Upgrades, Snafus and Other Blog Stuff

We are working on upgrading WordPress for Tigers & Strawberries. That is the good news.

The bad news is that SpamKarma2, the spam filter that keeps the porn, ads and other bullshit spam comments off my blog has decided to somehow blacklist ME, so I have not been able to comment on my own blog in about a week or so. This is frustrating. It may be that someone hacked my account and added my IP address to the blacklist on spam karma, but Zak can’t really figure out what happened.

So, here is the deal. I’ll keep T&S up and running while he works on it, but if you post a comment and you want me to answer it–send it to me in email as well. Because for right now, I cannot really contribute to conversations via the comments threads.

And, while I am at it, here is a question for the readers–what kinds of posts would you like to see on T&S in the future? Work has taken a lot of my time, and Kat and the rest of the family, of course, takes up a lot of time, so I am running out of ideas as to what to write about. So, if anyone has any suggestions, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Thanks for everything, and have a nice Sunday!


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  1. No need to reply – you have my sympathy over the spam issue!!! I just upgraded WP on my site, and so far, so good, but I don’t have a lot of bells and whistles on it that could break.

    I haven’t seen a post that I haven’t enjoyed, so it’s hard to request anything specific! 🙂 Just keep up the wonderful writing and cooking.

    Comment by Cindy — April 27, 2008 #

  2. Greetings from Bangor, Barbara! I wanted to tell you about something you have inspired me to do: cook from my pantry!

    I am leaving Bangor, Maine, and moving back to Ohio in early summer. I have been known to be a “hoarder” of foods – usually things like beautiful beans and grains, cans of things, sauces, and seasonings. I love to keep my staples in canning jars – it all looks so beautiful. I use some of it once, and then it just sits there and the collection keeps on growing…

    Last summer, when I moved here from Athens, it took days and days to pack up my apartment, including the 15 years’ worth of pantry items I’d accumulated. Some of it was given to friends, some of it was poured in the compost bin, and some came with me.

    Now I have about 8 weeks left here, and my goal is to be a CREATIVE cook, and have almost nothing left in my pantry when I leave! Just a bunch of beautiful, empty jars to fill back up when I get to Columbus!

    Last week I ran out of boxed cereal. So I’ve had cream of wheat (only about two servings left now…); rice pudding with some brown rice I’d cooked, plus raisins, soy milk, and cinnamon; and toast with jam and peanut butter. (I’m making bread until my flour is gone, too.)

    Today I made a roasted red pepper/tomato soup with jarred red peppers, canned tomatoes, some garlic, cayenne pepper, and a little water. Yum! I also made a salad with spelt, black beans, celery, garlic, jarred ginger, dark sesame oil, lemon juice, and cilantro. SO GOOD!

    As you can see, buying produce and milk is okay, but I’m trying not to buy any more grains, legumes, pasta, packaged stuff, or seasonings. I’ve even run out of olive oil and am trying to survive on dark sesame oil and hazelnut oils!

    But it’s so much fun! And all inspirated by your series on restaurant kitchens and using what you have in the pantry:) I say more recipes like that would be fun, if you’re looking for post ideas.

    Take care, and please take an extra breath of fresh Athens county air on my behalf! I miss it so much!

    Jane in Maine

    Comment by Jane — April 27, 2008 #

  3. I meant to say “inspired!” 🙂

    Comment by Jane — April 27, 2008 #

  4. I’d like to see the long version of your chicken and noodles recipe… and more basic Chinese cooking.

    Comment by Lucy — April 27, 2008 #

  5. This is probably my favorite food blog, probably because your style with spices and fusion is similar to how my family cooks. And I love the Kat stories too 🙂

    I’m not sure what I’d like to see more of, I’ve loved everything so far. Perhaps more legume and fish recipes? I tend to get a bit stuck in a rut in how I cook lentils and beans, and it’s silly but I’m intimidated by fish. The restaurant posts are very interesting to read, too, and the simple ones are inspiring if I have similar ingredients available.

