One Thighs Fits All

Yesterday I was out all day for a story—90 minutes each way in the car, three hours of chatting, 375 pictures taken, stop at farmers’ market on the way home—so dinner was not in any danger of being a complicated endeavor. Circumstances conspired to make it another one in the seemingly infinite series of “chicken parts cooked in a vaguely winglike manner” meals that I’m sure you’re all thrilled to read about on a regular basis. But bear with me; this technique works a treat and is dead easy with any bird parts you might have laying around.

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Nothing Ado About Too Much

Everyone jokes about the excess of zucchini that burden gardeners all summer long, and I see lots of anguishing about how to use them up. Ratatouille, caponata, breads, salsas, chutneys: the list is endless and not overly inspiring. My answer is to grow fewer of them. In recent years I have taken to planting just one or two plants and using the rest of the space for winter squash like kabocha, butternut, and acorn which last longer and have more culinary uses. As a result, finding ways to eat or preserve zucchini is less of a priority for me than it used to be.

Remember that your gardenless, non-CSA-subscribing friends will be less likely to label gifted zukes as the self-serving purge that they really represent, especially if you throw in some carrots, beets, and tomatoes to sweeten the deal. And yet, after years of painstaking research on the subject, I am happy to report that I have developed the single best way to eat them every day without getting sick of them (and that includes as a pizza topping, which doesn’t suck). And I have gotten a request for more vegetable posts, so here you go.

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Full Metal Redneck

Last summer my garden was ravaged by woodchucks. I patched holes in the fence, used chicken wire and cinder blocks to fortify weak spots, and worked my way around the perimeter to made it varmint-proof. It didn’t work. Somehow, they were getting in. By midsummer, the tomatoes and winter squash and other plants were so big and dense that I couldn’t see where the fucking things were escaping when I’d spot them out my office window, jump into my shorts (What. I generally find pants to be an unnecessary encumbrance when writing during the warmer months) and sprint outside to try to see their escape route, which, logic dictated, would also be their entrance. They’re such prey, with commensurately sharp paranoia-fueled hearing and peripheral vision, that they would bolt at the sound of the front door opening. It drove me mad. We got no broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, carrots, fennel, radicchio, endive, or parsnips last year, except for a few stunted roots since they only eat the greens. Then the hurricane took the willow tree down, and there went all the peppers and eggplants and half the tomatoes. It was ever so bucolic.

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Dump And Stir

Just a quick one today, since I’m on deadline. This was an utterly unremarkable dinner the other night: fried chicken and cucumber salad. The chicken didn’t even get a buttermilk marinade, because there was neither time nor buttermilk; it just got tossed in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder) and fried in a mixture of canola and peanut oils. It was perfectly fine. What made this meal something that you really want to put your face in was the sauce, which I threw together based on what was in the fridge.

I used roughly equal parts of the mango salsa, barbecue sauce from the lamb ribs, and kimchi. And those three links right there show exactly why it ended up being so transcendently good: rather than bottles of various store-bought condiments, they were all homemade. That richness and depth of flavor (and uniqueness, since apart from the kimchi they were one-offs) is the key to making ordinary food into a celebration of sustenance. Anything you can do to equip yourself with homemade tomato purée, chutneys, salsas, and pickles will reward you with interest when you need to phone in something on short notice.

Oil Of Olé

Some friends came to visit on their way home from Maine the other day, bringing lobsters. The timing was perfect, because a friend who lives in Maine had messaged me the day before telling me that it’s a good time to eat lobster since there’s a glut on the market and prices are low. We boiled them–sadly not availing ourselves of this awesome technique for anesthetizing them first, but clove oil is on my shopping list–and had local sweet corn as well, with frisée aux lardons and 63˚C eggs as a starter. But what I did with them the next day was the real story.

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Ich Bin Ein Burger

The burger is an archetypal American food, and it’s even more prominent in the warmer months. In my ongoing and intermittent series of from-scratch sandwich adventures, here’s a very good burger made entirely from scratch (though, as Milo pointed out, we did not in fact raise the cow).

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Seoul Power

I make a lot of kimchi. I ferment other pickles–kosher dill pickles, giardinera, sauerkraut, green tea, and more–but kimchi is far and away my favorite. Other people love it, too; at a dinner party a while back I gave two friends each a pint to take home and they ate it all with forks right out of the jars as we talked. I do not pretend for a second to have any cultural attachment to this food, and I know that there are countless recipes and techniques for it. But I thought I’d share my method, since it’s easy and very good.

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Dinner

Last weekend we went to Vermont to escape the heat and do some serious relaxing. We brought up a bunch of stuff from the garden and some meat from the freezer so we were well provisioned, though that did not stop us from hitting the Saturday market and getting more food. That evening I went to town on all the bounty, and this meal was the result.

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Hot Dishes

Today was hot, so dinner needed to be something on the lighter side, but the day was also strenuous; our various exertions of summer camp, rehearsals, and gardening called for serious sustenance. Besides the garden, my sweat-inducing activities included errand running, among which grocery procurement, so I bought two small pieces of fish: tuna and bluefish, thinking to do two different things with them.

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Postcards From The Veg

Recently we went to visit some old friends at their weekend house down in Sullivan county. We hadn’t seen them in ages, so it was good to catch up. Keep reading Postcards From The Veg…

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.

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