Archive: July 2009

Tasting Life

I have a very special friend named Ethan, and in just a few days, the grownups in his life will be celebrating his first birthday. Plenty of my friends have children, but this is the first time in my adult life that I’ve been so intimate with the day-to-day, inch-by-inch development of a human tadpole. In the few months that my friend’s diet has expanded beyond the bottled facsimile of breast milk, I’ve had the privilege of observing his experiences with this thing called food, a front-row seat at the high-chair theater, complete with bowl tossing, high-pitched screams and other primal expressions of gustatory joy. One night, I cooked a small pot of red lentils, suggesting to his mother that it’s baby food as Mother Nature had intended, self-pureeing in about 25 minutes. She agrees to the experiment, eager for variety beyond sweet potatoes and applesauce, but me, I’ve got...

By Kim ODonnel | July 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (10)

Ask Kim: For Old Times' Sake

As some of you may already know, this is my final week in the AMA ‘hood. But before this blog was born, I had another baby called What’s Cooking, the longest-running cooking chat on the Web until she was put to rest in March. KOD on a very important call. Since I’ve met so many of you the Q&A way, it seems appropriate to have one last dance together in the kitchen, a chance to reminisce, talk to me or to one another. I will entertain both the practical and philosophical, the elementary and the advanced -- and of course, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Consider the kitchen door open at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT), and we’ll have coffee and crumpets in the comments area. I’ll check in every 30 minutes or so until just before suppertime here on the West Coast (say, around...

By Kim ODonnel | July 9, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (43)

At the Movies: (Fish) Food for Thought

Back in May, I featured three newly released food documentaries, just a taste of the cinematic smorgasbord on offer this summer. Now there’s another film on the menu, and this one, in my opinion, is worth chewing on. 2048. That’s when scientists predict there’ll be no more fish dinners, because of the going rate of overfishing. As in: No. More. Fish. For. Real. This is the take-away message of “End of the Line,” an urgent 82-minute plea for the sea, no sugar coating included. Based on the book by British journalist Charles Clover, the doc, narrated by actor Ted Danson, is a collage of interviews with scientists and first-hand reports from fishermen around the world on the impact of overfishing on their livelihoods, their families and their fishing-based cultures. The camera trails Clover on his impassioned mission to “out” high-end restaurants that continue to serve the highly prized (and...

By Kim ODonnel | July 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Old-School Cooking Whizdom

"A recipe is like a road map," writes chef Lauren Braun Costello. "A road map shows you where to go and how to get there, but does not teach you how to drive." (Photo courtesy of RCR Creative Press) This is how Costello and her writing partner Russell Reich kick off their new book, "Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft." And this is why I'm devoting today's space to an itty-bitty book that can fit inside a purse. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a veteran of several high-profile kitchens, Costello abstains from the same ol' recipe show-and-tell. Instead, she and Reich dish up a stick-to-your-ribs collection of kitchen aphorisms -- 217, to be exact -- that reveal the hows, whys, whens, whats and heart and soul of cooking. A mix of the pithy ("Preside happily over accidents") and the practical ("Use wet measures...

By Kim ODonnel | July 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Meatless Monday: Trini Spini

I was the proud owner of an oversized bag of just-picked spinach, one of the many locally harvested treats I picked up on Thursday at a Seattle farm market. While driving home, though, I experienced a bit of buyer's remorse, wondering if my schedule over the next few days would allow for spinach time. After all, Fourth of July was already spoken for, and I worried if my beautiful bag of leafy greens would hold out until Sunday. (Thankfully, she did.) (Kim O'Donnel) I was in the mood for a new take (or at least new to me) on America's beloved green veg, but as I thought about you and our weekly meatless meeting, I knew it needed to be simple -- in both preparation and personality. It needed to be quick, too, even if cooked, and it needed to be flexible enough to pair up with a variety...

By Kim ODonnel | July 6, 2009; 9:30 AM ET | Comments (4)

Help Fill My Vintage Picnic Basket

(Kim O'Donnel) A bluesy/gospel concert on the grounds of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo last week was the inspiration to dust off my vintage picnic basket and actually put it to good use (please don't tell my mother it's been hiding in the basement). Unfortunately, last week’s last-minute event left little time to plan a menu, which means said basket did little but look pretty on the lawn. I love the idea of a picnic but never can seem to get my al fresco act together. That’s where you -- -- the savvy bunch that you are -- can lend a hand as we gear up for the long holiday weekend. Should I keep things simple and make cheese sandwiches on artisan bread, pack a few pieces of summer fruit and call it lunch-for-dinner or should I get more elaborate, with a three-course feast of cold fried chicken, a couscous...

By Kim ODonnel | July 3, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (11)

Wanted: Your Best Potato Salad

It’s rare of me to make generalizations, but doesn’t everyone in America make potato (pronounced ‘puh-tate-uh” if you’re from Philly) salad for the Fourth of July? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve got a hunch that no matter where you live or how you celebrate Independence Day, there’ll be a bowl of boiled spuds on this weekend’s picnic table. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving stuffing that way; Fourth of July wouldn’t be the same otherwise. From a cook’s point of view, boiled potatoes are like a blank canvas, an open invitation to play with color, texture and creativity. The possibilities are endless-- curry, anchovies, scallions, bacon, capers, yogurt, rosemary, roasted garlic, cider vinegar, hard-boiled eggs -- and yes, even mayonnaise. And as long as you season the spuds with plenty of salt, potato salad is difficult to screw up. As many of you already know, I live a mayo-free...

By Kim ODonnel | July 2, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (33)

For the Fourth, Color-Coordinated Sweets

I’m hardly a matchy-match kind of cook or party hostess; in fact, I prefer a motley assortment of colors and styles on my table than a uniform set of dishes and cutlery (after all, I did grow up with a pink piano in the dining room). (Kim O'Donnel) That said, when it comes to Fourth of July, I’m all about a red, white and blue menu. Not only is it a kick in the pants to put together a color-coordinated Fourth feast, there’s a ton of seasonal options in all the right shades. Today, we’ll start planning backwards, with dessert. Is there anyone else who thinks there’s something wrong about eating chocolate on the Fourth of July? I dug up a bunch of red, white and blue sweet endings from the recipe vault that kick chocolate to the curb -- at least until the fifth. Taste the possibilities: In the...

By Kim ODonnel | July 1, 2009; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company