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Everything posted by PollyG

  1. Happily, Alicia is back. Her web site is at www.sublimecanine.weebly.com and facebook is facebook.com/sublimecanineva. That's my black standard poodle prancing around in the December 30 video on her facebook page.
  2. Our rule with dishwashers is now that if it is no longer cleaning the dishes and there are no obviousl problems resolvable via the manual, we replace the damned thing. Our prior Kenmore diswasher is the last Kenmore appliance we will ever buy. It had a design flaw which caused the gasket protecting the electronics to leak within a year, killing it in mid-November before Thanksgiving. The Sears service people took over 8 weeks and 4 visits to fix it. . .that's right, we were without a working dishwasher for Thanksgiving, Hannukah, and several other major entertainment events. We were not amused. At that point, we decided that if it broke again, out it was going. It did, and the Bosch replacement is working fine. We're not crazy about the lower rack design on the Bosch, but we can work with it.
  3. Quick, someone notify the DHS! We have either an alien or a dangerous subversive in our midst! (Actually, one of my dear childhood friends did not like it either. It may have been a texture thing for him; he was a bit picky as a kid though nowhere near the extreme that some of my kid's friends have reached. ) And to put this back on topic: I made the most ridulously easy ice cream over the holidays. We chucked most of a quart of Homestead Dairy's egg nog into our churn--it brought me back to the days when the milk delivery company would provide ice cream mix on special order, only this was much, much better.
  4. In general, Neuhaus has very good quality chocolates. I would be a bit concerned about freshness; the best of their chocolates are not meant for a long shelf life.
  5. The halibut crudo I had at Hog Island Oyster Co in the Ferry Building in November was the single best thing I ate in 2014. They often have it as a special, but the preparation varies; that day it was marinated in passionfruit juice. The preparation I had in December was good, but not quite the mind-blowing excelence of November's lunch. The whole family (ages 15 to 76) enjoyed dinner at Hog Island in December. Kiraku, a tiny izakaya in Berkeley, is turning out extremely tasty dishes and will stay in my rotation when work brings me out there.
  6. Gluten-free people, take note: If you bring your own GF soy sauce, HKP is able to make most of its dishes GF for you. We took over about half the restaurant for my birthday a few months ago and one of our friends genuinely has Celiac and must eat GF; even the small amount of wheat in soy sauce has become a problem of late. I did some consultation in advance and found out that most of the "breaded" dishes at HKP use corn starch and not wheat flour. There are a few exceptions and a call in advance would be smart, but my friend was able to eat almost everything we had pre-ordered for the gang. All of their sauces are made on the spot and not pre-made, so it was easy for them to use our GF soy.
  7. We did a Feast of the Seven Knishes for friends and neighbors on the weekend between Christmas and New Year's, 2012. The two fillings I made for the first time for that event and really enjoyed were a kim chi and mashed potato filling and the duxelles filling. I included a small amount of mashed potato in the duxelles filling to make the knishes easier to eat--I don't like having my filling jumping out of my knishes. I also liked the spanikopita filling in theory, but I think I blew the seasoning on it and it should have been a bit more tasty. I use a modified version of my grandfather's recipe for the dough (his called for margarine, I use butter), which makes one of the most delightfully workable doughs I've ever experienced. 1 lb butter 4 cups flour 3/4 cup water 1/4 cup white vinegar 1 egg Cut butter into flour (or use the Cusinart's dough blade to make unspeakably fast work of this) Put butter/flour mix into a bowl, add egg and stir gently. Add vinegar and water and combine all ingredients together. Turn onto a well-floured board and roll together to get a well formed ball. Roll out thickly, fold four ways and roll out again, leaving it fairly thick. Repeat 4-5 times, roll into a ball, wrap tightly and refrigerate until stiff and well chilled (Grandpa suggested overnight, but I find 2-3 hours works okay). Tightly wrapped, this will hold for weeks. Roll out thin (I can see the marks on my pastry board through the dough) and fill. Grandpa suggested 15 minutes in a 450 degree oven, and painting the outsides with yolk prior to cooking to give them an eye-appealing glaze.
