mhays's Profile

Display Name: mhays
Member Since: 8/16/10

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Here's a blog that discusses exactly your issue (graininess two or three days later) and two ways to combat it: http://www.painlesscooking.com/caramel-candy-recipe.html


Why Are My Soft Caramels Getting Grainy? Good Questions
7/9/14 06:52 PM

I think you're just over-cooling your frosting - it should whip up just fine if it's at the right temperature. I'm guessing that's why the ATK version works - it's just barely chillled.


How Do I Make Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting? Good Questions
6/20/14 11:07 AM

Of course, this is just flourless chocolate cake - Nutella's just covering the sugar, chocolate and, mostly, the fat by replacing the butter with mostly palm oil.

If you don't like Nutella, the good news is that this is just as easy to make from scratch with a traditional recipe. I suppose if you start with truffles you could make a two-ingredient one...


How To Make 2-Ingredient Nutella Brownies Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
6/9/14 10:14 AM

I have actually unscrewed mine before to take care of that - be aware that it might take a special tool (I think the bolts were hex-shaped) but it was pretty easy to do.

I've also successfully cleaned my "self-cleaning" (the "steam" version, don't ever buy one - it's useless) oven using Easy-Off Fume-Free trigger cleaning spray in a similar manner to what's described here.


The Only Way I Was Able To Clean My Greasy Oven Door
5/19/14 10:56 AM

I have a blog project about cooking using foods available in food deserts. I want to reiterate what an earlier poster said - it's more complicated than one would think: I very much doubt that someone on SNAP could afford to make many of the meals I've come up with even if the foods are available, and I also am well aware that many SNAP recipients don't have time to cook - REALLY. For instance, one of our school's crossing guards also works as a lunch server at a different school - and works weekends as a crossing guard for the City. All minimum-wage jobs, all without benefits, 7 days a week. She is unable to find a better job in part because of a reading disability.) A lack of time and energy to cook does not equate to laziness.

That said, I don't see how frozen or other minimally preserved foods are worse for the environment - when you discuss fresh produce and the environment, you also have to consider the enormous amount of waste that goes along with them. (An article I found on post-harvest, pre-retail loss of fresh produce suggests that we don't even have an accurate way to measure how much produce never makes it to market. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-harvest_losses_(vegetables) )

For those of you who are actually looking to reduce your costs, SNAP has a website on the USDA site that offers budget-minded recipes for its recipients. You can plug in the ingredients you have on hand, and it will find you a recipe. http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/


How To Eat Well When You're Low on Cash Budget Living
5/10/14 01:52 PM

LOL, I'm surprised nobody mentioned my favorite - flat-fold diapers (the ones that are like 27" square) They're the most similar cloth to paper towels I know, and they're easily boiled/bleached after doing tasks that might make re-using unsanitary, that's their job :-)

Seriously. Best kitchen tool ever.


What Is the Best Replacement for Paper Towels in the Kitchen? Good Questions
4/18/14 10:02 PM

Yup, we did a dump cake for a friend once - actually, the cake wasn't near as difficult as the icing. (You bake it in a skillet with a lid over the coals, with more coals on the lid for even heat) We used this system - the recipe is only OK, find a real dump cake recipe instead: http://www.trails.com/how_989_birthday-cake-over-campfire.html

We did our banana boat s'mores with crumbles of graham cracker - really turned it up a notch. Do it with dark chocolate and pour-over rum & set on fire a la bananas foster for extra fun!

BTW, pre-made homemade marshmallows are a gift from heaven. Anything you make with them will be good. You'll need to keep them cold, though (they're just gelatin and sugar; they melt.) You can flavor them, too, and then you can kick the whole 'smores thing up a notch: http://www.chicagonow.com/quips-travails-braised-oxtails/2013/07/sundays-with-sparky-neapolitan-marshmallows/


Ideas for Birthday Desserts That I Can Make While Camping? Good Questions
4/17/14 08:18 PM

I remember! My heartburn lasted beyond pregnancy - and then my son was intolerant of many foods when I was breastfeeding! I had to cut out dairy completely, and avoid all kinds of foods like onions and beans and garlic...I subsisted on fried chicken (somehow didn't bother me) and almond milk. The one good thing was that most of my bad food habits revolved around dairy, so I lost the baby weight right on schedule!

