Category: opinion (page 1 of 4)

Allow Me To Ruin Your Favorite 90’s Movies

Allow me ruin your favorite 90’s movies by watching them for the first time in my mid 30’s and writing a brief synopsis.

There are a lot of movies from the 90’s (and late 80’s) that I didn’t watch. Growing up my parents were strict about what we could watch. Thankfully, not quite as strict as my friend whose parents drew all sorts of funky conclusions between Disney movies and the devil.

We all had that friend whose house we’d watch some of those movies, anyway, and read Cosmo magazines. But, for the most part, I didn’t watch a lot of movies.

One of my favorite things to do is watch famous 90’s movies for the first time as an adult. It’s cathartic. Some of the movies still resonate surprisingly well while others make you wonder how anyone thought they was funny.

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I Have Some Thoughts On The Bachelorette.

There’s a few things I want to say about this season of The Bachelorette. 

(This may sound familiar if you follow me on Twitter).

If I was the Bachelorette. . . 

  • Everyone named Luke has to go home immediately.
  • Peter never makes it past the first episode.
  • If one of the contestants made an entrance having the producers deliver him in a big box during the intro episode, I would simply not open the box.
  • Anyone who introduces themself with “I’m king of the jungle and I’m hoping we can change your title to My Queen” has to leave immediately because Cersei takes no kings.
  • But if he introduces himself with his mouth full of a hotdog that he’s eating, he gets to stay because I’d probably do that too.
  • I would turn the first group date into a Chopped competition where Alex Guarnaschelli and I are the only judges. The theme would be nachos. 
  • All of the solo dates would take place in a spa and begin with 90-minute massages. Any attempt at romantically switching places with the professional massage therapist will be considered voluntary terminations.
  • At least one group date would be a Quickfire Challenge where everyone has to make a different type of bruschetta. There will be no Last Chance Kitchen.
  • Some of the group dates will be technical challenges that I’d kick off by screeching, “ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, BAKE!”

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12 Things At Restaurants That I Love & Hate

The inspiration for this post is a recent dining experience where I could smell the bathroom air freshener from our table in the dining room. The scent was so strong that I could taste it in my mouth when we walked outside after the meal. This post is also inspired by our favorite restaurants who make us feel at ease and serve great meals time and again.

In no particular order, here are 12 things restaurants do that I love and hate:

I wrote a similar post about grocery stores in 2015. 

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Everything I’ve Always Wanted To Say About French Fries

I have a lot of opinions about French Fries.

  1. Bad french fries are better than no french fries.
  2. Even bad fries are still good fries.
  3. Steak fries are trash.
  4. Crinkle cuts are one step above steak fries. Only exception: Saint Dinette (more below)
  5. Matchstick fries are mostly trash. If I wanted a tin of shoestring potatoes, I’d buy a tin of shoestring potatoes.
  6. Waffle fries are fun, but typically not good enough to deserve an up-charge. They should be served with sour cream dip that tastes like Top the Tater.
  7. Seasoned wedge fries are two steps above steak fries.
  8. Arby’s curly fries are their own thing. I like Arby’s curly fries.
  9. The best thing to dip your fries in is whatever you like to dip your fries in.
  10. Generic pre-frozen french fries can be elevated with a good deep fry job + proper seasoning.
  11. Burgers should always come with fries. If they don’t, the burgers should be cheap, or, the fries, really really good.
  12. Restaurants that charge an extra fee to swap potato chips for fries are the worst.
  13. Housemade fries prepared with care are the best.

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10 Things I Learned In Culinary School (That I Still Use Today)

It’s been three years since I attended culinary school in Moorhead, Minnesota. We were offered the opportunity to move to Iowa for my husband’s job right after I completed my first full-time year. While I have decided not to jump back into school again, I learned a lot that year that I continue to practice every day in my happiest place, my home kitchen. Here are some of my favorite tidbits of knowledge our culinary instructors taught us:

The first rule of culinary school: A falling knife has no handle. Seriously, friends. If you drop a knife, just step back and let it fall.

Be patient and let bread rise twice, once for flavor, twice for structure. Don’t rush the process unless you want messed-up bread. If you’re going for flatbread, that could be a different story.

Purchase “dry” or “dry-packed scallops.” Dry scallops are scallops, plain and simple. Wet scallops are soaked in sodium triphosphate solution that adds water weight and affects the flavor. Because wet-packed scallops absorb the solution, they are waterlogged when thawed and difficult to sear. Don’t hesitate to ask your fish monger or seafood department manager if they are selling wet or dry scallops. If he or she doesn’t know, buy them from someone who does (or a clearly marked package).

How to prepare dough by feel. Preparing pasta, bread, and pie dough became less intimidating when I could feel when the dough was ready. Our culinary instructors walked us through the processes, but the rest of the learning came from practice. Eventually, you will just be able to handle a dough and tell if it’s too wet, too dry, or just right.

Pie crusts aren’t scary! I didn’t attempt making pie crust before culinary school because I was afraid I’d ruin it. One morning in baking lab, I made pie after pie alongside my culinary instructor. It was one of my favorite learning experiences. I loved how she didn’t handle pie and scone dough too delicately. Her approach was not to stress too much. “Many people get themselves into trouble because they don’t add enough water,” she shared. Instead of sticking to recipe’s strict number of tablespoons of ice water, I add it until the dough holds together.

Make the leftover pie crust dough into something special. The excess pie crust you trim will become too tough if you try to roll it out again into another pie. Simply, do as our instructors taught us: Roll the dough into a flat sheet and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. Bake and enjoy!

I can make roux in my sleep. At the time, I wasn’t enthusiastic about my soup and sauce class. Twice a week, we raced to the back room to drag out the portable gas burners and made roux-based sauce after roux-based sauce. It was the last class of the day, and so we always tried to pair-up with a competent partner and make that day’s assignment as quickly as possible. In hindsight, I have no idea why we were in such a hurry. The best part of this class is that I can make a creamy, roux-based sauce in my sleep. Biscuits and homemade gravy? No problem! A complex, savory veloute made from the drippings on the bottom of my crock pot? Easy enough. Mac & cheese sauce? Got it.

Cool down big pots of soup, safely, in an ice bath. Food safety class was a trip. Our ServSafe Food Handler book literally instructed us not to vomit into food. While this advice was really obvious, other details weren’t, such as the correct holding temperatures of food served inside vs. outdoors, the time frames of how long food can be held at the correct hot and cold temps, and the order food should be arranged in the fridge. Sometimes I wonder if I now too much about food safety for my own good. For example, I take special care to cool down pots of soup as quickly as possible before storing them in the fridge. There is actually a two-stage cooling process to minimize harmful bacteria in which food must be cooled from 141-70°F within two hours and from 70-41°F within four.

Parchment paper is your best friend. Taking the time to trace and cut out parchment paper to line your baking pans ensures easy removal and no damage. I roast my veggies on parchment paper, too. Potatoes have a tendency to stick to my pans. Flipping my baked fries is a breeze when I line my sheet pans with parchment paper.

Many foods can be fixed. There were so many times we ran to our instructors fearing we ruined a dish. They were almost always able to fix things. A few baking disasters were lost causes, but most of the foods were salvageable after playing with the seasonings and textures. Don’t give up. At least, not right away.

What’s your favorite piece of kitchen wisdom? Has a family member, friend, or employer ever given you a piece of cooking advice that you find yourself returning to frequently? 

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