    Nothing wrong with writing less often if you need to!

    Comment by Sasha — April 27, 2008 #

  6. Do you have any insight into or recipes for Arroz con pollo? We had some wonderful stuff during our travels to Spain but I haven’t been able to replicate it’s phenomenal flavor at home (It always comes out tasting bland)

    Love your blog (I love the Kat updates, she is sooo adorable) !! Keep up the good work.

    Comment by Elizabeth — April 27, 2008 #

  7. Dear Barbara,
    I would LOVE to read more of your Indian food recipes and techniques, especially for vegetarian and vegetable-based dishes. That kashmiri dhingri chole is now my favorite thing to cook and everyone I’ve fed it to loves it and asks for a recipe. Thank you!

    Comment by Olga — April 27, 2008 #

  8. Why tinker with perfection? I have loved everything that I read here and have “adopted” Kat into my Internet family of nieces.

    Comment by Nancy — April 27, 2008 #

  9. Good luck with the upgrade!

    I always like to see posts about kitchen tools, especially unusual ones.

    Comment by Kitt — April 28, 2008 #

  10. Barbara,

    There are plugins you can use to help facilitate the upgrade of WordPress (I’ll be doing that soon too, I think). As far as anti-spam plugins go, I use WP-SpamFree and LOVE it. Most spam is automatically generated, and this plugin differentiates computer generated comments from human generated and blocks the computer stuff. It also gives you the ability to block trackbacks and pingbacks if spam from those sources becomes overwhelming.

    As for posts, I love the format you have now – you’re my favorite food blog; in fact, you’re one of the only two food blogs on my blogroll, although I do link to a few recipe sites. When I think about it, my blog format has become very similar to yours – I post about various things (mostly very tongue-in-cheek) between recipe postings.

    Oh, and btw – my daughter has decided to begin the culinary program at Akron University this fall.

    Comment by Texpatriate — April 28, 2008 #

  11. Too funny that you’re blacklisted from your own site! (At least to those of us not affected.) I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning somewhere.

    I’m doing the same thing Jane is – The Semi-Decadal Pantry Clearing Project. Used to me that frequent moves took care of this, now I have to schedule it in.

    There are a number of good reasons to clean out your cabinets every now and then:
    – Food should not sit around too long, it has to be used or it goes bad, stale, container deteriorates & attracts bugs, etc.
    – Stored food is unusable money. Each can of tomatoes tucked away is $.75 you can’t use and aren’t earning interest on. There’s an optimum level of stored food; most of us tend to exceed that over time (unless we’re unusually disciplined or run short of money).
    – An exercise in ingenuity. Figuring out what to do with that can of preserved beets that a houseguest left pushes one beyond one’s usual habits.
    – Makes the also-necessary occasional thorough cabinet cleaning much, much easier.

    (I also run through deep freezer food about twice a year, for the same reasons and also to defrost the appliance.)

    One nice thing about doing this without an impending move is I can buy additional ingredients to use up the ones I have.

    In the spirit of pantry cleanout and efficient use, how about the fortnightly recipe request for how to use up something that has your readers stumped? The reader would ask what to do with, say, canned beets, frozen peas, quinoa and/or cracked dried corn, and a jar of exotic mushrooms. You – and maybe other readers – would post answers.

    Comment by Harry — April 28, 2008 #

  12. Barbara, I emailed you about this a while back, but I’ll repeat it here since you asked — I would love to see a post or series of posts on different chiles. I have no idea how to identify them, which can be substituted for others, how to store or prepare them. I’m just a chile ignoramus, and so many of your recipes involve them.

    I really enjoy your Kat posts as well, especially concerning your experiences cultivating a love of diverse foods in babies and children.

    Comment by Zoe — April 28, 2008 #

  13. I’d like to see posts on homemade salad dressing recipes.

    Have you considered Askimet for your spam tool instead?

