Category Archives: General

NYT Essential Thanksgiving…

GOOD_APPETITE_21Julia Moskin and Melissa Clark compiled all of the essentials for a successful Thanksgiving Feast in this sprawling NYT interactive. We shot for a week and then ate like it was already the holidays. Go check out all the goodies before you plan your holiday meals.

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Turning the Page

This is the view from our country home in Dingman’s Ferry, Pennsylvania.  We sold it today.  We built it in 2003 with food photography in mind. It has high ceilings, white walls, multiple skylights and a chef’s kitchen. Many of the pictures you see here and on my website we made in this space.  It’s sad to let it go both professionally and especially personally.  Moving forward we hope the next space we take pictures in brings us as much joy as this one did.  Everyone one of you who have looked at my pictures in the past 7 years has a piece of this place. Say goodbye today as we turn the page.

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Dad and Dexter

Pete Wells and I cross paths professionally quite often but each time I read the chronicles of his kitchen adventures with his son, Dexter, I realize how much I identify with his writing on personal level.  I laugh out loud, I nod my head and hope that the other lunchers at Whole Foods don’t think I’m a danger to society.  He truly captures so much of what it is like to be a father contending with setting the example of what is healthy and appropriate while holding onto taste and traditions.   Food can be a treacherous landscape, especially for our children and reading Cooking with Dexter gives us an interesting and humorous take on one way to navigate our way through.

Photo illustration by Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford

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Doughboy Remembered

A friend just sent this silly, campy email…of course it’s food related…so why not share…I have no idea who to credit for writing it…

R.I.P. Pillsbury Doughboy

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma  complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in  show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was  considered a very smart cookie, but wasted much of his dough on half-baked schemes.

Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.


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A Little T. M. I.

IMG_0488I had a few revelatory experiences this weekend concerning where our meat comes from.  As a former long time vegetarian, I have learned to compartmentalized my feelings about animals and the food they provide us.  I try to buy meat from farms that treat their animals humanely, and avoid fast food chains that have made a mockery of the food industry.  I understand our place on the food chain but do so with the utmost respect for the animals that are sacrificed for our benefit.

I was at a celebratory dinner for my brother on Friday night when his five-year-old innocently asked my mother what she was eating.  She answered, “lamb”. My niece responded with, “What’s a lamb?”.  I reflexively answered her, without looking up from my Porterhouse, “It’s a baby sheep”.  I immediately received a shot in my side under the table from my brother, who reminded me that children don’t always equate food with the animals they come from.  My niece, like many children, is a rather fussy eater and refers to meat by its color rather than its source.  My daughter has a classmate that has been a vegetarian since kindergarten, ever since her mother told her where meat came from. I  understand the sensitivity but it’s easy to forget since my own daughter is a ravenous carnivore who salivates when driving past the cow pastures on the way to our country home.

The following morning, I was at the Union Square Market preparing for my next assignment and in search of calves’ liver.  I walked up to the farm stand and asked if they had any.  The farmer’s response was, “Well, normally I wouldn’t, but we had a 10 month old that found herself caught in a fence and she had to be put down early”.  Whoa!….I really didn’t need the back story on my dinner…and then I really understood my brother’s rib poke. I had a visceral reaction to the story…and I work with food every day.  Our compassionate instincts, particularly for baby animals can be very intense and sometimes it’s better to keep our heads in the sand…just a little.

PS…I cooked and shot the liver of that poor, trapped, calf…and promptly gave it away to friends…sans the story

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A Little Birdie Told Me

So, I have succumbed to the pressure to tweet.

I am, therefore I tweet….or rather… I eat, therefore I tweet.

So, follow my food exploits…preparing meals, shopping, shooting and eating out…all now on twitter username SundaySaucer….. Tweet on!

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Revisiting Sunday Sauce

I need to take a short detour from our trip through The Big Easy for just a moment to share an important food story with you. Back in 2007 when I decided to begin this endeavour it was in honor of my great-grandmother and the sauce she created each Sunday that brought the family together.

