Open Thread

I’m watching America’s Worst Cooks, and while I find it hysterical, it is also kind of frightening. How do you even know how to order food, if you don’t know the basics? How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like?

It’s just crazy.






183 replies
  1. 1
    Lojasmo says:

    I’m watching America’s Worst Cooks, and while I find it hysterical, it is also kind of frightening. How do you even know how to order food, if you don’t know the basics? How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like? It’s just crazy. I’m crazy.

  2. 2
    blahblah says:

    Chicken strips every meal.

  3. 3
    JGabriel says:

    John Cole:

    How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like?

    ELITIST! Before you know it, you’ll be talking to Iowan farmers about arugula, you fake theology commie!

    .

  4. 4
    chopper says:

    get these people a thermomix stat. flawless béchamel is on the way!

  5. 5
    Ecks says:

    you point to the hamburger picture on the menu.

    Or you say the “chicken parm” every time, because you know what that is, and that you like it.

  6. 6
    cathyx says:

    My daughter is cooking dinner once every 2 weeks. How do you know what to do? Ask your mom.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    I’m watching America’s Worst Cooks

    I read that as America’s Worst Crooks and thought there was a GOP debate tonight.

  8. 8
    JGabriel says:

    @Ecks:

    You point to the hamburger picture on the menu. Or you say the “chicken parm” every time, because you know what that is, and that you like it.

    You’re MOCKING my coping mechanisms, you cruel bastard!

    .

  9. 9
    debit says:

    My daughter is finally expressing an interest in cooking, so she makes something new every weekend and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what might work better next time. I know how she got along before (I always cooked) but can’t imagine how other people who don’t cook manage to get by.

  10. 10
    PeakVT says:

    How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like?

    You seem to be blissfully unaware of how bad the food culture is in the US.

  11. 11
    Narcissus says:

    I can make baked potatoes.

    I eat a lot of baked potatoes.

  12. 12
    RossInDetroit says:

    How do you even know how to order food, if you don’t know the basics?

    Who needs to even know the language?
    “omelette du fromage”

  13. 13
    peej says:

    You find things that you like and keep ordering them (like the Chicken Parm). Judging by the first show and what ingredients some of them tried to combine, I don’t think they have much idea of taste anyway.

  14. 14
    Zandar says:

    You have just discovered the reason behind the enormous economic success of McDonald’s, based entirely on the precision consistency found nationwide in a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

  15. 15
    Soonergrunt says:

    One of my coworkers is a ‘foodie’. He hates that term. Whenever we go out for lunch, which is a couple of times a week, I let him choose where to eat. He’s always consulting sites like Urban Spoon and other such. If it wasn’t for him, I’d eat McDonald’s twice a week, Taco Bell twice a week, and the hospital cafeteria the other day.
    I’ve learned so much about good food from him, about how good food doesn’t have to be expensive or take a long time to prepare. I’ve learned that a hamburger doesn’t have to be made on an assembly line.
    He’s applied for a GS-12 position that would move him to another facility. It’s a great step up for him.
    I hope he doesn’t get it, because I’m a selfish bastard.

  16. 16
    khead says:

    Zombies are done for tonight….so…

    Catfight!

    Check out those little kitteh teeth!

  17. 17
    cathyx says:

    I don’t understand how someone could not learn how to cook. Even if you don’t like doing it, it’s a basic skill that everyone should know how to do.

  18. 18
    RossInDetroit says:

    If I hadn’t worked in a restaurant from age 16 to age 25 I’d be a terrible cook. I still don’t like to spend time on food so I cook what’s easy and I do it very very fast.

    I once dated a woman who scorched linguine onto the bottom of a pot. She managed to burn noodles under water.

    She said “All the great cooks use high heat all the time” as she turned yet another gas burner up to full blast. I responded “Well then do that when you become a Great Cook.” After that it was just a matter of time…

  19. 19
    redshirt says:

    I eagerly await the food pill. One big pill and you get all your calories for the day, and another pill for vitamins and minerals, than one more pill for FREEDOM. Three pills a day is the American Way!

  20. 20
    Arundel says:

    I love Wallace Shawn, the actor/writer. An interesting essay about the roles we play in life, potentialities and futures, equality and its opposite. A bit ruminatory, but a good thoughtful read. “Why I Call Myself a Socialist: Is the World Really a Stage?”. It’s much less about socialism than the title would imply, but still pretty humane and perceptive.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....18061.html

  21. 21
    PeakVT says:

    @efgoldman: It’s the red one that’s not hot. Those Hungarians are a tricky bunch.

  22. 22
    trollhattan says:

    THIS is how America eats, you elitist sissies!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....jmANi13WA0

    H/T and curses to LG&M.

  23. 23
    Schlemizel says:

    My oldest married a girl who had managed to live her whole life without knowing anything about food. She moved back home while he was in Afghanistan & he stayed with them for about a year after he got back the last time. He ended up doing most of the cooking (still does) partly to get relief from the sludge they ate & partly to have something healthy to eat.
    “Dad! You would not believe her folks! They have never eaten anything that didn’t come out of a can or a box. Hamburger helper is too complicated for them!”

    So I guess they exist but you can’t make me interested in watching them.

  24. 24
    khead says:

    I love Wallace Shawn, the actor/writer.

    Incontheivable.

  25. 25
    Tod Kelly says:

    Generally speaking, people don’t take enough pleasure in cooking these days. It’s a shame. There are few things I find more relaxing, and few activities I can dive into that are more conducive to inviting friends over to enjoy themselves than cooking.

  26. 26
    MBL says:

    I have no idea what cumin tastes like. I’m sure I’ve eaten it a million times but I wouldn’t recognize it.

  27. 27
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    Taught both my boys how to cook. Now they’re grownup daddies – and their wives weren’t taught to cook They both do all the cooking – and they’re way, way better than me.

  28. 28
    trollhattan says:

    @efgoldman:

    he literally didn’t know how to boil water

    It is, admittedly, a tricky recipe. Folks got way confused on makin’ ice before they automated the process.

  29. 29
    The Fat Kate Middleton says:

    @The Fat Kate Middleton:
    And they know how to use punctuation properly, as well.

  30. 30
    cathyx says:

    @efgoldman: You don’t have to have a special talent. You just should know basic cooking skills to get yourself fed without having to rely on someone else or eating out. It’s not any different than knowing how to clean properly, do laundry, or pay your bills.

  31. 31
    gwangung says:

    Crock pot. All the way.

  32. 32
    Schlemizel says:

    @Arundel:
    He’s great but I refuse to give the Whorefington Post a click – is it available anywhere decent?

