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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I’m a cook, not a baker. There are few professional chefs who are both. Cory Barrett, formerly of Cleveland’s Lola, was its pastry chef and then its chef de cuisine, very rare. Michel Richard is an anomaly in being both a world-class pastry chef and a dazzlingly ingenious savory cook, as his book Happy in the Kitchen shows (I highly recommend this book, by the way, and his restaurants). That savory cooks and pastry cooks are different creatures is also why writing the new best-selling Thomas Keller book, the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook—stunning in its recipes, photography, and design—was both so hard and so exciting for me, as I tried to understand the whys behind the craft of baking and pastries and write about them through executive chef Sebastien Rouxel. But it’s holiday-time, Christmastime, the season of baking! Read On »

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