Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Dinner With Andrew, Redux.

I’m in favor of liberalizing immigration because of the effect it would have on restaurants. I’d let just about everybody in except the English. - Calvin Trillin
Yes I was there. The meal that Andrew reviews in today’s Gusto section included Trish and me. Since I have already written of Andrew as reviewer I will not revisit it here, except to say that once again I concur in large measure with the content of his review.
Instead, I’d like to focus on those issues facing any new restaurant. How the choice of location, and even the selection of the name, can impact the chances of success. Specifically, how it may affect this restaurant: Teton Kitchen.
I will share one moment from the dinner with Andrew and Kat. It was a gut busting, tears streaming down the face, rolling on the floor laughing bit of foodie humor.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Cut Above

There was never a good Knife made of bad Steel - Poor Richard's Almanac
I have fallen in love with a knife.

I never planned it this way - I never knew I wanted it this badly. It's not like the gleaming Shun chef knife on display at my store.  I have lusted for that for years.  Now that I know I will be bringing it home, I visit that knife every day.  Just to talk to it.  Get it used to the sound of my voice. I have even introduced it to a couple of knives I already own, so it won't feel like a stranger when it arrives.

Here is a selfie I took with it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No One Wants a Fellow With a Social Disease

Everything that used to be a sin is now a disease - Bill Maher
Recently the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease. According to the New York Times, it overrode the recommendation of the committee which had been appointed to study the matter.

I am not sure where I fall on this issue. There is no question that obesity, particularly childhood obesity, is a genuine problem. It is a growing problem, if you will. There is no question that personal lifestyle choices are at play. You can choose whether or not to put all that crap into your mouth and swallow it. You can just say no, and say it without ruining your enjoyment of food.

You can also work it off.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My Dinner With Andrew

Yes, we are bored. We're all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you Wally that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money, and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? and it's not just a question of individual survival Wally, but that somebody who's bored is asleep, and somebody who's asleep will not say no? - Andre Gregory
I really look forward to the weekly Gusto section in the Buffalo news. It used to come on Fridays, now it’s on Thursdays. Trish likes that better. Me, not so much. It disturbs my wa.

I’m not addicted to the whole thing, just the first half – the half with criticism and reviews. I don’t necessarily use them to make up my mind about anything; I just like criticism as a literary exercise. I enjoy reading the thoughts of the person writing the review. Then, if I ultimately see, or hear, or read the item reviewed I can compare my own thoughts with the reviewer. Got that?

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Cruelty of Shoes

Unless, of course, you'd like to try the cruel shoes – Steve Martin
CaptureI’m working again.

After a 10 year hiatus playing Mr. Mom (and occasionally catering and teaching) I’m back working. Donned the togs and sharpened the knives. Playing with food once again. I’m working at Premier Gourmet - purveyor of fine foods and beverages, and very fine cooking equipment for almost 40 years.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Thrill of The Grill–A Note To My Fellow Root Down Farm Shareholders

The hobo pack takes its place alongside a tuna fish sandwich and Jell-O as one of my earliest recipes -Chris Schlesinger
A few weeks back, toward the end of a CSA week, I found myself in possession of a variety of vegetables needing to be 2013-08-07 17.53.21used. Half a head of Napa cabbage, some scapes, a few green onions, some cooking greens, etc. There was even a bulb of fennel. complete with fronds. What to do with them? That’s easy. I created a hobo pack.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

การรับประทานอาหารที่ดี/Ăn uống tốt

I just love Chinese food. My favourite dish is number 27 - Clement Atlee
1012819_10200564854697053_994091131_nI would like to thank everyone who joined me today at An Chau Asian Market as part of the tour sponsored by Slow Food Buffalo Niagara International Institute of Buffalo. I hope everyone found the event informative and enjoyable. I know the owners of An Chau were thrilled to see so many new faces.
As promised, here are some helpful links to assist you in continuing your adventure in the wonderful world of Asian food. The following are some sites with helpful information about the various ingredients used in Asian cuisine:


The reference books mentioned were:

Bruce Cost: Asian Ingredients: A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam
Ken Hom:Asian Ingredients: A Guide to the Foodstuffs of China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam

You can find a link to Andrea Ngyuen’s “Asian Market Shopper” app here.