It has been a while since the spirit of Sadie Milo wafted through my mother’s kitchen. There are reasonable arguments to be made that this kind of rich food has wrecked havoc on the cardiovascular systems of more than a few of my family members. My father has been under the watchful eye of Sadie’s most faithful disciple, who knows the power of the Sunday Sauce, and has kept it under lock and key for quite some time.

Dad has recently taken off some weight, gotten a bit more active and received high marks from his cardiologist…and down the gauntlet came. The man actually had the nerve to utter these words to a woman of 100% Sicilian descent, ” I bet you can’t even make the Sunday Sauce anymore, you probably forgot how.” The bravery he exhibited for 30 years on the hard streets of NY as an honored member of NYPD pale in comparison to what it took to play chicken with Antonina Theresa Fallucca Scrivani over her skills in the kitchen. I’m sweating now just thinking about it. The man has the 1,000 yard stare of a warrior and chess moves like Bobby Fischer. She took the bait and he escaped a flying rolling pin.

Dinner was to be served at the traditional Sunday Sauce hour of 2pm. At first, I was not keyed in to the significance of the timing but three steps down the driveway I smelled it. The aroma of simmering tomatoes with sweet and hot sausages, pork and beef braciole and of course the triple meat (pork, veal and beef) meatballs was unmistakable. Before greetings were even issued, I torn off a piece of the closest loaf of bread I could find and sunk it deep into the pot and used a quick blow of air to avoid anymore unfortunate scalding. I took that first bite and was transported back, back to those Sunday dinners on Lamport Boulevard. Mama was there, grandpa Andy, the Jimmys, the Antoninas, Uncle Charlie, Uncle Mikey, Aunt Chickie and Aunt Mary. They were all alive and well and woven into the fabric of what Sunday Sauce means to Italian families. One bite and I was there again, a chubby little kid who everyone doted on, trying to sneak a preview before the meal reached the table.

My mouth still full of that first bite, the remaining nugget in hand as I entered the living room to say hello and the first words I hear are, ” No fair “. This was in direct response to my remaining bite of Italian bread dripping with sauce. Of course, I unapologetically popped it in my mouth and smiled the grin of a first born Italian son enjoying his birthright…to be the first to sample his mother’s sauce. The first to greet me was my Uncle Jimmy, the last to hold the title of first born son, with a remnant of the old ways; a kiss on the cheek and a bear hug. A part of me really misses this tradition and wishes that it wasn’t fading away like the rest of the rituals of our grandparents.

There was an aura in the room today. It was a warmth and an energy that was generations of family past and present brought together to share food and tradition and laughter. I felt closer to my family yesterday in a way that I have not felt in some time. I guess it was all there, in that pot, bubbling and crusting on the sides where the marks of evaporated moisture ringed the vessel.

As the food filled the long dining room table, we laughed, and kidded each other and ate. I seemed to have more room today. My stomach allowed me to make this trip last as long as possible. My mother was elated and my thoughts went to my own daughter and niece and nephew and how pleased I was to share this meal with them. My brother’s little ones didn’t eat much but that wasn’t really the point. They shared in something that I am sure will resonate later in life. The experience goes well beyond the backdrop of a pot of sauce on the stove. But, it’s that very pot of sauce that is the connection to the past that will, for me, always reverberate the echos of voices in a heavy Sicilian dialect, a kiss and a bear hug, the rights of the first born son and the love of family sharing food that has generations of adoration simmered into every morsel. It was a timeless Sunday.

Upon leaving there were several containers of sauce lined up on the kitchen table. My bag was already packed full of all of the spoils of the day. I peeked in my sack, looked at my dad who was greedily eyeing the remaining containers, not so secretly hoping one of us would forget one behind. I asked my mother if the rest were accounted for and she gestured an assertive no. I reached over and grabbed one more container as my father’s glance followed me. He said, “Hey, you already have one in your bag.” I gave my my mother a chin-up nod and responded, ” This is your punishment for doubting my mother’s skills in the kitchen, such a transgression shall not go unpunished.” His dejected look told me that although his Sicilian gambit had resulted in getting a pot of Sunday Sauce, his lack of leftovers would be my mother’s checkmate.

I took my extra sauce and smiled, knowing that just like Sadie, my mother knew that in the end its love and patience and care that makes the sauce great and bonds us together… and that the first born son always has his mother’s back.


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