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A Press Democrat Blog

Proximal Kitchen

Cooking locally, with really sharp knives

The Costco Report: Eating My (Cheesy) Words

I received some criticism for yesterday’s post – some silly (“Why do you even shop at Costco?”), and some quite fair (“Maybe it’s uneconomic for smaller local dairies to supply Costco.”). I like to think that I can take it as well as I can dish it out and, while I sometimes like to play rough, I also like to play fair, so here’s my mea culpa de fromage: While I may decry my inability to source local cheeses from the Santa Rosa Costco, and while I may now have to drive further and pay more to procure some of my favorite products as a result, that is not necessarily any fault of the Big C.… Read More »

Savory Onion-Cranberry “Jam”: My New Favorite Condiment

Pork Loin sous vide sandwich, w/ Pt Reyes Bleu & Onion-Cranberry MarmaladeYesterday, as I was blabbering about cooking with friends, I tried to argue that the biggest prize from letting another cook into your kitchen is, aside from some help with the dishes, the potential to eat a meal that you’d not otherwise have thought of. A case in point comes courtesy of a dear friend’s torrid love affair with thermal immersion circulators and my new favorite condiment: A pitch-perfect finger sandwich of pork loin sous-vide, local blue cheese, and savory onion “jam”.Read More »

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Upgrades

With less than 36-hours until the feast hits the table, I’m sure we all have too much to do and not enough time in which to do it, so today’s is a post with a purpose: Fast, easy, small little things you can do to elevate some of your Thanksgiving Day standards – mashed potatoes, green beans, glazed carrots, cranberry sauce, stuffing – from the delicious but possibly tired to a more lively yet still traditional level.… Read More »

Mac-n-Cheese, Cheese, & More Cheese (v2.5)

Mac N Cheese with Lots and Lots of CheeseCan you imagine playing Russian roulette with the crust at your favorite pizza joint, the done-ness of your steak, or the hardness of your egg? Take away the obsessive cooks, and we’d all be eating Swanson’s Hungry Man or instant ramen with a spork, which is a roundabout introduction to Why I’m Still Trying To Perfect Mac-n-Cheese. The mountains of grated cheese, the errors like some pagan fortune engraved in burnt milk at the bottom of sauce pots, the sweet, nutty smell of flour frying in butter that fill the house, and – finally – today’s installment, in which I learn that, unlike Crisco or tickling, if some is good, then more is better.… Read More »

A Plate of Strange Bedfellows

Pickles, cheese, and chocolate: Three ingredients, three possible pair-wise combinations, two really good and interesting tastes, and one impossibly disgusting mouthful of gag reflex. If I like cheese with pickles, and (somewhat surprisingly) I like chocolate with cheese, then why don’t I like chocolate with pickles? I mean, other than the painfully obvious – in point of fact, it tastes even worse than it sounds – why the apparent lack of transitivity? As an amateur cook and a professional economist,… Read More »

Cold Food for Hot Mamas

As most any mom will tell you, there is a world of difference between “cooking for moms” and “cooking for moms”: The noun implies more of her time spent over a cooktop, while the verb at least suggests the possibility that she might end up on the receiving end of the culinary goodie bag for a change. To wit: My wife recently put in a special request for the Moms’ Night Out she was hosting for a small cadre of mamacitas sans kids and husbands, a professional dance instructor, and a trunk full of pink bubbly…… Read More »

Another 3-Ingredient Dinner (Stovetop Rib Eye w/ Mac-n-Cheese & Onion Marmalade)

rib eye, mac-n-cheese, onion marmaladeA clear violation of the spirit if not the letter of The Rules for cooking with just three ingredients, using leftovers like this, but one of the principal advantages of blogging, and self-imposed rules generally, lies rooted in the simple fact that one may ultimately do whatever one wishes. Of course, your readers may kvetch, and they’d have a point, but that’s part of the game; the most important bit, as ever, remains the food.
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Cooking For Kids with Just Three Ingredients

Polenta, Raclette, and Crispy Ham
About a month ago, lacking my hoped-for, fleeting, and frustratingly oft-absent daily quotient of inspiration and incisiveness, I decided to try something new and, I admit, sort of gimmicky: I decided to find out out how many distinct, complete dishes I could compose using just three ingredients. And, importantly for our household, nowhere does the fewer-ingredients/simpler-technique approach bear sweeter fruit than in response to my frustration of cooking for kids.
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In Search of Mac-n-Cheese Perfection, v2.0

Home-made Kraft-style mac-n-cheeseIn our earlier skirmish with this thread, we waxed philosophical on the gustatory wonder and sundry therapeutic benefits of a classic macaroni and cheese, but made precious little headway toward the dish itself. While the end result was good, maybe even satisfying, it nevertheless fell short of transporting. And a truly classic mac-n-cheese must, above all else, transport us somewhere: Perhaps to a time when we were younger, or in circumstances more care-free, or maybe precisely where we are now, but with softer edges, the carbohydrate equivalent of a Snuggly.… Read More »