by MooshiMooshi

I have noticed that lots of book oriented or food oriented websites and magazines do a Best Cookbooks of the Year in January. Those lists are useful for deciding which new cookbooks to buy, but one problem is that recent cookbooks haven’t yet passed the test of time. So, I went looking for Best Cookbooks of All Time lists, and found a few. Here is the one on

Introducing the 2015 Epicurious Cookbook Canon

and another on Huffington Post

The Best, Most Useful Cookbooks Of All Time

There are other lists out there as well, many of them more specialized (cooking light, vegan, kid oriented etc). One of the first things I notice is that Joy of Cooking always appears on these lists. I have to ask, why? I’ve owned it in the past, and never used it. The recipes are just not that good.  The other one that commonly appears is Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which I do not own but know very well. I like the book, and I realize that it was an insanely influential book, especially in my mother’s time, but it isn’t that useful on an everyday basis.

I don’t think I own any of the other books on either list. The epicurious list includes “community cookbooks”, and I will admit I own a lot of these, sort of a semi collection, but I would never cook from them because the recipes are usually so awful. Lots of garlic powder and onion soup mix.

So, I decided to list the 10 cookbooks that I actually use.  I am asking everyone to do the same – list your 10 (or 5 or 3) favorite cookbooks. Maybe I will get some good ideas for new purchases this way!

First I realized when I looked at my cookbooks that the ones I really use tend to be specialized. I don’t own or use many of those all around cookbooks. Most of my favorite cookbooks are highly specialized, usually on some type of cuisine. For general purpose, “how long do I roast that?” questions, I usually hit, though I am increasingly a fan of NYTime’s cooking site.

So here is my list, not in any particular order

  1. Gourmet Today
    This is the book that I use when I need to look up, say, how to make basic potato salad or how to roast a lamb leg.
  1. Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking
    We were all absolutely blown away by real Sichuanese food while spending several weeks in Chongqing, and of course wanted to be able to cook it since there weren’t that many restaurants serving it (something that is starting to change btw). For English language books on Sichuanese food, this is the go-to book. Fuschia Dunlop studied at the cooking academy in Chengdu, and learned many of the standard recipes, the real way. Her book on Hunanese cooking is good to (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook), but this one is one of my most consulted books
  1. Indian Cooking, a Golden Cooking Card Book
    This was purchased by my parents at an Asian store in Seattle in the early 70’s. The cards have all fallen out, so I keep them bound together with a rubber band. My mother used to cook from it all the time, and so do I. The Bengali style cabbage and potato dish I know so well that I don’t need any recipe – I can cook it in my sleep. This was published by a Japanese publisher in 1968 (Shufonotomo Ltd), but amazingly, there is a page for the book on Amazon
  1. One Big Table:A Portrait of American Cooking
    This book covers regional American specialties and has some fine recipes.
  1. Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking
    This is a good general purpose overview of classic Chinese recipes.
  1. Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking
    I love Korean food but never thought I could make it myself. Maangchi’s blog, which was around for a couple of years before this book came out, convinced me I could do it (having an HMart helped too).
  1. The Food and Wine of Greece
    In the mid 90’s I visited Greece and much like I did in China, I fell in love with the food. I bought this book when I got back, and a number of the recipes went into our rotation. Which means I rarely pull the book out any more because i can make the dishes without the recipes since I cook them so often. I should get the book down and look for more ideas.
  1. The Best Recipes in the World, Mark Bittman
    I don’t own it but I get it out of the library every so often for ideas
  1. A book in French on basic French cooking, kind of a Betty Crocker for French women type book. I learned all my basic French dishes from this one, things like ratatouille and cassoulet and choucroute garnie. I don’t know where it is now, but I know how to cook those dishes!
  1. My binder of recipes, xeroxed from various sources. A lot of the recipes were my mother’s, but some are ones I found in the pre Internet days, and my DH’s family tourtiere recipe is there too.
  1. and NY Times These days, we keep our recipes in online recipe books. I started using Epicurious around 1995 or so, when it was the poster child for the potential of the Internet. It was truly one of the first commercial sites. These days, I  find the best recipes on the NY Times site, and they have an online recipe box too.

What are your go-to cookbooks?


232 thoughts on “Cookbooks

  1. So the “101 Easy Asian Recipes” I got for Christmas has quickly shot to the top of the list. One big trip to the Asian market to stock up on a bunch of staples, and everything I’ve made has been truly easy and a big hit.

    Joy of Cooking is my default. It’s what I grew up with, my mom gave me a copy when I moved out, and I’m very comfortable with it.

    I also have a recipe box of family recipes that I use. I find I don’t use notecards, though — my handwriting is not nearly neat enough — so I created my own binder that I now stick thing in. This is really my go-to for the stuff I cook frequently, or where I shove things like recipes on NYT that looked good.

    I also use a Mario Batali cookbook for specific Italian recipes I like.

    The others are mostly one-shot deals — I have a New Mexican cookbook for green chile, another New Mexican cookbook for sopaipillas, a Greek cookbook for tzatziki and meatballs, a community cookbook for pumpkin bread, a heavily-modified Libby’s recipe for pumpkin pie, etc. And I have a cookbook that is just called “Pie” for fun. :-)

    I also have Alton Brown’s that i will read when I want to understand techniques and why things work, which of course you need to if you want to change things up. His prime rib recipe made the single-best roast I’ve ever had, and I use that same technique for a lot of things.

    The community cookbooks are great for mixing things up, too. Where else are you going to find six different recipes for pumpkin bread? It helps spot the commonalities and figure out what you can mess with and what probably needs to stay the same.

    And of course now there’s The Lady, which isn’t the same as a stable recipe book, but which nevertheless provides carefully curated, easily recipes.

    Finally, I got Bittman’s “How to Cook Anything” for DD, but she mostly cooks from online recipes. But I still hope she takes it with her and has it as a resource if she at some point really wants to understand the whys and hows.

  2. I love this post!

    Mine are:
    1) Like mooshimooshi, my own binder of random recipes. It has those plastic sheet covers, and tabs for various categories, and then is stuffed with magazine tear outs, copies of recipes from friends, handwritten recipes from various folks, including my grandmother and the mothers of friends I grew up with. Also hand written notes from me on things I can never remember but aren’t really a recipe (how much salt do I put in my green beans?) . I also have in it a list of dinners that the whole family likes – updated periodically – so when I’m drawing a blank on what to do for supper I go pull out the list – oh yeah, haven’t done pan fried flounder in a while, I’ll make that. When I make something new that’s a hit for everyone, I write it on the list.

    2) Dinner a Love Story cookbook. Nothing fancy, but I turn to her recipes again and again.

    3) Ina Garten’s first cookbook, her family style one, and her back to basics one. Again, nothing fancy, but great recipes that I make over and over again in those 3 books. (I do own all her cookbooks, but those are the ones I pull out all the time)

    4) The Chapel Hill Junior League cookbook. I have such a fondness for Jr League cookbooks but this one is my favorite.

    I have a few more but am running to meeting…can’t wait to see what other people post

  3. Hmmm. If I had to answer, a couple of Alton Brown books, a couple of Rachel Ray’s. I use the Betty Crocker one for standard recipes, like how long to hard boil an egg, or how much mayo for chicken salad. And then random things I find online.

  4. Junior League and America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks are always a hit for me. Other than that, I use websites–Pioneer Woman, Allrecipes, Dinner A Love Story, etc.

    I love my random recipes that are organized in folders, Xeroxed from cookbooks, gathered from relatives, etc.

    Lately, cooking has been something that I’ve done in a hurry, thinking “what can I get on the table in the least amount of time?” This weekend might be a good time to slow down and do some enjoyable cooking, for a change.

  5. I’ve got Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything” and really like the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook with all the recipes from the shows in it, but I’ve only had it a few weeks.

    What apps do you all use to store recipes? DH made me a binder but I find I don’t print anything out and at this phase in my life I’m not retyping or writing them down.

  6. Can’t wait to read all the answers, but after this quick peek, I have to meet a work deadline.

    Our biggest “go to” is the binder with sheet protectors – some are even torn out of magazines. Still have my old recipe file box, but those are slowly making their way to electronic and/or in the binder versions. Though I keep a few in my relatives handwritting for sentimental reasons.

    For years, but not lately, I was given the Southern Living Annual Recipes cookbooks. We have several favorites out of there and its nice that they are by month, so they highlight fruit and veg by season. A few of them have enough pages marked they they reside next to the “go to” binder.

    We have a chinese cookbook that most of the cover is worn off, clearly used a lot, not even sure of the name.

    Joy of Cooking – not so much for recipes, but it has the basics in it about what is braising, roasting, etc. that helps supplement recipes that assume you know what that means.

    I have a cookbook of my mom’s from the 1950’s (great for odd potluck dishes – a great one is a layered sandwich, it is always a hit) and one of my grandmothers from the early 1900’s – its hard to follow with the measurements – as handful/dash/pinch – are not what we use today, but were meaningful to them.

    Still browsing instant pot cookbooks, haven’t settled on one yet. But, success with our chili recipe and using it as a slow cooker.

  7. What about apps or websites that you use? For paper, I have How to Cook Everything, one of Alton Brown’s and a couple other ones I hardly open. I’ve switched to the Yummly website/app and the site/app. It is easier for me to research and plan meals while at work. I do my grocery shopping online once a week so having the recipes online helps out.

  8. Betty Crocker
    Joy of Cooking (the original)
    The Top 100 Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed
    The Campus Survival Cookbook…good food for adults and it’s a great launcher for teens once they can cook independently
    Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas

    My kids liked: The Everything Kids Cookbook

  9. We’ve been using the new Food Lab cookbook by the Serious Eats guy a lot. He’s like an even more in depth Alton Brown. I like that Momofuku cookbook but we really only make a few things out of it (the ginger scallion sauce over a pork shoulder is amazing). For most of my recipes I go to Epicurious or Serious Eats and Food Network sometimes (I really do like almost everything I’ve made by Ina Garten). I like the pancake recipe out of Refined American Cuisine by Patrick O’Connell and we use the My Bread book by Jim Lahey when we get on a bread making kick. Dinner a Love Story recipes have only gotten so/so reviews in my house.

