Mayo Clinic

I had a request for fish and chips, which I make occasionally, and since the day was dreary and cold fried food seemed a fitting repast. I don’t do this sort of thing often, since frying is a pain in my ass and makes a big mess (in addition to being unhealthy). On the plus side, it tastes good and best of all it allows me to pour oil all over my table when I take pictures of the finished dinner. You know, for ambiance.

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Wangs

And not the computer, neither. I know it’s Sunday, but I just discovered a trove of pictures on the camera that I had completely forgot about, and I thought of you, poor readers, frantically anticipating my next post with the impatient fervor of Ree Drummond praying for Paula Deen to stroke out on national television. So I wrote this because I feel your pain.

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Gird Your Loins

I don’t normally cook pork loin, because it has no fat and is expensive. But I had a hankering recently to make lomo/lonzino, and when I saw a nice one for not too much I bought it.

Sorry, sourced it. I forgot myself there for a minute.

Most of it sat in a cure for a few days, and I’m going to hang it tomorrow. The rest of it became dinner, and I came up with a rather neat way to avoid overcooking a lean cut such as this, which can turn to cardboard misery in a matter of minutes if you’re not careful, wasting all that money you spent.

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Green Gold

Even though there’s some snow on the ground, it’s rapidly melting as the March sun beats down upon it with increasing vigor. I was going to shoot a bunch of pictures of all the green goodness that’s popping up all over, but those will have to wait for a bit. Meantime, though, a post about my favorite of all the wild spring edibles.

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Positively 6th Street

Paneer is one of the easiest cheeses to make at home, and it’s superbly rewarding because A) there’s almost no waiting and B) if you live, say, in an area that has no good South Asian restaurants, you can make yourself a steaming bowl of saag paneer whenever the urge strikes. And you can make a lot of it, because as we all know Indian food is even better the next morning for breakfast.

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Lambs And Clams, Fit The Third: Cassoulet

If for no other reason, agreeing to be a part of this contest has meant that you all get at least one post per month to enjoy since I’m not really feeling the blog right now and with a broken flash and darkness falling so early decent photography that coincides with actual dinner time is not possible. Having said that, though, this dish would deserve a post even if there were no such contest. I made cassoulet before my trip to France, and did a decent job of it, but Kate showed me her method and it drove home the importance of having all the component parts be as immaculately sourced as possible. I know she has a cassoulet app coming out soon, so pay attention to her Twitter feed and jump on that when it drops. The fact that her technique has continued to evolve is proof that this is a dish that warrants many repetitions and refinements in your own kitchen. This version was made mostly with lamb, since that’s what they sent me. Cassoulet is superbly adaptable to what you have on hand.

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Fishing For Compliments

It’s always a joy to find sushi-grade tuna, especially out here in the sticks where the seafood is not renowned for its freshness. I do love raw fish, even though large pelagic species like tuna contain more and more mercury, courtesy of coal-fired power plants, making it less and less safe to eat with any regularity. Since canned tuna is thus more or less absent from our diet, the occasional indulgence in some number one ahi can be justified. But since it’s chilly, and cold food is not indicated for such conditions, I put a little spin on it to make it seasonally appropriate, and followed it with a real winner of an accidental discovery.

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Who Loved You With His Frozen Love

This is not normally how I eat, but man is it enjoyable every now and then to tuck into an immaculately cooked hunk of grass-fed sirloin. A nearby market has begun carrying beef from a farm across the river, about 20 miles away, which is actually run by a vegetarian who cares so deeply for animals that she raises ones that carnivores can eat in good conscience. With the family out for the evening, I indulged.

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Lambs And Clams: Fit The First

Recently I was invited by the Charleston Wine and Food festival to participate in their Lambs and Clams contest. There will be four monthly entries, each featuring a splendid ingredient, and the winner gets a trip for two to the festival, which looks like an awfully good time. You can see all the other contestants at the link, and fans of a certain charcuterie contest will recognize more than a few of them. It’s like we’re getting the band back together.

The lamb came from Border Springs Farm, which provides superb pastured meat to restaurants up and down the coast. When the leg arrived—plump and lovely, I might add—I was excited to open it up and get started. The problem was the head full of ideas that were driving me insane; I could not for the life of me decide between them. I paced, stared at the meat, paced some more, and couldn’t settle on anything. At one point, I just wanted to stuff it with rosemary and garlic, rub some spices on it, and throw it on the grill for a bit, since it’s hard to beat that treatment for a whole leg. But realistically, for a family of three that was going to yield a massive amount of meat that we’d spend a week getting slowly sick of. And I wanted to do this gorgeous meat justice, especially given that it had been shipped from afar.

Ultimately, the notion that there were just three of us ended up being the solution. I decided to take the leg apart and do a bunch of things to it, each resulting in a manageable quantity that we could eat as they were ready over the course of a few days of normal life. Because I am a crazy person, however, I kind of jammed it all into this weekend, so it became kind of an epic endeavor.

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More Pork, Less Work

Pulled pork takes time. The essence of great barbecue is a long, slow smoking that infuses the meat with deep flavors from both the smoke and the spice rub, and then sets it off with an unctuous swaddle of tangy, sweet, spicy sauce (whatever type you swear by; I’m not getting into a fight about it). But it can’t be hurried.

Except that it can. I’m not saying it’s every bit as good as the slow version, but it’s damn good nonetheless. And you can make it in two hours if you have to.

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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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