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Kitchen The kitchen is the heart of the home. This is where we prepare the food that sustains us and our families.

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Old 08-21-2017, 12:19 AM   #1
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Red face Is There Such a Thing as an 'Armchair Foodie'?

I'm a prosaic, pedantic cook, (read boring), at best. It's only very recently I've developed any real interest in seeing what I could do with food & flavours & I only wish my food budget could support my food fantasies. I've been binge watching & binge drooling over some of the Masterchef series - especially Masterchef Australia &... wow!

My family background in cuisine leaves much to be desired. My British, paternal grandparents boiled everything to death, dumped unappealing, congealed 'sauces' on things & what they didn't boil, they overcooked in a variety of ways. It was fuel, not food.

My French Canadian, maternal lineage provided much better food. Almost everything was cooked old school - using offcuts, cheap ingredients & lots of low cooking with love. I'd love to have an old fashioned wood stove with its warming ovens & other fascinating bits. Not sure what I'd do with it but I'd love to try!

In spite of a strictly limited food budget, I've been having fun recently trying new things. I've always been a picky eater, loathe to try anything new but lately, that seems to have changed. I have discovered & have become enamoured with - the virtues of Dijon mustard. Man does that add a neat flavour to a lot of dishes.

I have never strayed far from my exceedingly tedious food roots. The list of things I've never tried to make would make a 3 month along, 14 year old apprentice cook weep. I've never made my own mayo or home made version of Miracle Whip. I don't know why - neither look particularly difficult. I've never made a mousse, a brule, a soufflé or much of any sort of pastry. We won't discuss my many shortcoming with vegetables.

It looks like food prices this fall/winter are going to be obscene. We've had record rains since it got warm enough for snow to be rain & have averaged rain every other day. Even the mould is growing mould & crops... disastrous.

Even so, some things should be available at reasonable prices & I plan to have fun as the weather gets colder seeing what I can pull off in a tiny kitchen with basic tools.

Damned cooking shows! Suddenly I'm hankering for an ice cream maker, a pasta machine, tiny blow torch & various tools we just can't financially justify. My challenge is going to be figuring out alternatives! I have a food processer, crock pot, bread maker, a reasonable selection of pots & pans & at least, basic cooking utensils.

I'm not aiming for Adriano Zumbo or Marco Pierre White standards, (hah!), but it would be nice to change up our boring meal rotation a bit more than I've managed so far.
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:40 AM   #2
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I am an armchair foodie! I have a folder of food blogs and restaurant review site and such, with a subfolder of HUNDREDS of recipes.

I eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and bowls of cereal. :/
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:04 AM   #3
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Sue an ice cream maker can be made from coffee cans or ice cream makers can be found at yard sales/resale shops, pasta dough can be rolled out and cut with a knife or pizza cutter (helpful trick is to lightly drag a fork over the dough to make cutting guides). A great dish to start with is stewed chicken and homemade noodles. I have a delicious recipe that uses common inexpensive ingredients. The noodles are rolled and hand cut with a knife and can be dried on an oven rack. I can dig out if you need it. (All my cookbooks are still packed away in boxes from the great house paint of 2017).

Old cookbooks contain a lot of recipes that don't require gadgets. Cruise around the cookbook section at the library or ask some of the older ladies in your building.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:10 AM   #4
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You don't need a lot of fancy appliances or expensive ingredients, and you'll find all the inspiration and instruction you'll ever need online. (I like Pinterest and Chowhound for ideas)

You'll never be able to financially justify a blow torch. lol. I love appliances but to be honest they spend a lot more time in the cabinet than they do in service. I use a mandolin, grater, or microplane much more often than I pull out my food processor. A whisk makes mayo just as easily. I have a pasta machine but a rolling pin and knife does the same job, especially when it comes to wide noodles or ravioli. Ice cream machine... you may have to get one. There is nothing like home made peach ice cream. mmmm
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:24 AM   #5
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My only reason for wanting a pasta machine is that I inevitably end up with pasta that's way too thick. I think if I can figure that out, I'm good.

Nothing beats homemade stewed chicken or chicken soup stuffed with noodles.

I'm not looking to aspire to haute cuisine type food - a lot of that is a little too precious, too 'on trend' but that still leaves so many possibilities...
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:38 AM   #6
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Peasant food is best. Simple ingredients, simple prep, delicious results - and available in every cuisine imaginable.

Pasta puffs up a little when it cooks, so raw noodles should be about half the thickness you want it to be when finished. Rubber bands around a rolling pin will work if you use a smaller size and stretch it out. If there isn't much stretch the band may be too thick.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:42 AM   #7
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A hand crank pasta machine is not terribly expensive and a used one would be even less expensive. I keep mine attached to my work table covered with a bowl cover so I can use it without dragging it out of a cupboard. I make the dough in my really old kitchenaid mixer in the morning and refrigerate it till I am ready to make dinner. Then I roll the dough with the machine, cut it and hang it on the pasta rack. Really simple and easy.

I always thought the hand rolling and cutting were more trouble and fuss than using the machine. The first few times are a learning experience, but still easy. Once you get the hang of it making pasta is easy.

I make it with semolina flour and water, a little salt and a touch of olive oil. No eggs. That is just what we prefer. DH is Italian and that is what he likes.

Check ebay for pasta machines. In the long run it will save money to make your own pasta.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:43 AM   #8
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Most foodies are of the armchair type.

