People freak out about gravy. I don’t know why. Gravy is easy as pie. Actually, a hell of a lot easier than pie. All it is, is a delicious, rich stock thickened with flour. In cooking school, they call it velouté, French for velvety. You take a great stock and give it a velvety texture. Flour-thickened sauces got a bad name when bad “French” restaurants served heavy terrible sauces. Properly prepared, flour-thickened sauces are light, flavorful, and refreshing. I prefer them to heavy reductions which, prepared thoughtlessly, are gluey with protein and make the tongue stick to the palate. The key is dispersing the flour uniformly through the sauce. We do this by combining the fat (butter, rendered chicken or turkey fat) so that the granules of flour are each coated with fat to prevent Read On »

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, America’s biggest home-cooking day, I’ll be addressing a few of the most common issues and frequently asked questions about the basics: roasting turkey and making gravy. Friday, I’ll be introducing an innovate and  in my opinion the best possible way to roast a whole turkey (it involves a dual method and resulted last year in Donna’s saying, “This is the best roasted turkey we’ve ever had.”) But first things first: make turkey stock now so that you have it on hand to make gravy. I don’t know where we got the idea that a roasting turkey results enough juices to make gravy. It doesn’t. And you certainly want to have way too much gravy on Thanksgiving so that you have leftovers. My favorite day-after meal is hot turkey sandwiches, smothered in Read On »

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A history of maple syrup in the United States and how it commercial syrups became so sweet, via The Atlantic.

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Dan Moulthrop, a former journalism student of Michael Pollan, interviewed the writer before a sold-out crowd at the Ohio Theater last week. I asked Dan, Curator of Conversation at The Civic Commons, a Knight Foundation project to use new media and emerging technologies to strengthen civic engagement, for his thoughts on Pollan’s visit. —M.R. by Daniel Moulthrop I woke up this morning from a dream in which I’d taken Michael Pollan to the West Side Market. It’s just an echo of his Monday visit, and a remnant of a strong desire the Cleveland ambassador in me had to show him both that place and the Ohio City Farm. Here’s my big takeaway from Monday night: The food system I grew up with is not the food system we’ll necessarily be stuck with. At one point Read On »

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  Funny.  The recipes people are pulled toward, desire, crave, are the most basic. Like Onion soup. Part of why I love people’s hunger for basic food is because there’s so much to learn from the simplest dishes. This recipe is from the new book, Ruhlman’s Twenty.  The new book attempts to distill cooking down to 20 fundamental techniques. Two of the techniques are not verbs but rather nouns: water and onion—two of the most powerful ingredients in your kitchen, rarely given the reverence they deserve. The soup deserves this high praise not only because it’s delicious and satisfying, but because it was borne out of economy. This is a peasant soup, made from onions, a scrap of old bread, some grated cheese, and water. Season with salt and whatever wine is on hand or some Read On »

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