Latest Blog Posts

by Diane Leach

10 Oct 2014

It took three tries to figure out what all the excitement was about.  An ardent lover of Chinese food, I drooled my way through Fuchsia Dunlop’s three cookbooks on the subject. Two of them are devoted to Sichuan cookery, a cuisine famous for its extensive use of chili and Sichuan peppercorns. 

Dunlop’s rapturous descriptions of the Sichuan peppercorn’s mysterious tingling and numbing effects piqued my curiosity. My quest took me to the local 99 Ranch, the West Coast chain of Chinese supermarkets. No Sichuan peppercorns. I did, however, find a dusty canister at my local American market. When I opened it, I found what looked and tasted like brown woodchips. I tossed them, rooted around in another market, bought another packet. More woodchips. On my third attempt I ripped open the tiny bag and popped a couple into my mouth while unloading groceries.

by Diane Leach

23 Apr 2014

Above: Beautiful lettuce photo from

In reviewing Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food II, I returned to its predecessor, The Art of Simple Food, published in 2007.  I’d recently been immersed in multi-step recipes with complex techniques and arcane ingredients. And while flaming cognac, blanching salt pork, and messing around with shrimp paste are all highly diverting, The Art of Simple Food reminded me that all are unnecessary when a delicious meal is desired. 

One only needs a basic kitchen: iron skillet, a knife, a heat source, and some food: a vegetable, a protein perhaps a piece of fruit. Et viola: dinner.


by Diane Leach

1 Apr 2014

Above image from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook ( Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2013)

I have before of me an original edition of Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco. Written in 1973, this book put Moroccan food on the American map, or more accurately, into American mouths. One need only read Gael Greene’s introduction to realize how very spoiled we’ve become, 40 years later. Greene, invited to Wolfert’s New York apartment to taste from the cookbook-in-progress, writes about what to bring:

Blockquote“Do I bring flowers? Wine? Bonbons? No, I bring cilantro (green coriander) because fresh cilantro is the badge of our friendship.  (She can’t buy it in her neighborhood. I can. A friend would not cross town without cilantro.)”blockquote

by Diane Leach

6 Feb 2014

Mussels in Cider comes straight from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella’s Kitchen, a cookbook I go on about, but it sees a lot of action in my kitchen. Forget Lawson’s recent bout of public scrutiny: the woman can cook. I’ve never had a recipe of hers go awry, even when baking, my weakest point in the kitchen. And Mussels in Cider, as she puts it, is a recipe that “doesn’t begin to convey the luxe-for-less-time gloriousness of the feast”.

I actually test drove this recipe on a time-crunched Saturday night, but “Saturday night test drive” lacks alliterative punch. But Lawson is right: the results far outweighed the crazed five minutes of prep (truly, I was frantic) and the one pot I needed to wash afterward. I used Price Edward Island mussels, which my fishmonger sold cleaned and debearded.  Five dollars worth amply fed two.

by Diane Leach

13 Jan 2014

In the many food blogs that appear to be overtaking the internet, one never sees a mistake.

Nobody, it seems, in their perfectly appointed kitchens, has ever charred a chicken, torched a tomato, or just plain ruined a recipe. Nosiree, everything out there in internetland is gorgeous, parsley-flecked, and perfectly ready to eat.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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