  10. I avoid recipes that stink up the house. In the summer, the neighbors will call the cops.
    Hard to sell a house that reeks of cooking.

  11. I am not a big cook, but my favorite cookbooks are Jaimie Oliver’s Naked Chef, Jacques and Julia’s cookbook, and believe it or not my first cookbook: Glamour’s Gourmet on the Run

  12. “I have a cookbook of my mom’s from the 1950’s (great for odd potluck dishes – a great one is a layered sandwich, it is always a hit) ”

    Austin: Can you please post the recipe? I’ve never heard of a layered sandwich/potluck recipe and I’m curious. Sounds delish.

  13. We share recipes on Evernote. You can take a picture of the hardcopy recipe or clip the online recipe. It helps to look at the recipe while shopping if it has weird ingredients.

  14. I have the Better Homes and Gardens book, Alton’s “I’m here for the food” series, The Busy Woman’s Cookbook, my binder of stuff, and The Lady (plus other random books which have hardly been opened). I use the internet, print recipes and storm them in a draft email, so I have easy access.

    Right now The Lady and I work the best. No muss no fuss thinking. And I like that I can sub out a recipe if I don’t want to use the current week’s selections. Next week, 2 recipes required a visit to the local specialty mart. With the snow, I didn’t want to deal, so I subbed out to two favs – a stir fry and quesadillas.

    The other recipes I frequent are in my head, so I really don’t need anything. This weekend, I’ll be making a big batch of sauce (with the “little of this, little of that” mentality), and meatballs (which is another “this sounds good” recipe). And making a cake, because, if I’m going to be snowed/iced in, I’m going to enjoy myself.

  15. **Typical millennial response alert**

    I have no use for cook books.

    If I need specific information (some recent googles that come to mind: what temperature to bake a potato? how do I make bacon in the oven? how do I make my own stock for chicken soup?), I just google it. It’s also nice to watch a quick video if you’re trying to figure out how to prepare a rutabaga or whatever.

    If I’m looking for a recipe, I’ll just search (pancakes, chicken soup, vegetarian chili) and get that added benefit of ratings and helpful tips from others who have used the recipe (“I used 1/3 less salt”).

    I know some people love to have a pretty collection of cook books, but to me, they are just space wasters/dust collectors.

  16. Pvd – I kind of agree with you but they are pretty!

    I have never bought a cook book in my life, DH is the collector (over collector really). He actually buys books like “Bones” and “Fat” and then likes to read them cover to cover so he understands the science behind everything. I just look up recipes online except for certain recipes that I listed above that come out of cook books.

  17. The Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker for the basics – how long to cook something, what temperature is well done, etc. Barefoot Contessa, any Junior League cookbook, Southern Living are my go-to’s when planning a dinner party. My pet peeve is cookbooks without pictures. Something about a good visual is just part of the experience for me. And I confess to being a proud owner of the original 1980’s version of Martha Stewart Entertaining!

  18. Joy of Cooking–it’s my go to reference and basics book.
    Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone–my go to vegetable book.
    A Marcella Hazan Italian cookbook.
    Martha Stewart Quick Cook Menus–but Martha and I have different definitions of quick.
    Bon Appetite, but their recipes for the last few years have gotten really previous. Not my style. Still use the back issues.

    I own three Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and have yet to make anything decent out of any of them. All flops.

  19. Two days ago, I actually found #9, the battered little French cookbook. We were clearing out shelves. It is called La Vraie Cuisine Francaise

  20. For storing online recipes, I use Epicurious’s recipe file feature as well as the NYTimes Cooking recipe file. You can save any recipe to the NYTimes site, and it integrates nicely with Evernote. Both sites let you store notes, too. Since I end up changing everything, that is useful to me.

  21. I often google cooking how tos myself, but it isn’t a time saver because I don’t trust anything on the web so I end up looking at 10 links and trying to decide which is the best one. Sometimes, it is just faster to use a cookbook you know well, like that giant Gourmet book which I listed in #1

  22. I buy physical cookbooks because I read them for ideas. It is true that if I need to know how long to cook a goose for, I will look online. A cookbook, for me, is more than that – a good one has lots of discussion and perhaps gives you insight into the culture, or the ingredients. Some cookbooks have a narrative feel to them. Breath of a Wok is like that.

  23. Joy of Cooking for basics
    A Martha Stewart desserts book – but her buttercream recipes are way too fussy.
    Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe
    One or two recipes from my sister (who is by far the better cook and pastry chef)

    For other stuff, we look it up online.

    I also have quite a collection of Blue Apron recipe cards, now that we’ve been getting those meals. Many I don’t like all the dishes, but are worth keeping for the side or the main dish recipe. Some are just complete and total winners – chicken enchiladas with poblano peppers, their meatball sub.

  24. I’m with Providence. Must be our similar ages. Hahahahaha

    The Lady and The Googles work for me. I’m not much of a cook, though.

  25. When it comes to exercising and cooking, I stand in awe of totebaggers, and this post reaffirms that. One of the last cookbooks I bought (maybe about 20 years ago) was Cooking With Three Ingredients, and I still use some of their ideas. I’ll probably buy an Intant Pot cookbook soon. Joy of Cooking and Fannie Farmer Cookbook used to be my main reference books, but I use the Internet nowadays for that as well as for most recipes. (This from a Baby Boomer!) That being said, I’m getting ideas from this post.

    I have old family or magazine recipes that I keep in a binder, but I need to organize them and all my recipes better. I have a fear that one day the Internet will explode and I’ll lose all my linked recipes. I’ve had Evernote for a few years and still don’t know how to use it except for a few features.

  26. We own a lot of cookbooks but I rarely use them. We tend to google recipes. When we were cleaning out DH’s childhood home, we enjoyed looking through my MIL’s extensive collection of church cookbooks dating back to the 60’s. So many recipes sounded just SO horrible! Concoctions of diced ham, canned asparagus, hard boiled eggs, and canned soup! Salad sections that contained zero vegetables, only fruit glued together with jello and mayonnaise! I find the evolution of “great food” over my lifetime to be so interesting. No wonder no one was fat in the 70’s.

  27. Oh my gosh I will take my cookbooks to bed and read them cover to cover for the pure pleasure of it. A couple years ago I forced myself to clean out and get rid of about 50 that I had but never turned to. Now I’m probably down to 20? Maybe 30. And I LOVE to look at cookbooks at friends’ houses – they always have something wonderful.

  28. The internet is a great resource and I use it all the time. I also have a small file of recipes, usually yellowed newspaper clippings or excepts of discarded out of print cookbooks. But since I was self taught and have been cooking for 50 years, mostly by feel (except for baking or very precise/exotic dishes), I needed references along the way and these are the ones that are still in use.

    Joy of Cooking 1967 – it is not the first edition, but it is what most people mean when they say “original”. It is a reliable reference.

    Fanny Farmer Baking Book. I don’t bake much anymore, but if I want to check on something I refer to it and Joy as well as online. When you google “cornbread” or “apple crisp” or “pie crust”, you get some variant of the recipes in one of these two books.

    Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1. I learned classic French cooking from it and it is still in active use. Vol 2 rarely gets opened.

    The Settlement Cookbook. “The Way to a Man’s Heart’. first published 1903 by a settlement house in Milwaukee. My mother in law’s from 1947. Jewish and other midwestern ethnic group favorites.

    The More with Less Cookbook (Mennonite). I don’t make up my own bisquick in discarded Dunkin Donuts tubs anymore, but tamale pie and cheddar carrot soup were among the items that fed my large family for years. it is still a great source of hearty inexpensive recipes from bulk ingredients.

    The Complete Asian Cookbook, Charmaine Solomon. Can’t live without it.

  29. Do you guys ever do “what’s for dinner this week” posts? I feel like we’re in a major rut and eating burrito bowls way too often.

  30. I buy cookbooks but use the internet more. Joy of Cooking is the staple that tells me how to do anything new. My other go to is a cookbook given to me as a gift with my first apartment full of comfort food staples (great homemade mac and cheese recipe), no idea the name. As for the internet, I’ve stumbled across a few good recipes on smittenkitchen, like this one I bought farro on a whim and had no idea what to do with it….this was easy and tasty.

  31. My favorite source for new recipes or ideas is my Southern Living magazine subscription.

    I also like recipes from the Orangette blog.

    I read Smitten Kitchen, but I’m not that into sweet stuff which seems to be mainly what she has, so I rarely try her recipes.

  32. I just took black bean avocado brownies out of the oven and they look awful.

    Truly awful.

    Probably going to go down in family history as a famously bad idea, like the time grandma subbed Cheerios for walnuts.

  33. Houston –

    I’m not where the receipe is, but it’s pretty easy. From the start keep a layered cake in mind as that is the look you are going for.


    1. Loaf of unsliced sandwhich bread a tall thick loaf, not french bread type (sometimes hard to find). Cut it into 4 layers length-wise.

    2. Make the following three spreads (any recipe will do as will store-bought, but don’t overdo on the mayo or mustard or it will get soggy).
    *Pimento cheese
    *Ham salad
    *Chicken or turkey salad
    OR the fish variation
    * Tuna salad
    * Crab salad
    * Lobster or Shrimp salad

    3. Layering:
    Put bottom of bread on a tray, use all of the pimento cheese and spread a thick layer.
    Next layer of bread on top of pimento cheese and spread ham salad on top of bread.
    Next layer of bread on top of ham salad and spread chicken salad on top of bread.
    Top with last layer of bread.
    (If you look at it from the side, it looks like a layer cake.)

    4. Frosting:
    Cream cheeese – 4 oz is usually enough – softened.
    Add heavy/whipping cream to get a smooth, but slightly thick frosting.
    Spread over the entire outside of the sandwich, just like you would a cake.