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @Schlemizel: This is exactly my sister-in-law. My brother went to their house Thanksgiving day and came running back screaming in horror at what her family had “cooked”. Needless to say he does all the cooking. He’s also gonna be the house husband, but as she’s gonna be a nurse I think that will work out just fine.

  34. 34
    RossInDetroit says:

    I thought up wasabi ketchup today. It would be a funny color but I’ll bet it would taste good. I haven’t put ketchup on anything but fried potatoes in years but I’d like to try wasabi ketchup.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    Sounds like my staff assistant, who orders chicken fingers and fries. No matter the restaurant. Drives me nuts. She bitches if I bring in leftovers with “weird” ingredients like scallops, clams, veal, rosemary, or fennel. Because they “smell odd”.

    Fuck her. But I do wish she’d watch that show. Our mutual boss bought us subscriptions to Food Network Magazine as gifts for the last three years. She fucking brags about how she has never opened a single issue. Meanwhile, I bought magazine holders to keep them in because I keep every issue. If for no other reason than for the weeknight dinner section, whick I find invaluable.

  36. 36
    khead says:

    We are tired. Bedtime.

    We will catch America’s Worst Cooks tomorrow. I mean, my wife thinks I am one of those folks already – I’m just not on the show.

  37. 37
    Schlemizel says:

    @efgoldman:
    I grew up in a kitchen, my mom was a caterer who specialized in international cuisine, we were forever getting “odd” stuff like Nasi Gorang and Palak Paneer for dinner. I don’t know if it was this training or a genetic gift but I can read a cookbook and tell you what a thing will taste like. I often think while eating out “What did they do to this to make it taste this way?” and then go home & recreate it from memory.

    At least I used to do that before the radiation.

  38. 38
    cathyx says:

    @efgoldman: No I mean basic cooking skills beyond reheating a prepared meal in the microwave. It doesn’t have to be gourmet if you don’t care about eating gourmet food. But yes, how to cook pasta, rice, potatoes, meat, vegetables.

  39. 39
    Irving says:

    From what I can see, these folks are so much terrible cooks as people who have personality flaws so significant that they literally cannot follow a set of instructions handed to them.

  40. 40
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @RossInDetroit: Ketchup + Sriracha + Soy Sauce, makes a great condiment for burgers, fries, and the like.

  41. 41
    Arm The Homeless says:

    Fiance got me a cast iron skillet for V-Day and I made my first batch of cornbread today. I can’t believe I have survived this long away from my parents place without owning my own.

    I cannot tell you just how much pride I have been taking in laboriously seasoning that dang thing. I may sell my copper-bottom set and get a couple more iron pieces.

  42. 42
    SACarrow says:

    Nah. Don’t like to spend the time, don’t have the knife skills to maintain the proper finger count, and the way I eat, it would be a VERY dangerous closed cycle.

    Since the spousal unit likes it little better than me, we eat out at least 80% of the time. For me a large part of the 20% is the raw vegetables I take to work.

    Why yes, we have no children. :) Why do you ask? :D

  43. 43
    David Koch says:

    Santorum is petering out.

    Drops 11 pts in Michigan.

    Undecideds breaking towards Romney.

    Funny how screaming about contraception turns people off.

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.....htens.html

  44. 44
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    Since what we get here as wasabi is really horseradish cocktail sauce should be pretty close. I used to blend that with cream cheese and a little garlic to make a chip dip that people really liked

  45. 45
    Garbo says:

    @MBL: If you’ve eaten chili, or beef tacos, then you would recognize cumin instantly as the smoky, earthy taste that goes with the heat of the chili powder.

    I always think back on To Sir With Love and the real life lessons he taught the kids. More useful than some of the modern core curriculum, I’d say.

  46. 46
    schrodinger's cat says:

    I saw that show once, did not like it all that much. My favorite food related shows, America’s Test kitchen and No Reservations.

  47. 47
    Paddy says:

    Question about Worst Chef- If the worst chef of the 12 gets booted off the first night, technically isn’t that person the Worst Chef winner?

    I grew up with a gourmet chef/caterer mother and incredible Irish Nana who could bake you into orgasm, so that stuff wasn’t hard for me to figure out but…

    Many years later, my then boyfriend and I babysat for his three younger sisters (in their early and middle teens) and I decided to make spaghetti and meat sauce. Went thru the kitchen, made a list of what I needed and got it. When I started cooking they were all enthralled. They had NO CLUE that garlic came in any other form than powdered and their mother’s version of mean sauce was a watery gruel with no vegetables at all. They’re all still pretty shitty cooks, but I can’t say I haven’t tried.

  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @Arm The Homeless: Dude! Keep them both! Cast iron is great, but there are sears that require stainless steel and high heat where a seasoned cast iron just won’t work.

    But if you really want to get rid of it, we can talk… :)

  49. 49
    RossInDetroit says:

    For learning to cook, techniques are much more important than recipes. Don’t start with eggs Benedict. Start with a poached egg and pay attention to what happens. Hint: a little lemon juice in the water keeps the raw egg from spreading.
    And for FSM’s sake leave off the fancy gadgets. Get simple utensils and teach your hands what to do with them rather than letting a frikkin’ machine try to do it for you.

  50. 50
    Jay C says:

    @PeakVT:

    Color coding for (some) spices is fairly easy:

    Bright red: paprika
    Dark red: chili powder
    Light yellow: mustard
    Vivid gold-brown: turmeric
    Dusty gold-brown: curry powder
    Bright green: “wasabi” *
    Black: pepper

    The problem is when you get to the green stuff – that mostly all looks the same….

    * I saw on TV that what we call “wasabi” over here has little relation to the actual Japanese root: it is mostly dyed horseradish – disappointing if true.

    And for no particular reason, a cute kitteh picture

  51. 51
    Garbo says:

    BTW – channel scanning and caught a nanosecond glimpse of Grover Norquist on C-SPAN and instinctively yelled out “fuck you, asshole.” I’m very proud of my instant reflex, yes I am.

  52. 52
    RossInDetroit says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Ketchup + Sriracha + Soy Sauce

    That’s a good idea. I’d have it to myself as well. My wife hates all ketchups. But she puts wasabi mustard on a green salad. An adventurous eater, that one.

  53. 53
    boss bitch says:

    if you don’t know the basics? How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like?

    You are really out of touch with Real America aren’t you?

  54. 54
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Schlemizel:
    Ahem. The spelling, here and in Indonesia, is “nasi goreng”. I find it a little amusing to see regular, everyday food like fried rice and palak paneer described as something exotic. Funnily enough, though, I just can’t imagine what food common in America I might find exotic.

