Jul. 17th, 2014 04:18 pm
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I got off early tonight and was able to stop at the Farmer's Market. Kale Kimchi, DC dill pickles, two different cheeses, and a half gallon of the best chocolate milk (Yes, it even tops the milk found at Pennsic) are among my haul. I stopped for a half dozen oysters and a glass of white wine, too.



May. 18th, 2014 07:08 pm
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Star Trek Into Darkness -- the movie that colons forgot. Spoilers, for a year old movie, under the cut.

Read more... )
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Those of you who have eaten with me in restaurants know that I can occasionally answer questions about the spicing of a meal from just a couple of bites. Mostly, it's because I trained my palate at a relatively young age as I was learning to cook. I also have a difficult time with artificial sweeteners, though. Saccharine has a dirty aftertaste. Inverted sugars like Splenda taste like evil. Aspartame is not sweet at all and a little funky tasting.

From a few things I read, this might mean that I was a "supertaster" -- someone who is very sensitive to flavors on the tongue, especially bitter.

I paid the $4 and sent off for my test. You put a little strip of paper on your tongue for a few seconds and see what it tastes like to you. Normal tasters find it mildly bitter and non-tasters find it bland. Guess what? I am a supertaster. It was so bitter I could barely stand it and now, ten minutes later, I still want to shave my tongue to get the flavor out of my mouth.

I suppose it's good to know that my secret superpower is a mixture of training and innate talent, but right now I just want the taste to go away.

Cool Book!

Nov. 11th, 2010 10:46 am
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While I'm waiting for Yuletide -- *looks pointedly at clock and calendar* -- I am reading. The book I picked up a couple of weeks ago at the used book store in Eastern Market is called Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer.

I haven't even gotten to the chapter on Proust yet. The first chapter deals with Walt Whitman's intuitive descriptions of the body, rather than the brain, as the seat of emotion. Chapter two covers George Eliot and free will from both her opposition to the pure determinism, which she referred to as "necessitarianism," of her time and in light of more recent scientific data on neurogenesis. And then we get to Escoffier.

Now I disagree with Lehrer's conclusion that Escoffier invented French cookery. He walked it away from Careme and the upper class, that I totally agree with, but he did it by codifying and elevating bonne femme cookery and serving it at the Ritz. Restaurants and the landscape of fine dining would not have been the same without him, do not get me wrong, but Escoffier stood at least partially on the shoulders of French grandmothers everywhere.

I find the chapter absolutely fascinating with its exploration of taste, Ideka's work distilling the concept of umami, the discovery of the receptors for umami, and how much of the human genome describes scent reception. One thing that really stuck out for me is how much food and flavor are learned and refined responses. As Lehrer puts it, "You are never too old to learn to be a gourmet."

This got me thinking about the other end of the spectrum: Baby Food.

American baby food is terrible. No, I haven't gone on that popular diet, but I lived in Belgium. They had a much wider variety of baby foods available, and the ingredient lists included herbs and even the occasional spice. You can serve a child who is not yet on solids a dinner of lamb with flageolet beans -- a traditional Sunday dinner in French speaking Europe. I defy anyone to try this with American baby food. What really frosts my cookies about this is the French/Belgian baby foods are the same brand names as US baby food: Gerber and Nestle predominate.

We're worried about the children's obesity epidemic, but how much of it comes from kids not getting flavorful foods unless it's loaded with fat and salt?

Training adult palates is also important. Cooking for [livejournal.com profile] eanja was a huge part of my starting to lose weight and appreciate both my skills as a cook and the food itself again as I was beginning to see the light at the end of my depression.

But how much easier is it to start training them young?


Nov. 6th, 2010 02:55 pm
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Many of you may remember that I was pretty damned sick for several days in early April. We're talking ambulance and IV rehydration and days of Gatorade and crackers.

What I don't think I've shared from this is that I am as a result a piscatarian. I eat fish -- a little bit occasionally, mostly as anchovies or sardines in cooking with the occasional plate of bivalves as a treat. I can just about handle a small piece of white fish once a month.

