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It was summer of 2005 when I wrote my first story for NPR’s Kitchen Window, a then-brand-new series on the NPR website. It was my first time working with NPR in any capacity, and I was beyond thrilled.
In the 9 years since the series launch, I’ve written regularly for Kitchen Window, most of it under the sage guidance of editor Bonny Wolf and producer Amy Morgan. For me, it’s been 62 stories in all. I’ve written about octopus, egg yolks, squash blossoms, edible weeds, and mint ice cream (I finished that one the day before my second child was born). I’ve baked my way through Halloween (soul cakes), Valentine’s (iced heart cookies), Easter (egg breads), and Mother’s Day (waffles and scones). I’ve enjoyed heartwarming praise and endured withering critiques from hundreds of readers. And the kind of stories I learned to tell here formed the basis for my book, A Spoonful of Promises.
Next month, the series will conclude. This story, about the sous vide revolution lapping at the thresholds of home kitchens, will be my last Kitchen Window contribution. My first piece, Garden in a Glass, was a nostalgic reverie about the medieval art of herbal concoctions. It seems somehow fitting that my last should be such a modernist, future-forward piece, complete with thermocouples and vacuum sealers. We’ve come a long way in 9 years, both the food world and I.
NPR continues to provide excellent food coverage through The Salt blog, especially when it comes to food science, food sourcing, and food trends. But I hope that NPR will someday once again have a place for the thoughtful rumination on food – the essay that takes us out of time and place and into a moment of pure sensibility.
As the immortal M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, “When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it…” We live in a world frantic for connection, and sometimes it’s only food – primal, comforting, sustaining – that has the power to stop us in our tracks; to taste, to remember, to feel.
This story features a pork belly recipe from Nathan Myhrvold’s and Maxime Bilet’s Modernist Cuisine at Home. You can read more about this book – and over 250 other cookbooks worth getting or giving – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder. Available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.
Sure, I like eating oranges by themselves. But there’s just something about the taste of orange as a flavoring in other dishes that I can’t get enough of. Orange zest, dried tangerine peel, clementine juice – as far as I’m concerned, they’re simply most adorable when they’re hiding in plain sight.
The couscous recipe from Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion’s Keepers is featured in this story. You can read more about this book – and over 250+ cookbooks worth giving this holiday! – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder. Available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.
Celery root – or celeriac, if you want to be all proper about it – is no beauty! But at this time of year, it’s a root worth digging deep for – all buttery, earthy taste and satin texture.
I had a rumpus of a time writing this story! – except for one part: standing on the freezing porch trying to take a glamorous photograph of rapidly cooling lentils. Yeah, that part.
Recipes from Gourmet Today and Plenty are featured in this story. You can read more about those books – and over 250+ cookbooks worth giving this holiday! – on my cookbook-rating app, CookShelf. Available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.
And…one more story today, though it ran a bit late on the NPR site.
I love a roast in the fall, and one of the things I love best is when there’s fruit – dried or fresh – in the roast, lending a syrupy, caramelized finish to everything it touches.
Click here to read Roasting with fruit story at NPR’s Kitchen Window.
Browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.
August means tomato heaven, out there on the farmstands, in the gardens, and at your local farmers’ market. And because it’s finally cooling down, you might not even mind turning on the oven to roast a few. Here’s how–trust me, it’s worth it.
Click here to read Roasted Tomatoes: The Perfect Accessory for Summer Dishes at NPR’s Kitchen Window.
It’s been a very busy few weeks, but I’ll be back with more cookbook reviews, CookShelf app updates, as soon as the kids are back to school (1 down, 1 to go)!
Browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.
Possibly the only thing better than buttermilk alone is buttermilk plus blueberries, and we’ve gotten plenty of those too–bumper crop this year. Ah, buttermilk! Ah, blueberries! Ah, summer!
Click here to read Buttermilk Makes Everything Taste Better at NPR’s Kitchen Window.
The pictured recipe for Buttermilk Ice Cream comes originally from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, the cookbook from the legendary Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco. You can get a full analysis and read a full review of the book on CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app, available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices.
My garden’s a mess this year, due to serious slacking during the endless rains of June. But I still kept a watchful eye on the garlic bed, because I had a deadline and the garlic needed to coöperate.
The garlic was perfectly healthy – vigorous, green, and inarguably well-irrigated. But where were the scapes? “C’mon!” I exhorted. “Let’s get a move on! I’ve got a story to write!”
Scapes are funny. As far as I can tell, they’re not there, and then they’re there. I went out one humid afternoon close to deadline and there they were – dozens and dozens, lining up in scapey curlicues. I marched into the cool house and e-mailed my editor. The deadline, I declared, was safe.
Click here to read Scape Velocity: Green Garlic Takes Flight at NPR’s Kitchen Window.
The splendid recipe for Pork and Garlic Scape Stir-Fry comes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice. You can get a full analysis and read a full review of the book – and even click to buy it – on CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app, available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices.
Actually, it’s not called “Mom’s Secret Stash” – that’s just what I call it. The story has a more NPR-appropriate title: “Try a Do-It-Yourself Mothers’ Day” . The idea here is that sometimes the best person to come up with a delicious treat for Mom on her special day is…Mom. I’m not saying you shouldn’t accept, enjoy, and appreciate the pancakes in bed, the crayon cards, the champagne at brunch – if you are so lucky as to get those. I’m just pointing out that there’s no harm in doing a little bit of the spoiling yourself.
By the way, some of your loved ones will want to get you a cookbook for Mother’s Day. So as to avoid getting stuck with some random grilling book you hate, direct them to CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app, now available for iPhone/iPad or Android devices. On it, you can read about many of the recipes and cookbooks featured in this story, including this incredible matzo candy from Susan Feniger’s Street Food.