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Welcome to Thursday Coffee Hour. This is an open topic thread so help yourself to the goodies and sit a spell and let us know what is new with you. I love to cook and have read cookbooks and magazines for years. I currently get Cooks Illustrated, Cooks Country, and Cuisine at Home. I also watch a lot of cooking shows. I have to admit that there are lots of time when I ignore the experts. Follow me blow the orange fleur de Kos as we blithely ignore the experts and do things our own way.

I do enjoy America's Test Kitchen and their magazines Cooks Country and Cooks Illustrated however I rarely make the recipes their way or use the things they recommend. Their recipes look good however having lost both parents to heart attacks I prefer to eat heart healthy and not all that cholesterol, carbohydrates, and sodium. As much as I enjoy Cuisine at Home when I see sodium on a single recipe as over 2000 mg. that isn't happening.

I have a kitchen full of tools I use and some of them I've used for many years. The experts practically foam at the mouth over woks. I happen to have an electric wok that I've used for many years and it works just fine for me. I made Mongolian Beef the other night. I have an electric stove so I know it doesn't get that high of heat. ATK is especially stringent about using a flat bottomed pan instead of a wok. Me, I intend to use my electric wok until it gives up the ghost one day.

I have trouble looking at the results of pan testing. I'm sure a $300.00 Dutch oven is nice. It probably does a good job but be reasonable. I live on Social Security in other words poverty level. I can't afford to blow 300 dollars on one pan. What irritates me is ATK is constantly retesting things and all of a sudden that KitchenAid immersion blender you are using is no longer the flavor of the month and they expect you to toss it and get their new favorite. Or the Oxo mandolin that I saved up and splurged for now they want you to use something else. That's not happening. I don't have money to throw away.

Too many of the tests put the Oxo Good Grips products near the bottom. My kitchen is almost all Oxo because one they are affordable and two I can hold onto them with my arthritic hands. I'll just use my knife sharpener every time I pick up my chefs knife.

As far as food products my criteria are obviously not the same as the experts. I want as few additives as I can. I want no MSG or aspartame. I'm allergic to both of them. I use no salt added every chance I get. I'll make from scratch so I can control everything. I will use pure extracts rather than imitation. I use butter and not margarine. I use decent tasting wines but not expensive ones. I can't afford the sophisticated wines.

So while I enjoy watching and reading cooking experts I still go ahead and do things my way. I would put my Huevos Rancheros up against any experts. After all while I was busy making sure it was heart healthy I also made it taste fantastic with homemade refried beans and homemade salsa.

My Homemade Huevos Rancheros
My Mongolian Beef made in my electric wok.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:07:17 PM PDT

  •  Your huevos rancheros (13+ / 0-)

    look very good. I'm going to have to try the recipe.

    Progress is made peace by peace.

    by StateOfGrace on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:11:27 PM PDT

  •  I love my wok. (12+ / 0-)

    I make breakfast fried rice every chance I get.

    I got an enamelled dutch oven from Target a few years back for 40 bucks, it's awesome. Decent size, I want to say it's 5 qt.

    Next on the list are some OXO tongs and a new can opener.

  •  I am thrilled with my enameled Dutch oven (11+ / 0-)

    and it is one of the imported, expensive ones: but it was half a Christmas present and half I paid for myself, and I use it almost every week for everything I can't do in a cast iron skillet or a stainless steel pot.

    But you don't NEED one of them to get the same results. It just makes it easier depending on what you're cooking.

    IOW, it is a more expensive version of a whisk: I have a whisk and it makes life easier. But during the many years before I had a whisk, I could get the same results from the judicious use of a fork and lots of arm power.

    English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

    by Youffraita on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:22:06 PM PDT

    •  Same here (8+ / 0-)

      I have one 6 quart, Chasseur enameled Dutch oven that I purchased back in the 1970s that I still use a lot. I bought it back when I was making the "big bucks" and I don't regret it. I've gotten a lot of use from it over the years.

      I also have a 2.5 quart Dutch oven that I purchased about the same time. And, finally I have a 4.25 quart Staub that I purchased a couple of years ago. I really like the black interior finish of the Staub because it doesn't discolor the way the light colors do.

      I really enjoy cooking with enameled cast iron and have several au gratin style baking dishes, but I bought most of them used on Ebay. Most of them have a small chip or two but they were fairly inexpensive and they work great.