In other words, for much of the time, I'm functionally vegetarian. Cheese is all right. Milk, buttermilk, and yogurt are great, actually. Eggs, well, right now, I'm eating them less often than fish, and I'm not eating much fish. I try a bite of meat occasionally, but my body is NOT happy with me when I do. The smell of most meats cooking turns my stomach. Poultry is a little better: the smell doesn't nauseate me. It's no better for eating though. *sigh*

This can be awkward for a cook. I'm dreading making my first chess pies of the season because I'm not certain I'll be able to eat them.

I'm teaching myself about whole grains. Pasta, as much as I love it, can get old when it's five nights a week, so I'm learning about kasha, quinoa, bulgur, and millet. (Barley, oats and I are old friends, and I always had brown rice in the cupboard even though I don't eat it much. It's a good excuse to keep wild rice -- which I love -- in the cupboard, too.)

I want to continue to do things like cook for friends when I stay at [livejournal.com profile] eanja's, but most of the time, it's going to be new and different cooking.

So there will be more soup recipes this winter, including one under the cut. If you're used to cooking with a hambone, smoked turkey leg, tongue, or sausage, go ahead and add it. The recipes themselves will be vegetarian or vegan.

Read more... )
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I have many. My sense of smell is excellent, but the one that sticks with me...

When I was ten, my mother went to work and the first job she got was a night job. She did detailed backward planning to instruct me from a distance in how to cook dinner for me, my sister, and my father. I also, for at least part of this time, had a paper route. There were days, especially in the autumn and winter, when I started dinner and then delivered the paper. (The Washington Star, now defunct, was an evening paper except on the weekends.)

Short ribs with dried apricots was one of the great budget meals from my childhood. I can't remember a time when Mom didn't make it, and it was one of my favorite dinners as a kid.

I remember coming home from the paper route and smelling the short ribs. I looked for Mom for a minute or two, until I remembered that I was the cook. It was the first time I thought of myself as a cook, and I was so proud that I'd made it smell right.
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Overheard remark: "I could make coffee at home, I guess. But I like it iced in the summer and I don't know how to do that."

Recipe for iced coffee.

Make a pot of coffee.
Turn off the burner/heating element.
Allow the pot to cool.
Pour the contents into a pitcher with a lid or a glass jar for storage in the refrigerator.

Serving suggestions:
Place ice in glass before pouring.
Cream and/or sugar may be added to taste.
So may alcohol.

Quick version:
Make a pot of coffee.
Place ice in a glass.
Hold a metal spoon over the glass and pour the coffee carefully onto the spoon so that it flows into the glass.
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Happy Mayday everyone. Today isn't a holiday in the US, but I had a doctor's appointment this morning and a tenant's meeting this afternoon, so I'm enjoying the (rainy) day off.

In my call for questions, [livejournal.com profile] snopes_faith was first with "What's your favourite food? Is there any foods you couldn't eat when served at someone's house even if you sensed refusing it would hurt their feelings?"

Taking the second question first, the short answer is no. I don't refuse well intentioned food. As a matter of fact, there's a post here about getting sick off something because I wouldn't turn down food.

My only major exception to this is strawberries because in the last ten years I've become more and more allergic to them. I can't even touch the plant.

The longer answer is "I hate bell peppers." If someone asks in advance, I will tell her this so nothing with bell peppers will be served to me. If I'm served bell peppers, I will eat around them where possible. Raw bell pepper bothers me less than cooked because cooked bell pepper seems to get bigger in my mouth and are just slimy. Orange and yellow and "chocolate" bell peppers work better for me than red or green. Green is the worst for flavor and texture. *shudders*

But the only food, I've ever refused was natto. My former housemate Lucy's description is "soy beans that have gone so bad they are now safe to eat again." They are sticky and stringy and smell indescribable.

Lucy's significant other, the Professor, is American-born Japanese and every once in awhile, he'll eat natto. Outdoors and downwind.

I'm willing to try almost anything once, though. So when he offered me some, I took one on my chopsticks and tried to eat it. My lips went numb and my tongue reacted before my brain could. It was such a weird experience because my mind was willing to try it and my body was rejecting it.

Favorite food can wait 'til tomorrow.

Questions on food are always welcome. And I think you'll find food is a huge category for me.


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