ks sunflower's Profile

Display Name: ks sunflower
Member Since: 11/23/10

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Just had to share a family anecdote that makes us smile to this day. A few years ago when our daughter started a program at UC-Berkeley, she lived in the basement of a family home and had kitchen privileges there.

One day, as she was cooking, her landlady (an otherwise sophisticated and competent cook) asked her what it was that she was using to turn the food in the skillet. Our daughter replied, "oh, these are just tongs," not registering the fact that it might be unusual for someone not to recognize them.

The landlady then asked, "oh, is that some Midwestern thing, some regional specialty? Do you think I could order some?"

Oh, yes, you know how exotic and weird we Midwestern cooks are, hehe.

The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cooking Tools & Utensils
Setting Up a Kitchen

2/29/12 04:05 PM

To Jess13, Silpat does seem to worry people. I find it easy to wash if I simply keep it on the cooky sheet washing rinsing each side as I go, then rinsing off the front side again. Then I place the Silpat on a kitchen towel and simply roll it up. Dries quickly.

Don't worry if the Siplat still feels oily - that is the nature of the beast. It is safe and sanitary after you wash and rinse it.

After it is dry (takes just a few seconds for the towel to absorb the rinse water), I simply roll it up and slide on a rubber band (well, I use a silicone rubber band designed for the oven, but only because this way I know where it is). I then store it on a shelf.

I use my Silpats a lot more now that I have down this technique. Hope it helps you.

The Kitchn's Guide to Essential Cooking Tools & Utensils
Setting Up a Kitchen

2/29/12 03:59 PM

Great list. I also agree with RMF325 about keeping coconut oil on hand and TJ's version is indeed economical as as well as good.

My basic pantry expands to include rice, quinoa, a variety of dried pasta, chocolate chips and cocoa, good salts, potatoes, and canned tomato paste - aside from baking basics and perishables such as eggs and milk. With all ones already listed in the post and other comment along with mine, I feel prepared for almost anything.

Oh, and because we have a fantastic Chinese grocery store here, I also have begun keeping a wide range of Lee Kum Kee sauces on hand - their Korean Barbeque sauce is fantastic for doing ribs. I cannot always understand what is in other brand names there, but this brand always lists its ingredients in English which is important because my husband has food allergies. Adding even a dash of an intense or aromatic sauce can lift the most mundane dishes.

Thanks for a great post. I look forward to seeing what others add.

My Pantry Essentials: Garlic, Onions, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce
2/17/12 04:09 PM

Thanks jaybee6! I bookmarked that recipe. Sounds fantastic!

What Can I Do With Thai Chili Garlic Sauce?
Good Questions

1/10/12 05:28 PM

The No-Bake Chocolate Cake looks gorgeous, but unfortunately my Spanish is too elemental to translate the recipe.

Can anyone provide an English translation for it on this blog or direct us to one?

Free Up the Oven for Turkey: 5 No-Bake Desserts
11/15/11 04:34 PM

Thanks, Faith, for the link to that gorgeous and delicious Carrot Slaw. It will be perfect, and is a much improved version of my beloved childhood memory of carrot and raisin slaw. That was good, but this is better.

Carrot Slaw With Cranberries And Toasted Walnuts
Good Eats! A Weekly Roundup from Serious Eats

11/10/11 07:26 PM

I think it is a practical idea and one that would work. What is with all the negative comments here?

If you don't like it, don't do it, but don't ridicule it. Goodness, folks, grow up. Sarah Rae was sharing a creative use for old buttons that might have good memories associated with them.

Thanks, Sarah Rae, for a creative and fun tip for using up our button stashes (for those of us who have them or have inherited them). I like the idea of have a reason to use and see one of inherited buttons every day.

Why You Should Sew A Button On A Dishcloth
11/10/11 12:49 PM

The jars are adorable, but at a buck and half for each jar with the lids extra, they are far beyond my budget.

Nice idea. Just not accessible for some of us. Thanks for the mason jar hint, but those are probably too big even in the smallest size.

I join jess13 in worrying about the chalk getting smudged. Still, a cute idea.

