Francois__'s Profile

Display Name: Francois__
Member Since: 12/14/08

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A lot of people seem to use their phones as crutches. I've never had this problem with close friends, but I've seen it a lot in more obligatory/less intimate social settings (i.e., happy hours at work, big parties where people don't know each other well). People will start texting as a way of looking busy almost as a defense mechanism. It relieves the anxiety of 'I don't know what to say" "I'm not up to small talk" and other social discomforts we used to have to just get over and deal with.
I've never had it happen when I have friends over, but now that I think about it, I only invite over and cook for close friends, and none of us focus on our phones when we're together. So it may be a bit of a litmus test/gauge of how close you are to the people you're with as to whether this is an issue or not.

5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won't Put Down Their Phones
5/11/14 07:30 PM

Oh boy. My big bad mistake just before I had my daughter was my genius idea to make a batch of red beans and rice to heat up for meals. It's my favorite dish. It never occurred to me that beans and onions would be just about the worst thing I could eat as a newly nursing mother, not to mention the hot sauce...this was just pre-internet so it's not like there was advice about this kind of things at your fingertips. I kept eating my red beans and rice and hot sauce and wondering why my baby kept crying, not connecting the two for about a week. I feel so dumb now even typing it; how could I not have known?!!

Stock Up on Freezer Meals Week 5: The Best Reader Advice for Filling the Freezer Before Baby Arrives Spring Projects from The Kitchn
5/2/14 10:24 PM

Fun. But seriously, I heard a wonderful, wonderful story on public radio about two weeks ago about the woman in California who appears to have started the hipster gourmet toast craze, and it was a surprisingly deep story with far more meaning than you would have expected. It was all about being able to cope with serious mental illness--this is one of those stories that can make you think of life differently:

How To Make $10 Toast at Home Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
4/1/14 06:48 PM

#16 -- I do that too! If you have older kids, it encourages them to cook when their favorite recipes are so easy to find.

My biggest organization strategy is to hang multiple versions of the tools I use the most frequently out within easy reach. I hang multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons out under my cabinets-- easy to find a second half cup measure, the 1/2 tsp, etc. as you're cooking, and eliminates clutter in the drawers, and makes it easy for people to pitch in if they want to help. On the other side of my (small) kitchen, I hang about 8 different light, cutting boards so they're within easy reach as I need to chop onions, slice meat, mince ginger, or garlic, crush spices, etc., without having to clean my main large board over and over as I work. It breaks my enjoyment of cooking when I have to dig the right measure out of the back of a drawer mid-recipe--I would get crumbs in the drawer and wind up with cuts on my hands because I was hurrying, etc. Also, trying to find a clean cutting surface when your hands are all sticky or gooey and you don't want to be opening drawers or cabinets. So I have multiples hanging out--it frees up storage space and makes cooking more efficient.

Why Didn't We Think Of That? 18 Genius Kitchen Organizing Tips From Our Readers Reader Intelligence Report
2/26/14 08:41 PM

This got me thinking of the days I just literally grab what I can from the fridge as I'm leaving for work because I can't bear the thought of having to make a choice at the fast-food court in my building at lunchtime, even as it includes Pret a Manger (where I can spend over $50 a week...not good). Yesterday I had some leftover shrimp from Whole Foods, so I took that, an avocado, a small container of leftover quinoa, and my trusty bottle of Cholula sauce. It made a great, super-colorful lunch. I've discovered that quinoa and avocado are a very versatile and satisfying nutritious base to have on hand for a lot of salady-kind of lunches adding whatever else you like that you have on hand in the fridge. Lemon and olive oil are perfect for that.

Eating at the Office: Pack a Lemon in Your Lunch Bag
2/20/14 11:15 PM

Charlotte- that's funny, I remember my friend ordering her toast "slightly burnt" at a restaurant once, which really annoyed the waitress. But my friend explained to me that she had grown up in a big family and her mother had a lot going on in the morning so if you didn't eat burnt toast, you got no toast, and eventually she came to prefer it that way-- anything else seemed too soft and undercooked.

The Restaurant Secret to Making the World's Fluffiest Pancakes
2/20/14 10:53 PM

You know what, I tried this and didn't like it. Because I use nitrate-free bacon, which is lower in salt than standard bacon, I found that cooking it in water removes the crunchy, salty flavor that I look forward to in my weekend treat-- bacon that I enjoy with pancakes and maple syrup. Cooked this way, there is definitely less flavor and I just feel like I'm eating some generic smoked meat. Oh well, for those who aren't in it for the saltiness, it's fine.

