Archive: May 2008

Now It's Dad's Turn: Your Stories Wanted

Because I had so much fun reading your kitchen stories about Mom, I'm going to repeat the gesture for Dear Old Dad. My father, John O'Donnel, enjoying the summer of 1967. (Family photo) Father's Day is Sunday, June 15, and I'm looking for kitchen or food-related stories about your father, grandfather or assorted paternal figures in your life. Send'em my way at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com. In the subject line of your e-mail, type "DAD" and in your note, please include your age, city and state, where you grew up and the size of your family. Please try to limit your stories to 250 words, but don't fret if it's over the word count. Send all stories no later than Monday, June 9. I'll select a handful of entries for a blog-stravaganza that will be published on June 13. Oh -- and if you've got a cool pic of Pop, send that along...

By Kim ODonnel | May 30, 2008; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Eco-Bite: Mapping Your Produce; SalmonAid

Until recently, both Bon Appetit and its Conde Nast sibling, Gourmet, shared online space via epicurious.com, perhaps the most well-known recipe portal on the Web. Epicurious.com's peak-season map on my Apple laptop. (Kim O'Donnel) Now they are distinctive Web entities (well, sort of) with their own domains, (bonappetit.com and gourmet.com), look and feel, offering up both re-purposed magazine content and online-exclusive multimedia wizardry. This does not mean epicurious.com has disappeared into the Internet sunset; in fact, it seems to be developing a personality of its own. You can find both BA and Gourmet from epicurious, and what I discovered along the way is one of the coolest Web food features I've seen in a long time. Someone rather brilliant at epicurious.com has produced a Peak-Season Map, an amazing interactive tool that provides month-by-month produce updates for all 50 states. Here's how it works: You click on a month, then you...

By Kim ODonnel | May 29, 2008; 7:45 AM ET | Comments (6)

Chat Leftovers: Homesick for Comfort Food in Taipei

Taipei, Taiwan: Before I relocated here I was a regular reader; however, with a small and vocal new addition to the family, I've fallen off the radar. It's Monday, rainy, gloomy, I'm far away from girl friends and Mom(!!)...basically I'm exhausted and really low and in desperate need of comfort food. In fact I had been trawling the web fruitlessly when I remembered where to get some sane, veg-based comfort food ideas. Today's a goner, but will be very obliged if you can suggest something for the next time I'm in urgent need of comforting...which so far looks like tomorrow! P.S. - I can cook but I don't have an oven here so can't bake; also I don't relish Chinese food. Okay, let's break this down: We've got a down-in-the-dumps vegetarian expat in Taiwan looking for stove-top comfort food, and no Chinese, please. It's hard to tell from the reader's...

By Kim ODonnel | May 28, 2008; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (9)

Baking Beans: What's Your Secret?

"Bring a side" is what our friend J told me when I insisted on bringing an edible contribution for his bon voyage cookout this weekend. After last week's slow-cooked smoked ribs, I've still got the barbecue theme on the brain and decided on a batch of baked beans. For years, I couldn't stand them because they were either too sweet, too mushy or too salt-porky. When I finally got my lips around beans that were smoky, tangy and kind of spicy (like a good ole campfire), that's when I knew I hit the flavor jackpot. Baked beans just out of the oven. (Kim O'Donnel) Baked beans is everyday, everyman's (and woman's) food, and somewhere along the line, we've all encountered them in one incarnation or another depending on where we grew up. If you're from upper New England or Canada, you might know them as maple syrupy sweet. Bostonians may...

By Kim ODonnel | May 27, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Buz's Best Barbecue Ribs

With a name like Buz, he may as well have a Vegas lounge act, but Buz (that's right; one "z" is intentional) Grossberg is up to different kinds of theatrics -- barbecue. To add to the weird quotient, Grossberg, a former surplus tire salesman, is doing his barbecue in Richmond, Va. Not exactly the first place that slips off your tongue when you're hankering for some 'cue. Pitmaster Buz Grossberg. But he must be doing something right. Buz's joint, Buz and Ned's, (we'll get to Ned in a bit), which started out as a roadside stand in 1992, has morphed into quite the empire, with $2.3 million in sales last year, says Grossberg. He's also had a brush with barbecued fame; Grossberg is now known in Richmond as the "Flay Slayer," for slamming Bobby Flay last year on an episode of the Food Network's "Throwdown With Bobby Flay." These days,...