    5. Garnish
    The cook book uses radishes sliced and arranged in a straight line the length of the sandwhich. I don’t like radishes, so I top mine with chopped nuts, usually walnuts.

    Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve cut with a sharp serated knife (or you get a mushy mess) and you will get a slice of sandwhich for each person that looks like a slice of layer cake.

    I usually make the spreads a night or two before to let the seasonings set and assemble the sandwich the day of or very late the night before. It will not hold well after about 18 hours. I’ve also assembled everything but the frosting the night before and then frosted right before taking it to the event.

    I get lots of comments and it isn’t hard, it’s just not what we are used to seeing.

  34. Sky – I have a friend that does the black bean brownie thing and they’re not great but they’re not terrible. My kids have eaten them when she’s brought them over but we served them with ice cream so they may not have noticed.

  35. Yeah, I also tried the black bean brownie thing, and I just couldn’t get them to taste passable. The best options were adding extra salt and other strong flavors, like chopped almonds and almond extract, or cayenne and cinnamon, or lots of peppermint extract. But they still tasted like beans.

  36. Mooshi – You took the words out of my mouth. Let a brownie be a brownie!

    And I am eating a chocolate chip cookie with my lunch – the whole darn thing!!

  37. Black Bean Brownie – that seems positively worse than half or a quarter cookie even. I am thinking Sky you must be making that because of allergies…

  38. “like the time grandma subbed Cheerios for walnuts.”

    I just woke the dog, I laughed so hard at this.

  39. DS had severe reflux until last year – we didn’t realize what was wrong until then.

    I still can’t get him to try fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, canned, or puréed, so I am always trying to smuggle them into something.

  40. We don’t cook elaborate meals often, so these recommendations are more downscale than many so far. Agree with Meme about Joy of Cooking and More With Less Cookbook. Also like:

    – Jane Brody’s “Good Food Book” – Nutrition advice is dated but we have liked all of the recipes we tried.
    – “Lean Italian Cooking” and “Lean Italian Meatless Meals” by Anne Casale – Delicious, quick and healthy; I have used mainly the vegetable recipes.
    – “Victory Garden Cookbook” for instructions on cooking all types of vegetables in many different ways. I adapt the recipes that are heavy on butter and oil.
    – “May All Be Fed – Diet for a Small Planet” for labor intensive but really delicious vegan dishes (I am not currently vegan but have been for years at a time).
    – DH likes “Cook This Not That” for fun, healthy versions of chain restaurant food we never eat in the original form.

  41. He won’t do smoothies yet – I bought a commercial blender so I can obliterate seeds, but so far no dice. I just keep trying, and reminding myself of the number of WWII survivors who truly starved in their childhood but did not seem to have their health harmed by it as adults.

  42. PVD – Cooksmarts… it’s $8 a month… do it for a month, get 20 recipes you can sub in when you’re in a rut. We’ve been doing it for 2 months now and it’s great… my meal planning is done for me, DH gets a grocery list, and I get a weekend prep list so I don’t have to stress. If the prep is done, I can get dinner on the table in about a half hour – more like 45 minutes because DS is attached to my hip trying to help. He defines help as leaning hands first so far over the stove he’s now getting a steam bath, not understanding what “hot” means, and wanting to play with everything.

    Sky – have you tried to mash flavors that go with chocolate into brownies – like applesauce, or strawberry sauce? We put spinach in meatballs around here.

  43. “Loaf of unsliced sandwhich bread a tall thick loaf, not french bread type (sometimes hard to find).”

    Sounds like a block of bread from a home breadmaking machine would work for this.

  44. PVD – and during that month you can access the archives. Get the recipes saved on your computer and boom, instant cookbook.

  45. I have a relative who used to serve black bean cupcakes and brownies,at family get-togethers. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she got over that fad.

    “Jane Brody’s “Good Food Book” – Nutrition advice is dated but we have liked all of the recipes we tried.”

    I have Jane Brody’s nutrition book up on my bookshelf I’ve used it as an example to my H in trying to convince him why we NEED TO GET RID of some/most of our books, but he won’t budge.

  46. Cannot warp my mind around black bean brownie!
    Count me among those who use Internet for inspiration!

  47. Rhode, when my littles got to that age I used colored painters tape to mark the line on the floor that they are not allowed to cross while the stove is on.

    It took a while for each of them, but now when I say “you need to be behind the line” I know they will retreat to a safe distance.

    Baby food prunes hide well in brownies but we haven’t tried applesauce yet….

  48. Sky – a lot of cake recipes call for subbing some water with applesauce. I don’t see why you couldn’t do it in a brownie. Usually cakes with applesauce are not as dry, so if it works the same in a brownie, only good things can come from it.

    I’ll keep the tape in mind. Right now, he’s too short to reach anything dangerous (except when propped on my hip). We’ve made him sorta happy by moving his high chair near the “action” – he can see what we are doing, and is kept safely contained.

  49. I tried the brownies: imagine eating a mud pie that an enterprising toddler poured Hershey’s syrup on.

    But Mr. Picky ate his and then stole and ate his brother’s brownie, so I’m counting this as a success.

  50. Sky – When they were very little, my kids would eat anything if it was mixed into yogurt.

  51. Finn – Yes that works well.

    Sky – The lunch provider at my kids school added pureed fruit and veg to all kinds of things from pancake mix to marinara sauce to the liquid used to make jello. The kids never seemed to notice or complain about those meals. It was the others that lacked seasoning that caused all the complaints.

  52. The black bean brownie thing reminds me of Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious,” which DW bought, in the idea of trying to sneak healthful foods into stuff kids will eat.

    I sometimes do a little of that. E.g., when I cook a big pot of chili, I might also throw in a small baby food jar of butternut squash or sweet potatoes.

    “what about smoothies? My kids will eat veggies mixed with fruit and yogurt.”

    We often buy frozen broccoli, or frozen veggie mixes that include broccoli. When we finish the bag, there’s usually a bunch of broccoli ‘crumbs’ left; I’ll throw those into smoothies, which the kids so far have not seemed to notice (I do only throw a little in each batch, in an attempt to not affect the taste noticeably). Or perhaps more accurately, DD hasn’t seemed to notice. DS will drink whatever i put in front of him, just as he will eat pretty much whatever lunch I pack for him.

  53. Anyone have a recommendation for a good Thai cookbook for someone with just basic skills?

    I also use the Internet for most recipes. I’m always looking for simple, fast things like a grilled meat with a fresh veggie. For after work, I don’t want anything that has a lot of steps, requires a lot of prep time, or dirties up too many pans. I have used some Rachel Rays 30-minute meals, but mostly live in my rut. Now that I’m determined to cut our takeout costs, I’m trying to branch out a little.

  54. We have about 3 or 4 feet of cookbooks accumulated over the years. Some of them were purchased at outlet bookstores, thrift stores, and the school carnival, and we also inherited some.

    The few that are most heavily used are the community cookbooks. There are a few that are recipe collections put together by local churches/temples, and there’s the HECO cookbook, which i believe is quite popular here. What these cookbooks have in common is that their recipes are mostly for local comfort foods.

    HECO (aka Hawaiian Electric Co) used to host a popular weekly TV cooking show, and they published a book of recipes from the show. I believe the purpose of the show was to encourage people to cook more, and thus buy more electricity from HECO.

    From the other cookbooks, numerous of them have one or two recipes that we’ve tried, liked, and return to from time to time.

    I also have a folder on my hard drive with a growing collection of recipes that I’ve found online, including recipes that I saw on the hardcopy newspaper then grabbed from their website.

    DW has increasingly been using recipes/cooking instructions from YouTube.

  55. MM, I have that Greek cookbook. It used to be my preferred Greek cookbook until it was bumped from the top spot by a cheap one I picked up at Borders or B&N’s sale table for a few dollars. The recipes hit that sweet spot balancing convenience and taste. I’ll try to remember to look at the name when I get home. And I guessed wrong on your French one — I thought it would be Je Sais Cuisinier, now available in an English translation as part of that series of translations Phaedon’s been doing.

  56. I can’t get behind trying to make brownies healthy – brownies should be fattening and delicious.

    I am a smoothie person though. We are daily smoothie drinkers (including my 9 month old) and I cram all kinds of veggies in there – spinach, kale, carrots. A little banana and frozen pineapple can hide a lot.

  57. Re: brownies: I made them for me, not the kids! Back when I was on my serious weight loss — was looking for ways to indulge in the chocolate obsession without the white flour/sugar, with more fiber/nutrients, etc. Also because someone mentioned they have the soft/gooshy texture I love vs. the more cake texture. That was one of the few epic fails.

  58. I have the binders with sheet protectors like everyone else. Inside the sheet protectors is a mix of print-outs and cut-and-paste pages.

    I only occasionally cook from recipes anymore, but I still have many, many cookbooks. Some of the ones that have merited a place in the actual kitchen are a few of the Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country books, the Marcella Hazan one, several of the Food & Wine Quick from Scratch cookbooks, The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook and two Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbooks (regular and entertaining), Indian Slow Cooker, and I may have Microwave Moghul up there too. We also have a floor to ceiling bookshelf full of cookbooks down in the tv room. The kid ones are all down there. I may have mentioned before that our house might lead someone to think we were running a library-themed bar. If so, it’s a library with a particular focus on cookbooks and children’s books. I have medieval cookbooks, a Patrick O’Brian cookbook, individual country cookbooks, US regional cookbooks, ones focusing on bones or vegetables or picnics or teatime or hors d’oeuvres. I have the Time-Life Cooking of the World collection. Even the kids have historical (American Girl) and Hobbit and Game of Thrones cookbooks in addition to the more straightforward kid cookbooks.

    I do like to read them, even if I don’t cook directly from them.

  59. Frozen cauliflower lends itself well to being disguised in smoothies. Let it thaw overnight, and it liquefies very easily in the blender, with no color to give it away.

  60. “a Patrick O’Brian cookbook” – HM, this exists??? How did I not know this? I could make duff?

