septicidal's Profile

Display Name: septicidal
Member Since: 2/28/11

Latest Comments...

Tofu and veggie scramble - my favorite is made with a nutritional yeast sauce (it's best made the night before, and reheats beautifully). Here is the link to the recipe I use (any veggies work - my particular favorites are green and red pepper and onion):

Great Breakfasts Without Eggs or Sweets?
Good Questions

3/5/12 10:04 AM

Bar Keeper's friend is my secret kitchen-cleaning pal. It gets marks off of my enameled cast iron sink, polishes my stainless steel cookware, and the liquid cleaner does a beautiful job cleaning and polishing my ceramic cooktop. Everything is so much shinier!

Out Darn Scratch: Tips for Cleaning Marks Off Dinnerware
1/24/12 09:50 AM

My fiance (back when he was just my boyfriend) bought me a Dyson Animal for our first anniversary. He was worried it would be horribly unromantic, so he asked me before he bought it, but it has been the BEST THING. Now that we live together, we have three cats and the vacuum is indispensable. It also performs great on our hardwood floors as well as the carpets.

Other than that, I've gotten SO much use out of the nice chef's knife my father bought me five years ago for Christmas. It's not one of the super-duper nice ones, but it's well made and handles pretty much any chopping task well.

What's The Best Practical Gift You Ever Received?
Reader Survey

12/16/11 03:34 PM

I would recommend asking a local place that does reupholstery for a quote. The design looks very simple, and I would not expect a upholsterer to charge you that much for that type of design. You would probably need to bring one of the chairs in for them to measure and fit the covers, though.

Full Upholstery for My Vintage Bertoias?
Good Questions

11/17/11 01:32 PM

Black paint on front doors generally is a bad idea, because the paint absorbs the heat from the sun and it does weird things to the paint. My parents had a black door for 20+ years, and every time after they painted it (using expensive, exterior-quality paint), it would start to look weird and gray after 2 summers. My dad finally got sick of it and painted the door red. Depending on how much direct sunlight your door gets, this may not be as much of an issue for you... But it is something to think about.

As far as the shutters go, the shutters you have aren't really proportional to the windows. I think it makes the facade look more dated; if the brick is in good position behind the shutters, I would recommend removing the shutters (and maybe powerwashing the brick) to freshen up the look. The white window trim looks good and should stay, since it is consistent with the upstairs windows.

Paint Shutters Black Too?
Good Questions

11/15/11 01:49 PM

I debated this a lot before I acquired my fancy china - whether we should register for wedding china, just get cheap white dishes that matched, etc. I was leaning toward getting affordable matching white plates and salad plates for big dinners (I really love setting the table with matching place settings at special holiday meals), but then my grandmother decided to give me my great-grandmother's wedding china. It is far fancier and requires more care than anything I would have picked for myself, but it is beyond beautiful, and my mother and her siblings have so many special memories of using it for holiday dinners when they were children. Due to the fact that it can't be washed in a dishwasher, and it is so special, I won't be using it every day, but I am so glad to have it.

For everyday dishes, my partner and I plan to register for super-basic Corelle dishes when we finally tie the knot next year. Partly because they stack really nicely and will take up less space in our cramped kitchen cabinets. (The fancy china lives in a sideboard in the dining room.)

Do You Have Special Occasion Dinnerware?
11/2/11 03:16 PM

If you do spaghetti squash (which I *LOVE* and I find is great with all sorts of sauces), it is especially good to let it sit in a colander after you scrape out the strands for several minutes, and then press it to get out as much liquid as possible. Sauteeing the strands can also help give them a little more flavor and dry them out a bit more - my boyfriend is very impatient when it comes to preparing dinner and doesn't drain/sautee the squash strands long enough, so we usually have extra watery sauce. It really is a great vehicle for sauce, and sometimes I almost prefer it to regular pasta.

For a replacement noodle, there's a type of soybean pasta carried at Whole Foods (and other places with more gluten-free options) that is pretty good. The yellow one (made from toasted soybeans) has a better flavor than the green one (made from untoasted soybeans). It's also packed full of protein.