I did, on the good advice of my physician, switch my high-iron prenatal vitamin to one that had no iron and added a slow-release iron pill to supplement it: ask your doctor, iron supplements often cause heartburn, but they're important (I quit taking it and developed anemia, so I know from experience.)

Rice is great - and though you'll need fiber, I was better off with white foods during this time. I got fiber from artichokes and other high-fiber vegetables instead. I found that white rice and white bread kind of "absorbed" things better. You can stir all kinds of things into rice or make maki or omsubi...in fact, see if a kind of Japanese-style diet (minus the uncoooked fish, of course) will work for you both flavor-wise and heartburn-wise.

Tortilla de patatas in small portions might also work, as long as you go easy on the fat - you can make a big one ahead of time and eat pieces cold for lunch. I think risottos are a great idea, and they can easily be made vegan, or with chicken stock alone. Lentils have a ton of iron, add them to rice or make lentil soup with carrots instead of tomatoes.


Quick, Healthy Meals That Won't Trigger Pregnancy Heartburn? Good Questions
4/14/14 08:11 PM

Interesting that many of the glowingly positive reviews of this product have only one review to their name, and registered on the day they made it.

Makes me somewhat suspicious of the company...


Good Questions: Experience with LoveSac's Modular Sofas?
3/16/14 08:57 PM

Low and Slow by Gary Wivviot and Colleen Rush - you can get a lot of information just off the website http://www.lowslowbbq.com/

Gary owns a local BBQ restaurant on the northside of Chicago.


Tools, Cookbooks & Other Resources for Using a Smoker? Good Questions
2/11/14 10:27 AM

Anybody else having trouble accessing the original site? I love going to blogs like this for ideas - my own blog isn't about austerity cooking, but it has a related theme.

I agree that this woman should be lauded for what she was able to do. That said, I do often worry that these kinds of stories are held up as an example of "how to overcome poverty." Simply put, there's more to it: Jack Monroe of A Girl Called Jack, mentioned in earlier comments, has two excellent essays about hunger and government support on her site that I'd recommend.

BTW, 100g of bacon is 4 strips, which have over 10 grams of protein, approximately 20% of the day's recommendation for adult women. Keep in mind in the course of that day, there's also protein in the bread and fritters (in the form of gluten) and also in the lentils (16 g of protein in a cup.) It looks to me like a fairly healthy menu.


How Lesley Cooper Fed Her Family for Less Than $2 a Day
2/9/14 12:22 PM

Our usual tongue-in-cheek valentines' dish is anticuchos (a Peruvian beef heart dish; it's delicious but the prep isn't exactly romantic...)

However, one year we made Flaming Hearts Endive with Apples, a kind of composed warm salad - delicious, beautiful, romantic and something you could definitely make together as there are several different steps to it. It's not a meal in itself, but a beautiful side dish or appetizer.


Help Me Find Something New and Challenging to Make for Valentine's Dinner! Good Questions
1/26/14 12:45 AM

I don't ordinarily recommend a brand, but I use a combination of a good brand of whole peeled tomatoes (or diced tomatoes if I want chunks that don't dissolve) and Pomi's Strained Tomatoes in the box. It's got nothing but tomatoes in it - no salt, no calcium, just tomatoes - but they've clearly been reduced a bit because it is thick and smooth. (I've also used La Bella San Marzano strained tomatoes, but it's thinner and requires a bit more cooking.)

I sometimes can my own tomato sauce in the summer - basically, a chunky sauce turns into a smooth, thick one if you leave it to reduce over low heat for a LONG TIME if you're using fresh tomatoes (or canned peeled ones without additives.)


How Can I Make Thicker Tomato Sauce? Good Questions
1/11/14 10:38 AM

Wow. Folks here are a lot cleaner and more organized than I am! First of all, and I think most importantly - if I'm cooking for other people, I ask them to help with cleanup. Least they can do - especially if they live with you. Insist. Really.

Second, I clean before I cook. That way, I can rinse & stack dishes in the sink, and sometimes I leave them until morning. It's not ideal - make sure you don't leave food residue around or you'll attract mice or bugs - but I figure as long as dishes get cleaned up within a day, I'm OK. Sometimes, just taking a break between eating and cleanup is enough. Cooking is tiring, so is cleanup!

