“We can’t have a funeral until we put on a pot of beans,” I mutter while carrying a handful of fresh green beans from the strainer in the sink to the pot with caramelizing onions and bacon pieces sizzling away in the bottom. I let the beans fall from my hands and a few droplets … Continue reading The Funeral
I have a deep affinity for crackers. Not gourmet varieties, or even homemade, but good old plain Jane everyday crackers, be it Captain’s wafers, or saltines, and especially any kind that comes two-to-a-pack.
I don’t think anyone needs a reason to like crackers but my fondness, I am certain, begins with my childhood memory of inexpensive family restaurants and sit down pizza joints that bring cracker baskets to the table instead of bread. I love the cracker basket and who in their right mind doesn’t? They hold something for everyone after all. Remember those crunchy breadsticky thingys, the sesame rounds, or the oblong townhouse crackers shaped like flattened capsules all wrapped up, by twos, in cellophane.
Wandering along my merry way as we do in life, I eat crackers. I eat crackers without much thought. I eat Club crackers wrapped in thinly sliced bacon and then baked, I learn it is okay to drink a martini with saltines topped with pickled bologna and American cheese because they are a match made in heaven, I will never forget having Georgia cracker salad and realizing it is nothing more than a tomato, mayo, whitebread sandwich on steroids, and my favorite, I use all kinds of crushed crackers as croutons for my salad. To this day every time I walk past a stick of butter I can’t help but want to drag a saltine down the length of the stick before popping it into my mouth, the perforations at the edges of the cracker leaving the soft butter to look like a perfectly raked zen garden. Continue reading “The Wonder Of Store-Bought Crackers”
It’s my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving is.
Amy is lying down and not feeling good when I walk into the bedroom to ask if she wants to have Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. She hesitates, not saying what we both already know, about how we are planning to put the house up for sale, but by the look in her eyes I know she wants too so I jump in and tell her I think we should and she agrees. Continue reading “Day One: My Turkey Stock Recipe”
There was a time when my father and I would have walked the distance up the hill to Gordon’s Rocky Top. We would have crossed the creek, stepping gingerly across the slick rocks like seasoned hopscotch players, hiked to the fork in the path, taken the trail on the left, and then quietly ascended the long, wooded hill. On our way, we would have walked past the pond, and if we were lucky, we might have spooked an owl or happened upon some white tail deer. Continue reading “Morels with Asparagus & Five Reason to Eschew Recipes”
I quit eating bananas years ago because I would buy them and not eat them. They would sit in the fruit bowl idling away, eventually passing through the different stages of ripeness. I would watch, like a gambler calling another’s bluff, knowing that I had until they turned black to do something with them. It was then that I would convince myself I needed to make banana bread. I even froze them for future use and had a stack of them in the freezer, until one day they fell out onto my wife’s toe and broke it.
Continue reading “Grilled Bananas with Buttered Maple Sauce and English Toffee”
Frying chicken, at its best, is a state of mind formed much in the same way as the quiet back beats of a porch-sitting session with a dear friend. It has a rhythm. It is good company on a sunny summer afternoon. It is pointless to rush. Futile, even. Besides, the comfort of a good friend comes from the effortlessness of meaningful conversation and is further heightened by the knowledge you have nothing you would rather do. Continue reading “The Art of Honest Fried Chicken (A Lifestyle Choice)”
Inside the house a Frank Sinatra record blares loudly from the phonograph, a big stereophonic console meant to look like a fancy sideboard. The family room windows of the atomic ranch-style house are open wide. The music makes its way through the open windows to the patio, soft enough to be background music for the adults socializing on the small concrete patio.
