from summer, in my freezer year round. So perhaps I am not a total lost cause....OTOH, you can also find frozen chicken pot pies and Stouffer's souffled spinach.

                                                          So, overall, I guess while I can fake it now and then, I am not really fooling anyone.

                                                          Keep up the good work KaimukiMan,



                                                          18 Replies
                                                          1. re: susancinsf
                                                            janetofreno Jun 23, 2011 12:25 AM

                                                            OK, the hint to your husband about the knives is duly noted, and will be made......don't you have an anniversary before the birthday? Maybe he could get it for that....or for HIS birthday! lol. Also lol on the curry powder. I can hear Jerry now....he HATES curry powder.

                                                            To KaimukuMan: I like to cook, mainly because I find it relaxing...but hubby is probably more the cook I am. His repertoire is pretty much limited to Indian food and a few other dishes....but as a rule he doesn't use shortcuts. Well, he does use upma mix...but I'm not sure upma comes as just the plain grain in the US. He's gotten more into cooking recently since he's gone to the vegetarian side; I think he realizes that veggie cooking is not really my thing so he's on the lookout for recipes and ideas all the time. And he has started to criticize my cooking after managing to avoid doing so for 25+ years. Nothing serious, because usually I do ok, but little things and in as positive a way as he can "Honey, maybe a little less orange juice in that carrot soup next time..." Like Susan, I have a problem with measurements, and like her I don't bake (although I do pretty well with pies. They are more forgiving...). I do own a cast iron skillet, but only because hubby couldn't resist it for five bucks at a garage sale. And I am afraid to use it because I get a big lecture about how to clean it properly every time I do....

                                                            No green can, but I often buy better pregrated parmesan. Lazy, ok? And I almost always use a bottled sauce as a base for my spaghetti sauce; adding my own veggies and fresh herbs. Yes, I suppose I could just chop up some tomatoes, but it IS a time saver. And no rice cooker. Actually, I don't get rice cookers. I find rice easy to cook on the stove and never understand people who have a problem with it....

                                                            1. re: janetofreno
                                                              KaimukiMan Jun 23, 2011 12:36 AM

                                                              I can make rice on the stove, one of the first things i ever learned to cook. But a rice cooker does it just as well, and I can load it up, turn it on and not have to think about it till dinner is ready. Means i can get the rice prepped, go down to the beach for my afternoon swim, and the rice is ready for dinner when I get home. And the simple ones are really cheap, bought mine second hand at a garage sale for $7, probably could have talked them down to $5.

                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                sunshine842 Jun 23, 2011 01:11 AM

                                                                for me it's just one more frigging thing to store.

                                                                Maybe when I have unlimited space.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                  souschef Jun 23, 2011 06:06 AM

                                                                  I know the feeling. There's always one more appliance you really need and cannot do without, but once you get it home the storage problem starts.

                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                    KaimukiMan Jun 23, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                                    for me, and many people in hawaii storage is not an issue. along with the coffee maker and maybe a toaster it never leaves the counter. since i'm not a coffee drinker, i've got that extra space.

                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                      inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                                      That's interesting, KM. I would have thought that space considerations are primary in a place with limited real estate like HI. Could you please explain?

                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                        KaimukiMan Jun 23, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                        space constraints are a big concern here. property and houses and condos/apartments tend to be smaller here. But in most homes here rice is cooked at least once a day, often twice, and sometimes for virtually every meal, so the rice cooker is virtually never empty, let alone "put away" someplace. Now the big rice cooker (10-15 cups), the one you use for parties, may be stored someplace (garage, attic, bedroom closet) but the one you use every day (3-5 cups), nope.

                                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                          sunshine842 Jun 23, 2011 12:53 PM

                                                                          while here in a considerably cooler climate (western Europe), I have the coffeemaker, espresso machine, hot water kettle, toaster, microwave, and Foreman-type grill (for the 10 months out of the year when it's too damned cold/windy/rainy/snowing to grill outside) No room left for a rice cooker!

                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                            inaplasticcup Jun 23, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                                            Ahh. Makes sense. Thanks!

                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                              susancinsf Jun 24, 2011 06:52 AM

                                                                              my goal in life is to retire on the Big Island...so I am practicing by having my rice cooker always in plain view on the counter. Now if only I could learn how to program it! :-)

                                                                              1. re: susancinsf
                                                                                chowser Jun 24, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                                                Love the dream. I grew up w/ a rice cooker and can't imagine not having one. I've never seen a programmable one, but that's why I had kids.;-)

                                                                          2. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                            Rella Aug 2, 2011 11:57 AM

                                                                            Good laugh for me, remembering our house in Hawaii. The washer and dryer were outside the kitchen on an un-enclosed patio. I was imagining your kitchen such as that :-)).

                                                                            Here on the mainland, I was at a party where the huge rice cooker was on the floor outside the kitchen.

                                                                      2. re: janetofreno
                                                                        madmaya Jun 24, 2011 08:48 PM

                                                                        BTW upma literally means saltdough ... it's plain semolina which is available at Indian/mideast stores. Never had grits but it may be similar? If polenta is made from semolina, it may well be the same thing. Only diff might be the grain size. For me, finer grained semolina for upma .. it's a great meal with carrots,peas etc thrown in :)

                                                                        1. re: madmaya
                                                                          janetofreno Jun 26, 2011 01:01 PM

                                                                          Grits/polenta are made from corn; semolina is wheat. Or at least that's my understanding....similar uses and texture, different plants....And yes, I agree that throwing in the veggies makes a nice meal of upma...although I admit that we are lazy and tend to buy the type that comes with spice mix....and then add our own veggies to that. Also raw cashews and/or peanuts and golden raisins are good to add to breakfast upma.....