  55. 55
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    You could do worse than watching “Good Eats” While Brown becomes more of an ass as the series drags on he really did a reasonable job of explaining why things do what they do. If you don’t take him for the Cooking Pope, source of the holy truth, he can teach you a thing or two. And he often does it without the $500 gadget no real cook would touch.

  56. 56
    RossInDetroit says:

    @efgoldman:

    This from a guy that rebuilds antique audio equipment.

    I’m also a field tech. I’ve learned to do complex stuff with only what I can carry. The fewer tools you use the more you learn. It’s pretty much universal.

  57. 57
    Jennifer says:

    I wouldn’t say I’m a great cook, but I can prepare food that not only I but other people find not just edible, but actually enjoyable. And I pretty much learned it on my own, because I was singularly unmotivated to spend any time in the kitchen watching my mom cook while I was growing up. For probably my first 10 years out on my own, she’d get a call from me every so often with a question about how to make this or that. I finally broke down and bought a copy of Joy of Cooking, which does a really great job of explaining the whys and hows of different dishes and techniques, though it doesn’t have a particularly inspired collection of recipes. Still yet, my repertoire is fairly limited, mostly because there are a lot of things that you just don’t cook if you’re cooking for one. Your whole strategy changes & shifts more towards what can be made in advance & refrigerated or frozen to eat later. Most of the meat I eat is grilled then frozen to thaw out and eat later. Every so often I’ll roast a turkey and freeze the cooked meat & soup I make from the carcass. Very occasionally I’ll make a roast, but not very often because you pretty much have to get at least a 3 lb roast, and the veggies that cook with pot roast in particular don’t lend themselves well to freezing…so it all goes in the fridge and takes a week to eat. By that point, you don’t want it again for awhile.

  58. 58
    Schlemizel says:

    @efgoldman:

    I irritate the hell out of Mrs. Schlemizel when I do that to someone she doesn’t recognize. 8-{D

  59. 59
    kestral says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: No Reservations actually made me intensely interested in the foods (and booze) of other cultures. Heck, the Paris episode alone inspired me to go out and eat French for lunch one day (and fall head over heels in love with absinthe).

    It’s quite a trip to watch that show and then go to work and see all the pre-packaged, vacuum-sealed crud on the shelves. Wish the street food scene here in the US was nearly as lively as the East Rim.

  60. 60
  61. 61
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @RossInDetroit: I find a blender, a food processor and a coffee grinder (to grind spice mixes, fresh) indispensable.

  62. 62
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Jennifer:

    I finally broke down and bought a copy of Joy of Cooking, which does a really great job of explaining the whys and hows of different dishes and techniques, though it doesn’t have a particularly inspired collection of recipes.

    I got a copy as a wedding gift 30+ years ago and I still use it. Not the last word on fancy stuff but it’s an excellent reference for the basics. Lots of how and why.

  63. 63
    Garbo says:

    @efgoldman: I’m hopeful that my diligent practice means that should I get the opportunity, I would respond as quickly and forcefully in person.

  64. 64
    Arm The Homeless says:

    @Yutsano: I will sleep on it, but I haven’t fallen so deeply in love with a kitchen implement since I got my first Santoku.

    Anyone have any great skillet recipes for me? I am on a roll!

  65. 65

    @Schlemizel:

    At least I used to do that before the radiation.

    It would be a real shame if you lost that.

    How are you feeling?

  66. 66
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @efgoldman: I have the Cuisinart Griddler, it is wonderful, also makes paninis and quesadillas.

  67. 67
    techno says:

    Well, food snobs, you can do what I do—order whatever you recognize on the chalk board in the restaurant. That way, you get to sample what the chef wants to cook today, you probably save a few bucks, and you probably learn to eat something new.

    I grew up in a parsonage. Our family was invited out to a congregation member’s home about half the sundays every year. We children had STRICT instructions. Take a little of everything. Eat it without making a face. And when the meal is over, make a point of thanking and complimenting the cook. As the result of this childhood, I detest people who make scenes in restaurants over small matters like how much of a spice was included. I have sent food back maybe three times in my life. I once ordered shrimp and got pork chops with sauerkraut. Did not even mention it to the waiter. It’s usually all good.

  68. 68

    @Amir Khalid:

    Funnily enough, though, I just can’t imagine what food common in America I might find exotic.

    There was a time when visitors from far-away regions looked on our love of corn on the cob as a bit strange.

    And sometimes they didn’t understand our loyalty to peanut butter.

    I haven’t had a chance to test those observations recently, though.

  69. 69
    hilzoy says:

    “When I started cooking they were all enthralled…”

    Back when I was working at my first battered women’s shelter, in Boston, there was a rule that said: No Ethnic Slurs, so some people’s ethnic slur impulses tended to get expressed by insulting people of other ethnicities’ food. (“Ewwww, what’s *that*? You eat *that*???” etc.)

    My co-volunteers and I got bored with this one day, and decided to cook for everyone ourselves, and not to cook any food associated with the ethnicity of anyone staying there. If memory serves, there were no Chinese women there at the time, so I got to make my (if I do say so myself) yummy vegetable chow fun. Later, lots of other things, all unfamiliar. The women there did know how to cook, mostly, but the ingredients were all very unfamiliar to them, as were various things like the wok. We all had such a blast, especially after they realized that we were just three basically decent cooks making stuff up, and they began to help. Mealtime became fun again.

    I have actually known people who claim not to know how to boil water. Baffling.

  70. 70
    Nutella says:

    @boss bitch:

    You are really out of touch with Real America aren’t you?

    They don’t have paprika or cumin at the Applebee’s salad bar.

  71. 71
    Garbo says:

    @Arm The Homeless: To me, the cast iron skillet calls out for hash browns, carmelized onions or, as you have done, Johnny Cake.

  72. 72
    RossInDetroit says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Machines can be time savers. I cook small quantities and it’s faster to do stuff by hand than to clean a machine. Or something that takes too much effort like beating egg whites.
    There’s a whole industry creating single-purpose gadgets that people use like a crutch to produce substandard results instead of, for instance, figuring out a good way to chop an onion.

  73. 73
    JGabriel says:

    @David Koch:

    Santorum is petering out. … Funny how screaming about contraception turns people off.

    And yet, Romney is no better on that issue.

    .

  74. 74
    General Stuck says:

    Nobody boils water like moi’

  75. 75
    hilzoy says:

    @General Stuck: Actually, I suspect that if we wait long enough, McMegan will write a long post justifying her purchase of a $600 water-boiling device of some kind.

  76. 76
    Yutsano says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    Anyone have any great skillet recipes for me?

    Speaking of Alton…

  77. 77
    General Stuck says:

    @hilzoy:

    LOL, can’t wait

  78. 78
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @RossInDetroit: I usually cook for the entire week during the weekend, besides Mr cat does the cleaning.

