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    i’ve now collected a lot of knives. way more than i’ll ever use. mostly they are wusthof and shun, but i have some mac MAC knives and zhen knives and those latter two i consider very excellent value for money. the zhen shears i have are so far above their competition that i bought two pairs so i wouldn’t be without. i think they are $25-30.

    anyway, the knife i used to use the most was a tomato knife. cost under $10 and very useful as you could spear stuff with it and it could easily double as a steak knife.


    but for $10, it’s a pretty flimsy steel and a cheap plastic handle. so i found the wusthof equivalent:


    which is much sturdier and 5″ vs 6″ which is my sweet spot on size.


    but then i started seeing ‘sandwich’ knives which were blunt tipped and you could use as an all-purpose breakfast/sandwich knife and spread your dressing on the bread. shun has one they call the ‘ultimate utility’ knife and i liked that one so much i ended up with 4.5″, 5.5″, and 6.0″ models. the 4.5″ gets the most use and i rarely need anything longer.


    these have an edge somewhere between a serrated and a scalloped and might prove tricky to sharpen, but they won’t need sharpening often based on my use and inspection.




    btw, the pictures are supremely misleading as they show a sizable ‘belly’ on these knives, but they are only very gently outwardly curved.



    oh, i didn’t pay near the prices at these links. i bought these around last xmas when everyone was running sales. one of my best scores was a ‘limited edition’ release of a set of 3 small shun knives for $105. /guy


    A floating floor is simply one that is not nailed or glued down. They are generally laid over another perfectly serviceable floor. In our case concrete, but are also placed over particleboard and plywood. They are usually lighter weight than a “normal” structural timber floor. We have gone with 14mm thick bamboo. We have seen 9mm (3/8″)
    Here a structural floor is required by law to be 19mm (3/4″) minimum.

    @guy I bow my head to your obsessive knife collecting. But do you actually use any of them? Last you reported in, you weren’t doing much in the way of cooking. Have you made an omelette yet?


    Yoda would say, “Guy, make omelets you will.”


    yes, you’re right, i’m been remiss in my progress. it’s just too easy to make a dish in the pressure cooker which tastes great, doesn’t cost much (gotta finance knives, y’know!), and lasts me all week with leftover tidbits for the cats.

    i’ve got brown rice or pasta with any given random frozen meat down to a science in the pressure cooker. of course, the meat doesn’t look good and it’s all basically just boiled, but i lack finesse in taste and that lack has saved me a fortune in wine over the years, i assure you. [g]

    i haven’t yet managed to turn (white) rice and pinto beans into a one pot meal or i’d have the trifecta. when i figure that one out i’ll add andouli sausage and cajun spices and have a very tasty dish indeed!



    i’m out of food and made myself hungry. so i went into the kitchen and coated the bottom of the pc pot with olive oil and dumped in a pound of penne pasta. i covered it with about 4.5c of water to just above the top of the pasta, then i dumped in two frozen hamburger patties, put on the lid and set it for 10 minutes on /high/. i’ll season and maybe add pasta sauce on the plate.

    this shouldn’t even be called cooking, but it’s delicious and i enjoy eating it–even 4-7 days in a row with a pimento cheese and weenie and olive sandwich or ‘burrito’ (same stuff rolled up in a flour tortilla) for variety. /guy


    That’s the great thing about cooking for one: anyone else who doesn’t like your cooking can get stuffed.

    Seriously, it sounds above like you want to make Cajun red beans and rice with pinto beans instead. The Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker manual has this recipe. I think the Rancho Gordo website has a recipe, but would need to be converted to PC. Interested?


    i’m eating my pasta and hamburger even as i type this. since it’s fresh out of the pot, nothing other than salt and pepper on it. the pasta is perfect and the meat is tender–what else could you ask?

    i appreciate the offer, but i’m sure i can find a link for a beans and rice recipe although that sort of thing is much much more suited for a slow-cook meal instead. it’s funny, i stumbled onto the pressure cooker while shopping for a slow cooker or crock-pot and found that for just a few bucks more i could get a multi-function cooker instead. and i’ve never looked back.

    btw, i cook pinto beans all the time and they’re ok. but they just don’t come out well in the pc no matter how much @laura fine-tunes the formula. pinto beans just seem to need overnight soaking followed by 4-8 hours on the stove bubbling away with some salt pork in with them.

    oh, i forgot. i did have one very good success with pintos by cooking them longer than usual and then mashing them up and using them as ‘refried’ for dips and filling.


    You may be right about the pinto beans. In my family with its Texas/Mexican roots, it’s bacon, which I don’t eat anymore and will probably never stop missing. A simple pinto bean soup cries out for aged pork. My family’s simple soup, simmered on the stove, was great, and what I make isn’t as good.

    On the other hand, Lorna Sass has a recipe for “Pinto, Zucchini and Hominy Chile” and “New Mexico Pinto Bean Soup,” both of which I’ll try sometime. I think pressure cooked beans do fine as ensemble players, with lots of chopped vegetables and herbs, which is how I most often make them. A good opportunity to pull out the knives, Guy. ;-)


    I used to make red beans and rice simmered stovetop. Got out of the habit when I started experimenting with PCing. They might actually be quite good in a PC.

    Revision: Whoops! Looks like I did successfully make RB&R last summer, just didn’t print the recipe. Looks like I soaked the beans and precooked them in PC, then finished with brown rice stovetop. Didn’t print because I wanted to refine the cook times.


    I got the mandolin because I lost my little food processor blade and Kenji recommended it. It is great for slicing onions and potatoes and such but while better than expected with cheese not great and mushrooms totally awful.
    The Starfrit knives are great for cheese, mushrooms,tomatoes etc. and I can slice an onion just holding it in my hand. SO if I am going to make onion soup or scalloped potatoes I will use the mandolin but to slice one or two onions it is faster and easier to use the knife. Chances are they are no sharper than some of my other knives.
    Knife sharpening is something I attempt every decade or so. I am lured in by some gimmick. So far I am no good with steels and stones.