                                                                          1. re: janetofreno
                                                                            hill food Jun 26, 2011 05:12 PM

                                                                            IIRC grits are not only corn but hominy (lye-cured corn kernels, dried and ground)

                                                                            1. re: janetofreno
                                                                              madmaya Jun 28, 2011 01:55 AM

                                                                              What's the spice mix? Just curious .. here, it's just hot oil,mustard seeds thrown in to pop,then some raw chana dal maybe, chopped onions & green chillies. No ground spices that I know of ...

                                                                              1. re: madmaya
                                                                                janetofreno Jun 28, 2011 11:46 PM

                                                                                If you mean in the upma mix it contains salt, sugar, vegetable oil, mustard seed, dehydrated green chili, hing (asafoetida), ginger powder, and dehydrated curry leaves. Its not really a spice mix per se, but that is mixed in with the packaged upma. btw a very compact seven ounce box makes four servings; I think it would make good backpacking or camping food (just add water!). As for grits, the only seasoning I put in them is salt, pepper and butter. And yes, hill food, grits is ground hominy.

                                                                                1. re: janetofreno
                                                                                  hill food Jun 29, 2011 01:42 AM

                                                                                  but I could see the upma flavors mixed into grits...!

                                                                      3. m
                                                                        mikie Jun 21, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                        Cowering in Fear, it's funny, when I read the title I thought for sure is was going to be a post on PTFE (PFOA) or Aluminium or BPA or something like that.

                                                                        Truely it would be un-American not to have a burger or hot dog on the grill from time to time.

                                                                        1. lisavf Jun 21, 2011 03:32 PM


                                                                          I'm late to the game here, but that's kind of my MO, mostly because I feel quite less knowledgeable than most everyone else here. I've been a member for years and years, yet my total number of posts is rather paltry because I just don't think I've got much to contribute. I love reading about food, I love eating, but I'm certainly no expert.

                                                                          However, what I love about CH is how much I've learned and grown. Thanks to everyone here, I've learned how to make better eggs of all sorts and just about perfected stovetop rice. No more fear. I've come to own and use and love several cast iron skillets and wouldn't trade them for anything. They will move with me to the ends of the earth if necessary. And now that I know how easy and good it is, I will always try to have a supply of homemade chicken stock in the freezer. But I won't shy away from canned if my supply runs out.

                                                                          Some things I will confess to which make me feel like a fraud are:

                                                                          I use a gas grill. Wait, make that, I LOVE to use a gas grill. I would have no patience for grilling if I had to play around with wood briquettes, etc. And with practice, I've actually gotten pretty good with it. I even made a pretty decent pulled pork, which I wouldn't have attempted without the wisdom I learned on this site.

                                                                          I only use jarred tomato sauce. Why, when making your own is so easy? DH does not like any sauce I've attempted, and since he's the only one eating it, I use the jarred for him. I'll take my pasta cacio e pepe, thank you very much. I don't eat all that much pasta anyway.

                                                                          Most meals at our house are sandwiches or salads. I hate the cleanup that goes with cooking, so on a week night, dinner is usually a sandwich. And I'm not talking special sandwiches, just ______ (insert meat name) on _________ toast with mustard/mayo, maybe cheese, maybe lettuce. And no fancy mustards, either. French's or Goulden's or, horrors, billybee honey mustard. That's right, my favorite mustard is billybee honey mustard.

                                                                          I much prefer preformed burgers from the grocery store (Wegmans) to homemade. I like a thin patty (1/4 pound), and I have tasted no real difference between those I made myself and the preformed patties. I will never grind my own meat. Just won't happen. Now, I do only buy them at Wegmans because they seem to me to be a better quality than others, but still, they're preformed.

                                                                          HOWever, because of CH, I have been on a hunt for a better ketchup to put on my burger, which after many failures I think I have found. Wegmans Organic Tomato Ketchup...

                                                                          ... which I also love to put on my hot dogs. Perish the thought!

                                                                          My bread knife is a Cutco. There, I said it. Bought as a favor to a friend who was selling, and it works well.

                                                                          I have a well-stocked supply of frozen chicken fingers (Bell & Evans), for those nights when I need to feel like I've cooked something, even though it's not really cooking. It eases my guilty conscience just a little. Very little, truth be told, but there it is.

                                                                          I mostly use bottled salad dressings. I know how to make a vinaigrette, I like a vinaigrette, but honestly, I also like the taste of a variety of bottled dressings.

                                                                          So there you have it. I'm as much of a fraud as you are. I still want to hear what all of you have to say about food and cooking!

                                                                          I feel much better now. I guess confession is good for the soul!

                                                                          18 Replies
                                                                          1. re: lisavf
                                                                            cleobeach Jun 22, 2011 07:11 AM

                                                                            I also love my gas grill.

                                                                            If I had to buy, store and dispose of briquettes, we would never grill.

                                                                            We don't have a place to store a still hot grill full of coals/ashes, the grill would have to sit outside until the next day. Mr. CB, who was burned by hot charcoal coals as a child, absolutely will not allow a traditional charoal grill at our house.

                                                                            1. re: lisavf
                                                                              sherriberry Jun 23, 2011 03:51 PM

                                                                              Ditto on the gas grill and the cutco (nephew earning $ for college-I was so proud of his efforts I bought the whole set). The knives still work fine. And I also confess to having a santuko(sp?)knife hawked by Rachel Ray that I love.
                                                                              I make very good mac and cheese from scratch, starting with a bechamel sauce, but also sometimes make the blue box because hubby likes it. And sometimes life is such that shortcuts are necessary to maintain sanity. For the last 8 months of my mother's life, she was in a nursing home. I was there every day after work and all day on the weekends. (if you've ever had a loved on in a nursing home, you'd understand the necessity of that.) When I got home, I still cooked for my hubby. Thank God for frozen chicken tenders and box pasta mixes.

