A weeknight braise of chicken in red wine, coq au vin, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

It was the simplest of observations. I’d never heard it made, but it crystalized for me yet another facet of America’s dysfunctional relationship to food. I was listening to a podcast of “This American Life,” maybe the greatest show on radio, one from the archives called “Americans In Paris,” and featuring still another American treasure, David Sedaris. One of the Americans interviewed by the show’s host, Ira Glass, noted the joy with which the French eat and said, “Americans treat their food like medicine.” Exactly! We eat what’s “good” for us. We avoid what’s “bad” for us without really knowing what is good or bad for us. We eat probiotic food, such as yogurt with active cultures because it may be good for our gut flora. We avoid gluten because that’s what’s trending now. Yes, trending, 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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the-last-martini

For now, that is. I need to focus on work and, well, most things come to an end, no? Though the inevitable catastrophe of death awaits us all, not so for the finest cocktail: The Martini. As perfect as a sonnet, Mencken said. I began The Friday Cocktail Hour two and a half years ago with a martini (outraged, outraged!, when I ordered a martini and was asked which vodka I preferred). I attached a memory of the best martini of my life to my first book contract this spring. And with a martini I finish. Because this concludes, for the nonce, my beloved Friday Cocktail Hour, we shall call this one the Is That All There Is? Martini. Gin, almost needless to say, flavored with vermouth and lemon, something to sip for comfort as 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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