  8. We have a Waring flipper. It works marvelously well with the Fanny Farmer Cookbook's yeast-raised waffles, though I add vanilla and some extra sugar to the batter on the day of cooking. Do not expect the flipper to be a lifetime purchase -- the home models tend to have cheap plastic that can get deformed and break over time. It is possible that where we store it has something to do with the short lives of ours (there is a cast iron griddle in the same cabinet and family members may be responsible for shoving things around in there roughly) but we are on # 2 in 12 years and #2 has one piece of plastic broken but still works fine.
  9. When I was in college, our food service occasionally served Swedish Meatballs. At the time, there was an Alpo can illustration that looked like a dead ringer for that entree. But we never tasted it. Really bad carnitas, perhaps?
  10. Strawberries dipped in chocolate are super easy if you decide that you don't really need to temper chocolate that will be eaten the next day. I did them for my nephew's bris in my hotel room using a microwave and the minifridge. I brought the chocolate (Trader Joes dark bars) and wax paper with me, as well as some white chocolate melting tabs and squeeze bottles from Michaels for decoration. These are easy enough that you can melt the chocolate and recruit other people to wash/dry/dip the strawberries. You can also dust them with sprinkles if you prefer.
  11. Before someone pulls this topic to the side of the road and makes us all walk home: As a prior victim of pine-nut mouth syndrome who now makes pesto with macadamias, I recently discovered this 2011 blog describing someone's thesis project which targets one particular species as the culprit. http://pinenutsyndrome.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/pine-nut-syndrome-thesis-completed-overview/ A handy visual guide to the various species is included at http://pinenutsyndrome.wordpress.com/pine-nut-species/ . As with all such links, just because you read something on the internet does not make it true, but it does appear to have been well thought-out research. If this is correct, your Pinus sibirica sample should be safe.
  12. Kiraku in Berkeley did a great job of fortifying me before 3 days of dull conference food. www.kirakuberkeley.com I met up with a college buddy and one of her good friends at this tiny Berkeley izakaya last week. Reservations include an "honor" type commitment to consume at least $30 of food and booze per person. Do not be frightened off by the "Japanese Tapas" description on the menu and front awning. I would have thought folks in Berkeley knew what an izakaya is, but perhaps not. We were blown away by a couple of the dishes -- everything else was good to excellent, but not transporting. The fried lotus root chips with celery salt were so light and crunchy we ended up ordering a second bowl. This was the favorite of our not-so-familiar-with-Japanese dining companion. The chips were potato chip thin and practically grease-free. The takowasibi was a first for me. This is raw, not cooked, octopus marinated with a touch of wasabi. I had a second, not quite so good version of this at another restaurant later in the week. I could have this over rice for breakfast several days a week. We had a smoked carrot (or possibly an unusually large gobu root) pickle which was an interesting mix of smoke, crunch, and vinegar. The albacore yuzu ceviche was almost delicate with the citrus notes. They have a huge sake menu and one of the staff is happy to consult with you and suggest either a sake to your taste or a sochu he thinks will work for you. Things I regret not trying: Fried garlic with miso. I was going to spend the next 3 days in tight quarters at an all-hands meeting and I decided to be kind to my colleagues. I'll be back. With drinks and tip, I think we still kept it to under $120 for the 3 of us. Seating can be a little tight, but not as tight as Inn at Little Washington.
  13. Alicia has left the region. Not quite sure how to break this to my dogs, because they adore her. Polly Goldman
  14. Not even close for me, but I do like the current trend in self-serve with the toppings bars, which can be a welcome relief from oversized portion-mania. Red Mango is the best incarnation of this we've encountered to date. I like the fresh fruit toppings and their fro-yo is very good. OTOH, my daughter and I have been known to position ourselves where we can see the weight indicator as other people overfill their cups and walk out with over a pound of fro-yo and toppings at the local Crunchy Sweet Frog. It's frightening.
