Yesterday the NYTimes covered an important health ratio: the amount of potassium relative to the amount salt you consume. While the article by long time health reporter, Jane Brody, leads with the obvious (excessive salt has proven to be a health risk, according to yet another major study), and the headline writer reinforce the obvious (“Sodium-Saturated Diet is a Threat for All”), the article recognizes that everything is about balance and notes the important role potassium-rich foods play in countering salt’s negative effects. “The researchers found that while a diet hight in sodium—salt is the main source—increases your risk,” Brody writes, “even more important is the ratio of sodium (harmful) to potassium (protective) in one’s diet.” This was pointed out to me this summer by Mark Bitterman, author of a great book called Salted, and Read On »

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One of hard things about writing books is that they are in constant flux and then they are permanent. Thanks to the organic nature of blogs, I can make amends. When I was at the Culinary Institute of America, one of my best and favorite teachers was Eve Felder, who taught Garde Manger. She was the Cheshire Cat of chefs, perched high on stacked stools, who taught us that “Cooking is alchemy, cooking is magic!” And she was right. Righter than I knew, in fact. I’m heading to her native city, Charleston, South Carolina, and so she’s been on my mind. When I wanted to do a butter-poached shrimp for Ruhlman’s Twenty, I naturally wanted to pair it with grits. Who did I call for grits finesse points? Chef Felder. In the editing process of Read On »

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  Even James, the guy who handed me a bag of 20 pig ears, gave me a funny look.  ”What do you do with ‘em?” It’s not obvious, even to farmers, not in America. It wasn’t obvious to me till I had my first one several years ago at Michael Symon’s Lola, fried crispy on the outside, gelatinous and chewy on the inside, their richness offset by the sweet-sour heat of pickled chillis. Michael said he’d had a similar reaction when he’d first had one from Mario Batali. Where did Mario first have them? “The ears were a prized part of eating whole suckling pigs on weekend lunches in Segovia, Spain, near where we lived in Madrid throughout high school,” he said in an email yesterday. “I’ve  lived for ears and cheeks ever since!” How Read On »

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By far the best meal of the summer was our crab boil during our week in Ocracoke.  And like many “best” meals, it was unplanned, a surprise, a gift we were smart enough to take advantage of.  Donna has pals from her native Port Washington, NY, who have houses here, one of whom owns a popular restaurant on this lovely barrier island off the coast of North Carolina (a ferry-ride away from Cape Hatteras). So she found us a swank house on the water where we and friends and Donna’s sister and nieces could frolic. In the grass beside the house was an old crab pot. In the house was my sun-averse pal Lester. In the fridge, was a beef heart. As the sun set, Lester lowered the trap, stuffed with beef heart trim, into the Read On »

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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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