    I do have the Redwall cookbook. ‘ot Root Soup for all!

  61. “Hobbit and Game of Thrones cookbooks”

    Is anyone else here a Galavant fan? Those who watch that show will understand why this reference made me think of that show.

  62. Providence, I also primarily find recipes on the web. But I still love certain cookbooks for browsing and reading–like anything by Ina Garten! She is my go-to source for recipes, though I usually just search for her recipes online even though I own several of her books.

    Other main sources for recipes: the blog Pinch of Yum (she also sells an ecookbook with healthy recipes that includes several crockpot winners), Cooking Light (easy to search online and the ratings help pick true winners), Pioneer Woman for certain things (casseroles and other things that aren’t everyday eating for us since we’re not burning cattle-herding calories).

    I just heard this week about the service Plan to Eat for storing recipes, menu-planning, and grocery list creation. They have a 30-day free trial so I figured why not? And wow… it has already simplified my life so much. It is infinitely better than anything else I have tried (my current system was saving recipes in Evernote).

  63. I want to go spend a month at HM’s house, sitting in the sun and reading her cookbooks.

    SSM: I have the Keeper’s cookbook, and I never seem to be drawn to anything in it. What do you make out of it?

  64. I like both of the Dinner a Love Story cookbooks. I really enjoy her blog, and several of her recipes work for us. I found out about Jenny from many of the regulars here. In a small world story, she lives in a nearby village, and she goes to the same farmers market as me. I see her there, but I’ve never said hello. I feel like a stalker fan because I just love to read her blog/ books even when I have no interest in some of the recipes.

    I subscribed to the lady about two months ago, but I haven’t paid yet. I get her emails, an follow her…I just have to pull the trigger because I think it would be a greta solution for some of the current problems in my house around meals.

  65. I do have to say, this blog provided me with some good recipes… GAMom (when she was Barefoot in Savannah) supplied me with my all-time favorite key lime pie recipe. And Mooshi’s (under her other identity) skillet chilli is a quick dinner hit around here.

    PVD – I used some of your grilled pizza techniques when doing our own pizza. I even got a real stone pizza stone this past Xmas. We don’t have the paddle, but our rimless cookie sheet works well if we coat it in corn meal.

    Finn – are the 3-4 ft of books vertical or horizontal? One is far more impressive than the other…

    We use an applesauce delivery system around here. If DS won’t eat something, I put a mixture of the food we want him to eat and applesauce (or anything sweet, really) on the spoon and he goes for it.

  66. Rhode – I LOVE that my grilled pizza legacy has lived on!! I’ll check out Cooksmarts.

  67. For a cold day we are making Indian onion fritters. Cut the onions into long strips, mix with a thick chick pea flour batter, season it with salt, a little turmeric, paprika or cayenne. Take handfuls of the onion batter and deep fry in hot oil.
    You can google it but most of the recipes are that come up are miles long.

  68. Hey, you guys — I need table-setting help. I’m having people over for dinner and I’m serving roast beef, so when I set the table, do I put both steak knives and regular table knives at each setting, or just steak knives, or what?

  69. While I was posting the onion fritter receipe, I thought of tempura veggies or veggie fritters for reluctant veggie eaters. Tastes so good, they won’t resist !

  70. Just steak knives – no one will ever switch back and forth between knives for different cutting at dinner.

    Unless you are being very formal and serving different courses, in which case put a knife for the applicable course to the right.

  71. For random veggies, I like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. But I’ve had breads and baked goods flop from that book. (The chocolate pecan pie, however, is divine.)

    I also use Fannie Farmer’s Baking for standby recipes, and an old Better Homes and Garden binder book which is good for basics or a starting point. For cookies, I have an old Maida Heatter Cookie Book. (I have others of her dessert recipes as well.) They’re written kind of exacting, but I’ve never had one flop. It’s nice to have a book that’s so reliably good.

    I recently bought the Great Big Pressure Cooker Book– Weinstein & Scarbrough. I like what I’ve tried so far. There are lots of recipes online, but I run into things when I browse a book that I wouldn’t necessarily search for, so I end up having a lot of uses for books.

    Lately I also check out cookbooks from the library and save recipes I like, or keep ideas in mind for future searching.

    I want to love Keepers and Dinner: A Love Story. They’re fun to read, but I haven’t been drawn to cook much out of them yet. Anything anyone really loves that I should try?

  72. CoC, we did the molasses snow candy – not a hit.

    Maple sugar snow candy is another story (and now that I’ve thought of it, we are definitely making some tomorrow)!

  73. RMS, I was trained to put out both knives, but then we used to put out two sizes of spoons at breakfast….

  74. Dinner a love story is the most used cookbook in our house. We have a few basic ones too (can’t remember the names). I have a lot of loose recipes that I should go through since I only use a couple. Real Simple has been a good source. And the best cookbook is the one my mil gave me when I got married. It has all my DH’s favorite recipes. She complied them into one book and so the family favorites live on.

  75. RMS, I would also only do the steak knives unless you’re doing multiple courses and the other knives would be used before the steak knives.

  76. I like the red and white plaid Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I’m noting some of your suggestions (Hawaiian electric company and Recipes from a Greek Island) for future ideas.

    I should cull my collection of Iowa church cookbooks, obtained from my grandmother, but they work for how I cook. (I’m probably closest to Mémé in how I cook, I suspect.) My cooking is centered around “what needs to get used”. Tonight, I’ll modify my default clam chowder recipe to use the leftover salmon in the freezer. During pear/apple/zucchini season, I cook seasonal recipes. And we’re eating an elk this year.

    I think that’s part of why I seldom seek out recipes or meal planning guides- I don’t start from “What shall we have?”, I start with “What needs to be used?”

  77. Okay, thanks for the input. It’s just salad (served in bowls with the meal), beef, roasted potatoes, and roasted garlic green beans. No other knives should be needed.

  78. Is there some lazy person’s shelf/freezer stable solution to “orange/lemon” zest? I seldom plan ahead well and zest is kind of a hassle even if I have the fruit..

  79. Oooh, that Recipes from a Greek Island book looks good. I really do love Greek food.

  80. Also, not cookbooks but celeb chef memoirs: The ever classic Kitchen Confidential is a must read, if only to learn why one should never go out for brunch.
    But I also really liked Marcus Samuelsson’s memoir. His story of course is fascinating, but I also felt that the book was both a good look at the classic European way of training chefs – very militaristic, and it also gave me a sense of what an intensely focused young man he was, and the intense racism he had to face while climbing the ranks.

  81. Rats, why did I miss today? :) My favorite cookbooks – for right now, the Bouchon Bakery one is fascinating (strained eggs! Everything weighed! Muffin batter refrigerated overnight!) although I modify everything and don’t do half of the things he says. Crescent Dragonwagon’s “Soup and Bread” book. Marcel Desaulniers for desserts. Flour and the King Arthur book for more cakes etc. :) For main dishes, I mainly use Epicurious or things I know how to make – today I modified on the fly so we had white bean stew, “meatballs” and ravioli instead of ravioli w/ meat sauce (no tomatoes in the house). I also use Joy of Cooking for basic things like pancakes/waffles.

  82. L, if your older daughter likes to cook, I recommend those American Girl cookbooks. Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Kit, and Molly all have one and they do a good job balancing historical authenticity with being achievable for kid cooks. (I think Julie may too but I feel like that’s a historical period we don’t so much need a special cookbook to recreate.) You can get them used on Amazon.

  83. Louise, could you please drop me a line at saacnmama
    At hotmail? (I hope that writing it that way will get it through the the filters).
    There is a private “day school” in your fair city that I’d like to ask you about. Thanks!

    On topic, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my favorite cookbook on here several times–Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cuisine. The recipes are good (although too many soups have a potato base), she includes several menus, but the best part, imo, is the big “ingredients” section at the front. It is broken in 2-pg foto spread followed by two pages of text describing each item from the foto, how to pick a good one to buy, basic ways to cook it, etc. It was great in the days when I didn’t know a kumquat from a guava, and also very helpful when communicating across language or cultural barriers.

    The most exciting part of my culinary life thes days is that the boy has begun cooking class this semester. I look forward to his appreciation of home cooking increasing.

  84. Just skimmed the responses. Pilgrim, I don’t “know” you, but you mentioned a couple I like. Diet for a Small Planet (the original) was central in my decision (in 1986) to become vegetarian. WCE, I also like that red & white one for fallback/basic recipes. I often will use it to get an idea of how to do something and them improvise from there. These days I might browse recipes online instead of in the book.

    Person selling the house, I think I recognize that voice. Hope you & Jr are well!

    I have always liked beans, used to request baked beans & brown bread for my birthday dinner (in August, when my mom really thought the grill would be best for a celebration dinner). It took me forever to get used to Portia using the phrase “eat beans” to mean go through a lean time–always sounded to me like a happy vegetarian. But I’ve never tried them in brownies.

    Spicy brownies sound good to me; there is a recipe in Maida Heater’s chocolate desserts book I always wanted to make, but no one around me ever wanted them, and how can brownies not be for sharing. And now I’m off the flour (also can’t eat rice or almonds, so most alternative flours are out too).

    My picky eater is so unique (although somewhat similar to WVa’s daughter) that I don’t give out tips. He hated the consistency of yogurt until recently, thinks tempura is awful, etc. Hiding food never worked with him, and I don’t like that approach anyway.

    Cheers, everybody!

  85. Sorry, one more. Todd, I’ve been reminded of your interest in the idea that lead poisoning (from roadways with cars using leader gas?) led to all sorts of problems in urban populations. Do you have any sources for that? No one seems to be predicting very far out in relation to the Flint water situation.

  86. midwestern mom – I also have the Martha Stewart Entertaining book – I read that thing from cover to cover, mostly for the planning and the various themed meals. I made a number of her recipes over the years, but I remember them being complicated once you were in the middle of them.

    Maple syrup on snow – I have always wanted to try that since the Ingalls family did that in Little House in the Big Woods (it may have been Caroline’s family, I guess – I just remember they were at a big party with cousins and aunts and uncles).