      So if cost is a factor you can probably find a Dutch Oven on Ebay that is still quite serviceable.

      My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

      by Mr Robert on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:54:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have my grandmother's enamelware which (5+ / 0-)

      was a wedding present in 1940. That old stuff is wonderful, and it gets a lot of use, especially the oval dutch oven, classically French.


      by commonmass on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:39:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hate those big black handles (9+ / 0-)

    The little metal handle on a potato peeler does make my arthritis flare. But that is nothing to the burning tendons when I try to hold that wad of rubber to do something.

    I need your support, my paypal is:

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:35:58 PM PDT

  •  My lovely wife does almost all (11+ / 0-)

    ...of our cooking; the exceptions being grilling & salads.  I used to be a pretty good cook, but when we first moved in together, she just would not let cook without hovering, which drove me nucking futs!  I have found it easier to just let her do it.  (I do all the laundry, however.)

  •  those recipes (9+ / 0-)

    are written, I think, for beginners: they're very nitpicky, where someone with more experience doesn't need the detail.
    And you use the tools you have, not the ones you wish you had - they retest because models change or get discontinued, or a new one comes out. (I have pans that are older than I am, because they work. Some of the other hardware isn't much newer - and there's a bottle of whole nutmegs that was my grandmother's (died 1981), along with the one of chocolate extract and the one of rum flavoring that I got from my mother. And the sourdough starter that's all of 35 years old.)

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:44:04 PM PDT

  •  I have a lot of old stuff my mother & grandmother (9+ / 0-)

    used. Some of the old aluminum ware was brought to the farm in South Dakota by a man who sold such things from a wagon.

    I love cooking shows. It is so relaxing to watch someone else cook!

    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 01:51:27 PM PDT

  •  Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Unsalted Butter Here (7+ / 0-)

    along with Grape Oil for it's high smoke point.

    My invisible imaginary friend is the "true" creator

    by Mr Robert on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:01:31 PM PDT

  •  re:woks (7+ / 0-)

    The advice I've seen, and I think it was on America's Test Kitchen, is that a large flat frying pan is preferred because, unless you have a wok burner on your stove, there's no way to get a wok heated properly.  But they did point out that an electric wok avoids this problem, since the heating element can be made to conform to the shape of the wok.

    •  I've got my parents-in-law's (4+ / 0-)

      electric wok in storage; once we're in our new place and I'll have space to keep it, I'll be bringing it over and using it a lot. (I've decided to add a storage cabinet to use as a pantry; the "pantry" built into these apartments is way too hard to access and the shelves are so deep I can rarely get anything from the back before they go bad. The cabinet can go in the dining area and hold food, while I can use the "pantry" shelves for storing small appliances and my storage containers thus decluttering the top of the refrigerator.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:44:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A large flat frying pan is NOT the way to go. When (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      michelewln, Mr Robert

      you do try to stir fry in one, you stuff is going to fly all over the place.
      A flat bottomed wok is the preferred method. You can get one online at The Wok Store out of San Francisco and get accessories if you want. I love mine. I have an electric stove and this wok is perfect for it. It will work on a glass stove or a gas stove. Like any good tool, you do need to maintain it....and it comes with instructions.
      A good source of information is Grace Young at "thekitchen" website.
      I love my wok and pull it out more than any other pan..except for my cast iron dutch oven that is smoother than a baby's butt....or my Thai stovetop rice steamer. Yea, I love cooking with those things.

      Please call me Scotia. "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris

      by TX Scotia on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 08:23:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am addicted to Cooks Illustrated (5+ / 0-)

    and all their sister publications. I used to have a web membership and mail subscriptions to everything they offered plus a ton of books and booklets. I have had to cut back because of finances but I will still occasionally buy the magazine at the checkout line.

    One thing about them is that their recipes are often overly complicated. I usually cut out all the frills so that I can actually get a finished product before we starve. Nevertheless they are my go to recipe source.

    (I don't care for Christopher Kimball but that's just me.)

    Anyway, great looking huevos rancheros. Not a big fan of spicy but they look awesome! I might have to try them.

    Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth - Mike Tyson

    by hnichols on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:07:22 PM PDT

    •  Kimball (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, hnichols, commonmass, TX Scotia

      I'm not a big fan of Kimball but I love it when Jack Bishop gets him durning the taste tests. Adam Ried cracks me up. He is just so enthusiastic about the things he tests.