                                                                              1. re: sherriberry
                                                                                sunshine842 Jun 23, 2011 11:00 PM

                                                                                I was actually IN the Cutco factory for business years ago -- the knives THEY MAKE there in their plant in upstate New York (as opposed to those made in other countries) are actually very well-made and are undeserving of any snark or snipe.

                                                                                (I've been in knife factories in Germany, too.)

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                  Passadumkeg Jun 24, 2011 06:23 AM

                                                                                  We have one Cutco knife. My 65 year old brother sold them while in college! Serrated, blade but the handle is so damn comfortable. It cuts. Free resharpening from the factory.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                    lisavf Jun 24, 2011 06:24 AM

                                                                                    There does tend to be snark on the Cookware board whenever someone mentions Cutco. And I understand why, if you're a real connoisseur of knives. They're not the be-all and end-all, just pretty well marketed. But I do really like my bread knife. (The carving knife not so much, as I've come to prefer a straight-edge knife for carving, but that's just a preference, not a condemnation.)

                                                                                    1. re: lisavf
                                                                                      cowboyardee Jun 24, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                                                      The main issue with em, from the perspective of a cookware board regular, is that they are way overpriced for what they are. Not that they're terrible knives, but just that forschner and Dexter Russell, and Mundial, and CCK and Kiwi are making better knives for much less money.

                                                                                      The point isn't to make people who own them feel bad but just to steer someone who is looking to buy knives toward the best options for their money.

                                                                                      Also their marketing and sales pitch is misleading and annoying, so people don't feel bad talking smack on em.
                                                                                      [runs away]

                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                        sunshine842 Jun 24, 2011 03:07 PM

                                                                                        how about "they are undeserving of snark or snipe from a *quality* standpoint"

                                                                                        I pretty much break out in hives at the very idea of buying knives from a door-to-door salesman, and I'll do anything I can to get out of Tupperware parties (the Pampered Chef parties I've been to have actually been pleasant evenings.)

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                          tracylee Jun 24, 2011 05:16 PM

                                                                                          Yeah, people finally stopped inviting me to those things because I never indicate an interest in hosting one myself.

                                                                                          That being said, I love my Cutco cheese knife, even if the exes were afraid of washing it, because it bites!

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                            cowboyardee Jun 24, 2011 08:12 PM

                                                                                            Most definitely - if they're sharp, they'll work.

                                                                                            I still don't much like the company, but that has nothing to do with the people who buy their knives.

                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                              inaplasticcup Jun 24, 2011 08:27 PM

                                                                                              LOL. Everyone's got a Cutco story. I still have the whatever thingy it is that looks like a serrated icing spatula from 20 years ago when my brother was trying to make some extra money. Maybe it's like tracylee's cheese knife? That thing cuts cake like nothing else. :)

                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                tracylee Jun 24, 2011 09:07 PM

                                                                                                This is what mine looks like: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_12XpBm0IMkQ...

                                                                                                I eat enough cheese that the knife doesn't stay in my knife block for very long.

                                                                                                1. re: tracylee
                                                                                                  inaplasticcup Jun 24, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                                                                  Ok. That's not it. But yours looks like a mighty fine cheesecutter, tl. :)

                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                            EWSflash Jun 26, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                                                            I think the Cutco bread knife is a perfect example of a good bread knife, and you don't have to get it sharpened very often.

                                                                                            I also got a Rachael Ray bread knife that's just great- and it was cheap. If it only didn't have that embarrasing telltale orange damn handle...

                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                              hill food Jun 26, 2011 08:43 PM

                                                                                              EWS: go to the hardware/paint store and get a bottle of Tool Dip - it's the quick drying rubber coating electricians use on a pliers handles to insulate their hands from mild electric shocks. usu available in red or blue and provides a nice comfy non-slip grip AND covers any annoying logo.

                                                                                              1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                KaimukiMan Jun 26, 2011 11:33 PM

                                                                                                orange handle? my cutco knives are black handled.

                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                  Cady Jun 26, 2011 11:54 PM

                                                                                                  I think that EWS said his/her Rachel Ray bread knife was orange, not the Cutco knife.

                                                                                                  1. re: Cady
                                                                                                    hill food Jun 27, 2011 01:22 AM

                                                                                                    Cady: that was my impression as well. and I suppose if one is clever with pigments any hue is possible.

                                                                                                    1. re: hill food
                                                                                                      EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 10:28 AM

                                                                                                      Oooh- I think I'll do that with the Cutco knife AND the RR knives.

                                                                                    2. tracylee Jun 21, 2011 04:43 AM

                                                                                      On Sunday, my parents had invited me down to a dinner of lasagne that my Mom was trying a new recipe for. Depending on what they're making, I've been known to take my own ingredients, such as wasabi powder for ahi sashimi. If they have a specialty ingredient, there are times when it's old and growing.

                                                                                      So she was using no-bake lasagne noodles and following the recipe on the box. She had all of the ingredients prepared, meat and sausage sauce, ricotta egg mix, and was grating mozzarella on the microplane (a long job, and painful to watch). I started the assembly, since it appears that Mom doesn't remember ever making lasagne before (or maybe because the noodles were different, any previous efforts were erased from her brain).

                                                                                      The sauce meat sauce was too thick and too scant to cook the noodles in the dish, so we added a can of tomato sauce, to which I added some of her dried herbs, and we ended up adding most of a jar of pasta sauce that was of questionable age. To top it off, of course, was canned parmesan. Yes, I was cringing by then.

