I knew I would be spending this afternoon with a dear friend, Laura, the girl I sat next to as we graduated from Duke in 1985. She’s in considerable anguish having lost her love to cancer, her soul, the man whose heart she carries in her heart, to use E.E. Cumming’s famous words. Harry, a lovely, brilliant, funny and delightful man, gone at 58. There are no words adequate to offer, only one’s presence. And soup. I roasted a chicken last night, ate some for dinner with mashed potatoes and broccoli, but saved most of it, and all the bones, to carry on the subway along with 4 carrots, 2 onions, celery, three tomatoes a bay leaf, to the upper east side. I set to work immediately, getting the bones boiling (I didn’t have much time, so with Read On »

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I’m reposting this Cranberry Sauce and Gravy from scratch from November 21, 2012, because they’re every bit as good now as it was then: My dad made this cranberry sauce when my daughter was very young. He was mystified, as I recall, having never cooked cranberries before, always used the kind with can-ribs, sliceable. That his granddaughter loved it made it very special to him. He continued to make it. His granddaughter is no longer four but rather seventeen and she will be making it this year (and so did I, because I wanted to share it in this post and think of my dad while it cooked). It’s really simple, can be done today or the day of (or several days ahead, next year). Just throw everything in the pot, bring it to a simmer, Read On »

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I’m in the Miami airport, Cleveland bound, having been a part of the amazing Miami Book Fair to promote my new collection of novellas, In Short Measures, love stories. Met some hero fiction writers, such as Elizabeth McCracken, whose “Thunderstruck” is one of the best short stories I’ve read in years. Also Mary Gaitskill, who scares the shit out of me, Rick Moody, who does not, Mary Karr, on whom I crush, and new writer friends Les Standiford, John Dufresne, and Cindi Chinelly. What a great fair, thanks to Mitchell Kaplan and Books & Books. Reposting the following for those looking for a delicious and simple Thanksgiving dressing: The nice thing about blogging as opposed to newspapering is that I don’t feel the obligation to always come up with a new way of roasting turkey Read On »

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  Want to make Thanksgiving day easier on yourself and ensure you have the best gravy ever? Start now. (Or this weekend.) This, too, planning ahead, is part of mise en place, one of the most important cooking “techniques” to recognize. Mise en place literally translates as put in place. To a cook, mise en place refers to his or her station set-up—having all that you need, at your station and in place, to accomplish the work ahead. Mise en place is shorthand for being prepared, at your station and in your mind. (I write about this more completely in Ruhlman’s Twenty.) It’s the cook’s first order of business, at a restaurant, at home. Making a roast chicken dinner with green beens and baked potato? Get everything out on the counter before you pick that Read On »

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  My mom traveled to the crazy garment district in New York for her work when I was a copyboy at the New York Times, five blocks north. I remember once she took me to lunch and ordered a Bull Shot. When I asked, she told me beef broth and vodka. Which sounded whack. But tasted nourishing on that winter day. Julia Moskin’s excellent piece in the Times on stock and broth made me think of that day. At last, stock/broth is being appreciated in its own right. (But it’s not a “trend beverage” as Moskin calls it—I guess she had to justify a story on one of the oldest, most fundamental preparations in the kitchen; “trend beverage,” Jesus. But I’ll take it, and thank you Julia!). Yes, it is delicious sipped from a mug! You can feel Read On »

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