Corned Beef and Braised Cabbage with Red Potatoes, photo by Donna

It’s time for my yearly re-post of a recipe for corning your own beef. If you can brine a chicken, you can cure your own beef. Start by Thursday and it will be ready to cook on St. Paddy’s day. Of special note here is my partner in charcuterie Brian Polcyn’s recipe for a fabulous pickling spice. You can buy pickling spice, but Brian’s is over-the-top delicious. Any cut of beef can be “corned.” (See my pastrami short ribs.) But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available here, and also from Amazon. If you know of any local shops that make their own bacon, hams, or smoked sausage, they may have some on hand. This is what accounts for the deep red color Read On »

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photo by donna turner ruhlman

Last spring, having damaged my knee, I called for an appointment to visit the doc. My usual internist was gone and so, providentially, his colleague Roxanne Sukol saw me. I say providentially because she has a great interest in how this country eats and in helping Americans become better informed amid so much contradictory information and harmful marketing in the media. Dr. Sukol, who knew my work, launched almost immediately into descriptions of stripped carbs and insulin levels and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, emphasizing that our national discussion should stop talking “healthy eating” and start talking “nutritious eating.” She positively captivated me. As she attended to my knee, I asked to meet with her at a later date and subsequently wrote a short blog post about our conversation. “WE are HEALTHY,” she told me, Read On »

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  My thoughts on seeing “Fed Up,” the documentary about the causes of the American (and now increasingly global) obesity epidemic are not complex. It’s all pretty mortifying, if completely unsurprising. Sugar is bad for you if you eat too much of it. So is lettuce. The problem is, sugar is turning out to be the most dangerous nontoxic compounds you can eat, and it’s in 80% of the 600,000 items stocking our grocery stores. Whereas it would be really hard to eat too much lettuce. And there isn’t much difference between eating a bowl of sugar and eating a bowl of cereal. Most people in America are unable to eat anything other than products with added sugar. And the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and other Big Sugar factions are doing all Read On »

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Today’s cocktail is in honor of my best friend’s latest biography out this week, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Jackson is all but forgotten but was the toast of Hollywood for a time and a highly regarded novelist, best known for The Lost Weekend. The Wall Street Journal calls Blake Bailey’s book “brilliant and gripping,” which is all the more amazing in that the story is largely about literary failure. The Lost Weekend was until now Jackson’s only enduring legacy, and remembered only because a great movie was made of it. Blake, whom the Daily Beast and his next subject, Philip Roth, both called the best biographer working today, also wrote the award-winning Cheever biography, and his non-award-winning bio of Richard Yates, which was even better than Cheever in my opinion (shows Read On »

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Phew! I’m exhausted from all the amazing and powerful energy generated by the food fascism post! Oy! Time for a cocktail! (Figuratively—I’ve got long hours to go before I earn mine.) Today’s Friday cocktail hour is one the oldest and simplest on record. In this era of high-end mixology and complex recipes involving expensive aperitifs and liqueurs, well unless out in the stratosphere at Aviary, I like my cocktails simple. The Old-Fashioned is just that: American whiskey, sugar, bitters, over ice with a twist. All there is to it. With the range of bourbons and bitters now available, the drink itself can vary wildly and well. So even though this is every bit as simple and satisfying as a martini, it’s infinitely more complex. A martini is clear and clean, an ice pick. The Old-Fashioned is complex, caramelly, Read On »

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