                                                                                      But ya know what? It was a pretty darned good lasagne. All 3 of us had more than our share, and each element (OK, maybe not the parmesan) definitely added to the combination.

                                                                                      Now I'm trying to decide what of my own to take to our summer getaway for a week! A knife, real parmesan, etc. etc. and not appear like a snob, but for my own comfort level.

                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: tracylee
                                                                                        inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 07:30 AM

                                                                                        Still chuckling at the mozzarella on microplane.... :)

                                                                                        I vote for the knife!

                                                                                        1. re: tracylee
                                                                                          sedimental Jun 21, 2011 07:53 AM

                                                                                          I vote for a box grater at least! :)

                                                                                          1. re: sedimental
                                                                                            tracylee Jun 21, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                                                            I mentioned the box grater and she said she thought it'd be more work and cleanup. At least by the end of grating (and me getting cheese off the counter and into the bowl), I convinced her to grate the cheese over the top of the microplane, rather than from underneath. I told her that when looks don't matter much, like in lasagne or cooking for myself, I just cut the mozz. She's getting better and more adventurous as she gets into her late 60s. It's taken this long to get over her mother not letting her into the kitchen.

                                                                                          2. re: tracylee
                                                                                            LorenM Jun 21, 2011 08:49 AM

                                                                                            Very funny story!. Lasagna is like sex- even when done badly, it can still be pretty good sometimes.

                                                                                            1. re: LorenM
                                                                                              srsone Jun 21, 2011 10:12 AM

                                                                                              i thought that was pizza...

                                                                                              1. re: LorenM
                                                                                                hill food Jun 21, 2011 09:53 PM

                                                                                                Loren - ha! as long as all facets are completed, yes, it's hard to ruin lasagna. sure you've had better and then again one may have had much worse.

                                                                                                1. re: hill food
                                                                                                  EWSflash Jun 26, 2011 07:03 PM

                                                                                                  My mother went on a jag and made lasagna for Christmas dinner several years in a row. Uncharacteristically, she managed to burn it every time, and not just a few little black crunchies here and there. It was borderline not-so-good.

                                                                                            2. k
                                                                                              kaleokahu Jun 19, 2011 08:22 PM

                                                                                              E, kaimukiman, Aloha Kaua:

                                                                                              280+ responses in 4 days... You hit some *nerves*, Braddah!

                                                                                              Kinda interesting, both your OP and the many responses. To yours, I can only say 'ole pilikia. With the exceptions of the copper cookware and bechemel/roux/gravy items, we're paddling the same wa'a, man. Except I got you beat onda freezers (unless you have more than three large chest freezers!), and tonight it's Kraft Mac & Cheese.

                                                                                              The nerve I think you touched with your OP is that it (brilliantly, as usual) allowed people the opportunity to lighten up a bit. Not just on CH, but all over, people think others expect more of them than they really do, and so they're really hard on themselves. It feeds *not* saying or asking things, and things left unsaid or unasked result in fear of being "found out" as a poseur. This is pupule (crazy) of course, but a little dogma and 'tude can be very stifling.

                                                                                              As Jim Leff recently posted in strong opposition--in connection with the proposed "Ask the Experts" idiocy--anointing experts and even allowing subtler forms of culinary intimidation and celebrity worship is antithetical to what CH was intended to be. I call it collegiality, Leff calls it "level", but the idea is that we CHers are all 'experts', we all have much to learn, and it is the *collective* expertise that makes CH great. You, ko'u aikane, have underscored this with this self-deprecating thread.

                                                                                              It's OK for us all not to beat ourselves up for not making everything from scratch or with the most expensive, rare, or trendy implements. And it's hewa to put anyone down who doesn't make what others *do* make elaborately or from scratch.

                                                                                              My own beeg confession--bourne of the same fear of being found out--is that I can be more a part of the problem than the solution. Kala mai i'au.

                                                                                              You have the manaʻo akamai, brotherman. You are more kahuna than hōlona.

                                                                                              Kū makaʻu 'ole 'oe.


                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                onceadaylily Jun 19, 2011 08:57 PM

                                                                                                Insightful you, beautifully said.

                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                  KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 02:06 AM

                                                                                                  mahalo, you truly are kaleokahu.

                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                    TheHuntress Jun 20, 2011 04:11 AM

                                                                                                    Kaleo, you are an absolute gem.

                                                                                                    1. re: TheHuntress
                                                                                                      kaleokahu Jun 20, 2011 12:01 PM

                                                                                                      Awww, you guys are 'way too nice.

                                                                                                      And, Huntress, I'm stirred anew that such a nani, akamai owner of a Thermomix would step into kaimukiman's confessional.

                                                                                                      Aloha Kakou,

                                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                                                                                        TheHuntress Jun 22, 2011 12:42 AM

                                                                                                        Aw, Kaleo, I'm not sure I'm worthy of such lovely words. I love my thermomix and happily share it with everyone, but it makes me no better in the kitchen than anyone else. I enjoy these confessionals because like so many others I do take short cuts and I don't believe anyone should feel bad to do so. Sometimes I do start to wonder if perhaps I overrate myself in how I can cook compared to so many people on these boards, but it's a matter of stepping back and learning something more than anything else. Maybe one day I will learn some knife skills or be inclined to brine meat (I'm still not really sure what that's all about), but in the meantime I'm quite happy doing what I'm doing and I hope everyone else is without any shame attached.

                                                                                                        1. re: TheHuntress
                                                                                                          hill food Jun 22, 2011 01:13 AM

                                                                                                          ehh get a room folks (but does look like a good appliance)

                                                                                                          1. re: hill food
                                                                                                            TheHuntress Jun 22, 2011 01:16 AM

                                                                                                            Hey, my appliance rocks! LOL

                                                                                                          2. re: TheHuntress
                                                                                                            EWSflash Jun 26, 2011 07:00 PM

                                                                                                            Wow- I'd never heard of a thermomix- quite the machine (I looked it up)!