    I really want another small food processor but I am looking for one with a spout which are rare these days.


    I can’t imagine having nothing to soak beans in. With pots and pans and pressure cookers and giant juice containers, mixmaster and other bowls I could probably soak 20 lbs. even at the humungous amounts of water ATK uses. Oh well time to give more stuff away.


    Not sure what you mean by “spout,” Helen.

    If it takes multiple tools to get you there efficiently, then they are all fabulous. Getting there fast and with all your fingers is what counts.


    Glad you are still cooking:) Strangely I sometimes think of you when I fry an egg.

    You have some really nice knives. I kind of envy them but I have had bad luck with good knives:) Some of it was me and some the people I cohabited with.


    @Helen, the problem is the` salt — it corrodes the stainless steel of the pots, mixer bowls, etc. So your choices are plastic or glass. Hence, my big Pyrex storage bowls. I DON’T know why so much brine is needed. I’m doing it on faith in Cooks Illustrated science. But not a problem anymore — I have my third bowl, so I can soak enough beans for this year’s graduating class of Harvard, should said class require them of me.

    BTW, on Sunday my salt-soaked chickpeas PCed in 1.5 minutes. Salt-soaking really shortens the cooking time.


    @Guy, I looked at the links for your knives, but couldn’t get the last one to display. Are the waves on the sides of the blades a Damascus steel thing? I have only four knives, if you count the bread knife, which I don’t use. Three knives do everything I need except sharpen themselves.

    You got your money’s worth out of your IP. Since your taste buds are happy with basic, and your IP delivers that with little work, it’s an ideal system for you.

    @Greg, I looked at the Norton stones on Amazon. That’s a lot of cash for rocks! :-O I don’t have any rubbish knives to practice on, unless you count the butter knives. Seriously. our knives were so bad when I was growing up, I had a bad feeling looking at cheap knives and didn’t buy any. I’ll have to give those stones a think.



    that last link was just the 6″ version of the 4.5″ version right before it. i have no idea why the images are so different from the reality. all 3 sizes only have a gently curved belly, not the exaggerated one shown. maybe i’ll post an actual picture later on.

    and yes, the pc was a life-changing discovery for me. that’s why i had no qualms about upgrading to the more expensive instantpots after i killed my first cheap pc. i knew they were worth their weight in cooking gold. i’m still sorely disappointed with my smart model though because whatever programmers they used need to be sent back to programming school. i haven’t programmed since 1990 and i think i could have done better than they did. /guy


    Is your IP Smart pairing again with the app?


    it pairs just fine. it’s just that the bluetooth range shrank when they did an update and i can’t reach it from the living room anymore. they’ve since done another update but i got so disgusted i quit trying. /guy


    I think I’d be so curious I couldn’t stop myself from giving it a try. Who knows what genie is in that bottle now?


    @Suzanne Interesting, I didn’t know salt corroded stainless steel. Neither do many others as a quick image search shows lots of chickens brining in pots.
    I did find several articles scientifically proving that salt can corrode stainless in an airless environment. Live and learn:)


    I agree about the programmers but it may be because of canned Smart Bluetooth software. Perhaps Chefsteps will do better and write their own Bluetooth interface. They have some pretty good tech connections I believe.


    @Helen, I may have come to a hasty conclusion. I belatedly must claim no scientific insight on the matter. I just know that after the salt soaks, my cheap stainless stock pot has many tiny pits in the bottom. I know undissolved salt crystals can pit the bottom of a stainless pan. I dissolve the salt in boiling water in a measuring cup and stir until no more crystals are visible, then dilute w the rest with the prescribed water, cold. Maybe cheap steel is more reactive. Golly, dunno.


    @Suzanne Nope I am pretty certain you are right dissolved or not. Also fairly sure it does not always happen. I have learned a lot about stainless steel on this site and it is not as impervious to rust either as I had previously thought.
    So despite possibly sounding argumentative I was thanking you for the heads up.
    Still looking around and excluding metal I could still brine 2-3 lbs of beans to ATK standards.


    You didn’t sound argumentative to me. It’s important to get the facts straight. :-) I did make an assumption and a rather global statement.

    I found this snippet in the FAQs under the technical link in the British Stainless Steel Association website (http://www.bssa.org.uk/faq.php?id=9):

    “Pitting corrosion – The passive layer on stainless steel can be attacked by certain chemical species. The chloride ion Cl- is the most common of these and is found in everyday materials such as salt and bleach. Pitting corrosion is avoided by making sure that stainless steel does not come into prolonged contact with harmful chemicals or by choosing a grade of steel which is more resistant to attack. . . ”

    What I’m seeing isn’t rust. It’s barely visible pitting surrounded by patches of discoloration.

    When I got my PC and started reading this website, I noted some dismayed posts from folks who’d pitted their new PCs with salt. I also noted Kuhn Rikon directs that food should not be stored in their PCs, and I assumed it’s because seasoned food might pit the steel. However, I’ve stored seasoned soup/grains in my stainless-lined All-clad pot on and off since I bought it in the mid- 1990s, and never seen pitting. So go figure.

    My best guess is that ATK requires so much brine solution because a minimum saline concentration must be maintained as the salt starts moving into the beans. One might ask, then why not use less brine with a higher concentration of salt? @Greg would be better situated to answer that if he wants to take a break from hammering his kitchen. Again, the stockpot was a cheap one. Thin steel, somewhere between $8-$12 bucks back when I didn’t know how to buy kitchen tools.

    Like you, I have limited kitchen space. I didn’t want a huge glass bowl that serves only one function. The Pyrex serving bowls are multi-function and nest into eachother. Once filled, they can be stacked neatly with round trivets that I already own and sit in a corner out of the way while they do their work.

