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turbojenn
*drools over all the bacony goodness*

Mmmmm....bacon wrapped water chestnuts - sooooo good. I don't really like dates either, nor does turbomann, but we do LOVE them warm and snuggled in some bacon.

If you're ever looking for decent shrimp at a good price, polly, check out the Rogers Park Fruit Market (corner of clark & rogers)...you can get nice LARGE shrimp for $6/lb.
quantumspice
mr bento is on sale today! i am naughty and bought one. i'm looking forward to playing with it! the last few days, i've been thinking about lunch (after i move - right now, i'm in the process of packing) and was thinking about how soups are a great lunch with a few little extras (some grapes, or cheese, or a small salad, that kind of thing).
princess evangeline
(it's me, voodoo princess)
having a dinner party / birthday party (neighbors) tomorrow night and of course i was looked to for the culinary end if things....... here's my menu so far

bubbling artichoke and spinach dip served with sliced, toasted french bread
creamed mushrooms (also served with the toasted french bread(supposed to be served on crumpets, but i can't get them here)
coconut shrimp with gingered cocktail sauce (using large and medium shrimp)
chilled cocktail shrimp (for those who don't like coconut)
cheese and meat platter with deli sliced cajun turkey and country ham (the sandwich meat kind, not the other kind) and marbled cheddar cheese (cubed)
vege platter with tiny tomatos, cauliflower, baby carrots, celery and homemade vege dip
AND
white chocolate mousse filled milk chocolate cups
i am currently in the middle of "painting" the chocolate into tiny muffin papers and then freezing and repeating, to form the milk chocolate cups and i'll do the mousse tomorrow cause it's got to chill for 4 hours before i "fluff" it.......
i'm really excited because it's so rare that i actually get to make a "nice" meal, we're usually on the go or too busy and i really hope everyone likes it...... keeping my fingers crossed
oh yeah, and my neighbors contribution to this feast is birthday cupcakes baked in ice cream cones and iced to look like real ice cream in a cone...... hope it works out for her, looks super cute on the recipe card i gave her and she's way excited.......
mouse
aw man princess, that cupcake-in-a-cone was always my standard treat to bring to school when it was my birthday when i was little! they are so fun! my mom and i used to make chocolate ones with some peppermint essence in the batter and sprinkle candycane bits on top. mmmmm!
turbojenn
awww....qspice, I've been looking at those bentos for awhile! Though the one I'm looking at it more like your lunchbox with fitted tupperwares inside - laptop lunches. I really need to commit and just get myself one. I take my lunch to work everyday, but I always end up with a mish mash of baggies full of veg and tupperwares of soup or salad...a mr. bento would be so much more convenient.

princess ev....that menu sounds *amazing*....and I, too, am a big fan of the ice cream cone cupcakes!
angelle321
Looking for yummy non-spiked punch recipes! Any one have a favorite? I bough a punch bowl and want to use it on Christmas when we have family over.
quantumspice
the thing i like about mr bento is that it'll fit in my tote easier than laptop lunches. laptop lunches are sizeable enough that i couldn't bring it, my laptop, and my textbooks and notebooks and have it all fit in my tote. mr bento looks like it should just slide in the purse half of my tote without any problems - though i'll only be able to carry around smaller knitting projects.

and my tote is my guilty, guilty pleasure for work and school... i can have pretty much everything i would ever need in there and not need to carry around anything else. it's got room for my laptop and my ipod and my knitting and pens and bpal* and my cell phone and books and notebooks and a small emergency kit (toothbrush, sewing kit, lotion, tissues, band aids, a battery charger thing for my cell, mini-flash light) and while not enough for a wide or long lunchbox, there's enough for two big water bottles. i'll have to get used to only having one bottle instead of having my iced tea and my water, but i'll live! i love it to pieces.



but, back to mr bento - i'm looking forward to bringing good soup and sammich and fresh fruit to eat instead of going out and eating crap. last year, i went out every day, and it was soo expensive for my budget and even though i was eating better than mcd's, i still didn't like what i was doing. with this, i can snag leftovers before they're leftovers to make sure i've got a good lunch!