                                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                              TheHuntress Jun 27, 2011 02:11 AM

                                                                                                              It is a fantastic piece of equipment! The great thing about it is that you don't need a million other appliances, it just does everything. There are still some things that I prefer to do by hand and there are also times when I just want to be involved in the cooking process, but as a tool in the kitchen is pretty darn useful. And it makes a pretty mean risotto, which makes me happy as I never have the patience to stand and stir it myself :)

                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                      sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:14 PM

                                                                                                      Crockpot? I am an excellent cook and use a crock pot. Some dishes just taste best slow cooked all day. Vegetable curry, tomato soup, and beans of any kind come to mind. My knives are not well tended to either. Really, all of those things on your list are pretentious and arbitrary for the most part. Just make what you love and do your best. Tune out the judgers.

                                                                                                      1. s
                                                                                                        S_K Jun 18, 2011 09:36 PM

                                                                                                        This is a rather adorable thread! I figured that there were a lot of us "frauds" over here in chowhound land! Anyway what I guess is we all love food a lot and want to learn more and talk about our passions. And the people that are passionate about one thing are not as passionate about other things. But sometimes it intimidates the people who don't know anything about that topic. I commit faux pas all the time! Oh well! The next time it will taste better!

                                                                                                        Also wanted to say if I wasn't married I'd probably ask you out on a date for being so adorably honest.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: S_K
                                                                                                          bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 10:04 PM

                                                                                                          >>This is a rather adorable thread! I figured that there were a lot of us "frauds" over here in chowhound land!<<

                                                                                                          I don't know if we're frauds! I think the average hound has a serious passion for stuff that goes in the pie hole, but the realities of life cannot be escaped for most of us. Kids need to be fed, work often demands an extra hour or two or six, and crunch time leads to needing to be more resourceful in our means that lead to a reasonable end.

                                                                                                          1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                            sunshine842 Jun 19, 2011 01:57 AM

                                                                                                            + kajillion

                                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                              hill food Jun 19, 2011 02:30 AM

                                                                                                              ya does what ya can.

                                                                                                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                                flourgirl Jun 19, 2011 05:15 AM


                                                                                                            2. Ruth Lafler Jun 18, 2011 07:34 PM

                                                                                                              First, LOL!!!!!

                                                                                                              Second, it's bechamel -- the spellchecker just doesn't recognize it. It's not hard to make, and once you do, I think you'll find it useful (and you can get rid of the canned mushroom soup :-) ).

                                                                                                              Third, LOL!!!!!

                                                                                                              Fourth, there's nothing wrong with using shortcuts -- anyone who says they never do is either lying, unemployed and/or independently wealthy.

                                                                                                              Fifth -- get rid of the green can cheese, dude! How hard is it to pick up a wedge of decent parm, which will keep forever in your fridge, and a microplane?

                                                                                                              Sixth -- thanks for the funniest thread I've read on chowhound in a while.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 01:58 AM

                                                                                                                thanks ruth, the comments from you longtime ch'ers mean a lot. The green can is there because i just cant toss out food. I have bought many containers of preshredded but decent parmesan since then. whats a microplane? is it like a beechcraft or a piper cub? Seriously, it would just be one more gadget I wouldn't use, but I'll consider dumping the green can in the trash.

                                                                                                                I have found out that when I actually follow my auntie's recipe for wild rice casserole I have been making bechamel, I just didn't know it. but its good to know that i can do it if i choose too. But for tuna casserole, the cream of soup is fine most of the time. Especially as that is often an impulse recipe, and diary products are never on hand in my fridge, often not even butter, certainly not cream, and only rarely milk as I break out when I drink too much of the stuff.

                                                                                                                I don't want anyone to think I'm harpooning those cooks who do take the time, some of them for virtually every meal, to cook from scratch. I admire it. And there is a fine line between taking some shortcuts and becoming a "Sandra Lee" cook, but even she has her good days and her good recipes. She also makes her share of horrendous concoctions. But without the extremes of Julia Child and Sandra Lee, how would the rest of us find a happy middle ground.

                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                  Isolda Jun 21, 2011 07:53 AM

                                                                                                                  Before I actually owned a microplane, I used to borrow a rasp from my husband's tool box (Yes, I cleaned it first!) all the time. He finally bought me a microplane (works way better, by the way) and announced, "I got you a kitchen rasp."

                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                    sunshine842 Jun 21, 2011 11:16 AM

                                                                                                                    which is, after all, what it really is.

                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                                  susancinsf Jun 21, 2011 10:20 PM

                                                                                                                  after reading your post, Ruth, I went and looked up pictures of microplanes on the internet to see what I was missing. Turns out I've had one for years. I just call it hubby's 'little cheese grater'. (though I use it for more often for lemon zest ....My cheese grater has larger holes) :-)

                                                                                                                3. j
                                                                                                                  jcattles Jun 18, 2011 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                  While I love to cook as much as I can from scratch, there are just some days where using a shortcut is much quicker & easier. We have Old El Paso tacos on a regular basis. I normally have bagged salad & precut veggies on hand. I have a big can of the green cheese in my fridge for times when I'm out of the good stuff & I have canned soup also (can't make tuna casserole with out it). We have premade forzen meals for my kids' lunches in the summer.
                                                                                                                  Funny story-Usually I buy bagged lettuce, but lately I have been buying the whole leaves & cutting them myself, one night I was cutting up the romaine & my youngest daughter came in & said "Oh wow, we're having homemade lettuce!" I cracked up & thought that maybe I shouldn't take so many shortcuts. Lol.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: jcattles
                                                                                                                    onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 04:56 PM

                                                                                                                    *Homemade lettuce*. I am going to be re-telling that story whenever I can. Oh, god, that's funny, and adorable.

