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Food & Drink / The Gestalt of Cooking


Subject:  Re: What's cookin'? Date:  10/29/2003  12:37 PM
Author:  NaggingFool Number:  11033 of 21260

Thanks to Liz, I went back and decided to answer these questions as well.

What kind of cookware do you use? Do you have any hints, techniques, or suggestions for using it effectively?

I use the Farberware line of cookware. I particularly like their cheapo non-stick skillets. They last me about ten years, which for me is a long time for anything.

My other cookware tip is a way to remove char from the bottom of pots. Because I always end up burning stuff to the bottom of the pot. Coat with a baking soda paste, then boil, then scrape with an angled putty knife.

What's your favorite spice? Your least favorite? Why?
My tastes change from month to month. Right now my favorite spice is pepper. Last season it was paprika. My least favorite is cumin. I think because the cumin I have is stronger than recipes expect, so I end up using too much.

What are your favorite type of things to cook?
Anything for a large group of people, especially if they're going to do the dishes. My specialty is probably large hunks of meat.

Do you specialize in any ethnic cuisines? What appeals to you about them?

My parents specialized in salty hunks of meat cooked rare, served with bread, another starch, and a tiny serving of frozen veggie. This is not much to build on. So I don't claim any particular ethnic cuisine. I learn techniques from lots of them. My particular style is "sneaky-healthy-food". I make dishes healthier and healthier until peopel don't like them anymore, then I reverse the last change. My definition of healthier-- whole grains, lots of veggies, limited added fats, no partially-hydrogenated oils.

How do you handle leftovers? Serve them again as-is? Disguise them so your S.O. won't recognize them?

Mostly eat them again as lunches. Or serve them again if they're particularly loved (aka meatloaf). Sometimes I'll carryover part of a dinner to the next dinner and make one new dish. When I roast a lot of meat (or a turkey) I'll use it in dishes later in the week, but that seems like ahead of time prep more than leftovers.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in your cooking?
The biggest challenge is that no one else cleans up my kitchen. If someone else cleaned the kitchen I would probably cook interesting things everday. As it is I tend to cook interesting things every other day.
The other significant challenge is one I happily accept. I'm cooking for three opinionated adults who come home at eratic times and like different foods. On a limited budget.

Do you cook or bake, or both?
I do both, but I'm not precise enough to be a great baker. I'm surrounded by enough hungry people to be a happy baker.

Do you use recipes? Only as guides? Need absolute measurements (you probably won't like this board so well)? Just make it up as you go along?

Some of all of those things. When I'm making something I'm not familiar with I'll follow the recipe closely (especially with new cuisines, like Indian). If I have something in mind but can't find a recipe I'll combine several recipes from the web. I tend to use cookbooks to find new ideas (currently I'm going through the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook). Once I know what I want to make I just make things up.
Oh, I do tend to measure spices and herbs until I'm used to them.

What are your favorite places to get ingredients? (not one of cori's questions)

- Penzey's spice catalog
- King Arthur Flour catalog
- Brookfield Farm. A cooperative farm in the Berkshires. I pay in the fall. They use the money all year and deliver me one farmshare every week from June until Thanksgiving. Organic, and raised by people who are honestly happy to be farming (and making a living at it; they get health benefits even, although the interns just work for room, board, benefits and 50 lbs of food)
- McKinnon's Butchershop. They're cheap, and the meat is freshly cut. Also, they're within walking distance.
- The weekly farmer's market. Also within walking distance. Because I use more of some ingredients than in the farmshare (fresh tomatoes, for example.)
- Chinese groceries. There are some great ones in downtown Boston.
- Indian groceries. There are a couple of hole-in-the wall ones within walking distance. I particularly like ginger paste, because when I taste something and decide it needs ginger I don't necessarily want to grate ginger.

Thanks for a great board, Cori!

- Megan
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