*i openly admit: the only duplicate oils i've got are the oils i buy for my purse. because imps get lost in the vastness. which reminds me...
turbojenn
Wowza, qspice - that sounds like quite a bag you have....sounds heavy too!! And sounds like a mr. bento would be a perfect fit for you...I ride my bike to work, so the laptop lunches are a better fit for my rectangular saddle bags, BUT, I do really like the insulated ability of the mr. bento. I'm gonna have to think on this one a bit...

...and OH, how you tease us with your inner circle bpal release knowledge!! tongue.gif
pepper
hey, i'm posing this here instead of the general knowledge thread 'cause i think i might get an answer quicker here.

how, How HOW do i get the baked on gunk offa my cookies sheets without wrecking them? it's an icky, sticky dark brown mess that makes my shortbread burn on the bottom and i Hate it!

muchas gracias.

what the heck Q, could you post a picture of your tote for us? i need to make myself a new bag and it sounds like just the thing...
quantumspice
spend $15-20, get a silicone baking mat for your cookie sheets?

alternatively, line your cookie sheets with foil before using them.

(er, i never managed to get it off of mine)



and, this is my tote (in red, not black). it was a huge indulgence for me to spend that kind of money, but i've had it since june now, and i can't imagine working without it! the only time i really didn't like it was when i flew home over labor day - the laptop got realllllllly heavy and i had to run from terminal to the one on the opposite end of the field over at detroit's airport. and that sucked. but for my everyday life, it's great.
tart
Preventative care is best, Pepper, as Qspice recommended, but there may be hope. I trust they're not non-stick? Try a round of oven cleaner - it's harsh, but it gets the job done. Just be sure to wash them really, really well to get all the caustic residue off. You could also try something like GooGone - you'll likely need to do some scraping to get the gunk off, so again, not so good for non-stick pans.

Do you use spray (PAM, etc) on your pans? Most of them contain some form of lecithin, which bakes on to the surface, leaving sticky brown goop. Butter & regular veg oil will eventually do the same thing, but at a much slower rate.

I use baking parchment to line just about everything - Reynolds now makes an affordable version that you can get in the grocery store. It's genius, I tell you...

I covet Mr Bento... but seeing as I'll be working from home as of May, I can't really justify him, even as a treat to myself. That's a gorgeous bag, Qspice, and that coming from a woman who doesn't own a purse, let alone a shmancy tote bag...

PrincessE, how was your party? Your menu looks scrumptious... Not much punch help for you, Angelle... maybe a pomegranate/ginger ale concoction? You could stud some thick orange slices with whole cloves & float them across the top...

I made Christmas puddings last year, and kept one back for this year, but now I'm sad because it looks so... small. It'll all be gone on Christmas Day, as we're having a lot of people 'round, which means no leftovers for Boxing Day breakfast sad.gif
pepper
thanks girls. no oven cleaner for pregnant me so i guess i'm off to buy new baking sheets, the ones i have are baker's secret, is that non-stick? i hope not, i read recently that teflon is worse than we ever imagined. just heating it makes the carcinogen leach into food, scratched or not. all of mine is in the trash.

so, parchment it is then. that's ok, i like parchment.
tart
Bakers Secret are indeed non-stick, Pepper... sad.gif
chachaheels
Wow! I just realised how potentially toxic all those baking materials could be--silicone, teflon, or aluminum.

Parchment it is. Until I find out it's bleached with dioxin rich chemicals, or something equally terrifying, that is.
roseviolet
I have no suggestions for punch. I grew up in a land where party punch is of the baby-shower variety: ginger ale, sherbet, mand maybe some frozen fruit juice(?). Honestly, I'm not sure what all those ladies at the church would put in that punch bowl. I just remember the pink layer of foam that accumulated on top.