                                                                                                                  2. whs Jun 18, 2011 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                      flourgirl Jun 18, 2011 04:01 PM

                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                        onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 04:07 PM

                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                          Passadumkeg Jun 18, 2011 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                            onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 05:01 PM

                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                              Passadumkeg Jun 18, 2011 06:16 PM

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

                                                                                                                              1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                                                                                cleobeach Jun 20, 2011 06:59 AM

                                                                                                                                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: cleobeach
                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 Jun 20, 2011 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                                  Mickey's Big Mouth.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                    cleobeach Jun 20, 2011 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                    Mickey's Big Mouth


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

                                                                                                                                    1. re: cleobeach
                                                                                                                                      hill food Jun 20, 2011 10:51 PM

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                      KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 12:45 PM

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                        buttertart Jun 20, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                          souschef Jun 20, 2011 12:52 PM

                                                                                                                                          And are you featured prominently in that thread ? :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef
                                                                                                                                            buttertart Jun 20, 2011 12:53 PM

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

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                              flourgirl Jun 20, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                                                                                                              "...but my baddest days were in high school."

                                                                                                                                              Mine too.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                Isolda Jun 21, 2011 07:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                Now you're scaring me. My kids are straight arrows, and I live in terror that they, like me, will turn "bad" in their 20s.(My theory is that people who are naughty in high school get it out of their systems.) But while they are living with me, I will do my best to shield them from the horrors of bad beer and parm in a green can. My daughter did confess that if she were going to get drunk on anything, it would be sherry because that's the only alcoholic drink she likes, and I'm sure that would only happen once. ICK!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                                                  sunshine842 Jun 21, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                  ugh. the memory of THAT headache would haunt her forever.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                          sunshine842 Jun 20, 2011 02:43 PM

                                                                                                                                          My grandparents were visiting us in Florida -- I was in college, and had an afternoon with no classes, so my grandma and I were sitting out in the sun (early spring in Florida is pretty darned awesome). My dad came home to the unlikely scene of his mother and his daughter, slightly sunburned and VERY giggly, with an empty 6-pack of Falstaff. To this day, I'm still not sure if the first look on his face was horror or the verge of laughing hysterically.

                                                                                                                                          Dang nasty stuff, but I'd give a small fortune to have one more day like that with her.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                            KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 07:44 PM

                                                                                                                                            but you will always have the memory.

                                                                                                                              2. re: whs
                                                                                                                                srsone Jun 18, 2011 06:52 PM

                                                                                                                                i tried doing the frozen meatballs...it never tastes the same as moms homemade meatballs...
                                                                                                                                so when i do make swedish meatballs...its handmade meatballs...with a good shot of allspice...
                                                                                                                                but yes on the cream of mushroom soup tho...

                                                                                                                              3. f
                                                                                                                                Felila Jun 18, 2011 03:20 PM

                                                                                                                                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. ipsedixit Jun 18, 2011 02:54 PM

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

                                                                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                                                                    mateo21 Jun 18, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                      DoobieWah Jun 18, 2011 08:53 AM

                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                        mateo21 Jun 18, 2011 06:12 PM

                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                          sunshine842 Jun 19, 2011 01:54 AM

                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                            DoobieWah Jun 19, 2011 04:23 AM

                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                              sunshine842 Jun 19, 2011 05:03 AM

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

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                linguafood Jun 19, 2011 05:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                so was s/he.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                  DoobieWah Jun 19, 2011 05:37 AM


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

                                                                                                                                        2. re: mateo21
                                                                                                                                          KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 01:46 AM

                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                            mateo21 Jun 20, 2011 08:42 PM

                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                            inaplasticcup Jun 21, 2011 01:42 AM

                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                              hill food Jun 21, 2011 02:34 AM

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

                                                                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                                                                tatamagouche Jun 21, 2011 06:49 AM

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

                                                                                                                                            2. monfrancisco Jun 17, 2011 09:03 PM

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

                                                                                                                                              1. p
                                                                                                                                                phrekyos Jun 17, 2011 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                  Passadumkeg Jun 17, 2011 05:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                    flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 06:40 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                  2. c
                                                                                                                                                    calf Jun 17, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                      inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 12:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                        al b. darned Jun 17, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                        ...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
                                                                                                                                                          sedimental Jun 17, 2011 06:03 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sedimental
                                                                                                                                                            souschef Jun 17, 2011 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                            The mental pictures are rapidly degenerating !

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sedimental
                                                                                                                                                              Isolda Jun 18, 2011 09:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                                                                inaplasticcup Jun 18, 2011 01:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                You're a hoot, lady... :)

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: calf
                                                                                                                                                          tatamagouche Jun 17, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                          "...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
                                                                                                                                                            KaimukiMan Jun 17, 2011 01:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                              inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 01:58 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: calf
                                                                                                                                                              Querencia Jun 17, 2011 09:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                buttertart Jun 20, 2011 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                  EWSflash Jun 26, 2011 06:50 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Oct 29, 2011 08:18 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                      EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 10:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      She even did that before she started getting high!

