Saturday, April 30, 2005

Improving American Table Manners

Americans have notoriously poor table manners. We slurp our soup, chomp our chocolate cake, spill our salt, and belch our blessings. And while all this slurping, chomping, spilling, and belching can be seen as quaintly charming, we are no longer living in little wooden shacks in the Ozarks where we prop our feet on the table and scoot aside to make room for our 26 cats, dogs, and other varmints. This site will teach you the basic table manners you should use at every meal (or at least at the Red Lobster). There are so many rules about proper table manners that it would take forever to list every nitpicky item. So let's move right to the meal. But wait! Should a man pull a woman's chair out for her before she sits? Well, it depends. If they are on a date in a nice restaurant, sure. But at a nice restaurant, the person who seats the couple will probably pull the chair out for her, so you have nothing to worry about. This leads to... Tip 1: For all questions involving etiquette, just use your brains . Men don't have to get all Victorian and insist on standing up every time a woman leaves or returns to the table. Just be polite. Now, if you're a guest at someone's house, don't sit until the host sits first (unless the host told you to just go sit down at the table).

Table Manners

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Fall of Cooking

At the end of summer, one tradition remains intact throughout much of America: the state fair. Usually the state fair is a place for local residents to showcase their agricultural marvels, and for urbanites to experience a bit of the country life, albeit rather briefly and somewhat voyeuristically. While there may be an uneasy alliance between urbanites and rural denizens during these periods, one thing is for sure: they both love the award-winning eats that are often the highlight of such gatherings. One is certain to find certain specialties at every fair, ranging from the famous scones of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup to the roast corn that may be found at just about every state fair. This website brings all of those award-winning recipes together in one place, as visitors can find recipes for such dishes as beef and cheddar puffs, braised lamb shanks, and down home chicken pot pie. Desserts don't get short thrift here either, as visitors can read the recipes for ginger lime pear pie and many others as well. Finally, visitors can read profiles of the various award-winning cooks and find recipes from 2000 to 2004.

State Fair Recipes

Thursday, April 28, 2005

How to Cut with a Knife

Good knife skills are a combination of knowledge and practice - the knowledge of which knives to use for which tasks, the knowledge of how to hold and move a knife, the knowledge of how various foods are structurally composed, and many other little bits of knowledge. This knowledge is only part of the equation. Many hours of practice make up the other part. Besides being a fine chef's tool tutorial, this illustrated guide by Peter Hertzmann on how to use a knife in the kitchen is worth visiting for the quality of the graphic illustrations, a first-rate example of the art.

A La Carte

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Kitchen Tools Extravaganza

If you spend a lot of time cooking at home, you'll want to be fully equipped with all the best kitchen gear. This online cooking blog will keep you informed about the newest kitchen gadgets to hit the market. From magnetic spice racks to steam oven bakers, has all the news and reviews on the latest modern cooking toys. In addition to the gadget reviews, there are also products for sale and extensive archives should you be hunting for a long lost favorite appliance.

Kitchen Contraptions

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Flame for Fame

Celebrity chefs have reached rock-star status, and the number of aspiring talent is rising. But the fast-paced, everyday pressures of the restaurant industry are anything but glamorous as wannabe chefs struggle to climb the culinary ladder. So, who can really handle the pressure of cooking under fire? That's the question PBS will answer in the brand-new prime-time reality series Cooking Under Fire. Served up as "reality TV that feeds your brain," the documentary-style series will track twelve contestants as they embark on a coast-to-coast cooking competition in four of the US's culinary capitals - Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, and New York. The show will share an insider's look at the mental and physical challenges and intense pressures faced in the today's highly competitive restaurant industry, and the combination of talent and skills that it takes to succeed.

Cooking Under Fire

Monday, April 25, 2005

Food Policy and Ethics

This paper by Betty Carrasco, from Eating into the Future, the first Australian conference on food, health and the environment, is about choices and justifications. The choices concern the food we purchase and the issues underlying food choices from the perspective of the effect this has, not on the consumer, but on producers and nonhuman nature. Guidelines for choices are not explored from the perspective of direct cost but from the perspective of such indirect costs as fossil fuel consumption, animal welfare, soil degradation, etc. These guidelines will be ultimately based on ethical justification.

Righteous Food

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Digital Fanny Farmer

Bartleby's reference site includes the 1918 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, later known as the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, in a searchable format. This classic American cooking reference includes 1,849 recipes, including everything from “after-dinner coffee” - which Farmer notes is beneficial for a stomach “overtaxed by a hearty meal” - to “Zigaras à la Russe,” an elegant puff-pastry dish. chose the 1918 edition because it was the last edition of the cookbook authored completely by Farmer. As she states, by way of introducing the book, "With the progress of knowledge the needs of the human body have not been forgotten. During the last decade much time has been given by scientists to the study of foods and their dietetic value, and it is a subject which rightfully should demand much consideration from all. I certainly feel that the time is not far distant when a knowledge of the principles of diet will be an essential part of one’s education. Then mankind will eat to live, will be able to do better mental and physical work, and disease will be less frequent. At the earnest solicitation of educators, pupils, and friends, I have been urged to prepare this book, and I trust it may be a help to many who need its aid. It is my wish that it may not only be looked upon as a compilation of tried and tested recipes, but that it may awaken an interest through its condensed scientific knowledge which will lead to deeper thought and broader study of what to eat."