There are tall, slender glass pitchers of Tom Collins set on a picnic table bar next to a faux gold ice bucket, highball glasses, and an assortment of potluck appetizers. The parents sip cocktails and have lively chats. Their laughter can be heard four houses down at the babysitter’s, where all the children are being housed for the evening. Tiki torches release black citronella smoke meant to keep mosquitoes at bay, and in the belly of the kettle-shaped grill the coals glow the color of the suburban sunset. Continue reading “Kebabs Come of Age”
In the summertime, I want food that is casual, soulful, and unpretentious — food that can double as a family meal and an intimate dinner for entertaining. Any dish that almost needs to be eaten with the hands (but not quite) or that can be scooped-up with röti, flatbread, or tortillas and goes well with … Continue reading Island Style Chicken Fricassee
Stanley Coats, sprawled out in his overalls and dozing on the porch swing, knows he’s becoming the old dog with the saggy balls. The one beginning to get gray around the snout. At the sound of tires on gravel, he lifts his head a little. The dog dozing on the porch floor below him does the same, and they both crack an eye open to see who’s coming up the drive.
The searing pain behind his other eye has abated. Stanley refuses to believe it could have anything to do with a hangover and instead diagnoses himself with becoming his mother. He hopes it’s not terminal.
It’s not that he doesn’t love his mother. It’s the naps. For as long as Stanley can remember, sometime between two or three in the afternoon, his mother always took what he has come to call a twenty-minute sink-down. Continue reading “Stanley Coats: An Introduction”
If I didn’t already have a list of reasons I need lots of herbs in my life, Italian Salsa Verde (green sauce) alone would be enough to convince me. It’s delicious on almost anything. Take my dinner tonight: salsa verde is outstanding on steak and takes long-cooked kale up a notch. And when I got a little on my baked potato with sour cream, it was no longer a plain old baked potato. It was sublime. Continue reading “Using Herbs with Abandon”
I have a simple rule, whenever I figure out what good restaurant cooks like to make at home I follow suit. It’s because most professional cooks like simple but deeply satisfying meals, roast chicken is one of those, it is a cook’s meal. When I say simple I don’t mean in flavor and not necessarily … Continue reading A Delicious Roast Chicken for Any Night
There are two things I get hung up on when it comes to making Asian food at home — woks and procuring hard-to-find ingredients. But I look at it this way: I make Italian pasta at home, so I know I can make any noodle at home. There are a few technical issues that … Continue reading Stir Fried Noodles
This morning little Lynnie keeps yelling and pointing in excitement at the cake I made for last night’s Sunday dinner. She is telling me she wants it for her birthday. The heels on the last three slices of the cake have been nibbled. Last night she kept slipping her little hand in and under the … Continue reading Breton Butter Cake
When I used to go to the bookstore looking for cookbooks to add to my collection I could spend hours flipping the pages of different books. It was much like when I was younger and I would buy albums, then CDs, flipping through the alphabetized record bins searching for disk in hopes of finding something … Continue reading A Girl and Her Pig
We all know gravy or pan sauce in large quantities might be good for our soul but it isn’t so good for our heart health. After all we are doing nothing more then adding flour or cornstarch to the fat in the bottom of a roasting or sauté pan to thicken it and adding back … Continue reading The Unctuous Possibilities of Pan Juices
Back when I thought I could eat gluten I was a biscuit hound. It was nothing for me to scarf down two or three. I have been known to forgo the rest of dinner for a good biscuit. I always considered myself a connoisseur, from angel biscuits to crescents or buttermilk to sweet potato I … Continue reading Saving Grace Biscuits
I like this bread because it uses leftovers. What do I mean by leftovers? My girls don’t like heels and crusts. Sure I could force them to eat them, could throw them out or I could trim them off and save them for other uses. I could make bread crumbs or, for instance, I could … Continue reading Daily Bread
It is shortly after all the present opening hullabaloo, when I look up from cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in half, that I see the look on Vivian’s face. I catch a glimpse of disappointment in her eyes and it is very clearly the look of self pity caused by not getting everything she wants for Christmas.
I know exactly how she feels. I remember the first time I felt the same way. I also remember the shame I felt for being selfish and while I know which feeling is right at her young age, I am still not sure which feeling is worse.
Oddly, I guess with age I have come to have similar emotions about New Year’s.
For instance, each year when I take stock of myself in the time between Christmas and January 1st, I am always looking back in disappointment at the things I wanted to happen but didn’t, the things that went wrong, or the things that I will have to deny myself to make the coming year presumably better. It seems silly.