  79. 79
    andy says:

    @Arm The Homeless: Cast iron is pretty awesome. Now that I “get” seasoning, I use mine in some wise every single day.

  80. 80
    suzanne says:

    How do you order things you like if you have no idea what paprika or cumin taste like?

    You eat out and have low standards.

  81. 81
  82. 82
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Cumin loses its flavor very quickly, buy whole spices and grind them in a coffee grinder. Cumin pairs well with coriander.

  83. 83
    PeakVT says:

    @Amir Khalid: Funnily enough, though, I just can’t imagine what food common in America I might find exotic.

    On the behalf of the fast food industry, I apologize for that.

  84. 84
    gogol's wife says:

    So nobody here cares that Matthew proposed to Mary tonight? God, you people.

  85. 85
    General Stuck says:

    Not long ago my doctor recommended cooking in iron cookware for a mild case of anemia. I thought he was blowing smoke, but read up that that is a good way to absorb extra iron. I decided to take supplements instead, as I lurves my stainless steel pot and pans.

  86. 86
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @gogol’s wife: Who are Matthew and Mary?

  87. 87
    RossInDetroit says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I love coriander. The Chaldean restaurant up the block puts it in their tea. I’ve taken to putting a few whole pods in the grounds when I make coffee.

  88. 88
    MikeJ says:

    @gogol’s wife: I knew a really cute girl named Mary in college. When she smiled her eyes just disappeared. No Marks involved though.

  89. 89
    Martin says:

    I was blessed with grandparents that could cook and enjoyed teaching me. Grandpa did meats, breakfast, baking. Grandma did everything else. Pizza was what you ate in the city for lunch. Hot dogs were what you ate at baseball games, hamburgers on road trips. They never entered the house – ever. The freezer was where you stored the fruits and vegetables from the garden so you’d have some for winter, and for ice cream. Nothing else, that I can recall. I got TV dinners and canned food at home because we were poor and parents worked, but my grandparents went to great lengths to make sure every meal was made from real stuff, almost always with my involvement.

    They did have some odd tastes, though. My grandfathers favorite junk food was spam and peanut butter sandwiches. They’re not bad. My grandmother LOVED brussels sprouts. I tried over and over to like them. Never took. They also taught me that homemade pie was a perfectly appropriate breakfast food, for which I will forever thank them.

    None of it was fancy – standard New England stuff. Standing rib roasts, bacon and eggs, mince meat pies, every kind of cookie you can imagine. It was all awesomely good, though.

  90. 90
    Nutella says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Funnily enough, though, I just can’t imagine what food common in America I might find exotic.

    I’m curious whether you would find this menu exotic. It’s classic midwestern picnic food:

    fried chicken
    green bean casserole
    carrot and raisin salad
    potato salad
    German potato salad
    deviled eggs

    It makes me hungry just listing all of those.

  91. 91
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: Well, you knew it was going to happen, didn’t you? I was happier for Daisy.

  92. 92
    Yutsano says:

    @RossInDetroit: Are you thinking of coriander or cardamom? Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant (which means that yes you can grow your own) while cardamom seeds come in pods that also are flavoured rather nicely. Both are very prominent in Indian cooking.

  93. 93
    gogol's wife says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    The star-crossed hero and heroine of Downton Abbey, who’ve been in love since 1912 but just got engaged in 1919.

    Oh, well. I guess it’s not a BJ thing.

  94. 94
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I can do some cooking for myself. Mainly stuff that takes place on a stovetop and doesn’t require too many ingredients. When my family hosts dinners I’m competent enough to be an auxiliary for my parents. It helps that my taste in food is incredibly uninspired, to put it politely. I could probably live on a diet of unsauced pasta, peanut butter sandwiches, and frozen vegetables.

  95. 95
    MikeJ says:

    @Yutsano: And even though it comes from the evil weed, coriander tastes nothing like soap.

  96. 96
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    For some reason I was really invested in Matthew and Mary, and I didn’t really know it would happen, because I thought they were going to try to keep some options open for Mary. My husband wanted him to marry Lavinia. Honestly!

  97. 97
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Yutsano:

    Yup. The pointy green pods. We buy it in bulk at the local Arabic market and the labeling is incomprehensible. Thanks for the correction.

  98. 98
    General Stuck says:

    Who are Matthew and Mary?

    I’m guessing Chris and Mary Magdalena. which doesn’t surprise me since Matthews is bonafide letch.

  99. 99
    gogol's wife says:

    @efgoldman:

    So you’ll want to read Patton Oswalt’s twitter feed tomorrow. He live-tweets it. But he’s in California, so it’s not available yet. I always read it the next day.

  100. 100
    Tehanu says:

    @geg6:

    My first trip to Europe, way back in 1969, was a month-long tour with my college choir. One of my classmates was a nice enough girl who ate “steak & frites” at every meal. When we said, Hey, we’re in France, it’s world-famous for great food, why don’t you try something else? she replied “I don’t like that kind of food.” Period. If I hadn’t been so gobsmacked by her narrow-mindedness, I suppose I might have said, “How do you know you don’t like it, since you never try it?” After more than 40 years I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out why somebody would be so closed off.

  101. 101
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Yutsano: Coffee flavored with cardamom is nice. Cardamom is like the vanilla bean of Indian cooking. Flavoring ingredient in desserts. It is also one of the components of garam masala.

  102. 102
    RossInDetroit says:

    Here’s a question: my wife’s family puts lots of nutmeg on beef stew and claims that’s normal. I had never heard of it. Anyone else?

  103. 103
    Yutsano says:

    @RossInDetroit: I happen to love cardamom. It’s also very prevalent in Scandinavian baking. I blame Amir. :)

    @MikeJ: Coriander seed has a totally different flavour from the herb. It’s probably a good thing we make the distinction in this country, otherwise there would be rioting. And coriander enhances the flavour of meat like nothing else.

  104. 104
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @efgoldman:

    Does ‘soap operas’ include the GOP primary?

  105. 105
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gogol’s wife: I thought, for the entire season, that they would make that relationship work out.

    Maggie Smith’s character and her portrayal was brilliant. The cheerful and hopeful tone as she said “Promise?” to Mary’s jilted fiance made me laugh out loud.

  106. 106
    Suffern ACE says:

    Well, there is always the get rich and hire a maid option. And if you’re rich enough, everything you order will get you an “excellent choice, sir” from the waiter. I guess if you don’t know anything about food, showing up in a luxury foreign car and designer shoes helps you get by.

  107. 107
    gogol's wife says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    She is fantastic. All the acting is great, but she is out of this world.