                                                                                                                                                            3. MGZ Jun 17, 2011 09:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                ***OH, ALRIGHT.***

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                  onceadaylily Jun 17, 2011 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  What, no scarlet letter over our avatars?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ
                                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 Jun 17, 2011 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    *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
                                                                                                                                                                      Isolda Jun 18, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                        sunshine842 Jun 18, 2011 02:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                          escondido123 Jun 18, 2011 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                            sunshine842 Jun 18, 2011 02:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                          Cady Jun 18, 2011 02:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                        bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 11:34 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                      3. d
                                                                                                                                                                        DCLindsey Jun 17, 2011 07:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                          souschef Jun 17, 2011 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                            DoobieWah Jun 17, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                              KaimukiMan Jun 17, 2011 07:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                souschef Jun 17, 2011 07:59 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: souschef
                                                                                                                                                                                DCLindsey Jun 17, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                Ninevah Jun 18, 2011 08:44 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                              4. flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 05:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                ahahahahahahahaaa!!! Great post!!!!

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


                                                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                  bayoucook Jun 17, 2011 06:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                    flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                      cleobeach Jun 17, 2011 08:52 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cleobeach
                                                                                                                                                                                        flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 09:03 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                          souschef Jun 17, 2011 09:15 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                            youngnsassy Nov 30, 2011 06:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                              LindaWhit Nov 30, 2011 10:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                youngnsassy Dec 3, 2011 09:58 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                      odkaty Jun 18, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      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: odkaty
                                                                                                                                                                                        flourgirl Jun 18, 2011 05:30 AM


                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                          odkaty Jun 18, 2011 07:59 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: odkaty
                                                                                                                                                                                            buttertart Jun 20, 2011 07:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                              KaimukiMan Jun 20, 2011 09:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                buttertart Jun 20, 2011 10:05 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                    3. v
                                                                                                                                                                                      Vidute Jun 16, 2011 09:47 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                        Isolda Jun 17, 2011 07:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                          ette Jun 18, 2011 10:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          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. f
                                                                                                                                                                                          Floridagirl Jun 16, 2011 09:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                            KaimukiMan Jun 16, 2011 10:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                            so very well put. thanks

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                              DPGood Jun 17, 2011 03:19 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not junk if you like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. onceadaylily Jun 16, 2011 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                -"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
                                                                                                                                                                                                  bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 11:32 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "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
                                                                                                                                                                                                    onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 01:13 PM


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

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                                                                                                                                                      bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 01:17 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                        onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 02:17 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily
                                                                                                                                                                                                          bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 02:33 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bulavinaka
                                                                                                                                                                                                      ette Jun 18, 2011 10:54 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ooo, domestic and imported bouillion hoarder here as well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: onceadaylily
                                                                                                                                                                                                      sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                        inaplasticcup Jun 19, 2011 02:13 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:19 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. al b. darned Jun 16, 2011 08:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Chowhound Team Jun 17, 2011 10:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                            al b. darned Jun 18, 2011 04:46 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                                                                                                                                            sueatmo Jun 16, 2011 08:04 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                              EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:46 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              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: EWSflash
                                                                                                                                                                                                                sueatmo Jun 17, 2011 02:36 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sueatmo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isolda Jun 17, 2011 07:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  souschef Jun 17, 2011 08:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    buttertart Jun 17, 2011 08:21 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sueatmo Jun 17, 2011 02:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 06:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sueatmo Jun 17, 2011 06:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            flourgirl Jun 18, 2011 04:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Passadumkeg Jun 17, 2011 07:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              KaimukiMan Jun 17, 2011 08:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sunshine842 Jun 17, 2011 11:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  hill food Jun 18, 2011 01:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Isolda Jun 18, 2011 09:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Passadumkeg Jun 18, 2011 05:02 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:36 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: souschef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Isolda Jun 18, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    buttertart Jun 20, 2011 07:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jenny Ondioline Jun 20, 2011 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        tatamagouche Jun 20, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          souschef Jun 20, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sunshine842 Jun 20, 2011 10:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttertart Jun 20, 2011 10:57 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sunshine842 Jun 20, 2011 10:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Jenny Ondioline Jun 20, 2011 11:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cady Jun 20, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isolda Jun 21, 2011 07:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  buttertart Jun 21, 2011 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sueatmo Jul 30, 2011 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            lapelosa Aug 2, 2011 05:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sueatmo Aug 2, 2011 09:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                KaimukiMan Aug 2, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sueatmo Aug 2, 2011 05:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    KaimukiMan Aug 3, 2011 03:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sueatmo Aug 3, 2011 03:46 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        EWSflash Oct 29, 2011 10:24 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. cowboyardee Jun 16, 2011 06:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  inaplasticcup Jun 16, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cowboyardee Jun 16, 2011 10:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 07:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      that flavor packet is crack, yo...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        shanagain Jun 17, 2011 08:12 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: shanagain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 09:18 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            shanagain Jun 17, 2011 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shanagain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 09:36 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Haha. I'd probably love it too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sedimental Jun 17, 2011 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          KaimukiMan Jun 17, 2011 08:21 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 09:32 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sedimental Jun 17, 2011 11:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You Da Man!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cowboyardee Jun 21, 2011 12:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: cowboyardee
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cady Jun 21, 2011 03:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                cowboyardee Jun 21, 2011 03:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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. Passadumkeg Jun 16, 2011 06:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. r
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Reston Jun 16, 2011 06:14 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Reston
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tatamagouche Jun 17, 2011 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Was it those Velveeta brownies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                nikkihwood Jun 18, 2011 10:24 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Isolda Jun 17, 2011 07:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bonus points if it was those buttered canned peas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  512window Jun 17, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  English peas!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Isolda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    onceadaylily Jun 17, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My vote is for the corn pudding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. LorenM Jun 16, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    dave_c Jun 17, 2011 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Terrieltr Jun 17, 2011 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KaimukiMan Jun 17, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        as i said.... my freezer runneth over