  87. The ever classic Kitchen Confidential is a must read, if only to learn why one should never go out for brunch.

    I read that, but I don’t think it’s always applicable. Our favorite place for brunch has a lot of things (all of the breakfast-type items) that aren’t on their lunch and dinner menus so you know they are made fresh. Maybe there are some things that are leftovers, but the majority of it is cooked just for brunch.

  88. Aside from Risley, who here has a vacation home? Something that you don’t rent out, but just stay in periodically? I have some questions if you’d be willing to talk about it.

  89. We are getting snow now, a little less than an inch an hour.

    I told DD she has to do her typing and math homework now in case we lose power….

    What should I cook today? Has anyone tried making ice cream out of snow?

  90. We’re actually going to get more snow than they predicted just 24 hours ago. The storm attached to another low off the NC coast, and pushed further north than they expected. I’m supposed to receive much less than DC, but a foot is still a lot of snow when the winds are so high. If the power stays on, I’m sure there wills till be school on Monday.

  91. I hope Milo, LfB, Sheep Farmer, SWVa Mom….are doing OK. Here, today our forecast is clear with rising temperatures during the day. Much better than the prediction from yesterday which was calling for more snow today. It should all melt by Monday, hopefully.

  92. DD promised to text me faithfully twice a day to confirm that she and her kitties are safe and warm in their condo. So far so good from Alexandria. As for our home, the HVAC contractor delivered as promised. I called the emergency number Sunday night, he arrived Monday am (holiday), diagnosed the problem and presented the hefty estimate, I signed, he got the delivery Tuesday, started work Wed am, and swapped out the entire system, primed it, and had it up and running by Friday at 2 pm.

  93. We had opera tix. No way can we get in. DH is trying to reach the Met right now to see if we can exchange but they are being slammed with volume so no one can get through.

  94. Meme: Congrats on your new heating system. Very timely!

    S&M: Good to hear from you.

    Everyone in the Northeast: Hope you stay safe and warm, and that your power stays on.

  95. I just walked a couple of blocks to drop off DD at a neighbor. It isn’t that bad here yet, but the wind is blowing nasty ice pellets mixed with the snow. I know the kids are really excited to play outside, but I think it would be 100% more pleasant tomorrow. We still get weekend delivery of the newspapers, an I was surprised to find the FT and the NYT outside, but there ‘s only a few inches here so far. the best is yet to come this afternoon.

  96. I was suprised we got our papers. They were almost buried. I saw one tiny corner of plastic popping up from the snow, so I ran out and unburied them

  97. So far all fine here. Forecasts seem spot on so far, except winds slightly less than predicted. Went to sleep last night with pretty happy snow, woke up to somewhere between 12-18″ (can’t tell because of drifting) and horizontal snow. But we have power and are warm and toasty, and it’s one of those days that makes you grateful for that. Don’t know if my mom is making it home tomorrow, though!

  98. Hi Saac!!

    It’s very windy today but no snow yet. Our baby gym class was cancelled so we are just hunkering down. Life with a cranky baby today. When will my happy boy come back?

  99. I am so mad I missed this topic yesterday. All-day meetings on a Friday are so not my favorite.

    Keepers – this is a new find for me from this very blog. Our favorite repeat recipes so far are the Asian Pork Sliders, the Everyday Meatballs (we have mostly made these into bahn mi sandwiches), the Lemony Turkey Bolognese, the Carrot-Apple salad, and the Morning Chicken. I am trying the Italian Wedding Soup this week for the first time. The only dud in here so far was the meatloaf.

    I am also a big fan of the recipes of America’s Test Kitchen’s various iterations. I use their Best Recipe book for baking, don’t trust any slow-cooker recipes except for theirs, and pay for access to the website. I really like that they’ve started doing more ethnic recipes, but they are more accessible compared to ethnic cookbooks which always seem to require some truly exotic ingredient that without a good suggestion for a substitute. I also like that they have good old church-cookbook comfort food under the Cook’s Country banner like casseroles and queso, but without canned cream soups and Velveeta. Sometimes you just want to make King Ranch Casserole or the like.

    I have How to Cook Everything by Bittman along with the Vegetarian version, but I rarely reference them. I have the free app as well, but I just use it to look up basic things.

    Like I said – ethnic cookbooks have been a bust for me with the exception of Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless. I do love this cookbook & it has a lot of easy things to make without too many crazy had-to-find ingredients. He also provides substitutes for most really exotic things. I do live very close to a Mexican neighborhood as well, so the “exotic” items are usually stocked or an easy trip away – we often buy our tortillas right from the source.

  100. glad all seem well!

    we (DW, he mom got it for her somewhere around when she moved out on her own) have the Time/Life Cookbook series; lots to choose from, many pictures. Some books we’ve never cracked but others are well used.

  101. “we often buy our tortillas right from the source” Jealous!

    Meme, very efficient handling of your heating system breakdown!

    I made KALE, CHICKPEA AND CHICKEN SOUP WITH ROSEMARY CROUTONS from this recipe, but substituted a supermarket rotisserie chicken, canned chickpeas, and hot Italian sausage to make it easier. It was a hit.

    We still have power here. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  102. CoC, I love that type of soup.

    Update: Metro North is shutting down. So glad we didn’t take the chance and head into the city for the opera. We would have been stranded.

  103. The NY Times Cooking website had a survey on why its readers cook, and I realized I’m not part of the target audience. (They had a couple dozen possibilities for where you find other recipes and it didn’t even include Taste of Home.) I cook because we need to eat regularly, and I cook with the same threshold variable attitude I apply to cleaning the house, doing the laundry and raking the leaves. Some of the NY Times answers about why its readers cook involved “To relax” or “To show off.”

    Umm, no. Different audience.

  104. I hope the opera will give you new tix for another day since they’re trying to keep people off NYC streets after 2:30. I am usually happy when the forecasters are wrong, and the storm is smaller than expected. This is the pits…supposed to be maybe 6 – 9 inches for NYC, and suddenly it is just like DC metro and it becomes 2 feet.

  105. WCE – Plenty of NYers cook because we need to eat; don’t be mislead by that site. =)

    Storm is worse than I expected but not bad at all if you stay off the roads and inside. Too windy IMO for sledding and snowmen, maybe tomorrow.

  106. @ RMS – we have a weekend beach house that we keep solely for us (and other family members that occasionally use it – but no renters). Would be glad to answer any questions.

    Believe it or not, we actually saw snow today here in the Low Country. Nothing stuck, of course, but it whipped around a bit. Cold enough that one of my kids even put on a long sleeved shirt with his shorts.

  107. WCE, I am with you. I have a cousin who made the comment that Every. single. Day. She is shocked with the realization around 3:00 that she has to fix dinner. I frequently feel that way. If it were just me, I’d have a glass of wine and some salad or cheese and crackers. So my goal with dinner is some nutrition, and enough fuel to get people through evening activities and homework. The amount of effort that is worth to me is max 30 minutes, preferably half that.

    This post motivated me, so I’ve been reading my cookbooks this morning, looking for things to add to the rotation. I am still pretending I’m snowed in, so have a nice pot of tortellini sausage soup on the stove so my husband has something hot to eat after after his long bike ride in the cold weather.

  108. WCE/MBT -well my kids are currently eating Honey Nut Cheerios for lunch. So you could do that! =)

    They’re refusing to get out of their PJs and taking full advantage of being stuck inside on this snow day to watch as many Minecraft videos as possible. I will become Mean Mama later and at least make them do some homework.

  109. We just got a dusting but the kids still tried to bring out their sleds and build a snowman (it was pathetic but cute). Hope you all are staying warm up there.

  110. I had to yell at mine before they got out of their PJs around 11. But then I made the older two organize the thousands of books strewn about their bedroom floor

  111. OF course, the SUPER IMPORTANT storm question is “how did it affect the SAT in your area?” Here (a couple of hours south of Louise) the SAT was cancelled in anticipation of an ice event that didn’t really amount to much. Today was, I think, the first opportunity to take the new test, and mother nature did not cooperate.

  112. Today was the last opportunity to take the old test. March is the first opportunity to take the new test, and they don’t release the scores till after the May test. (My daughter will be taking it on the March date since she’s an 8th grader taking it for practice / CTY qualification so her scores won’t count for college anyway and it won’t make her crazy to wait till May, and the May date is bound to have some important event scheduled to conflict.)

  113. MBT and WCE – I totally agree. What, you want to eat again? Once I had the flu and DD (about 13) helped me out and made breakfast and lunch for herself and DS (and brought me saltines and ginger ale!). She had a new appreciation of the endlessness of daily cooking and cleaning.

    I could easily eat a snack type meal for dinner 3 or 4 days a week.

  114. So I tried to post to the imgr website, hope this works – this is DH’s car, 24 hrs after the first flake fell: Can’t really see the horizontal snow, and that was one of the clearer periods, but it gives a sense, at least. They are still calling for another 6-12 hrs here. Has to be at least 18″, but it’s blowing so hard I can’t tell.

    Kids and DH are already getting antsy, so tomorrow will be a cranky day. But right now I am sitting at my kitchen table, wondering at the zero vis (sometimes can’t even see the back fence), and having cocoa. So doesn’t suck.

  115. SAT with old version was re scheduled for feb 20. The snow is heavier here now, but I think (hope) that the fears about massive power outages were overblown.

    What is the best way for me to post a picture of my driveway here?

  116. I feel like I should be the target audience for the NY Times Cooking site as I do like hobby cooking and trying new dishes, but I don’t really use it. Some things are too close to recipes that I already make & like the way they are. Some are to dinner party focused, which is not my scene. And some are too crazy like the ones from restaurant chefs. (We do entertain sometimes but we don’t have elaborate dinner parties. More like appetizers and drinks.)

    The one recipe I make frequently from there is this chicken schwarma. I usually grill the chicken though rather than using the oven.

