National Food Days

If you are wondering what to make for dinner or dessert on any given day, let this list of national food days inspire you:
http://www.tfdutch.com/foodh.htm
Today, for example, is Oatmeal-Nut Waffles Day.
Is this list real? Who knows? Who cares? (though being how idiotic our Congress is, it may very well be real). The point is that it gives you a reason to celebrate something yummy almost every day 🙂


Spices at home

Once again, here is a list of the spices I have at home, so I don’t go buying s/t I have when I need it. What I know I don’t have is:
-Onion Powder
-Cumin seeds
-Ground nutmeg
-Saffron
-Garlic salt
What I do have:
Herbs
Herbes de Provence
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Rubbed sage
Sumak
Tarragon
Thyme
Ground Spices
Allspice
Cinnamon
Cloves
Coriander
Cumin
Dill
Garlic powder
Ginger
Mace
Paprika
Sumak
Turmeric
Seeds & Berries
Anise
Cardamon pods
Coriander
Fennel
Fenugreek
Nutmeg
Poppy
Sesame
Star anise
Sweet basil
Salts
Celery
Kosher salt
Table salt
Sea salt
Peppers
Cayenne
Crushed red pepper
Black peppercorns
Indian red chili powder
Piment d’espelette
Red pepper flakes
White peppercorns
Curries
Chicken masala
Curry powder
Mild curry powder
Garam Masala
Madras Curry
Spice Mixes
BBQ
Cajun
Chili powder
Other
Arrowroot
Bay leaves
Cinnamon sticks
Cloves
Cream of Tartar
Dried chilis
Dried tamarind pods


Xmas gifts 2008

In previous years I got all the hardcore kitchen equipment I needed – a good quality food processor (though I came to discover, while I was cooking Xmas dinner, that it has a crappy lid), a good quality blender and a good quality mixer – so my cooking items request for this year was much less greedy. And alas, I got the most important things I wanted.
My mother gave me her old (but barely used) toaster oven. It’s a Black & Decker and small enough to fit in our very limited counter space. It’s great because our old one is probably over 10 years old and had not been working well (i.e. burning toast) for quite a while. Now I can finally get rid of it! The only problem with this toaster oven is that it doesn’t come with a baking sheet – and I doubt I can find one small enough for it. That doesn’t matter for toast – but it makes it hard to use for things like toasting nuts. Hmmm – perhaps I could find a very small aluminum pan to put there? Or use tin foil to make a little mold? Any ideas?
bowls.jpgAlso from my mother, a set of pyrex mixing bowls I had asked for. All my mixing bowls are plastic and old – and I wanted something better quality (so, at least I can feel more luxurious when I cook) that had lids – so I can put whatever it is directly in the fridge. I haven’t opened these yet, but they look very nice and got good reviews.
Mom also got me a small (10″ x 14″) cookie sheet that comes with a matching silicone mat. It’s Cooking with Calphalon brand. I’ve never used a baking mat, and I’m hoping it’ll be good – it’d beat having to use expensive parchment paper or cleaning baking sheets. The cookie sheet is on the small size, but I think it’ll fit in the oven along side my regular large baking sheets.
Finally, my sister Kathy got me a set of CorningWare. It includes a 2.5qt casserole, a 1.5 qt one and a 16 oz one. Only the bigger one comes with a glass lid, which makes it appropriate for baking in the oven – but that’s the one I really needed. Alas, CorningWare has the weird pricing scheme in that it’s often cheaper to buy a set of dishes than just one. I’m not sure what I’ll use the little ones for. The little one would work for hot artichoke-spinach dip (I made some last night for Xmas dinner, and as I didn’t have one that size I divided it into smaller ramekins). Any ideas what the 1.5 qt one (which only has a plastic lid) could be used for?
And that’s it – not many food gifts this year, but then I didn’t ask for many 🙂 I did ask for a dutch oven, but I’m not really disappointed that I didn’t get one, as I’m not sure that I’d use it very often.
Could it really be true that I don’t need/want anything else for the kitchen? Nah – I did notice while cooking Xmas dinner that I do need more wooden spoons.
Oh, and I forgot, I need a butcher’s knife, a carving knife and kitchen shears.


Restaurants I want to try

Berkeley/Albany
Paragon @ the Claremont
Rendezvous Cafe – French
Unicorn Pan Asian Cuisine
Oakland
Cocina Poblana
Messob
MoNo
Nan Yang
Pizza Rustica
Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana
Hayward/Castro Valley
Bijou Restaurant & Bar
Sampan Kitchen


Spices @ Home

Allspice, ground
Allspice, berries
Arrowroot
Bay leaves
Cardamon, ground
Cardamon, pods
Cayene pepper
Celery salt
Chicken Masala (box)
Chili powder (box)
Cinnamon, ground
Cinnamon, sticks
Citric Acid
Coriander, powder (box – buy more)
Coriander, seeds
Cloves
Cloves, ground
Cumin, ground
Curry powder (need to buy more)
Curry powder – mild (box)
Fennel seed
Fenugreek seed
Garam Masala
Garlic powder
Ginger, ground
Herbs de Provence
Mace, ground
Mustard, ground
Nutmeg, berries
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley flakes
Peppercorns, black
Peppercorns, white
Poppy seed
Red pepper flakes
Rosemary
Sage, rubbed
Sesame seeds
Star anise
Sumak
Sweet basil
Tarragon
Thyme (need to buy more)
Turmeric
Cajun mix
BBQ mix
Need to buy
Cumin seed, curry powder, green cardamon, thyme