My Buffalo rising article on fish sauce can be found here. My blog post on Red Boat fish sauce and a link to Andrea’s recipe for nuoc cham is here. And as an extra bonus, especially for those who bought a jar of tamarind chilli paste, I also give you a link to my recipe for really great Thai inspired dressing.
Thank you all again for coming, and remember life’s too short to eat bad food.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Jedi Kitchen Tricks

This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate the eggs, but it doesn't say how far to separate them - Gracie Allen

My Mommy’s was brass.

2013-07-12 09.35.25
I don’t know if it was really made of brass, it could’ve been brass-plated or brass colored. I just remember it being brass. I had no idea what it was for, though I am certain that on several occasions, when my Jungle Jim became a Spaceship, that it was useful as some implement of an intrepid space explorer.

I’ve never purchased one myself, but there’s always been one in my kitchen. There’s one now - made by Tupperware. I’ve never used never used it.

An ex-girlfriend of mine once brought me back one as a gift from Britain. It was ceramic and interesting looking. I never used it for its intended purpose. Became a scouring pad dish as I recall. (That same girlfriend also ran my wok through the dishwasher when I was out of town. We didn’t last long as a couple).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jedi Kitchen Tricks

Good gracious! Who left the mop running? – Flora (Sleeping Beauty)oil rag-mop-lloyd 016
This weekend I finally got around to getting the big barrel grill up and running for the season. For the first time out this season we picked some St. Louis cut spareribs we had in the freezer.

I pulled the ribs out of their Cryovac, wipe them with paper towel and applied a nice layer of my favorite dry rub across all surfaces. I set my woodchips (pecan) and herb stems to soaking and started a lump charcoal fire with my chimney starter. I got all my tools prepared.

And then I brought out my mop.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Spice Shelf

Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. - William Cowper
Spice Rack 009

The Spice Shelf is a random selection from amongst the useless potpourri that inhabit my skull.

One of the adjustments I had to make when I first made Buffalo my home, more jarring than adjusting to the needless insertion of the article “the” before route numbers,  was comprehending that it was a far more Catholic place then any place I had lived before. This is not said in judgment, but rather as an observation of reality. News of the Church lives on the front page of the newspaper, and the Friday Fish Fry has achieved totemic proportions.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections on a Frozen Pizza

Hey kool aid and frozen pizza / It's a work of art I ain't talkin Mona Lisa - Mac Miller

Frozen Pizza 007
We knew that last Sunday was going to be a “lazy day”. I had spent the previous day “Masoning”, Scottish Rite in the morning and reliving my past by participating in the installation of a friend’s son for DeMolay in the evening. Trish was at the annual Gala at Shea's.

We knew both of us were going to get less sleep than we usually got. We knew that Sunday we would be tired and planned accordingly.

As dinner approached it was obvious that cooking wasn’t going to be in the mix; at least serious cooking. Under these circumstances we would often choose takeout pizza, but Ellie and her friends had one the night before. As no one in this house ever objects to pizza, we went to the backup plan of pita pizza.

Monday, April 1, 2013

How To Cook Meat Well Every Time!

"Was this well done of your lady, Charmion?" "Extremely well," she answered, "and as became the descendant of so many kings" – Plutarch

My friend Chris Taylor, proprietor of the Roaming Buffalo food truck, once commented that cooking an item to well done is hard. Not to call Chris wrong, but he is. Happens often. Cooking an item well done is relatively easy if done by the proper technique, and for a special occasion it is well worth any extra effort.

For me no food item says “special occasion” more than the center cut of the beef tenderloin commonly known as Filet Mignon or Châteaubriand. A whole beef tenderloin, commonly known as NAMP 189(A), for NAMP Industries – the nation’s largest producer of packaged meat products and toiletries, is easy to find at your local butcher, wholesale club or bodega.
But, as this is for a special event might I humbly suggest investing in a pasture raised, all-natural slab of meat, such as those offered by D'Artagnan. It is well worth the extra cost.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reviewing the Situation

The highway is replete with culinary land mines disguised as quaint local restaurants that carry such reassuring names as Millie's, Pop's and Capt'n Dick's. - Bryan Miller

On Thursday, March 21, 2013 a restaurant review under the byline of Andrew Z. Galarneau, Food Editor of The Buffalo News, appeared in the weekly Gusto section of the paper. That review was of a local outpost of a national chain.

The food world did not burst into flames.

I thought the review was a hoot.

Others disagreed.

