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About smithhemb

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    Washington, DC

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  1. https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/instant-pot-clotted-cream-recipe/ Super simple, but it’s a 24 hour process — once it gets to target temperature, it spends 10 hours on keep warm, an hour or more to cool down, then 12 hours in the fridge. And it’s important that you don’t use ultrapasteurized cream. Fat content also matters. I have been using Harrisburg Dairies Heavy Cream (from Whole Foods) with consistent success. The one time I used cream delivered direct from the dairy (South Mountain Creamery), it failed. Not sure if it was ultrapasteurized or if the issue was lower fat content (35% vs 40%).
  2. Crisps seem to be a lost art. My college-aged daughter is working hard to bring them back among her peer group, Easy to make in a minimalist kitchen and easy to transport to a picnic or potluck. in other baking news, the instapot’s killer app just might be clotted cream. Between that and Inna Jam’s Seascape Strawberry (which I mail order from CA), scone demand has risen dramatically at my house.
  3. A few more bits of info. I have a second kitchen downstairs that’s fully functional. No dedicated place to eat down there, but fridge/stove/oven are all working. Upstairs/main kitchen remodel will not involve changes in design/layout (house was under construction when we bought it 20+ years ago and I tweaked kitchen design before it was built and have been happy with the layout). New appliances will be in the same place and use the same type of power as the old ones. There’s a chance that the new cooktop might need a higher volume gas line and the hood might require a larger vent. Both are projects that wouldn’t involve work on the “phase 1” wall with the oven/fridge. I already have plans drawn up for the whole project but haven’t done things like chosen sink, countertops, lighting, paint, backsplash, bookcase design. Also the main kitchen is on the floor where we spend most of our time and that floor is fairly open plan (the only doors are to powder room, downstairs, and outside). There’s a lot of coming and going over the summer and so I’d rather put off heavier work until the fall.
  4. Anybody here ever done piecemeal kitchen remodeling? Basically, we have one wall that’s becoming increasingly urgent — fridge and wall oven are on their last legs. A pantry closet would have to be deconstructed and cabinets replaced. The wall is a little over 11 feet long and cabinets would be full length (so no counters). I’m thinking of doing it separately because I don’t want to put money into dying appliances (and can’t install new ones w/o work on cabinetry), but i’m not quite ready for the full remodel and the waiting/disruption that would involve. So I’m thinking that this is a discrete/manageable project that could potentially be completed quickly (no real plumbing or electrical required since new appliances are same kind/same location as old). I’m probably only months away from doing the whole kitchen (or rest of the kitchen). Should I just bite the bullet and do it all at once or is it realistic/relatively unproblematic to take this one piece out of the mix and do it first? Doing so might skew my cabinet choices (either toward custom or IKEA — had been looking at Poggenpohl but that’s inherently a 12 week wait). It might also make me think about whether that wall could have different cabinetry than the rest of the kitchen (there’s an aisle between the two parts). Reactions? I’ve never done any kind of remodeling before so I could be missing something really basic. (Flooring is probably a non-issue; hardwood and staying that way.)
  5. In DC, we still head for 2Amys (in part because of apps and desserts), but, in general, we skew toward MD these days — generally either Frankly (Arugula) or DaMarco (Salame). CS has sort of fallen out of the rotation, except around holidays (when the foosball fans return to the nest), but I think it has a wider variety of pizzas that I like than any of the others. Pizza functions as a comfort food for me, so I’m more inclined to head toward an environment that I appreciate and that has reliably good pizza than to go on a quest to find the best pizza.
  6. Cordon Rose banana cake with chocolate sour cream ganache (from The Cake Bible). The lengths I’ll go to not to waste over-ripe bananas, lol!
  7. Shaking beef. God I love that dish! Visiting teenage boy has decided he likes arugula and he didn’t object to watercress.
  8. Re recycling the caps. I do too (I live about 3 blocks from a Nespresso shop so it’s NBD) but, yeah, I’ve always wondered how much energy gets wasted transporting, cleaning, and reprocessing the aluminum in those pods. But the kicker was when they gave me a free ballpoint pen supposedly made from that recycled aluminum — and it wasn’t refillable! WTF?! This has to be virtue signaling at its most cynical (or moronic).
  9. Haven’t tried the iced coffee blends yet — or the made for milk line (it bugged me that I couldn’t find an intensity rating on the usual scale). A year or so ago, I switched our default from Arpeggio to Dharkan after a series of blind taste tests on my husband. Then I tried and liked Cafecita so bought that for me and the other for him. Now he wants in on the Cuban action, LOL! It does sort of freak me out that, on top of the waste/recycling issues, making iced lattes with the Nespresso basically costs the same as Starbucks with the pricy Cafecita capsules ($1.25 vs. $.70 or $.75). Since we almost always drink our coffee iced, I should probably experiment more with cold brew. The Takeya pitchers (which I use mostly for iced tea) make it really simple/non-messy.
  10. Iced latte made in a cocktail shaker with Nespresso Cafecita de Cuba WF mini cinnamon rolls (heated). Strawberries from farmers market. In my house, weekday breakfast is an exercise in what my Dad calls “food assembly” rather than cooking!
  11. Merguez, heirloom cherry tomatoes, arugula salad with grated Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette, baguette. My fave quick & easy meal.
  12. Ooh, Shaking Beef and Shaking Tofu might please both kids!
  13. Two pastas: tagliatelle with prosciutto and peas and orecchiette with broccoli rabe and broccolini. Had a teenaged houseguest and couldn’t predict which he’d gravitate toward. (Answer: prosciutto and peas) Baked an almond pound cake for dessert, served with lots of different berries and freshly whipped cream. Might go to Medium Rare for dinner since teen houseguest apparently loves steak (and since veggie daughter will be making a surprise weekend visit, so it may be now or never for red meat, lol!).
  14. I’m pro-Bundt cake (depending on flavor, maybe with berries on the side (or in the center)). IME as a contributor to potlucks, people are wowed by good baking. That said, in my experience as an eater at potlucks, the things I’ve been blown away by were roasted cauliflower (new to me at that point) and a particularly good white bean dip. Bottom line — all your ideas are good ones. So, how to decide? To whom do you want to say “yeah, I can cook” — neighborhood at large (cake) or other people who cook (awesome dip or spread)? And/or what do you want to be asked to bring in the future, lol?!
  15. I thought sealing granite was a one-time thing. In 20+ years, we’ve never had to do anything more/other than wipe the counter down with a damp cloth. No chipping or staining either. And, yeah, the resin/burn issue concerns me more than staining (given my experience with granite). I put hot pans on the granite all the time with no issues and, at this point, no worries — that’s one of the things I value most about my current countertops. And, given our kitchen layout, it’s gonna keep happening. Uniqueness isn’t a voting issue for me in this context, but I do experience granite as live/interesting and Caesarstone as dead/sterile. Something about the ability to capture/reflect/refract light, I think. (Though today’s Caesarstone patterns look better to me than what was on the market maybe 5 years ago). At any rate, aesthetically, I prefer granite but I’d be willing to shift if there were a functional advantage. I’m looking at this kitchen more as a workspace than anything else. When I look at Poggenpohl and Henrybuilt kitchens I do see more counter cutouts (e.g. for things like pop-up outlets or knife holders), so maybe that’s more of a PITA with granite. Which might mean that the functional difference is at the design/fabrication stage.
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