I’m headed south today for my annual boondoggle, cooking for my cousin and his sailing crew at the annual regatta there, ten days reserved solely for personal writing, reading, and cooking (and occasional carousing—the boys are pretty persuasive in the post-dinner hours). Dinner for twenty every night, and this year a new baby girl has been welcomed to the sailing family. Dinners will certainly feature some of  the beloved standbys—Carolina BBQ, steaks, lobster. Many requested duck confit (I buy them from D’Artagnan; they’re fabulous and easy on the cook). I usually do a huge shopping run the first day and start with six or seven chickens, breaking them down first thing so that I have stock, schmaltz, cracklins to flavor the food all week, and chicken for grilling (jerked last year). Though a cold front is moving Read On »

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  I remember cooking for my dear Uncle Jon at my dad’s house, and after sticking my finger into a simmering pot of sauce to taste it, he looked at me as if I’d just spit into the food. When I confirmed that he was indeed concerned about germs, I was astonished. He seemed to have no idea that any bacteria on my finger would be killed by the heat (billions on the food and in the pot probably had been) and that my hands were the cleanest in the kitchen because, as I was cooking, I was continually washing them. (Please no comments from ID docs telling me about heat-resistant toxins; I’m not picking my nose and sticking it in food.) Yes, the cleanest hands in the kitchen. I was alerted to the new Read On »

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  How this workaholic longs for the holidays to be over! Especially when the big days fall midweek, effectively knocking out two full weeks. I tried not working—reading, watching movies—but that just resulted in flatness. I need to work, writing or cooking, apparently the way a shark needs to swim. This week is time to think ahead toward what I hope to accomplish in 2014. I’ve already achieved one goal, small though it was. A few friends and I bought and broke down a pig in December (will post about this soon) and it was exceptionally fatty, leaving us with far more rendered lard than I need to cook with. How to use all this fat? Make soap. To my amazement, it was a breeze and finished in 30 minutes. Though there’s relatively little on Read On »

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  As the holidays wind down and before we look forward toward 2014, I’m looking back on a few of the more popular posts of the year. One of the most trafficked was inspire by a report, picked up at face value by all the media it seems, that urged people not to wash their chicken because it sprayed bacteria all over the place. The ever sensible and funny Alton Brown, tweeted a post-it commentary that inspired this: Bacteria! RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! America’s ridiculous and idiotic fear of bacteria. Of course, we all want to be happy and healthy. Here’s my advice: Cook Your Own Food. Eat What You Want. (Think for Yourself.) The irony of it is that I don’t think you should follow it, as I explain in the post. And more ranting on the general Read On »

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And best wishes to you for a happy and fruitful new year with lots of home cooked meals! See you in the new year! (Yes, this is our cherished pig’s nose ornament, bitten off by my dear father at a medieval celebration.)   © 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

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