Recipe: Easy Peppermint Bark

Homemade Christmas Peppermint Bark Dessert

A confession: I don't like chocolate. I don't loathe it, I just don't love it. This news always takes people by surprise. Somehow by the mere fact of my gender, it's assumed that I must immediately be in love with all things dark and sweet. Taste can be so highly individualized, and pesky in nature. Give me a choice between a wedge chocolate cake and a slice of banana cream pie, you'll find a banana-soaked remains of a … [Read more...]

Fearless Holiday Cooking: Tips from the Pros

Thanksgiving Day Tips 20. Make punch"For big gatherings, I like to make punch with a twist," said Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice and the blog A Life of Spice. "That way people can help themselves and you are not tied to your bar doling out specialty cocktails to a large crowd." 21. Know the turkey to take longer than you expect"In my experience of cooking turkeys since I was 14, I learned this -- the turkey … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mom’s Cranberry Nut Bread

Homemade Delicious Cranberry 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 came from, just that she remembered her own grandmother making breads with dried fruit around the holidays. When she noticed cranberries on sale at Thanksgiving one year, my ever-frugal mother decided to try them in a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mom’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

uncooked cookies on baking tray

When I was seven, I dressed up as a cowgirl and traveled the neighborhood to hand out cookies to strangers. We'd just moved to a small bit of cul de sac away from the farm we'd lived on for more than a decade. I don't know what possessed me to do such a thing. In my new book, I outline the whole crazy notion and note that one of our neighbors nicknamed me "Candy Girl" as a result. By random chance, or maybe not since my … [Read more...]

Me in November: Sarasota & Anna Maria Island

Extra photos - Dad_in_florida2

At one time in my life, I wrote obituaries by day and performed stand-up comedy at night. Some people might not find the connection between the two. As an author, I've spent a lot of time navigating that space connecting laughter and tears.  As I pull in the home stretch of my 2014 autumn book tour for Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, I'll be making only my second appearance ever in Sarasota. (What's up with that? What … [Read more...]

Politics & Prose Dinner in Washington, D.C.


I'm excited to announce that I'll be doing a fun over-dinner writing discussion at Buck's next to the famed bookstore Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Oct. 27th.  When I decided to tackle her culinary roots in her my book, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, I thought that I knew a lot about my family. To my surprise, I uncovered three generations of cooks, the hard lives of her immigrant relatives, and a … [Read more...]

The Relative Value of Stuff (Giveaway)

Internet Underground No 1

In my 20s, I edited a print magazine about the online world titled Internet Underground. It launched in 1995, a time when newscasters would cite web addresses by slowly spelling out, "Go to h-t-t-p-colon-back slash-back-slash-w-w-w-dot-company-dot-com-backslash-information-blackslash..." and painfully over-pronounce the "ts" in Internet. The final step in my editorial hiring process was simple: if you could figure out … [Read more...]

New Writing Classes: Seattle and San Diego

Kat and Damon at Adventures by the Book

Heads up on two Hungry for Words writing courses coming up in September and early October. Seattle - Sept. 21: Voice & Story First,  I'll be doing a four-hour writing class this Sunday that will debut a new area that I'm teaching. Arguably the hardest part of writing is 1) finding the right story and 2) finding your voice. This class is an introduction to research that I've been doing the past year to help all … [Read more...]

Knife Skills – The Basics [video lesson]

knife anatomy

I've interviewed dozens of home cooks and hands down (pun intended), the most valuable thing a home cook can do is to get a decent chef's knife and learn how to use it. Below, you'll find a quick video lesson. After that, you'll find basics on buying and caring for a chef's knife. A good knife is a worthwhile investment. If you buy a quality one and take care of it, you will have it for a lifetime and will easily pay … [Read more...]

Vinaigrette Basics [video lesson]

Balsamic vinaigrette

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 survey of eight popular brands of "Italian-style" vinaigrette. They averaged 17 ingredients. The basic recipe below has six.  Most people … [Read more...]