    I want to make a pound of beans at a time so I can freeze portions of soup/beans and cook less. @Guy has his system with Instant Pot. I have a system, too, which I am still fine-tuning. If you decide to salt-soak, tell us what you end up using.


    I believe I read that same link and others. It just never occurred to me like this link.http://www.thekitchn.com/will-salt-cause-stainless-steel-to-pitproduct-shopping-questions-169772. I cannot cook many foods without salt and pepper. Just not going to happen:) Arteries be damned.
    I never store food in pots because of fridge space. Same with brining meat, I use Ziploc usually. Food for thought.

    I too like to cook ahead. I bought an upright freezer so I could make single or double portion freezer like lasagna, chicken parmesan, etc. Plus to take advantage of sale prices.
    Christmas day it started to act up, taking 1/2 hour or more to start working again when I opened and closed the door.
    Being hospitalized and then bedridden for several weeks made me paranoid about opening it. It has been closed since Christmas and I could have really used those meals and snacks. My insurance would cover it without a deductible but I lacked the jam to approach it.

    After reading your post I got brave and opened it and miraculously it worked. No beeping or warning lights. I am so excited. So thanks for that.

    I still have beans in there:) but next time I will try brining. Big amount of water and small amount. I am still sceptical about the quantity but I totally understand staying with a method that works.


    Yay for the working freezer! I am freezer space challenged and have to be very mindful of my choices for allocating that space, so I’m feeling freezer-envy about now. What a time for your freezer to go wonky — just when you needed homemade food at hand most. Glad it is working now.

    As often happens, after an online exchange I find new information. Today I found a description of an update Cooks Illustrated apparently made last Sept. on its bean brine recipe. Now CI recommends 1 1/2 Tbsp salt:2 quarts water:1 pound beans. So half as much brine. I’ll try to confirm by getting a library copy of Sept./Oct. Cooks Illustrated. According to this description, CI also says to soak in tall instead of flat vessels to ensure beans stay covered, so maybe this reflects what caused them to prescribe twice as much brine to begin with.

    Well, geez. I’m done with the double brine quantity unless alien beings start crawling out of my soup. And maybe not even then unless they threaten to move in and eat my imported miso. ;-)



    i got this in my email today. i think this might be something i could adapt for my one pot ‘beans and rice’ request. never heard of ‘parboiled’ rice, but maybe i can mix brown with white or even risotto (which are the varieties i have) to adjust the required time. and leaving out the chicken might help with the adjustment as well although i might try some sort of sausage instead:

    Pressure Cooker Chicken, Black Beans & Rice Burrito Bowl



    @Guy, I saw this recipe earlier today, and thought of you. Seems right down your alley. Here are a few ideas.

    I looked at Laura’s timing chart and noted soaked pintos cook 10 minutes in an electric cooker. What about using thighs, which also take 10 minutes to cook, instead of chicken breast? (Don’t have a clue about PCing sausage.)

    Next your challenge is to get brown rice to cook in approx. 10 minutes.

    I wouldn’t mix brown rice with any polished rice because the cook times are so different. Brown rice needs 20-22 minutes. You can reduce that time to 12-14 minutes if you soak the rice overnight. If you like your rice a bit crunchy, you could pressure cook the soaked rice 10 minutes, too, in the heat-proof container, with the chicken/sausage and beans. That would be the easiest way.

    Or you could precook unsoaked rice in the PC before you start the saute. Try pressure cooking 4 or more minutes, with natural release. Then put the rice and liquid in the heat-proof container and start the recipe.

    Keep in mind my experience is with a stove top cooker, not an electronic, although I’ve cited Laura’s cook times for electronic. I cook brown rice in the bottom of the pot, not in a separate heat-proof container, which I suspect will cook it a bit more slowly. But getting the beans and chicken cooked right the first time is most important. You can fine-tune the rice over time.

    If it was me and I was in a hurry, I might just get the rice simmering in a standard pot on a burner before I started getting out the other ingredients and prepping/sautéing them. The rice would probably be precooked enough when you were ready to close up the cooker. But I don’t remember if you have stove top burners or a hotplate or a small lidded pot!

    And if you are cooking spontaneously with unsoaked beans and rice — check Laura’s timings for those — you might just have to fry your sausage in one of those fancy skillets you now own. The longer pressure cooking time, upward of 20 minutes, might overcook any meat you added during the saute.

    Let us know how it goes. Would hate to be snoozing when The Trifecta is realized.


    @Guy, a couple more comments on the above.

    If you substitute sausage or chicken thighs for the chicken breast, you’ll be introducing significantly more fat into Laura’s recipe. Your end product could end up very greasy.

    You can reduce the added fat by skinning the thighs, trimming visible fat, and cutting a slit into each the hidden fat pockets on either side of the bone (one on each side). The slits will allow those fat pockets to drain as the thighs brown. Then you could remove excess fat from the pan before sautéing the veg. Or you could just buy boneless skinless thighs, which are less fatty.

    The Cajun recipes I’ve made that included Andouille sausage (yum!) had you saute or brown sausage slices to start, then remove the sausage and saute the veg in the rendered sausage fat. If this adds too much grease, you spoon some of the grease out before adding the veg, or put less fat in the pot before browning the sausage.

    I think the worst case scenario if you try cooking meat, pinto beans and brown rice together using the workarounds in the above is that your rice won’t be completely cooked. That’s easy to repair by emptying out the beans and meat into your storage container and then either dumping the rice into your PC — rice will pick up some of the nice flavors from the bottom of the pot that way — with any needed extra water, or by putting your heatproof dish back into the PC, adding the minimum hot/boiling water beneath the trivet for steam, and giving your rice another couple of seconds or minutes to pressure cook. Just hover and make sure you don’t burn the rice. Then keep notes about what worked and what didn’t and next time you make the dish, precook the rice longer.

