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 »

Share

I’m starting to get Thanksgiving meal questions in my email, so I guess it’s time to review for our great shared secular holiday, Thanksgiving, our only holiday anchored by food. Time to start planning! I’ll have other posts later in the week, dressing, and stock-making for this weekend (have to have plenty of stock for dressing and gravy). Today, it’s the big one. How to handle the big bird. I find it amusing how every year the major food media come up with some new way to do the same old thing. Last year The New York Times told you to steam your turkey! Not that there’s anything wrong with the story or the technique (by the Jacques Pépin, after all). My view is why mess with what works? For important occasions, the rule is: Read On »

Share

One pot meals are great for this cold winter they are easy to make and taste delicious, via NYT.

Share

A year ago, my neighbor, Lois Baron, said she had to leave a party early to make schmaltz, as the High Holy days of the Jewish year approached and she was the cook in the family. Long having wanted to explore this oft-maligned fat, I asked for Lois’s help in understanding its history and use. (Almost everyone refers to it as “heart attack food,” but it’s not. It’s good for you! In moderation. Lois is in her 70s and cooks like a banshee, her husband Russell is in his 80s and still practices law, and Lois’s mom cooked schmaltz well into her 90s, though she wouldn’t admit it.) Schmaltz, rendered chicken fat flavored with onion, was such an odd topic, and so focused, it didn’t seem like a big-book idea, so Donna encouraged me to Read On »

Share

I love how every year the major food media come up with some new way to do the same old thing. This year The New York Times tells you to steam your turkey! Not that there’s anything wrong with the story or the technique (by the Jacques Pépin, after all). My view is why mess with what works? For important occasions, the rule is: go with what works. And of all my years roasting a turkey, I’ve found that the braise/roast method works best, as I wrote last year. The reason is that this method solves the two great Turkey Conundrums: 1) how to have both juicy breast meat and tender dark meat, and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Year before last, I was Read On »

Share