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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Little Things Mean a Lot

I was thinking the other morning, as I was writing out a recipe for this blog, about how I often use qualifiers when listing ingredients. For example, rather than saying, “1 tbsp. butter,” I will say, “1 tbsp. fresh sweet cream butter.” Or instead of “salt,” I will recommend “flaky sea salt, such as Maldon.”

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

Gorgeous pyramid crystals of Maldon salt

It’s because little differences in ingredients can mean a lot. Especially in simple dishes that utilize only a few ingredients. More

More Tips for a Happier Kitchen, Pt. II

It was so good, so helpful, I just had to do a follow up.

Actually, I mostly did a “part II” because of a fun video I wanted you all to see. And also because of a little trick I learned from our Mexican cook, Marilu, on our recent vacation south of Puerto Vallarta.

Enjoy!

Vietnamese spring rolls with lime peanut sauce

Vietnamese spring rolls with lime peanut sauce

Lime Juice on Apple Slices
This one I learned on our recent vacation to Mexico. Each morning, a platter of fruit would emerge from the kitchen. Of course, the tropical fruits — mango, pineapple and papaya — were perfectly ripe and wonderful. But the best thing of all was the apple slices. It took us some time to figure out that the reason they were so good was that Marilu, our resident chef, had squeezed lime juice over them. And, as a bonus for you folks with kids, the lime juice keeps the apples from oxidizing in school lunch boxes! 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