Posts Tagged With: Ruth Reichl

Ruth Is Right

Sharwoods Curry with yogurt

A friend’s cool, dark basement was a welcome place to spend a sultry summer evening. After watching some of a recording of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s celebration, our host popped in the dvd I had brought along. The Lunchbox came out in 2013, but I’d never heard of it. If you have an interest in foreign places and/or enjoy food for more than just nourishment, you might like the movie.

The story was set in India so now, naturally, we are craving curries, paneer, and chapati.  Since the last two recipes from Ruth Reichl’s book, Tender at the Bone, have recently provided success in our kitchen, I thought I would see what she has to say about Indian food. At the end of one of Gourmet‘s foodie travel videos, Reichl gives instruction for a simple tandoori-style entree that you can make at home.

Rather than insisting you purchase a zillion spices to create an imitation of the complex flavors of an Indian restaurant, she claims that the bottled sauces at your grocery store will be sufficient. Besides a bottle of Vindaloo sauce, you need yogurt, cilantro, and mint to season your chicken.  You should let the skinless chicken marinade for at least 40 minutes.

The cooking method almost convinced me to set the recipe aside. Summer temperatures in July do not encourage one to use the oven, much less an oven set to 500*F.  However, after a torrential downpour last night, the outside temperatures have dropped to near 70* F. Because I was still afraid of setting off the smoke alarm,  I didn’t leave the chicken in long enough for it to get the prescribed char.

I’ve got to work on the Basmati rice. But, alongside the curried vegetables, and the slices of raw tomato and avocado, the false-tandoori chicken was satisfying.


Categories: Chicken, Entertainment, Food and drink, Herbs and Spices, Rice, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooking from Memories

pork tomatillo stew

Memoir is an interesting genre. The work is autobiographical, but the author chooses to emphasize a specific theme and/or focus on a shorter period of their life rather than telling their whole story. I enjoy reading memoirs and biographies, because I can learn about worlds that are completely different than mine without leaving earth. Sometimes I am tempted to covet their wealth and opportunity.  At other times the character’s struggle and despair are such that I am reminded to be thankful for the eternal hope that I have.

One of my favorite popular authors is Ruth Reichl. When she shares stories from her past you can feel along with her. When she describes the aromas, flavors, and textures of an amazing meal you are as satisfied as if you had been sitting at the table with her.

Recipes are sprinkled through Reichl’s books. This morning I took inventory of the ones that are included in Tender at the Bone.  A stew made from pork and tomatillos was especially interesting to me, because the bag of tomatillos from Produce Junction was larger than I had needed for a large batch of green sauce.

Ruth instructs the cook to prepare the stew on the stovetop. However, my Saturday plans wouldn’t allow me to babysit a simmering stew for two hours. Instead, after browning the pork and sauteeing the garlic and onions, I tossed everything into a crockpot.

Four hours later, we were home and ready for supper. My husband said the “juice” was good, but he isn’t so sure about the beans being included. I can’t say that the stew was amazing, but I can’t say that it is the recipe’s fault, either. When I cut the recipe in half some of the ratios didn’t quite match.   Also, I don’t keep “dark beer” on hand, so my blackstrap molasses substitute certainly affected the flavor.


Categories: Books, Food and drink, Pork, stew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder


“I had bought more than I could comfortably carry, which meant it was time to go.”
~Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year

There is enough time in my lunch break to get to the grocery store and back. The difficulty is when I lose track of time inside the store.

Last week I drove a little further than I usually do, because I had to pick up a prescription at a specific store.  After visiting the pharmacy I decided to pick up a few items I had missed on a previous shopping trip.  As I passed through the meat department, the “on sale” sign caught my eye. Not only because meat was 99 cents/lb., but because it was pork shoulder.

The night before I had read an entry in Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year about how to braise this cut of meat in apple cider. This author is so good at describing the whole experience of food that her words can almost seduce you into eating raw fish or thick, slimy noodles  when Asian cuisine isn’t your thing. In the paragraphs before the recipe for cider-braised pork shoulder, she talks about imagining sweet meat melted into onions and apples. Another plus is that this cut is “cheap, fatty, flavorful . . .[and] reward[s] the patient cook”. That cheap, fatty cut of meat isn’t little, either. These pigs must be at least as big as I am if just their shoulder weighs eight or nine pounds.

Shoulder hefted into my arms, I wound up and down a few more aisles before heading to the check-out. No basket to help me, of course, since I had only planned on picking up one or two things. I managed to snatch a bottle of apple cider vinegar off the store shelf, but somehow it didn’t make it to the trunk of my car.

“What I really want is for my recipes to become your own.” Ruth Reichl clearly states that she has a different perspective on recipe book writing than the famous cookbook author, Julia Child.  While Julia was very careful to give her readers detailed instructions that she came up with by almost scientific study, Ruth expects her reader’s dishes to taste a bit different than her own. She calls her recipes a conversation rather than a lecture.

That in mind, I decided to try her recipe, but use a crockpot for part of the process rather than heating up the whole apartment along with the dish in the oven.  After I slashed through the fatty layer and stuffed garlic into the slits, showered the pork with salt and pepper, then browned the meat on all sides, I realized that this huge shoulder wasn’t going to fit in my crockpot. So I had no other choice than to turn on the oven, heave the pork shoulder into a stainless steel pot, and stay up a little bit later than I had planned.

When you have this much meat to work with, you are glad to know that pork can be used in a variety of dishes. This time around we’ve eaten bbq pork with coleslaw and sweet potato muffins, “Chinese” pork dumplings, pork egg rolls, and pork chili with black beans & corn.






Categories: Books, Food and drink, Pork | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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