Pepper, I have a cookie sheet that looks like that, too. No amount of scrubbing got rid of the gunk. I still use it, but I always put parchment paper on it. I looooooooove parchment paper! I love that it's neat and keeps things clean and nothing sticks to it! Cookies, biscuits, potatoes, pieces of meat ... nothing! It's a joy to know that I don't have to scrape things off of my cookie sheets anymore. And, of course, a joy to not scrub those cookie sheets, too! I bought a new heavy-duty cookie sheet a while back and, thanks to the parchment paper, it still looks perfect.

I'm still kinda tempted to get just one little bitty no-stick frying pan just for frying eggs. But I haven't done it yet.
chachaheels
We used to have one little no-stick frying pan for eggs only--but even after being so careful, the teflon started to come off. That made us realise we were actually eating teflon, so we got rid of it. No matter how much you pay for them they only seem to last about a year or so before you have to replace them.

My husband managed to find a small frying pan made by All Clad at a really inexpensive price several years ago. It's stainless steel and everything sticks to it, no matter what. But it looks like new anyway (you just have to soak it to clean it) so that eliminates the fear of teflon. We've also tried the cast iron pan route--but ours always end up rusting out, even though we never use soap on them. If you can manage them, they're supposed to be the best non-stick cookware out there.
pollystyrene
I have a cast iron pan that I never even used- I bought it and it sat on my stovetop for about a month and it rusted. WTF?

I only have stainless steel pots/pans. Yeah, eggs stick to them. Like ChaCha said- just soak them and they're fine. I'd rather not worry about chunks of teflon in my food or air.
chachaheels
Oh, I hate that. My sister in law bought us incredible cast iron pans when we got married--one huge one ("to make a frittata with 50 eggs!!" It's a saying from my mother's past) and another generous skillet sized one. She also got us a cast iron grill pan--all great things to have for cooking! But they all rusted too. Here's the thing: we seasoned them as well! So we were all ready to use them but we just ended up not being able to. We still have them, they're pathetically stored in the garage now...but I often wish I had a larger skillet I could move from the stovetop to the oven without hassle.

I wish there were some way to actually salvage them--remove the rust and start again, as I'd love to have them. Anyone here know of any secrets?
pepper
http://www.ehow.com/how_114309_remove-rust-cast.html
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/CastIronPans.htm
http://www.melindalee.com/Cast-Iron.html
http://www.doityourself.com/stry/castiron

the trick to non-stick cast iron? lots of really hot oil. it doesn't make stuff greasy if it's hot enough but you will get "crochet" edges on your eggs.
to clean them you must fill with water immediately after use, but only briefly and with no soap.
these days i'm using the cast iron because the only other pan i have is a big stainless one. i have two iron pans (good for me 'cause i'm low-iron anyhow), one new that came seasoned and one inherited that's apparently the "best". they work great once you get over being afraid of them.
quantumspice
To preserve this natural, protective coating, do not use soap when cleaning a seasoned pan. Instead, scrub it with salt and oil, rinse it with hot water, then dry it completely over low heat before storing it.

the bolded bit is really the ESSENTIAL thing about keeping your iron cookware in good condition. my mom uses warm water and a bamboo brush she got in chinatown to clean her ironware, and then sticks it on a burner to dry it, and then every so often, she'll re-season it as well. we've got ironware she got when she got married that's in as good of condition today as it was then!
pepper
that melindalee link i posted tells a different story about soap. it's probably the best link i posted, though there are a few ways to keep cast iron and you can choose the best one for you.
turbojenn
I really need a good cast iron skillet. I've thought about it for years, just never done anything about getting one. Turbomann's brother inherited a nice set of ast iron cookware from his grandparents, and he swears by it, and cooks beautiful things...I need to go a garage sailing next summer to see if I can get some old cast iron for cheap.

