Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Welcome to my blog! Here, I'll be sharing recipes and techniques for enjoying great food and wine on a minimal budget.

Cooking is not and should not be intimidating. If you don't have any experience in the kitchen, well, now's a great time to get in there. Like someone once said, "First, start by facing the stove." At the beginning, cooking is really just following directions. Any decent cookbook (I particularly enjoy The Joy of Cooking) should provide a plethora of recipes and inspiration. Start by making a few simple things that you know you'll enjoy (spaghetti, cookies, burgers) and branch out from there. Most of my cooking experience has been of the improvisational nature, and you'll notice from my recipes that I don't pay much attention to proportions. Don't let that throw you--it's nearly impossible to over-season a dish (with the possible exception of hot peppers).

I try to use only whole foods in my cooking. And no, that's not a reference to the grocery store chain. Processed food and processed ingredients are just that--processed. If you've ever had a tomato fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun and slowly ripened, you know that it bears absolutely no resemblance, in either taste or texture, to a supermarket tomato purchased in January. Compare the taste of wild strawberries to supermarket strawberries, of fresh green beans to canned, of free-range, grass-fed beef to a prefrozen fast food hamburger.

The only canned food I use on a regular basis are canned tomatoes (whole and organic when possible). I use frozen corn, peas and spinach, but all other fruit and veggies are purchased fresh. There is a substantial and noticeable taste difference, as well as a sizeable nutrition difference. Fresh veggies are full of vitamins; canned veggies are not (with the exception of tomatoes). Plus the canned ones are full of preservatives and added sodium. I'm not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination; I just want my food to taste good. Here, my brother would say, "But McDonald's tastes good. And they have a dollar menu." It's true, McDonald's is engineered (literally) to press all our evolutionary buttons for fat, sugar and starch. But again, if you've ever had a burger made from fresh grass-fed beef, with fresh tomatoes and lettuce, on a freshly made sourdough bun, then any McDonald's burger will forever after taste like dirty dishwater. Throw in some hand-cut home fries, ideally fried in duck fat, and you'll be glad you spent that twenty minutes making your own burger instead of going through the drive-thru.

You may think, "I don't have time or money to deal with fresh veggies! I barely have time to heat my frozen Lean Cuisine meal every night for dinner!" Which is what this blog is all about--sharing my tricks and recipes to get healthy, simple, yummy-good meals on the table. It takes no more time to make biscuits from scratch than it does to open a can of biscuits, peel them apart, and put them in the oven. Seriously. It doesn't. Plus it's cheaper. And they taste better.

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