Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be published next year by Little, Brown. by Stephanie Stiavetti If you’re a regular reader of Michael’s site, then you’re probably one of a class of people that thinks a lot about food. You might make it a point to buy quality ingredients, mostly prepare your meals at home, and generally spend a fair amount of time thinking about what you put in your body. What baffles me, though, is that despite all the grass-fed beef and produce carefully selected at the local farmers’ market, a huge number of the people in this food-conscious demographic still buy crappy, industrially produced cheese. These folks have educated themselves about many other aspects of what they eat, but are seemingly unaware that these Read On »

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  Forrest Pritchard is a seventh-generation family farmer (skip this intro and read his guest post below if you’re pressed for time). His farm, Smith Meadows, is in Berryville, Virginia. The guy is clearly a lunatic, as his new book, Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm, shows (here’s the Publishers Weekly review of the book). He’s also started a blog (because he has so much time on his hands)—read this excellent post on What NOT to Ask the Grower at Your Local Market, it’s hilarious. Thanks to our mutual friend, Carol Blymire, Forrest offered to write a guest post I’m proud to put up here. I love to write about my region’s farmers, such as livestock farmer Aaron Miller and a record store clerk who got it in his head to raise Read On »

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People call me a chef (even says so here). I’m not a chef. Ted Allen is not a chef (as if his round wood spoons didn’t say as much). Rachael Ray is not a chef. None of us ever said we were. (I have on occasion, claimed to be, but that was just to piss off Michael Symon, who is a chef, or was—now he’s a TV cook, entertainer, and successful restaurateur. I cooked at Sans Souci, a Marriot-owned restaurant, ages ago, but I wouldn’t last an hour on the line today.) Terms matter. I say this because today’s guest poster, Patricia Tracey, is and remains solely a chef. Not a celeb chef like Symon or Bobby Flay (both of whom are superlative cooks, btw, another and more meaningful term). She’s a cook’s cook, a woman Read On »

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Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, asked to write about soup after what I can only say is a soup moment. It’s also a glimpse of a busy bakery and kitchen (and two delicious recipes for tomato soup and a seafood soup). —M.R. The Magic of Soup by Carri Thurman I arrive at the bakery at 10 a.m to begin my day working the lunch and dinner kitchen shifts. As I get out of my car, the roar of the waves breaking on the beach next door fills my ears and the stinging odor of salt water assaults my nose. As I get closer to the building the fishy smell of the ocean mingles with that of sweet warm sticky buns tinged with ham Danish that has been left in the toaster Read On »

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  Still recovering from 10 days of Key West fine food and postprandial debauchery, I’m giving my site over today to my friend Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti), who writes The Culinary Life blog, and whose first book, Melt, will be published next year by Little, Brown (a fine book to which I happily contributed the introduction). I’ll be back on Friday with a Key West–inspired cocktail to combat the winter grays. Take it away, Steph, and thanks for keeping it simple and discussing a critical cooking technique!—M.R. by Stephanie Stiavetti Bread pudding needn’t be complicated. At its core, custard is a straightforward dish consisting of cream and egg yolks. For a sweet custard you add sugar, alongside tiny, fragrant vanilla beans (usually), and that’s about as fussy as it gets. The best bread puddings are marked Read On »

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