BOOKS: This Is Your Book On Drugs

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Bantam, 1968, reprinted 1999) BY MAVIS LINNEMANN BOOK CRITIC You’re either on the bus, or off the bus, Ken Kesey chants. On the bus. Off the bus. With the Merry Pranksters. Or with the squares. On the bus. Off the bus. This phrase — a meaty reality bite all by itself, repeated like a mantra throughout the book — marks the metaphysical divide that is at the center of Tom Wolfe’s raw account of the psychedelic counterculture in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, the legendary New Journalism chronicle of Ken Kesey (author of One Flew […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Brewing A Belgian Tripel

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN My boyfriend Doug had been pining for a brew kit for months, so I got him one for Christmas for about $80 from our local Brew ‘n’ Grow. (Yes, that’s really what it’s called. It’s for home brewers and folks into organic gardening and growing hydroponic, um, plants.) The kit came with almost everything Doug needed, except a brew kettle ($40 for a 5-gal. kettle on and a glass carboy, i.e., a fermenter, which he got for $35 from the Brew ‘n’ Grow. Once we had the all the supplies for actually making the beer, we […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Greatest Pot Roast Ever Made

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN Ah, the ubiquitous pot roast, the bane of American children everywhere. Leathery meat, thin, drippy sauce, soggy vegetables—a nasty meal I’ve met many times in my life. Luckily, my mom asked me to make a pot roast for the family a few weeks ago when I was home, or I never would have learned how wonderful a pot roast can be if done right. Thanks for putting me to work, Ma! I decided I was going to put my extensive (read: expensive) culinary training to use to make the reviled pot roast not only edible, but also […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Mushroom Risotto

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN My little black truffle: You knew I had to come back to it. It’s like a little black dress—it just keeps giving time and time again. I can’t receive a black truffle for Christmas from my good friend Ian Adams and only give KB readers one simple but insanely delicious recipe for baked eggs with black truffles, now can I? Nope, the black truffle brings a flavorful punch to other foods besides eggs. Because of its fragrant, pungent aroma and delicate nature, it’s best used raw or mixed into a cooked dish at the last second. It […]

KITCHEN BITCH: The Savoy Truffle

[Photo by bewarenerd] BY MAVIS LINNEMANN When Doug announced to me that Treasure Island, a local high-end grocery store, was selling a limited number of black truffles —the diamonds of the culinary world—I couldn’t get the idea of buying one out of my head. Truffles are tuber-like fungi (think mushroom) that grow underground on the roots of particular oak trees in Italy, France, Spain, and in some other areas of Europe. Because truffles can’t be seen, specially trained truffle dogs and pigs hunt them out for farmers during the truffle’s very short growing season, which lasts from early December through […]

KITCHEN BITCH: The Devil Is In The Details

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN Laura and I had our second annual holiday bash this past Sunday, and overall it was a great success. As anyone who’s planned a party knows, it’s super important that the people who RSVP actually come, so the hosts don’t get stuck preparing food for no-shows. Unfortunately, out of the 25 girls who RSVPed, only 10 showed, apparently because of the weather. However, if you ask me, if you’ve lived in Chicago for more than a year, you should be more than accustomed to trekking through snow drifts to visit friends in the winter months. Hrrumph! But […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Christmas Cookie Monster Mash-Up

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN Last year, my best friend Laura and I threw our first annual ladies-only holiday bash. We decorated my little apartment like it was the North Pole, made more appetizers than we could ever eat, baked a million cookies for our guests to decorate, and whipped up about 15 different colors of icing to top both the cookies and homemade gingerbread houses. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the end of the day, but the party was a huge success and we vowed to learn from our mistakes when we planned our holiday extravaganza the next year. […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Leftoverture

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN I, like you, am still eating turkey and I’m starting to get sick of it. I decided last night that I wanted to make something very homey with my leftover turkey in the spirit of the holidays, something comforting but not at all related to Thanksgiving. In moments like these, there’s only one place to turn: mom. My mom was (still is) the queen of comfort food. Since there were so many mouths to feed in my family (triplets + me and my dad), casseroles were a staple in my mom’s culinary repertoire, and it’s no wonder […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Yummy Pumpkin Bread

[Image via BITS AND PIECES] BY MAVIS LINNEMANN Bananas and zucchini always take the spotlight when it comes to quick breads and muffins. Everyone dives for banana-nut muffins and savory-sweet zucchini bread, but what about that amazing underdog in orange? Pumpkin, I believe, is here to save the day. I fell in love with pumpkin baked goods about 10 years ago when I was working for Swiss pastry chef Jean Paul at his namesake bakery, Jean Paul’s Pleasures, in Cincinnati. Every year about this time, Jean Paul would begin making the most incredible cookies I’d ever tasted and, of course, […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Nutella Pancakes

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN If you’ve ever been to Europe—or maybe just your local European import store—you’ve come across Nutella, a wonderfully creamy hazelnut chocolate spread. Pietro Ferrero invented Nutella in the 1940s in response to the rationing of chocolate during World War II. Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts, which are abundant in the Piedmont region of Italy, to extend the chocolate supply, and Europe has never been the same. Nutella is ubiquitous in Europe, but it’s making the rounds in the U.S., too. You can find it stuffed into croissants or pastries, spread onto crepes or crunchy Euro breakfast toasts, or […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN I’ve been waiting all summer for this moment—the time of year when I can open all my windows AND turn on the stove without suffering from heat stroke. And since I’m not breaking a sweat while my oven comes to temp, I can actually stand over the stovetop and create some of my favorite fall dishes—mainly soups, stews and chilli. Pardon my French here, but I f—ing love soup. There’s nothing better for lunch on a cool fall day then a cup of hot soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve also been obsessed with roasted peppers […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Grilled Pork Tacos

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN There are meals you can make from just what’s in your pantry, and there are meals you have to stock your pantry to make. Unless you frequently make authentic Mexican dinners, this meal is one you’ll have to plan for. But I solemnly swear this Mexican fiesta is worth the ingredient hunt. In fact, instead of “tacos al pastor,” I think this recipe should be called “the best ever grilled pork tacos.” While finding some of the ingredients in this dish might be a pain, actually putting it all together is fairly easy. Chunks of marbled pork […]

KITCHEN BITCH: Grilling Chicken That Doesn’t Suck

BY MAVIS LINNEMANN We’ve all experienced it: You order the grilled chicken at your favorite restaurant and instead of a juicy, succulent, slightly smoked chicken breast, out comes a dry, bland, tough culinary abomination. It’s one of those menu items I avoid at all costs (even though it’s often the healthiest option) just because I’m afraid of what the final product might taste like. How do you avoid dry, tasteless grilled chicken? As cooks, we have a number of options: 1) Use bone-in chicken breasts and thighs because the bones help keep the poultry moist; 2) carefully monitor the internal […]