  108. 108
    Schlemizel says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    physically I’m about as good as can be expected given the everything. Mentally I am struggling. Between the lost of most taste & saliva, lack of a complete nights sleep and multiple daily catheterization I’m not staying positive.

  109. 109
    Jules says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    America’s Test Kitchen is my favorite cooking show. While I’ve always been a good cook, I’ve become a much better cook (and baker) watching it over the past few years.

  110. 110
    gogol's wife says:

    @efgoldman:

    I’m old too, but if you just google “Patton Oswalt Downton Abbey” on your regular old computer tomorrow, you can read what he tweeted the night before, it’s all lined up in a column (read from the bottom). It’s very similar to MST3K in spirit.

  111. 111
    Arm The Homeless says:

    @andy: I can’t wait to start using it day to day. I need more vegetarian recipes for it to please the lady of the house.

    @Yutsano: SAVED!

  112. 112
    suzanne says:

    During my prime learning-to-cook years, I was a vegetarian. So I know lots about pasta and beans and vegetables and rice, etc, and relatively little about meats. I officially went back to a vegetarian diet yesterday, but because I really only know how to do that kind of food well, I’ve been eating that way for years. It’s proven to be a good thing.

    Except I did learn how to broil steaks for Mr. suzanne. That’s love.

  113. 113
    rikyrah says:

    I don’t grasp people who don’t know how to cook. how do you remove that kind of control from your own life? how do you walk past all the fresh produce at the grocery store cause you don’t know what to do with it?

    the thought scares me. I’m no size 2, but I can’t think of how much processed foods these folks must eat.

  114. 114
    Schlemizel says:

    @techno:
    I grew up under orders to eat what was on the table and not complain until I had eaten it twice. Still I had it better than it sounds like you did!

    I think you are a bit too easy on the restaurants though. If I order something I expect thats what I’ll get. While I would not normally complain if I thought something was not made the exact way I would do it – hey! The kitchen has to be creative too – I would would send back a ham hock if I ordered scallops. I once sent a BLT back because they made it with fake bacon bits. You do have the right to what you asked for.

  115. 115
    Jager says:

    I always like to hang around the kitchen with my Grandmothers and my Mom, I fed my friends from Boy Scouts through college. After my first marriage ended, I stepped up the cooking with a few classes. It served me well with the women I dated and literally blew Mrs. J’s mind when on the 2nd date, she ate 2 helpings of my superb rissoto and shrimp along with copious amounts of a good Italian white. I’m roasting a lemon chicken as I write. Serving it with rice, white and red beans and a cucumber and tomato salad and wine. (of course)

  116. 116
    techno says:

    @efgoldman:
    I NEVER take it out on the waitstaff. NEVER! I appreciate it when someone waits on me. My minimum tip is $5 and always tip 25%. I always thank them.

    And guess what, being kind to folks making less than the minimum wage is actually very effective. A “thank you” still goes a long way. And no, I don’t worry about someone spitting on my food like some people I know.

    When I am just hungry, I cook at home. I am quite good at it and can get some interesting food on the table with a minimum of fuss. But when I go out, it is because I want to enjoy someone’s company. I want it quiet. I want my interaction with the establishment hassle-free if not cordial. The absolute LAST thing I want to have is an argument over the food and how it was prepared. For me, that eliminates the whole point of going out.

    Oh, and BTW, women who fuss about food at nice restaurants are going to make your life miserable in other ways too. Lose them. No matter how much they turn you on.

  117. 117
    MikeJ says:

    @Tehanu: When I first started working in Sweden, one of my workmates insisted on either a)hard rock café or b) the sushi(!) place across the street where she would only eat teriyaki. Of course she was shocked to learn that my next gig, in Spain, was also in Europe.

  118. 118
    Kristine says:

    @gogol’s wife: It made me sniffly. Glad S2 ended on that note.

  119. 119
    Schlemizel says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    Back in the 50’s we hosted the Romanian ambassador and his wife for dinner in our home (long story short the people who brought him here knew my mom could pull it off). We found out much to my moms chagrin that corn was considered animal feed. He was a real diplomat & ate it with a smile, his wife was not so kind.

    We also found out later that mom was investigated by the FBI for having them in for dinner.

  120. 120
    Arundel says:

    @Schlemizel: The Wallace Shawn article is also at TomDispatch. I would’ve included that link first, but the Crooks and Liars link was wrong.

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/blo.....jefferson/

  121. 121
    RossInDetroit says:

    Two of my sisters are very skilled cooks. They invent stuff just to see if it can be done. Apple/cranberry crisp in a crock pot. It was delicious.

    My grandparents always had 3/4 to an acre planted in fruits and vegetables. That and fish and game were the basis of their meals. They bought what was too much trouble to make, grow or hunt, like eggs and dairy. And they didn’t need to. They just liked fresh or home canned stuff better than commercial.

  122. 122
    Schlemizel says:

    @General Stuck:
    I read that the wok & rib cartilage is an important source of iron in China. Also that aluminum has been linked to alzheimer disease so stainless or iron are the way to go.

  123. 123
    SuzieC says:

    Really enjoy the show “Worst Cooks in America.” My hubby and I got a kick out of the meat grinder that was used, that got inept cook Erica (?) cooked off the show when she could not even put it together. We have used the exact same item for years to make one of our favorite winter dishes, roast beef hash. Dish is sublime as is, but even better if you bake some eggs on top until just cooked through.

    Also, happy to hear that Santorum is trickling away.

  124. 124
    Suffern ACE says:

    I actually don’t know how I learned how to cook. I grew up thinking I came from a family of cooks, but really my two grandmas and my mom were excellent bakers. I keep having to explain this to my partner. If you visit my house, stay for desert and the rolls, but don’t expect the rest to be any good. I figure my dad grew up with these baked goods all around him and so did my mon, so when they met what they expected from meals meshed perfectly.

  125. 125
    General Stuck says:

    The Department of Justice’s decision to no longer defend a discriminatory law that denies spousal benefits to veterans in legal, same-sex marriages is welcome news for veterans who simply want equal treatment under the law.

    Queue up the next godbotherer hissy fit. As Santorum adds an extra wetsuit to his stump speech.

    The announcement was made by Attorney General Eric Holder today in a letter to Congress. The statute, Title 38 of the United States Code, defines “spouse” as a person of the opposite sex and therefore precludes the Department of Veterans Affairs from recognizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples.

  126. 126
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    WE love it in coffee. I particularly like it in my turkish coffee. I get two great varieties from a local Middle Eastern grocery, one is just cardamom in it but the other has clove & cinnamon. It make a simple cup of coffee a desert to die for.