I do have one le crueset casserole that is my beloved, and am getting another for christmas - but its target's brand of enameled cast iron, but got great reviews from Cook's Illustrated this month, and for $40 for a nice 5.5qt pot - I'll take it!
chachaheels
Yay! Thank you peppa, for those de-rusting links. I am going to make a point of rescuing those pans. It's such a shame they're not being used when they would be so handy.

(I knew if I just posted here, which I never thought to do in the past, someone would know!)

I love Le Crueset. There's a Le crueset cast iron cassarole on sale now at Canadian Tire (they have great deals on Le Crueset sets, usually once a year) and I really should look into getting one. It's selling for about $25, which is unheard of. I usually use ceramic baking dishes--they are inexpensive, but eventually they all craze and then crack.
yuefie
chacha, I picked up some unbleached parchment paper & baking cups made by If You Care at my local market.

I had a wonderful cast iron skillet that was well seasoned and cooked things beautifully. unfortunately the ex threw it off the top floor on to the tile below and cracked it just to spite me, so I'm currently working on getting a new one up to snuff. for cleaning I use oil and heat, sometimes salt if it gets really gunky.

I have to share this recipe with ya'll, 'cause it's simple to prepare, good and perfect for a holiday appetizer:

Brie w/ Carmelized Onions, Cranberries and Pistachios
2 tbs. butter
1 medium onion quartered and thinly sliced
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 tbs. packed brown sugar
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
olive oil
1 round of Brie cheese
1/4 c. coarsely chopped pistachios (you can sub. walnuts or slivered almonds)
crackers, crostini, or bagel chips

preheat oven to 350. melt butter in skillet over medium heat, add onion and cook stirring frequently for 10 minutes. stir in cranberries, brown sugar and vinegar, continue cooking for a about a minute or two. lightly brush ovenproof plate with olive oil, place cheese in center. bake, uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is soft and partially melted. spoon onion mixture over cheese and sprinkle with nuts. serve with crackers or whatever you desire. I like to sprinkle a little coarsely ground pepper over the top, but I'm a pepper fiend wink.gif



chachaheels
Thanks, Yuefie! I'll look for the brand up here. I had a suspicion there might be some issues with bleach in the making of parchment paper, and I don't really want those chemicals in my food. It's hard enough for me to bake successfully as it is!

erinjane
That recipe sounds great. I was at a party earlier in the week and someone brought brie with cranberry chutney that was baked for 10 minutes. I loooooove brie.
quantumspice
one of my friends has roped me into cooking a "wholly vegetarian meal" when i go and visit him next -- one of our mutual friends is a fairly recent vegetarianism convert, and hasn't quite figured out how to cook without meat and make it taste ... appetizing ... and not be full of fat and grody. or that's what i'm told. so, i guess i'm to show him how to make some stuff that's edible, and ideally, leave a few menus worth of recipes - of the "cheap, tasty, meatless, but filling and fairly healthy" variety.

any help on actual menus (as opposed to a few distinct dishes that may or may not meld together) would be awesome! i'm afraid that filling out all of the requirements may be a stretch with their more limited grocery shopping options.
angelle321
I decided on a recipe my friend dug up online and shared with me. Sounds ok. I'd worry about the Hawiian Punch (cause I think it's icky) but the other things will save it I think.

Fabbo Fruit Punch

48 oz. Hawaiian Punch
48 oz. pineapple juice
1 can frozen orange juice
2 qt. ginger ale


Mix pineapple juice and Hawaiian Punch. Add frozen orange juice. Stir until
frozen juice is thawed. Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Then add
ginger ale.

chachaheels
Are they lacto-ove vegetarians, Quantumspice, or strict vegans? Molly Katzen has a number of menus put together from a few of her recipes for vegetarian (some vegan, some lacto-ovo) in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Most have a veggie soup, bread/starch course, salad, and dessert--they're not intimidating recipes by any stretch either, though many will have veggies most people don't use as often (such as artichokes, squashes and sweet potatoes..., what have you). If you have the book handy, the "menu" section is almost at the very end of the book; anyway, it might be an excellent book for your friends who are just learning. If you need specifics I can post some menus and recipes for you or send them via PM. Let me know.