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:14:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I get almost all my recipes off Pinterest (7+ / 0-)

        My youngest daughter goes to her board on Saturday, shops that day and preps  Sunday night. When she gets home from work she pulls the prepped ingredients out of the fridge and cooks.

        My grandchildren are coming in July and I've found a dozen recipes on P that they will like.

        I am trying to give my cookbooks away, except my favorites, but no one uses them anymore. Internet.

        “Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

        by weezilgirl on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:41:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I got a gift subscription (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TX Scotia, Mr Robert, michelewln

      The magazine is nice. Most of the recipes don't appeal to me but I read about them anyway.

      I always thought Kimball and company came across as pretentious in Cooks Illustrated. They were usually right but seemed so in-your-face opinionated about their knowledge.  Then I watched some of America's Test Kitchen on the Public TV station and found myself pleasantly surprised at Mr. Kimball and his crew. They seemed more low-key and funny to me and it put a face and demeanor to the writing I was bristling at so often.  I like their show more than most of the Food Network stuff.  I don't know what happened to that channel.

  •  I love to cook, too, and it has been one of my (5+ / 0-)

    greatest hobbies (right behind collecting cylinder records and Edison Diamond Discs and the machines that play them) for a great deal of my life.

    I stand by butter and cream and pork and chicken fat. I fry my Wiener Schnitzel and my fried chicken in lard. I just don't do it very often. I think it is possible to enjoy those foods that are bad for you in moderation and they are certainly better than their "healthy" alternatives.

    Speaking of "America's Test Kitchen" and "Cooks Illustrated": a few years back, Chris Kimball, that bow-tied Back Bay and rural Vermont over-privileged genius, wrote a book called "Fannie Farmer's Last Meal" in which he and his staff--using a period wood-fired stove installed in his Back Bay (Boston) million dollar townhouse recreated several Victorian and Edwardian recipes and invited the usual (read: Washington Establishment) suspects to enjoy the party. I'm being a little snarky here, but it's well worth a read and he updates the recipes, for the most part, in the book.

    I'm almost embarrassed to enjoy this chronicle of the lengths the One Percent will go to to get a book deal, but on the other hand, a former host of "This Old House" is my summer neighbor, and not a bad guy at all. And no, I won't say which one. Outing is for ACT UP. Of which I am a former member, but still. ;)


    by commonmass on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 02:37:40 PM PDT

    •  Exactly (4+ / 0-)

      I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to Kimball. His awe shucks down home country boy act is irritating. He had a privileged childhood and is a multi-millionaire. I bet he never had to eat Spam as a child.

      "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

      by michelewln on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 03:03:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the "This old house" cast (4+ / 0-)

      has a summer home about 1/4 mile from my family's summer cottage on the southern Massachusetts shore. It was a dwelling that needed a lot of work when he purchased it, but is now a beautiful cottage.

      "let's talk about that" uid 92953

      by VClib on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 08:15:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My dear C, I watched the whole mess on PBS. Mr. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, michelewln

      Kimball whined thru the whole show that Fannie Farmer had "no instructions" on how to cook the different courses he was presenting and they just had to "wing it". At that time I was researching Fannie's first, self-published! cookbook, Boston Cooking School Cookbook, for an article I was doing. It is all in there, recipes, instructions and hints. He and his staff were just not very thorough in there research and/or made the book and the PBS program into a "drama". I lost a lot of respect for him at that point.
      I do really like Jack Bishop, though. He was up here in Seattle promoting his new book earlier this year and was interviewed on Seattle Kitchen show on KIRO by the 2 chefs, Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau. Jack is a blast!

      Please call me Scotia. "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris

      by TX Scotia on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 08:47:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kimball & Co. also have very particular ideas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    about what tastes and textures are supposed to be produced by their recipes and techniques. Not quite as weird as Alton Baker (Mr. Good Eats), but enough to make me quite disinterested in following their recipes too closely!

    And both sets of these experts assume that their regional variations are the only good and right ones! Maybe it's a fad, but over the years Alton has put cayenne in the most amazing things!

    As you say, cooking TV & magazines are fun to look at for ideas, and SOMETIMES useful for techniques, but their recipes are often and often mysterious!

    Of course, I'm not an epicure, not a connoiseur of many currently popular ethnic cuisines; but we do a LOT of home-cooking. THOSE are the recipes I crave! (I want brownies NOT-FROM-A-BOX, for example! That's one I'm hunting...)

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 01:08:07 AM PDT

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