Jun 262012
 

On my third date with my future husband, he took me by the house to meet his parents. His mother said she hoped he would find a nice girl and settle down soon.

He did, and she made me a part of the family immediately. Janice Rubin was my mother-in-law for 25 years.

Here she is, licking the straw from a chocolate soda at Fenton’s, an Oakland, CA ice cream parlor she patronized since she was a kid. That chocolate soda, with its mocha chocolate chip ice cream, was one of only two fountain items she ordered. Once she found a food she liked, she stuck with it.

This culinary philosophy was on display when we went to her home twice a year during the Jewish holidays. The courses were the same almost every time, served in order: chopped liver, gefilte fish, boiled eggs in salt water, chicken soup with Continue reading »

Jul 262011
 

See those innocent-looking pine nuts? They can poison you! (Photo courtesy of Kent Cameron from A Food Centric Life blog.)

How much do you count on your taste buds, as a food writer? Do you use them every day, as a recipe tester, cook, restaurant reviewer, or just because you love to eat?

Then beware of pine nuts. They can ruin your tastebuds for weeks. Actually, they can poison you.

Last Thursday I ate pine nuts at lunch. The next day, a breakfast of fruit, yogurt and granola tasted especially bitter. Lunch was worse. All three dishes I sampled at a hip new neighborhood place were so bitter I could hardly eat them. While making dinner, I was temped to throw out my salmon chowder because of its metallic taste. It tasted like bad white wine. On a hunch, I asked my husband to sample a spoonful. “Really good,” he pronounced.

That’s when I knew something was wrong. Owen Googled “bitter taste in mouth” and found Continue reading »

Jan 242011
 

I planned a dinner last week, hoping to achieve these goals. I wanted to cook for my cousin Dana in Los Angeles, who is dying of cancer.

He requested two dishes that did not go together: spaghetti and meatballs, in honor of his mother’s Italian-Catholic side; and Hamoth, a sweet and sour beet stew made by our Iraqi-Jewish grandmother, which is actually an Indian-Jewish dish.

(Confused yet? Now, if you had an Italian-Catholic mother from New York and an Iraqi-Jewish father from Shanghai, what would your identity be? Dana chose to play the bagpipes.)

I cooked the meal at the home of my friend Mary Ann and her husband Daniel, where my Continue reading »

Feb 142010
 

food writing muffinsThe morning started innocently enough. I decided to make Mark Bittman’s muffins as a treat, instead of the usual cereal or toast. After all, Valentine’s Day demands special effort for a special day.

But then I noticed I only had a half a cup of applesauce, and needed a cup, so I had to make more. I made my husband get up from reading the Sunday comics to stir.

And then I remembered I had made roast chicken the other night because Ruhlman said any idiot could do it, so I felt qualified. It turned out fine, but  I also discovered why I stopped making roast chicken at high temperatures: it throws fat everywhere and destroys the oven. Now the oven had to be cleaned, or it would smoke and perfume my special Valentine’s Day muffins with essence of burned poultry fat.

So while I prepped the wet and dry ingredients for my special treat for my husband, he cleaned the oven on his hands and knees. I was so distracted I forgot the sugar.

Finally, at 1 p.m., we sat down to fresh muffins, fruit and yogurt. I asked my honey if he liked the muffins. He said they were “okay.” We’ve been married so long (20.5 years) I knew what that meant.

Crestfallen, I asked if he would have preferred a big ham and cheese omelet instead of this healthy treat, which I realized appealed more to me than him. He said no. “Just next time, add the sugar.” And then he kissed me.

(Photo of sugarless applesauce muffins by Owen Rubin).

Jun 192009
 

Hello food writers,

I’m hoping to create a useful place to read and comment on the world of food writing, whether a blog, feature article, review or tweet (In case you didn’t know, people are writing 140 character recipes now,  and the New York Times calls it the “first great recipe innovation in 200 years”).

Soon you’ll find links to lots of articles and sites on food writing. One of my favorites is the UK Guardian’s Top 50 food blogs list. They’ve also profiled some of the bloggers in  accompanying stories.

In the Blogroll you’ll find blogs and websites of some of the best food writers, including friends, students, and  clients.

Maybe you have a favorite topic you’d like to discuss. If so, please leave a comment below and let’s get’er done, as Larry the Cable Guy would say.