Shelf Life: 15 Food Books of 2015

For years, I've been threatening to start a podcast. In October, I attended an inspiring weekend hosted by Feet in Two Worlds and promptly went and bought a Zoom H5, a mic and started contacting food writers I admired to come sit in my kitchen and chat. I'm launching the podcast in January, but I decided I couldn't wait to share the books crafted by some of the lovely folks who I've talked to already for the audio show, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Popovers from ‘The Homemade Kitchen’

 I've long been fascinated by popovers and for this, I blame Dorothy Parker. For those unfamiliar, Dorothy was a fabulously wry writer who was among the founding members of "the vicious circle" of writers who made up The Algonquin Roundtable in New York. Starting in 1919, the group of thirty newspaper and magazine writers met almost daily for lunch over the course of about ten years to share gossip, jokes and … [Read more...]

The Relative Value of Stuff (Giveaway)

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...]

Friday Reads: Birthday Edition

June 1 is my birthday. Today, I’m in Florida watching it rain in buckets outside our little house on Anna Maria Island, and for that I’m grateful. While the West Coast has been pummeled with all kinds of rainfall, somehow it keeps missing the island and I’ve sat watching my plant seize up and start to wither under the oppressive heat. So, I’m looking at the wet clothes sagging on the laundry line, listening to the … [Read more...]

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

The more that I study why and how people cook at home, the more that I understand the importance of a book such as Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner, 2009). Noted food writer Michael Ruhlman lays out a simple premise: If you understand the fundamental ratios for some basic culinary tasks ranging from biscuits to stock to vinaigrette, the less a cook has to rely on recipes. After all, … [Read more...]

How to Cook Without a Book

Along the same lines of Ratio, there’s How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Broadway, 2000) by Pam Anderson, author of The Perfect Recipe series. Each chapter focuses on a classic technique. Each includes a step-by-step narrative on the method, offers a recipe to demonstrate the technique and then provides multiple, yet simple variations. An unusual twist is that each chapter … [Read more...]

The Flavor Bible

The final entry is The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page. In interviews with home cooks, one thing became a common refrain when it came to that moment of standing in front of the fridge, trying to figure out dinner, or the farmer’s market shopper who purchases beautiful golden beets without a vague idea on … [Read more...]

Kitchen Shelf: No Knead Bread Books

We rarely buy bread anymore. As I write this, a vat of whole wheat bread dough languishes in our fridge. Mike made the dough over the weekend and has since fashioned four loaves for various holiday eating events. All of this is possible due to the no knead artisan bread phenomenon. Most people credit the whole thing to Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. Food writer Mark Bittman documented Lahey's method … [Read more...]