  117. One of my mom’s friends told Mom gloomily, “Elsbeth, marriage is a trap. It means three meals a day”. This was back in the 40s. And I agree, WCE, the reason I cook dinner is that it’s not going to cook itself and DH isn’t going to do it either. So I guess that leaves me.

  118. Lark, are there any issues with maintaining your house when you’re not there? Are there any weird liability issues? Did anything catch you by surprise after you bought it?

  119. RMS, that encapsulates how I feel about cooking: 3 meals a day (or, in my house, 5 because the boys eat different foods for lunch and dinner than the rest of us), times 7 days a week, times 365 days a year, stretching out for years and years before me.

    Maybe I should invent family sized MREs: pop em out of the foil, add water, microwave, and be done with it :)

  120. I like to cook but it’s more sustenance and less hobby. The hobby part comes in sports. Like this week. I made DS some food. I’m making tomato sauce now and have meatballs done. 5 lbs of meat should hold us for a while.

    The snow is coming down wet and sideways. High winds. But that’s New England for you.

    Our noble pursuits today include the Fast and Furious movies on USA. Why we don’t buy these movies is beyond me. We watch them all the time.

  121. laurafrombaltimore – your zero visibility reminds me of another Little House book (can you tell I read and reread them as a girl?) – where they talked about a guy not able to make the short walk from his house to his barn in a blizzard – he was a few feet off and couldn’t find way back to the house – and froze to death!

    Of course the smarter people (Charles Ingalls) used a clothesline between the two buildings to make sure that didn’t happen to him.

  122. Meme, yes, they cancelled finally – one minute before curtain!!!! I found out via Twitter about 30 minutes later. Broadway had also just cancelled. I suspect DeBlasio may have put pressure on these venues, since he had said he didn’t want anybody out on the roads

  123. The snow has been fun. I think it’s much more powdery than they’d predicted, and the winds have been mild, so moderate winds have blown the light snow out of the trees before the branches could get too heavy, and I don’t see reports of any power outages. I’ve been shoveling for about six hours total, and it’s still snowing, but it will be a lot easier tomorrow to get the last few inches up. We could get out if required. The neighborhood upped their game with a heavy-duty Caterpillar grader with a plow attached. I left my car outside to keep the SUV dry and ready to go from the garage. Here’s the car, after a cursory brush off.

  124. Wow Milo, that is quite a bit of snow! Hope you don’t need to get anything from your car anytime soon!

  125. RMS, long time visitor but only have I ever made a comment or two. We own a vacation home about a ten hour drive from here. It’s getting pounded right now in the storm. We used to be about a 14 hour plane ride away when we lived overseas. It is strictly for our own use but do let a couple of close family members use it for a week or so. We live in it the entire summer, and use it at Christmas plus maybe a random long weekend or two. No issues with insurance or anything has come up in the 7 years we’ve owned a vacation home aside from the disaster that was Sandy. We have close family living nearby as well as our contractor who did the rebuild after Sandy who keep an eye on things. Any questions I’d be happy to answer.

  126. @Milo – I suspect you called it correctly with the over. Impressive car shot. Up here the Mustang is almost totally gone now, the drifts on DH’s are up to the windows, and I haven’t seen or heard a plow yet (and we are consistently one of the first streets to get plowed). No way they even get all the buses dug out by Tuesday.

    And in a total stereotypical fail, we are already down to our last quart of milk. Extreme hot cocoa shortage approaching, just in time for hours of shoveling. Sigh.

  127. Those car pics are a lot of snow for DC! Yikes! How long till it is all supposed to melt?

    Hobby cooking is for weekends. I also identify with the drudgery of needing to get people fed 7 days a week. But it’s one of the chores that I mind the least, especially now that I’ve gotten a good handle on meal planning after years of trial and error. I find daily picking up, daily minimum cleaning, emptying the dishwasher, and finding suitable clothes to wear to work are all worse.

    But when I’m home alone for dinner (a rarity), I do like to revert to my single days & eat crackers and cheese for dinner in front of the TV. Or some other kind of snacky thing.

  128. I, like our Texans, find myself envious of all the snow excitement.

    RMS: September through April we try to go once/month for a weekend (and if we can squeeze in more nights here and there over school breaks we do). But there was one stretch where we didn’t go for 3 months, and when we got there discovered a roof leak, funky water in the hot water heater, a malfunctioning electric something, torn section on the screened porch, etc. Absolutely nothing major, but I do think it’s better to be there as much as possible because then you catch all those little things on a more regular basis.

    DH is handy, and I do think every time we’ve gone up there’s been some little project for him to attend to, but he finds it enjoyable to putter around and put things to right.

    We do have a local handyman that we use, when we are there on a weekend and discover something more significant needs attention. Our place has a garage with a code outside, and we just give the code to the handyman (and then change the code next time we are there).

    The biggest surprise: how much I love it (and the rest of the family as well). I’d been on the fence for several years, researching properties and even made a couple of lowball offers. It was hard to mentally justify the expense. But it has been one of the best things we ever did. I have terrible wanderlust and find it hard to stay in one place without some sort of trip planned, but we just can’t jet off to NYC or San Fran once/month. We can, however, hop in the car and a few hours later have a wonderful change of scenery in a cute little town, in a place that already has our toothbrushes and preferred peanut butter waiting for us (PS date your condiments, etc. with a sharpie when you open them so you know when to throw them out). It’s so relaxing, and because we’re away from the distractions of home we do more things as a family together when we’re there.

  129. I meant to say that Memorial Day – Labor Day we are up there more often than once/month and for longer stretches.

  130. Thanks, Lark! And SIC, again, I guess one of my worries is the idea of leaving the place unattended for a month or two at a time. I guess I figure people might break in or something, or just the way that entropy tends to take a toll on buildings. But I really love the idea of having a place that has my own peanut butter, as Lark put it.

  131. Kids went sledding this morning, so we had enough snow for that. Our whole neighborhood and I am sure the city was indoors. We readily heed the warnings to stay inside :-). Tomorrow will be the big melt (usual pattern after we get snow) and there is the championship game being played here, so I expect a mid day crush at the stores and huddling inside for the game.

  132. RMS, we love having this place. We move frequently and bought this beach house as a place to put down roots as we know we will always be spending our summers there. My oldest now works during the summer there and the younger ones enjoy camps and of course our time on the beach. We absolutely have sacrificed vacations to Disney or the west coast for example to spend time there but since we have travelled so frequently in the past it doesn’t feel like we have given up too much in exchange for having this special place now. We did have a burst pipe a few weeks ago and fortunately it was caught quickly by a neighbor and as it was under the house no big damage occurred. Normally we shut off the water to the house after we leave after Christmas and we didn’t get it done before the cold snap. A burst pipe or leak would be our worst fear. Aside from the TVs and some bikes and surf boards there’s next to nothing to steal so no worries there. We have a relative come and clean after we leave. I would highly recommend having a trusted handyman around. We are very lucky to have someone we trust 100% and he can pop over at any time to check on things. I don’t work so I can stay there all summer with the kids and the dog and the cats. My husband comes and goes and luckily can often work from there. We intend to eventually move there full time.

  133. From the land of “You don’t have to shovel rain”, we went to the Pinewood Derby, which was held in the bar/ballroom area of the Elks Club while the bar was open its usual hours. The bartender was awesome about the lack of sales and generous with free cups for water. I heard that when the Scouts needed a venue a few years ago, the Elks welcomed us like long-lost grandchildren. Baby WCE was lucky because although outside food and drink (including baby and water bottles) are forbidden under Oregon Liquor Container regulations, breasts aren’t.

    Ditto to RMS, though I have to give Mr WCE credit for cooking the night I work late each week.

    This week, we had Baby WCE’s dedication at church, piano lesson, indoor soccer practice and Pinewood Derby, the multimillion dollar tool I coordinate started its installation process and Mr WCE was in Europe. Just another week of not visiting ethnic grocery stores in search of obscure ingredients that my kids wouldn’t eat anyway.

    Clearly, though, I am an adequate cook. Most of the time, my kids eat what I serve rather than go hungry.

  134. I have to ask the cooks here – do you buy regular chicken or air chilled chicken ? There have been complaints at our house about the regular grocery store chicken and DH has decided that Whole Foods has the best chicken. I agree with him but I think it is because they sell air chilled not regular chicken. We get air chilled chicken at our grocery store and I am going to try that. Any nuggets of wisdom on chicken ?

  135. Louise, if anyone around here asks for air chilled chicken, I’m turning over my spatula and apron and putting them in charge.

    Wouldn’t all refrigerated chicken be air chilled?

  136. Louise. I will be totebaggy and agree with you. I think it’s the air chilledness, not something specific to Whole Foods. I definitely think it tastes better, especially if chicken is prominent in the fish & not just mixed in.

  137. I’m not familiar with chicken, but I’ve noticed that locker beef (from local cattle that are air-chilled at the butcher where we get our venison/elk processed) is more flavorful than supermarket beef of the same fat content and far less water cooks out of the locker beef. I don’t know how the supermarket beef is treated- we normally buy locker beef if we aren’t eating wild meat.

    I looked up the fat level in chicken and it appears to range from 6-15%, which probably interacts with the air-cooled/water-cooled factor.

  138. I don’t have ready access to farm fresh chickens, which are really tasty. Although I eat plenty of chicken, I don’t find it on its own a particularly exciting protein, so I tend to purchase it as cheaply as possible, usually whole from Costco at less than a dollar a pound, and use every part including rendering the fat and keeping a Ziploc bag in the freezer with bits and bones for stock. However, when I buy chicken wings or bone in breasts to prepare on a standalone basis, I go to WF for air chilled. I can taste the difference – not so much in the degree of flavor, but there is something about the texture of the flesh which is likely due to the water that the meat absorbs. I also don’t buy boneless skinless breasts at any price point – removing the skin and bones also removes flavor and dries out the meat. If I need it for a recipe, I take the meat off a bone in breast.

