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Hi, I call myself Ignatz after Dan Herriman's character in the old "Krazy Kat" comic strip. I'm 43, father of 3, husband to one, crazy about music and books and food and movies and history and martial arts. I've had some wild and crazy times in my life, and I figure I might as well put in some of my perspective.

I promise not to talk down to anyone or make fun,and I promise not to BS anyone. If you're old enough to ask a frank question, you're old enough to get a frank answer. Oh, and if you ask me a question directly, please be patient. I'll get back to you as soon as I can. My life's a bit hectic. :-)
Gender: Male
Location: St. Louis, MO
Occupation: Professional dad
Age: 40
Member Since: October 29, 2007
Answers: 325
Last Update: July 23, 2014
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I am trying to locate a bread machine recipe for whole wheat bread. No matter which recipe I use, the bread comes out very dense and dry. I even take it out 20 mins or so before timer goes off.
So...is there such a thing? I always make bread for my husband, now he wants wheat bread for his lunch, any thoughts on this?
Thanks.. (link)
Bread machine recipes have to be very precise in their measurements. How much water are you adding? Generally speaking, a bread machine recipe will call for four cups of flour total ( 3 cups white, 1 cup whole-wheat) and 2 cups less one tablespoon total liquid (that includes eggs, milk, water, whatever). If it's coming out too dense, use a bit more water or liquid. Also, sift the flour and use fresh yeast. If your yeast is dead, then the bread won't rise.

Hope this helps.


In the movie Julie said that Julia hated her, but I find this hard to believe. If the movie is a good characterization of Julia then I would have to think that she would be delighted that someone would take the time to make all of her recipes. (link)
Without having seen the movie, I'd venture to guess that Julie says this in reference to the some of the more compex recipes. I don't think Julia Child had anything against Julie as a person, it's just that Julie thinks that Julia is making her recipes difficult out of spite for the reader.

Take aspic: making aspic from scratch involves slowly cooking a calf's foot to extract the gelatin, then chilling it, skimming off the fat, reheating it, and then adding other ingredients depending on the type of aspic you're making. (Think beef-flavored Jello). You can get the same effect with Knox gelatin and a bouillon cube. Telling somebody to go through a lengthy process when there's an easier way to do it can be seen as sadistic.


Does anyone have a really good pizza crust recipe that they can share? I want to try making my own pizza but I haven't ever done that before. I know you can buy jarred sauce to put on the crust so that can make things a little easier, I'm sure. Personal recipes that you know work well only please... (link)
This is enough for two large pizzas:

4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil

Bread flour is best for pizza crusts because of the high gluten content. Mix the sugar, water and yeast together in a bowl until they're dissolved, then set aside. The yeast will start eating the sugar and reproducing, and in about 15 minutes you'll see it start to foam. Measure out the flour and sift it. If you don't have a sifter, put it in a small strainer and shake it. This filters out any clumps that may have formed and aerates the flour, which makes for a lighter crust. Put the flour in a large bowl, then add the salt, oil, and water. Mix it just until it comes together (it'll look pretty shaggy), cover it with a towel and set it aside for about 30 minutes. This is called autolyse, and it allows the flour to absorb the water and form longer strands of gluten. It also cuts down on the kneading time. On a clean surface, sprinkle a good bit of flour and then turn out the dough. Knead it until it's smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. Clean the mixing bowl, spread a little oil around in it, then put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. (45-60 minutes) Punch it down to release the gases, et voila, pizza dough!

The stuff freezes well: just wrap the dough in plastic. Leave it on the counter the night before you plan to use it; it will thaw out and start to rise during the day.

Hope this helps!


I made a cake today from scratch, same recipe I have been using for about 15 yrs now. This was the first time it actually over flowed in the oven..what a mess it made.(used same size pans)
I checked the recipe several times I did everything right. It was a choc cake recipe, called for 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp baking soda, and the usual 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt,¾ cup cocoa, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup veg oil, 1 cup hot coffee, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla..
that's the recipe, any thoughts on what could make this happen? To me the cake does have an odd taste to it. But...hubby says it's fine, he'd say that as he wants choc cake so bad tonight for dessert. So...can something I used be bad even though they are not old?
Thanks for any feedback on this.. (link)
It may be the coffee.

Baking powder has two components, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and either tartaric acid (cream of tartar) in single-acting or sodium aluminum sulfate in double-acting baking powder. The sodium bicarbonate reacts with whatever acids are present in the liquid batter and starts producing carbon dioxide. When the batter heats up to 140 degrees F, the sodium aluminum sulfate starts reacting and produces more carbon dioxide. This results in a lighter cake, biscuit, cookie, whatever.

Coffee just out of the pot usually measures 205 degrees F. It's also pretty acidic. The combination of heat and acid from the coffee may have started the aluminum sulfate going earlier than usual and caused your cake batter to overflow. You might want to try cold coffee and see if that makes a difference.

Or not. I'm not a chemist; I don't even play one on TV. I just watch Alton Brown a lot. :-)


i wanna try some frech recipes that look really good and i have a familiy that does like trying something new like that.what do i do?i have a bf who loves it when i cook french foods.can you help me please? (link)
Just cook them, and don't say that they're French. A lot of common recipes originated in classical French cuisine, and if you keep things simple and recognizable (pork chops that look like pork chops, pot roast, roast chicken,) your family will get over the weirdness factor. The last issue of Cook's Illustrated had a great recipe for poulet en cocotte that should keep everybody happy. And if not, go to your boyfriend's house and cook there.