    I worked with brown rice a lot developing my wild rice and mushroom recipe for the PC. If the rice isn’t quite as soft as you want, sometimes just bringing the PC up to Low pressure for a few seconds and allowing a second natural release will get it there.

    If you’re not into the workarounds, Laura’s suggestion of just cooking the brown rice in a second PC is good, too. I do the pre-cooking approach in a traditional pot because I don’t have multiple PCs and also seldom need to fall back on this method. (As it turns out, soaked brown rice pressure cooks in the same amount of time as scarified wild rice. Nice.)

    Hope all my suggestions are not overkill. ;-)


    I enjoyed this article about Miso. http://www.seriouseats.com/2016/03/miso-soup-history-how-to.html
    Interesting about the US giving something to the survivors who were interned in 1988. AFAIK Canada has not and we are/were equally guilty. But nice discussion about miso soup an easy/difficult preparation etc.

    No such thing as to many suggestions for me.
    AFAIK beans and rice are not big in Canada. There are few restaurants in Vancouver serving Mexican, and fewer with southern US cuisine. I ate at one and didn’t like it but my Romanian friend loved it.
    Only beans/pulses I enjoy so far are navy and black. I do eat lentils and kidney but only to be polite.


    @Helen, I read your Serious Eats link today. Thanks for thinking of me. It was fascinating how the author combined gritty facts about life in the U.S. for Japanese Americans with foodie info on miso. I tend to think of recipes as objects disassociated from people, but the article put miso firmly in context of Japanese lives lived. I enjoyed feeling the depth. I want to try the seasonal soup that included radish, a veg I tried years ago in a Japanese pork broth and liked.

    I go a bit overboard on the topic of cooking beans, probably because I eat them every day. The approach of cooking beans and grains pot-in-pan has long fascinated, but the promise has evaded me due to the difficulty of matching the cooking times of the beans and grains I want. It seemed less trouble to just buy a second pressure cooker. But the change in PC cooking times from brining beans and soaking grains that’s grabbed my attention recently renews my optimism that I can find some desirable PIP bean/grain combos. Light precooking can further expand combo choices, and is simple to do while prepping.

    To create even MORE choices, I’m trying heirloom beans from . Some are sold in local stores, and the weekend I squirreled away packets of San Franciscano and Rebosero beans to experiment with. I also want to try Ayocote Morado, Bay Chocolate, Moro, Eye of Goat, and Yellow Indian Woman beans.

    While, like @Guy, I’m pretty happy with eating off the same big batch over the week, I do want more variety of recipes than many. The process of expanding my bean horizons has required persistance. I have tried so many recipes that I didn’t repeat. Since I discovered pressure cooking 2.5 years ago, I’ve more than doubled my bean repertoire. That’s big a win in my plant-based kitchen.

    There’s a lot of bad Mex food in restaurants. I’m not surprised you haven’t liked it. But I still remember walking into the Mex restaurant where I worked in high school taking deep blissful breaths of the scent of fresh chiles, green onion, frijoles, corn tortillas, and cheese. So wonderful. I hope someone’s Mex food gives you happiness someday.

    Were many Canadian indigenous peoples farmers who grew beans before colonization? Just wondering how important beans have been traditionally in Canadian home cooking.

    I am humbled by your patience with my many suggestions! ;-)


    Actually I like Mexican food in general just not fond of beans and rice in the same dish. We all have our idiosyncrasies. I wish there were more Mexican dining options in Vancouver. I have many pulses I don’t care for but mostly it is a textural issue.
    I don’t know that our indigenous people farmed at all. The climate even in southern Canada was a lot harsher than it is today a couple of hundred years ago. I have lived in places where they have never seen a tree and any gardening today is hydroponic.

    The only beans I ate growing up were navy beans usually cooked with molasses in the oven or in the ground. They used to have Boy Scout Bean dinners with an amazing variety of bean dishes but all were navy beans:) (or green beans).

    Since it was a long time since I read Canadian History I looked up bean growing in Canada:)
    Canada exports 70% of it’s pulse product while the US consumes 70% so I think we are not big home cooked bean eaters. Dried peas are pretty popular especially with the French. The biggest reason I cook beans is the dreaded flatulence which I get from canned:(

    It requires no patience to read your posts, should be obvious it is a pleasure or I wouldn’t run of at the mouth replying.


    Hi, @Helen.

    I’m perking up from what I’m guessing was a brief bout with flu, attenuated probably by this year’s vaccine and some home remedies such as elderberry syrup and raw garlic. The cure is almost as bad as the disease, but is a boon to society in discouraging even the most kind-hearted from visiting and exposing themselves.

    So my fever started dropping this morning, and I am in the process of emerging from my persona non grata chrysalis having showered, exchanged jammies for healthy people clothes, and gone a first round of negotiations with my stomach, which decided food is allowed in again, and has delivered enough calories to my brain to put two sentences together, although clearly not enough to stop rambling ones.

    So I’m all about getting down the calories tonight, but wanted to pause before locking into pate goose mode to say I enjoyed your last post and will have more to say tomorrow!


    So sorry about the flu. I don’t do vaccines, not a paranoia issue, just think the risks marginally outweigh the benefits. Could be wrong.
    Last flu I had was the two bucket flu in the Northwest Territories in 2003, so named because it felt like one barfed two buckets a day. Apparently vaccines are not effective against isolated community strains:( The Inuit seem to get quite sick from the vaccines. Go figure.
    Glad you are on the mend.
    I thought I was much better until I took a 3 block walk and had to take a bus back. In bed for 3 days mostly. Looks like no work for me this year.
    Luckily I will be fine financially although much finer if I did work. It is that I get very bored not getting out and my apt has never been so dishevelled. To top it all off a big bang came from the condo upstairs and 4 plates jumped off the shelf and shattered. Ugly.