Little, Brown, 1918, ISBN 1-58734-074-7

Fanny Farmer Cookbook

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Food Lover's Dream Job

Imagine being paid to eat a fabulous meal at one the world's finest restaurants, and all you have to do in return is give your opinion about it. Welcome to the delicious world of the food writer. In this fab job, you can combine your love of food and writing to earn a living ... or as much as a six figure annual income! New opportunities for food writers are opening up every day. If you have a passion for food and a talent for writing, you can become a food writer. No special education or experience is necessary. Author Pamela White is a newspaper food critic. In this guide she shares her own experiences as well as insider tips and expert advice from other successful food writers, editors, and critics on how you can break into a career in professional food writing. Among the topics covered are: how to become an expert on food (links to the best books, magazines, television shows, Internet sites and events to learn about food); how to develop the food writing skills employers are looking for; getting an education (from online writing courses to culinary schools); where to find out about writing internships; and skills that can give you an advantage over the competition; networking (including associations you can join). The guide is an e-book (a file we send to you by email which you can immediately read on your computer). It includes photos, color, and you can adjust the type size to make it as pleasant to read as possible. Shorter than a typical FabJob guide, it is quick to read. As an environmentally-friendly business we have chosen not to publish paper copies of this guide. If you prefer to read the guide on paper you can print a copy from your own computer.

Fab Job Food Writer

Friday, April 22, 2005

What Food Means

This PBS documentary companion website on the Meaning of Food describes itself as "an exploration of culture through food. What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who's at the table, and who eats first is a form of communication that is rich with meaning." The site shares stories, recipes, beautiful images, and more under the headings: Food & Life, Food & Family, and Food & Culture. The website addresses such subjects as kosher food, the Slow Food Movement, pet food, and heirloom seeds, to name a few. In addition, the site provides a bibliography; a simple, downloadable lesson plan for educators; broadcast times for the Meaning of Food documentary series; a small collection of cartoonish desktop backgrounds; and several related links.

The Meaning of Food

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Everything Cookbook

How to Cook Everything Here's the breakthrough one-stop cooking reference for today's generation of cooks! Nationally known cooking authority Mark Bittman shows you how to prepare great food for all occasions using simple techniques, fresh ingredients, and basic kitchen equipment. Just as important, How to Cook Everything takes a relaxed, straightforward approach to cooking, so you can enjoy yourself in the kitchen and still achieve outstanding results. If nothing else, the title of this book is certainly ambitious. As it happens the award-winning book How to Cook Everything (with CD-ROM) by Mark Bittman - it won both the IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award and the James Beard Foundation Cookbook Award - delivers on the promise of the title. OK, so you may not find a recipe for sea snake soup, but you will find over 1,500 others. All the recipes are also neatly collected on the enclosed CD-ROM database. In addition the CD-ROM has menu creating tools, interactive cooking demos, cooking videos, and a cooking glossary and reference. Every home, from a starving student's garret to a dotcom millionaire's estate, should have one basic cookbook on the shelf. This is it. Mark Bittman is a nationally acclaimed authority on cooking. He writes about food for many magazines and newspapers. His column, "The Minimalist," appears Wednesdays in the New York Times.

IDG Books Worldwide, 960 pages, ISBN 0764562584

How to Cook Everything

Monday, April 18, 2005

Historic American Cookbook Project

The Michigan State University Library and the MSU Museum have partnered to create an online collection of some of the most influential and important American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The Feeding America online collection hopes to highlight an important part of America's cultural heritage for teachers, students, researchers investigating American social history, professional chefs, and lifelong learners of all ages. The goal of this project is to make these materials available to a wider audience. Digital images of the pages of each cookbook are available as well as full-text transcriptions and the ability to search within the books, across the collection, in order to find specific information. The Feeding America project has created an online collection of some of the most important and influential American cookbooks from the late 18th to early 20th century. The digital archive includes page images of 76 cookbooks from the MSU Library's collection as well as searchable full-text transcriptions. This site also features a glossary of cookery terms and multidimensional images of antique cooking implements from the collections of the MSU Museum.

