For God’s Sake, Stop It!

Snow, Snow, Snow

Click me for a panorama of winter panic

I know, I know. This image looks familiar. You’re tired of seeing snow on my blahg. I’m tired of seeing snow out my window. It just doesn’t stop. I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore! And this is coming from a dyed-in-the-wet-wool-socks snow lover. If I were a kid again and my father were shoveling the walk and snow-blowing the driveway while I stood in the doorway, a cup of hot chocolate warming my hands, instructing him in the proper method of snow removal, everything would be fine. But now it’s me who has to shovel that son-of-a-bitch-ing walkway, knock snow off the huge yew bushes with a too-short broom, and worst of all, carry bags of seeping, malodorous trash over snowbanks at least as tall as me–not very successfully, I might add. (You try getting the stains and stenches of soured milk, rendered duck fat, and a moldering chicken from the back of the fridge out of your only winter jacket, and then look me in the eye and say, “But it’s so pretty outside, David.”) I don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s pretty and cozy and safe. My detestation of manual labor and laundering has far outstripped my love of the white stuff.  Read more »

Someone’s in the Kitchen with Ina

Ina Garten's Lemon Chicken Recipe
Just about everyone who cooks has a Julia Child story. How she inspired them, how she entertained them, even how she got them pregnant! When it comes to Julia worship, people practically fainted in her presence with religious fervor. My own Julia story, yet to be revealed, talks about how she gave me great comfort in a time of great pain. But who—all these years after Julia first flickered on TV, instructing us with that warbly hoot-owl voice of hers—is her logical successor?

I’ll tell you who: Ina Garten.

Ina has touched, thrilled, even titillated (not that way!) legions of cooks for the past 14 years with her approachable recipes and her “How easy is that?” commentaries. And while I cook (fabulously, I might add) from a few of her many cookbooks—Barefoot Contessa Parties, Barefoot Contessa in Paris, and Barefoot Contessa at Home—what I hold most dear is a short conversation I had with her years ago, one I’m sure she forgot the next moment. But I replay it in my mind over and over again, like an old bootleg Betamax tape of Star Wars. Read more »

Slow to Warm Up

Crock-Pot Ad

I want to say up front that I’m a longtime hater of slow cookers. Ever since I was a kid in the ’70s, all I ever saw come out of Crock-Pots was brown slop. It all looked alike, it all tasted alike. A decade or so later, after I began to cook, I still looked upon slow cookers as cheating. I saw them as symbols of middle-class consumerism pandering to an increasingly lazy society. (Damn, I should have brought a soapbox.)

With the original Crock-Pot, you were really cooking about as much as Lance Armstrong was really winning. Throwing all the ingredients into a pot, walking away for 12 hours, and expecting genius to spill out was ridiculous. Where was the impeccably timed stirring? The gentle nudging of meat? The careful spooning of broth over vegetables? If I wasn’t cooking as my grandmother and mother did, then I was committing fraud in the first degree. And I wasn’t about to risk a criminal record. Read more »

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