What to do with big slicing cucumbers (it’s not what you think)

There are a few varieties of cucumbers out there, and it’s good to know what to do with each one, to bring out the best in each variety. 

Kirby cucumbers are great for pickling. 

Some cucumbers are great for pickling. Notable among them are kirbies and gherkins (cornichons). They come in various sizes, have a bumpy skin, and have more girth than length.

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Starting from scratch

I know I’ve often said there are no wrong answers, but that does not mean there are no rules; that is to say, sometimes there is only one right answer, and that is: from scratch.

It is fall; Thanksgiving is approaching. You have so many choices in this world, so remember—a constraint is a beautiful thing. Here is your constraint: do it from scratch

How do I make an apple pie?

From scratch.

How do I make a pumpkin bisque?

From scratch.

How do I put gratitude in my life?

Start from scratch. 

Sometimes the simplest answer is the most satisfying. 

Two funny beliefs regarding lettuce

One part of the world believes that lettuce is a thing you eat raw, in a salad, to satisfy a hankering for crunch, to be refreshed. 

Another part of the world believes that lettuce is a thing you eat steamed or boiled, in broth, wilted. 

The people in the first hemisphere generally agree that the idea of steamed lettuce or boiled lettuce is, well, weird

The people in the second hemisphere generally agree that the idea of eating raw lettuce is, well, unheard of. (The risk of e. coli all but vanishes when you boil it, for instance. Too soon?)

There are no wrong answers. You can eat a salad. And you can make lettuce soup. The possibilities are endless. You are in charge. 

How to toast pine nuts to perfection

Arguably one of the tastiest little fuckers that mother nature ever invented, pine nuts are absolutely tantalizing when toasted to a medium golden brown and added to literally anything. And they ain’t cheap, so don’t burn them trying this. 

For the next 4 minutes, your entire life is about toasting pine nuts. It requires all of you. Place the pine nuts in a cast iron or all-clad pan. place on medium heat. Move the pan around constantly. Do not set it down; they will burn almost immediately. Do this for 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir them around while also moving the pan in circles over the flame. Aim to get all of them evenly toasty and brown. Remove from heat and toss in a bit of sea salt. After they’ve cooled, sprinkle a bit of paprika. Add as a garnish to soups, on bean dips, or in salads. 

Two thirds up the Eiffel Tower

Paris, 1999.

I am climbing the Eiffel Tower with my friends. We are 18, and this may be our first trip on our own. Safe to say that besides them, I know no one else for miles.

We climb up the metal grating of one of the enormous legs of the tower until we get to where they join and we continue climbing as the platforms get smaller and smaller.

From a distance away I hear my name called. Again, louder this time. Then louder still.

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It’s never as good the second time

The perfect treat. In my case it was a perfect cheese danish. The kind it took 32 years to find. The kind where you don’t know where the dough ends or where cheese begins. 

It’s warm, and squishy. You don’t know where it’s been your whole life, but it wasn’t here, like it is, right now. 

So fucking good you’ll be thinking about it all day. 

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Nettles for Allergy Season

This time of year can be rough on the senses. Itchy eyes, runny nose, dry mouth, but you’re pretty sure you’re not sick… There are a few ways to get through this. Sure, pharmaceutical options like zyrtec and claritin have their merits, blocking histamines that cause these annoying symptoms. I’ve found a better approach using plant medicine. In particular, for seasonal allergies and hay fever, a strong infusion of nettles and some raw, local honey does the trick. 

Infuse your nettles in a glass pot with hot water and let them steep for a long time. Minimum 10 minutes, but better if you can leave them for a few hours. Add raw, local honey and drink the brew as often as needed. Why raw and local honey? Most allergies are triggered by airborne irritants of various origins, but many of these irritants come from nearby flora. Flower and tree pollen, mold spores, etc. Raw honey is more effective in supporting immune function because it has bioactive compounds that have not been killed by heat. Local honey is more effective in fighting irritants because bees produce honey with those elements in their diet. I don’t understand the magic of the bee kingdom but I can say very confidently that something about the process of an allergen going through the gut of a honey bee makes it an antidote to that allergen in humans. It’s magic, pretty much.