More recipes with menu ideas can be found at 101 Cookbooks.com, particularly this link (they're usually followed by a write up which lists other good menu ideas for a meal. There are some interesting stories and recipes and writings on this site, I hope you find them useful.

Yuefie, did I tell you your "ex" was never worthy of you, and he proved it with his destructive anger? In case I haven't, there you are.
pepper
novice but enthusiastic bread making questions to follow:

hey, i bought a bread maker from a friend who was moving and got all excited about making my own bread. i even ordered the manual from the company (for more money than the bread maker cost me!) but i just realized that it's coated with teflon so now i'm stuck with a huge bag of ww bread flour and a jar of yeast. i found this recipe online for ww bread but it calls for a mixer which i don't have. does anyone know how i go about making this recipe by hand? how do i mix the ingredients, do i knead the bread, for how long etc etc? i really want to make my own bread instead of buying it. i do have a food processor but it isn't a great one or anything. oh, and can i sub spelt or other flour for the ww?

thanks!

hope you're all having a delicious holiday. little and i aren't cooking all the traditional stuffs until boxing day, we're having an orphans xmas feast in the common room of our building. should be fun. when you're all sick to death of turkey and stuffing we'll just be getting started!
hiddenpoet
this is how i would homemake it pepper as i make pizza doughs & ciabattas all by scratch at leaast once a week.
mix the butter and sugar in a seperate bowl. sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes then mix that into the sifted flourand salt. add the water yeast mixture first, then the others. mixing doughs by hand is going to take a lot of time. i like to take breaks between spoon and kneading. i knead about eight minutes then let it rest for two or three, then knead for two more minutes.
this recipe says to let it rise for three hours but once it's doubled in size it's ready to bake.
starpiste
I got a crock pot for Christmas and I am very excited about using it. However, it's huge (6 QT) and a lot of the recipes I'm finding are for 4-5 qt ones. Will they still work or will I need to modify them?
mouse
i made the ginger meringues and they turned out sooooo well!!!!!! i put about a teaspoon of powdered ginger into fanny farmer's plain meringue recipe (with the vanilla) and stuck a chopped piece of candied ginger into each one and shoved 'em in the oven.....they turned out soooo delicious, i was so proud!

i got my mom a creme brulee torch for xmas. i can't find butane for it ANYWHERE. any suggestions?
punkrockgrrrl
Hey there epicurious busties!! I just received some beets in my Organics to You shipment and I don't know what to do with them (besides put them is a salad). Any yummy ideas??
pollystyrene
You could make beet borscht. That's a recipe for the cold version (my favorite on a hot summer day with some sour cream, chopped cucumber and some chopped mint.....omg, I can't wait for July now! Seven more months, seven more months....) but there's also hot versions, with a sweet & sour flavor, with cabbage in it, too. I don't know if you're a vegetarian, but it's good with some flank steak in it.
pepper
thanks hiddenpoet, my move just got bumped up by two months so i probably won't be making any bread for a while but i'll try your suggestion. is there anything that i need to know about using a glass bread pan instead of the non-stick variety? i'm ditching all that non-stick stuff, the lastest news scared the pants offa me!

beets are lovely steamed and sliced thin, served hot or cold with balsamic, olive oil and dill. mmm. have you ever used a spiral slicer? they're amazing for beets and carrots as a garnish.
chachaheels
Glass pans actually retain and concentrate the oven's heat more than other pans, so keep an eye on whatever you're cooking in them to keep it from burning. Once you gauge how they work it's easy to know what baking with your glass pans in your oven will be like, and it'll be easier for you to make any accomodations you'll need to make.

I love beets that are roasted whole. Just scrub the skin, cut off the bottoms so they sit flat, and roast with garlic cloves, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. They're suprisingly good that way.