No Noodles: 6 Gluten-Free Ways to Eat Pasta Sauce
10/14/11 10:44 AM

I've heard really amazing things about using charcoal air purifiers to help draw unwanted smells out of the home. Plus, the intact pieces of bamboo charcoal look really cool.

For sorting out general odors, I am a big fan of using diluted vinegar in a spray bottle to help freshen things up. The vinegar smell fades when it dries, but it always seems to clear odors out of the air. I use it to help cope with smells from the catbox in our kitchen (the entire first floor is very open, so there's no place to tuck it out of the way - the kitchen is at least not visible when people come in the house). I've also found spraying vinegar has helped to get lingering odors out of curtains and upholstery.

I'm also seconding the idea of putting an extractor fan in a nearby window (even if you don't have one in the kitchen). Cracking another window and turning on the extractor fan will really help pull unwanted odors out of the room and is a big help in freshening up a room.

One other thought is that I always smell onions and garlic for AGES after cooking because I have trouble getting the smell off of my hands. If you have a stainless steel sink, rubbing your hands/fingers on the metal can help take the odor away, but my new kitchen has an enameled cast iron sink so I can't use that trick.

Help! Cooking Odors Overwhelm My Small Kitchen
Good Questions

10/13/11 01:46 PM

I know that in some areas, modern building codes have made doing this an issue - something about required ceiling height over the toilet, if I recall. I remember seeing an episode of some show on HGTV where the people trying to remodel their older home couldn't put a bathroom under the stairs like they planned because of building code issues.

Wasted Space Under The Stairs? Add A Bathroom

10/12/11 04:20 PM

I have a dutch oven from Ikea I bought during my college years - it has a bare cast iron interior, and enameled exterior, it looks like the more recent dutch ovens they are selling have enameled interiors as well - and it has performed beautifully for several years. It also cost under $50.

When it comes to bare cast iron, the performance will be in how you season it and care for it. With enameled cooking surfaces, quality can be a concern, but most of the Ikea cookware is generally well-made and designed to take some abuse. Same with Lodge and some of the other, cheaper-than-Le-Creuset options!

What Is the Best Substitute for a Dutch Oven?
Good Questions

9/8/11 02:06 PM

I got one from Ikea several years ago - enamel on the outside, just cast iron on the inside. I had to season it myself, but it has worked fabulously all this time. The dutch ovens Ikea is selling now seem to be enameled on the inside as well as the outside, so I'm not sure if they will hold up the same. Every now and again I lust after the super-nice Staub and Le Creuset dutch ovens, but I try to remember my cheap Ikea one has never failed me (and cost under $50, so woo-hoo)!

5 Great Dutch Ovens: And 10 Recipes to Put Them to Work
9/8/11 10:01 AM

I went vegan while dealing with a myriad of digestive problems - I had fantastic cholesterol, blood pressure, and was in the best health of my life. It is really, really hard to stay vegan though - there are virtually no quick-fix, cheap convenience foods, and eating out at a restaurant with friends is nigh-impossible (unless you can convince them to go to an all-vegan place, which are few and far between). I would love to transition back to eating vegan, at least while at home, but my boyfriend steadfastly refuses. It doesn't make sense from a financial standpoint to buy groceries for two sets of meals (plus the time commitment to make enough vegan food in advance to eat dinner quickly on weeknights).

I think it would be a lot easier to sell vegan options to the American public if they were more readily available, and the easier-to-use "meat substitutes" weren't so horribly expensive - sure, they're not as healthy for you as preparing vegan food from scratch, but it was way easier for me to get my family to make vegan meals using some of the fake ground meat, etc. then getting them to branch out into entirely new foods and recipes.

Heart Attack Free Diet: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Advice

8/30/11 01:59 PM

My grandmother used to make large batches of homemade bread and butter pickles from cucumbers grown in her garden, can them, and give them out to the family. No storebought ones could ever compare!

