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Old 03-09-2006, 10:44 AM   #21
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having complained above, I must admit there are 4 or 5 places other than my home where I know I can find what I need to cook as I like: my sis, a buddy from high school who lives in south central VA, a buddy from college who lives in Balt. MD, a professor from college, a colleague I work with at school, yup that's about it.
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Old 03-09-2006, 11:08 AM   #22
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I'll second using the Knife Safe. I've been using them since I bought my "good knives" and I frequently take them to places where I'm not sure the cutlery will be sharp.

Paul
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Old 03-10-2006, 07:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy
I often find myself cooking in others' kitchens, even if it is just finishing up my contribution to a potluck. My ... well, I won't even call it a pet peeve .... more just a case of "I wonder." How do people cook without a decent knife? What do you find lacking in friends' and relatives' kitchens that you find essential in your own?
I generally refuse to do it. Since most of my cooking is on the grill or in a smoker...well, let's just say that I've invested *considerably* more into my grills and my smoker than my friends have and the end result is a get what you pay for sort of deal with regards to the hardware ( My best friend's only grill.... My primary grill--or at least it would look that way if it were clean right now..'nuff said). On those rare occasions it can't be avoided (travel, cooking at their place since they have a broken leg or the like, etc.) I've found that it's just best to travel with my own utensils.

Macy's has a great grill tool kit that comes in a stainless steel case so I don't have to deal with lousy grill utensils. I've got a full set of ceramic knives I had someone make a travel pouch for me to hold, so I bring those with me (nothing worse than a dull knife), and if the other person's house is local as opposed to halfway across the country, I'll usually bring a couple of signature items from my own shelves instead of using what they have or hoping they have it (aged balsamic, my homemade spice infused olive oils, etc.). It's all the little things people just don't think of. I give them the same recipe I use and they wonder why it doesn't taste as good when they make it--ya try to tell them the 3 dollar bottle of olive oil they got doesn't cut it, nor do their dry herbs and that there are other forms of salt in the world besides Morton's iodized...and they give ya a blank look like you're mad for suggesting they spend an extra few bucks :P.

I'm just too picky and too much of a perfectionist to rely on inferior equipment...it drives me mad.

*Edit: Oh, and a probe thermometer. How people get by without one...I'll never know.
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:41 PM   #24
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Oh, I really feel sorry for you. If you can only cook under perfect conditions, perfect utensils, and perfect ingredients, you are missing some of the most fun, spontaneous food in the world.

Even with my pet peeve, truly bad knives!
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Old 03-10-2006, 10:55 PM   #25
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Oh, I *can* cook without perfect conditions...but I don't really enjoy it. I like the science of food; it's fun to me. Years ago, I was pleased when I would make something and it'd just...yanno, turn out. I (and my pallate) have really gotten to the point where the subtle differences really make all the difference in the world to me with regards to taste, now. Nowadays, someone can list a food item and I can conjure up a basic recipe in my head for how to make almost anything mentioned as opposed to my youth when I knew how to make mac and cheese, and everything else required a cookbook--doesn't do it for me. It's having the perfect, the ultimate, dish that really gets me going. I've at some point moved beyond just cooking and into ornate and premium style masterpieces
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Old 03-11-2006, 01:15 AM   #26
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Exclamation

Roy, omg, do i have a story for you, re: horrible knives.

a friend once invited me over to dinner, as her daughter was auditioning for a special cooking/restaurant-ing high school program, which required her to prep a meal for 4 & photograph all the steps for a presentation. i'm in the living room chatting with my friend, when i hear this loud clacking noise... sure enough, the kiddo is hacking away at an asian pear, which was supposed to be thinly sliced & fanned out as garnish at the side of a salad, using a crappy ol steak knife. i almost passed out. at this point, we embarked on basic knife safety skills & selection 101, switching the steak knife out for the chefs knife, and the hacking for smooth even slices. the only things available were horrible cheap dull-as-fillibustering SERRATED knives (as in, yes, everything from the chefs to the utility was serrated) in a cheapo set.

after this example of my apparent knowledge, the kiddo asks me if her mom's insistance that (sit down here, people) plain canola-blend cooking oil would sub fine for extra-virgin olive oil in 2 different recipies she was using was a good idea. my look of horror must have been eloquent enough, because after that, we got to bust out the tiny bottle of evoo that got sent with a gift basket that xmas.

needless to say, my friend doesn't care much for cooking. i offered to take the kiddo for boot camp cooking at my house whenever she wanted.
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Old 03-11-2006, 09:46 AM   #27
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I love cooking stories, and that's a good one! I'm always flattered when people ask me to cook, and helping out in the kitchen is always my first choice of "chores" that need to be done when visiting others' homes. Certain niece & nephews always want to "help" Auntie Claire and there's always something they can do. But I must say, I'm thinking of bringing my own knives on my next trip south!
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Old 03-11-2006, 11:18 AM   #28
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" give them the same recipe I use and they wonder why it doesn't taste as good when they make it--ya try to tell them the 3 dollar bottle of olive oil they got doesn't cut it, nor do their dry herbs and that there are other forms of salt in the world besides Morton's iodized...and they give ya a blank look like you're mad for suggesting they spend an extra few bucks :P."

yo popinfresh...the case for me was not a cheap bottle of olive oil, but a rancid one...left on the window sill and years old!!! and not dry herbs, but bottles of herbs a decade or more old...no flavor left...just dust. I'm sure you've come across that scene, and yes, things just don't work.

Because I do private chef work I often get, "make that dish we had..." and I look through the kitchen and try to recommend something far simpler based on what I see in the kitchen or pantry.
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Old 03-11-2006, 02:40 PM   #29
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Urgh, nothing worse than rancid oil.

I'm in the same boat with regards to people "wanting" one thing...and getting something else due to what they have (or don't have, as is more often the case). People have "expectations" of my dishes at this point...and while I can at least make dry herbs that have been kept in decent climate and lack of light work "well enough" by just rubbing them before putting them in the bowl/pot/whatever to get what few essential oils are still in them going, it's amazing how many people have herbs that are just too far gone to be anything but confetti and then wonder why their food doesn't have any herb flavor :P.

People are good learners, though :). I have a friend I see once a year in Hawaii that usually ropes me into creating at least one dinner while I'm visiting. Anytime I go down there now, he's always got a crisper full of fresh herbs waiting for me so he doesn't have to hear my grumbling in the kitchen about his stocks :P. Changing the world one eater at a time..
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Old 03-12-2006, 06:30 PM   #30
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I have some friends that I will cook at and not bother bringing anything. Kitchenelf and I get to cook together on a regular basis, and I know that I don't need to bring anything with me when I go there, unless I feel like my knives might need retouching.
On the other hand I have friends who's houses are a nightmare to cook at. When that is the case, I bring my sontoku with me, I'm comfortable enough with it to prep anything.
Another one of my friends has a decent kitchen and I'm sure that it will continue to get better.
Overall I think that everyone likes good food, somepeople just don't think that they would be capable of making it. Sometimes I think that it is the tools that they work with that makes it. You can saw wood witha ginszoo knife, but I don't know if you would like the results.
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