  127. 127
    YoohooCthulhu says:

    TL;DR Cumin–is the taste of mexican food.

  128. 128
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Schlemizel:

    In college I made DIY cologne on a bet. Bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and something else in witch hazel and vodka. I thought it was great but people said I smelled like soup.

  129. 129
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    Nutmeg gets used in a lot of savory foods in Europe. It shows up in some surprising dishes in France and Italy. But I have never heard of it as the lead spice in a stew. What so they use for vegetables? I could see it working with the right combination. Do YOU like the taste they achieve?

  130. 130
    MikeJ says:

    @RossInDetroit: I don’t understand the “but” in that sentence. Shouldn’t it be an “and”?

  131. 131
    Jennifer says:

    I mostly learned to cook because I figured out pretty early on that even cheap restaurants are expensive, and you’ll never get your RDA of vegetables if you don’t cook at home.

    My anti-fast-food jihad has gotten a lot worse over the years. These days, I can’t eat the stuff at all – here in the past couple of years I’ve gotten very sensitive to salt (probably because I don’t use a lot in my cooking) and pretty much everything you get at any fast food joint is way over-salted.

  132. 132
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Schlemizel:

    I don’t eat meat so I haven’t tried it. It smells good, though. The family eats a lot of Scandinavian derived foods so maybe it comes from there.

  133. 133
    Schlemizel says:

    @Jager:
    Ha! I won Mrs. Schlemizels heart when I whipped up a genuine French omelet with fresh herbs and mushrooms in 2 minutes when she thought we wouldn’t have time to eat before leaving my place for a concert. It was fabulous & still one of her favs. I encouraged my boys to learn by convincing them it was the way to true romance!

  134. 134
    Jennifer says:

    RE: the iron skillet – now you have the perfect tool for making fried okra, food of the gods.

  135. 135
    slag says:

    @hilzoy:

    I have actually known people who claim not to know how to boil water. Baffling.

    I’m not going to fight about this again because, really, I don’t care that much. But a lot of people overlook the huge amount of ambiguity in most cooking instructions–even for something as simple as boiling water. For instance, what exactly constitutes “boiling”? One bubble rising to the surface? Two or more? Look up Boiling Point in Wikipedia…not that straightforward, is it? And if you have no basis of understanding for the constraints and boundaries in which you’re working (how much flexibility is there in the process before things start to go wrong?), it’s easy to get hung up on seemingly simple tasks.

    That said, having spent the last couple of years learning to cook things beyond pasta, rice, etc, I would say my biggest complaint about the whole enterprise is the frickin ingredient arms race I inevitably find myself in. Need a teaspoon of an ingredient that is only sold by the ounce? Then you have to find another recipe that contains that ingredient–likely along with other ingredients that present a similar problem. Long story short, until you actually get good at cooking a wide variety of meals and know which ingredients are absolutely necessary and which aren’t, you’re probably going to end up wasting a ton of food and money on what’s supposed to be a money-saving endeavor. Learning to cook is a slog.

  136. 136
  137. 137
    dead existentialist says:

    @efgoldman: Oh my! Thanks for that.

  138. 138
    Schlemizel says:

    @techno:

    I told my kids to watch how their dates treated the wait staff. I think it is a great demonstration of how people are going to treat the people around them.

    I have had really bad service, separate from the food, just bad service with no excuse. In those cases I am a bad tipper. Normally I start around 18% but great service deserves more. OTOH, it irritates me because those tips are used as an excuse to underpay staff to start with.

    There was a :Third Rock From the Sun” episode where Lithgow drops a stack of ones on the table & tells the waiter “This is your potential tip. Every time you screw up I’m taking a dollar off the pile.” He thought that was much more honest & open than the way we Earthlings do it 8-{D

  139. 139
    RossInDetroit says:

    (yawns)

    I’m callin’ it. John wants us to go next door and excoriate The Frothy One for a while and I’m too tired.
    Cheers.

  140. 140
    Don K says:

    I guess I enjoyed watching my Mom cook from the time I was fairly young. When I was about 9 my sister bought me a Betty Crocker kids’ cookbook. Basic stuff, like scrambled eggs, hamburgs, turning eggs into hard-cooked eggs into egg salad, baking a cake and frosting it. By the time I was in junior high Mom and I were watching Julia Child’s original series every Sunday afternoon.

    By now all of my favorites are second nature to me (although I still need a reminder of the proper proportion of fat and flour (equal amounts!) to liquid to make gravy or a cheese sauce). I guess I figured since I liked to eat it would make sense to learn to cook so I’d never go hungry.

  141. 141
    RossInDetroit says:

    @efgoldman:

    One thing I do, that might be a little shady, is tip in ca$h even when I charge the meal. Maybe the server gets to keep more that way.

    The IRS calculates a server’s average tip rate based on credit card receipts, ignoring the zeroes. Servers then have to declare as income cash tips based on that percentage. If you want to screw with the system, tip 10% on the card and leave another 10% in cash. It drives down their average and they get to keep more.
    Stickin’ it to the man one bar tab at a time.
    ‘night.

  142. 142
    Jager says:

    @Schlemizel: Ah…the wonderful women with a good education and good jobs, crumple at the feet of a man who can cook a good meal.

    My Mom’s Dad, a judge, kicked ass with corned beef hash. The best walleyed pike I’ve ever eaten was cooked by my life long friend Bill’s Swedish born grandpa…over a damned open fire in a black iron frying pan!

  143. 143
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    Maternal Grandma was first generation Swede & she did like her nutmeg in savory foods but I don’t recall it as being noticeable in soups or stews. Cardamom though ended up as a major flavoring in lots of things. The Scandahooviens love it too. They get ridiculed for not liking bland food. Its true they were not big on peppers but herbs and spices made many tasty dishes. Not sure what happened to their decedents in MN who, when I was growing up in the 50s & 60s, thought mashed potatoes with white gravy with a side of lime jello with miracle whip in it was a meal.

  144. 144
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Cardamom plays a big role in traditional Arabian coffee, which since they brew it with unroasted beans actually tastes much more of cardamom than of coffee. I like it better than what we think of as coffee, which I don’t like at all, but it’s not something I would go out of my way to find.

  145. 145
    Schlemizel says:

    @efgoldman:
    I prefer to tip in cash. Sometimes I’ll leave a smaller tip on the card & the rest in cash. Yes, I know that this makes it easier for staff to avoid taxes they should pay but the IRS assumes a tip every time taxes on their assumptions not reality. In the real world some cheap bastards stiff wait staff.

  146. 146
    Yutsano says:

    @efgoldman:

    Don’t care about stickin’ it to the man

    The man thanks you. :)

    Care about putting more money in hardworking, underpaid wait staff’s pockets.