Let’s get this out of the way.  I have made my feelings about restaurant reviews plain here and elsewhere. Also, Andrew is a friend. Whatever limited insights that may have given me have been overtaken his recent writings in the News. He has let us know his thinking about the job of a restaurant reviewer, and his job in particular.

When a friend asked me what I thought about this review I said that I found it quite humorous. He did not share that sentiment and apparently others agreed. His objections were centered, on the fact that a national chain is not a local restaurant and should not be given what amounts to free advertising. My response was simply “it is here, and it is a restaurant”. That response seems a bit trite in hindsight. So I will attempt to address my thoughts on this matter in an open letter to that friend.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Mommys Brisket - Redux

No matter how much you revisit the past...there’s nothing new to see. -Robert Tew
One of the most important lessons that any cook, particularly a self-taught cook, has to learn is that a recipe is just somebody’s opinion. As James Beard put it, “it’s always a good idea to follow the directions exactly the first time you try a recipe. But from then on, you’re on your own.” Inspiration, improvisation and even whimsy are the hallmarks of a good cook, and what makes cooking something fun to do.

Even my mommy’s brisket recipe, a hallmark of our family holiday celebrations, has gone through some changes at my hand. But, this year’s brisket was cooked in a really cool way.

I cooked it sous vide.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In A Pickle

On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally's cellar. - Thomas Jefferson.

I have often mentioned The Sausage Maker, Inc. in terms of how lucky we are to have this resource in Buffalo. They are not only a resource in terms of equipment and supplies, but also as a source for information.

It was that which brought me there, seeking background for a Buffalo Rising article. We chatted on the subject at hand, I took some photographs, and we chatted some more. It was then that I noticed the gizmo.

The Perfect Pickler, encased in plastic, hanging from a rack. I had neither heard of it nor had any idea of how it worked. I was intrigued. We chatted about it for a while, and was surprised (and pleased) to be presented one to test out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dependable Guidance - General Cookery

Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference - Karl Von Clausewitz

I learned to cook from cookbooks.

That was more than 30 years ago. My love affair with cookbooks has continued unabated. I collect them. I read them like novels. I spend a lot of time with them when perusing used bookstores. Each one has a story to tell good or bad.

I use a wonderful computer program from to keep track of the books –  and the corresponding apps for iPod and Kindle - to make sure that I don’t buy a copy of something I already own. I’ve been with them almost from the start and they keep making improvements. They also have apps for tracking music, games, movies and comics.

It is via their Connect service that you can browse the stacks of my cookbook library here. Book Collector I am often asked to recommend a cookbook, most recently in a podcast interview with Donnie Burtless of Buffalo Eats. It may be a starter cookbook or a book for a particular subject or ethnic cuisine.  I have thought for some time that it might be useful to do a series of blog posts describing those cookbooks I consider “go-to” volumes. These are not necessarily the best cookbooks, nor the most authentic cookbooks, nor the most popular cookbooks, nor my favorite cookbooks. Rather, these are the cookbooks I find myself turning to time after time as reliable sources for culinary information.

Soon after I began to cook seriously I began giving cookbooks as gifts. For the beginning cook the choices were The Joy of Cooking as a general purpose resource and the New York Times Cookbook for an international flavor. For more advanced cooks my selection was Julia Child’s The Way to Cook. These were also books that I suggested when asked for recommendations. All three of these books are still solid choices, worthy of gift or favorable mention.

 While those remain good choices, these days my selections are different. Time has passed and the cooking world is not remained static. For the advanced cook I would choose Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. For an international cookbook it would be David Rosengarten’s Dean and Deluca Cookbook (wouldn't mind an update - stuff is more familiar and). For an all-purpose cookbook, and my selection for this first blog post, it is How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

No. Despite my Sister-in-law's assertion that once you own it you shouldn’t need another cookbook, the title is puffery. Well intentioned, but puffery nonetheless. That said, it is a pretty thorough tome. It covers all the basics, and gives some solid variations on each theme.

My first copy is a First Edition, purchased soon after its release in 1996. I can tell how long I've had it by the photo below. Evidence of young cats and a new baby. Along about '06 or '07 a few signs of wear and tear began to appear. The fact that a totally revamped edition appeared in 2007 had nothing to do with my decision to replace.

Unlike Joy, it lacks instructions to gut and clean a fish (with illustrations) and you also won't find directions (with pictures) demonstrating the proper method for skinning and dressing a rabbit or squirrel. (Both grace the pages of the 1975 edition, but not in my earlier 1943 edition of Joy.) What you will find are a logically arranged series of recipes, clearly explained in both concept and process together with suggestions for variations on the theme.

