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Twelve Months of Cookbooks: January|”The Way To Cook” by Julia Child


My husband had an interesting and excellent idea recently.  Knowing that people enjoy lists and recommendations, he suggested that I make a list of “must have” cookbooks for the blog, explaining why each book is on the list.

Genius!  And I’m planning on taking it one step further.  Each month this year I’m going to review one of the books in my collection that I think is a “must have,” and at the end of 2012, I’ll have a list of 12 cookbooks that are really stellar.  At least, that’s the hope.

Friday Tip*|Easy Meals (part two)

Happy Friday!

Keeping with our easy meals theme, I’m resurrecting a recipe that I’ve posted before.  Since we’re doing easy this month,  I think that applies to me too.

Lentils are extremely nutritious and very easy to make.  It’s just a matter of simmering with some spices (turmeric and salt) and then finishing with oil.  Brown lentils are super healthy, but they take a while – about 45 minutes to an hour.  Their cousin, pink lentils** (which you can see are actually orange) however, take about 10-15 minutes.  In fact, this light meal (which doubles as a nice snack) can be made in about 20 minutes, and it only takes that long because you need 20 minutes to make rice.

Friday Tip|When Is It Done?

Did you miss me last week?  I love my new job, but it is whooping my backside!

Enough with my excuses for laming out on you.  Today let’s deal with the question that plagues all chefs (or at least everyone in this household), “when is it done?”

This applies to all things that you can cook or bake, from chicken to cake, but for this post I’m just going to deal with steak, for two reasons: 1. it’s a pretty straightforward example of how to figure out when something is done (without butchering it a second time) and 2. it’s a real shame to overcook a steak.

Friday Tip|Easy Poached Eggs


I am a solutions-through-gadgets kinda gal.  When I have a problem, like my poached eggs not coming out the way I want (I know, not the world’s biggest problem, but work with me), I can easily fall prey to gadgets that claim to be the solution to the problem.  Hence my ownership for years of these things:

I’m not sure what these are called, but I do know is that I never got them to work.  I also never got the “add vinegar to the water” method of egg poaching to work.  Or the “swirling the water before dropping the egg in method.”

Friday Tip|Coffee Grinder Spices

Hola!  It’s almost the end of Friday, but a tip you shall have!!

I just started a new job (yay!), which will likely lead to more food postings (I’m now in the grocery business and work with quite a few folks who love to cook and eat, so I’m anticipating a lot of idea sharing), but has also led to me being more or less exhausted.  I’m expecting this to sort itself out in the next few weeks, but for now, posting may be thin and sporadic.

Friday Tip|For The Nerds!*

This week’s tip is not so much a tip, as a recommendation.  We don’t have many gadgets in the kitchen, and I really don’t use the computer to organize anything like recipes, etc. (although the computer does get used a lot to google things like “how many grams in one cup of whole wheat flour”).  That said, I do like this little app.  It’s a…an add-on, I guess you’d say, to the fantastic book Ratio by Michael Rulhman.

Friday Tip|Rescuing Mayo

Happy Friday!

As promised, we’re moving from philosophical to hands-on practical around here.  Today’s tip is a fantastically easy way to save a broken mayonnaise.

Don’t know what that is?  Well then, skip to the bottom of the post and let’s get you making some mayonnaise!

If you do have experience in making mayo at home (or aioli, which is marvelous and the main reason I make mayonnaise instead of buying it), you have likely found that many recipes “break.”  I don’t know why exactly breaking happens, but it’s maddening and until last night, I’d never been able to save a mayo that had done this.

Friday Tip|Benchmarks


This is one of my favorite video clips.  To me, this is the pinnacle of success.  And not because it put a few guys into space.

Today’s tip is a bit philosophical, but I promise to make it up to any and all reading with four straight weeks of practical tips that don’t make your brain hurt.

I want to talk about benchmarks.  I’ve always sort of known what the word means, but never thought about it much until I went back to school.  Even then, I thought about it more in the context of “will knowing what the word ‘benchmark’ means get me a good grade on this exam/paper?” than I really thought about it.

Friday Tip|Using Cornmeal For Pizza

Friday, it’s Friday!

I’m afraid that today’s post title (is it a headline?) may lead some here looking for a way to use cornmeal in pizza crust.  Or maybe as a topping.  These ideas are interesting, but they aren’t our topic.  Today, I’m going to talk about how to get your raw pizza dough into the oven.

This can be hard, unless you have a screen that you’re building your pizza on (and unless you’ve done hours in a pizza restaurant, I’m not even sure why you would know what one is, but if you do, and you have one, and you use it, no tip this week!).  But there is an easy little trick that has worked for us like a charm ever since we started making pizza.

Friday Tip|Inexpensive Wine Decanter

Friday tip is a little late!

Blame the origins of this particular installment; our friends S and J came by last night and at least one ninja may have had a bit too much cheer in her happiness to see them.  Too much to write a tip last night, at any rate.

We’ll try to make up for it with brevity and simplicity this week – today’s tip is all about doing something sophisticated for cheap (don’t you love that?).  Whenever we go visit my Dad, he always serves us red wine out of one of these: