You learn to cook so you don’t have to rely on recipes — Julia Child

Julia is right, of course, but if you didn’t learn to cook when you were a child you have to start somewhere. I began teaching myself to cook when I was six or seven and received my first cookbook for my eighth birthday. I loved the process of cooking at least as much as the final results, and sometimes more so. It was the exploration of ingredients, the alchemy of transforming them, and my growing ability to make foods taste delicious that enchanted me.

If you want to become a good or better cook, my advice is to first become a good eater: savor your food, indulge your curiosity, be brave and daring, eat outside the box—both figuratively and literally. Get to know fresh foods in their own true season, rather than out-of-season foods from far away. Simple cooking will follow naturally and I’m here to help. This section includes the basic recipes every home cook should know by heart, along with techniques, recommendations for equipment, and more, with new posts weekly.


Potato Mushroom Tart

Inspiration for this yummy Potato Mushroom Tart comes from two sources. First, Evelyn Cheatham, executive director of Worth Our Weight, had a sweet little café named Tweet's on the edge ...

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Spicy Wine Country Applesauce

You can call this an adult applesauce, perfect as an accompaniment to roast pork, sausages, wild boar, and chicken. Many kids will enjoy it in such a context, too, but ...

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Drinking Apples on a Cold Night

I like to serve this on Christmas Eve, especially if it is cold or stormy, and on Twelfth Night, which I've long celebrated with my family. In Sonoma County, we ...

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Sauces & Condiments

Cilantro Sauce

There is no substitute for cilantro but if you are one of those people who hate it or are feeding someone who hates it, you can make a delicious sauce ...

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Argentinian Hominy & Brisket Soup

Again, don't be put off by the long ingredients list. The first 9 ingredients are for the sofrito, which takes perhaps 15 minutes to make. The prep for the soup itself goes ...

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Posole Rojo

There are many variations of posole, a Mexican stew that always includes hominy–a type of corn known as posole in Spanish. My favorite versions include pork, seafood, or simply ...

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