  15. This past February, I used the Help Needed forum to seek a recommendation for a landscaper who could help us address a shady, muddy back yard with a solution that did not require chemicals or cutting of the deciduous forest that covers the rest of the yard. We recognized that a lush grass lawn was probably not achievable without intense maintenance and chemical assistance, neither of which we wanted. Nancy Christmas, the spouse of DR member Dr. Xmus was recommended, and after reviewing her site at NativeScapes, I contacted her. She spent a generous amount of time with me and my spouse, took lots of photos of the yard, and suggested a plan that would fit our needs and be very low maintenance after the first year. Nancy does not do the installation work herself, so she has no incentive to suggest expensive alternatives vs cheap ones. We received not only the plan, but also information about each of the suggested plants and information about more plants that we might want to add over time. We ended up going with Merrifield Garden Center to execute the work. The foreman was extremely complimentary about Nancy's plan for our yard (which speaks volumes, considering Merrifield has their own designers), and the work was mostly completed a few weeks ago. We have a few more plants to add in the Spring. Already, the dogs are loving the mud-free yard (our sparse ground cover was removed and replaced with topsoil and mulch) and my daughter is looking forward to placing a fire pit in what used to be a thicket of extremely sour, low-yielding wild blackberries. Nancy's plan cost us a ridiculously low sum. She should be charging more for her knowledge and time! Paula Goldman
  16. Also American Jewish World Service http://ajws.org Donations will be directed to local groups in the Philippines who are already on the ground and know the communities. AJWS is a strong proponent of purchasing supplies close to the disaster area, both to reduce shipping costs and to avoid disrupting the area's economy with a flood of free goods which unintentionally hurts local businesses. The specific donation page is at https://secure.ajws.org/site/Donation2?df_id=6421&6421.donation=form1&__utma=233384270.688582353.1384047850.1384047850.1384228286.2&__utmb=233384270.7.10.1384228286&__utmc=233384270&__utmx=-&__utmz=233384270.1384047850.1.1.utmcsr=%28direct%29|utmccn=%28direct%29|utmcmd=%28none%29&__utmv=-&__utmk=58441321
  17. ARA in Annandale has it on the menu. ARA is a very busy noisy nightclub in the evenings -- I know someone who tells me she always sees police cruisers there at night, but extremely quiet at lunchtime.
  18. Unfortunately, due to that urban myth, most children will not be allowed to consume the fruit unless the parent is with them and knows you. We live in an unlit neighborhood and hand out glowstick bracelets as well as sugar bombs. I'm still astonished how many of the kids are poorly lit; I used to accompany my kid and her friends in a flashing jellyfish costume to be sure they could be seen.
  19. Tanpopo just gave me the nicest chirashi I've ever had anywhere and I wanted to give them a shout out. I selected the jo chirashi, at $24. It included, among other more pedestrian items, fatty tuna, scallops, what I believe were two different types of clam, one botan ebi (without a fried head, alas), a generous strip of grilled eel, a huge amount of salmon roe, and three pieces of top quality uni. I've had some very nice chirashi, but for variety and quality of ingredients, this beat them all. It was a steal at $24; both my daughter and spouse had samples of several items and it came with miso and a green salad.
  20. Things seem to be a little less bustling out here in the Reston/Herndon area. As a family not directly impacted by the shutdown, we're actually trying to eat out more to help the restaurant economy. Tonight is "take a furloughed family to dinner" night for us.
  21. The bizarre thing is that IIRC, the Commisaries are not using appropriated funds and are actually a revenue generator used to fund recreational activities on most bases. Neither of us is directly impacted by the shutdown. We had dinner at Hong Kong Palace tonight and usually tables are pretty full with a small line by the time we finish. Tonight, while it was far from empty, tables were available.
  22. Good Land Organics is at $25 for a half pound this year, shipping included. http://www.goodlandorganics.com/store/finger-limes
  23. We are very sorry to learn of Chef Itoh's passing. Makoto is a gem. On our last visit, the Chef had turned the reins over to one of his sons, but his training had clearly been excellent and the food was as good as ever. I'm so happy we took Naomi (age 13) there this winter in a long-delayed celebration of her mastery of chopsticks.
  24. Not all kaiseki restaurants in the US have zaseki seating, thank goodness. It's really hard on my arthritic knees. Makoto is the closest you will come to kaiseki in the region. We enjoyed a much more expensive kaiseki meal in Maui a number of years back, with more attention to the appearance of the food, to the point of preciousness. Mushrooms had been carved to look like eggs, etc. We like Makoto a lot, though they are importing many ingredients and not just sticking to local items. Not everything is a hit with us at each meal, but each meal brings at least one dish that is a revelation about what can be done with top notch ingredients.
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