Cool Stuff
“Grandma’s Spinach Dip”

I recently received an email from Grandma Pellegrini. Yes, she does email now, she has a gmail account, and most recently a Facebook account, and is quite good at it. She is also good at ordering interesting things on amazon. Mostly cooking equipment. Just the other day I walked into her kitchen and a new ice cream maker was buzzing, churning some terra cotta colored apricot ice cream which had […]

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“Solo Brining and Dining”

I had a pork chop yesterday. I was dining alone, and I ceremoniously made myself a proper meal. I took a visit to the butcher who had all sorts of glossy selections piled high in the coolers, and I settled on a pork chop, bone-in. It was a good choice because it was well aged, and came from a good place and when it hit the pan I could tell from the sizzling […]

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“How to Age Venison, then Braise It”

In a few weeks I’ll be deer hunting. Someone recently told me that squirrel is the best meat in the woods. And while I plan on testing that theory and presenting you with a squirrel recipe one of these days, until then I’m clinging on to the notion that venison is the best meat in the woods. The key to good venison is aging it properly. Just like a good 12 ounce T-bone […]

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“A Garlic Mincing Trick”

One of the first little bits of wisdom I learned when I decided to get serious about cooking, was how to make garlic into a paste in under 30 seconds. It was a revelation and I thought, “Wow! These are all the shortcuts that pros know!” So then I began to work in professional kitchens and was peeved to see people mincing their garlic the same way I’d done it as a “civilian”… […]

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“What’s Your Flavor?”

You have to love the olive tree to do the work… early in the crisp mornings of late October, well into the even colder evenings of late November. To make a single liter of extra virgin olive oil requires more than ten pounds of olives. It is a commitment to be an olive grower. I like French olive oils… olives with elegant names like Aglandau, Grossane, Salonenque, and Verdale. The […]

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“Sweet and Tangy Salad Dressing: The Feast”

Welcome to the final installment of my three part dinner series… After a full day of hunting on the ranch, and a full day of cooking by Paul, we finally got to eat the fruits of our labor.   The ranch has a very beautiful interior, with lovely wood paneling and a cozy lodge atmosphere. The fireplace was especially nice and there were many of them… one in almost every […]

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“Quail Marinade + Tenderloin Marinade: Hunting for the Salad Course”

Welcome to part two of my three part dinner series… After we brought  the hogs back to the ranch, Tim put them in a walk-in cooler. After debating, we decided to have the tenderloins for dinner rather than wait to let them age. So we brought them into the kitchen and got them ready for a marinade. My friend Paul, is quite the gourmand, and he was in charge of […]

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“Hog Hunting”

Welcome to my three part dinner series. In part one, we go on a hog hunt, very early… The owner of Hidden Valley Ranch, Tim Haley, and his foreman Craig, and I hopped into the jeep and drove through some very chilly winds… But the ranch was so beautiful as the sun came up that it was a lovely distraction from the cold. Pretty soon after we set out, we saw […]

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“Bringing Home the Bacon”

Today I am off to a place called Hidden Valley Ranch. I’m pretty sure it’s not the salad dressing place because I am going there to hunt wild pig, and that would be strange… This is my schedule for Saturday: Out of bed before sunrise, hunting at daybreak with the ranch owner and ranch foreman. Come back from the morning hunt for breakfast. Afternoon hunt for quail and wild pigeon […]

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“The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”

Today I conclude my recipe testing. At least the recipe testing for my book. It has been a long windy journey, full of twists and turns. Full of pretty, tasty things… Full of ugly, horrid things… Full of strange happenings… Full of outright kitchen drama… Nevertheless, I have survived, with only a shard of glass in my foot as a battle wound, and the near fatal loss of a pork loin. And I […]

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