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~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (9/30/11) ~

Culinary Q & A #2I can't say goodbye to September without thanking all of you for all of the great feedback on my series of Oktoberfest "snack food" posts.  It seems my recipes for ~ Fun w/Fall Fruit: Apple and Pear Hors D'oeuvres; Kielbasa:  The "Other" Oktoberfest Sausage; Pretty in Pink:  Pennsylvania Dutch Pickled Eggs; and, Bring on the Rueben Sliders... and some Beer too! ~, struck a chord with many of you and I thank you for singing my praises!  

I particularly appreciated a comment I received from a friend and reader of mine, Carol, who told me, "Mel, you know I always enjoy your blog, but I think 'Oktoberfest week' just might be your best work yet... I thoroughly enjoyed every post and appreciate all of the research you did in order to write those fun-to-read, informative stories!" 

NationalLogo With Germany's Oktoberfest 2011 (Sept. 17th - Oct. 3rd) coming to a close this Sunday,  I want to remind all of you that October here in the USA is National Apple Month.   Growing up in Northeastern PA, very close to the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, I am announcing that I am kicking off my October posts with a recipe that is very close to my heart:  ~ Old-Fashioned, Pennsylvania, Apple Dumplings ~.  Look for this absolutely luscious dessert post tomorrow!!!

I had one great question this week here at Kitchen Encounters and I'm pretty sure the answer will be of interest to all of you:

PICT0810 Q.  Larry says and asks:  Melanie, I am a single man who "stumbled" onto your blog looking for a recipe for fettuccine Alfredo.  My wife passed away almost two years ago and I've had to learn to cook for myself.  I'm getting better at it, and I want to tell you the step-by-step pictures you post with each recipe help me a lot.  I've noticed that sometimes you say to use (for example), "12 ounces of peeled and sliced carrots", while in another recipe you'll say to use (for example), "1/2 cup of peeled and sliced carrots".  Can you explain why?  Should I buy a kitchen scale?  PS: My grandson and granddaughter enjoyed the Alfredo very much!

PICT2816 A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Larry thank you so much for taking the time to e-mail me your kind feedback.  I work very hard to make each post "a mini-cooking class", and you just did a great job of validating my hard work!

I am quite a stickler for weights and measures... because I like my recipes to result in the same flavor and texture each and every time I or someone else prepares them!

Let me start by advising you not to bake without weighing and measuring very carefully.  That being said, weighing and measuring has its place in cooking too.  For the most part, when a recipe calls for a small quantity, 1/2-1-2 cups, a little more or a little less won't affect the outcome of your recipe too much.  When you get into larger quantities, quantities above 2 cups, weight rather than measure works best.  

For instance:  1 pound of carrots will weigh less than 1 pound after trimming and peeling, meaning:  if a recipe calls for 1 pound of trimmed and peeled carrots, you need to buy more than 1 pound of carrots. One pound of trimmed and peeled carrots, when weighed, will always be 1 pound of carrots, meaning:  no matter how you slice or dice them, you will always have 1 pound of carrots.  On the other hand, if a recipe calls for "3 cups of peeled and sliced carrots", you will find that each and every time you slice 3 cups of carrots, the weight of each batch will vary a bit. In the scheme of things, in some recipes, these differences of "a half cup here" or "a cup there" add up.  They can and will be the difference between your recipe turning out like mine or not. Kitchen scales are not expensive and I highly recommend that you invest in one.  Once you use it a few times, you will not want to cook without it!

PICT1557 Life is full of choices.  Making the right choice is not as important as trying to figure out how it will affect you in the end.  To insure the best results when baking and cooking, I highly recommend weighing and measuring as often as posssible!

Have a nice weekend everyone. Once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipes, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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PSUinBOSSton! I love your train of thought and I love hearing from you! Let me ponder this (as I have several ideas) and look for my answer when I post this week's Q&A, which due to PSU football obligations, will delay me posting by a day or two. PS... My chef sensibilities are rarely offended, as I am a believer in pushing the envelope as far as it can be pushed!

Mel- can we talk sauces? Do you have any "go to" sauces that can be used when I'm not feeling very creative? I do most of the cooking, and I usually prefer to just let the mood and ingredients inspire me. But sometimes I just don't have it in me. My thinking is if I had a couple unique sauces that I could keep in the freezer, it would allow me to make a fresh meal with reduced time and effort (basically, an alternative to freezing the meats and other ingredients). Something that would "spice up" a bland chicken or beef dish.

So how about it, Mel, and "go to" sauces? Or do frozen sauces offend your chef sensibilities?

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