Just-right gifts for everyone

Julian with a spatula at The Always Pan

This year has been objectively challenging, no matter how you look at it. Giving gifts makes you feel good. So here’s our third annual gift guide, with picks from everyone on our team. We like to think there’s something for everyone in here — mostly food-related, with an abundance of smoked fish, because… we love it. We’ve also got some (non-food! gasp!) wild cards.

Daniel’s Picks

So, technically, this thing — the wooden contraption that the young gentleman is standing on in the photo above — is called a Learning Tower, but I just can’t bring myself to ever call it that. …


It’s made for Instant Pot: And thankfully you’ll have leftovers

A bowl of congee
A bowl of congee
Photo: Kate Bittman

My friend Sarah (freshman year roommate!) texted me a photo of her lunch the other day and I was legitimately envious — of a big bowl of rice porridge with green onions, kimchi, soy sauce, and poached eggs. She makes a big batch of it in the pressure cooker: A half cup of rice makes lunch for a week, she told me.

(You can call it jook or congee, but I will in no way say it’s “authentic”! Just a grateful interpretation.)

Anyway, what luck: A day or so later, on my way home from dropping off my son at school, I managed to get a parking spot in front of H-Mart to pick up the necessities. …


But you also don’t want takeout

Egg in a hole
Egg in a hole
Photo: Aya Brackett

This is not groundbreaking in any way. My goal is to get you through that night when the thought of cooking makes you want to whine your way into oblivion, but takeout just does not appeal. My go-to on these nights (which happen more often now than ever) is usually an egg dish: frittata or fried eggs and toast — plus, I’m finally getting into omelets.

But my Holy Grail is the egg in a hole. Part of its pedestal status is probably due to the nostalgia attached to it: My dad made these for me all the time when I was growing up. “Want an egg in the hole?” He’d use the cap of a vitamin bottle to make the circle — which was my favorite part because it got so extra crispy. …


My seasonal go-to for a vegetable that’s not my favorite

Pasta with winter squash and tomatoes in a Dutch oven.
Pasta with winter squash and tomatoes in a Dutch oven.
Photo: Kate Bittman

For the last few years, every time winter squash appears, I’ve pretty much immediately made Bittman’s Pasta With Winter Squash and Tomatoes recipe. Aside from delicata, which I absolutely love, I’m not the biggest fan of squashes, so I’m always looking for new, inoffensive ways to incorporate them.

This recipe is easy — the peeling and chopping of the squash is the most tedious part, as it tends to be for squash recipes — and super hearty; plus, the pasta-to-vegetable ratio is kinda crazy, and it works. It’s 2 pounds of squash, plus a couple of cups of chopped tomatoes, for just a half a pound of pasta, and it easily serves four. I made it last night; note that I screwed up my canned tomatoes and used crushed instead of diced (definitely not as pretty; also more delicious the right way). …


Find out from the baker who perfected the technique in her new book, ‘100 Cookies’

The cover of “100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen,” which is covered with different kinds of cookies.
The cover of “100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen,” which is covered with different kinds of cookies.
Photos courtesy of Sarah Keiffer

Beloved baker Sarah Kieffer (The Vanilla Bean Blog) produced universal shock and awe in the cooking and baking community with her “pan banging” technique, in which she taps her cookie sheet in the oven every few minutes during the baking process, causing the cookies to fall and creating two textures: a crisp outer edge and a soft, gooey center (i.e., nirvana).

This month, Kieffer’s bible of cookies is being released to the world. The book, 100 Cookies, is an excellent staple, comprising classics, tons of different kinds of brownies and blondies, and multiple pan-bangers, plus more time-consuming treats for the ambitious baker (French Silk Pie Bars! …


But more optimistic about the future of the country

The Wright family at the farm.
The Wright family at the farm.
Photos: Marc Deliz

Six years ago, Yvonna Kopacz-Wright, Brett Wright, and their two daughters left their home in Harlem, setting up shop in Palisades, New York, on a 6-acre farm. Without much of an idea of what they wanted to do in the beginning, today the pair are full-fledged beekeepers at what’s now called Lomar Farms, with 10 hives (plus a bunch of chickens) and a thriving business that is evolving in a beautifully surprising way.

Demand for their products — homemade candles, bath and body products, and, of course, honey––is way up, and even their kids’ friends help out. “Each bee has a job and all of them pitch in for the benefit of the species,” it says on their website, and the Wright family has made the hive concept one to live by. …


Literary greats and their favorite drinks

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Perhaps now more than ever, two of the things we’re in dire need of are escapism and inspiration. And so, really, How to Drink Like a Writer: Recipes for the Cocktails and Libations that Inspired 100 Literary Greats, which includes actual recipes for drinks — both classic and charmingly unusual — couldn’t have come out at a better time. Indulging in Valley of the Dolls as a late July delight? Try it with Jacqueline Susann’s 2 Red Dolls and a Shot of Scotch. Basking in the tub reading love poems? Take Pablo Neruda’s Pisco Sour in there with you.

Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn B. Bennett’s Harlem Cocktail


The foodservice crew in Santa Clarita Valley is working around the clock

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Photos courtesy of Santa Clarita Valley Food Service Agency

At a time when so many of us feel utterly useless, it can help to instead feel inspired by others and what they do — on a regular basis, but especially now — to take care of America’s children. This is why I wanted to talk to some of the foodservice professionals who ensure that the 30 million kids who rely on school meals get fed every single day during the pandemic.

Despite being busier than ever, three of these incredible people spoke with me in late April about the work they’re doing. (I was connected to them via FoodCorps, an organization whose mission is to connect kids to healthy food at school.) Here’s the third, with Robert Lewis, chief executive officer of the Santa Clarita Valley Food Service Agency in Santa Clarita Valley, California. …


How shortages are shaping logistics of feeding New Hampshire kids in the pandemic

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Photo: Londonderry Dining

At a time when so many of us feel utterly useless, it can help to instead feel inspired by others and what they do — on a regular basis, but especially now — to take care of America’s children. This is why I wanted to talk to some of the foodservice professionals who ensure that the 30 million kids who rely on school meals get fed every single day during the pandemic.

Despite being busier than ever, three of these incredible people spoke with me in late April about the work they’re doing. (I was connected to them via FoodCorps, an organization whose mission is to connect kids to healthy food at school.) Here’s the second, with Amanda Venezia, director of dining services for the Londonderry School District in Merrimack, New Hampshire. …


How a Sacramento school district scrambled to feed students when schools closed

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Packing meals on the first day, March 13. Photos: Vince Caguin

At a time when so many of us feel utterly useless, it can help to instead feel inspired by others and what they do — on a regular basis, but especially now — to take care of America’s children. This is why I wanted to talk to some of the food service professionals who ensure that the 30 million kids who rely on school meals get fed every single day during the pandemic.

Despite being busier than ever, three of these incredible people spoke with me in late April about the work they’re doing. (I was connected to them via FoodCorps, an organization whose mission is to connect kids to healthy food at school.) …

About

Kate Bittman

Communications and connections.

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