By Kim ODonnel | May 23, 2008; 8:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

Q&A: Sichuan Food Expert Fuchsia Dunlop

As part two of our kitchen tribute to Chengdu, I tracked down Sichuan cooking expert Fuchsia Dunlop, who is presently in Shanghai, leading a culinary tour. Fuchsia Dunlop, at market. While eagerly awaiting Dunlop's reply, I recreated her recipe for Dan Dan noodles (from "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper") yesterday afternoon, complete with a shopping expedition to Maxim Gourmet Oriental market in Rockville (460 Hungerford Drive; 301-279-0110). The recipe, below the jump, includes metric conversions and cooking notes. And the dish -- well, it blew through my nostrils, it numbed my tongue and it really and truly warmed my belly. It was my first experience cooking with Sichuan peppercorns, which until 2005, had been banned by the FDA (due to a strange citrus virus -- they all belong to the same family). The Sichuan pepper is a sensory phenomenon to behold in a most unexpected way -- there's a floral,...

By Kim ODonnel | May 22, 2008; 7:45 AM ET | Comments (10)

Chat Leftovers: College Kid Cookbooks, Heart-Smart Apps

Bethesda Mom: Do you or any of the clicksters have a recommendation for a good super basic cookbook for college students -- i.e. people cooking on a budget and without fancy equipment? My son will be in his first apartment next year after two years of dorm living (at your old alma mater, Penn), and I don't want him living exclusively on cheesesteaks and deli from Koch's. I have not done a good job in teaching him up to this point and I want to make August "Cooking Boot Camp" for him and his younger brother. (I plan to have younger brother cook dinner at least one night a week next school year). Hey Mom, the first title that springs to mind is "Now You're Cooking" by Elaine Corn. I much prefer the optimistic tone of Corn's cover copy ("Everything a Beginner Needs to Know to Start Cooking Today") than...

By Kim ODonnel | May 21, 2008; 9:50 AM ET | Comments (29)

A Tribute to Chengdu

The original plan for today's blog post -- to compile a summer reading list of cookbooks and culinary memoirs -- has been scratched and put on the back burner for now. Here's why: Among the handful of titles that I planned to mention (and start reading myself) was "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China," by British journalist Fuchsia Dunlop. So I'm flipping through the pages of Dunlop's third book (she has two cookbooks to her name), and I'm looking for a few lines to excerpt, and all of a sudden, the word Chengdu pops off the page. Author Fuchsia Dunlop, from the cover of "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper"(Courtesy W.W. Norton/Tang Yuewu) Again and again. "Shark's Fin" is the tale of Dunlop's adventures in the mid-1990s as the first Westerner enrolled at the esteemed Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. The school -- and most...

By Kim ODonnel | May 20, 2008; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (6)

Poll: Gas or Charcoal?

I spent the better part of yesterday trying my hand at true-blue barbecue, complete with wood chips, natural hardwood coals and low, slow heat. Later this week, I'll share the recipe and how-to details chronicling my adventures manning a rigged-up "pit," plus I've got a q&a with pitmaster and crazy man Buz Grossberg, owner of Richmond, Va. barbecue joint Buz and Ned's. As we gear up for the unofficial beginning of grilling season, which kicks off this weekend (yes, Memorial Day weekend is already here), there's an age-old debate I want to settle, once and for all: Gas or coal? Take the poll below and add further fuel to the fire, in the comments area. I can't wait to hear the rumble. more at twiigs.com......

By Kim ODonnel | May 19, 2008; 9:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Bean Burger Worth Biting Into

This post is a long time coming. For years, What's Cooking Vegetarian readers have been waiting, ever so patiently, for a reliable meatless burger recipe made from beans or grains (rather than mock meat). The requests have been piling up in my inbox, but trust me, they have not gone unheard. It's just taken me a few years to find a vegetarian burger that not only tastes great but holds together on a bun. At long last, a veggie burger that works. (Kim O'Donnel) I hardly expected to find the holy grail in a book called "Recipe of the Week: Burgers," but sure enough, tucked among the other 51 recipes in Sally Sampson's new collection, is a killer recipe for black bean burgers. Now this I gotta see, I mumbled to myself, as I assembled said patties in about 20 minutes. Black beans are a smart choice for a veggie...

By Kim ODonnel | May 16, 2008; 10:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Green Bean Love Train

When a What's Cooking reader from Boston, Mass. asked for ideas for a bunch of newly purchased green beans, she spoke to my heart. Whenever I look at a fresh green bean, which are coming into season in the southeast, I always see possibilities. It seems I've got enthusiastic company, as fellow readers chimed in with their own personal green bean-y faves. Green beans: Gentle giants.(Kim O'Donnel) During the live chat, I only had time to share recipe details for these Szechuan-style green beans, which have become a summer dinner party staple at Casa Appetite, but ever since, I've had green beans on the brain, gathering recipe and flavor combination ideas that keep the green bean love-a-thon going. Before we get started, I wanted to mention a bit of nutritional information about our friend, the green bean: One cup offers 16 percent of the RDA for dietary fiber and 20...

