The spacing here leaves a great deal to interpretation.
Can't decide? Try the Plates.



This afternoon, I’ll be up to my elbows in Alchemy’s brownie mix, as they’re being featured on onegoodie.com through the weekend. And looking at the One Goodie website this morning, I had that feeling again, the artisan thing, the weird dichotomy of the creator, the did I really make that? moment. I’ve had the same feeling as a writer. Last year, I re-read my thesis novel and found myself engaged. It made no sense! Engaged as a reader in my own writing?

The something-funny with food is easier to nail down. As an artisan, you become, at once, connected and unconnected to the idea of the food as food. Of course, following procedure regarding cleanliness and packaging, etc…, you’re aware that what you’re making is a “consumable,” but you rarely think of the fact that when it leaves your hands it will become a part of folks daily lives: beside them as they’re wearing pajamas, stirring a pot of a curry on the stove; a signifier of what their kids will remember as dad’s cooking; a part of their pleasure of eating dinner in the evening.

When Chris and I were shopping for a house a couple of years ago, we had the strange occurrence of opening cabinet doors (checking out the space, of course) and finding Alchemy spices. Sort of surreal. It’s in these moments that it takes extra brainpower to process the fact that your hands created that blend, labeled that bottle (which now, gasp, looks like a real grocery item!). Kind of like raising a kid, maybe, and finding at some point that they’re their own person; on the store shelf or in someone else’s kitchen, even things you’ve created cease being yours and actually become “products,” unto themselves.

Which reminds me of a story that my college writing professor Dr. S.S. Hanna told; attending a fiction reading, one evening, Hanna was surprised to see the author turn his novel sideways, mid-reading. The author was, of course, including an edit he’d made in the margin of his published book! A wild twist on separation anxiety or, perhaps, pure denial? It makes you feel small after all; regardless of all your concern and care, once something can stand on its own, it's completely beyond your grasp.

BTW, my husband Chris and our friend Blythe kayaked out to what they thought was an unpopulated island last spring and found an organic farm, completed with sheep, chickens, and an airstream trailer. Pretty wild! Here’s an article about the Williams Island crew:

Compare this to the touted Outstanding in the Field experience, a “restaurant” staged in the fields of working farms and charging $200-plus per plate (well, five plates, really) for food that is enjoyed at its source (shouldn’t that be less expensive given the zero-carbon-footprint thing?). While the table settings are idyllic and the food, most certainly, is delicious, I’m awed to see each coming dinner marked “sold out.” The experience is, most assuredly, not an authentic farm experience: it’s polished to a sheen with sterile table cloths, china, and servers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s lovely. But farm-to-table in the truest sense? I think not.



Excesses, it seems, are my M.O. this week. Last night, I canned a bushel of heirloom tomatoes (which melted into 12 quarts). I had considered simply freezing them, but satisfaction-wise there is nothing as fulfilling as rows of home-canned veggies. For both the sake of pleasure and pure, unadulterated conceit, I will store these in plain sight, where guests will be forced to ask, “Did you can those?” (That’s right, bitch, I’m totally stocked-up for winter. What about you?)

Up for tonight, apples. Our good friend Mike found a bountiful apple tree on the property of an abandoned house (location: for a multitude of reasons, undisclosed). On Tuesday, after some pub food and beer, he announced that he had “something” to “unload” on us and “could we go to your car?” Illicit substances? An abundance of marked bills? Paraphernalia? No, a backpack-full of apples. Gatherer Mike was taken with considering the miniscule carbon footprint of the hand-harvested, local fruit. Canning and saving seemed to honor his eco-conscious concern and be a good nearly-carbon-neutral approach, so when Christmas comes around, our dessert will be both succulent and sustainable.