  139. Mémé, do you have any tips on beef broth? I bought a ~20 lb bag of beef bones for the dog and me to share. (She eats them raw; I make broth.) I like the beef broth I’ve made, even though the last batch turned out gelatinous, but I’m still experimenting.

    If you end up eating chicken here on your vacation, I’m curious if you’ll notice a flavor difference. We buy only Pacific Northwest grown chicken at Mr WCE’s request because he doesn’t care for the flavor of southern grown.

  140. We tend to use the whole chicken for chicken roast, chicken curry, pan roasted chicken pieces. Like Meme, we buy chicken with skin and bones and trim the fat ourselves, due to the same reasons that she mentioned. Since we use chicken on it’s own, flavor becomes very important. We tried the chicken from the farmers market but it didn’t pass the taste test. We get our beef and some of our pork from the farmers market. Beef and pork from the farmers market is like WCE’s locker beef, definitely better compared to the grocery store. Most grocery store meats are cleaned by immersing them in water which causes the meat to retain water and the flavor to seep out.

  141. Now that I’ve learned about air-chilled chicken I would like to try a taste comparison. I’ll be on the lookout to see if I find some. When I did a side-by-side taste test between farm fresh “free range” eggs and grocery store eggs I saw no difference so I’m usually skeptical about these things. But then, my palate is probably not as sensitive as some.

    Here’s how I often feel.

    We only got 21″ of snow even though it seems like more. Many hours of shoveling today. ugh

    Lauren, if you want to use the totebag imgur account to post pics, let me know. I’ve been using my Pinterest account to post pics lately.

  142. Meanwhile, my brother gloated on FB about the 71-74 forecast in San Antonio where he lives.

  143. My snowfall pics are not impressive so I’m not ready to post. I think we have 12 to 14 inches, but I have to dig out my mother. She’s in an outdoor lot in the city. NYC has almost 27 inches. I think just Baltimore received more snow in the large cities.

    My father is in an indoor garage, so I just have to free one parent. I think I’m going to see if I can convince my brother to take all of the grandkids with us because they’re old enough to help.

    The real question is where we will park once we get down there.

  144. Pro tip: make the maple sugar taffy before the snow ice cream, so you can put some on top.

    We have just over a foot. DH is already out with the snowblower, and the neighborhood kids are outside. Need to persuade ours to join them once I finish breakfast :)

  145. WCE, I don’t make beef stock at home, although sometimes I use a piece of beef shank or a beef bone in long cooking soups to give the broth some texture. I have been able to find acceptable reduced sodium beef stock when I need it in the shelf stable boxes. Apparently from the recipes on the web, gelatinous stock after 12-24 hours on the stove is often the objective – when cold it looks like wiggly jello. Do you brown the bones in the oven first? That seems to be a key point for flavor, and 5 hours probably will do for the simmering. Chicken and fish stock are made from stuff that would otherwise be discarded, so that is why I do that at home. Beef stock requires making a special purchase of base ingredients that in my zip code are not available in 20 lb bags for the dogs.

  146. We didn’t get a single flake of snow here. We apparently are just a few towns north of the snow/no-snow line. My kids feel totally cheated.

    Glad to hear that the snowed-in Totebaggers seem to be doing OK.

  147. I’m looking at the snow pics of Times Square on the WSJ. I don’t understand where they’re supposed to put it? Do they just drive it out in dump trucks?

  148. Milo, they truck it out. I think they dump a lot of it in the river, but I’m not sure. Here they use parking lots.

  149. I never heard of air chilled chicken before. I just buy the cheap stuff at the supermarket, usually legs, thighs, or wings. Sometimes I buy a larger roaster chicken, the kind that runs 6lbs or so. Most of the people in our family strongly prefer dark meat, so when I buy the roaster, the leftovers are all chicken breast which DH uses in sandwiches

  150. Those of you with dogs may be able to relate, but this is why we always have to shovel a path for our dogs to do their business in the backyard. (We don’t walk them.)

  151. I love seeing everyone’s pics.

    Regarding eggs–I buy free range eggs because I feel sorry for the chickens. I don’t buy WF chicken, though I probably should. It would require another grocery store trip, which I don’t have in me.

    My parents became foodies upon retirement and now buy a variety of organic foods, try new recipes, and are starting to care about their foods’ origin. I’m still focused on throughput in my house. I’ve hit the stage that I’m buying 2-3 gallons of milk a week, and food to match.

  152. We buy a gallon of milk most days of the week. A lot of cheese too. My kids, if nothing else, aren’t going to suffer from calcum deficiencies!!

  153. I’ve hit the stage that I’m buying 2-3 gallons of milk a week, and food to match.


  154. BTW, the tongue tacos were mostly a hit, but when I showed my youngest the taste buds on the skin I was peeling off (he apparently hadn’t realized what it was till then) he balked and said, “I might as well French a cow!” (He did eventually eat it.)

  155. WCE, I second Meme on good broth being gelatinous when chilled, and roasting the bones and veg being a good way to get more flavor.

  156. I don’t think they dump the snow in the rivers. I used to work at the southern most tip of Manhattan, and they would set up huge machines to melt the snow. I think they had to stop dumping because of the salt and other chemicals that are mixed into the piles.

  157. Milo and Sky- they truck it out. They had to do that in Boston last year. If not they use parking lots. A snow pile from last winter in Boston took til the end of April to completely melt. That’s how big the pile was.

    I don’t think they can legally dump it in the river. It needs to be treated as storm water runoff per the EPA. Boston had to get a special variance and agree to partially treat the snow before being allowed to dump in the harbor. By treating I mean straining for pollutants like garbage and possibly disinfecting.

  158. I just got back from digging out my mother. I am going to try to post some pics. We received more than a foot here, but she had at least 26 inches. It was crazy. All of the city streets were plowed, but everything was one lane since people are parked on both sides and trying to dig out. There is so much snow every where. The highways were empty, and I was so happy to get back home to clean roads and less snow. It is amazing that we can be so close, and they received twice as much snow due to their proximity to the coast.

    My tip for the day – if you want to age in place in a city that gets snow – get a GARAGE!!! I met my brother and it took us several hours to get her out. I never want to dump that responsibility on DD when she is our age.

  159. Glad to hear the NY contingent is well – we had a solid 48 hrs or more notice here, but I think it took everyone by surprise that it went that bad that far north.

    Today is the big dig. We had at least 30″‘ both cars buried to the windows with the blowing and drifting (I am guessing another 6-8″ after the pics I posted?). Plus the plows always pile up on our side of the street – my mom’s neighbor had run his snowblower on her walk yesterday, and you couldn’t even tell today, it is just solid with chunky nasty stuff. So, basically, my street looks like every picture ever posted of Buffalo in the winter. 😉

    So today we got our cars out (tho I doubt I’ll see the Mustang until spring) and did the walks up to the sidewalk and to the drive; then we got my mom’s car and the same walks at her house. And then we bailed on the sidewalks and called it good for the day — 3-4′ of packed snow and ice, with bushes on one side and piles close to 5’ on the grass strip from the plowing, and I have used all of my “hoist and throw” muscles for the day. So now, football! And ibuprofen. ❤️❤️❤️

  160.  I have to dig out my mother. She’s in an outdoor lot in the city. 

    Why didn’t she stay inside like everyone else?

  161. She has to go to work tomorrow, and we work tomorrow. It had to be dug out today before everything freezes.

  162. @Lauren – I was surprised when you mentioned digging out your Mom. I had completely forgotten about street parking in the city or having to move your car on a street cleaning day. Our old house had only one garage and every winter my wish more than anything was to get a two car garage.

  163. Lauren, the joke went right over your head. You never said anything about digging a car out, just that you were digging your mother out.

  164. Finn – My Costco has no salt added whole chickens. They are sold in the fresh meat case, but I try to buy the ones that haven’t thawed out yet because I keep them in the freezer.

  165. I was picturing a bunch of people frantically digging through the snow and pulling out a little old lady frozen in a block of ice.

  166. @ Milo – I’m shocked at the price of that house. Those views are nice but Spring Island has just as nice lots with amenities, deep water access, etc. 119 acres are nice, but if only a few of them are marsh front, the rest are just filled with mosquitos. :)

  167. @ Atlanta Mom – got the Food Lab cookbook over the weekend and spent many happy hours sitting in front of the fire reading it. :)

  168. Glad our eastern Totebaggers are all okay, despite the various cars, decks, etc that are buried. We got 0 inches here and can see grass. It’s not often that Atlanta gets more snow than we do! Remember to lift those heavy shovels with your legs, not your backs, people!

    WCE – I cook out of necessity too, though w/ someone else planning my meals and writing my grocery lists and me simply executing w/ a glass of wine nearby, I am for the first time in my life starting to find it very relaxing. But then, I’m one of those chop-the-carrots-and-think-only-about-the-carrots types. ;) Before the meal-planning help, I was shocked and dismayed every evening at dinnertime that the kids expected a meal, and they actually wanted it to be different from the prior night’s. Little brats! I could live (and did, for 3 years of law school) on cereal, yogurt and berries 7 nights/week.

    RMS – I feel much the same as Lark about having a vacation place. It helps if you can find a place nearby some year-rounders, and then befriend them. We have a guy who plows our drive, keeps an eye out, will meet workmen up there if needed, checks the heaters in the well, etc. If the temp in our place drops below a certain level, a red light goes on and he can see it from across the bay. He has a key, so he’ll go in, check the furnace, etc., and call us if anything major occurs. Up here (mostly in the remote UP) and where my parents’ cottage is (as remote as the UP) (and this may be true where you are, too), many people don’t lock their doors at all (there are no locks on my parents’ cottage), because (1) they’d rather people walk in and walk out versus busting a window that then stays busted until you get back up and (2) they want people to be able to get in easily if they’re stranded in the winter. A mom from my childhood cottage used to bake and freeze several lasagnas at the end of each summer and leave heating directions on the counter, for anyone who broke in out of necessity or criminal intent. Friends of ours here have a hunting cabin and they leave a sign on the door that says, “Welcome. Please leave it as you found it.”