    Glad you can eat again. I am starting to cook again. The best meal I had in the hospital was a (cold) toaster waffle. Strangely enough I had never eaten a waffle. Bought a pkg of frozen waffles and they were good but being freezer challenged and a bit cheap I bought a waffle iron from Walmart. Love it. Plop in some pancake batter or bisquick batter and voila 2 minutes later a waffle. Going to try fancier one of these days but today it is Kenji’s mac and cheese waffles. Nothing ventured nothing gained:)


    Just found this. Can claim no in-depth research. Just Google and this was the first link:

    “On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivered an apology and the Canadian government announced a compensation package, one month after President Ronald Reagan made similar gestures in the United States. The package for interned Japanese Canadians included $21,000 to each surviving internee, and the re-instatement of Canadian citizenship to those who were deported to Japan.”


    I had no idea the Japanese were interned in Canada during WW2 until you mentioned it. Sounds like they had at least as rough a time as U.S. Japanese. Compensation for both groups was so small compared to what was taken. Honestly, I don’t think I learned any Canadian history at all during my formal education.

    I also googled beans in Native American history. Generally, it appears the further north you go, the fewer tribes were growing anything, including beans. I assumed the Plains cultures wouldn’t be growing stuff, and most weren’t, but a few tribes in Montana and North Dakota surprisingly were growing beans. Tribes up the New England coast were growing the three sisters, but other than that it looks like it was mainly certain tribes on the south states that were growing beans for supper. My roots are from the Mexican border, and I just assumed everyone with ancestors in North America had a variety of bean traditions in their cuisine. Live and learn.

    I’m with you on the canned beans. They are more treacherous than home cooked. And less tasty. My personal foodie trail has had me hanging out with chickpeas more for the last several years. I like that chickpeas are really flexible recipe-wise and are straightforward to cook in a PC. I enjoy my own lentil soup or salad recipes but not so much ones I’m served. Cranberry beans and small red beans are fabulous. I plan to jazz up my family’s Mexican pot beans by mixing the traditional pintos with some Rancho Gordo heirloom ones, but only when my taste buds put in an appearance again. Today they are still on walkabout.


    Our posts crossed, I think.

    Some sympathy feels good. Truely.

    It really is disheartening to be stuck in the sack for days on end while you home silts up and dirty dishes accumulate. And friends on vacation. Argh! I know this exercise well and never feel reconciled to it.

    I’m sorry your back regressed. I don’t know if this is a new thing you are learning to manage or an old one. I had to live around a soft tissue chronic back issue for several years until I replaced almost all my furniture with back-friendly stuff, so I understand how back pain can be really limiting. I hope you find whatever works for you before too long. :-/

    Glad you are back to cooking. Aromas of cooking are nurturing.

    I’m not surprised about native flu strains and vaccines. Here a new single national vaccine is formulated each year based on what are predicted to be the most predominant strains that year — isolated strains affecting small populations need not apply.

    A hot, fresh waffle would go down like a treat about now. Feel better, friend.


    It is both. My previous back pain had disappeared for the winter with TENS but became much worse. And new lower back pain occurred at the same time. Plus all my stomach and back muscles were horribly sore. I could barely get out of bed and was subsisting on bread and cheese for about 8 days before I went to the hospital.
    I consider myself lucky to have been reasonably pain free up until 6 years ago and still possibly better than most my age. Pretty sure this too will pass:)
    Never heard of back friendly furniture. Not at all sure it would help as it is the walking that does me in.

    Thanks for the link on Canadian internees, at least we did something. Canada is notorious for mistreatment of aboriginals and non Caucasian immigrants. Some newspaper reports that were widely available have since been expunged. No amount of reparation can make up for a ship sunk offshore and people cheering as it went down.

    I made the Mac and cheese waffle and it was as good as something in the melted cheese line gets. Decadent. But what a mess in my waffle iron and counter (should have put a tray under). The upside was the mess consisted of melted cheese fat. Was good but won’t be doing that again soon. Waffle iron still kind of greasy. Regular waffles will be just fine.


    @Helen, been busy getting back to work while still not at 100%. Slowly getting back control of the many systems that go to pieces when I can’t be bothered to do much for a week. Getting there.

    A week on bread and cheese? Hope the cheese was good, decadent cheese! ;-)

    Every fall I promise myself I’ll keep a batch of chicken soup in the freezer for if I get sick, and I don’t do it because the freezer is too crowded — and I’ve been pretty healthy. This winter I’ve finally made headway on changing my shopping habits so as to stop filling it up, so there is hope of keeping at least chicken carcasses in there going forward. In a few minutes I’m off to my food co-op to get chicken soup fixings. Chicken soup signals normalcy to my body and mind. Time to make some. Not much else going on. Just retrenching, healthwise, homewise.

    TENS units can be surprisingly effective. They are miraculous little gadgets. No drugs, no side effects, just pain relief. I used one for a few months decades ago. A nice alternative, if it addresses the problem. I hope your back continues to improve and waffles are flying out of your kitchen like baby carrots in the school lunchroom on days raw vegetable cups are served. (Adolescent boys at tables turn them into intercontinental ballistic missiles if not watched closely.)


    Just cracked open my first bottle of the 2015 harvest of California olive oil. Mmmm, buttery, peppery, mild artichoke and almonds, so much personality and complexity compared to its older brother currently clocking in at a year and 4 months old, and about to be poured down the sink. So grateful the U.S. (California) finally developed good quality olive oil production in quantities sufficient to share, and has managed to mantain it despite the drought.