Weird Tip That Really Works: For Perfect Bacon, Add a Little Water to the Pan
2/20/14 10:47 PM

For the person who wanted the potato-based dough, here's my grandmother's recipe--she emigrated from Poland around 1915--

2 cups mashed potatoes
4 eggs
1 TB salt
2 c flour --plus one cup on the board for kneading

Beat eggs and salt together, add potatoes and mix well. Blend in 2 c flour, knead on board adding flour as needed --it's a sticky dough but when you've added the right amount of flour it will start pulling off your fingers. When the dough is smooth, let it rest covered 'some'--until, as she wrote, it feels "heavy and soft like a down pillow"
While the dough is pillowing, make the filling-- 2 lb farmer's cheese, 2 beaten eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar (no more, these aren't meant to taste sweet at all), and finely chopped green onions to taste (I use at least 6-7 green onions, both white and green parts) plus 4 TB melted salted butter.
Roll dough out and use a 3-4" diameter drinking glass to cut rounds (our pirogis were not the small ones you typically see but about the size of a woman's palm--according to my grandmother anything smaller doesn't allow you to use the amount of filling this kind of dough needs. Fill one side as generously as you can where you can still fold the other side of dough over it and seal it completely, and simmer in softly boiling salted water 5 minutes. Drain, then put in a heavily buttered dish. Turn each pirogi to coat both sides with butter to keep them from sticking together.
One more step makes them sublime-- Melt several TB of salted butter in a frying pan with some fresh unflavored bread crumbs. Cook the pirogi over a very gentle flame in this mixture, half covered--this makes the cheese/egg filling puff a bit and the crumbs get crispy. Scrape the toasted bread crumbs on top of each pirogi and serve. The combination of the silky dough, soufflé-like filling, and crunchy buttery crumbs is what puts these over the top.

Freezer Recipe: Sauerkraut, Potato & Cheese Pierogi Recipes from The Kitchn
2/17/14 06:16 PM

I feed my dog fresh food, mostly raw, but I do lightly simmer grated veggies in water for a minute that I add to the mix. Making bacon this way I could pour off some of the water after the fat has been rendered and use that for cooking his veggies. I always use nitrate free bacon anyway. I'm always looking for ways to combine what I'm cooking for our meals with what I'm feeding our dog. And he's lean and could use the fat, unlike me!

Weird Tip That Really Works: For Perfect Bacon, Add a Little Water to the Pan
12/27/13 10:37 AM

This remains a great store. I just bought a bunch of unique gifts--a dragon and snake ring for my friend's daughter. A gold filigree one for my own (they have a wonderful ring selection). A black ceramic skull piggy bank--not cheap ceramic, but heavy and thick, like soapstone. Midnight blue socks with the pattern of the constellations. Oh and the coolest pair of round black sunglasses with thin bright red trim around the lenses--for $14! While I was shopping a guy bought a kid's knit cap that had the coolest fox face woven in, and, when asked if he wanted it gift wrapped, broke into the biggest smile and said, "No man, it's for ME!" Everyone in the store was saying this is the place they go to buy things that are truly unique and special. And the staff are welcoming and helpful. Stores like this really need to be supported.

RR#1 ChicagoStore Profile
12/7/13 06:18 PM

I love Dawnie's story and perspective, but the fact is, if you have to drive any distance on holidays when you're bringing the pies (plural for me), these boxes are a WONDERFUL idea for transport. Two years ago I had my still-warm pies lovingly nestled in towels in open-topped cardboard boxes in the back of our car. I mean they were divine. A friend had made a special trip to get me leaf lard for the crusts, and I had spent hours making the dough, peeling and cutting the apples, shelling the nuts, etc. I was in a blissful state from the quiet work of making delicious treats on a cold morning, and the heavenly smell that we were going to enjoy for the next hour on the road. As we pulled to the end of our driveway, I asked my grumpy 14 year old to pick up our newspapers so it wouldn't be obvious no one was home, and without thinking, she got out, grabbed them and chucked them into the back of the car, like she does every morning when I drive her to school. Totally habitual. And they landed like bombs on top of my pies and completely crushed them. I went ballistic. I honestly still have a neighbor who keeps a distance from me, because he was outside raking his leaves when it happened, when I jumped out of the car screeching and began to cry and flail my arms. Yes, a couple of snug boxes with a sliding cover would have really come in handy that morning, and it did bother me that the pies, while still edible, looked like something out of The Walking Dead after all my hard work. The good news is, it's my daughter's favorite story to re-enact now. I overreacted so spectacularly that it will never be forgotten. But buy these boxes I will.

PieBox from Provisions by Food52
11/24/13 03:04 PM

And what shall we put over the bed?

