Monday, 12 January 2015 | 28 comments

Melissa Clark’s pinto beans braised with bacon & red wine

I took a little holiday break from writing here but not from writing, which was an interesting experiment that caused me to descend into some pretty dark stuff that no one, trust me, wants to read. So! Happy new year. Let’s talk about beans and definitely not about feelings, feminism, guns, or country music.*

I don’t pretend to be any high arbiter of bean quality, but if you like food, we live in a golden age of beautiful, heirloom beans, no small thanks to seed savers and discoverers like Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo. Heirloom beans are worth the money, and sometimes I special order them for particular dishes or to have on hand for a treat. I could spend a long time convincing you of the merits of gorgeous Good Mother Stallards or Christmas limas. But beans are supposed to promise a triple threat of nutrition, rib-sticking satiety, and economy. And at $6+ a pound, heirlooms don’t exactly satisfy that last qualification. So let’s talk about budget-conscious beans. Enter the humble pinto.
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Monday, 20 October 2014 | 17 comments

Sweet & sour delicata squash

We’ve been keeping busy. Lots of early mornings, driving from trains to winery to long days in the office, and late nights. I haven’t had my hands on as much good fall seasonal stuff as I would have liked this year. There will be no cutesy photos of the chickens milling about some decorative pumpkins. As usual, I thought I would plant a fall garden two months ago. Ha. I’m learning big lessons about this, about how some seasons I really get to dig in to the good things, and some I just suck it up, keep my head down, and pay the bills.

Ben picked me up from a late train home the other day with two hot pizzas in the backseat. Do you know how good that feels? What a guy.
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Monday, 8 September 2014 | 23 comments

Chickpea & barley salad with toasted spice vinaigrette. Also, the Internet.

In the wide world of the Internet, it’s easy to get cynical about how rapidly and easily ideas are repackaged, reposted, and reshared, ad infinitum. You could say this about serious subjects, like news coverage, or about less serious subjects, like celebrity gossip. You could also say it about food-related content. Take, for instance, the phenomenon of what I call the “wedding salad” (because nearly every catered salad you’re served at a wedding is a variation on this). It consists of spinach/arugula, goat cheese/feta, dried cherries/cranberries, nuts (sometimes candied), and a vinaigrette. The wedding salad is omnipresent, and for good reason: it is delicious and time-tested. It’s hard to mess up. But the public does not need four million recipes for this salad. Moreover, I worry that all the recipes detailing minor variations on this wedding salad esotericize* something that should be simple. In other words, maybe the recipe should really be: Here is how you make a salad. A nice template for a salad is a tender green + a soft cheese + something sweet + something crunchy + something acidic.

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Monday, 30 June 2014 | 36 comments

Herbed squash gratin

Sometimes life gives you lemons. Sometimes life gives you a behemoth summer squash on your doorstep.

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013 | 25 comments

Skillet-caramelized winter squash

At this time of year, there’s a late afternoon sun that streams in during a pretty hour or so before early dusk. » Click to read more

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