Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be available October 22 from Little, Brown, and it’s superb, the best one I’ve seen, in fact—accept no imitations! Her last guest post was something of a rant, which I’m always in favor of! This is a lovely primer on something we do often but tend to ignore the finer points of, boiling pasta, and to me, the finer points are what make cooking fun  Take it away, Steph! —M.R. A few weeks ago I talked about the demerits of cheap pasta and left you with the notion that artisan-made dry pasta is leagues ahead of its tasteless, texture-less, mass-produced cousins. It’s also worth noting that cooking dry pasta is an art in and of itself; while it’s a Read On »

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The NPR blog Salt started a small #chickenshitstorm Monday when Maria Godoy wrote about a Drexel University study and campaign (a campaign!) to end the dangerous practice of washing chicken in your sink at home. The story was picked up by Slate editor L.V. Anderson and spread from there. Reaching many, including television star and renowned post-it artist, Alton Brown, whose 5-post-it editorial sums up the feelings of many cooks and chefs. When I wrote to him asking to use the image here, he added a header to the email: “We all need to calm the fuck down!” I love that about Alton. He’s right. And he’s right to shout. This shit is getting out of hand. Why are so many people so fucking afraid of their food? Wash your chicken or don’t wash it. Read On »

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Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be available October 22 from Little, Brown, and it’s superb, the best one I’ve seen, in fact, accept no imitations! I’m always game for a rant, especially first thing in Monday morning. Take it away, Steph! —M.R. You’ve heard Michael’s spiel on Americans being trained to believe they’re too stupid to cook. It’s an unfortunate reality that people in this country place a higher priority on time than they do nearly everything else, which greatly affects what we eat. Which affects our health. Which, in the end, affects EVERYTHING. When you eat poorly, guess what? You feel poorly too. You don’t have the energy to do the things you want to do: hitting the gym, playing ball with the kids, actually getting Read On »

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It made so much sense the second I read it. One of those “of course!” moments. It was, not atypically, while reading Michael Pollan in his NYTimes magazine story a few years ago about how no one cooks anymore (really?). Certainly in the 1980s and 1990s most of the country relied on reheating already-cooked food for their meals. And perhaps as a result, at least in part, we became a grossly obese country where seemingly the only people who dieted were the people who were already thin, and the rest made increasingly bizarre, unsustainable stabs at it. A physically sick country, a confused country—don’t get me started. The “of course” moment. It didn’t come from Pollan, but rather from a researcher he interviewed, Harry Balzer, who works for the market research behemoth NPD, and studies all kinds of Read On »

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Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti) writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, will be published next year by Little, Brown. by Stephanie Stiavetti If you’re a regular reader of Michael’s site, then you’re probably one of a class of people that thinks a lot about food. You might make it a point to buy quality ingredients, mostly prepare your meals at home, and generally spend a fair amount of time thinking about what you put in your body. What baffles me, though, is that despite all the grass-fed beef and produce carefully selected at the local farmers’ market, a huge number of the people in this food-conscious demographic still buy crappy, industrially produced cheese. These folks have educated themselves about many other aspects of what they eat, but are seemingly unaware that these Read On »

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