Neon Letters from Collier West
11/24/13 02:41 PM

No lie-- not only can this be made a day or two in advance-- I am right now eating TWO WEEK OLD LEFTOVERS of this salad. I made such a big recipe for a party on Nov 3 that we had leftovers, which I forgot about in the back of the fridge. I just discovered the container, and was preparing to throw it out, expecting a fermented, slimy mess, and was amazed to see that not only did the greens and other veggies hold up well, it's utterly delicious. So this is a hardy salad you can make and dress well in advance.

Autumn Salad Recipe: Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing
11/24/13 02:38 PM

When I'm a guest,I'm often prone to get the munchies at night, but of course I don't feel comfortable hitting someone else's kitchen looking for food... So when I have someone over, I try to have some foods that are help-yourself guest-friendly and I make a point of showing them and telling them, if you get the munchies, I don't care what time it is, I bought these for you in case you get hungry. That seems to make people really feel at home, making it clear that they are free to use your kitchen.

The One Thing Your Holiday Houseguests Won't Tell You
11/16/13 11:51 PM

well, as far as kitchen 'words', I remember reading a quote from a chef that struck me as particularly wonderful and true: "Cooking for those you love is one of life's great joys." It is exactly the feeling I get when I have people over and the meal is coming together and everyone is having a good time. The house is clean and I know we'll have wonderful leftovers to enjoy afterward.
I want to have that phrase in my kitchen, but I'm not sure of the medium. I have cabinets on three walls that stop about 18 inches short of the ceiling, and I was thinking of creating a mosaic of it in cursive, on slender boards, using colorful food things, such as small lentils and beans, tiny pasta, etc, Every time I see the bins of those tiny orange lentils and red beans at Whole Foods I just want to dig my hands in them!

Neon Letters from Collier West
11/15/13 11:10 PM

You've inspired me to make meatloaf Sunday for some friends coming over. I'm going to top ours with chili sauce.
My mother adapted a lot of her classic recipes after my father's stroke. The all-time winner that I still make 30 years later is her meatloaf made with ground turkey and the seasonings for polish sausage. It's unique and everyone loves it, including kids. For each loaf, she basically combined a pound of ground turkey (dark meat) with about 8 crushed crackers, 2 egg whites, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, marjoram and salt and pepper to taste. There aren't many recipes that use marjoram these days, it's an old world herb. She grew it fresh throughout the summer and always had little bundles drying in the basement. I have to use dried so I just make sure to get a fresh supply from bulk so it's not old, and I use at least 2 rounded tablespoons. Bake the same as you would a regular meatloaf. We always serve it with Dijon or horseradish mustard but plain old French's is great too. It's wonderful and unusual, and makes divine sandwiches afterward, just like regular meatloaf.

How To Make Meatloaf from Scratch Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
11/15/13 11:00 PM

Figured out the answer to my question-- the whole thing actually tastes great if made a day ahead and allowed to marinate in the dressing. Just be sure to keep it cold the whole time in between dressing it and serving it. And two bunches of kale came out to a giant bowl that fed 15--I wound up adding two extra carrots and made a double serving of the dressing with just a bit less oil.

Autumn Salad Recipe: Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing
11/8/13 07:51 PM

Can the kale, pepper and carrots be prepared a day ahead, and the dressing added maybe an hour or so before serving?

Autumn Salad Recipe: Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing
11/2/13 07:38 PM

I just made it last night. It is a pretty subtle dish, there isn't a flavor that dominates-- I was expecting a stronger lemon flavor, and it's in there, but underneath, behind the collective flavor--not standing out. I will definitely make this again--it's a luxurious soup-like chicken dish that is nutritionally dense and satisfying. What I would do next time-- mash the garlic cloves into the sauce after cooking. Offer some lemon wedges to anyone who wanted to squeeze a little fresh juice in just before eating (that would be me). And I would put 1/3 cup of rice into the milk at the start of cooking, as someone suggested earlier.
When I was cleaning up and storing the leftovers, I lightly buttered a piece of fresh bread and used it like a sponge to get every last drop of sauce out of the pan, and ate it. I can't remember the last time I was compelled to do that!

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk Is Probably the Best Chicken Recipe of All Time Recipe Review
10/19/13 03:49 PM

I think milk is a more versatile cooking liquid than most people realize, especially with so many people rejecting dairy products. There are probably a lot of old recipes that go back to farming communities that made good use of the abundance of fresh milk. I know my grandmother, who had grown up on a farm, often simmered various vegetables in a pot of milk instead of water-- ears of corn, sliced potatoes, quartered heads of cauliflower, green beans. It was all delicious.

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk Is Probably the Best Chicken Recipe of All Time Recipe Review
10/18/13 08:24 PM