avacado-orange-salad-croppe

For forty of the past seventy days I’ve been on the road, with another two weeks to go before I can settle into the holidays, and perhaps the biggest thing I learned was how hard it is to find good, nourishing food when traveling, especially when you live in a Marriott Courtyard. I spent ten days, for instance, at one such Marriott in the infernal (temperature-wise) San Fernando Valley while filming a new cooking competition show. (Kitchen Inferno airs this Wednesday on Food Network—let me know what you think!) True, there was a Whole Foods within a fifteen-minute walk, where I could buy grapes and almonds for the room, and I could have hit the salad bar, but I don’t like to eat out of plastic clamshell containers. By myself. In a shitty hotel room. Sorry Read On »

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Chicken that has been given an aggressive salting before roasting.

My new book, How to Roast, may have begun in Portland when a fellow scribe claimed that people no longer had time to cook and I called bullshit. And then at some point during my rant-cum-roast-chicken recipe I noted possible activities to while away the hour that the bird was in the oven. That was the beginning of this new book. But it was fueled by my conviction that the world doesn’t need more recipes, it needs deeper understanding of the fundamental techniques. Because when you know technique, you don’t need to rely on recipes and you don’t find yourself at 5 pm with hungry kids thinking, now what am I going to do? How to Roast is the first in a series of technique-based books. They’re short. They include only 25 recipes or so. Because we don’t Read On »

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Slicing the pig in half.

Re-posting this because I can’t be there this year and it is such a valuable event. I’m sorry to be missing it, and miss very much my dear friends Brian and Kate Hill and Christoph and Isabell. -MR Christoph Wiesner, the Austrian butcher who raises Mangalitsa, is always tense before the kill. Last year, he told me, yes, he was nervous because it wasn’t his pig, the pig didn’t know him, he couldn’t know what the pig would do. Under normal circumstances the pigs have spent their lives with him and the week before they are done in, he brings the captive bolt, the stunning device, into pens so the pigs are used to even that. The pigs are calm throughout. This year, at Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, Christoph was not only unfamiliar to the pig, he was miked Read On »

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family-meal-@1020

  Virginia Heffernan adds to the increasing noise about how unfair cooking is for working moms in the NYT magazine. I’m a fan of her work, but her Sunday essay, a long, shrill, monochromatic whine about not liking to cook dinner, is so sad and self-unaware I feel compelled to figure out my own thoughts on a subject I write about regularly. I don’t disagree that there are many people who really don’t like cooking. More, I’ve argued that it’s probably important that every family includes people who don’t like to cook. But I do think cooking food where you live is important, as readers here know, and we fail to recognize just how important at our peril. Heffernan early on calls Ruth Reichl pompous for saying that cooking food is the most important thing you can Read On »

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A weeknight braise of chicken in red wine, coq au vin, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

It was the simplest of observations. I’d never heard it made, but it crystalized for me yet another facet of America’s dysfunctional relationship to food. I was listening to a podcast of “This American Life,” maybe the greatest show on radio, one from the archives called “Americans In Paris,” and featuring still another American treasure, David Sedaris. One of the Americans interviewed by the show’s host, Ira Glass, noted the joy with which the French eat and said, “Americans treat their food like medicine.” Exactly! We eat what’s “good” for us. We avoid what’s “bad” for us without really knowing what is good or bad for us. We eat probiotic food, such as yogurt with active cultures because it may be good for our gut flora. We avoid gluten because that’s what’s trending now. Yes, trending, Read On »

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