By Kim ODonnel | May 15, 2008; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

Can a Strawberry Be Savory?

A big shout-out to the strawberry, who's back in town and making Washington area farm markets a little more gorgeous. Strawberry glory. A member of the rose family, the strawberry is unlike her other berry brethren, as she's the only one that keeps her seeds in full view, on the skin. Of all the berry options to come our way this summer, the strawberry is fairly low on my list (I'm much more excited about the impending arrival of blueberries, which I can eat by the pint.), but now that I've read in Dana Jacobi's new book, "The Essential Best Foods Cookbook," that one cup of strawberries contains 140 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, I'm reconsidering my position. That stunning shade of red isn't just for show, by the way. In those come-hither pigments are powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which protect us from our brain going down the...

By Kim ODonnel | May 14, 2008; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (33)

Eco-Vino

I'll be honest: Despite the greening of my pantry, I've been slow to embrace organic wine. After a less than tasty experience a few years ago with a bottle of organic red from a California winery that shall remain nameless, I've been swearing off the stuff because it either hasn't been up to snuff or is just too darned expensive. Mendocino Wine Company's Paul Dolan. A recent run-in with a 2007 bottle of "Sustainable White" by Parducci Winery has me revisiting the eco-vino issue and I'll tell you why: The wine is delicious and under 10 bucks a bottle. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Tokai and Viognier, "Sustainable White" and its sibling, "2005 Sustainable Red" are part of a year-long partnership with Whole Foods, where it's sold exclusively between $8 and $9.99 through December. To be clear, the "Sustainable" sibs are not certified organic (95 percent organic grapes...

By Kim ODonnel | May 13, 2008; 9:24 AM ET | Comments (12)

Saluting Mom: Your Kitchen Stories

Just one week ago, I asked for your personal stories about the important women in your life, as part of a Mother's Day tribute. Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate the rush of excitement and enthusiasm that was bursting open my inbox, and I am truly honored and in awe of the generous, loving spirit that came through in every one of your stories. With so many heart-felt nuggets to choose from, it was difficult to narrow the field of entries, which follow. There's Sandi, of Attleboro, Mass., who lost her mother last June to liver cancer: When I saw her last I fixed her shrimp and potatoes - that was June 25th. She even had a sip of wine. She waited for me to leave, and within two days she was bedridden. Beth McElroy's grandmother, Kathryn Violet, in her Selingsgrove, Pa. bakery in 1962. ...And Colette,...

By Kim ODonnel | May 9, 2008; 7:18 AM ET | Comments (10)

Celebrating the Potato

A friend reminded me that 2008 is the International Year of the Potato, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The timing is impeccable. With the global cost of wheat 83 percent higher than a year ago and that of rice up by 20 percent since the beginning of this year, the potato is being touted as a low-cost solution to easing the global food crisis. After wheat and rice, the potato is the world's number three crop, but unlike the grains, it's not a global commodity. According to the FAO, about six percent of the world's potatoes are on the international market, compared to approximately 17 percent for wheat. That's because the potato is more perishable -- prone to rot -- and because of its bulky nature, more costly to transport. The upside of this lesser export potential is that countries can think local...

By Kim ODonnel | May 8, 2008; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (0)

Eco-Bite: Nibbles From the Green Eating Blogosphere

This week's Green Plate Special is a selection of eco-minded food blogs, which are cropping up like wild mint. Here's what's catching my eye (and whetting my appetite): "Eat your greens" is the mantra of Envirovore, a new addition to the rapidly expanding EcoGeek family. Written by a trio of women in Montana, the blog is a collection of newsy items from around the country, with a politics-policy bent. To wit: yesteday's post is all about the dairy industry's pursuit of a more sustainable image. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group is the force behind Mulch, a daily report of what's going on in the world of agriculture and food policy and what the media -- and media makers -- are saying, spinning, spewing. A must-read for Farm Bill drama followers. Underwater sustainability is the primary focus of Sea Notes, blog home for Monterey Bay Aquarium, but author...

By Kim ODonnel | May 7, 2008; 9:55 AM ET | Comments (4)

Breaking the Farm Bill Down on Netflix

I've been trying to come up with a way to talk about the 2007 (now 2008) Farm Bill that has been extended yet again to May 16. The nearly $300 billion five-year spending bill is so complicated it will turn your eyes inside out. If it was only about subsidies for wealthy farmers (and non-farmers), that would be one thing. But, as a quick aside and to keep you up to speed, just a few days ago, President Bush threatened to veto the bill over the income limits ($500,000) proposed last week in Congress (and given the thumbs up by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi). Under this bill, non-farmers would still get payments until 2009. But it's also about money for school lunch programs in the developing world, money for organic growers, food stamps, land conservation, and shucks, even tax breaks for thoroughbred race horses -- and that's just...

