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Bonny Wolf has been writing about food practically since the discovery of America. The first thing she ever cooked was toffee from a recipe sent with the gas bill. She grew up in a Midwestern home with a mother who thought b’stilla was more fun than burgers. She was managing editor of Roll Call and assistant managing editor for Congressional Quarterly, has been a food editor at daily newspapers, taught journalism at Texas A&M University and was chief speechwriter to two secretaries of agriculture. Her 1990s newsletter The Food Pages was ahead of its time (and the Internet). She does a monthly food commentary for NPR’s Weekend Edition, is editor of NPR’s Kitchen Window and author of Talking With My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories (St. Martin’s). She taught journalism to singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, who wisely ignored her advice to get a real job.

By Bonny Wolf

Gefilte fish often starts with a bath

Most Jews know about the carp in the bathtub. Either they’ve seen it with their own eyes or they’ve heard stories. Through the mid-20th century, there was often a carp swimming in the bathtub in Jewish homes across the country just before Passover, destined to become gefilte fish. There’s even a children’s book: Barbara Cohen’s …

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Culinary biography puts Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen

Abraham Lincoln, often considered the greatest U.S. president, was also good around the house. He went marketing, milked the cow and helped with dinner. It is entirely possible that he did the dishes. “Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen: A Culinary View of Lincoln’s Life and Times,” a new book by Rae Katherine Eighmey (Smithsonian Books, …

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Oregon truffle industry is beginning to bear fruit

It’s been more than 30 years since the dean of American cooking blessed the Oregon truffle. Yet, still it gets no respect. In 1977, James Beard was part of a symposium called “Mushrooms and Man” in his native Oregon. In front of scientists and mycology (mushroom) experts from across the country, the culinary icon declared …

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The Kitchen Sink: Mulatto rice for Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday

  In Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Janie Crawford returns to the unwelcoming small Florida town where she grew up. While people sit on their porches gossiping and speculating, Janie’s best friend Pheoby Watson stands up abruptly and says, “You have to ‘scuse me, ’cause Ah’m bound to go take …

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Kitchen Sink: Gulf fish straight from the water to the plate

Last night’s dinner special was a personalized catch of the day. My husband and a friend went out for six hours with a fishing guide off Pine Island, Fla., and came back with a whole mess of gulf fish — most of which they’d never caught before. They hooked small red fish, snappers and grouper …

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Kitchen Sink: Ginger cookies with a Swedish flavor

The neighborhood children who go to Posey Boicourt’s house in Trappe, Md., to watch the trains go around the Christmas tree, get holiday ginger cookies that may be unfamiliar. In addition to cookies shaped as stars and candy canes, are those that look like the armadillos from Posey’s native Texas; ducks, crabs and starfish that …

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Holiday Drinks: Bring back the Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry is more than a cat-and-mouse game. It was once a holiday drink so beloved that many homes (particularly in the Upper Midwest) had punch bowls and cups with Tom & Jerry written across them in Old English gold script. The Tom and Jerry looks like eggnog. But it’s not. It’s a sort …

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Raise a glass to 80 years without Prohibition

In today’s cocktail-crazed atmosphere, the idea of Prohibition is pretty incredible. But for 13 years, “the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcoholic beverages” was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I was probably 10 when I first heard of Prohibition. My parents had a cocktail every night and my cousin …

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Thanksgiving leftovers can go beyond the sandwich

We anticipate Thanksgiving leftovers so eagerly. Buy a bigger turkey, make a third pie, how about an extra corn pudding. All so there will be leftovers. By Day 5, however, we’re done. How many turkey sandwiches can one eat? There are alternatives. These Instagram photos shows how creative some people can be with their leftovers. Now, …

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Vegetarian meals are nothing new

“The growth of Vegetarianism in the United States is gradual, but persistent,” begins a cookbook section of Thanksgiving recipes. No, not from Frances Moore Lappe’s “Diet for a Small Planet,” the 1971 book that marked the beginning of the serious vegetarian movement in the U.S. The author is Antoinette “Nettie” Harris, and the date is …

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