Faster! Easier! Simpler!

At the end of this month, Nigel Slater's Eat will be published (in the U.S., anyway.  I think it came out in fall of last year in the UK).  I'm a fan of most Slateriana, so when the book arrived this week, I dove right in.  Instead of the usual Slater ramblings in lush prose, I found a trim little… read more

Weeknight cookbooks: two approaches

The days may still be long, with a hot still afternoon and crickets in the middle, but the pace of school and work is picking up for everyone.  Cooking's more of a crunch.  And though you sometimes get an inspiration for dinner, it's usually not at 5:45pm when you walk in the door from work or driving your kid back… read more

Get cultured

You guys! I made yogurt! and it was easy! The whole yogurt-making adventure started one weekend this summer when we were staying at a family friends' house for a family wedding, and were treated to a sumptuous breakfast that included homemade yogurt.  I'd been buying 2-3 quarts of yogurt a week all summer (my daughter likes smoothies for lunch) and… read more

Spices and spice books

Learning to use spices better has been a lifelong ambition for me - and many other cooks, no doubt.  I always used to have a sort of anxious feeling about the spice cabinet - what's in there? how old is it? is it still any good? am I ever really going to use it?   On bad days, the neglected… read more

Here come the blog books!

Maybe it's my imagination, but August and September seem to be a fertile time for new book offerings from food bloggers -  they're popping up like mushrooms after a summer storm.  The blockbusters may come in October and November, with their glossy promotion packets and glitzy launch parties.  But now's the time for scrappy, interesting, web-to-print forays, and three bloggers… read more

The many faces of pie

Not that pies have ever really been out of fashion (maybe for just 5 minutes around the year 2000 when everybody dropped their carbs like a - well, like a hot potato).  But this summer, it has sometimes seemed as though every other book that landed on my porch was a pie book. Maybe it has to do with the… read more

Soft spots

When it comes to apples, I have a definite weakness.  It doesn't matter that apple season is only in the fall, or that of the 8 or so apple trees we've planted, only two have survived, and that those two successfully bear fruit only once every several years.  It doesn't matter that I rarely eat more than three or four… read more

Dinner with friends – potluck or theme?

My favorite way to see my friends is to get together for dinner.  I love going to other people's beautiful, clean houses and bringing dessert or drinks or sides.  I love having people to our messy, chaotic house and plying them with good things to eat and drink.  And I love summer, because that's when we have time to do… read more

The cilantro cuisines

I sometimes think of it as the "Cilantro belt" - the band of nations falling between 15 and 30 degrees north of the equator.  You know, Mexico, Cuba, Morocco, India, Thailand, and many many more.  It's not that all dishes from those countries use cilantro - they don't.  And it's not that other countries don't use cilantro- they do.  But they're… read more

Reference vs. selection in cookbooks

Today, I opened a book package and found a square-formatted paperback entitled, simply, Shake.  Without looking at the title, the flap, the press release, or the back cover, I started thumbing through the pages (sometimes I just plunge in cold like that, to avoid any preconceptions I might get from the marketing). "That's odd," I thought to myself.  There was something… read more

What’s an hour worth?

It's summer here in the northern hemisphere, and the days are long.  Well, they may not actually be longer - most of us are still awake roughly 16 hours of the day - but they feel longer because the sun's with us for so much of that time.  It feels like there's plenty of time for interesting projects and creative endeavors.  It… read more

To market, to market!

Shopping at the farmers' market isn't like shopping anywhere else.  You have a sense of what will be there, but you can't be sure that what you want will still be available.  Or you might make an impulse purchase.  You could arrive with a list that says rhubarb, fingerlings and baby beets and you'll leave with none of those -… read more

The Mohinga Quiz

This morning, my son asked me an interesting question.  "When you think of Vietnamese food, what do you think of?"  We both like Vietnamese food, so it seemed like it would be easy to reel off a list. "Pho." "Bun." "Spring roll." "Banh mi." A long pause followed.  It seemed we were not as ethnically food-savvy as we thought.  With… read more

Kids in the Kitchen!