    @Laura, how did the Italians fare with their 2015 olive oil harvest? Better than the previous year? We get mostly news about immigration here, understandably.


    about 3 years ago i slipped on the ice and landed on my shoulder. i couldn’t lift my arms enough to put on a shirt. i found i was intolerant of magnetic imaging (mri) and also to the electro-magnetic treatments they use.

    a co-worker told me about /tens/ units and i ordered a very modestly priced one from amazon–about $25 for a whole kit. i used it for a week (which is a l.o.n.g. time for my patience quotient) and nothing. but for some reason i kept using it for 1-4 10-minute sessions per day for 2-3 months. one thing that helped is that the unit is very portable and i could use it at work where i sat for 12 hours at a time.

    anyway, without noticeable results it was so gradual, i came to realize that my range of movement had nearly recovered to 100% sometime after about 3 months use.

    mine gathered dust and batteries died for the next two years when i moved my head wrong or slept wrong and woke up with a very painful ‘nerve-pinch’ in my neck. i tried ointments and creams and heat and none really provided more than temporary relief. then i remembered the /tens/ unit and started using it again for 1-4 10-minute sessions and again, so gradually i detected no progress, one day i just noticed the pain was gone. this last one took about 2-3 weeks.

    so, i’d recommend them with reservations. they can be dangerous or painful if you get stupid with the placement or the intensity.



    I got my first TENS unit in the late 70’s and still have it. But I now have two quad channel LGmed ones.
    5 years ago I started experiencing thoracic spine pain from osteoarthritis or general wear and tear depending on the doctor. I was taking a fair amount of pain killers/NSAIDS. The TENS UNIT let me get through the day without them. The second one has Interferential current as well and practically eliminated the pain. Before this happened I had no pain for several months.

    Now my thoracic pain is much worse and I have a lot of lumbar pain as well. Not sure how much help the TENS Etc. is but hopefully it helps. Doesn’t look like I will be working this year though:(


    I used a TENS when muscle imbalances kept pulling the base of one rib out of its proper position in my spine, or so the chiropractor said. I’d gotten used it holding my back in a certain way as a result of the pain, and needed to stop feeling the pain to allow the muscles to relax back into a healthy balance, and stop pulling on that rib. Sounds crazy, but the TENS really did the trick. They’re great little gadgets.

    Okay, I’ll venture out on thin ice, here. I have a few bits of arthritis that I don’t feel as long as I follow a Mediterranean diet. Supposedly it ends up being anti-inflammatory to eat this way, and it seems to work that way for me. Specifically, the absence of meat seems helpful. Okay, yes, we’ve all had our fill of people preaching about what we shouldn’t eat, and I think if one more person comes to my dinner table ticking off all the perfectly healthy food substances they won’t touch, I will start breaking plates. It may be one cannot broach this topic without causing stress. I’m just say’in, it’s maybe one more tool in the toolbox. ‘Nuf said.

    So, got my dishes and laundry done, got my chow made and my taste buds back and am starting to feel on-track again. Ready for Monday.


    I always appreciate advice from normal people although I do not feel obligated to follow it.
    Apparently I have a lumbar compression fracture which is good to know but leaves me wondering why an entire hospital and at least 5 doctors/specialists failed to see it for 4 months. In fact my regular doctor printed the report that diagnosed it for me and failed to mention it. Diet won’t help this but of course is important for other issues.

    I looked up the Mediterranean diet and I have been on far harder regimes but food seems to be one of my primary sources of pleasure right now dammit.
    I read about different autoimmune and anti-inflammatory protocols but have not had the mental fortitude to give them a try plus so many contradictions.
    I don’t eat much beef and didn’t eat much mystery meat prior to my back incident:)
    Unfortunately I don’t digest whole grains or nuts well and can get a fair chunk of pain in my stomach from them. I used to disdain white bread, not for health reasons but for it’s lack of flavour/texture/variety. Now I order whole grains in restaurants as occasionally as it is a luxury :) and I do like my butter and while I rarely salt food at the table well spinach needs it IMO and broccoli is just fine as it comes.

    I understand about the urge to break plates and I know a lot of people are just being finicky (Amazing the amount of people who hate veg and seem quite healthy) but there seems to be a very real increase in food allergies/intolerance. Appears to double every year in my experience. One theory is that it is due to excessive use of antibacterial sprays and antibiotics killing symbiotic bacteria.
    Used to be an American obsession mainly but it seems we Canadians have caught up. (I see more Americans than Canadians where I work in summer)

    My big objective in cooking is trying something different, healthy or not. While I probably won’t do it again I actually made Kraft Dinner in the pressure cooker and it was pretty good in a disgusting kind of way:) better than stovetop. Of course I haven’t eaten Kraft Dinner in 30 years. Bought an occasional pack and ended up throwing it out without cooking. (NOt what I made the macaroni messy but delicious waffles with, that was Kenji)

    Another factor in what I eat is a hunter gatherer thing. Hard to resist a 50% off or greater which is why my freezer is still two damn full but I am actually making a bit of progress in filling it with healthier foods. But years of thrifty shopping habits for meat and poultry and fish are hard to break. I have been avoiding store that sell halibut trim because I still have some but.. it is the season.

    Glad you are feeling better and your tastebuds are back in shape: I have actually been curious about why you gave up beef/pork and not chicken/fish so nice to know.


    I think you are calling me normal people, Helen, which shows how deceiving online impressions can be! ;-) Seriously, when I share my experiences, it is not intended to advise you, but rather to enrich your database of possibilities. Please do not construe in my sharing an assumption that I know what is best for you. I am sure I do not.

    My answer to your question may make more sense if you understand a bit more about me. I was sick a lot with colds and flu when young because of a bad diet. By the time I had my own food budget in college, I was ready to start changing my diet to avoid getting sick so often. And then about 10 years later I was erroneously diagnosed with a serious illness, and I lived for a year with the despair of seeing nothing good ahead. In that time, I felt I would do anything to be healthy again. Happily, I got a second chance at a healthy life. As a result, I’m probably more willing than many people to give up foods I enjoy if it helps my body.