Mouse--don't hardware stores have butane/propane cartridges for torches of all sizes? I can usually find them there.
(....laughing as I remember a Late Show where Julia Child whipped out a mini-torch to flash cook steak tartare while David Letterman cowered in amazement at her preparedness).
mouse
yeah i thought so too, chacha, but i went to the big honking sears hardware-only and the guy said "what's butane?" i shit you not.
pollystyrene
Have you tried Williams-Sonoma, mouse? They sell the torches, and while I can't find the refills on their website, they sold them when I worked there last year, so I'd assume they still do. Maybe try calling a store near you. If there's not one near you (or your mom) they will ship it to you from the store.

mouse
yeah, you know what, that's actually where i got the torch. i didn't even think to get refills when i was there since they wouldn't have let me on the plane with 'em. maybe if my mom can't find it elsewhere i'll ask them to ship it to her.
chachaheels
The guy at the hardware store said "what's butane?"

While I'd never accuse you of shitting me, I'm wondering how someone can work in a hardware store and not know what that is. Oh well: Williams Sonoma then.
mouse
i knowwww!!! i had to explain it to him. and then he walked me over to where they have the propane tanks for gas stoves but there was nothing else. *sigh*

i am going to dinner tonight at the house of the same girl who baked eight different kinds of pie for a party a couple of weeks ago. i'm VERY pleased about this.
pollystyrene
Hmm, on second thought, mouse, I wonder if you'd be able to have the store ship them to your mom if there's no W-S near her. If you couldn't take them on a plane (for obvious reasons- not because I think you'd try to do something bad, but it's an explosive and unpredictable in an airplane) I'm not sure they could ship it, either, since they could have put it on a plane. I'm not sure how shipping that kind of thing works. I'd call W-S, either a store or their catalog hotline.

ETA: How was dinner? I can't even think of eight kinds of pie! (J/K laugh.gif )
chachaheels
Oh, I can think of 8 kinds of pie, no problem. I hope your hostess has outdone herself this time, Mouse!

I think W-S has so many stores they would just get the closest store/warehouse serving the area stores to mail out the item using surface mail. It can take a little longer (the fastest time would be four or five days over land using a truck, I think--that's if there are no delays) but it can be done. If Mouse's mom already has the torch equipped with one cartridge, then there's time for the refills to arrive. I hope it isn't any more complicated than that.

One thing I've been looking for everywhere but can't seem to find at a reasonable price anymore (and, seriously, why the hell are they now so rare?) is one of those CO2 powered cream aerators--you put the cream in the canister, power up the canister with a CO2 cartridge (they're small) and when you press a dispenser button, whipped cream comes out! So much better than that stuff they sell at the supermarket because I can use my own organic cream...and it's better than having to get a whisk out whenever you just want some whipped cream for things like hot chocolate.

I've checked Williams Sonoma, I've looked at William Ashley's (the store W-S only wishes it could be!) and I've even looked at all the hardware stores around that feature well stocked "housewares" sections. Nothing.
mouse
yah i'm sure there's one near her that could ship to her...the store locator on their site doesn't seem to be working right now but i'm sure there's one in the gigantic second-largest-mall-in-america a few towns over. it came empty but hopefully it won't take too long. thanks guys!

re: dinner, it was simple but delicious--carrot-orange soup, bread and butter, couscous salad with tomatoes, zukes, and lemon, and a buttermilk pie. imagine sort of spongy flan with a crispy top, in a crust. delish.
puppykitty
Hey cookies!

I just wanted to tell you about my recent find.

I am a Scandinavian-American from northern Minnesota living in southern Arizona. I had pretty much given up hope of finding some of my favorite foods from back home. Although, I did find pickled herring at Trader Joe's. Anyway, I went to the Nordic Guild Arts and Crafts Fair, and it sucked so bad. Nothing there to buy except some wooden trolls and some $9 lingonberry preserves.

