chawanmushi-2

I’m at Old Dominion University as a writer in residence and also opening up the annual literary festival, which is devoted this year to food and literature. (If you’re in or near Norfolk, come to the open reading this Monday at 7:30.) Back when I began The Making of a Chef, there really wasn’t a job description “food writer,” or rather it wasn’t something that one aspired to. Yes, newspaper reporters covered food, and there were plenty of food magazines. But you weren’t likely to see lit fests devoted to it. But that’s changing, for the better, as we recognize how deeply and pervasively food affects our lives. And I think this applies to cooking as well. Cooking our own food (or not cooking it) has a significant impact on the quality of our lives. I can’t Read On »

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H-1

With all this talk about the home cooked meal with family—is it an elite foodie construct, a romantic ideal that make parents, moms in particular, guilty, or a source of spiritual calm and power in an increasingly busy and chaotic world—I offer this story from Cleveland about the most important meal ever, originally published in the magazine Finesse.–MR The last meal I shared with my dad, a little more than 12 hours before he breathed his last, was burgers on the grill. He loved them, and he’d been grilling them for me well into adulthood. He couldn’t have been hungry, but he dutifully ate two bites of a loaded-up rare burger. It must not have been easy, and we—grandkids, ex-wife and daughter-in-law—complimented him. Straining to keep his eyes open, he said the burger was good. Read On »

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Baked buttered corn. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

                            I think I post this recipe and preparation each year because its so good, and at this time of year, as the corn begins to lose its sweetness and grow bigger and starchier, there’s no better way to cook it. I use this corn cutter, but you could slice the kernels off the cob and puree two-thirds of them in a blender for the same effect. Baking a mixture of pureed corn and whole kernels, cooking off much of the liquid, reduces the corn to an intensely sweet rich corn pudding. Nothing but corn, butter, salt, and pepper. This dish, on a cool September evening, is for me a sweet, salty reminder of summer’s inevitable deliquescence. Baked Corn 6 to 8 ears Read On »

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BH5

The above photograph (by Donna Turner Ruhlman) is of family meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The below essay was originally published by Finesse, Thomas Keller’s magazine, in an issue that explores the notion of community. In light of the brouhaha begun last week over a study arguing that the family meal is a romantic ideal rather than a simply a good idea, an elite foodie construct that merely makes overstressed middle class moms feel guilty, I’m posting it here. On re-reading, it may seem a bit over the top. But then …?   Is “Community” Important? Community. How nice. Hippies bagging granola in co-ops. Neighbors spending an afternoon weeding a communal garden filled with tomatoes and basil, bell peppers and a couple of bean plants. Isn’t that special? How Berkeley! Let’s make it Read On »

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the-last-martini

For now, that is. I need to focus on work and, well, most things come to an end, no? Though the inevitable catastrophe of death awaits us all, not so for the finest cocktail: The Martini. As perfect as a sonnet, Mencken said. I began The Friday Cocktail Hour two and a half years ago with a martini (outraged, outraged!, when I ordered a martini and was asked which vodka I preferred). I attached a memory of the best martini of my life to my first book contract this spring. And with a martini I finish. Because this concludes, for the nonce, my beloved Friday Cocktail Hour, we shall call this one the Is That All There Is? Martini. Gin, almost needless to say, flavored with vermouth and lemon, something to sip for comfort as Read On »

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