I hope this column can be a collaborative exercise. I’m sharing some of my favorite online resources for home cooks, and I’d like to hear yours as well. Post your links in the comments, and hopefully we’ll all find some new favorites!
One thing I hear fairly regularly since I started this column is comments from people about how I must be some kind of a food expert. And, of course, I’m not; I’m a self-taught home cook. I’m also very curious and utterly willing to do research (which I enjoy quite a lot). Further, I consider reading about food a leisure activity, so I probably do it a little more than most people. But I’m definitely not a fancy cook, I rarely throw big dinner parties, and the fare I serve at home is most often of the simple, quick and easy variety. Probably at least as often as the next person, I walk into the kitchen at 5:30 or 6 in the evening with absolutely no idea what I’m going to make for dinner.
The thing that helps me most in keeping the meals I toss together interesting is following a few food blogs and websites, either by checking in on a regular basis or by following them through social media-which I try to spread out between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, just to keep any of it from becoming too overwhelming (I’m not a fan of Pinterest for food inspiration, because the images there, while quite attractive, often don’t link to usable recipes).
Here are five of my current favorite go-to spots.
I’m very fond of Food52’s cooking manifesto, which starts with “how you eat is how you live” and goes on to remind us of the importance of cooking. There are so many cool things to explore on this site, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d have to go with their “not recipes”-instructions for making dishes that aren’t all hung up on measuring things with precision or having exact ingredients. This is a fun place to go if you like to play with your food before you eat it.
This is a site with a lot of resources, but my favorite is the recipe search, because it has such strong filtering capabilities. Even if their fare is a little more obsessed than I am with sweet foods, I can mostly block the cakes, cookies and candies from my searches. There is also a very nice list of categories for browsing, which I find useful in combination with a page search shortcut. Want an idea for a make-ahead breakfast? Go here, hit command plus F, and type the word “breakfast.” Voilà!
If you’re interested in food science, this is a fun place to hang out. Founded by food writer Ed Levine (who published a “Serious Eats” book several years ago), it gave us J. Kenji López-Alt’s column The Food Lab (which has recently become a book), and is filled with all sorts of helpful tips, recipes and food history. If you like to geek out about food, this is a great website.
This is the creation of blogger Andrew Wilder, who thinks that “healthy eating doesn’t have to suck.” Wilder got his start in healthful food at about the same time I did, though I didn’t discover his blog until later, when I ran across his October Unprocessed challenge. By that time, I was already on board, so while I didn’t do the challenge, I stuck around for the inspiration. Wilder offers us a set of food rules and then follows up with suggestions, encouragement and recipes to help anyone who is trying to change their eating habits succeed.
Tant Hill Farm
This is the local farm where I get my CSA share. They are one of many great farms in the area, some of which have websites; follow one and you’ll stay up to date on what’s currently in season locally (search for a farm or market here or here). The Tants keep us updated on what’s new at the farm, what to expect at the farmers market and ideas for what to do with the week’s produce. They also have regular contributions with ideas and cooking tips from local chef and recipe creator Laura Robinson, who is awesome.
That is my list. Let me know what you think, and post your own favorites in the comments!
Alice O’Dea has lived in Chattanooga for over 20 years, but was raised among the mucks and dairy farms in rural western New York. She didn’t really learn to cook until midlife. When she’s not puttering around in the kitchen, she enjoys running, cycling, traveling, photography and trying to get food to grow in the backyard of her Highland Park home. You can email her with questions, suggestions or comments at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.