    Comment by vegoftheweek — April 28, 2008 #

  14. Barbara your blog is wonderful, so whatever you do will no doubt satisfy us readers. A few things I love about the blog is the variety of cuisines you discuss it keeps everything interesting and a constant source of inspiration. Also I really like when you get into the nitty gritty details like making homemade tortilla or shrimp stock. As for general topics I’ll second fish recipes and salad dressing.

    Good Luck, KCatGU

    Comment by KCatGU — April 28, 2008 #

  15. T&S is my favourite food blog, bar none, and among my top 5 blogs of all time. As others have said, anything you post about will interest us, but for specific requests, I have the following: more about growing herbs, when it’s freezing outside, especially asian ones like lemon grass, and more asian recipes (indian, thai, chinese), especially vegetarian, or easily adapted to vegetarian.

    Thanks for a fantastic blog, Barbara!!

    Comment by Ushma — April 28, 2008 #

  16. Perhaps branching into another country or region is in order. You could hop across the sea of Japan from China and do the myriad non sushi traditions of Japan. Hurray for takoyaki! If you’re a little burned out on Asian Cuisine perhaps you could explore Latin America more.

    My favorite posts of yours have been the instructional ones like the lasagna post or the Pie Crust series. Maybe some more series posts on specific subjects? I would love to see your take on tamales, homemade tortillas, and sundry.

    Just keep posting the deliciousness that you usually do!

    Comment by Benjamin — April 28, 2008 #

  17. Arghhh! Spam!


    maybe a history of Athens and environs’ restaurant culture: Casa, China Fortune, Purple Pagoda?, The Burrito Buggy, The Flying Saucer, 7 Sauces, Korean Restaurant, that pizza place that probably no longer exists but was down the hill and offered wheat crust/hemp? pizzas in the early-90’s…

    point being: despite my mention of the buggies, Athens long seemed ripe for better than average, more exploratory college eats

    Lui, lui, etc…

    Comment by christopher gordon — April 28, 2008 #

  18. Your blog is great as is! I love to read about your daughter and how you’re developing her sophisticated palate. I am just starting my 7 month old on solid foods and I’m experimenting with daals and curry thanks to your guidance. I love your instructional posts, like the others have mentioned, especially the chicken stock one and browning onions. More instructional posts would be great, too, in the future, on cooking techniques. Thanks so much!

    Comment by Shirlie — April 29, 2008 #

  19. Dear Barbara,
    Let me start by saying that everything I cook from your blog comes out perfectly. Your recipes are thoughtful and easy to follow.
    So, here is what I’d like to see:
    Weeknight meals cooked in the wok.
    Fish recipes.
    Vegetalbe/Vegetarian recipes.
    Oh, and now that I’ve started going to Asian and Indian grocery stores, it would be helpful if you could help identify some of the ingredients. For example, I didn’t know what gai lan was until I read about it here.
    Cook book reviews.
    Current event commentaries.
    And most of all, I love to hear about what you are doing, what Kat is up to, Zak, and Morganna.
    Thank you for the time and effort you put into your blog. I really appreciate you!
    Take care and sorry to hear about the spam woes.

    Comment by Sue — April 29, 2008 #

  20. Blast! A typo for all the world to see. I forgot to add the master recipe series. I love those.

    Comment by Sue — April 29, 2008 #

  21. I know very little about Indian cuisine, aside from what you’ve written. Since I have a mad, passionate love for red lentils/masoor dal, this is a problem. I also like split peas/chana dal. I should try moong dal at some point, but I’m regrettably lazy and haven’t yet. I don’t often follow a dal heavy recipe exactly, but it does give me ideas for ways to take lentils and rice in different directions.

    I love lamb. I mostly default to lamb roasts and fried chops, which is sort of criminal given the quality of lamb I can get. More lamb ideas would be most welcome.

    Comment by Emily Cartier — April 29, 2008 #

  22. Hi! I love your blog! I found it one day when I was searching for the right Chinese noodle soup recipe and have returned at least once or twice per week! As a native Chinese person, I am amazed at your virtuosity with Chinese, South Asian, and Middle Easter cuisines.