DIY Project: Easy-To-Label Spice Jars
9/15/11 12:25 PM

Thanks sunshinechief and christinesass!

I asked the employees at a large liquor store and they had no clue, so it's very nice to read your advice. That's the beauty and blessing of the internet - often only a question away from the info you need. Thanks!

Best Intentions: When Ingredients Sit on the Shelf
8/11/11 06:57 PM

I will see a recipe calling for a liquor which I go out and buy, and even if the recipe turns out I don't always have the occasion or desire to repeat it quickly (there are so many recipes to try and so little time!).

I don't know how long a liquor can last. For example, I have some Chambord that is now several years old. Anyone know if it's still good or safe to use?

If anyone knows of a resource that tells how long you can keep booze of various types, I sure appreciate knowing about it.

Best Intentions: When Ingredients Sit on the Shelf
8/11/11 04:40 PM

I agree with Smile. This is a brilliant idea for a non-gluten dessert. Will be making these soon. Thanks!

Awesome Idea: Coconut Macaroon Tart Crusts
8/8/11 10:38 AM

Although I like the materials and the simple design, I think the price is horrendous. An apron this simple would be a snap to make at a fraction of the cost. Goodness, sixty-five dollars for a simple, simple apron???

Cotton Denim Apron from Small Batch Production
Daily Find

8/8/11 10:33 AM

M'elizabeth has the right idea: dishwashers are great, and I feel lucky to have one. It saves water, is more sanitary and keeps the kitchen more tidy-looking. We rent so we had to get a portable one, and though it is a bit of a pain to have standing in the midst of our galley kitchen walkspace, It wouldn't give it up by choice. I also use its top as extra counter space. Love it!

How to Use Your Dishwasher to Save Money
8/5/11 08:34 AM

I haven't used pepper in years because my husband is allergic to it. He has gout, which is can be triggered by stress, alcohol, and various things in his diet such as black pepper. He can easily avoid alcohol and can manage stress, but black pepper is so widely used that it severely limits our ability to eat out - even at the homes of family and friends.

Black pepper is one of the major triggers to horrendous swelling and pain for him. White, pink and cayenne are lesser, but still potent, triggers. The pain and swelling can cripple him for days. Once the reaction starts only heavy-duty steroid medications such as prednesone can offer any relief whatsoever and those meds carry significant risks of their own.

Therefore, there are not many restaurants, fast food places, or even other homes where he can safely eat. People don't take the allergy seriously. My own mother would scoff at it and feed him pepper whenever we visited. Not wanting to create a scene or hurt her feelings, he'd eat her food, but we'd have to leave shortly after a meal and I'd have to drive us home because the reaction would begin within a short time after ingestion.

We realize that this allergic response is extreme, but I noticed I started feeling better after I stopped consuming it as well. A few years ago, I came across a study from Europe that suggested pepper could be a carcinogenic. I certainly hope that is not possible because pepper is so widely and thoughtlessly included in almost every dish.

Over the years, the doctors who have treated him suggest the following as possible reasons for the widespread, unquestioning use of black pepper:

1. It's pungency can mask the flavor of meats that have gone off. This was important in times before dependable refrigeration.
2. The body seems to become addicted to allergic triggers. Although seemingly counter-intuitive, haven't we all met people who crave that which causes problems for them? In the case of pepper, it could simply be habit - a recollection of tastes one has become accustomed to - memories from childhood, etc.
3. Marketers for the pepper industry may have suppressed negative studies regarding the impact of pepper upon our health.
4. We haven't been adventuresome enough to try alternative herbs and spices, that may actually be better for us and may pair with our foods much better. It takes a certain confidence and entails a certain risk to try new things - particularly when your good budget may be limited, tastes may be engrained through habit or memory, or so many processed foods contain a trigger such as black pepper that it is difficult to change our expectations of how a dish should taste.

There may be many other variables, but for us, at least, the swelling, pain and joint damage is enough for us to stay away from it.

That is not to say that I don't have tasty childhood memories of eating pork chops blackened with pepper, but, upon reflection, I wonder how much of that memory was colored by the love for the person who made them.