Technique trumps equipment and expense of ingredients. It's not how much a thing costs, but what one can do with it that matters most.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:45 AM   #9
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That's a good hint. I'll give it a try & thanx.

And yes, in a simple sentence, you summed up what I liked best about my French Canadian grandmother's food. It WAS peasant food but oh boy, the taste of it was to die for.

One of the things I really looked forward to at the wedding was the food. The kids held the event at a 4 star resort & the food lived up to the rating. It was a real treat to see food such as I've only ever seen on cooking shows - beautifully plated & presented & with flavours & combinations I'd heard of but never tried - yum! What I really appreciated is that while the dishes were really good & clearly cooked by people who knew what they were doing, nothing was fussy or in any way overly complicated. Or at least, it didn't appear that way on the plate.

I can see why certain chefs & restaurants have 'groupies'...LOL
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Old 08-21-2017, 10:16 AM   #10
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Trick for rolling dough to a certain thickness, mark a toothpick and measure in several places.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:31 PM   #11
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I started out as an armchair foodie. My mother was a decent enough cook, but she never really like cooking and always went on about how much of a chore it was to make meals. I had that same mindset when I was younger, but I also really, really enjoy good food, and I knew that my health was much better when I ate well, so I wanted to learn how to make healthy, whole foods taste as good as possible. I figured chefs could probably help with that and started watching cooking shows. As time went on, I came to realize that the process/technique was largely always the same to make something (like mayonnaise, or bread etc), and the more times I saw something being made, the more familiar and less intimidating it became, until I felt confident enough to look up a recipe by a familiar chef and give it a try. Most times whatever I was trying turned out well, which gave me more confidence to try more things. One of the things I ultimately love about food is that there's always something more to learn - a new technique, a new dish, a new cuisine, a new ingredient. Food never gets boring, and when it tastes good, well what's not to love!! (except maybe the cleanup and doing the dishes, that's never any fun)
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Old 08-21-2017, 04:25 PM   #12
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You don't need a torch for crème brûlée. You can caramelize the sugar in the broiler, and it actually comes out more even.
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Old 08-21-2017, 07:50 PM   #13
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I'm an armchair foodie too. I learned to cook from my Dad. Mom was great at dessert, cakes were her favorite. Dad learned to cook from his Mom so it's farm cooking. She was from a farm outside a small town.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:58 PM   #14
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I am a good cook and arm chair foodie as well. I am not, however, a fancy cook. I love delicious foods and trying new things. I didn't actually really start cooking and trying new recipes until around 30 years old. One reason I love YouTube is picking up new recipes from real people not stars. Some are disastrous but fun to watch anyway like Kay's Cooking out of working class Britain, others I love to make the stuff that I see. Maanghi makes the best Korean food, I've enjoyed her videos for years and now she has become kind of famous. There are several Mexican cooks I watch as well. Haven't had a TV in years but if I did it'd spend it's time on the food network, history Channel and sci-fi Channel.
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:19 PM   #15
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In a sense I guess I am an Arm-chair foodie. I watch shows for something that looks interesting then seek out more info. Anthony Bourdains show is excellent for introductions to new cultures and cuisines. My son definitely was. He watched cooking shows for years and never picked up a pot. Bit, the last couple years he's acquired some pretty good equipment and doing research and is a pretty good basic cook. When he gets around his sisters and me he just sits back: he's terribly outclassed in the kitchen. But, he's getting there. He still watches a LOT of cooking shows. Unusual for a 27 year old guy that would rather be on the track or in the garage. Now if someone will just get me a Sous Vide heater for christmas.........
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:51 PM   #16
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SO laughs - with me binge watching so many cooking competition shows, I "know" what preparation certain foods need. Even if I've never seen that product in real life, never smelled or tasted it... I'm told I'm often heard snarking: "No you idiot - BROWN it first!", or: "You need to trim more of the fat off!"

I would dearly love the opportunity to sit quietly in the corner of a very busy, first class kitchen during prep & service. Heck, I'd love to start the day with a chef who bases his day's menu on what's good in the market in the early hours & see how they develop their ideas. I'm in awe of especially, the professional contestants who can julienne a carrot or evenly dice a few onions in the time I'd still be using to sit them on the cutting board. Then I remind myself they got that good by peeling or slicing/dicing truckloads of veggies very early on in their apprenticeships...LOL

SO rolls his eyes these days. Why? Because I've started telling him I'm going to "plate up" supper in 15 minutes instead of serve. And the dishes & kitchen get 'cleared down' rather than dishes washed & everything cleaned/disinfected.

Now, if I had the cooking skill & practice to match the language I'm picking up...ROFL.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:48 PM   #17
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I like cooking. Nothing fancy, tho.

Being a Damn Yankee, I started out with traditional fare, and very few spices.

Living here in NM and Az. for so long has expanded my skills.

I tell folks that I make pretty durn good food for a gringo. Tamales and chile rellanos are two of my favorites.

I watch some cooking shows. I especialy like Rachel Ray. Others like Gordon Ramsey are too fussy for my tastes.
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:45 PM   #18
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This armchair foodie is going to settle for toasted tomato sandwiches tonight. A couple of storms took out some crucial traffic lights so I'm late home from work today - a day where I really would have appreciated my ride being early...LOL

Mind you, the tomatoes came out of my garden - for the cost of 1 fat tomato, an obliging neighbour did the bending over & reaching a couple of beauties for me.
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