ABC has a regular feature called “Made in America,” which praises small businesses that make goods here. Advertisers have found that “Made in the USA” is a powerful marketing device. I myself have a feel-good response to anything made in this country. But what does it really mean? How critical is it? Steve Jobs said point-blank, and to the president, about manufacturing Apple products in China, “Those jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back.” Full stop. (Anyone interested in business and innovation, btw, should read Walter Isaacson’s riveting biography of Jobs.) New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman makes the point regularly that the way to energize the U.S. economy is not by creating legions of workers who can put a glass screen onto an iPad faster and cheaper than they can in China, but Read On »

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It’s arguable that cooking made us human. Cooked food gave us a huge amount of calories, which made us healthy and we spread our genes and our brains grew and grew. But most important, cooking our own food forced us to work together, to cooperate. Because we learned to cooperate, we grew in groups, and these groups spread across the world and thrived, while others species (Neanderthals, for example) did not. This is important enough to reiterate: in order to make use of the extraordinary benefits that cooked food gave us, the stuff that made us human, we had to work together. Food taught us how to cooperate. But cooperate is a boring word, a weak word with oblique connotations of subservience, compromise, giving in—everything contrary to the rebellious spirit that made this country. So I propose Read On »

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Out of nowhere My Girl Friday shouted, “You should do a post on goose!” with her customary joie de vivre. So when I was ordering a couple of chickens from Cara at Tea Hill Farms, I asked if she had a goose. No, but her neighbor did. A few days later my dear pal Lester shouted, “We should cook goose!” I said, “I just bought one!” My equally dear pal (all of us since high school) Dave Loomis said, “I want in!” So for what is now about year 15 of an annual dinner, I determined to cook my own goose. I had cooked goose, exactly once, nearly two decades ago (I remember being astonished at the quantity of fat it released, staggering). I’d watched a goose cooked late in the late fall of 2001 (when Read On »

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Every Christmas Day our family cooks a prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and a beef jus (made from beef-veal stock), and there’s no better way to cook a rack of beef or a whole beef tenderloin than this combination grill-roast method, which I’ve written about here before and in Ruhlman’s Twenty: A Cook’s Manifesto. It gives the meat great grilled flavor and allows you perfect control of temperatures and timing (the grilling can be done up to three days before the final cooking). The ribs themselves are an added benefit. You can serve them immediately, but I like to save them for a second leftover meal the next day. They’re delicious spread with some Dijon mustard and bread crumbs, cayenne if you like it hot, then broiled. When ordering the roast, I plan on 1 Read On »

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I’m a cook, not a baker. There are few professional chefs who are both. Cory Barrett, formerly of Cleveland’s Lola, was its pastry chef and then its chef de cuisine, very rare. Michel Richard is an anomaly in being both a world-class pastry chef and a dazzlingly ingenious savory cook, as his book Happy in the Kitchen shows (I highly recommend this book, by the way, and his restaurants). That savory cooks and pastry cooks are different creatures is also why writing the new best-selling Thomas Keller book, the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook—stunning in its recipes, photography, and design—was both so hard and so exciting for me, as I tried to understand the whys behind the craft of baking and pastries and write about them through executive chef Sebastien Rouxel. But it’s holiday-time, Christmastime, the season of baking! Read On »

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