I love benevolent crazy people, people who just do things because they have to. Sometimes they make sense (Dickson Despommier and vertical farming). Sometimes they make no sense at all (making a farm and raising livestock in urban Oakland, which is what Novella Carpenter did—totally crazy, and she wrote a fabulous book about it called Farm City). I know benevolent insanity the moment I hear it and I heard it the moment I heard Prescott Frost’s voice: “Every acre I can change from corn to grass, the better.  It’s the only way we’re going to change this train wreck that we have now,” he told me by phone last week.  He was calm and direct. “My mission is to change agriculture, to rip up the corn and put it to pasture.” Easier said than done, of Read On »

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One of the amazing and gratifying facets of internet e-commerce and communication, is that when I and my business partner Mac Dalton created the coolest wood paddles around we were told loud and clear that we hadn’t done enough.  We had a small one and a humongous one, the awesome Spanker, but there was nothing in between. Now there is, thanks to you: The Spankette, created for readers who asked for it.  You were right, and we got it right, we hope: the Spankette is the perfect all-purpose flat-edged wooden spoon for daily cooking, stirring that bolognese sauce, that mushroom risotto, gently scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir to prevent scorching and sticking. And they’re beautiful, as Donna’s photo below shows.   We’re offering them four different ways, one set of each Read On »

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OpenSky’s knife sharpener offer to people who follow me there forced me to think about sharp knives (I had to write the copy). Normally, I only think about sharp knives when they aren’t. Here’s the fact: the biggest problem in home kitchens is dull knives. There is no greater hindrance to the person in the house who does the cooking than dull knives. Almost without fail, every friend’s kitchen I go to, there is not a sharp knife to be found. The only kitchens I’ve been in where there are sharp knives, are the big fancy ones where no one cooks. And my mom’s. Because she only uses those crappy ceramic knives, so her nice Wusthofs, used on my once- or twice-a-year visits remain pristine. (OpenSky has a great deal on the higher end Ikon Read On »

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This week, two enthusiastic cook-bloggers, Cathy Barrow, of Washington, DC, and Kim Foster, of New York City, put a name to their joint efforts in curing duck breasts for duck prosciutto, hashtagging it on Twitter #charcutepalooza.  Their aim, one Charcuterie challenge per month.  A splendid idea, I thought.  The more cooking and curing that people do, the better the world is.  And the duck prosciutto is a perfect way to begin, an all but foolproof form of dry curing.  They’ve asked me to weigh in when needed and I will.  To their amazement, and my delight, 54 bloggers at last count have embraced the charcutepalooza challenge.  MrsWheelBarrow has the how what where on her site.  Join them in their monthly charcuterie quests!  May the body of charcuterie be with you. OpenSky: A New Internet Commerce Read On »

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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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