Of the many many reasons I have to be thankful, one of them is this blog and the enormously thoughtful, intelligent readers who drop by to read and comment. I truly am grateful. Thank you. I wish you all happy Thanksgiving (and hope that you have tons of fun in the kitchen today)! The above photo was taken on Thanksgiving 2007 (I’m struggling to hold the turkey up, but I think it’s important to parade the bird before carving it—my mom found the platter in Mexico). That’s my dad, Rip, with me. It would be the last Thanksgiving I would have with him. Three weeks after this day, he sat me and Donna down in front of the fire after dinner at his house. He had something to say. Recent X-rays showed a spot on Read On »

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Video: Grant Achtaz’ restaurant Next is taking on a v try creative menu featuring the idea of childhood memories, via You Tube.

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Three years ago on this date, a Saturday, Donna, my mom, I, the kids, our dear friend Stu, and the dog spent the morning standing vigil as my father succumbed to the lung cancer. Mom had gone to the farmer’s market and gotten corn and she and I stood at the kitchen island plowing through a dozen and a half ears, butter dripping off our chins. My dad, Rip, hadn’t been conscious since very early in the morning, 3 am, Donna and I on the bedside, holding his hand. Realizing the end was truly near, he wanted our assurance that I had indeed returned his library books. I had.  ”We love you, Dad, we’re going to be fine, don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK.” By eleven a.m., he breathed sporadically. I hoped he could Read On »

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Happy Father’s Day to all you guys out there who have brought little people into the world! I hope you’re duly honored. Most of you reading this do so because you cook—God bless you for that! I love guys who cook for their family. There’s something really powerful about them. Maybe because my dad, above, circa 1968, cooked food over fire all year long for us. Happily, Donna let’s me cook anything I want on Father’s Day, so I’ll relaxing by the grill tending a spatchcocked turkey (thanks for the idea, Cheryl). This is not steak or a burger. This is 12-pound bird—currently soaking in a sage brine—and so will require a good couple hours, at least, of hanging out around the fire, tending the fire, mopping the bird with butter seasoned with mustard and Read On »

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Daylight Saving Time remained in effect on Halloween, so a sky of scattered clouds was unusually bright.  We’d spent the afternoon at Thomas and Heather’s across the street, eating pizza straight from the wood oven in their backyard, surrounded by our neighbors and their kids.  All the women were cold and stayed close to the fire. Dogs fed at dropped crusts. Football on the front lawn, basketball at the back of the drive. When it was time for costumes the parents with little ones went off to get ready.  At six, I poured a beer into a red cup, pulled a cigar from the downstairs freezer, one of two I’ll smoke all year. I put the dog on the leash and set out behind four 11- and 12-year-olds.  I used to have to go, to Read On »

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