Emilia Juocys has been my assistant for several years, first from Chicago now from her home town in Michigan. She has recently, at the age of 35, made a major transition in her life. Major transitions require reflection, reevaluation; curiosity and fear about the future are also inevitable consequences. When you are a cook you turn to food for some of the understanding and grace you need. – R By Emilia Juocys @jaldona Summer is nearly over, and the fall is closing in, and the bounty of the summer is entering our kitchen in droves. I devour the sweet summer corn and beautiful heirloom tomatoes, but for me summer would not be summer unless I had a specific summer treat. I’m also stuck in a great period of reflection, wondering where I will end up Read On »

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  Michael just got back from an eventful James Beard Awards weekend in New York City, so today’s scheduled post has been delayed until tomorrow. So, I was looking back at the archives and I decided to rediscover his reflection on carbonara, his favorite pasta dish. Not only is carbonara a great pasta dish, but it is an essential staple dish. I like that Michael mentions using cured mangalista belly instead of common bacon—that addition elevates carbonara to a different level. (And Michael wanted me to remind people there’s still a chance to join a relatively intimate phone conversation today at noon Eastern time set up by Michael’s publisher for those who preorder Schmaltz by 11:55 today and email the receipt to littlebrown@hbgusa.com or to him directly at michael@ruhlman.com, to talk about schmaltz or cooking or to ask him Read On »

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Three years ago on this date, a Saturday, Donna, my mom, I, the kids, our dear friend Stu, and the dog spent the morning standing vigil as my father succumbed to the lung cancer. Mom had gone to the farmer’s market and gotten corn and she and I stood at the kitchen island plowing through a dozen and a half ears, butter dripping off our chins. My dad, Rip, hadn’t been conscious since very early in the morning, 3 am, Donna and I on the bedside, holding his hand. Realizing the end was truly near, he wanted our assurance that I had indeed returned his library books. I had.  ”We love you, Dad, we’re going to be fine, don’t worry, everything’s going to be OK.” By eleven a.m., he breathed sporadically. I hoped he could Read On »

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My daughter was born 16 years ago, June 4th, a Sunday.  Two weeks later, was Father’s Day.  Having never been a father on Father’s Day, I took it easy. I’d finished the manuscript of my first book, but hadn’t heard from my editor (I forget nothing, Bill!); I had no prospects and we were near broke. I grilled a turkey. We’d gotten it free, a local grocery store giving out turkeys at Christmastime to loyal customers, and it had finally dawned on me earlier in the week that we ought to eat that thing.  By the time it thawed, well, it was Father’s Day. Donna was delirious from no sleep and both of us fretted over our first newborn—”Is it supposed to be black as tar?” “Honey, I think it’s falling off. What do we Read On »

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Daylight Saving Time remained in effect on Halloween, so a sky of scattered clouds was unusually bright.  We’d spent the afternoon at Thomas and Heather’s across the street, eating pizza straight from the wood oven in their backyard, surrounded by our neighbors and their kids.  All the women were cold and stayed close to the fire. Dogs fed at dropped crusts. Football on the front lawn, basketball at the back of the drive. When it was time for costumes the parents with little ones went off to get ready.  At six, I poured a beer into a red cup, pulled a cigar from the downstairs freezer, one of two I’ll smoke all year. I put the dog on the leash and set out behind four 11- and 12-year-olds.  I used to have to go, to Read On »

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