By Kim ODonnel | May 6, 2008; 9:52 AM ET | Comments (4)

A Month's Worth of Eco-Bites

As promised, I've compiled the daily eco-bites that appeared throughout April for handy viewing and reference. Going forward, my goal is to offer a weekly eco-bite that will be posted seperately so it's available on the "Eco-Bites" archive page. Please offer your own or send me green nibbles via e-mail at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com Greenery at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica. (Kim O'Donnel) * Wanna know what's fresh and in season in your neck of the woods? Check out the Eat Local tool developed by the National Resources Defense Council, with biweekly updates for all 50 states (sorry, D.C. is excluded). * What's it like to eat a diet of foods grown and raised within 150 miles of your home? Follow the experiences of 15 people from around the country who are eating a diet that is 80 percent local for an entire year on Locavore Nation, a blogging project of...

By Kim ODonnel | May 5, 2008; 3:19 PM ET | Comments (4)

The Whole Enchilada

Maybe you're looking for a last-minute Cinco de Mayo supper idea, or maybe, like me, you've always been curious about making your own enchiladas but were afraid to ask. I had longed steered clear of the enchilada (the past participle of the Spanish word enchilar, which means to season with chiles) because I had it in my head they'd be cumbersome to prepare and disappointing compared to anything I'd encounter in a Mexican restaurant. It was a mental block that I hoped one day would melt away. And then one day last spring, I met Chico, a Atzec fire-eating friend of a friend who was visiting from San Francisco, and lo and behold, he was fixing chicken enchiladas for supper. Would I care to join him -- and perhaps give him a hand? I thought I had died and gone to kitchen heaven. Life is all about timing, and within...

By Kim ODonnel | May 5, 2008; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (10)

Fete-ing Mom: Your Stories Wanted

Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 11. As part of the celebration next week, I'm working on a piece about the force that is Mom. Have you got a kitchen or food-related story to share about your mother, grandmother or maternal figures in your life? Send'em my way at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com no later than Wednesday, May 7. In the subject line of your e-mail, type "MOM" and in your note, please include your age, city and state, and where you grew up, size of your family. I'll select a handful of entries for a blog-stravaganza that will be published on May 9. Oh -- and if you've got a cool pic of Mom, send that along too....

By Kim ODonnel | May 2, 2008; 12:32 PM ET | Comments (3)

Derby Day Beer Cheese

Louisville, Ky. is the place to be this weekend, when the 134th Kentucky Derby gets underway Saturday night. Having never watched the Derby nor ever stepped foot in "Loooolville," I asked Mister MA, a Kentucky boy, for advice on Derby party vittles. Beer cheese and crackers. (Kim O'Donnel) Anything with bourbon was the short answer, and he coughed up Derby classics such as Benedictine, the cucumber-cream cheese spread, chocolate pecan pie and a Hot Brown, a turkey, bacon and tomato sandwich with a Mornay sauce. I liked the idea of beer cheese, which cookbook writer Marion Flexner notes in her "Out of Kentucky Kitchens," was a bar staple "when free lunches were served in Kentucky saloons with every 5-cent glass of beer." As I waded through a sea of online beer cheese recipes, I noticed several variations on the theme; some recipes called for both cheddar cheese and cream cheese;...

By Kim ODonnel | May 2, 2008; 8:23 AM ET | Comments (4)

Mixing Drinks (and Cooking) From Your iPod

How would you like your digital, downloadable margarita -- straight up or on the rocks? That's the gist of a cocktail recipe book now accessible on your iPod. Originally published as a 128-page hard-cover book in 2006, "101 Margaritas," by drink minx Kim Haasarud, is the latest addition to Raybooks, a line of digital, iPod-able books offered by Durham, N.C.-based Modality, Inc. A photo from the iPod version of "101 Margaritas." (Kim O'Donnel) It brings a whole new meaning to iPod mixology, n'est-ce pas? I've just downloaded Haasarud's book to get a sense of the look, feel and functionality, and I must say, the interface is impressive. It's readable, clear and easy to navigate and includes all the photos from the original book. Pricewise, a Raybook is a tad more than buying the two-year-old print version via amazon.com, where it's presently listed as $10.85, but then you've got to pay...

By Kim ODonnel | May 1, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company