Archive for the 'Cooking' Category


Making Apple Strudel

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

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As a Californian trapped indoors by East Coast snow, I was running out of things to eat. It was way too cold to leave the house. A whole day stretched ahead, wide and open. If you have a TV, then you’re set. If you don’t…well, thank goodness for friends who happen to have a big dining room table, a pile of apples in the corner and enough curiosity to humor a restless house guest.

Because, to pass the time, I suggested a lesson on stretching strudel. My host, who once watched his grandfather from the Old World make the famously flaky pastry, had never tried it. We set about updating his memories to include an actual recipe. One day soon, he’ll be able to pass along the tradition to his own little daughter when she’s ready to tie on an apron.

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Chili and Change: Dispatch From DC

Monday, January 19th, 2009

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Along with 4 million other people in Washington, I’m trying to figure out how to keep warm and dry while waiting (and waiting…) to witness history in the making. Fuzzy boots and mittens with hand warmers and puffy rain pants are my own fashion statement for this inaugural ceremony. And while the 44th POTUS settles into his luncheon, enjoying “A Brace of American Birds” beneath a painting of Yosemite Valley, I’ll be making my way very very very slowly back up to Tenleytown…to a crock pot full of warming chili.

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Easy Comfort: Pork Sparerib & Mustard Green Soup

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

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Sometimes, when  it’s cold outside and you’re bundled in bed incapable of cooking and yet you need some food that feels and tastes homemade, but your mom is maybe 1,500 hundred miles away, it’s time for the smart shortcuts.

Sure, the first can of chicken and stars brings back fond memories, but by the tenth or twelfth, even after heretical adulterization with dandelion greens or hot sauce, that bowl of comfort starts tasting rather thin. You’ve finished that delicious chili dropped off by a friend and your loved one is in meetings all day. Driving a stick shift up hills is most definitely beyond your abilities, assuming you even get past peeling off your flannel nightgown and navigating the laces on your shoes.

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Pfannkuchen: German Pancake

Monday, November 10th, 2008

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The cookbook with the most stains in my collection is also the first one I ever bought: a copy of the 45th printing of the 1975 Joy of Cooking. It helped me survive my teen years, and then it helped me graduate from college with a bit more meat on my bones. I never did upgrade, and that white bible of the American kitchen (complete with its two silky red ribbons) is still my go-to tome for pancakes, muffins, cakes, pies, dinner rolls, dressings, and quick breads.

I’m still discovering new foods in its pages. A recent addition to our family favorites is a Tran variation on a Rombauer adaptation of a Davidis classic: German pancake with apples.

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Prepping at Restaurant Picco

Monday, September 15th, 2008

picco1.jpgLast month, during one of those gorgeously sunny weeks, a friend visiting from China (read: escaping from Beijing’s craziness) requested a fun outing that would include a meal highlighting local foods. The perfect side trip came to mind immediately. There’s no better way to take in the Bay than on a leisurely ferry ride. And for local flavors, Restaurant Picco offers Marin Mondays, special weekly prix fixe dinners that highlight the best of Marin Country farms. I told my friend to meet me on the Larkspur Ferry.

Skimming along the water, with both bridges within view and plenty of time to catch up on the years that have passed, who wouldn’t prefer a ferry ride over stop-and-go, rush-hour traffic? Add Chef Bruce Hill’s special menu, and it’s a dinner excursion that both visitor and local will long remember.

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