After all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out to me that I am a very blessed person, and really, I want for nothing. Well, I suppose I could stand to lose a few pounds, and proudly I have lost a lot this year, but a few more wouldn’t hurt. Even so, I don’t really need to deny myself. I just need to eat differently. Continue reading “Karilean Borscht with Resolution”
I really enjoy making and eating the foods of Southeast Asia. I make trips to the Asian grocery and buy up all kinds of different produce that aren’t found in my garden or at the local grocer. I don’t really drive but an extra five minutes to get there, the groceries cost less which makes … Continue reading Laotian Beef Salad (Larb)
This is to pig what XO is to cognac.
Paella to me is the ultimate one pot meal. It also is the time of year where I am not ready for a stew but want something more substantial than the usual summer fare. Paella is a great answer. Although paella is considered Spanish I think this one is more Mediterranean. I use Italian sausages … Continue reading Chicken, Sausage and Red Pepper Paella
Reviewing a website isn’t something I would normally do. In this case it isn’t the website but a feature on the site itself. You all know I call Food52 home(that is a full disclosure). I would give the site itself a triple A rating but my aim here is to call attention to a … Continue reading The Genius of Genius
Chili is great, and a favorite, but sometimes it is nice to find an alternative. This is a nice change for sure. The sourness of the tomatillos cuts the richness of the pork while still letting the pork taste rich. The other thing about the tomatillos is the juice from them thickens the broth. The … Continue reading Pork Pazolé
Plastic dough scrapers make one of the best dirty dish cleaning tools around. For my pans they are non-scratch, get into the crooks and crannies removing all the stuck on stuff in a jiff. I always have two on hand just for dirty jobs like getting the ring of crud around the top of a … Continue reading Plastic Dough Scrapers
Hippy food has long been a bastion of vegetarian eats for many reasons. Some political, some personal but in all honesty mostly because it is cheap and often utilizes every last morsel sharing some of the same philosophy as head to tail eating, ironic?, well, yes. Never mind the reasons though because that doesn’t mean … Continue reading Stems and Seeds
If you have ever had fresh raw fava beans then you know the wonderful tender pop, the tender chew and the juicy flavor. It goes wonderfully here with the green beans and the dressing. Wheat berries are another wonderful addition to your repertoire. They add a subtle chew and give the dish a pasta flavor … Continue reading White Wheat Berry Salad with Fresh Beans
The term farro can be very confusing. If you look it up you will see no one really wants to pin the tail on the donkey, and as such, all the authors of the articles seem to want to avoid naming a specific grain as farro. People really want spelt to be farro but I … Continue reading Farro and Roasted Garlic Pilaf
This is so good for you you won’t even know it taste really delicious. Seriously good eats and a great side dish for roast birds of any kind and I’ll even throw salmon onto that list. Yes, I know it uses two sauce pans but, please, neither grain leaves behind a sticky mess. You could … Continue reading Wild Rice and Barley Pilaf
Yes, I could imagine a cookie just like this being created during the Great Depression. The nutmeg lends itself to the past and makes the cookie feel like something a grandmother would make for her grandchildren on a Sunday afternoon. She might also make it when she notices her grandchildren are a little sad. Whatever … Continue reading Depression Cookies
My nephew and I amble slowly up to the creek bank. It’s early enough that the cold morning air causes a light fog to rise off the warm, black water, but does nothing to lift the low-lying cover fogging my brain. I yawn. I wish I’d had that second cup of coffee. It’s hard to … Continue reading Teddy Roosevelt Fished Here
One of the things I like best about the French dish Hachis Pamentier is the looseness of the recipe. Unlike Shepard’s Pie which connotates lamb as the central ingredient Hachis Parmentier quite often simply lists chopped meat and then leaves it to your discretion. So anything on hand, usually cooked, usually leftovers which is generally … Continue reading Hachis Parmentier
This is a tart with an agenda. Its roots are old fashioned and small town but don’t let that fool you. It is as luscious and silky as Scarlett Johansson sauntering the red carpet. It is as lascivious as True Blood and as beaten-up as Mickey Rourke on a bad day. There are tarts and … Continue reading Madeira Tart
