chawanmushi-2

I’m at Old Dominion University as a writer in residence and also opening up the annual literary festival, which is devoted this year to food and literature. (If you’re in or near Norfolk, come to the open reading this Monday at 7:30.) Back when I began The Making of a Chef, there really wasn’t a job description “food writer,” or rather it wasn’t something that one aspired to. Yes, newspaper reporters covered food, and there were plenty of food magazines. But you weren’t likely to see lit fests devoted to it. But that’s changing, for the better, as we recognize how deeply and pervasively food affects our lives. And I think this applies to cooking as well. Cooking our own food (or not cooking it) has a significant impact on the quality of our lives. I can’t Read On »

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Baked buttered corn. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

                            I think I post this recipe and preparation each year because its so good, and at this time of year, as the corn begins to lose its sweetness and grow bigger and starchier, there’s no better way to cook it. I use this corn cutter, but you could slice the kernels off the cob and puree two-thirds of them in a blender for the same effect. Baking a mixture of pureed corn and whole kernels, cooking off much of the liquid, reduces the corn to an intensely sweet rich corn pudding. Nothing but corn, butter, salt, and pepper. This dish, on a cool September evening, is for me a sweet, salty reminder of summer’s inevitable deliquescence. Baked Corn 6 to 8 ears Read On »

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TVDINING9

                              Alerted about an article on Slate that runs counter to my own convictions, I was inclined to regard it as misguided, inelegant and leave it at that. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The home cooked dinner is “expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food,” the journalist Amanda Marcotte concludes, using a study by three NC State University sociologists as her springboard, a study that argues something even more ridiculous: “The idea that home cooking is inherently ideal reflects an elite foodie standpoint.” What I couldn’t stop thinking about was the author’s conviction that home-cooked meals shared by the family is a romantic notion, not to mention harmful to those who Read On »

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Diamond-Back-cocktail@1020

One final cocktail using applejack, simply from a couple of web searches. This is my final post until after Labor Day, so I wanted a cocktail that packed a wallop. With three high-proof spirits, the Diamondback fits the bill. I also wanted something medicinal, so that I stay healthy while I take a late summer break from the blog (alas, I have first pass pages of the new cookbook to scour and the first draft of the next to get off to my venerable publisher Little, Brown). But some break I will be able to take. And it shall begin this evening with the Diamondback, a cocktail with a healthful bite. Chartreuse, a high-test medicinal liqueur made by French monks, needs to be balanced with delicious cherries; in my mind these are a critical component of the Read On »

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Apple-Jack-Sour-cocktail@10

Earlier this summer, I met a friend out in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (Could a novelist invent a more unlikely name for a town?) It’s semi-rural and on the edge of rural, a quaint town with an actual falls, a candy shop, and Jeni’s Ice Cream. Head out of town, south, and you’re quickly passing farmland. This is where my friend wanted to take me. Just over the edge into the next county, Geauga, off the road a bit, so removed we passed the drive and had to circle back, is a house, a small distillery, and a barn filled with barrels. The distillery is called Tom’s Foolery, started by Tom Herbruck, who, with his wife, Lianne, and their kids, make some exquisite applejack, America’s first commercial spirit, and likely the common drink in the new colonies in the Read On »

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