Monday, November 26, 2012


Six of the Thanksgiving dishes at the Wheeler household this year,  Clockwise:  Deviled Eggs, Dad's Cornbread Dressing, Browning Bag Turkey, Sweet Potato Anna with Prunes & Port, Pearl Onion Gratinee, and Cranberry Chutney

Most of the food press spends all of November giving you ideas for the Thanksgiving holiday dinner.  The problem with that is most of the dishes are so complicated and/or expensive most cooks won’t test drive them before the holiday and the dinner guests become lab rats for your culinary experiments.

This year we had no absolute disasters, only a couple of minor disappointments, and we had a few major triumphs. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Although there was a time when I was slim, since turning 30 I have struggled with my weight, a condition aggravated by the fact that my wife and children effortlessly remain slim.  It’s not that they work at it.  My son ignores his diet altogether, while my wife and daughter feign allegiance to healthy eating while consuming copious amounts of sweets (my wife) and alcohol (my daughter).

I have found a way to diet that suits me.  I eat whatever I want in increments of 200 calories, a tactic that means miniaturizing many of my meals.  Tonight I am going to take some pedestrian items and have a lovely, cheerfully small meal.  The main attraction is a chicken sandwich with lemon dill mustard.  There is no real cooking involving, just some incredibly smart shopping.  Here are the main elements:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I am a fan of food that is easy to prepare.  However, it is a myth that it has to come in a box, frozen concentrate, or pre-washed to be convenient.  After my wife, Brenda, suggested we get a box mix for lemon bars, I decided to resurrect this Betty Crocker recipe and present it as an up town dessert, Tarte Au Citron.  It is disarmingly simple and sublimely delicious.  One word of warning, do not substitute.  You cannot get these results with anything other than real butter, fresh lemons, and real eggs.  So take a few minutes to prepare this pretty dish, serve up a small slice and toss some fresh berries on top to satisfy the healthy food police.  They will never suspect how lazy and decadent it really is.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Kirsten Flagstad
The Ultimate Wagnerian Soprano

It’s unclear who first paired chocolate with cherries, but I do know that the Germans came up with the ultimate expression of the combination in the Schwarzw√§lderkirschtorte, the Black Forest Cake.  The Black Forest Region in the German state of Baden-W√ľrttemberg is famous for it’s sour cherries and it’s local maids dressed in black jumpers adorned with red pom-poms worn over a white blouse.  It’s rumored that a local baker smitten by such a girl created the chocolate confection decorated with cherries.  It’s not true that it also gave birth to the alternative meaning of tart.

Whatever the origins of the Black Forest Cake, I promise you that a couple of these cookies and you will be hearing Wagnerian sopranos.   A Kirschwasser accompaniment is optional.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


All human behavior is tribal.  My children have had that axiom drilled into their heads since they were little.  The trick is identifying an individual’s tribe.  In most of the world nationality and tribe are synonymous.  Here in the US we have this schizophrenia about our tribes, identifying ourselves as African American, Italian American, Mexican American, etc.  The truth is that most Americans spend a good deal of the lives looking for their identity.  A recent foray into tracing my family tree revealed that much of what I had been told by my grandparents was elaborate fantasy designed to cover up family skeletons.  One place in the US that people know who they are and where they come from is Louisiana. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010


My children know that most of the baked goods they grew up with came from a bakery or a box mix . While there are many great bakeries with delicious goods, too many of the supermarket offerings taste more of chemicals than cocoa.  Amazingly, a lot of baked goods are far easier to prepare from scratch from items on hand in less time than it takes to get dressed, drive to the store, and buy a box of prepared brownies or brownie mix.   A couple of a days ago, I was looking for something  to accompany my afternoon tea and found the cookie jar empty.

Perusal of the pantry revealed that although I had flour, I was out of baking powder and vanilla, but I did have Bisquick, rum, and Hershey’s Special Dard Cocoa.  A quick search of of the Hershey’s web site produced a brownie recipe that I adapted to the items I had on hand.  The first batch I did, was so decadently good that I ate them all in just two days.  The children’s mother has forbid me to ever make it again.  That’s when I realized that if I used the excuse that I was going to include the recipe on the blog and needed a photo for the children that I could get away with another batch the following day.    And it was all accomplished without having to stand in line behind some suburban soccer mom looking for a gluten free birthday cake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Horace Greeley, Founder of the Republican Party

Horace Greeley is credited with originating the advice, “Go West, young man…“  In 1976 I would go West and discover the East.  Growing up my only exposure to Asian food was a date at the sole Chinese Restaurant in Memphis in 1967, Joy Jeung’s.  I had Egg Foo Yung, hardly an authentic Asian dish.  Happily geography and history would conspire to expose me to the sublime cuisine of the Orient.  In 1976, my employer, the US Immigration & Naturalization Service, would move me from New York to San Francisco to deal with the refugees from South Vietnam.  I would spend the next two years out in the refugee neighborhoods meeting exotic people and eating exotic food.