    Why give up beef/pork? In college, vegetarianism was trendy and red meat was considered particularly unhealthy in some circles (heart disease, colon cancer, etc.), so I never got into the habit of buying and cooking red meat. I did keep bacon or a pork hock in the freezer to toss into the occasional pot of beans, but stopped when processed meats were judged even more unhealthy. So that left chicken or fish, to answer your question.

    Later, before ObamaCare, when buying private health insurance in the U.S. was a big problem, I wanted to decrease the probability of needing medical care. In the U.S., the most long-lived and healthy population studied was Seventh-day Adventists — vegetarians — and the ones that included fish fared best. However, I knew I wouldn’t stick to the pesca-vegetarian route for long. A bit of cheese and real eggs go a long way toward keeping a diet interesting. The Mediterranean diet is similar to the pesca-veg one, but, as you know, does allow small quantities of these ingredients as well as poultry once a week and red meat once a month. It seemed like a workable compromise.

    As it has turned out, I often don’t get around to the poultry or red meat because monitoring them in the fridge to make sure they get cooked before spoiling and preparing only one serving feels like too much work. About three times a winter I crave chicken wild rice vegetable soup and make a pot. I’ll bake chicken pieces for dinner guests 2-3 times a year, so they’re not always getting served fish at my place. I’ll enjoy a few hamburgers a year socially and will eat the occasional steak or roast which family or friends — rarely — serve me. Maybe a serving of pork chile verde enchiladas from the co-op steam table once a year just because I can. And that’s all I need. I don’t feel deprived from day to day.

    I enjoy the Mediterranean diet and the way my body feels and performs on it. So it hasn’t been hard to stick with it. For my bones, I do consume more dairy than it prescribes — you gotta do what you gotta do. It IS confusing to know what is best with so much conflicting information. I tend to place confidence in epidemiological studies. There are arguments against this, but I don’t care — works for me.

    I can relate to wanting the pleasure of one’s favorite foods, especially after a challenging day. As you point out, a healthy diet doesn’t fix or prevent everything. Having some reliable pleasure fixes other, also important, things.

    Well, your compression fracture news bites, as Millennials would say. I read that the pain often subsides over time with no further medical intervention. Hopefully sooner than later, right? I hope you have or can find a medical professional that you can trust in working with this injury. I’ve long envied Canadians their national health plan, but the oversight/negligence you described does take the shine off it.

    I can relate to enjoying one’s thirfty shopping skills. It DOES feel like hunting/gathering, doesn’t it? It must gratify some basic primeval instinct to stuff the freezer with good stuff. Now you’ve got me jealous of your access to halibut trim again.

    On the cooking front, my experiment with adding heirloom San Franciscano beans to pinto beans was a success — added some nice complexity and flavor notes to otherwise boring pot beans. I usually “chef up” beans to keep them interesting, but it’s been a busy spring, and I want to keep it simple for a while. Adding posh beans keeps it simple AND tasty. Always glad to put something new in my bag of tricks!


    @Suzanne. Quite the wee post but enjoyable and informative. I had to look up Obama Care. Our health plan was very good when people were poorer. It was actually started in the depression I believe. But in the last 20 years a work to rule campaign was started by doctors in response to adamant refusal of the government to improve compensation. I am not sure who I agree with but I know that Canada used to be much kinder to some of the downtrodden. So probably lean towards the doctors.

    Since moving back to Vancouver for the winters I have been eating more healthy than in the north. There are places it is hard to acquire an onion or a potato.
    And the pressure cooker really encourages less prepared food. But the last 3 months have been sandwiches and nuked a lot.

    Before the pressure cooker and sous vide I rarely ate beef and not a lot of pork. I enjoyed it when I had it but was not especially craving it. I kind of overloaded on beef during a previous Kenji phase:) I started to feel a bit stuffed just thinking of it.

    And I have always loved veg. I ate more veg than anything as a child. Big bowl of greens or corn or turnip was my idea of a midnight snack.

    Anyway I am sort of thinking of the Mediterranean diet to the point of severely limiting my butter to start. (fell of the butter wagon yesterday because of my recurring freezer problem and made garlic Wild Argentinian Prawns). Best frozen Prawns I have ever eaten and supposedly a sustainable healthy choice.

    My freezer stopped working right on Sunday and started working on Tues. But I bit the bullet because it was a big PITA to cycle the food to my fridge freezer to keep it frozen so I jumpered the control panel to make it go constantly. Got the part yesterday and it worked. Should have done it months ago. Dumbass is me.
    Expensive part though.

    Here is a recipe that made me immediately think of you and my desire to actually go to a Trader Joes. http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/pressure-cooker-israeli-couscous/
    Can’t get that in Canada at a reasonable price:) I am very jealous of your Trader Joe’s access. Not always about the price:)

    For your next chicken rice soup maybe try Halal chicken if available. I have read it is pretty high standard and in Walmart at least the same price. SO I bought one and cooked it finally about a week ago. Tastiest chicken I can recall eating ever.

    As you can see I am cooking again. I am going to try and get pinto beans and Israeli couscous just to see.


    Your mention of halibut trim inspired me to pick up some cod trim from Trader Joe’s and make a simple garlicky provencal fish stew several nights this week. Not a PC recipe, but fast enough, and just the thing for the raw, wet windy days we’ve had.

    Trader Joe’s IS great and you are sensible to envy it. :-) It’s a bit insane for a fish eater like me to be living in the landlocked upper Midwest. Trader Joe’s helps — its frozen Alaska sockeye salmon and cod are good quality and are staples, along with Quebec blueberries. It is impressive how this store quickly brings in good quality new products that health-oriented buyers want. They are more responsive and agile that way than the huge local struggling supermarkets.

    However, our natural foods co-ops — we have many in this area — compete with TJ, Whole Foods and Costco in sales of organics and natural foods. The co-ops created and built the market for these products in our region long before the corporate giants swept in and sucked up much of the growth when demand heated up. I try to spend at least 2/3 of my food dollar at my food co-op. I feel guilty shopping at TJ, but their fish prices are hard to resist.

