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Fennel seems to be a very polarizing vegetable. If you hate anise, you hate fennel, and even if you don’t hate anise, you might hate fennel because wowee is it sweet and anise-y. It overpowers. It cloys. And wouldn’t you know, it’s not an obvious vegetable. You can't just treat it willy-nilly and expect it to be a smash hit. Of course, you don’t have to cook it.

Probably the best thing about living out in the country is being able to see so much wildlife. The trick to seeing wildlife, however, is that you can't be looking for it. Sort of like one of those optical illusions where the image seems random and disorderly, but if you relax your eyes you can see a very clear, concrete picture of something. Dolphins or camels or unicorns usually.

It’s inhumanly hot in Tennessee, and I think that goes for a large part of the country. Walking out the front door is like walking into the drum of some cosmic clothes dryer…a really humid cosmic clothes dryer. I’ve been loving salads, tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and even the odd take-out pizza (we’re real people too, you know).

The brilliance of cranberry sauce is uncanny.

Of course, cranberries are something we take for granted. Practically inedible in their unaltered state, cranberries are most often known in their dried and juiced forms, both of which are typically sweetened.

Freshly picked ramps

One of the pleasures of Springtime in Appalachia is the promise of fresh, foraged ramps. Prized for their bright scallion-garlic flavor, ramps can be substituted for either of these better-known alliums, though traditionally they are lightly fried with potatoes, bacon, or eggs.

Some weeks would be better spent in bed, preferably under the covers, with (spiked?) hot chocolate and nature documentaries (preferably narrated by David Attenborough). Of course, there are small mercies to be had--a vase of flowers on the table, shepherd's pie, watching a guinea hen take a dust bath. But it's hard to ignore the days when the bad or just the mundane outperforms the good.

There happen to be a few perfectly good recipes for ginger cookies in the Joy of Cooking. To add another to the repertoire may seem fruitless and redundant, but I am willing to take that chance for this recipe. Mothers possess a magical gift, which no celebrity chef, food guru, or culinary scientist can replicate.

Retro recipes have been coming back into fashion lately. I've seen a few aspics in popular food magazines, and rumaki got a shout-out on Mad Men. There are probably many reasons for this trend, including changes in barometric pressure and the phases of the moon, but I like to stick to philosophizing about tangible reasons for things being the way they are.

Growing up, there were only two possible outcomes for Sunday breakfast. Either my mother made pancakes—some with blueberries, for the adults, and some with chocolate chips, for those of us not watching our sugar intake—or she made waffles.


Joy of Cooking App for iPad and iPhone

After three years of collaborative effort with our friends at Culinate and Scribner, it is our pleasure to introduce the Joy of Cooking for iPad and iPhone! Please check out this full-featured, digital version of the 2006 edition. In addition to the recipes and indispensable reference information our readers know and love, the app has many features that are brand new to JOY:

  • Built-in recipe timers (you can have multiple timers going simultaneously)
  • Search for and filter recipes by key word, ingredient, cuisine, season, technique, diet, and more
  • Create shopping lists from within the app
  • Convert any recipe to metric automatically
  • Give voice commands or have recipe steps spoken to you
  • Create menus in the app
  • Share recipes from within the app
  • Color photography

Truly a JOY for the 21st century! Download by directing your browser to Don't forget to review the app!