    One of the beauties of WA state minimum wage law is about the only exception is farm labour. Waitstaff get the $9.04 an hour here. Indexed to inflation.

  147. 147
    dww44 says:

    @RossInDetroit: I will always find some other means of chopping an onion other than by hand. Very Serious Tearing occurs if ever I try to chop manually. Tried all the usual “wives’ tales to circumvent the tearing. Nothing works. Doesn’t matter what brand onion either.

  148. 148
    dww44 says:

    @JGabriel: I’m so glad you brought that up. I actually think that with Santorum you know what you are gonna get. With a President Romney, the country would be in serious trouble. After the caving he’s done trying to get the nomination, he doesn’t have a single vertebrate left in his spine. It’s all mush.

  149. 149
    techno says:

    @efgoldman:
    Sorry about your mother in restaurants. I bet THAT made going out fun when you were a kid.

    What makes me wonder is WHY anyone would want to live that way.

  150. 150
    slag says:

    @dww44: I got myself a mini (3-cup) food chopper for stuff like this. I live in fear of kitchen gadget creep, so it took about a year (and a half-off sale shortly before Thanksgiving) for me to finally give into this purchase. Because it took a lot of effort out of the mundane cooking tasks, I find myself cooking more often now that I have it. It’s always out and ready to go.

    If I had known then what I know now, I might have even splurged a bit for something with slightly more options (a grater, for instance). But that’s assuming the fancier item would be as easy to clean as the mini chopper, which is questionable.

  151. 151
    dww44 says:

    @Yutsano: Our favorite new recipe, because it’s so easy and delicious, are baked chicken breasts (not boneless;more flavor with bones) rolled in a bunch of spices, of which coriander is the main one, pour in some low-salt chicken broth/stock, cover and bake for 40 minutes are so. The most flavorful, moist, and easy chicken with a wonderful sauce you could ever hope to have. Recipe found at All Recipes.com.

  152. 152
    dww44 says:

    @slag: Thanks. I have a manual chopper (Pampered Chef one), but the blade is way dull. I’m in the market for an electric one thats not too heavyweight, but yet durable.

  153. 153
    slag says:

    @dww44: Out of curiosity, I looked up the chopper I picked up on Amazon to see what the price is there. The downside is that it’s priced way too high right now, but the upside is that customers who purchase the KitchenAid Chef Series Food Chopper frequently buy Inception with Leonardo DiCaprio along with it and that I can conveniently add both of them to my cart simultaneously for the low price of $86.98. Handy.

  154. 154
    Yutsano says:

    @dww44: Bones impart flavour and moisture in any meat really. There are good reasons to cook boneless but there are just as many to keep the carcass as intact as possible. It really depends on the final culinary destination. If you roast a chicken, it should never be without the bones.

  155. 155
    PeakVT says:

    Since we’re talking about spices, I recommend The Scents of Eden for an interesting history of the spice trade (from a western perspective).

  156. 156
    calliope jane says:

    @gogol’s wife: I care! but I was spoiled on the interwebs and so I knew it was coming, but it was enjoyable all the same. I went from not liking Mary in series 1 to really rooting for them in the end. Impressive, that.

    /even though the thread has long since moved on to other topics :) Post-WWI England was a nice little distraction tonight.

  157. 157
    Sandia Blanca says:

    Nutmeg is featured in the beef stroganoff recipe in Joy of Cooking–very tasty!

    We also like nutmeg in steamed spinach.

    Our home has been a salt-free cooking zone for more than a year, so I’ve been focusing on alternate sources of flavor and “umami”–savory quality. Liquid smoke, all kinds of hot pepper, garlic, lots of herbs (fresh when possible), and Costco’s versatile no-salt spice blend have all worked well.

  158. 158
    Jager says:

    @efgoldman: The next 16 years!

  159. 159
    Jager says:

    My Norwegian grandmother would cut up a chicken, skin it, fry it in oil and butter with salt and pepper. Pour off the excessive fat then cover it with heavy cream and bake it. The chicken fell off the bone, the cream was browned on the top, she’d sprinkle a little paprika (for color) on top and serve it over perfect mashed potatoes with fresh steamed vegetables on the side. Usually the finish was lemon pie!(Or chocolate cookies made with mint chocolate chips)She was so good to me that if mentioned I wanted pancakes at 11 at night she’d start heating the pan!

  160. 160
    LesGS says:

    @Schlemizel: Some many years ago, my dad (a diplomat) and his wife, had a white South African woman and some other folks over for early dinner. It was summer and an early dinner before these folks had to get on an evening flight out of Dulles. So they decided to have a “typical” American summer barbeque, as my dad is a master griller, and it included corn on the cob.

    The South African woman flipped out over the corn, going on and on about how only cattle and blacks ate corn (maize), to the point that my step-mom, an extremely proper, hospitable person, deliberately delayed serving the blueberry pie dessert that the South African woman had expressed enthusiasm for with a swath of conversational lingering, so that they had to leave to catch their flight before they could get to the pie.

    Don’t offend diplomats or their spouses. You will not get dessert.

  161. 161
    Yutsano says:

    @Jager: I swear European women have this unique talent for cooking things that in my brain should never work but turn out amazingly perfect every single time. I could NEVER be that good! :)

  162. 162
    LesGS says:

    @Schlemizel: I make a Greek beef stew, stifado, in my slow cooker with some nutmeg and cloves, but more cinnamon. Lots of Americans are surprised by cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg (except for quiche with the latter) in a dish that isn’t a dessert.

  163. 163
    Jager says:

    @Yutsano: She was a first generation American, graduated from college in 1913, taught school, played the piano and organ like a goddess, cooked like a chef and managed the money like a CPA. She was a helluva role model for her sisters, my Dad, me and my girls.
    My Dad told me he would have never gotten through his Army Air Corps cadet program without her math tutoring. When I fell behind in math in the 5th grade she kicked my lazy butt over Christmas vacation and I never got less than a B in anything that involved numbers again!I wish she was still around, she was one superb human being.

  164. 164
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    LIBERTINES!, the lot of you.

  165. 165
    Schlemizel says:

    @LesGS:
    HAH! That hilarious. Servers her right. Its the sort of passive-aggressive answer my mom would have laughed about for years. You would think people would study a little bit about the customs and culture of a country before they show up to perform diplomacy of any kind, or at least have a ‘handler’ that can clue them in.

    Bless you stepmom

    BTW – I would LOVE to have a recipe for that stew. If you don’t want to share it can you remember its name, I have sources for finding different recipes.