    I’ll try a halal chicken sometime. Thanks for the tip. And thanks for the recipe link. I may try making it with bulger wheat.

    Quite handy, what you did with that freezer. As you were in pain around the time it started acting up, it’s no surprise you didn’t see the solution then. I’m not clever when I hurt. It’s impressive that you fed yourself in bed for two weeks and came out of it ready to cook Mac and cheese waffles! ;-)

    Your verve and energy for experimenting with new foods and recipes will be such an asset if you decide you want to shift your diet. I felt an umami gap when I went plant-based, which prompted many experiments in new foods and techniques. I’ll enjoy reading about what you try.


    Not much verve and energy these days. The waffles were a biggy by current standards. But I am determined to do a lot of my shopping from my cupboards and freezer.

    Bit of a setback today as I went to the Lonsdale Quay market and they had skate wing. I have not seen skate for perhaps 30 years. Used to be everywhere. And it was cheap by fish standards including trim. Often I look up pressure cooker recipes out of curiosity and none were found. Unusual.

    Inspired by your post I looked up (once again ) homemade Umami Paste and found this. looks interesting and I have all the ingredients except my miso paste is not red.

    Homemade Umami Paste: The Condiment You Can’t live Without

    and the last sentence in this short video is probably why I persist:) http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/five-easy-umami-boosters

    Tried bulgur in the 90’s and didn’t care for it. Will probably try again. But I have several type things to use first. Quinoa and couscous etc.


    Bulger can be gritty. It’s not been a staple for me, but I’ve had it in the back of my mind to try making couscous salads with it if I can get it properly softened. That’s an experiment for summer. Uncooked whole wheat couscous usually smells rancid to me, so I’ve not cooked any.

    What did you decide to do with that skate wing? I know Italians eat it, so Laura might have a recipe for you. Never tried it.

    I stockpile food in my pantry and freezer in fall, and then work at using it up in spring. A old habit from growing up in the mountains where you could get snowed in for weeks. So I am doing more grocery shopping at home these days, too. Isn’t it a nice feeling to see some space opening up and know you don’t have to cram stuff in?

    One thing I experimented with this winter was freezing vegetables that prevent me from spontaneously using a recipe when I don’t have them. Mixed success. Zucchini and peppers retain their flavors and textures pretty well in the freezer. Fresh cilantro and parsley, not so much. Fennel was somewhere in between. One more strategy in my bag of tricks.

    I haven’t watched your video yet, but will soon. I should have mentioned above that experimentation has put more umami into my mostly vegetarian kitchen, so the picture is not dismal. I just have to give more thought and effort to creating umami than someone who can slap a steak into a skillet. Will follow any reports on umami paste making with interest.


    The skate I fried in brown butter with capers and was most disappointed. did not taste scallopy at all. A bit goopy. But you buy your fish and take your chances. Definitely a Mediterranean dish but sadly over fished much to my dismay. (Didn’t know that when I bought it) I shall quiz the fish guy next time I am by:) Still I buy salmon from Walmart on occasion so who am I to talk.

    It is currently a big luxury to be happy with my freezer working and not putting as much in as I am taking out. Want to set up a (mostly) FIFO system but skeptical of my self discipline. I do have labeled bins but…

    I freeze a lot of produce. Peppers I cut in half, deseed and freeze, tomatoes I cut of the stem area because who wants to do that to a frozen tomato. Celery which I only use a bit of freezes really well. I cut the stalks in quarters because long stalks are awkward. Must try zucchini.

    All things umami do not require meat. Some of it is texture combined with ingredients. I make meat sauce or sloppy Joe’s with vegan ground often when entertaining a vegan and my sister who might spit it out if she knew it was vegan:). Not that she hates veg just I know it would immediately lose some of it’s luster.

    Interesting about the mountain thing. Before going North I mostly froze for convenience (big bag of stuffed mushrooms or single portion reheatable meals) or to avoid waste. Working to get back to that with more emphasis on health etc. We shall see:)


    Your skate wing story made me laugh. Things like encounters with gooey skate wing are the price we pay for being adventuresome. When I was living on the cheap in college, I noticed I could get a big box of fish called “lutefisk” for a very reasonable price. So I plugged this defrosted fish into a Carribean fish curry recipe. This ranks as the most disgusting cooking failure of my life. Smelled horrible in the pot, drove my roommates out of the house, and had a very strange texture. Turns out lutefisk is a Scandinavian traditional dish that is fish soaked in lye until it turns gelatinous. It’s an acquired taste even in Scandinavia. Not even our house dogs would touch it. This is the dark side of the culinary quest.

    Your sloppy Joe recipe must be pretty good if you can slip vegan ground past your sister!

    I used to pick roma tomatoes at my food co-op’s farm and froze some several seasons, but found them almost flavorless when defrosted. Probably just my taste.

    Not sure what FIFA means. Glad you are enjoying your freezer again.


    @Suzanne FIFO is first in first out.
    Not saying they are as good as fresh and I am happy with canned esp. some of the newer Hunts types. But If my tomatoes are getting old I freeze them and make sauce eventually. Always been good and sometimes excellent.

    My ‘recipe’ is generally St. Ives ground and some Manwich sauce. Maybe some onions, garlic and peppers although my sister would probably pick out the peppers. I have Romanian friends, the national vegetable in Romania is pork BTW:) and one who was my roommate at the time asked me if he could have some of my pasta sauce. Loved it.
    We pretty much shared our food ad he loves a lot of things I make, big on fruit but squash or turnip disgust him. Oddly he likes beans/legumes.

    I have never been tempted by lutefisk. You might enjoy this.

    Guy looks a bit like my former Romanian roommate:)


    Too funny! Finally had the time with the band width to watch this.

    It pretty much captures my experience. I was surprised he took that second bite after his face looked so pained during the first one.

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