Category: Ranting

February 16

A friend sent me a link to this tirade about “foodies” in the Atlantic recently. I get the point, but the piece is so full of strawmen, surmise, and hyperbole that it robs itself of any real impact. I guess that’s not surprising, since The Atlantic continues to employ embarrassingly sloppy corporatist hack extraordinaire Megan McArdle as their Business and Economics editor. She’s so bad that she actually almost cancels out the brilliance of Ta-Nehisi Coates. Evidently they envy the New Republic’s plummet into ignominy and uselessness and are keen to follow.

I remember being in China with a group from college for six weeks; at the time I was a vegetarian and couldn’t get over the nerve of the so-called carnivores who would recoil in horror at half the dishes put before them. That squeamish hypocrisy is absolutely a legitimate target for scorn and mockery. Plus, they ate all our broccoli and tofu because beef tendon? Eeeeew! And pompous, bombastic gluttons like Jeffrey Steingarten are just that. (Also, if he needs a week of afternoons to plan to make ribs, dude is as out of his depth as McMegan).

Read the Post Urban Homesteading!

January 25

We all love to hate the Food Network. This is of course because it sucks; much like today’s new, improved GOP, it continues to find ever-cheesier ways to continue digging the mouth-breathing corporate shill-hole deeper and deeper. But I have some good news for you, o brilliant and discerning readers of this fine site: they’re picking up their game. (Food TV, that is. The GOP? Seriously?) Why on Earth would I say such an improbable thing? Well, I have some exciting news.

Read the Post The Spanish Recipe

November 4

We’re lucky enough to have a good venison farm in the area, so those of us who do not hunt have a source for deer meat. Next year may be the one in which I begin hunting, but for now I have to say I’m OK with the steps I’ve taken so far to curate my food sources. Venison is super-lean, flavorful, and, when cooked properly, offers an elegant alternative to beef.

Read the Post The Other Red Meat

October 2
August 12

Last night we had burgers. Nothing fancy about them at all, no gadgetary magic or exotic ingredients to make them blogworthy. What did make them very very pleasurable to eat, though, was the 20 minutes or so that I spent really actually making them. From scratch. I took a package of local, grass-fed stew meat, trimmed a few tough spots, and fed it into the Kitchen Aid grinder attachment along with a fistful each of parsley and arugula, a minced clove of garlic, a good-sized piece of smoked ham fat cut into chunks, and salt and pepper. I fed them all through the large die, and then the small, and then shaped them into patties. Cooked them. Served them on whole wheat buns with homegrown tomatoes and homegrown and fermented cucumber pickles. Steamed broccoli and sautéed zucchini, also from the garden, on the side. Seriously: 20 minutes, including cleaning out the meat grinder parts before everything got all hard and icky.

Why write about such a meal? I wasn’t going to, believe me. But by complete coincidence, earlier in the day I happened to be in a local chain drugstore (don’t ask) when, in the course of my hapless, panicked, Kafkaesque wanderings though the maze of aisles, I stumbled upon the following product on a shelf:

Read the Post Whoreganically Blown

August 10

I had a pretty productive day yesterday, and got some garden processed for cold storage so we can enjoy bright, cheerful meals during the long dark night of winter. I took every ripe tomato we had, which worked out to a roughly 50/50 mix of eating and paste varieties, trimmed off anything unseemly, and threw them all in a big stockpot with a bit of shallot softened in olive oil. After about 10 minutes, they had all pretty much disintegrated, so I stick-blended them all smooth and pushed the result through a strainer. The result, after the judicious application of salt and pepper, was just shy of a gallon of dreamily perfect tomato soup. Into the freezer it went, after I parked all the containers in sink full of cold water for a few minutes to cool them off.

The rest was lunch:

Read the Post A Rose is A Rose is Not A Rosé

June 23

I was at an extraordinary wine dinner recently, and in chatting with the very expert guests I sort of stumbled on an interesting consensus: almost everyone I talked to about the subject agreed that a well-made rosé was as good a choice as any to match with a wide variety of foods, especially in the warm weather we’re enjoying. One professional specifically told me that at a recent tasting of big-name juice, he returned to a simple rosé as one of his favorite wines of the night, refilling his glass with it rather than some over-hyped behemoth. Everyone nodded knowingly when I said that summer is my time to save some wine money by buying cases of affordable pink, keeping precious powder dry for bigger cold-weather reds to match with rich stews and braises later on. When it comes to the most basic ratio of pleasure per dollar, good rosé is about as rewarding as wine gets. So here’s a little primer for the novices among you.

I’m referring to the style I like best (and just about only): bone-dry and lightly colored, and almost invariably from the South of France. I’ll use Provence as shorthand, but that can be extended into several neighboring regions; what matters to me is the style and the irresistibly tasty garrigue (wild herbs) that perfectly balances the fruit and acidity in a well-made example. If you’re not familiar with it, or have only ever had white Zinfandel (oh, the horror. Seriously, end-of-Apocalypse-Now HORROR) then this post is for you.

Read the Post Rosé FAQ

May 28
May 9
April 30

Wok Hai (or Wok Hay) is a Cantonese expression that means, roughly, “breath of the wok.” “Hay” is “Chi” in Mandarin, so it’s as much “energy” or “spirit” as “breath,” but the idea is the same: the food has a particular flavor that can only come from quick cooking in a wok. It’s something I’ve known about for a long time, and it’s one of the qualities that has eluded my Chinese cooking for even longer. No matter how good, it never tasted authentic. Until now. See, our gas range in Brooklyn was OK, but not great. And the execrable piece of shit of a hotplate that came with this house, well, let’s never speak of it again. But the new stove–the gleaming, stainless beast that it is–was the missing ingredient. All of the circular cast-iron grates lift out, allowing a wok to sit down low and get very close indeed to the burner. And when the burner in question is 22,000 BTUs, that wok gets obscenely hot. The thin steel becomes a highly conductive membrane bathed in fire, so your food is cooking right in the flames. It’s bad-ass, and it makes the best Chinese food possible.

Read the Post Wok Hai