  169. I saw some people – a 60 something couple offer two guys $100 to dig out their car, and the guys said no. The car was on a street that city plows hid behind a wall of ice. We were in a slightly better position because my mother is an outdoor lot, so it was just the car that was buried.

    Our schools opened on time today, and I’m already at BMW for service. This is my first service appt, and I’m just going to wait for the car. It is great here because the lounge is large, and there is plenty of room to work. I was surprised to find fresh fruit in addition to the bagels and muffins.

    DH is in midtown, and he said the streets are a mess. That is unusual for near Rock center and Grand Central, but I guess the office buildings have a lot more work to do since there is just so much snow. I find the differences between NY and DC metro to be so crazy. I sent many years living in DC so I get it, but no school or work for several days would never fly here. My friends in Fairfax county had no school last week on Thur or Friday, and they already know that schools are shut this week until Wed.

  170. Kids have school today, and the schoolbus was on time. My university is closed, though. I don’t teach on Mondays this semester so it doesn’t affect me that much except that I don’t have to drive in for a boring meeting on scheduling courses for the fall. Yay

  171. Lark – Interesting. It hasn’t sold yet, though.

    The parents of my kid’s friend on Friday invited a bunch of people to go sledding on their hill yesterday, but had to cancel a half hour beforehand because nothing was plowed at all in their small neighborhood. They’re trying to reschedule for this afternoon.

    I got in to work just fine this morning. My neighborhood streets are thick, packed snow, but easy enough to drive over.

    Yesterday my next-door neighbor, a recent empty nester transplant to the area, along with his wife, called to ask whom I’d hired to clear my driveway. I laughed and said I just shoveled it. He said “Oh God, I’m too old for that.” I forwarded him the contacts that get emailed around the neighborhood, and someone with a plow attached to an Excursion was there in about an hour.

    A mom from my childhood cottage used to bake and freeze several lasagnas at the end of each summer and leave heating directions on the counter, for anyone who broke in out of necessity or criminal intent. Friends of ours here have a hunting cabin and they leave a sign on the door that says, “Welcome. Please leave it as you found it.”

    That’s incredible. Did you read the article about the hermit who camped in the woods of Maine near a lake community like that for about 15 years, periodically operating as a cat burglar?

  172. Milo – you mean, he went from place to place, breaking in, and that’s how he lived? That’s amazing!

  173. Schools here are closed today due to ice. We had melting and refreezing overnight. Except for major roads everything else is untreated. I know, wimpy us. Everyone is in a good mood due to the win.

  174. laurafrombaltimore – that is what my DD spent her time doing! She started her igloo on Saturday, working on it for about an hour at the height of the storm. She did a lot more on Sunday. I am a little concerned about its potential for collapsing on her as things start to melt

  175. My learning experiences of the last week.

    Even though I regret not replacing the hvac last year at 75% of the cost I had to incur on an emergency basis, I am thrilled to have a new one properly set up. I had no idea how poorly my old system worked. I guess it was like sticking with an older car or a noisy dishwasher – it runs okay, why replace. We’ll see how the A/C does in summer for the bedrooms (single zone system), but that is not the season that creates a lot of strain. This weekend the walk out basement was toasty for the first time and the other two floors uniform in temp. At 15-20 degrees outside the heat pump takes care of everything without any electric boost.

    As for liquidity, I was able to sell a muni bond quickly at a gain even in this market to replenish the cash on hand account. I always preach owning individual laddered munis for retirement cash flow- not sure whether you have to have to use a broker to buy and sell those, or if you can buy them in self directed accounts – but they also worked in this case when selling shares or exercising options would not be as effective.

  176. Meme: Is there a difference between owning a muni bond fund v. laddering your own muni’s?

  177. @Mooshi – ITA. He wanted to go out again this morning, I have to work, so I grabbed my laptop and am now sitting where I can peek out the window every couple of minutes to make sure I still see movement out there. He is the proverbial pig in slop (I suspect we will have a snow city by nightfall).

  178. Over the weekend, I made this black bean soup in the crockpot. It was excellent.

    Notes: I added 1/2 teaspoon of sriracha sauce for some heat. That was perfect since kids were eating it too. If I were making it just for adults, I would have done a full teaspoon. I used my immersion blender to blend it smooth right there in the crockpot – did not transfer to a blender. We also did not bother with any of the toppings, just had the soup, but I bet those toppings would be delicious. This is definitely a crockpot keeper.

  179. I hope those of you experiencing the snow storm are doing well. I read Milo’s post and realized, other than going skiing in another state, I have never experienced more than 4-5 inches of snow. We would be like Milo’s neighbor and have no clue what to do. However, we know how to prepare/evacuate for torrential rain, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and extreme heat.

  180. I have never experienced more than 4-5 inches of snow. We would be like Milo’s neighbor and have no clue what to do.

    They’re from Maine!! Indeed, they knew *exactly* what to do. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here with aching forearms and it hurts even to type.

    It’s gotten me thinking about what the early decades of coal mining must have been like, just shoveling all day, every day, with no end in sight.

  181. Houston – Yes there is a difference. the similarities first. Both yield a stream of tax free income. Both have associated fees – buy sell spread and transaction fees for individual bonds, management fee for funds.

    Funds – On the plus side, easy liquidity -you can always buy and sell shares in a muni bond fund, when an individual bond in your portfolio might not have any takers at an acceptable price. The fund’s managers, especially in a fund directed at a non income tax state like Texas where you own a nationwide fund only for federal tax benefits, can buy and sell securities as local economic conditions dictate to keep the fund share value up.. On the con side, if interest rates shoot up, the share price of bond funds goes down because everyone’s bonds are worth less. If you need that aspect explained, I can follow up with another post. Also, as the bonds are traded in the fund there can be cap gain distributions – gains are not tax free in most cases.

    Individual laddered bonds – You hold to maturity, or at least to the date of call (early redemption by the issuer). If there are fluctuations in value due to interest rates or economic conditions, you still get the tax free interest twice a year, and the face value at redemption. I almost always buy bonds, commercial or muni, below face value. (Some of mine are 4.5% tax free stated interest rate to boot, but they are being called at the earliest possible date by the towns.) That mitigates the interest rate risk. The laddered portion is just like older people used to ladder bank CDs. If you have 200K in 10K tranches of muni bonds that mature one tranche per year, you always have 10K of cash coming in each year as cash on hand to use or reinvest. You don’t have to sell stock in a possibly down market or leave your money making nothing in the bank.

  182. “Meanwhile, I’m sitting here with aching forearms and it hurts even to type.”

    Yes, that, exactly! Honestly, I went out to help shovel expecting I’d get maybe 5 minutes in before my back went. But I was careful to shovel “properly” and my back held up ok — it was the forearms and hands that went! WOW. I mean, worse than the last time I tried rock climbing. I don’t remember that from shoveling in the past — maybe it was from having to lift the shovel so high and toss the snow over the snowbanks?

    Good thing DH was too wiped to want any serious food last night for dinner, because I don’t think I could have held a knife for more than 30 seconds! Velveeta and Rotel to the rescue. :-)

  183. This was also the only snowfall I can recall in recent memory where I did NOT see the teenagers with shovels roaming the neighborhood. Even DD opted out of making some $$ shoveling grandma’s walk once she saw what was really involved.

    The low blow was watching our lawn guy wave as he drove past in his work truck — we’re both thinking, wait, where are you going, I don’t care how much they’re paying you, we’ll top it!

  184. I had to make two trips with my groceries this morning because I couldn’t carry two bags from the front door to the kitchen at one time. too much pain.

    The bonus was the grocery store was empty because everyone is probably stocked up. I just needed some fresh fruit and veggies.

    Is anyone watching Downton? I’m curious to know what you think of this last season. I love the seeing the period clothes, change in technology and transportation, but the stories seem boring?? Is it just me? It’s funny to hear the smart one liners from Violet and others, but the rest just seems like wrap up.

  185. Lauren – I have similar thoughts about Downton, but we still love watching it. There’s been so much foreshadowing about Lord Grantham’s abdominal issue, he’s likely not long for this world. I think that police sergeant should just set up a permanent satellite office downstairs to better coordinate the ever-changing list of murder suspects and key witnesses in that house. Violet’s “one-liners” seem a bit too much, like it’s all she ever says. And this feud about who’s going to control the hospital is growing tedious. Edith should jump on the advances of the guy who helped her finish the magazine issue.

    I thought it was ironic that, not 20 minutes after the Crawleys chided themselves for not recognizing a maid who had worked in their house for two years, they were all relieved beyond measure that they would not have to bother addressing Mrs. Hughes-Carson by her new name. What a burden that would have been! Have they never known someone whose surname changed?

  186. We are still snowed in! They haven’t plowed our dead-end street yet. The street perpendicular to ours was cleared by yesterday am and I see people zipping by. If they don’t clear ours today, I am going to walk out there and get an Uber to the grocery store. My family doesn’t usually drink milk, but they used our half gallon for hot chocolate and we have no meat/chicken left. This snow storm has been much more pleasant than Snowmaggeddon. The power stayed on, our new neighborhood is much more friendly and has teenagers assisting with shoveling and I didn’t spend 10 hours commuting home.

  187. I continued to watch Downton this season. The show is not exciting but still it is interesting to see the changes due to historical events in people’s lives, both the landed and the ordinary people. The wars really accelerated the pace of change far more than the people at the time imagined.

  188. Risley, do you pay the local guy who watches your vacation place? My parents seem to have given up finding someone for their Ohio place in winters, after a couple of not-great experiences, so my sister stops by occasionally. In their area in Florida, there is a range of just one person who does it or small companies of a few people. They stop by periodically, water plants, change batteries in beeping smoke detectors, and notify owners of anything like the damage alarm found after being away too long. I don’t know what they pay, expect it varies by frequent of visits.

  189. Winemama – I’ve also never watched The Wire, so that’s two shows to try. I think DW may have watched a lot of the X-Files as a kid.

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