Fearless Thanksgiving: Turkey FAQ

That's me, age four, stuffing a turkey. I've been doing this holiday dinner thing a long time. So much information exists on the humble turkey, a curiously popular bird. Here are simple answers to common questions from reliable sources. [Updated November 2015] Q. Why do we eat turkey on holidays, anyway? A. Great question. As this terrific column in Slate explains, back in the day when people grew their own meats, … [Read more...]

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 marketed as a superfood in the 1960s and early '70s. Only later did people begin a collective wonder whether a shelf-stable "cheese food" was a particularly good notion. It's hard to argue against one thing: Velveeta melts … [Read more...]

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 book. This is all about my grandfather."  Until this summer, as an adult, I made jam exactly twice, … [Read more...]

Reader Q&A: What do you consider essential pantry items?

Do you have a shopping list of what the essentials are when stocking a pantry? I’m exactly the kind of person you wrote for: not a terribly bad cook, but unsure and insecure in the kitchen. I loved The Kitchen Counter School and am inspired to try on my own, but I’m not sure what staples I should have on hand. Please help! - Gean Hey Gean, I turned to my food friends on Facebook and posed the question to them. What … [Read more...]

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 off. “No one can the tell the difference, anyway.” This made me wonder. How do real mashed potatoes, gravy, fresh green beans and cranberry sauce stack up to their processed cousins? What about supermarket turkey versus a … [Read more...]

Challenge: Green Beans canned vs. fresh

Green beans are a classic side dish for any holiday. I debated an update on green bean casserole, but decided instead to serve fresh green beans and canned green beans, each were lightly sauteed in butter with garlic, salt and pepper and finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Fresh Green Beans Green beans are pretty simple to prepare. I put mine into a skillet with a bit of water and steamed them for about eight … [Read more...]

Reader Q&A: What the heck is a SUPER FOOD?

  I keep hearing about "superfoods." What the heck are they and should I care? - Danielle, a reader from Milwaukee   Superfood. You may have seen this mysterious moniker planted on grocery store packaging, promising to prevent cancer, heart disease or any number of ailments. But what exactly is a superfood, and is this buzzword bona fide or food marketing malarkey? Here’s what we know. A superfood is a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Homemade Finishing Butter

(Note: This was posted prior to the unfortunate collapse of Paula Deen's culinary empire - KF) Eater National reports that "midst of a weak attempt at rebranding herself as healthy," Food Network star Paula Deen launched a line of "finishing butters" for WalMart. So the woman who made famous doughnut, egg and bacon sandwiches and then came out of the medical closet to announce she had Type 2 Diabetes now has a line of … [Read more...]