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Broth

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal spice. A member of the plant family, it includes cardamom and turmeric, along with other plant nutrients that offer a variety of medicinal uses.

Every year, I join a few friends for a weekend away in an old house. The first night's dinner is always roast chicken. As the designated cook, I know that Sunday's dinner lurks in the remains of that bird - one that will warm bellies with only a little bit of effort.

This recipe applies the technique of making risotto to steel-cut oats, yielding a creamy, al dente dish that benefits not only from the grain's unique, earthy taste but also from its whole-grain nutrition. Like all whole grains, oats are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, but oats contain a particular type of fiber called beta glucan that research suggests may be especially good for heart health.

Heat up your next get-together by inviting family and friends over to try a DIY trend, the hot-pot party. It can be easy to prep and your guests can enjoy cooking and customizing their own meals.

The best clams for this recipe are the small kind, such as cherrystones or even littlenecks. If all you can find are the big ones, simply cut them after they are cooked. Prepare the clams by scrubbing them in bowls of cold water until there's no sand in the bottom of the bowl afterward. You don't want sand in your stew.

"Oh, gosh. Oh, jeez." Jude, my Instant Pot customer service representative, was flustered. I had called to ask - as anyone might - if it was okay to light cognac on fire in my Instant Pot.

When friends are down and out, a pot of soup can be the best medicine. For years, I have offered lentil soup as a panacea, not only because it is so hearty and rib-sticking, but because it easily satisfies vegetarians and carnivores alike.

I recoil at the repentant food chatter that crops up this time of year, dominated by words such as "cleanse" and "detox," which, from what I can tell, are just modern code for "extreme diet." But part of cultivating a healthy, balanced life is recognizing when you have been pushing the edges in one direction and then responding by shifting gracefully the other way.

This time of year, I get homesick for a home that doesn't exist anymore. My mom is in a nursing home in Maine, far from the rambling West Texas house where I grew up (and which we sold last year), and the closest thing I have to her cooking is an old spiral-bound cookbook and the recipe cards stuffed into it.

I'll make this brief: Sometimes, nothing but noodles will do. It's chilly, I'm hungry, and all I want is to slurp up carbs from a bowl. Maybe it's spaghetti with a simple marinara sauce. Maybe it's a soup like ramen, where the noodles come first and the broth (and everything else) after.

Let me paint a picture. …

The whole family, including aunts, uncles, cousins and immediate family, are all seated at the dinner table (and if you’re my family, three or four other smaller tables). Everyone is talking about life, how nice it is to be together for the holidays, how the kids are doing in school, what they hope to get from Santa, and so on.

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