By Sam Sifton
Good morning. My friend David Carr, who died in 2015, had a line about newspapering that’s true of cooking as well. David, one of the great journalists of his generation and a voice in The Times I miss every day, would deploy it as a plain statement of fact, nothing to be ashamed of, generally after a long day of work that didn’t amount to much on the page. Big sigh, then: “Sometimes it’s not very good.”
I thought of that at dinner the other night, as we picked at a rack of St. Louis ribs I’d baked in the oven in a shroud of aluminum foil, a drab, too-chewy feed besides our perfect nutty rice and an awesome slaw I concocted out of cabbage, lime juice and salt. Shrug. It happens. The next night we tore the leftovers, and there were a lot of them, into a dinner of rice and beans with extras. “This is way better,” one of my children said. It was.
Kitchen failures will happen and especially these days, as so many of us cook more regularly at home. Recall that Ted Williams was one of the best hitters in baseball history. His lifetime batting average was .344. You are doing just fine. We are all of us doing the best that we can.
Here are some good things to cook this week. Alison Roman’s spicy white bean stew with broccoli rabe (above) is an excellent dinner, endlessly flexible on the ingredient front. A Mississippi Roast will last you for days, and the sandwiches made from the leftovers will make even the homebound office worker in dress shirt and sweatpants smile.
Pasta with white sausage sauce? Kimchi soup? Winter tomato soup with bulgur? The substitution notes on my recipe for Japanese-style tuna noodle salad are wild, and awesome. Try that recipe with canned salmon, on spaghetti!
There are many, many more recipes waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Many more of them than usual are free to read even if you haven’t yet subscribed to our site and apps. (Naturally, we’d be pleased if you did subscribe, to support our work and allow it to continue.)
I hope you’ll take a look at our Instagram feed, which is an oasis of delight. Likewise our YouTube channel. We’re posting what news we can gather on our Twitter account. And we’re chatting with readers and cooks on our community group on Facebook. And you can always reach us at [email protected] if something goes wrong with your cooking or our technology.
Now, it’s nothing to do with flour or beans, root vegetables and canned fruit, but I’m thankful at night these days for John D. MacDonald and his Travis McGee, in particular this week for “Bright Orange for the Shroud.”
I’m always thankful for Longreads, this week for alerting me to this old-school men’s magazine profile of Dwight Yoakam, by Alex Pappademas.
Man, is Gabrielle Hamilton a good writer. Here she is on buckwheat crepes and it’s so transporting. (Here’s a plain-Jane recipe for crepes, should you want to make crepes now but have no buckwheat flour.)
Finally, “Money Heist,” on Netflix. You’re welcome. I’ll be back on Monday.
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