Yep, this is just what the new world needs: another blog devoted to food, wine, and opinionated writing.
“Just Cook It” comes from “The Lame Duck Congress” episode of The West Wing where two characters are making complicated lunch orders in a restaurant. The waitress turns to Toby:
TOBY I'll have a New York steak and a ginger ale. WAITRESS Would you like that...? TOBY Just cook it.
I’m not trying to belittle complicated recipes. I’m endeavoring to produce a blog based on the one thing that has persisted through all my employment gyrations: cooking. I might include some recipes here and there, but mostly I just want a place to record the meals I’ve prepared. Pretty much everything I prepare unless it’s a “project meal” is done simply with the freshest ingredients I can get. One or two pots/pans where feasible. Open fire where possible. Lots of herbs and spices.
A Philosophy of Food
I suppose my ideas about cooking were initialized in my mother’s kitchen when we lived at 255 Clinton St. in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. She was not a particularly skilled cook, but as a stay-at-home-mother, she did what most mothers of 1964 Brooklyn did: she shopped for food every day.
I have just the vaguest memories of tagging along with her as she pushed her ubiquitous wheeled cart up Clinton, right on Congress, then right again on Court and began her shopping expedition. There were stops at the greengrocer, the bread bakery (not to be confused with the Italian sweets bakery further toward Carroll Gardens), and the butcher.
Often we would skip the regular baker and head over to Atlantic Ave and visit the exotic-smelling middle eastern shops for “Syrian bread.” I remember having no idea what was going on beyond walking to places and having stuff handed to me to put in the cart, but we did it every day. It was the morning’s work.
Then, usually at 3 pm, my mother would go to the kitchen and begin preparing the evening meal. We departed Brooklyn when I turned 5, and thus I have no memories of what she actually cooked beyond the fact it was made up of what we had bought that morning. There were always potatoes, always some kind of meat, and always something brightly colored; green, orange, yellow, and often oddly-shaped. Frequently a bottle of Guinness was employed at some point. There was never anything from a box (except for pasta when “the Italian store” was sold out of fresh), never anything frozen, and hardly ever anything from a can. Meals were simple, well-seasoned, and always as fresh as possible. And thus my philosophy of food was born.