Though the rigors of canning are beyond me (or rather, my kitchen's available storage space for extra equipment), I think I should find her recipe and make a smaller batch, refrigerator version!

Make or Buy? Pickles
8/12/11 01:13 PM

Certain root vegetables need extremely high humidity and cold (but not freezing) temperatures to stay fresh for long periods of time.

Storing Your Harvest: Root Vegetable Bins
6/27/11 04:59 PM

You might want to try going back to the store - our local Home Depot had a very helpful person in the carpet department who was able to help us find an allergy and environmentally friendly carpet option. The price wound up being about $4.70 a square foot, which is a little higher than what you named, but for our needs it seemed like the best option. I have severe allergies with a sensitivity to chemicals, and we have cats and want to limit their exposure to VOCs. If money were no object, we wouldn't have wall-to-wall carpet at all, but other flooring alternatives were not cost-effective when it came to replacing 25-year-old carpeting on the stairs.

What Brand of Carpet and Pad Has the Lowest VOCs?
Good Question

5/24/11 12:00 PM

Those skinny rainbow candles are PERFECT. I am planning to bake the homemade rainbow ship cake posted here a while back and top them with rainbow candles for a "Double Rainbow" birthday cake, for my internet meme-obsessed boyfriend.

5 Cool Candles To Top Your Cake
5/16/11 03:55 PM

Main dish option: "Happy Tofu"!

Dice silken tofu up into thin 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/4 inch thick, 1/2 inch squares). Combine 2 TB soy sauce, 2 TB Mirin (Japanese cooking rice wine - carried in most grocery stores next to soy sauce, etc.), and 2 TB brown sugar in a small bowl. Mince up 2 cloves garlic. In a saute pan, heat 2 TB oil (any mild-flavored works fine; sesame oil is also good!) over medium-high heat and saute garlic until fragrant (don't let it burn!). Add the soy/mirin/sugar mixture (give it a stir before putting it in the pan) and the sliced and diced silken tofu. Cook until sauce reduces to thick syrup, stirring frequently.

I love to serve this with brown rice and some steamed seaweed (other dark, leafy veggies are great too). It's a great pantry recipe, since the silken tofu (if it's the Mori-Nu vacuum-sealed type) can be kept on the shelf and the other ingredients are easily kept on-hand. I've found that meat eaters and vegetarians alike really love this dish, and it only works with silken tofu - firm tofu doesn't absorb the flavor in the same way, while the silken tofu is just delicious and flavor-soaked all the way through.

What Can I Do With Silken Tofu?
Good Questions

4/15/11 10:59 AM

Check out Dick Blick's online selection - the majority of their frames are designed to accommodate canvas frames or printed artwork with glass. They have some fun, brightly colored options as well.

If the paintings aren't a standard frame size, Dick Blick also sells framing kits, where you can purchase the pieces separately and assemble a custom-sized frame:

I used these to frame a trio of oddly-shaped paintings on canvas board, and they look like the frames were expensive and custom-made, even though I just assembled the pre-finished pieces with wood glue!

How To Frame these Family Paintings?
Good Questions

3/30/11 03:17 PM

@falnfenix @clareawasw Same problem here. It was a big triumph when I got my cat to shift to a perfume-free clay litter. He has outright refused to use any of the non-clay litters I've tried him on - and I feel like the amount of water and other resources I've had to use to clean cat urine out of things (not to mention the things I've had to dispose because they couldn't be cleaned) has negated any environmental benefit to switching away from clay litter.

My boyfriend and I are moving our cats in together and will have several boxes in our new place - since his cats are less picky, I'm going to try to switch 2/3 boxes to clay litter and see if my cat will use any of the other litters. Maybe the peer pressure will get to him!

Why Clay Cat Litter is Evil

3/18/11 02:56 PM

Did you find them in a store? If so, can you PLEASE share where you found them? None of the chain stores around me (in Boston, MA) carry them, though supposedly they do in the South. I feel silly paying shipping fees for an $8 item if I try to order them online...

What Would You Do With: Cinnamon Baking Chips?
3/17/11 04:46 PM