Posted Mar 27, 2021
Posted Jan 10, 2021
“If you have a better product than I do, you can be a better chef than I am. Perhaps the quickest way you can become a better cook is to buy better ingredients.” — Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home
As someone who loves to cook and eat, I can attest that great ingredients make a huge difference. When I’m shopping for groceries or picking out produce at the farmer’s market, I try to choose the freshest and most flavorful options. It might take a little bit more time and effort, but it’s well worth it because the end result is so much better.
A sweet, juicy tomato in a salad or sandwich will add a depth of flavor that cannot be achieved with a tasteless, out-of-season supermarket tomato. Similarly, using high quality herbs, spices, vinegars and other ingredients can take a dish from ordinary to extraordinary, adding depth and complexity.
If you want to elevate your cooking and take it to the next level, start with great ingredients. Your taste buds will thank you!
To more easily locate products sold by suppliers recommended by Thomas Keller, Carla Lalli Music, Joshua McFadden, Samin Nosrat, among others, I created a custom Google search engine. I also included taste test reports from America’s Test Kitchen, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country.
(Note that I have no financial interest in anyone using this tool — it’s simply something I made for myself that I found useful, and I’m sharing it in case it’s helpful to anyone else.)
The custom search pulls results from these sites:
Posted Jan 01, 2021
Better ingredients help you cook better food, and produce that’s in season where you live is generally better than produce that’s endured a journey of thousands of miles before reaching your kitchen.
You hear this advice again and again — in cookbooks, on cooking shows, in online articles. Simple enough, except as a city dweller, it’s not exactly obvious what’s in season and what’s not. There’s the oft-advised “look to see what’s on sale in your produce section,” but I’m not convinced. It tells you what the retailer wants to get rid of, possibly for any number of reasons, among them that the produce might be about to go bad — exactly the opposite of the desired outcome.
Thus began my quest to discover what is, in fact, in season here in western Washington state. Among the resources I found: the Washington State Department of Agriculture (PDF), PCC, Pick Your Own, The Spruce Eats, and Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets. Unfortunately, information varied from one source to the next, and wasn’t provided in a standard, easy-to-work-with format. You can’t sort a PDF, and it is no fun to hunt through an alphabetized list of more than 150 fruits and vegetables trying to find things marked in season for the current month. For some reason I couldn’t just find a list of “here’s what’s in season this month,” either.
So I created a unified Google Sheets spreadsheet. One sortable, filterable source of information to rule them all. Each source has their own tab / sheet, and within each sheet you can filter by month, sort by name, search, etc — all the things you can do with data in a spreadsheet.
I’ll also be posting throughout this year with a list each month of what ought to be in season.
(Obvious caveat: growing seasons aren’t set it stone and depend on weather, growing conditions and I’m sure many other factors. This is just a rough guide.)
Posted Jul 15, 2020
For Seattle-area folks, Cherry Creek Falls is relatively close by, just a few miles outside the nearby town of Duvall.
A five mile round-trip hike through mossy rainforest takes you to the falls and back. At first, you’ll take what feels like a trip back in time, traveling the remains of a long-abandoned road, passing an ancient crashed car or two along the way. Eventually, though, you’ll leave the old road behind and delve deeper into the forest, following a network of paths past several little waterways and possibly encountering a few communities of bees and mosquitoes if you don’t keep moving, before reaching the falls — a nice spot for a picnic or a little wading.
The trip through the forest is picturesque and sometimes mysterious, though a little bushwhacking can occasionally be required. The falls are a pleasant reward, and this hike is an easy way to get outside and get a little exercise.
Posted Jun 30, 2020
Posted Feb 22, 2020
A passing cloud dumps rain and hail at Rialto Beach, on Washington state’s Pacific coast, on a dark, mid-February afternoon.
Posted Feb 09, 2020
All photos were shot with an iPhone 11 Pro Max, most using the new Night Mode feature.
Posted Sep 02, 2019
Posted Sep 02, 2019
Posted Sep 01, 2019