Each chapter begins with a couple of “essential” recipes, marked with a handy “*” icon. There are additional icons for recipes that are fast, make ahead, or vegetarian. It is thorough yet unassuming.

It is the kind of reference you wish you could carry everywhere, but it’s a bit bulky for that. It weighs in at almost 5 pounds. Luckily, there is a convenient app (iPod only), which also happens to be one of the best cooking apps on the market.

I read in one commentary about the revised edition that it had a “reduced emphasis on professional techniques”. On the contrary, what I found lost were detailed drawings and directions useful for the home cook, and not something that one would only expect to be used by a restaurant chef.

That one observation aside this book remains an important work and a wonderful initial building block for one’s cooking library. Book Collector

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reconsidering Martha

Convicted felon Martha Stewart met with her probation officer yesterday. She even had to give a urine sample, in which she tested positive for nutmeg." —Jimmy Kimmel

I have a problem with Martha Stewart. There is a problem with my problem. The problem with my problem is that I can't really express the reason I have a problem with Martha Stewart.

Even my wife doesn’t understand why I feel as I do. My feelings are such that I refer to her as "Martha Frakking Stewart" and jokingly denote her the Antichrist. I altered the cover photo on a cookbook to reflect that designation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The CSA Dilemma

No good deed goes unpunished - Clare Boothe Luce 
This was not supposed to have a happy ending. It does. At least it seems to. I think.

This post has been in the works for a while, as many are while I struggle with saying what I want to say. It's also been gestating along with our decision making process. So it goes.

Community Supported Agriculture. CSA. What a concept. Local farms and farmers, raising food in a healthy, sustainable manner. Not merely as a customer, but as a shareholder. A partner in the bounty and the risk.

It's a concept that fits into the way we live our lives. We are far from fanatics. We just try to do it best. We are members of the Lexington Co-op, and we are at the North Tonawanda farmers market at least one Saturday a month. We love the meats from local pasturers like T-Meadow and Erba Verde Farms and tasty treats from White Cow Dairy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fleeting Glory

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes - Andy Warhol

Let’s start with a bit of synchronicity. Yesterday, I was walking to our mailbox with our neighbor Bruce when he mentioned that he had seen the recent article about me in Buffalo Spree magazine. Further, he said that he had read it at his son-in-law Ted’s house.

What is somewhat remarkable about this is that Bruce is more than just a neighbor. He practiced law from the same offices that Trish and I did. It was a bit of a hoot when we discovered that he had moved into a house just up the street. Ted is more than just his son-in-law. Ted and I spent the better part of three years working side-by-side on the hotline at DACC’s. During that time we became pretty good friends, and though we hadn’t seen each other in a while it’s nice to be in touch again. The fact that both of them became aware of my food blogging because of a magazine article is just the benefit of “fame”.

If Andy Warhol is right, I have already had mine. In fact, I’ve had a whole half hour. It isn’t as if I have been toiling in obscurity, but any time I can attract attention to the work I do in this blog it is a worthwhile effort. I am not in this for money, nor fame – I am really in it because I enjoy it. This blog allows me to express thoughts in a way that I might not otherwise have.

My brush with fame, such as it is began in August when I received an email from Rachel Fix Dominguez of Buffalo Spree magazine. It was an invitation to participate along with other Buffalo food bloggers in their annual Cheap Eats issue. I of course accepted the invitation and submitted to the magazine a list of my top five inexpensive restaurants. In September I met with photographer K. C. Kratt at Suzy - Q’s BBQ for a photo shoot. I was told I have a symmetrical head.

I was glad when I finally got to eat my pulled pork sandwich, inhaling the aroma while posing for half an hour had me drooling.

So let me take a moment to flog the other local blogs represented in Buffalo Spree. Some I know,some have become friends. All are worth reading. In mostly no particular order:

Buffalo Beer and Food:  With four main contributors, this blog displays what one might call a "manly" look at the food scene in Western New York. It's the kind of site I'd be looking at if I'd just moved to the area - something that would have been helpful when I relocated to Toledo for law school. It's a broad-based blog on a variety of subjects. Restaurants, recipes and refreshments delivered with a dose of humor.