Every once in a while I like to catch up with what's going on with kids' cookbooks. I've looked at cookbooks for little kids (both story-based and picture-based) and cookbooks meant for teens.  And, of course, family cookbooks, which tend to keep a laserlike focus on Getting It Done on a Weeknight. Yet for a long time, I wasn't finding that… read more

Summer make-ahead food

So I've discovered a new favorite summer breakfast!  I found it in The Family Cooks, which is the latest adorably packaged, make-your-family-eat-better idea book.  It's "Fresh, Fruity Summer Porridge" - basically a kind of muesli - and there's nothing to it.  You just grate an apple in some yogurt, add some oats and layer in some fruit and something sweet… read more

Impulse buys!

Just the other day I was reminiscing with friends about what it felt like to shop for The Perfect Thing - that feeling of exhilaration and delight! the thrill of the hunt!  It was reminiscing because as I've gotten older, The Perfect Thing has gotten a little less important to me, supplanted by The Best Value.  There are whole categories… read more


Eat.  Travel.  Write a cookbook.  It's not a common formula in these tight-belted days, but every once in a while some intrepid spirit pulls it off.  Some come by it through mixed heritage, like Tessa Kiros of Falling Cloudberries or Exotic Table's Aliya LeeKong, some by happenstance.  But all have culinary adventures and the urge to chronicle them. When I see these… read more

Fancy franks

"Eat your Coney Island," says Ryan O'Neal to then-10-year-old Tatum O'Neal in the bittersweet 1973 comedy Paper Moon, itself set during the Great Depression.  Coney Island?  I thought.  What's he talking about?  That's a hot dog, obviously.   But I guess it was a bit of period dialogue, because the American love affair with the hot dog really did start at… read more

One True Recipe . . . or a Rainbow Mosaic?

Sometimes people ask me, "What's your favorite food?"  which is ridiculously hard to answer, of course, as any EYB member knows. If we didn't love all kinds of food, we wouldn't have all kinds of cookbooks, and if we didn't have all kinds of cookbooks, we wouldn't need to know what's in them; ergo, we wouldn't be here. Once you… read more

Food writers and their books

This week, Ruth Reichl's Delicious! arrived in the mail - her first novel, though far from her first book.  I've been getting press releases for at least six months, so it wasn't a surprise.  But with the Beard book awards taking place this week - I'm going, for the first time - I've been thinking about food writers and the kinds… read more

Cookbooks as teachers

Do you remember what it was like when you first learned to cook?  And you had to learn everything for the first time, whether it was jointing a chicken or roasting a pepper?  Now, you probably aren't even aware of just how much you know, except for when you're teaching someone who's new to cooking themselves.  Then you remember that… read more

Spring resolutions…and the books to go with them

I finally got into the garden this weekend - anybody else?  It wasn't much of a start, but I put in arugula and spinach, favas and peas.  It's the start of the growing season, when there's nary a weed or a pest (except for ticks - I've seen plenty of those already), and good intentions go hand-in-hand with wild ambition.… read more

Let’s Talk Lunch

 As I write this, I'm thinking about lunch, one of the three highlights of my day.  Dinner is recipe testing, breakfast is usually the same thing every day, but lunch is.....a mystery.  Sometimes (often) it's leftovers from dinner.  Sometimes it's the remains of something I just photographed for work.  Sometimes it's just...whatever I can find. When I worked in an… read more

What’s up with France?!

I thought it was my imagination at first, but book after book seems to insist: France is back - in case you ever thought it went away.  Maybe it's because we're all sick of winter and dreaming springtime-in-Paris dreams. Maybe it's because once again, people are saying butter is not evil.  Maybe that Provence, 1970 book last year was the trigger.… read more

Gear Books

Whether your own microclimate has bought into it or not, spring is here, which means that in theory publishers will be taking their annual 8-week hiatus from publishing slow-cooker cookbooks so they can concentrate on grill books. I always wonder at the everlasting popularity of slow-cooker books.  I mean, slow cookers are so forgiving - you could be off by… read more
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