Cooking one-pot meals will help, but remember, at minimum you will have to clean a knife, a cutting board, a cooking vessel of some sort and a cooking utensil of some sort as well as the things you use to eat. (You can always eat on disposables if it's that big of a deal to you!)

If you're only cooking for yourself, be minimalist about it. You can also cook everything by turns in the same pan (e.g. sautee potatoes, plate them, sautee meat and mushrooms/onions, plate them, sautee spinach/garlic plate them.) Plate them directly onto what you're eating off of and put that in the oven or microwave to keep warm. Put the pan to soak while you eat. Another of my tricks when I was single: I bought pre-cut veggies from the salad bar (no knife/cutting board!)

Some of it: lower your standards a little! Cooking is messy, and Martha Stewart and her ilk have legions of minions to do the cleanup! Do the minimum you need to do to keep your kitchen safe from pests and use a sanitizing cleaner so you don't have to worry about food residue you might have missed.


How Can I Cook Without Making a Huge Mess? Good Questions
1/9/14 11:00 AM

Kedgeree. I wrote a recipe for my blog that uses canned tuna, but traditionally it's made with smoked kippers. Fish that's already preserved, like smoked, canned or salted fish, will probably do better in a reheating situation. For instance, salt cod recipes usually keep for a while, like Brandade and Baccalao. (You can make them with fresh cod, but they aren't as good; salt cod stays firmer after it is rehydrated.) There's lots of delicious Caribbean recipes for salt cod.


Can You Suggest Any Make-Ahead Fish or Seafood Recipes? Good Questions
1/8/14 03:49 PM

I love using cranberry sauce in Linzer cookies. Beats the heck out of the traditional raspberry jam.


What Are Some Awesome Ways to Use Up My Homemade Cranberry Sauce? Good Questions
12/29/13 12:00 PM

Spanish tortilla (the potato one.) Can be served hot or cold, in big wedges as a meal or in small squares for an appetizer, it's easy to make (see Serious Eats for a potato chip version that's a snap.) Not vegan-friendly, but it works for just about everyone else.

Soup "shooters" in shot glasses or demitasse cups - vegetarian soup is pretty easy: minestrone, potato-leek, red lentil are some options.

Check out the cookbook "Plenty" for some terrific vegetarian ideas. I've made the mushroom ragout (I didn't make it with the flatbreads, but instead served it with polenta) and they were substantial and had a nice, umami depth to them that I often miss in vegetarian meals. (I used canned Indian preserved-lemon chutney, which I recommend over the plain preserved lemon in the recipe.)


Ideas for Festive Vegetarian Appetizers for Christmas Day? Good Questions
12/22/13 05:48 PM

We camp, and coffee is an important part of camping. I've since figured out that systems that require hot water to be heated separately are a pain in the butt.

I "liberated" my mother's Moka from the basement and we're going to try that - now you guys tell me how you are going to find hot water in the circumstances you describe (half the reason motel coffee is weak is that motel coffeemakers don't really heat the water.)


Humble Cup: Make a Great Cup of Pour-Over Coffee Anywhere You Go
12/12/13 05:19 PM

There are two types of Japanese cheesecake - one is fluffy and cake-like, the other is kind of like a fruity version of the Jell-O cheesecakes that come in a mix. The latter is called Rare Cheesecake, and despite my description can be delicious and easy to make.

Japanese Rare Cheesecake recipes use agar-agar (kanten) as a thickener, but most people just substitute Knox unflavored gelatin. A quick google of the phrase will turn up dozens of recipes, it's easy and delicious and will appeal to all kinds of palates.


What Dessert Should I Make for a Japanese Dinner Party? Good Questions
12/11/13 06:12 PM

I second the chili - I actually keep a can just to add to my chili!

You can also make a lot of Persian dishes with pumpkin - I've made Bolani Kadu, a savory pumpkin turnover that's kind of like a Quesadilla with pumpkin instead of cheese.

You can make an easy and delicious pumpkin soup by combining the pumpkin with the juice and zest of an orange, a little bit of ginger and some coconut milk. Thin with stock as needed.


What Are Some Easy, Healthy Ways to Use Up Leftover Pumpkin Puree? Good Questions
12/10/13 08:23 PM