But wait a sec, that’s too idyllic; I’m lapsing into food-writing la-la-land here. About halfway through the peeling and coring, I had forgotten about going green and Mike’s generosity and ailing Mother Earth, all I could think of was the poor bastard who had to sell industrial-strength apple corers to make ends meet. What’s the emotional sell? Door-to-door or phone sales? Key marketing points? And who, exactly, is the audience?

Housewives? At $140-a-pop, Mrs. McCafferty had better be baking more than a few apple pies. And she’d better have some muscle behind those pin-curls as well. Generally, it takes not one but two whacks in order to propel the apple over the blades and into the waiting receptacle. When it comes to the third blow, and you begin thinking, “Damn, I’m glad this thing doesn’t have feelings,” it’s time to change your technique.

Restaurateur? “No really, chef, give it a try. Just insert the apple, then smash the f**k out of it with this handy, maneuverable top part.”

Starry-eyed, hippie-type entrepreneurs? This is where they got Chris and me. Fresh out of grad school, we thought it sounded fun to travel to markets and festivals selling apples with caramel sauce and peanuts. But there’s the residual splatter/spatter (yes, think crime scene here) that makes the whole things less attractive to the consuming public. “Oh, I’m sorry, little boy, but that seed lodged in your cheek is totally lucky. Good thing you had your eyes closed.”

I’m well aware: this may unleash a storm of salesmen on my door step, whispering “Are those the people who bought the apple corer?” So let just me say now, we’re not in the market for grave plots; vacuums; large tubs of popcorn; international orphans needing sponsorship; meat, fish, or pre-seasoned poultry products; encyclopedias; human-grade dog food; or...No? Fruit you say? Well, come on in. I know just what to do with that.



All my life, I’ve heard folks prattle on about their cookware crushes. A French butter keeper? I’ll take it or leave it. Mandolin? Give me a good chef’s blade, and I’m happy. Fancy double-boiler? A pan and bowl, please.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot that I appreciate: good knives, appropriate tools, even my pizzelle maker is valued come holiday time. And I adore my All-Clad copper; it’s perfectly practical and lovely to look at—who could ask for more? I certainly didn’t think that I could—until my Le Creuset came along.

There are three distinct rationales for why my 7.5 Quart Dijon-Hued French Oven is flawless.

1. The light interior. While cooking demands effort from each of the senses, sight is high on the handy-in-the-kitchen list. I like a clear view of how things are browning, crisping, caramelizing, and nothing is as lucid on the flame as the creamy white of a Le Creuset interior. Dimly-lit kitchen beware: I can now cook into all hours of the evening.

2. The even-keeled convection. Let those flames lick. My Le Creuset will distribute them across the surface with ease. Lamb chops on one side, okra on the other—each has its share of heat, and nothing comes out black-n-blue.

3. The practicality. A serious piece of cookware in a pretty enamel coat. Isn’t that what most women are after anyway?

4. The clean-up. Bring on your ugly, your fond and your sear, your sticky balsamic and brown-sugar salmon. My Le Creuset will take nothing more than the coarse side of a kitchen sponge to wax spotless.

I know, I know, it’s the expense, but, at some point in your life, they’ll be a perfect moment: it will start with a glance across the showroom; then a touch, maybe (accidental or intentional?); you’ll think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn’t, but none will matter. When you take her home, she’ll be everything you expected yet full of surprises; and, at some point, a lifetime won’t seem like long enough.



  • Everything is important; nothing is waste: bones, fat, skin, drippings.
  • Low-n-slow isn’t just a pork thing: the fat yields slowly and eases the duck meat to succulent perfection.
  • Think Waits’ Alice: gothic but sophisticated, raw yet refined, as lovely in process as product.
  • Rich food isn’t necessarily rich food (luxurious/$$$).
  • Though generally the thinking is otherwise, time can be not only ally but enrichment to meats.
  • A little duck fat is not enough.
  • In the food world, the things that sound the fanciest are often the simplest; and the simplest are often the finest ala William Carlos Williams This is Just to Say.
  • Old as history; new as yesterday.