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Maybe I CAN cook everything…

Okay, a few months ago I had some words about Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Mostly, my conclusion was that yes, it’s a good book, but I already know how to cook enough things that it just wasn’t really worth my shelf space or $29.95 to buy it.  Though I’d still happily recommend it to anyone I knew who was trying to learn cooking.

But then I got a look at the iphone app. Yes, one has to pay for it (I’m one of those cheap people who almost never actually buys an app), but it’s only $4.99 and has every recipe the cookbook has.  Its ability to cross-reference and index itself, to find variations on recipes effortlessly, to search for recipes by ingredient, to generate shopping lists…yes, it’s a little annoying when the screen goes to sleep mid-recipe on you and you need to wake it up with greasy hands, but that’s a very very small difficulty.

They bill this app as being a good “companion” to the book–honestly, I don’t quite see why one would need the book with this app. It has the basic instructions, it has the recipes, it has the variations–best $4.99 I ever spent.

I can’t recommend this enough. It’s the best app on my phone.


Communal Cooking–I love this article!

This article is just lovely, and fun, and makes me want to try out something like this.  Maybe without the clay oven, and maybe without the whole dismembered goat, but just the idea of all these people cooking together is so cool…and Michael Pollan is such a fun writer, it’s just a very pleasant read:

The 36-hour Dinner Party (from the New York Times Magazine)

(Okay, I thought of titling this post something like “Michael Pollan can roast his root vegetables in my oven any time,” but it was just a little TOO much, considering the sick minds my friends all seem to have…) (And by most accounts, except for his, the root vegetable experiment was one of the weekend’s less successful endeavors anyhow…)

Uses for Walnut Oil

My husband is a good man.  I have said this before.

Yesterday on impulse he spent some appalling amount of money buying fresh swordfish, which he promised to cook tonight.  A good thing, since I was wiped out from several hours of gardening this afternoon.  He starts the fish while I’m up taking a shower.

For some unknown reason, despite an opened bottle of olive oil, an opened bottle of grapeseed oil, and an opened bottle of almond oil sitting on the counter, he decided to go into my cupboard and get out the brand-new bottle of walnut oil I’d bought on sale and was keeping unopened to help its shelf life last a bit longer, and didn’t really know what to do with it.  (He’s always doing things like this: opens the brand-new bottle of walnut oil in order to smear half a teaspoon on the fish, buying a bottle of Karo light corn syrup–yuck–to use two tablespoons in a recipe, stuff like that.)  So now I have to figure out what to do with walnut oil.

God bless the internet, of course.

First of all, it’s something that people with nut allergies need to avoid. (Fairly obvious, I guess, but there it is.) 

In cosmetic use, it seems to be a good carrier oil for massage or skin creams, and absorbs well.  The refined stuff has very little odor.  says that walnut oil “is an excellent emollient with moisturizing properties for dry, aged, irritated skin. In aromatherapy circles, Walnut Oil is also credited with being a balancing agent for the nervous system. ” Commenters on that site praised its use to soothe sunburn, or as a slightly astringent oil for oily but mature skin.  Oddly, neither  nor, my two go-to places for such things, seem to carry it or have anything to say about it.  Other sites suggest that it is good as an antiparisitic or antifungal, for treating wounds, eczema, dandruff, and so forth.  Some sites say it has a shelf life of six months to a year; others say three to six years.  Several suggest refrigerating it after it’s opened.

In cooking, or rather non-cooking, it’s widely suggested as an oil for salad dressings or to toss pasta in and other such uses, since it sometimes gets bitter upon cooking and loses its delicate flavor.  It’s high in omega-3’s and antioxidants.

And interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, painters in the Renaissance used it as a paint thinner and brush cleaner due to it’s non-yellow tint.

Who knew?
ETA–okay, it was expensive, but that dinner was worth every penny.  Delicious.  In addition to the fish, I’d bought some boneless chicken breasts (fresh, organic, free range, which I don’t do often) and we marinaded them in lemon juice, oregano, olive oile, and garlic and grilled them so the kids would have something they like and we’d have sandwich/chicken fajita/who knows makings for the next couple of days and can freeze anything we don’t eat by Tuesday…Oh My God, the difference in flavor between your basic grocery store chicken and this organic free range stuff was unbelievable. Unbelievable. Wow.

I will miss my non-stick cookware…

I was sort of doing an inventory of my kitchen and discovered that both of my lovely non-stick expensive pasta-cooking pots had scrapes and scratches in the non-stick coating.

I figured, hey, it’s not SUCH a big deal, is it?

And then I went to the internet, as I so often do when I’m curious about something.

It goes on and on.

I recognize, of course, that the internet is prone to hyperbole and misinformation all over…but I also recognize that if certain fumes kill birds but not humans, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing’s happening to the humans who breathe them.   To dismiss human reaction to the fumes as “mild flu-like symptoms” seems to miss the point…anything that makes me sick to breathe I probably don’t need in my kitchen.

So I threw away my two favorite stockpots. I still have my omelette pan and my two skillets, and so far my 11 quart stockpot seems to be flake-free.  But they will have to go fairly soon, I fear.  And then today I stopped at Ikea and got a couple of stainless steel pans that should do the job…but I’ll miss my non-stick.