    On your recommendation, I read Seventh Daughter, the Cecelia Chiang book, and loved her recipes and epic family and entrepreneurial stories.

    I love your “kitty cat” and “Kat” blogs and would love to see more photos of and thoughts on your cats and your baby. You’ve shared some wonderful personal stories.

    On food recipes, I’d love more Chinese and Korean comfort foods. Maybe fried tofu recipes, Chinese Yellow Chicken Curry, Lion’s Head Casserole, Red Cooked Pork Stew, etc.


    Comment by Susan — April 29, 2008 #

  23. T&S is my favorite food blog because you give us GREAT recipes and sometimes a little history and the story behind it. I like trying new things and that’s something I appreciate about your blog, that you mix it up and give us a great variety of recipes.
    And gotta tell you, that tutorial on cooking onions for a long time and using them in recipes? OhMyGoodness they are SO good! We love, love, love the pasta with mushrooms and peas 🙂
    Just keep up the good work!

    Comment by Kim — April 30, 2008 #

  24. Everything I can use my sumeet with – you see one was ordered for me for my birthday in 2006 after your rave reviews about its usage. It is now May 2008 – 3 birthdays & a couple of months later – and it just arrived. The stories were great – a bit like the plagues in Egypt. There were floods, moving of factories, lost shipments. The person giving me this gift heard everything except that the boat sank. Part of those stories must be true because Williams Sonoma had them in their catalog and they never received them either. My gift giver finally gave up and bought me the BIG one which arrived this past week. I have checked out all the T&S recipes, am heading to the Asian store and cooking up a storm this weekend. WAAAHOOOOOO. This is going to be fun.

    Of course, what is also great fun is seeing pictures and hearing stories of Kat, Morganna, Zak and you.

    Oh….more Thai recipes too please.

    Comment by Maureen — May 1, 2008 #

  25. i always appreciate your entries on feeding children. I have a young one of my own, and don’t want to blindly follow the “what to expect” type of books, but really have no experience (i’m an only child, hung out with my grandparents a lot etc)

    Comment by gizella — May 2, 2008 #

  26. Maureen: That was my experience trying to get my Sumeet too. It took four months and two separate deliveries and many, many odd excuses.

    Barbara: Anything you do and how ever often you do it is great. No really – GREAT! Local ingredients? Chinese? Indian? Pantry cooking? Anything and everything, including of course KAT is most welcome…

    Comment by Diane — May 2, 2008 #

  27. I think you should do more stories with that Dan in them, or stories with Dan as the photographer.

    This of course means inviting him over for dinner more often. 😉

    -Da….errrrr…Dave…Yeah….Dave…That’s it!

    Seriously…Something that you do all the time in person that you don’t necessarily go into in great detail on your blog, but I find utterly facinating is the Chemistry of Cooking.

    While you’re cooking, you talk about certain ingredients reacting with other ingredients to create flavors and textures. This as a binding agent, the acid in that reacting with thus and such to produce the tangyness in the flavor.

    I’ve watched you talk about a recipe you’ve come up with that was inspired by some COMPLETELY different dish from a COMPLETELY different ethnic background, where there rarely seems to be any common ingredients, or even similar flavors, but the results are almost always fantastic.

    I think this is what makes you so versatile, in that you can cook almost any “ethnicity” of food. Methods and spices vary, but meats, vegetable families, starches, etc. will almost always interact similarly.

    I guess some of it has sunk in, because when I’m cooking, I find myself experimenting with different ingredients and spices to achieve a certain effect.

    Since spending so much time in a kitchen just watching you, (as when Barbara is cooking, the Kitchen becomes the household gathering place,) I find myself saying, “Well, Barbara does this Chinese dish this way, and this works with this in this way to produce so-and-so, and so I think if I do this THIS way for this Mexican dish, it should work the same.” I find that 9 times out of 10 it’s quite successful.

    I don’t know how much other people would find this interesting, as it’s not X or Y recipe, but if you could share just a little about this, I know I’d be riveted.

    All the best,


    Comment by Dan — May 4, 2008 #

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