Improvisation

On Being Your Own Bullpen

Baseball metaphors are not really a normal thing for me but it is October and I live under fifteen miles from two major league ballparks. For those of you who don't know, the bullpen is the group of relief pitchers, who come in to relieve the starter when either the starter is too tired to finish the game or the game's not going well. Essentially the bullpen is a baseball team's plan B.

Pasta Topping Principles?

Pasta is a great food for post-holidays... it's cheap, it can be light, it's quick and amenable to advance prep. In short, pasta is very, very hackable and gives you a lot of options. However, perhaps paradoxically because of the fact that there are so many options, it's easy to get into a rut and, well, I'm in a rut. Rather than my beloved marinara sauce and olives, I decided to try something different based on ingredients I had lying around:

Kitchenhacker Cookbook of the Year: Ratio

This year we've seen a ton of great cookbooks come out. Many of them have been gorgeous. Several of them have been extremely useful.

There is one cookbook that came out in 2009 that is notable despite the fact that it isn't gorgeous. It isn't a hefty tome filled with full color pictures. It is a small, slim, no-frills book that is designed to be used.

That book is Michael Ruhlman's Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, and it is my pick for the best cookbook of the year.

Five Alternative Uses For Your Waffle Iron

Waffle irons aren't just for waffles. Like many people, I'm not a fan of unitasking tools in the kitchen. I don't have huge amounts of kitchen storage, so I don't want to load it up with a bunch of things that only get used once a year. Waffle irons are practically the unitask archetype. They are reasonably large and you can't use them for anything besides waffles, right? Wrong.

Chicken Soup Secrets

A couple of weeks ago, my brother came over and we cooked up a big meal for our parents. Among other things, we made chicken soup. When my mother saw how the soup was cooking, she exclaimed that it was genius. Why? I was using a pasta pot with a built in colander. The vegetables and chicken (bones and all) were in the removable colander. Take it out, and you have broth left in the pot. Chicken meat and vegetables that you might want to add back into the soup are now easy to separate. I also use this method for other soups and stocks.

Hacking a Charcoal Chimney Starter

Image by Robert S. DonovanImage by Robert S. DonovanOver the weekend of the 4th, I was down at my brother's lake house in South Carolina with my family. It is a gorgeous place. His house looks out over Lake Wateree (a lake with a VERY ORIGINAL name).

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