Hope this helps.


for spanish were doing a cooking project and i need a really good recipe thats authentic hispanic food. help please! (link)
"Hispanic" food is a pretty broad term. It covers food from Spain, Portugal, and all of Latin America. You could go with something as simple as black beans and rice or fried plantains, or as complicated as pollo en pibil (chicken in pumpkin-seed sauce). If you really want to impress your teacher, there are some sites with recipes from Medieval and Renaissance Spain. This article http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-SWEETS/3-Span-Sweets-art.html has three desserts from a cookbook published in 1529, and here http://home.earthlink.net/~lilinah/Food/Misc_Hist_Food/AndalusianChicken.html is a recipe from Muslim Spain (c. 1200 or thereabouts). Can't get more Hispanic than that, and you'll certainly stand out from the ones who brought burritos.


ok well my oven is broke but the stove top isnt so thats all ive got to work with and im having my bf come over this weekend any ideas on what we can have for lunch cuz i have no idea :-/ (link)
How much of a cook are you? There's plenty you can do on a stovetop: stir-fries, curries, stews, soups, you name it. Here's a simple chicken curry, made with a prepackaged curry paste:

1 jar Patak's curry paste (they make all sorts, mild to hot - I like mild)
2-3 skinless boneless chicken breasts, or 3-4 chicken thighs, or a couple of chicken leg quarters, about 1 -1/2 lb of meat total.
1 onion
1 bell pepper
1 can coconut milk, or 1 cup plain yogurt
1 small can of tomato puree or diced tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons oil

Cut off the ends of the onion, remove the peel, and cut it half lengthwise, then into thin slices. Cut the bell pepper in slices lengthwise, then across into small pieces. Cut up the chicken into small pieces. If you're using chicken thighs or legs, leave them whole but remove the skin.

Heat the oil over moderate heat in a heavy pan or Dutch oven (do not use a non-stick pan, it won't work right)If the oil starts to smoke, it's too hot, take the pan off the heat. Add the onion and pepper, and stir them around until they start to get soft and change color. Add the chicken and 2 or 3 spoonfuls of the curry paste, and stir around until everything in the pan is coated in the spices. Keep moving the meat around until it is thoroughly browned, then add half the can of tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. If you're using coconut milk, shake the can up and add half of it to the pan. If you're using yogurt, don't add it yet. Simmer the curry for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.

While this is going on, take 1 cup of long-grain rice, 1 3/4 cups of water, and a small pan. Put the rice and water in the pan and bring it to a full boil, then immediately drop the heat to simmer. Cook the rice gently for 20 minutes (don't peek) until the water is evaporated and the grains are soft.

Your curry should be done by now. If you used bone-in meat, the meat should be coming away from the bones a little bit and should come apart when poked with a fork. If you're using plain yogurt rather than coconut milk, take the meat out of the pan, take the pan off the heat and stir in the yogurt until everything is smooth. Then put the meat back in and serve it over the rice, with flour tortillas and some good tea. You can use lamb or turkey in place of the chicken.

Hope this helps.


Last month I bought a few gallons of fresh, unpasteurized apple cider (in an airtight container). Now that I open it, it has become bubbly like soda and it smells like vinegar. It still tastes delicious and mostly normal. Is it now just a "harder" cider, or has it rotted? Is it safe to drink? Now that I've opened it, must I drink it immediately? Thanks! (link)
I'd drink it immediately. Since it's unpasteurized, whatever wild yeasts that were on the apple skins have started to multiply and ferment the sugars. You may get a stomachache, but nothing majorly dangerous.

If you're feeling courageous, go to a homebrew store, get an ale pail, an airlock, some campden tablets, and some wine yeast and make hard cider. It's wonderful stuff, believe me. :-)


What does your family eat for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner? I want to cook for my family this year and we have never celebrated either of those holidays before. (link)
Turkey is the traditional Thanksgiving dish. It's usually roasted, though there are those who smoke the beast or deep-fry it. (Deep-fried turkey is really good, but it can be dangerous.) For the truly insane and intrepid, there is the turducken (a boned chicken, stuffed inside a boned duck, stuffed inside a boned turkey, with different stuffings in between each bird). Green bean casserole, various bread-based stuffings, some sort of green salad, rolls, scalloped potatoes, cranberry relish, and more pie than any person should have to look at.

Christmas varies a lot: ham is a big deal, as is English roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce. One year I made a duck, boned and stuffed with a mixture of chopped apples, ground turkey, herbs and a little gin.My mother insists on Alsatian sauerkraut (bacon, carrots, gin, white wine and stock, all cooked very slowly for several hours). I like potatoes mashed with celery root and squash tossed with garlic, olive oil and rosemary, then roasted. But that's just me.

Hope that helps.

(Dang, I'm hungry now.)


I am a highschool student who is looking into being a chef for a career. I know you must attend a culinary arts based school, but how do they know if your qualified to join there school? I've looked at many websites and it seems they don't have any requirements. I would also like to get my Culinary Arts Bachelor's degree. Does anyone know off hand any colleges that have a culinary curriculm? thanks. (link)
Shoot for the best. Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, NY. They have Associates and Bachelors programs in culinary arts, and if you've got the CIA on your resume you can pretty much write your own ticket. (Plus there's the cool factor of being able to say "I was trained by the CIA".)


is ti bad to microwave food? i dont know why i hear its bad... changes chem composition of food or w/ee?? (link)
The short answer is no, it's not bad for you per se. It's best for reheating or defrosting things though; food doesn't brown in the microwave (unless it burns), and the browning is what gives food its flavor. Nothing wrong with it though; I've been eating microwave foods all my life and have had no problems whatsoever (unless you count that sixth toe on my left foot).




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