Feeding America

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Grub and Plonk Together

As someone who writes about both food and drink it seems logical for Fiona Beckett to write about the two together. After all most people drink wine with food yet frequently wine columns make no mention of how best to enjoy the bottles they recommend and cookery articles don't suggest what to drink with the wonderful ingredients and recipes they feature. While there are no right and wrong answers there are certainly combinations that most people find more enjoyable than others. It’s just a question of knowing what they are. As a contributing editor to one of the world’s best wine magazines Decanter, she's had the chance to conduct numerous experiments into food and wine matching. She also likes to cook with wine - another dimension - and you’ll find a few recipes from the ones she contributes regularly to Sainsbury’s Magazine. And you’ll find out how the books she's written can help you through this sometimes confusing maze. This site will help you to enjoy your wine - and beer - more and hopefully discover some unexpectedly good bottles to accompany the meals you eat out and at home.

Food and Wine Matching

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Curries & Bugles

Curries & BuglesCelebrating the "astonishing longevity and style" of the relationship between India and England, Jennifer Brennan's culinary memoir "Curries & Bugles" is filled with good food and good reading in equal proportions. Raised in the Punjab and Mysore by a family entrenched in the traditions of the British Raj, the author is conversant with both imperial standards and local customs, and her recipes -- from Granny Whitburn's Scottish whisky marmalade to naan bread and mulligatawny soup -- are spiced with arcane lore and historical background. Laurie Colwin, author of "Home Cooking," called "Curries & Bugles" "one of the great cookbooks of all time."

Curries & Bugles: A Memoir & Cookbook of the British Raj

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Let Them Eat Carrots

Love 'em or loathe 'em, you're bound to have an opinion on carrots, as we recently discovered when we rashly declared in public how much we like them. Many adults out there were forced to eat these orange taproots as children and hold an abiding antipathy towards this most orange of foods. Anyhow, if you're willing to sign on to the enthusiasm of carrot devotees worldwide, or you're at least curious about this controversial vegetable, check out the World Carrot Museum. You'll find that not all carrots are orange (in fact, the orange color is a relatively recent Dutch invention), that carrots date back 34 million years, and that the ancient pharaohs ate carrots - probably forced on them by their mummies. The site offers lots of fun trivia and activities for children such as jokes and how to make carrot soap. If you do try the recipes, we can only advise avoiding the carrot ice cream and carrot marmalade unless you're a true carrot fan.

World Carrot Museum

Friday, April 08, 2005

Bunnies, Carrots, Cupcakes and More

Adam Roberts is an amateur gourmet. His blog-style Web site brings his witty accounts of recipes attempted to the masses and we're happy about that. He posts mouth-watering images to accompany details of how to tweak the recipe or where he enjoyed eating it. In addition to genuine foodie information, Roberts has sound files of his Thursday Night Dinner Songs and a selection of videos of cooking challenges like "Bunnies, Carrots, and Cupcakes" (the mind boggles at that combination) and "How to make Marshmallows in Reverse". His links and further-reading sections are comprehensive. The site, despite its often flippant tone, is a fully reverential homage to the world of food. Oh, yeah - if you're visiting New York, check out his restaurant reviews for the hot tips to the best eateries. Go drool.

The Amateur Gourmet

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World

Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World is a cookbook of global bread recipes, from sweet pies and tarts to festive breads, bagels, flatbreads, a variety of cakes and cookies, and much more. Full-color photographs of not only the treasured recipes, but the daily lives of people worldwide who make them add a delightful visual dimension to this down-to-earth presentation, which walks novice bakers through the basic steps and processes involved in various types of bread preparations. An enriching contribution to any homemaker's kitchen and especially welcome for aspiring bakers who want to see, sample, and create a wide variety bread cuisines. Whether you’re a home or commercial baker, this stunning new title from the authors of Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Flatbread and Flavours and The Seduction of Rice is a hefty book that you will simply have to have. Known for their adventurous approach to research, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid have scoured exotic places such as Tibet, Pakistan and even Vietnam for authentic baking recipes gleaned from home cooks. The accompanying travel stories and photography add a further intriguing dimension to the book. Pastry, bread, small breads, cookies and cakes are all well represented and the instructions are comprehensive and clear, so that it’s almost as if the authors are beside you in the kitchen as you work through any recipe. I particularly liked the listing Home Baking for Every Occasion, which sorts the recipes into categories such as Last-Minute Baking, Child-Friendly, Great for Toast, To Dazzle Guests and more.

Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World
Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Artisan, New York, ISBN 1579651747 $40.00

Home Baking

Friday, April 01, 2005

Thomas Edison Invents Food Machine

After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Americans firmly believed that there were no limits to his genius. Therefore, when the New York Graphic announced on April 1 in 1878 that Edison had invented a machine that could transform soil directly into cereal and water directly into wine, thereby ending the problem of world hunger, it found no shortage of willing believers. Newspapers throughout America copied the article, heaping lavish praise on Edison. The conservative Buffalo Commercial Advertiser was particularly effusive in its praise, waxing eloquent about Edison's brilliance in a long editorial. The Graphic took the liberty of reprinting the Advertiser's editorial in full, placing above it a simple, two-word headline: "They Bite!