Gwyn Mellinger

Root vegetables add heft to hearty soup
January 23, 2008
A lot of people are complaining about the weather, but I don’t mind a few weeks in the dead of winter when the high temperatures never break out of the low 30s. This is turtleneck-sweater, curl-up-by-the-fire weather.
Breakfast nutrition takes back seat to sweet tooth
January 16, 2008
For at least 30 years, I have embraced the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I’m not sure when the epiphany occurred, because I frequently missed breakfast in college and my early working years, but at some point my body or common sense persuaded me that breakfast was necessary enough that I prepare and eat it every morning before I leave the house.
Mac and cheese fit for winter comfort
January 9, 2008
When the weather is cool, my appetite gravitates toward comfort food, which tends to be tasty, filling, fattening and unglamorous. And so it was that I decided a couple of weeks ago to indulge a craving for homemade macaroni and cheese.
Incorporating dates into diet is easier than you think
January 2, 2008
It’s not every day that the UPS guy drops 11 pounds of dates on the front porch. But that’s exactly what happened at my house the week before Christmas. This bounty of palm fruit was a gift from relatives on the West Coast, who thought a product of the California sunshine might liven up our snowy Midwestern holiday.
Shrimp festive part of New Year’s menu
December 26, 2007
No sooner have we finished the Christmas holiday than the celebrators among us start planning for New Year’s. The older I get, the less interested I am in a late night out on the Eve, but a couple of the best New Year’s experiences I can recall involved a pleasant dinner with friends on the 31st and an afternoon feast on New Year’s Day. In both cases, shrimp was the main course.
Toffee tribute to great-aunt’s strength
December 19, 2007
Among comments I received about last week’s column was a request for a recipe I mentioned in passing. In writing about a relative and her holiday toffee, I noted that family members still made that candy as well as a peanut brittle that had been handed down. So here is the peanut brittle recipe - but it comes with a story.
Recipe reminder of aunt’s legacy
December 12, 2007
Many of us complain of the stress associated with the holidays as we juggle cooking, shopping, decorating, work, travel, in-laws and so forth. At the same time, it’s almost impossible not to be intoxicated by the season, whose hallmarks are the eager anticipation and easy laughter of children and the spontaneous generosity that is in short supply at other times of the year.
Breaking holiday traditions hastens end of childhood
December 5, 2007
For most of us, the holidays are fraught with connections to childhood, to a less complicated and more secure time in our lives and to the people who loved us best, many of whom are long gone. Memories kick in reflexively as I stroll the flour-and-spices aisle of the grocery store and recall the holiday baking that was an annual event in my mother’s kitchen.
Gift ideas suit any foodie’s tastes
November 28, 2007
People assume that I receive every present I suggest in my annual holiday kitchen gift guide. This is one of those seasonal myths, right up there with elves and reindeer. In fact, my hot line to the North Pole has been giving me a busy signal for the past couple of years, ever since I suggested the $39 stainless steel garlic press as the ideal stocking stuffer. It turns out that Santa is a tightwad who can’t believe anyone would spend $39 on a garlic press.
Gifts for a foodie: No, not a blender
November 25, 2007
Because cooking can be viewed as either a pleasant diversion or domestic drudgery, giving kitchen appliances as holiday gifts can brand you as either a hero or a heel. Selecting a kitchen gift that won’t offend the recipient requires keen political instincts, but a small appliance also may be exactly the gift solution you’re looking for.
Broth wrings turkey’s last drops of utility
November 21, 2007
Tomorrow, after the Thanksgiving feast has run its course, most of us will retire what remains of our turkey to the refrigerator. There, our beleaguered friend will rest under a crinkled piece of tinfoil for a few days, as we humans pick his bones. At some point, after the last sandwich or casserole has been scavenged (or everyone has grown tired of eating turkey), the carcass will be unceremoniously dumped in the trash.
Thanksgiving staple’s allure inexplicable
November 14, 2007
I will be one of the few people filling my plate on Thanksgiving who doesn’t claim to love turkey dressing or stuffing or whatever we choose to call it. Part of the problem is that I don’t “get” stuffing. At the risk of overanalyzing a side dish, I think this is a timely subject, worthy of our consideration.
Twist on pecan pie adds flair to tradition
November 7, 2007
Shockingly, just 15 days separate this column from Thanksgiving. For those who will be wearing the apron on Nov. 22, this means that a finely choreographed production is about to commence. Anyone who has been through this holiday ritual knows that organization and advanced preparation are key.
Hot soups: the cure for chilly weather
October 31, 2007
On a chilly evening or weekend afternoon, there’s no more fitting meal than a steamy soup made with seasonal ingredients. And if the soup is quick to prepare, so much the better. It just means you can return to curling up under your afghan with a book or a favorite TV show that much sooner.
In seaport, diners connect with food
October 24, 2007
I had occasion last week to sample the local cuisine in Portland, Maine, a dining experience that may be described as seafood and more seafood. Having spent most of my life in Kansas, I am always a bit startled to find saltwater fish and shellfish on my plate.