I’ve always been a fan of viewing mistakes as an integral part of creativity. Sometimes they just plain ruin the thing, but often they’re like positive mutations in the DNA of the process, allowing us insights or improvements that would have otherwise never come. I was making bread the other day–now that it’s cooler, I’m back to making 2-3 loaves a week–and as I mixed the wet into the dry, the dough came together into a much tighter, dryer ball than normal. I scratched my head for a second, and then figured out what happened: I used a plastic container for the flours and a metal bowl for the water and starter, and didn’t zero the scale when I switched. The metal bowl weighs 125 grams more than the plastic tub, so the scale read 600 grams of water when I had only poured in 475. Rather than add in the missing water and make a no-knead loaf in the Dutch oven, instead I dumped out the dough and gave it a good hard knead on the counter and then put it in an oiled bowl to rise.

Keep reading Muffaletta-esque…


Welcome! Come on in. I’m still fixing the place up, but it’s fit for visiting. There will be more bits and pieces added in the near future, but for now please enjoy the light, space, and functionality of my new cyber-kitchen. It’s almost as satisfying as the renovation of our actual kitchen that I did back in February. Many thanks are due to Claudia for relentlessly pestering me about how ugly the old blog was, and when was I going to do something about it, and why couldn’t I have become a doctor or a lawyer or maybe a pharmacist–it’s a good job, after all, and it’s not as hard as being a doctor but still respectable and a decent living.

I finally got fed up with Blogger’s limitations, especially when it comes to templates, and the annoying way it has of placing photos within each post. I had to go back and re-format nearly all of the 877 posts after I imported them to WordPress–which sucked, and took forever–so while I was back there I also added categories. I didn’t bother with the first year, because nobody read this and the photography is abhorrent. There are a few good posts back in there, but it’s safe to say that I’m a much better cook, writer, and photographer (and with a decent camera now) than I was when I started this.

There’s a kiln cooling down as I write this, and tomorrow I’ll go unstack it and bring home the latest pieces, but in the meantime here’s one from the last firing (though it’s actually back in this one with another layer of glaze on it to get better opacity and color saturation). In it is a salad of our very own yellow brandywine tomatoes, tossed with nothing more than pesto whisked with a little extra olive oil and a drop of the monk’s raspberry vinegar. It’s raining hard right now, for the second day in a row, and the garden is visibly turgid with excitement, putting on a growth spurt so all of my late plantings can get big before the frost shuts it all down. I canned a ton of tomato sauce, so these late arrivals just get eaten super simply–as salsas, quick sauces, sliced and salted, or like this. This year has been wonderful, weather-wise; winter lasted exactly three months, and spring and summer were both splendid, though it’s been pretty dry lately. With the expansion fully finished, I’m optimistic that next year will be the one in which I have a garden that looks the way I’ve wanted for so long.

And at least now I have the blog to match. Thanks for reading.

We have captions, too.

It’s Not Just A Job, It’s An Adventure

I’ve been enjoying my holiday from electronics so much that I still haven’t fully returned. I keep my phone ringer off, I ignore email for ages–it’s awfully nice. But I have been making some good food, and working on a bunch of projects. The garden is doing well, and many of the late plantings are thriving; we should have some good stuff come fall (which is tomorrow, after all).

But I figured I should put a post up, if only so you’ll all stop calling hospitals. My next article is about the man who produces the best ducks in America (which you can read all about when it comes out) and he gave me a sample to try. So I made it for dinner tonight. It was a tad hurried, and we’ve all been sick, but essentially I seared a breast and power-stewed a leg so I could see how it handled two types of cooking. If I’d had the strength, I would have made confit yesterday, but yesterday was a disaster so I didn’t.

So I crisped up the leg, skin-side down, then flipped it, then removed it to a small pan and added leek, cubed buttercup squash, parsley, a glug of red wine, and enough water to come up just shy of the crackling russet carapace of skin. I let it simmer, covered, while I scored and seared the breast and removed it, then threw leek strips in the copious oil to crisp, then pulled them out and added shallot and shredded kale to wilt, finishing them with Brother’s raspberry vinegar. I had peeled, cubed and steamed more buttercup squash as well; we had two from the garden with some bug damage, so I cut out the nasty bits and used the rest, which added up to about one squash in volume. This I puréed with some of the cooking water and a bit more of the vinegar.

It looks like a hot mess, but it tasted quite splendid. This duck just has more of all the things one looks for in a duck. I can’t wait to make confit and prosciutto and stock out of the rest of it.


A bit late, I know, but I was on vacation–blissfully removed from all things prefixed by e- and i-. Until I get my photographs sorted, here’s the link to my latest Chronogram piece: a profile of a local aquaculture operation.

Photograph by Jennifer May

Yours Truly

I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

Rage Against The Vitrine

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