Xmas presents

Most of what I asked for in my Christmas list was cooking stuff, so it’s no wonder that lots of my presents (from both DH and my mom) was kitchen stuff.
Mike got me a Wüstholf Classic Ikon 6′ cook’s knife. It’s small because he didn’t trust me with something bigger. I can also tell you it’s very sharp – I cut my finger just trying to get it out of the box. I’m now deadly afraid of it. And I need a sheath! I don’t know where Mike thought I’d store it!
He also got me a 250w Kitchen Aid mixer. I saw it as a deal in Amazon.com (it was $110, I think) and he said to go and buy it. I still have it unwrapped it as I know what it is, and I would prefer to clean the kitchen and figure out where I’m going to put it first. Meanwhile it looks nice as a present 🙂
My mother got me a Nonstick Aluminum 5Q Tools of the Trade “Chef’s Pan”. It sort of looks like a paella pan, but with a long handle. I’m not big in nonstick or aluminum. Well, I’m not big on cheap pans in general, but I guess I should find some use for it. Not sure for what, given that it’s not too different from a pan I already have and love – but we’ll see.
She also got me a cheapy nonstick aluminum skillet. That should be more useful, though what I really wanted was a good quality frying pan. But my mother believes one shouldn’t buy good quality pans because their bottom will turn dark anyway, so it’s better to buy cheap ones and then replace them. I don’t agree, but you can’t look at a gift horse in the mouth.
I’ve been looking for a spice mill, and she said she couldn’t find one so she bought me a salt and pepper set instead. And she got me a huge bottle of black pepper. I can’t imagine I’ll ever run out of pepper in this life time – specially considering that the children don’t like spicy food. But I think my mother may have been confused when she bought it and thought the flimsy plastic container of pepper was actually a pepper mill.
She did better with a very nice set of mixing tools from Kitchen Aid. There is a heavy plastic bowl, a whisk, measuring cups and spoons, and a spatula. I did need a spatula, and a mixing bowl is useful (though what I wanted was a set of larger mixing bowls with lids) – but I got set of whisks last year and THREE sets of measuring cups/spoons. Now I have four.
On the plus side, she did get me a tureen before Xmas, which I really wanted and was really useful for serving soup at Xmas dinner.
So that was it for this year, next I think I’m asking /Mike/ for a good quality blender 🙂


Spices

I’m cleaning up my spice rack, throwing away old spices. There are some I’ve had since I got married, over a decade ago. Granted, I’ve seldom if ever used them since (like fennel seeds, what do I need fennel seeds for?) but I figure if I do need them again, I can buy them anew. The list below are the spices I have – most in good quantities. This way next time I come across a recipe that calls for something I can check it against this list rather than having to go through the whole rack.
Black peppercorns
White peppercorns
Powdered Cayenne pepper
Piment d’espelette
Ground chili de arbol
Sweet paprika
Chili powder
Oregano
Thyme
Tarragon
Rosemary
Herbs d’provence
Ground sweet basil
Saffron threads
Bay leaves
Turmeric
Ground allspice
Ground cumin
Mustard seeds
Curry powder
Mustard powder
Ground ginger
Cinnamon sticks
Ground cinnamon
Ground cloves
Nutmeg pods
These are spices I probably should buy to replace the ones I threw away. Any other suggestions:
-Red pepper flakes
-Ground black pepper (for when I don’t have time to grind enough)
-Allspice berries
-Cloves
-Regular paprika
-Hot paprika
-Garlic powder


Restaurants I want to try

San Leandro
Saigon Palace on 17580 Hesperian
Grand Taipei on 25036 Hesperian
Hawaiian Sista’s Cafe ( 10:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Tue.-Sat.)
Halan (vietnamese on Lewelling)
Vietnamese place by Pak n’Save
Ozeki Sushi
Castro Valley
$$
Sazio Ristorante Italiano
Doug’s Place (breakfast)
Dolci Amore
Hong Kong BBQ Restaurant (chinese)
Hayward
$$$
Le Maconnais
Caravan
East Harbor (hesperian & west a)- good chinese
New Hong Kong on Mission, dim sum
Berkeley Oakland
$
Taste of Africa +
Museum Kitchen +
Priya (indian buffet) +
Han’s Big Burger +
Vik’s Chaat Corner, Berkeley +
Kabana, Berkeley+
Addis +
Caribbean Cove
$$
Tsing Tao (dim sum) +
Restaurant Peon (dim sum) +
Kensington circus pub +
Phnom Penh House
Italian Colors (Montclair) +
Breads of India – (no res)
Soi4 – college, upscale Thai
Taste of the Himalayas
Bosphorus
Locanda Olmo – college, Italian
$$$
Chez Simone (piedomont ave, t-f-sa nights)
Zaika (indian)
Bucci’s (Emeryville)
Soizic
Eccolo
Fonda
La Belle Creole
Garibaldi’s
Zax Tavern (closed Su/Mo)
Chef Paul’s (pied)
Oliveto
Trio (grand ave, closed M/Tu)
La Rose (small, french fusion, closed mondays)
La Note (provencal, dinner Th-Sa)
Le Theatre (French/North African, closed mondays)
Tanjia
$$$$
Chez Panisse
Fremont
Mariam- Persian
De Afghanan Kabob House (fast food)
Milpitas
Shahnawaz – Indian
San Francisco/Peninsula
$$
Jakarta
P


Things I want to cook

This is a list of dishes that I want to make sometime soon. My memory is terrible so this list should help me remember the dishes and inspire me.
Bread Pudding
Pork & Tomatillo Stew (Craigslist )
Estifado (Craigslist )
Mac & Cheese Casseroles (Saveur)
Canneloni a la rossini
Beef stroganoff
Chicken/Veal Marsala