What's Cooking?

Still Life

Each day, I post at least one photograph on Instagram. Most of my postings are of food or cocktails: my oatmeal highlighted by the morning light through my kitchen window, a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread from a local bakery, tomatoes perfectly ripened from my garden, a cocktail on my deck with the Pittsburgh skyline …

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Cooking the Books

For me, it started with “The Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls.” My sister-in-law loaned me her copy when I was 7. The 1950s spiral-bound edition depicted smiling, neatly dressed girls in aprons stirring batter and beating eggs in (now vintage) bowls with the boy in the background tasting from a pot resting on …

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Bon Bouquet

As last year’s polar vortex blew in its snow dumps and sub-zero temps, I huddled inside by the wood-burning stove. When the spring thaw came and I ventured out into the crispy, frosted mornings, I was reminded that nothing is forever. My lavender plants were toast, along with the tarragon and sage. I expected the …

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Berry Bounty

It’s an early spring morning and my neighbor mike and I work in our gardens, just a shaky chain-link fence between us. We garden for a while as if we’re both alone, just grunting and digging and pulling at weeds as the birds sing their heads off. Every so often one of us starts a …

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Let us think lettuces

The garden’s palette yawns tan and brown as winter ends and spring nears each year. All that’s left after the crusty snow melts (if I’ve remembered to diligently clean up the previous fall) are blank brown beds—the clean slates of gardening. I like the do-over aspect of each new garden season, but I long for …

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Pickling plenty

As the garden tips from late summer to fall and the plants become a little woody, then crispy, the only thing to do—if you’re a gardener like me—is turn to the things you’ve put up during the months of productivity. It’s nostalgic, opening up a jar of tomato sauce or jam. Garden memories may seem …

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Apple Obligations

There’s a point after leaving Pittsburgh, zipping in and out of lanes on Interstate 79, when you distinctly hit Country. Even the dog notices it, sticking his nose in the air, half-closing his eyes in window-seat joy. It’s the moment when the air rushing in smells sweet, like hay and dung and grass. Farther north, …

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Signs of Spring

Pittsburgh turns green in more ways than one come mid-March. Budding trees line the roads and crocuses pop up in sidewalk gardens. Along East Carson Street, the South Side’s main drag, drunken revelers laugh and shout, adjust their shamrock hats and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirts as they search out one more green beer. Up …

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