Me & My Magic Chef

I have a challenging little kitchen which has a kitchenette sized Magic Chef oven and stove. In all my years of living in New York City I had normal sized stoves and then I move to the country and I encounter this primitive piece of crap. I don’t like it, I yell at it sometimes and sometimes it inflicts terrible retribution with searing burns because I can’t maneuver in the tight space. But I make a lot of food I like in and on it and, in fact, I make a lot of food other people like too. So I am not complaining about it and you can read more about why here.

This blog is ugly with all sorts of flaws. I run a graphic design firm and so I design and program blogs for a living. Right now if you’re looking at this blog and reading it, it is because you’re a family member or friend who is nice enough to look at it. But if you’re here by accident, sorry, about the ugliness, eventually this will change, but for now the blog design accurately reflects the heart and soul of my crummy Magic Chef.

A note about my cooking. I’m not pretending all my recipes are great, but they can be very good and sometimes they really are great. While I cooked a bit during my 10 years in NYC, I really started to take ownership of my cooking when I moved to Millbrook, NY. These things made me start cooking:

  1. we were broke due to a family-related business crisis;
  2. there were no good restaurants within 10 miles;
  3. oddly, our friends were also going through family-related business crisis;
  4. and most important, our clients were broke too so they paid us with product.

Really good product, like grass fed mini Herefords, fresh goat cheese, duck, goose and chicken eggs, venison, chukkar, pheasant, quail, duck and best of all pork! We were granted access to a bountiful kitchen garden that has been a mind opening experience. And finally my sister-in-law who grew up on a walnut farm in Central California introduced me to real walnuts. I soon discovered that I am obsessive when it comes to using every little bit of food given to me. That obsession along with gathering around a communal table inspired this blog.

I have to say that it takes practice to cook on the fly. I’ve made some really crappy meals. And sometimes it is easier and better to look into an empty refrigerator because your choice is cereal for dinner. I accept that as a suitable solution. But to look into a refrigerator that has avocado, cucumber and onion, it is hard to get inspired but it is possible. Planning ahead helps so take a look into the freezer in the morning so you can pull a steak out for dinner the next night.

A note about my husband, Dean. He cooks too. This helps a lot because he’ll smoke a pork butt for hours on a hot summer day and then in the deep of winter, I’ll pull that smoky bone out of the freezer and say, WaHoo!, we got possibilities… I love my freezer, it is vital to my country existence. My friend Michelle was visiting, she looked in my freezer and said, “Woah, what do you use all these little bits of bread for?” Let me name the wonderful ways stale bread comes in handy starting with bread crumbs and croutons, and gracing the the bottom of a crock of French Onion Soup and the fabulous Roast Chicken with Bread Salad out of the glorious Zuni Cafe cookbook. So, I have an extra full-size freezer that has lots of things like wild game, fat, carcasses, frozen peas (for when I injure myself) and stock.

A few cookbooks are key in my kitchen: Chantarelle Staff Meals, the above mentioned Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Fanny Farmer, Best Recipe, Everyday Mexican, Marcella Hazan’s numerous books, and a secret regional French cookbook that Dean will not let me reveal.

Enjoy this blog it will only get better.

All photography is by me, Alex Tuller. You can find what I really do for a living here.