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A Press Democrat Blog

Proximal Kitchen

Cooking locally, with really sharp knives

3 Ingredients, 30 Minutes: Hawaiian Sausage, Eggs & Rice

When I was much younger, and still living with hippies, my best friend moved to Hawai’i. For a child, growing up on a commune can feel a lot like quarantine – albeit with more space, and dirtier – so losing my friend was a big deal. But whatever the logical link between our Mendocino commune and my friend’s new home in the cane fields (it still eludes me), it meant that we would visit, and for that I’m thankful: I still remember the feeling of gravelly black sand between my toes, the thrill of getting caught in a sudden tropical shower, and the snot-like sensation of eating poi.… Read More »

Sweet, Salty, Cauliflower Love

I love that my kids are interested in things like music, gymnastics, and horses, but let’s be honest, careening from one activity to the next like a life-size game of pinball can get as old as bingo in Florida, and gas north of 4 bones/gallon ain’t helping. But still, I try to cherish the time together these errands offer, because I know that all that stands between me and a perpetual string of lonely afternoons is a few years and a driver’s license, and I’d like always to remember what it feels like to earn the unquestioning dependence of a child.… Read More »

Pasta, with a Handful of Herbs

“…with a handful of herbs.” I love that. Even if the dish weren’t so simple and delicious, even if it didn’t leave my wife starry-eyed with carbohydrate lust, I’d cook this pasta just to call it by name; that, and the devil-may-care pleasure of a recipe defined, not by cups or teaspoons, but by the size of one’s hand. Want the recipe?… Read More »

Making Peace with Whole Foods Butchers

For years, those three little words neatly summarized my feelings about Whole Foods, and made for a Flintstones-sized bone of contention between me and every food-snob I came across; where my friends and family chomped at the bit to feel good about parting with their paychecks, I saw only a business model predicated on sloughing-off expensive products of inconsistent quality, remarkably mediocre prepared foods, and egregiously priced dry goods encased in very clever branding.… Read More »

My Favorite Black Bean Soup, in 30 Minutes or Less

Inasmuch as complex events can be said to have their roots in a single moment, I credit my first attempt at this delicious soup – an assignment for my Fundamentals of Stocks, Soups, and Sauces course at the ICE Culinary Institute some 10 years ago – with much of what I’ve produced in the kitchen ever since. I might as well call it my Butterfly Effect Soup.… Read More »

The Costco Report: Organic Beef

I cooked this steak – with a simple red wine-honey reduction and a creamy parmigiano-peppercorn salad – in honor of one of my especially snarky fans, someone who objects strenuously every time I buy something from a supermarket for what I’ve billed as a “cooking locally” weblog. I’ll stipulate the point, but my money says I’m not the only parent in the County who’d like to serve their kids a decent, healthy steak for a few less bucks. But is it a decent, healthy steak?… Read More »

Fussy Cookies


Cooking with flowers has never thrilled me. Call me crazy, but not once have I thought, “You know what this salad needs? Nasturtiums!” I leave the blossoms in the garden and call it a day. Then along came a lavender bush…A guest post by Katie Githens. You can follow Ms. Githens on her own blog, Clary Sage, where she writes about the quirks and comforts of cooking and life on the West Coast.
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30 Minutes, 3 Ingredients, 1 Dinner

Sometimes, it’s fun to see how much we can do, with how little. I could list the underlying moral imperatives – saving money and time would presumably occupy the penthouse suite – but in the main, I just think it’s plain fun, a sort of Sudoku with pots and pans. Case in point: How do you feed 3 persnickety kids, using just 3 ingredients, in only 30 minutes? Why 3, 3, and 30? 3 kids, because I get my wife… Read More »

Because it rhymes with ‘orange’

I may have seen a cloud this week, but if I did, I don’t remember it. Really, our weather has been impossibly nice. And really, it ought to worry me – the lack of rain, the risk of budbreak before a frost – but it’s hard not to simply soak in it, the whole of our little wine country valley like some great, tickly bubble bath of pea shoots and sunlight. … Read More »

When Life Gives You Lemons, Cook Them

Road Trip: Sunday night red-eye from SFO to JFK; mythical quantities of food and booze; a cumulative loss of sleep bordering on some chapter in FM 34-52, the field manual of interrogation techniques. Many of my best and oldest friends and much personal history remain rooted in the concrete canyons of Manhattan, so normally I’d say I get to go to NYC this week, but instead I’ll limp into this post with I have to be there, because – as… Read More »