Good Gadget, Bad Gadget — The Annual Summer Post, 2014 Edition

Around about this time each year, I get emails from the likes of Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table touting their wonderful selection of summer grilling “must haves” at up to 50% off. Last year an email from Sur la Table even included the recommendations of “Jenn the Gadget Girl,” whom I tried in vain to prove or disprove the actual existence of.

The emails always seem to arrive when I’m scratching my head about what to blog about, and in that way are like a gift. And this year, they did not disappoint.

Adding to my already formidable collection of “Good Gadget, Bad Gadget” posts is this summer’s grill edition, which as usual is heavy on the “bad gadget” side… It’s hard to believe that in a product lab somewhere on earth, people are actually dreaming these things up. More

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Further Dispatches from the Burger Front

I’m at war with myself.

In the past, I’ve made some great burgers — burgers that have won praises, burgers that have pushed the boundaries of the possible… burgers that have brought grown men to tears.

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And yet, still, I am not satisfied.

There is always a better burger out there. And in here (pointing to my heart). I have but to find it, or to draw it out from within. More

The Ultimate Summer Condiment

There is a condiment unlike any other — a glistening concoction that will transform your burgers from fine to sublime, and that will have your summertime guests kneeling at  your feet in reverence, O’ God of the Barbecue. And I will share it with you, here, now, just in time for the 4th!

Bacon onion marmalade

This is not a condiment for vegetarians or the tentative. I call it bacon onion marmalade. And it is the anecdote to mediocre summer burgers. You may even want to bring a little stash with you when someone invites you to their barbecue. More

The Ethics of Eating Meat

Periodically I enter contests. I don’t know why, because I rarely win. (You may still remember my entry to the Los Angeles Times “Best Burger” contest, which I was certain I would win until I discovered it was actually a “Burger with the Most Facebook Likes” popularity contest.) But hope springs eternal.

A couple months ago, my pal and sometime-Skinny-Girls-sidekick Nat sent me a link to a contest in the New York Times. “You should enter this,” he said. It was an essay contest on the ethics of eating meat.

More than an actual desire to win (the prize in this case being not a car or a trip to Hawaii but simply that your essay got published online), I enjoy entering these sorts of contests because it is a good impetus to think and write about things I might not otherwise think and write about. And though I often think and write about an ethical approach to eating meat, I had never gotten down to the actual marrow-bones ethics of it. (Nice recipe for marrow bones here, by the way…) More

What’s Your Week Like?

This morning I was shopping. It’s Monday, and I like to think about what I’ll be cooking throughout the week. Sometimes I have no plan, and open the fridge or freezer in the afternoon to see what’s there. But more often than not, I’ll have at least some sense of where the week is going, culinarily speaking.

Fridge, freezer & pantry — items for the week's dinner

Outside influences sometimes play a part — upcoming dinner parties, the tastes of a guest visiting from out of town, my wife’s craving for Mexican food or my son’s for Japanese. I’ll think about the days and nights ahead, how much preparation time I will have for each (I take my son to tae kwon do two afternoons a week, for example), consider what ingredients I already have, and make a plan. More

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