Why do so many people fear canned fish? I don’t mean tuna, it doesn’t even count. Was there some massive food poisoning event in the United States back in 1908 or something and the canned fish market never recovered or do we just have a lot of closet canned fish eaters in this country. Canned … Continue reading Smoked Herring Salad
The one thing that stays the same around my kitchen, has been a continuous thread, is collard greens. Collard recipes have been prepared in many incarnations but eventually I rendered them all down the most basic of recipes. I like collards in every fashion imaginable, and while I can spoon potlikker right out of the … Continue reading Pot Roasted Collards and Purple Hull Pea Fritters with Spicy Buttermilk Gravy
One perfectly good reason to buy whole slab or make your own bacon is you get the smokey rind. The pork rind is perfect for keeping a roast juicy and adds tons of great flavor, and besides, when the smokey hammy fat oozes down on the vegetables, oh my… Wrapping a roast in fat is … Continue reading Barded Pork Rib Roast with Fall Vegetables
I really like chowders and really like French onion soup. I don’t like pasty chowders so I didn’t thicken it except for the starch released from the potatoes. One tip I learned from Jasper White’s 50 Chowders is to let the chowder rest covered for thirty minutes. It is really does make a difference by … Continue reading Three Onion Chowder
The delicate flavor of white fleshed fish, for me, is best when cooked simply. In fact the most important thing is seasoning the fish properly and making sure not to overcook it, which is a good reason to salt it an hour before you want to eat and why it makes sense to finish cooking … Continue reading Dover Sole with Herb Oil and Zucchini
Last night’s rain, soaked up by the hot earth, is rising again this morning as steam. As the truck rattles down the long gravel drive and we get close to the orchard, the apple trees emerge from the light fog, the treetops magically floating in a cloud. Then, through the mist, I begin to see … Continue reading The Chicken Massacre at Crooked Creek
The first time I had Texas caviar I was in Santa Fe. There I think they called it Cowgirl Caviar but that might have been the name of the restaurant. I remember lots of pictures of cowgirls. Maybe the name of the restaurant was called Cowgirl Hall of Fame. That seems more right to me. … Continue reading Texas Caviar
I like to use a wok for these kinds of dishes. Besides everyone should own a good wok. By good I am not talking about those little non-stick thingies hanging from the wall at the five and dime. Those aren’t even big enough to make a half order of fried rice for a toddler. What … Continue reading Bodega Chicken Curry
If the number of dumb ass things you have done in life stops with the number of fingers you have you can consider yourself lucky. Since dumb ass is a matter of objectivity you may need to throw in all your toes too, even so, you should still figure yourself rightly finishing on the high … Continue reading A Different Sort of Education
Recently, for what seems like the millionth time, I sat down and watched the original The Hustler. Not because of the story, although it’s a great story; or Paul Newman’s blazing good looks, although his blue eyes are piercing, even in black and white. No, this time I was watching the Great One: Jackie Gleason. … Continue reading The Great One
I was probably thirteen or fourteen years-old the first time I had a fried bologna sandwich and I will never forget it. I was watching some TV show and they ate it on the show. I thought I had seen the most amazing culinary treat ever. I went to the kitchen and made one and … Continue reading Fried Bologna Sandwich on Challah with White American Cheese Sauce
I have been making lemon bars for many years now from a recipe by John Taylor also known as Hoppin’ John. A while back I thought it would make a great tart, and guess what, it does. If you like Low Country cooking you should search out his cookbook Charleston, Beaufort & Savannah: Dining at … Continue reading Meyer Lemon Tart
The difference between Edna Lewis’ book The Taste of Country Cooking and countless other cookbooks is she truly celebrates food. Not only is it a celebration but it is the gospel of farm to table eating, a hymn of fresh, great tasting, whole food that should be sung loudly as the new testament of eating … Continue reading Edna Lewis: The Taste of Country Cooking
J.R. stands on the metal folding chair, stretches up on his toes, and exhales pot smoke into the air vents just to be an asshole. He jumps and lands on the floor with a resounding thud. The shaking floor is felt two apartments down by a Hispanic woman making cookies. He’s annoyed that the apartment … Continue reading J.R. Craves Tex-Mex