Among the books that caught my eye this season, two of the most lovely are The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen. I’m biased on the Midwestern book, as it’s my home turf, but the Minnesotan Thielen, who logged serious years as a cook and chef at some of the best restaurants in Manhattan until she began a family, brings new life to recipes that are so at home in this part of America, dishes featuring our lake fish and our abundant venison, and vibrant takes on pot roasts and meat pies, recipes from simple salads to more elaborate preparations for headcheese and red current jelly. The publisher sent me an extra copy—it will be a GIVEAWAY to a commenter, just name your favorite cookbook (other Read On »

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Just a quick reminder that I sign and personalize all my books on request. Just go to my books page, scroll to what you want, and click the “Buy a signed copy” button. We can guarantee before-Xmas arrival only if you order by the end of the day Monday, December 16. In the spirit of the holidays, and because I hate shipping charges, I am now offering FREE SHIPPING. But please, and this is really important, tell me who you want the book signed to by clicking the WHAT THE NOTE INCLUDED SHOULD SAY button before you hit the “pay now” button. Also, I’d like to GIVE AWAY a signed copy of Ruhlman’s Twenty AND The Book of Schmaltz to the first person who can guess my favorite 5-digit number. [Update: The winner was Melissa Fujimoto, Read On »

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I published this last year in the Huffington Post on September 24, 2012, and it got such a strong response, I’m reposting it. Also I’m under the gun for two major book projects and two freelance assignments all due at once for some reason, not to mention sundry book promo interviews; I guess summer is over and fall is officially here. Sigh.—M.R. The Importance of Food? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and not least of all because I’ve always strived to distance myself from the pigeonhole called “food writer.” Food is important, obviously. If we don’t have it, we die. Writing about something so important should need no justification. And yet if I were called, say, an “environmental journalist,” wouldn’t that sound somehow more substantial, more serious than being a “food writer”? Read On »

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It made so much sense the second I read it. One of those “of course!” moments. It was, not atypically, while reading Michael Pollan in his NYTimes magazine story a few years ago about how no one cooks anymore (really?). Certainly in the 1980s and 1990s most of the country relied on reheating already-cooked food for their meals. And perhaps as a result, at least in part, we became a grossly obese country where seemingly the only people who dieted were the people who were already thin, and the rest made increasingly bizarre, unsustainable stabs at it. A physically sick country, a confused country—don’t get me started. The “of course” moment. It didn’t come from Pollan, but rather from a researcher he interviewed, Harry Balzer, who works for the market research behemoth NPD, and studies all kinds of Read On »

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No, wrong. America has a serious THINKING disorder. See that white stuff raining down from my fingers? It’s salt. And it’s the way you should salt the food you cook on your stove top or the chicken that’s going into your oven. But if you listen to the ABC Nightly News reporting about The Dangers of Salt, aka ABC News acid reflux, and then read today’s NYTimes page one story saying that salt is not bad for you, you must be wondering who to listen to. Well if you are, just stop listening and think for your fucking self. I have a dear friend who prevents his kids from drinking any milk other than nonfat milk but thinks nothing of serving them Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Seriously. (The nonfat milk issue is not uncommon, judging Read On »

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