A great knife sharpening tutorial from eGullet

I'd noticed my chef's knife was seeming a little dull, and was thinking I should probably sharpen it when I stumbled across this excellent eGullet post about Knife Maintenance and Sharpening. It's so in-depth that I didn't do more than skim it yet, but looks like a great resource for sharpening. Now to find the time to read the whole thing before I sit down with my stone and get my knife back to proper sharpness.

Artisanal American cheese exploration

Last night Jason and I went to a great benefit for Cheese by Hand. Cheese by Hand is:

Cheese by Hand is a project conceptualized by us, Michael Claypool and Sasha Davies, to explore the landscape of artisan (hand-made) cheesemaking in the United States. Our goal is to capture the experience of cheesemakers around the country, in their own voices, and share them with consumers and cheese fans everywhere. We hope that this will promote understanding and support for the products themselves and also the variety of farms that make up our country‰Ûªs agricultural system.

On Monday, Michael and Sasha will set off on a cross-country tour to visit cheesemakers around the United States, taping their interviews as they go. We were treated a small sample at last night's event, a slice of an interview with Matteo Keehler of Jasper Hill Farm. You can find the clips in this post they wrote about the Jasper Hill Philosophy. I'm looking forward to hearing more. Michael and Sasha hope to post clips and updates from the road, so I'll be following their site closely.

There are foods I don’t like

Yesterday when I answered Joan's question (see Today is answer the reader's question day) about food I didn't like, I really felt like there was something I was overlooking, some food I really just didn't like. Last night over dinner, Jason said the same thing, "I know there's something you don't like." We talked about it for a bit and then finally came up with the two things I don't like and actually won't eat if I find them on my plate.

The first is radicchio, that red and white "green" that often finds its way into gourmet-type salad mixes. It's simply too bitter for me. I've tried numerous times to eat it, but after one bite I'm always discouraged by its flavor and I give up and gently push it to the side of my plate.

The second ispapaya. I've never liked papaya though I tried it often enough when I lived in Mexico back in 1989. Not living in a warm climate since then, I haven't had continued opportunities to see if it's gorwn on me. But I had it on my honeymoon when I ordered a fresh fruit plate. Since I now like mango but didn't used to, I assumed I also now liked papaya. One bite made me think that might not be the case. After a second, I was denouncing the papaya and moving on to pineapple.

(Note: I do like green papaya, which I had in Thailand. I've read that green papaya is either unripe papaya or a different "papaya" altogether. Either way, I like Thai green papaya salad a lot!)

So there you have it, the two foods I don't like and won't eat. Now you know that if you invite me over for dinner, you really shouldn't prepare a radicchio and papaya salad unless you want me to go home hungry. Plus that would be just gross, radicchio and papaya just totally don't go together.

Makeshift vent for serious chicken cooking

Here's an inventive and dedicated response to common cooking problem: Mon Poulet Rôti. The author is a big fan of Thomas Keller's "My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken" but it preparing it fills her kitchen with smoke. She's concocted her own vent from supplies at Home Depot and voila, no more smoke-filled kitchen. I've been having a similar problem in my own kitchen, even though I do have an exhaust over my stove. I think that either a) it's not strong enough or b) it needs repair or new filters or something. Any time I cook meat on my cast-iron skillet our apartment fills with smoke. Alas I can't try this method because I don't have a window to vent out of that's easily accessible.

NPR's All Things Considered follows…

NPR's All Things Considered follows up on the story I linked to last week with more about the difference between the eggs, Brown and White Eggs, Unscrambled. Apparently, "[m]any listeners were disturbed by an April 15 interview that attempted to explain why some eggs are white and some are brown." I'm not sure what there is to be disturbed by: some chickens lay brown eggs and some lay white eggs.

Today is answer the reader’s question day

Joan writes in with an interesting question, and rather than reply just to her, I thought I'd answer it here for everyone. She writes:

You eat such a wide variety of things – I think you even mentioned enjoying liver at some point. Other than processed food, what kind of food don't you like? Is there something that should be healthy or decadent or natural that you just can't stand?

Well, there was the whole time of my life when I didn't like tomatoes, but that ended in 2002 (see my Battle Tomato post for more details). Now I love tomatoes. And I do like liver, from liverwurst to foie gras. I can't think of anything I don't eat anymore, though I wasn't always that way. Some times I'm not in the mood for a certain food or dish, but it's not because I don't like its ingredients. And there's nothing anymore that I have to avoid out of disgust. I love beets but I used to hate them and think they tasted like dirt. Figs scared me but now I savor their sticky sweetness whenever possible. I like all the fancy potentially gross foods like raw oysters and caviar (even just the roe used on sushi rolls) and escargots. I like all kinds of fish and shellfish, cooked and uncooked. It seems like there should be something I don't like, but I can't think of it now. I even like veal cheeks!

Ok, maybe I wouldn't like some serious offal, like tripe or heart or beef tongue, but I suspect it's only a matter of not having tried it. I bet if I were to eat at St. John's in London (menu here) I would enjoy ox heart and chips. I've had bone marrow several times and always found it delicious. So in a very long answer to your question, "Is there something…you just can't stand?" Nope.