Taste is a complicated issue with many psychological threads woven into it.

I am just relieved that, by making simple choices to exclude and avoid black pepper whenever we can, my husband can enjoy eating again.

I have had to educate myself as to which foods are processed using pepper (bye-bye corned beef), and I have to read every label carefully - even those I come to deem as "safe," because formulas change and all too often black pepper is hidden amongst categories such as "spices." When in doubt, I simply avoid.

Penzey's carefully lists all the ingredients in its herb and spice mixtures so I can use many of their mixtures without fear. Only a few of their products include pepper under the generic category of "spices," and I can easily avoid those that do list it as an ingredient. I know of no other manufacturer I can trust as reliably as Penzey's.

Thank you for the this article. I hope it raises awareness that black pepper usage should be a conscious decision, not a blind and thoughtless habit.

Too Much Pepper! Why Is Black Pepper In Everything?
8/1/11 10:14 AM

I love Lee Valley. They have so many great quality unique items. It is from here that that many believe the idea of using files as zesters was born. Microplane simply built on this. Just rumor, but understandable because of Lee Valley's long and strong reputation.

Though much of their catalog is geared towards woodworkers, there are so many delights here like these measuring cups that I highly recommend getting on their mailing lists. They will also send sale emails so you don't miss a thing.

Their children's items are very cool.

Lifetime Measuring Cups
Daily Find

6/2/11 09:51 AM

I used to make all sorts of things from scratch, partly because I had no choice (family allergies, lack of money, lack of access to products - we lived in a rural area at the time) and partly because I had lots of time as a stay-at-home wife and later mother.

Now, however, when I find a product that is less expensive in terms of both time and money which does not affect any of my family's allergies, I use the commercial product because of cost considerations, ease of access (we live in an urban area now), and less time to cook and bake.

I still love to make most things from scratch, but we use so few condiments such as ketchup that it just doesn't make sense to pay more and use more time to make it from scratch.

Your approach is more "semi-homemade" because you are using commercial tomato puree. I used to make my own puree and sauces so please make that clear.

Also - people could reuse the squeeze bottles that they had from commercial ketchup for their homemade product. Just two things need to be considered: date the bottle, because homemade products usually don't have the same shelf life, and alert people if you have used pepper (cayenne and black pepper) because more people are developing reactions to it.

Make or Buy? Tomato Ketchup
5/27/11 12:26 PM

Well, - that first sentence is gibberish thanks to last minute edits. It should read:

Many whiskey and whisky sites admit that adding a small splash of water opens up the flavors of the whiskey/whisky if the water is . . . .

Straight Up, No Ice: 4 Steps to Drinking Whiskey Neat
5/25/11 09:42 PM

Many whiskey and whisky sites admit that add a small splash of water opens up the flavors of the if the water is spring or filtered water (best if the same spring water with which the liquor was created). No one seems to advocate using tap water because of the added chemicals and impurities.

In Gaelic, whisky supposedly means "Water of Life," therefore adding a bit of the same vital ingredient may indeed enhance it. It does allow you to smell and taste more of the flavors.

However, that said, it's probably comes down to personal taste. Everyone's palate is different affected as it is by personal chemistry, conditioning and experience. The point is not to drink for drinking's sake, but to enjoy drinking to enhance a moment, an experience, or a meal.

Straight Up, No Ice: 4 Steps to Drinking Whiskey Neat
5/25/11 09:40 PM

Because I cut back on the amount of sugar in most cookie recipes these days, I sprinkle demarara on top of many types of cookies. It gives a sweet splash with minimal impact. Plus, it provides a pleasant visual impression.

What's the Difference? Muscovado, Demerara, & Turbinado
4/26/11 03:39 PM

The USDA has been consistently underfunded and weakened by anti-regulation corporations over the past decade (at least).

Until there are more boots on the ground (certified inspectors), our family will be using less meat - or meat imported from Canada or countries where health concerns are given a higher priority.

Meal Planning: Is Meat the Center of Your Dinner Plate?
4/19/11 03:51 PM