Confit

In the old days before refrigeration, all those trendy rustic preserved things you see on menus these days — cured meats, preserves, terrines, rillettes, all foods pickled and/or fermented — were a matter of necessity. With the fall harvest came too much of everything. And with the desolation of winter around the corner, you figured out ways to preserve all the extra meats and fruits and veggies and grains.

Chicken confit in the Dutch oven

Fast forward to the era of refrigeration, microwave cooking and frozen entrees, and these foodstuffs became quaint reminders of a more difficult epoch. Perhaps it was nostalgia or the recognition of the enduring deliciousness inherent in many preserved… but as the pace of life grew ever quicker, preserves made a roaring comeback, trailing their salty sour tails like comets into the modern era. And that’s a really good thing. More

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Good Gadget, Bad Gadget Pt. V

It’s fun to kick off a new year with another addition of our popular post, “Good Gadget, Bad Gadget.” It seems that even with an economic downturn, the gadget industry is employing armies of product designers and child labor-stocked Chinese factories in the creation of countless new must-have items for the kitchen.

I’m a fan of modern design — we live in a midcentury modern house with sectional couch, Barcelona lounges, shiny orange barstools we call the “iStools”. But one of the most important points to modern design is “form follows function.” And one of the prevailing afflictions in modern design — especially kitchen gadget design — is “form follows form.” In other words, when clever product designers get really cool ideas with utter disregard to whether something is needed.

From the outlands of the avant garde comes the modern edition of “worst gadgets”. I call these “Form Gone Wild”:

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The Garlic Zoom XL. Not sure what the “XL” is for, except that’s what people tack on to the names of their new cars, motorcycles and other products to make them sound futuristic.

And speaking of new cars, could you not just see this little pod cruising across the surface of Mars? Not sure what it does to garlic, though.

More

The Skinny Girls Creative Process

Welcome to the third season of Skinny Girls & Mayonnaise!

(I like to think of my blog like a TV show, in the event that some enterprising producer out there decides to offer me a cooking show.)

“Brought to you by the good people at Kikkoman Soy Sauce. And by the Norwegian Seafood Council.” (I’m a PBS guy.)

We’ve got a great year ahead, folks, with all sorts of interesting things planned…

Corn butterer

Actually, I’ve got nothing in particular planned. I typically jot down ideas as they occur to me (much like this one, and I currently have no idea where this is going). More

Kingdom of Salsa

I think I’ve got salsa running through my veins. My two oldest brothers — twins, twenty years my elders — both married Mexican women. At my childhood home, our brick worker — Cisco — was practically a part of the family. I have formative memories of large, festive gatherings with mariachi and piñatas, huge bowls of crispy tortilla chips and dishes of smoky, addictive and dangerously hot salsa.

(l to r) Chipotle caramelized onion salsa, tomatillo arbol salsa, pan-roasted tomato garlic salsa

I would bravely dip a chip into the salsa — just a corner at first. Then half the chip, and eventually I would actually scoop. I would thrill at both the uncomfortable blazing tingle in my mouth, and at my increasing ability to handle it. And the abuelas would marvel at the Scoville heat tolerance of the little gringo. More

The American Series, Pt. II — Chili

Many a cook has been judged on the quality of his or her chili. Whole lives on the cook-off circuit have been made or ruined based on their deftness of hand with garlic and chili powder.

Last year, I almost entered the local Malibu Labor Day chili cook off. I may do so this year. There’s something decidedly appealing and American about these events. Every municipality, from the upscale resort to the redneck town, has one. More

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