Happy (belated) birthday

m-f-k-fisher from HiLoBrow

(Happy not-belated birthday to our nephew Landon – 8 years old today, wow! We love you!)

July 3rd 2012 would have been M.F.K. Fisher’s 104th birthday. Like so many people who like to write, and especially those of us who like to write about food, I count her as a hero and an inspiration. It was in her books that I first saw clearly how food laces its way through the stories we tell – and how those stories, though ostensibly about food, are really about so much more. Continue reading

The super bonus – and our fourth winner!

Vodka Mac and GreensThe Homemade Pantry winner is down at the bottom, below the recipe, in case you can’t wait to see if it was you :) Thank you to everyone who chimed in about making, sharing, and eating homemade food – with friends, family, and strangers too. I always love hearing what you all have to say! Watch for the next giveaway later this week – we’ll be talking aspirational cooking, with a book that fits the bill.

As I recently confessed, when I make a meal to take to someone else I will often make a double recipe, and keep some for us to eat here at home. I consider it a super bonus when, Continue reading

A labor of love

the homemade pantry

If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve probably been wondering when I would get around to giving this one away. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve referenced The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making and its warm-hearted author, Alana Chernila, but here’s a sampling: butter, ricotta, parp-tots, and of course those crackers.

Alice Waters is one of the people who made me think about food differently. Alana Chernila is one of the people who made me think about cooking differently. She has an absolutely infectious enthusiasm for cookery and with her family she makes a lot of kitchen magic. She also has the special ability to make that enthusiasm and that magic come through on the page (or on the screen). Having her book on the counter is as sparkly and inspiring as I imagine it would be to have her right there in my kitchen. She is simultaneously authoritative and approachable – the best kind of teacher. What I love most about her is, no matter the difficulty of recipe at hand, she makes me think I can do that. 

I am so excited to be offering this book as our next give-away, and I’ll tell you more about what we’re discussing in just a minute.

But first –  Continue reading

On carrots and cardamom – and a delicious revolution

Growing up in Berkeley, I always heard Alice Waters lauded as a visionary and a genius, and her food establishments were a point of major civic pride. (Many Berkeley kids remember some version of this, I think). Chez Panisse spawned elite chefs left and right (including two of my favorites, Mary Canales at Ici and Christopher Lee at the now-defunct Eccolo) and trendy “California cuisine” types the world over claimed pedagogical descent from her and her fellow food revolutionaries. Sustainable, local, organic and fair-trade moved from counter-culture to more mainstream food philosophy, and Alice opened a string of restaurants around town that continued to embrace her “vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea” vision of what food should be.

I love this vision.

But.  Continue reading


My dad has always been a stickler for family dinners at the table. When I was little, the routine was comforting. Dinner (always served with a big green salad and homemade vinaigrette) was part of what marked our nights at Dad’s house. By high school though, I would sit and glare at the crystal clock on the mantle, imagining all the fun my friends were having without me as they ate Intermezzo salads on Telegraph avenue or met up early to dine on poppyseed cake at Cafe Roma before heading to a party. In my heart of hearts, I still liked the comfort of routine – but on Friday nights I would bribe Dan to switch chores with me, rushing through my meal in my eagerness to be out the door.

Despite this steadfast dinner routine, my dad is a wildly inconsistent cook. This is not to say he is a bad cook – quite the opposite. He is such a good cook that he almost never makes the same exact meal twice. He starts in a very predictable way – meat and onions, sometimes garlic. But he spices things by instinct, rarely measuring and often experimenting. You never know quite what you’ll get – just that it will probably be good.

So it was really not until my stepmom came into our lives that we had the experience of a nightly dinner that actually tasted the same, week after week.

Continue reading

Where to begin

Breakfast has remained pure amid all the food trends. The honest simplicity of breakfast is so captivating. The most delicious breakfasts usually derive from the humblest ingredients (money alone does not buy good food).
~ Marion Cunningham

I have some news. There is a wonderful recipe down below – yes, yes – actually, there are two! But there is also something else. It is a book. It might even be a book for you.

Let’s back up a minute. For the next six weeks, I’m going to start each week with a recipe  from one of my favorite and most-used kitchen books – and then, one lucky reader each week will win their very own, brand spanking new copy! I’m super excited. I think we’ve picked some great books – ones that inspire, ones that intrigue, ones that introduce new ideas and ones that instill confidence in old techniques. Ones that you can dream over, but ones that I hope you will also turn to time and again, to actually cook from.

I have been so excited about this selection process that I have actually had a hard time sleeping. Really! Insomnia has plagued me these past weeks as we debated which books to include, which most-loved volumes would make the cut.

I couldn’t decide where to begin – and then suddenly as I sat looking at my list, it was obvious. We should begin with breakfast, of course.   Continue reading