On my way out, I saw an old man selling gallon-size zip-lock baggies of organic YELLOW split peas for $2!! For those of you "in the know", you know that yellow is much different (and IMO, waaayyy better) than green split peas.

I bought a bag, and the next day I made a big pot of it with carrots and ham and onion. Mmmmm. Reminded me of dinner at my gramma's house.

I used to cook yellow split pea soup for my son and husband, back in the day. Mr. PK was a vegetarian, so I would cook it with onion, carrots, and a big chunk of kombu seaweed that I would remove when it was finished.

Anyway - I have a question. Are yellow split peas totally regional? I have been asking around here, and no one seems to know what I am talking about. I used to live in Chicago, and I found them no problem.

Are any of you familiar with these yummy legumes? Anyone give a flip?
cecilia
Some refillable cigarette lighters use butane, so you might actually be able to get it at a tobacco shop.
Chacha - I know the whipped cream makers you're talking about, my former roommate had one. I wonder if the reason they're so hard to find now is that dumbasses like him used them to get high. He got his from Lechters, which I think went out of business. Anyway, I found some on this site: http://www.coffeeam.com/whipcreammak.html
chachaheels
Mouse, Buttermilk Pie would be number one on my list. It is the most amazing pie...(and so, so easy to make. Listen: I make it successfully!! Want a recipe?)

Thank you so much Cecilia for that link for the cream dispenser. You know, I thought that might be a reason, but I also know from my brief time working in a restaurant that people also use the commercial packages--you know, those cans of "whipped" cream, to get high too! So what the...? I have to pay for someone else's jackassery? That's becoming a full time job.

Yellow split peas: I don't think these are regional, but they are a food that would really be popular in a very cold climate (as you can imagine--lots of starchiness and protein=a good, warming food; and it's possible they are really easy to grow in a shorter, cooler growing season like Scandinavia or Minnesota) and not so much in a very hot desert climate. The market for them in Arizona is probably very small--but it's sure to be a big favourite with people who come from the same background as you, puppykitty.

One year I lived on the East Coast of Canada, in a small town on the border of Maine and New Brunswick. Every thing was different, especially the food (no spices, no fresh veggies, Fluffernutter, and completely blank looks whenever I'd do something like bring an avocado or an artichoke to the cashier. A couple of years before I moved there, I convinced my father in law to plant and grow tomatoes...so I actually had access to some of his during the summer I was there (otherwise, what do you want a fresh tomato for?). I held out for about 7 months before I sent money home to Toronto and asked my family to send me a care package of all the foods I took for granted, so I could have them on hand, and then once I had them stockpiled I started to find people around who "knew" about the same kinds of foods I was used to having around--so I'd trade, if I could. I KNOW first hand how it feels to find some of that stuff available locally--like you've found someone who knows the same secret as you.
raisingirl
Puppykitty, my $0.02 won't be very valuable, but you asked, so I'm answering! I've seen those split peas in many different places, living in different states across the US -- but I'm a city woman at heart, so maybe that's why I've never had a problem in finding them? But kudos to you for scoring them in AZ; like I said, from personal experience, I can imagine it would be an easy thing to find in Chicago. (Have you ever tried looking for them in an Indian grocery store, BTW?)

So I'm wondering if anyone has any non-meat ideas on what to do with a half bottle of cheap red wine other than poach some pears or pour it down the drain. It was decent enough to drink, but nothing to write home about. Time's a-ticking; I assume this is only something that will be good (relatively speaking) for a day or two. Any ideas? Bueller?
turbojenn
raisin - how about some quickie sangria?!

ACK! Tomorrow is NYE, and I usually cook something really special for turbomann and I for dinner that's a real splurge, but I'm just out of cooking inspiration at the moment, and I still kinda feel like I'm recuperating from 6 days straight with family.

I may just have to go the lazy route and get some crab legs and make a nice salad, and maybe some sorbet for dinner...nothing too taxing.

I do have a nice bottle of prosecco as well as a framboise on hand for some tasty drinking.
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