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. JerryMe Jun 16, 2011 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. dave_c Jun 16, 2011 05:34 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        - 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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          tracylee Jun 16, 2011 06:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            onceadaylily Jun 16, 2011 07:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tzurriz Jun 28, 2011 07:02 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tzurriz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hill food Jun 28, 2011 08:49 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: dave_c
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              melpy Jun 17, 2011 04:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sedimental Jun 17, 2011 05:58 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Veggo Jun 16, 2011 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                linguafood Jun 16, 2011 04:37 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Veggo Jun 16, 2011 04:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Jun 16, 2011 05:12 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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. t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Terrieltr Jun 16, 2011 03:30 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. al b. darned Jun 16, 2011 02:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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. re: al b. darned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    512window Jun 17, 2011 11:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's the circle of life!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. shanagain Jun 16, 2011 02:20 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      onceadaylily Jun 16, 2011 02:28 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        sunshine842 Jun 16, 2011 03:10 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        unsalted for cooking, salted for toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          onceadaylily Jun 16, 2011 08:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 07:01 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:40 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Isolda Jun 18, 2011 09:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              onceadaylily Jun 18, 2011 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                shanagain Jun 19, 2011 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Gmarie Jun 18, 2011 11:53 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: shanagain
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                inaplasticcup Jun 16, 2011 09:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  melpy Jun 17, 2011 04:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    kathleen221 Jul 23, 2011 10:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Terrieltr Nov 8, 2011 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Rella Nov 8, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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 :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Terrieltr
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          mtngirlnv Nov 11, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          +1. For years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Davwud Jun 16, 2011 11:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I never realized how bad a cook I am.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. KaimukiMan Jun 16, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tripeler Jun 17, 2011 06:56 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            EWSflash Jun 18, 2011 07:36 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. hill food Jun 16, 2011 01:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              buttertart Jun 16, 2011 05:47 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                sunshine842 Jun 16, 2011 03:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pringles *are* called that in France.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  buttertart Jun 16, 2011 05:22 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hey hey, I didn't know that! Fun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. dragonchowmein Jun 15, 2011 02:37 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                inaplasticcup Jun 15, 2011 02:50 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Amen to that. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dragonchowmein
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Stephanie Wong Jun 15, 2011 02:55 PM


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dragonchowmein
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DoobieWah Jun 15, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      dragonchowmein Jun 16, 2011 08:01 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dragonchowmein
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DoobieWah Jun 16, 2011 08:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's all I ask...


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dragonchowmein
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          bulavinaka Jun 18, 2011 11:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          >>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. Kajikit Jun 15, 2011 02:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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. applgrl Jun 15, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. t
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Terrieltr Jun 15, 2011 01:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              tatamagouche Jun 19, 2011 01:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                inaplasticcup Jun 19, 2011 02:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  sedimental Jun 19, 2011 02:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    inaplasticcup Jun 19, 2011 02:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      sedimental Jun 19, 2011 02:44 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    linguafood Jun 19, 2011 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    tatamagouche is an oyster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Veggo Jun 19, 2011 04:34 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        tatamagouche Jun 19, 2011 04:38 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Totally stalking you, Veggo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Veggo Jun 20, 2011 03:18 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      tatamagouche Jun 19, 2011 04:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tatamagouche: http://www.oysterguide.com/maps/nova-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tatamagouche
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        inaplasticcup Jun 19, 2011 04:10 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Learn something new every day. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. q
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Querencia Jun 15, 2011 01:11 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  dragonchowmein Jun 15, 2011 02:32 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tooo funny

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Querencia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    hill food Jun 16, 2011 01:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      arashall Jun 16, 2011 08:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        melpy Jun 17, 2011 04:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. inaplasticcup Jun 15, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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. 512window Jun 15, 2011 12:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cleobeach Jun 15, 2011 01:25 PM

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


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh how this makes me chuckle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: 512window
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:32 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. cookie monster Jun 15, 2011 11:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                biscottifan Jun 15, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 05:30 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: flourgirl
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    inaplasticcup Jun 17, 2011 07:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That Ghirardelli brownie mix is some handy shizz...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mandycat Jun 15, 2011 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chowrin Jun 15, 2011 07:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      escondido123 Jun 16, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        tatamagouche Jun 16, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JerryMe Jun 16, 2011 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tatamagouche Jun 17, 2011 06:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. Disneyfreak Jun 15, 2011 11:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. i
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Isolda Jun 15, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              souschef Jun 17, 2011 05:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              " 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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                buttertart Jun 17, 2011 06:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If it was, they were all interesting and useful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Isolda Jun 17, 2011 07:42 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  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. ttoommyy Jun 15, 2011 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                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: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  buttertart Jun 15, 2011 01:06 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Raise their own cattle AND wheat!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ttoommyy Jun 16, 2011 07:06 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EWSflash Jun 16, 2011 08:24 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EWSflash
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        buttertart Jun 17, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And it's 100% organic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    flourgirl Jun 17, 2011 05:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      EWSflash Jun 18, 2011 07:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        flourgirl Jun 19, 2011 05:09 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sunshine842 Jun 19, 2011 06:39 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Passadumkeg Jun 19, 2011 06:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              sunshine842 Jun 19, 2011 09:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Isolda Jun 21, 2011 07:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sisterfunkhaus Jun 19, 2011 01:24 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. l
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          link_930 Jun 15, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          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. alanbarnes Jun 15, 2011 10:04 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DoobieWah Jun 15, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "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
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                CapreseStacy Jun 17, 2011 07:28 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: alanbarnes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                melpy Jun 16, 2011 06:12 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  laliz Nov 30, 2011 11:52 AM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sunshine842 Nov 30, 2011 12:25 PM

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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: laliz
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cady Nov 30, 2011 12:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I use the Idahoan regular, if I have to use instant. If y