As some readers know, I and my buddy Mac have begun to manufacture new cooking tools that we love, and we’re already getting great feedback. We love The Spanker, above (photo by Donna, thanks hon!)—the big paddle for stirring big pots. There’s simply nothing out there like it that we could find. I’ll be using it to stir a double batch of Hoppin’ John for a New Year’s Day fete. But my mom said it was too big for her—she never cooked in batches that would require this bad boy.  Another reader said the same, but added that she loved the paddles she’d received so much that she’d have been happy to pay the same amount for two small paddles.

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Christmas, 1992, my mom’s beau, an avid cook with whom I shared many happy hours in the kitchen, gave me a KitchenAid standing mixer.  It quickly became and remains my most relied upon countertop appliance.  I use it for mixing all kinds of dough, whipping meringue, making big batches of pate a choux, and, when I joined forces with Brian Polcyn to write a book about sausages and other forms of food economy and preservation, to grind meat (via the grinder attachment) and to mix the meat afterward (more this later).  It was one of the best and most useful gifts I’ve received ever. Christmas is a time when we indulge the people we love with gifts they wouldn’t be able to afford or to justify buying on their own.  For those of you who Read On »

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A year ago, I drove a couple hours south of Cleveland to a strip mall off Interstate 71 to film part of an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” heartland episode, at a stellar Japanese restaurant called Kihachi (google map it, look at all the parking lots and new housing developments). During the meal Bourdain, I made an off-handed remark about how extraordinary to find a restaurant of this caliber in the heart of Applebee’s country.  That was it, that was all!  And it’s still how I still see it, namely that strip malls off interstates, miles from any actual metropolis, is, indeed, Applebee’s country. Regrettably, this episode of the show featured Columbus, Ohio, the state capital, home of OSU and the Buckeyes, and the good people of this heartland city, eager for the national spotlight Read On »

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