  166. 166
    Schlemizel says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Sorry I missed your comment last night. Thanks for the correction, I was going by guess. in 1950, 1960 Minnesota such things were unheard of. Now we even have an Indonesian restaurant here. The don’t serve Goreng but they have Nasi Lemak, which I like. I intend to ask them some day but for now there are just so many other good things on the menu.

    How about Huckleberries? I hope you don’t have them there! America has been really good about exporting its foods and its culture. For years the English did it for us as there were many cheap crops they could infest poor nations with.

  167. 167
    Ron says:

    We watch that show too. It is designed to be train wreck TV, at least early on, and that’s what it is. I think my favorite moment was not really food-related. The one woman who had to make meatballs that were Swedish was all excited and said “I know Sweden” followed shortly by “Sweden makes me think of skiing and the alps” and finally “Sweden is in Switzerland”

  168. 168
    Ron says:

    @Schlemizel: Ugh, I’m sorry, but people like you irritate me. The idea that 18% is a starting point and probably not enough is freaking INSANE. I’ve seen people claiming tips ought to be 20% and that’s insane too.

  169. 169
    Schlemizel says:

    @Ron:
    I do it because I respect the work those people are underpaid to do. If the minimum wage law had kept up with reality 10% would still be good enough. Now I can go one of two ways, I can blame the worker for their plight & let them starve or I can ‘overtip’ to make their life possible while I campaign for a real solution.

  170. 170
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Nutella:
    I must have missed this because it got moderatered. Nope, nothing particularly exotic om that menu.

  171. 171
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Ron:

    I made my living from tips for 5 years in college and it’s a bitch. I choose to dine where I can afford to tip 20% because that’s fair to the servers. We’re always welcome when we come back, too.

  172. 172
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    I don’t eat out as often as I could because I calculate the actual cost of the meal. The trade off for owners is that higher prices on the menu means some people will visit less often too.

    And the decent places to eat are in competition with the Applebees, Chilis, Olive Gardens of the world. Now the meals there are just fine in many ways but they really are designed to produce the lowest price and highest profits possible, not the best meal possible. That leaves everyone else having to either go super high end or squeeze every dime out of the operation they can.

  173. 173
    RossInDetroit says:

    @Schlemizel:

    We eat out once a week, usually Friday because my wife is away Weds-Fri and comes home Friday night. One alternative is family/ethnic restaurants. We’re blessed with a lot of cohesive ethnic groups around here that support their own restaurants. They keep the food and prices honest and we benefit by being able to have Macedonian or Chaldean when we feel like it. So thankfully chains are rarely part of our dining.
    One gripe about Applebees; it’s the most vegetarian-hostile chain there is. I don’t eat meat but I’m not picky and certainly not an activist. Feed me a green salad and a baked potato and I’m happy. Applebees has literally no entrees or apps without meat. I have to order a baked potato without the bacon and a chicken Caesar without the chicken (same price). It’s the only place I know where I can’t order veggie off the menu. It’s a decent place otherwise but if there’s almost nothing to eat, what use is it to me?

    Funny story. The dog outed my wife on 7-11 hot dogs. We were walking him one evening and turned down a main street. Passing a 7-11 he balked, whined and kept veering toward the door. I asked my wife what was up with that. She admitted that when she walks him alone *sometimes* she’ll duck in for a hot dog and share it with him. He saw the place and wanted his hot dog bits.
    Busted.

  174. 174
    Mino says:

    I thought Bobby Flay’s spontaneous ejaculation was priceless. Paraphrased, he said he wanted to quit all his other jobs to do this one full time. Don’t know if the humour was the lure or the helplessness.

  175. 175
    opie jeanne says:

    @dww44: A very sharp knife is one answer.
    There is a book, “The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry” which is not a cookbook, but a reminiscence about attending the Cordon Bleu school in Paris. The title is something one of the teachers says to the student when she tears up while chopping onions, and I have discovered that it helps a lot.

  176. 176
    opie jeanne says:

    @dww44: I made Drumsticks en Croute from Guy Fieri’s recipe, but didn’t do the “en croute” half of the recipe. The spice mix is rubbed onto the chicken and they are left to bake, and the smell was not encouraging the first time I made them, but oh damn! did they taste good.

    The recipe fusses with the drumsticks, adding mustard to them and wrapping them in filo for the “en croute” part, and I didn’t bother with that.

    When I get home I intend to try your version with chicken breasts.

  177. 177
    dww44 says:

    @slag: LOL. Late to respond. Off to bed in the wee hours and been feeding and monitoring the birds today for the last day of the GBBC.

  178. 178
    dww44 says:

    @opie jeanne: I was wrong about the spice. It wasn’t coriander;it was marjoram. Not a frequently used spice on my part. Here’s a link to the recipe. I took a couple of hints from the comments and added the chicken broth/stock (whichever I happen to have but the low-salt versions) and uncovered the breasts about 15 minutes from the end so that they would nicely brown.

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/c.....etail.aspx

    If somehow the link doesn’t work for you, the name of the recipe is “Chicken Breasts with Herb Basting Sauce”

  179. 179

    […] got a new book out, which I’m about to buy, titled, simply, Essays.  Commenter Arundel pointed me to this selection from that work, a piece titled “Are You Smarter than Thomas […]

  180. 180
    Schlemizel says:

    @dww44:
    Having to often chop 30 lbs of onions at a time in my youth there are only two things I have ever found: cold & speed. If you can chill the onion it helps a little. But the key is to be as fast as humanly possible.

    Tap the onion on the counter to loosen the skin, peel it off. If there are roots trim them close but leave the hard knot intact. Slice the top off, set it cut side down & cut in half. Lay the newly cut side down, carefully cut from top to bottom but not all the way through the bottom. So you have ‘strips’ held together by the bottom. Turn it 90 degrees & slice off the pieces you want. Toss the bottom. It takes practice but I can chop an onion in less time then it took to describe it.

  181. 181
    techno says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    I have noticed that anyone who has ever had to live off tips, tends to to tip well. My tip experience came from driving taxi, in the winter, in Minneapolis. After three winters of that, there is absolutely NO way I would ever consider a tip too large.

  182. 182
    Schlemizel says:

    @RossInDetroit:
    Yeah, since the kids are gone we never eat at those places. The Twin Cities has really grown in the last 30 years so that we have choices now from every corner of the Earth. Almost all are family run. The only disappointing bit is they tend to dumb the food down a bit. We have made a few friends in places & often get better food.

    We have the largest Hmong community in the US and the largest Somali community. Those two have really added to the local pallet.

  183. 183
    scav says:

    @RossInDetroit: Watching my French host-mother cook it was SaltPepperNutmeg almost inevitably. Suddenly a trinity instead of the duopoly.

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