Pantry & Supermarket Tips

Bread and butter pickles

Recipe: Bread and Butter Pickles

I'm not going to lie, nor do I think that I should feel shame at the confession I'm about to reveal. Mom fed us Velveeta when we were kids - and we liked it.  Who could blame her? The stuff was … [Read More...]

Turkey Dinner

The Great Firehouse Challenge: Packaged vs. Homemade Holiday Dinner Classics

For years, a relative of mine served boxed stuffing at her holiday gatherings, spiced up with cut-up pre-cooked turkey sausage. When I offered to make some homemade stuffing one year, she waved me … [Read More...]

Making gravy

Firehouse Holiday Dinner Challenge: Gravy

At its heart, gravy is a sauce. Sauces flummox home cooks. I interviewed a woman at a supermarket who told me, "I've burned gravy, I've made greasy gravy, I've made lumpy gravy, I've made bland gravy. … [Read More...]

Thanksgiving Recipes

Holiday napkin ring 1

How to Build a Holiday Dinner Menu

Ah, that annual stressful event known as holiday dinner planning. If you're a novice cook, it can seem deeply conflicted.  But then, remember the math. Most classic holiday dinner menus include a … [Read More...]

SONY DSC

How to Plan for a Big Holiday Meal

Holiday meals can cause even confident cooks a great deal of performance anxiety. Here are a few Le Cordon Bleu-style tips for making the whole thing go easier: Get your chef's knife sharpened. If … [Read More...]

Homemade Delicious Cranberry Bread

Recipe: Mom’s Cranberry Nut Bread

Gently warmed and slathered with butter, this bread tastes like Christmas morning to me. My mother has made this bread every Christmas for the past several years. She doesn't remember where the recipe … [Read More...]

Cooking fundamentals

veg stock after cooking

Recipe: How to Make Vegetable Stock

Despite the name of this recipe, there’s actually not such a thing as vegetable stock. By definition, stock is made from simmering bones in water. No bones? Then it’s broth. So, let us commence with vegetable broth. In my own kitchen, I collect and save the trimmings from the likes of carrots, celery, onions, the […]

whole_chicken

Recipes & Fundamentals: Using a Whole Chicken

On Wednesday I bought a chicken on sale for 99 cents a pound, and cut it up, shaving off the breasts to reserve the back for stock. It left two hearty chicken breasts nearly 14 ounces each, or about eight servings in all. I cut up the back, roasted it to a dark brown, then added it with […]

Blueberry jam

Recipe: Blueberry Jam Like My Grandpa Charles’

“Who are you?” Mike asked me last week.  “What are you talking about?” I replied. He waved his hand over the counter and dozens of jars of canned jams, jellies and preserves. “Have you become your grandmother? You’re  canning like a maniac.” “No, I am not becoming my grandmother,” I sniffed indignantly. “You read the […]

Balsamic vinaigrette

Vinaigrette Basics [video lesson]

Do you have so many bottles of vinaigrette in your fridge that when you open the door it sounds like wind chimes? Vinaigrette is one of the first things that any home cook should master for a couple of reasons. One, it’s expensive to buy and tends to be loaded with ingredients. I did a […]