I’m thrilled to publish this guest post from Carri Thurman, baker and chef at Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, on one of life’s vital substances, salt. Without it, we die. A kitchen without it is incomplete. A cook who uses it carelessly will flounder. And the cook who, curious and surrounded by salt in solution, decides she wants to try to bring it forth herself? —M.R.  The Alchemy: Salt from Water by Carri Thurman “My mother boils seawater. It sits all afternoon simmering on the stovetop, almost two gallons in a big soup pot. The windows steam up and the house smells like a storm. In the evening, a crust of salt is all that’s left at the bottom of the pot. My mother scrapes it out with a spoon. We each lick a Read On »

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Tracie McMillan is the uncommon person who combines long-term, in-depth reporting, elegant writing, and compelling story in The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table. (See this superb NYTimes review.) At my request, Tracie wrote this guest post. She has explored our food system from the bottom rungs, as a worker from California to Michigan to New York, so I asked her what’s the most important thing she’s taken away from her reporting and writing this book.  —M.R.   By Tracie McMillan One of the curious things about doing a semi-ridiculous reporting project—say, leaving behind your life to go work undercover as a farm worker, Walmart produce clerk, and Applebee’s kitchen wretch—is that near-strangers confront you with grand, existential queries. Like: What’s the most important thing you learned? Read On »

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  There’s a visceral pleasure to eating dangerous or forbidden food. Wild fugu, for instance. Wild mushrooms. Raw meat. Even oysters, still virtually alive. Why on earth would anyone try to eat something that stings? And believe me, these are prickly motherfuckers. Why? Because it’s fun. But there’s more to them than that. And the devoted baker and wonderful soul who runs Two Sisters Bakery in Homer, Alaska, describes why this “pesky, painful weed” is great to eat. Thanks for this valuable guest post, Carri! — Michael by Carri Thurman Nettles, the wild edible and pesky, painful weed that has been a staple of traditionalists and confounding gardeners since the beginning of time, are finally getting their spot on the culinary stage. Nettles are replacing kale as the superfood of the moment, boasting the highest levels Read On »

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The guest post on pressure cooking eggs was so popular, I’ve asked the blogger Laura Pazzaglia of hippressurecooking.com for more posts. Here she comes through with an innovative way to cook three different types of beans, each requiring different cooking methods, simultaneously in a pressure cooker. There’s some whacky shit in here, like freezing the green beans. But it’s fascinating.  Take it away Laura!—MR Beans x 3 by Laura Pazzaglia Pressure cook beans with three different cooking times at the same time with perfect results for each using the three heat-zones:  boiling  on the bottom  (hottest),  steaming (hot), and protecting beans from direct contact with steam in a foil wrap (warm). HOW: With steamer basket, aluminum foil and approximate cooking times.  Beans in steamer basket must be pre-soaked.  Cooking time for steamed beans is about “twice” Read On »

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So so so many people tell me they have a cookbook to write, asking for advice, and I almost always do my best to discourage them, with Asian delicacy and Germanic firmness, I hope. Because I believe that there are too many cookbooks out there already and the ones so often published add nothing new. So when writer and educator Dianne Jacob asked me what does define a successful cookbook, it got me thinking. She’s written an excellent post collating many, many responses from people in the industry. The responses are surprising in their diversity. The first and obvious answer is, a book is successful if it makes money for the publisher and author.  And there are many ways this can happen, meaning that a book that sells 10,000 copies can be a resounding success Read On »

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