In May 2011, I traveled to my alma mater, Duke University in Durham, NC, to attend the memorial of my mentor, Reynolds Price. Returning to the school felt like returning to my youth there, where I’d pursued my dream of writing fiction, in Reynolds’s class and then beyond. I felt out of my body, seeing myself as I was then, my friends, my life there, and also all the selves I’d been in between, sometimes worse for wear, sometime better. Upon leaving Duke, I wrote two novels over the course of five years, neither of which sold and, despite Reynolds’s urgings to carry on, I gave up. I’d had such a powerful response to Reynolds’s memorial, though, to returning to that hallowed place, that I began to write an essay about it. But soon a voice from those Read On »

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One of the books I’m proudest of having written is Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, a Cook’s Manifesto. The publisher, Chronicle, is now promoting it by offering a great deal on the e-book, $3.99. I love the heft of the actual book, but frankly, if I’m looking for the seasoning for my fried chicken or the sauce for the Carolina BBQ, I open up my iPad and search the electronic version. The book came about when, having a cocktail with an editor, I said, “Bill, there are only twenty things you need to know to cook anything.” He pointed his finger at me and said, “That’s a book!” And so it was. The electronic version is available using the following links: Kindle Apple ibookstore Barnes & Noble Google Play Kobo Bookshout   If you liked Read On »

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  Last week, I asked readers what kind of cookbook they’d most like to see written. The responses were all great, but I wanted to write about what was the most requested kind of book. It’s important because it’s exactly what my Little, Brown editor talked about (I once forgot to capitalize the publisher’s name and was asked how I could be so racially insensitive). Talk we did over the above oysters at Jeffrey’s Grocery in the West Village. Please note the humongous and delicious Island Creek oysters, which I recently wrote about here. Suggestions here ranged from lunches to Southern cooking to Rustbelt cooking to spices. Two big topics were cooking for one or two people, which I like, especially when I’m in Manhattan in a tiny apartment. The other was interest in sous vide cooking in the Read On »

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I’m spending time in my studio apartment in NYC now and so have been cooking for one and thinking about the unusual nature of the task: single portions using as few pans as possible. I’ve posted recently on the importance of duck confit, and how it represents for me our ingenuity in terms of preserving food. But sometimes duck confit is just duck confit: a satisfying and delicious meal. And perfect for one in a tiny kitchen. Especially given that prepared duck confit is right around the corner at the most excellent Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in the Chelsea Market (I wrote about them last year). Happily, the wonderful company D’Artagnan makes duck confit and sells to many grocers and they also can ship directly to you. D’Artagnan is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Monday—congrats, Ariane! For this Read On »

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    My friend Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese.   By Stephanie Stiavetti It wasn’t all that long ago that homemade bread was a regular staple at the table. Two, perhaps three, generations have passed and pushed this skill into the history books. No more warm loaves on the table, or seductive smells piquing your senses. It’s a genuine loss. Bread was one of the first projects I took on myself as a girl, and though my grandmothers didn’t really make bread, I was able to pick up the process pretty quickly. At 10 years old I baked my first bread with only the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook to guide me, and by age 12 I had managed a pretty decent French bread that earned Read On »

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