Buffalo Foodie:  Nina Barone is a writer for Spree, our host, and her blog writing often seems to complement her work for the magazine. While she does review restaurants and write recipes, my favorite bits are her commentaries on the local food scene and events. I must remember that I promised to let her know when Wild Bill BBQ reopens in the spring.

Little Kitchen, Big Flavors: The name pretty much sums it up. A recipe driven site, featuring a husband and wife combo, one a restaurant cook and the other mostly self-taught. It's a recipe driven site filled with ideas for any home cook. (Also great ideas for your next tailgate party).

Lovin' on Buffalo: You have to admire a blog that combines food, support for local businesses and charitable endeavors. There are restaurant reviews, notes on current events and local attractions and a lot of stuff that reminds you to be happy to be in Western New York. If you need a cheerleader Buffalo, you've found her.

Pea Pod Riot: Annie Levay-Krause has an eclectic site, reflecting her multifaceted persona. In addition to writing a blog on food and dining, she is the founder of SOLE (Seasonal, Organic, Local and Ethical) which pretty much says it all. It's about food and gardening, and puts on dinners with an international flavor. In the Land of Peapodriot you can find a bounty of food based on the freshest, most natural ingredients.

Tasty Yummies: This blog is the brainchild of Beth Manos Brickey. Her work is notable for the way she has taken dietary restrictions not as an impediment, but as a challenge to be conquered. Her recipes are gluten-free and mostly vegetarian. They are yummy as is, but can easily be “retrofitted” for the most dedicated of carnivores. I first met Beth – if met is the correct word – at a presentation for bloggers where she was a panelist. I had hoped that it would be a chance to network with other food bloggers, but that was not to be the case. Sadly, Beth and her husband are relocating to the West Coast so I won’t get a chance to know her better, but I will be following her blog.

Buffalo Eats: I saved this for last for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that Donnie Burtless a and his wife Alli have become friends. I always look for opinions in addition to a local newspaper. For the longest time, the major contender was a blog that, while thorough, felt off-putting. Enter BE.

I enjoyed it from the start, becoming one of their first regular commenters. The blog has an every-man feel to it that I found inviting. Donnie and his brother Tom host a weekly podcast featuring interviews with denizens of our local food world. That is the other reason I saved this for last. In November I was asked to participate in a podcast, which went live last week. My second 15 minutes. I oddly did not come off sounding like a dork.

Feel free to tune in here, you may find it interesting.
A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting. - Patton
All photographs by KC Kratt - Buffalo Spree Magazine

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Spice Shelf

Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. - William Cowper

The Spice Shelf is a random selection from amongst the useless potpourri that inhabits my skull.

Just a few notes out of today’s Taste section in the Buffalo News.

If memory serves, today marks Sara Moulton’s first appearance in the weekly food section. If so, I would like to welcome her to Western New York. While she is still doing great work today – her shows appear occasionally on PBS locally – her live Food Network show Cooking Live (1997 – 2003) is greatly missed. In my opinion, it is, bar none, the best cooking show to have ever graced the airwaves. Better than Jacques. Better than Julia.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Ostentatious Showing

He would go to Halifax for half a chance to show off and he would go to hell for a whole one - Mark Twain

I love watching chefs strutting their stuff – in and out of the kitchen. It becomes so obvious that it is the end result of hard work, long hours and excruciating repetition. Sometimes the demonstration is strictly for show. Think Teppenyaki House. There are practical applications as well. Watching Martin Yan disjoint a chicken in 18 seconds, or Jacques Pepin literally ripping the flesh off a chicken caravans for a galantine in moments (I believe it’s a part of Jacques and Julia “Cooking in Concert”).

It’s a little different, of course, when a cook is appearing on a late-night entertainment venue. The viewership demands that the chef give them a spectacle. So when Alton Brown showed up on Craig Ferguson, I expected a hoot. And I got one. Cotton candy wars, a taffy pull and liquid nitrogen games – you can’t beat that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Morning After Vices

 When you have found the shrubbery, then you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest ... with a herring. - The Tall Knight Who Says Ni

I started today, as I have for the last 18 years, with a taste of Blind Robin. A seafood product even the cats don’t eat.


Just like last year with a three replacing the two. The first year with all different digits since 1987. A year to be enjoyed for its lack of a Mayan Apocalypse and a continuation of our dysfunctional Congress.

We usually spend New Year’s in Cleveland with friends, but putting my bionic hip in a sub-compact for 3.5 hours seemed premature. So we decided to make our celebration at home. Dinner and a movie.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -