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Lydia’s Express, All Aboard

New vegan, raw foods restaurant in Sebastopol. Imagine that.

Lydia’s Kitchen opens in Petaluma

Vegan and raw cafe featuring Lydia’s Organics in an unlikely spot

Eggless Gingery Fruit-Nut Bars Cookie Recipe

Packed for a hike or a holiday cookie tin, these fruit and nut powerhouses are egg-free

Vegan Almond Lemon Cookie Recipe

A delicious vegan cookie that sings with lemon flavor

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.

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.

When Vegetarians Eat Meat

The Dalai Lama eats meat because his doctors tell him to. My wife was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for many years, until she got pregnant and we went to Paris for lunch; now, she’ll eat meat, but only from animals that she would kill with her own hands. My father’s wife will taste meat, but only [...]

Peter Lowell’s | Sebastopol

Farm philosophy meets delicious dining at Peter Lowell’s in Sebastopol

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 [...]

“Parker House” Dinner Rolls

Somewhere, in a squat little cardboard tube, lies a row of Pillsbury dinner rolls, mashed into one another as if caught in some evil baker’s version of airline seats… and each of those rolls, as it pays its Karmic debt to the gods of flour and water, thinks of one thing only: Please, please let me come back as a Parker House roll, baked from scratch in somebody’s kitchen, pulled apart by the chubby little fingers of happy little children.

The Accidental Vegetarian: Fire-Roasted Peppers

fire roasted peppers on a home stoveI’m not sure what (if anything) this strangely cool, damp year in Northern California says about global warming, but it definitively changed the relationship between the physical calendar on my wall and my erstwhile sense of the natural culinary seasons: I didn’t eat a ripe tomato until well into August, and I’m still picking chili peppers from our garden in mid-December. And, in a proximal vein, I managed to procure a Technicolor Dreamcoat of richly hued, perfectly ripened late-season peppers from Soda Rock Farms at our very last farmer’s market of 2010

Cut Your Carrots, Not Your Fingers

Culinary knife cuts / carrotsThere is an unavoidable tension between the desire to manipulate a carrot into uniform, rectangular shapes (including every culinary knife cut in the parallelepiped family, from the batonnet soldier awaiting its Ranch dressing destiny to the microscopically perfect brunoise at the bottom of a bowl of consomme), and the desire to keep one’s digits unbloodied and persistently attached to one’s hand without surgical assistance.

A nearly perfect French fry, from the oven

Oven Roasted French Fries (Heston Blumenthal method)The extraordinary potato: A poisonous, inedible plant whose tuber provides one of the world’s most critical food sources and is equally at home in a Michelin-star kitchen as it is in a McDonald’s fry basket. Is there any food that is simultaneously simpler and more spectacular than a perfectly french-fried potato?

Safeway Avocado Alert

Guacamole from perfect California Hass avocadosI could wax excitable and eloquent for pages upon pages about the virtues of the California Hass avocado (and yes, it is “Hass”, not “Haas”, named for Rudolph Hass, the postman who, in the 1920s, planted the one and only Mother Tree of virtually every avocado you’ve ever eaten), but I cannot stomach the poor excuse on offer at my local Safeway.

The Accidental Vegetarian: Cooking Green

Green Salad: Arugula, Green Zebra Tomato, Green PeppercornI’ve been thinking about cooking green. And no, I’m not pandering to my more aggressively environmentalist brethren, I’m talking about the color green, the shades of which the human eye is more sensitive to than any other part of the visible spectrum: The haughty, peacock green of my grandmother’s emerald broach; the brooding, mossy green of the Russian River pooling under Wohler Bridge

So what IS pistou, anyway?

ingredients for fresh pistouPistou is seriously good stuff. Made in minutes, from very few (and entirely raw) ingredients, it turns a vegetable soup transcendent, transforms pasta from simple to sublime, and, perhaps less conventionally but no less successfully, it works wonders with certain seafood. The problem is, unlike in the case of its far more famous (and near-mystical-when-done-properly) cousin, pesto, there seems to be no clear agreement on what actually constitutes a true pistou.

My Daughter’s Love Soup

My Daughter's Love Soup Respect for ingredients. Appreciation of taste. Legalized child labor. I can think of any number of reasons to engage your kids in the kitchen, but chief amongst them must surely be the joy of creating the food itself, of working side by side with your littles, of watching small hands learn to cut, whisk, and measure.

Get Some Beer Snack Religion

Every once in a while, I’m lucky enough to find a combination of flavors that just works, a minor chord born of a Beatles-like marriage of flats and sharps. Many of the classics never tire, and I use and re-use them without apology – and then there are beer snacks, the holy grail of sports fans and wannabe man-cooks everywhere, the perfect balance of heat, salt, and icy bitter froth, a marriage to read about in the self-therapy section of an airport book nook.