All in Kitchen

Kitchen Utensils

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Every houseguest who visits my mother is given a tour of the house, shown their room, presented with towels and, once installed, asked to come down to the kitchen for the “tour.” It seems that each person has their own coping mechanism when it comes to houseguests, for my mother, it is that they know their way around the kitchen, thus saving the host countless questions of “where do I find.”  Questions asked because the guest is trying to be helpful.   She, therefore, starts every stay with the kitchen tour followed by the kitchen quiz.  Her kitchen is logically broken down into categories; vessels, (pots and pans); things with holes (colanders, strainers); handles (spoons, ladles, etc.); no handles (cookie cutters, egg slicers etc.); and things that are flat (cutting boards, trays, cookie sheets). There could be an argument that an egg slicer has holes but you get the drift. My sister’s stepsons were terrified by the idea of a quiz but in general I don’t think it’s a bad idea. 

Tomato Sauce

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It wasn’t too long ago that, while I enjoyed cooking, it was still a production:  planning and recipes, the search for unfamiliar ingredients.  I had signed up to an Abel & Cole vegetable box hoping that the new items included each week would inspire me and, slowly, it worked.  At first, about half of the vegetables might go to waste, and I still find that there is just so much celeriac one can consume in a months time, but eventually instead of decreasing the frequency of deliveries I found myself ordering it weekly and even upgrading to a bigger box. 

Easter Treats


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While I quite like dark chocolate, I have never been much of a candy person.  My sister, Eliza, had an almost cult-like obsession with Skittles and I was fond of the occasional Mounds but the bulging bag of collected Halloween candy would barely have a dent in it by the time the next Halloween rolled around.  The exception to all of this, as you may have guessed, is Easter.   I love Easter candy.   

I like a lot about Easter actually.  A friend recently asked me if I knew why Easter occurred when it does.  By the leading tone of his voice I could tell he knew the answer.  Without skipping a beat, I replied, “it’s the first Sunday, after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox.”  I also really like fun facts.   

Wild Garlic Pesto


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A little while back, I attended my first proper Swiss wedding.  They tend to be intimate but lively affairs.  This one was mostly family and some friends, a grand total of perhaps 30 people and only one American, me.  I pride myself on my intuition regarding languages.  I can sit at a table listening to a conversation in a say Swiss-German and just tie together the couple of words I know to get the gist.  Needless to say, this takes a lot of concentration. 

My skills also tend to degenerate after a glass of wine and then miraculously improve after a couple.  It turns out that the main course that night hit me squarely in the middle.  As the gentleman to my left began to tell me all about the bärlauch risotto, I must have stopped paying attention for long enough to lose the plot entirely or perhaps my perceived talent as a universal linguist is vastly over blown.  Either way, I stared at him blankly and replied “How delicious!”  I learned later that he had been telling me about how one had to be careful in harvesting the wild garlic or ramps, as the foxes like to use them to clean their nether regions.  Thankfully his English was just about as good as my Swiss. 

Seville Orange Marmalade



It might be hailing at this exact moment but it has finally happened.  The signs of spring are here.  The daffodils are out and I have stopped wearing socks.  Still donning a wooly hat with a giant fur pompom and moth-eaten gloves but no socks.  Given the winter we’ve had any little bit of brightness is greatly appreciated.  It’s no wonder that the appearance of Seville Oranges in January or February has made such an impression on the English.  Until very recently, I filed orange marmalade under peculiar British culinary fetishes, in the same box as Marmite and kippers.  But also because of the bitterness. Bitterness is not my thing.  Radicchio and endive make me unhappy. I don’t get excited by the very fashionable Angostura bitters that everyone else can’t seem to get enough of.  Why should bitter oranges be any different?  As it turns out marmalade does the bitter orange some favours and, unlike other jams, is multidimensional.  Bitter and sweet.  A combo I can live with.  



KNIVES | 18 March 2014

The first cooking course I ever took was Techniques of Cooking I (since renamed Fine Cooking 1) at the Institute of Culinary Education.   Every Monday I would duck out of work a little early and head to 23rd Street to spend the next 5 hours cooking.   During the first session, we were instructed that in order to get the most out of the course we would have to purchase and subsequently bring our own knife to class.   In future weeks I would sit quietly on the subway looking around at all my fellow passengers wondering what they might have in their bags considering I had an 8-inch knife in mine. 

An Introduction



When I was about 18, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say either a subsistence farmer or an investment banker.  The second option was a clear byproduct of my upbringing: my fathers’ career, my own perception of success.  The first, although probably meant ironically, was due mainly to the influence of my freshman year roommate, Jessie.

Jessie and I were thrown together via the peculiar lottery of dorm room allocations.  At first glance we couldn’t have been more different.  She was from rural West Virginia, the daughter of intrepid parents embracing the Back-to-the-land movement, and I was a private school girl from the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Needless to say we were terrified of each other.   She thought I was a drug dealer because I had a pager and I couldn’t understand how she didn’t know what a dust-buster was.  The early days were tenuous as we felt each other out, it seemed we had been put together because we were Episcopalian smokers.