Likewise, I would happily rub out any of the new-fangled Hershey’s products that wear the wrappers and take the shapes of chocolate, but are in actuality the terrible bastard children of chocolate and corporate frugality. Yup, that’s right: If you weren’t already aware, there’s a good chance that the “chocolate” you’re buying from Hershey’s isn’t chocolate at all. See, back in 2008, Hershey’s started replacing some of the cocoa butter in its products with a combination of cocoa butter and other vegetable oils. Using other vegetable oils is cheaper for companies, which explains why a bag of the aforementioned Palmer’s always costs a dollar or two less than actual chocolate. But those “chocolate” products taste cheaper, too, as do most foods when unnecessary ingredients complicate their simple recipes. See, the process of making a good chocolate only requires a few steps: Cacao pods are roasted, ground, and made into chocolate… More…

I’m serious. Don’t even bother.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to whip up your own crab seasoning or make your own Cajun spice. Sprinkle these mixes liberally everywhere you would use Old Bay — seafood, corn on the cob, french fries, wherever. But when you do this, start with the intention of making something different from Old Bay. Trying to beat Old Bay is a losing proposition. There are many reasons why. Here are the top three:

1)  Old Bay is pretty good already.

2)  If you don’t already own them, buying all of the spices that go into Old Bay will cost you $50 or so, just to create a product that you can buy, ready-made, for under $5.

3)  If you try to call anything that doesn’t come in that classic, primary-colored tin “Old Bay,” a roving gang of ardent Old Bay supporters (most likely from the Chesapeake Bay… More…

Then again, the flour tortilla has always been fighting for its identity. Its brother, the corn tortilla, gets all the glory. The corn tortilla is, first of all, older than the flour version — wheat didn’t even show up in Mexican cuisine until the Spanish brought it over in the 16th century. The corn tortilla is healthier than the flour tortilla too, because the flour tortilla requires a fat-like lard or shortening to hold it together. Hell, some people even claim that the corn tortilla is the only traditional tortilla, and that our floured friend is nothing but an American impostor. In a 1998 edition of the Boston Globe‘s Sunday magazine, authors Sheryl Julian and Julie Rosenfeld said that the flour tortilla is “flexible enough, figuratively speaking, to stray far from authentic Mexican cuisine.”

But the flour tortilla is a Mexican invention. It has a strong tradition in northern Mexico,… More…

I like English muffins. Some mornings they’re the only breakfast food that feels right: just filling enough, covered with butter and jam that melts into the nooks and crannies Thomas’ has taught us to love so much. But I will admit that even though I bake my own bread and boil my own bagels, I’ve always been content to buy English muffins from the store. I just assumed that since I’ve never heard about anyone making their own English muffins, the process was too difficult to do at home. In my mind, English muffin factories employed multi-million-dollar industrial nook-and-cranny machines. Without such complicated machinary, I thought, home bakers such as myself were simply SOL.

The truth is that like most bread products, English muffins are easy enough to make at home. But when I decided to tackle English muffins, a simple Google search for a basic English muffin recipe raised… More…

As recently as 15 years ago, peanut butter was nothing but wholesome. It was rubbed on Mr. Ed’s teeth, slathered on sandwiches, tucked into lunch boxes across the country, and stuck to celery and covered with raisins for “ants on a log” (a treat that always sounded more awesome than it tasted). Peanut butter was the protein-filled glue of childhood and a pleasant, nostalgia-filled comfort food for adults. Dammit, peanut butter was America.

Meg Favreau is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Big Jewel, The Huffington Post, Table Matters, and The Smew. Her book with photographer Michael Reali, Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom, was released in November 2011 by Quirk Books. She’s currently the senior editor at the frugal living and personal finance site Wise Bread, and… More…

It’s like a movie: One day you wake up and discover that ketchup — the condiment you’ve loved for as long as you can remember, with whom you’ve shared countless juicy burgers and hot french fries with — has a past it never shared. You thought ketchup always came in a familiar bottle or, at its wildest, those little single-serving pouches. You thought that ketchup’s parents were Heinz, who doted on the condiment and even spoiled it by moving it from that clunky glass bottle to an easy-to-use plastic squeezer. You thought that ketchup was your rock — even if you hopped from brand to brand, you thought ketchup wouldn’t change much. It would never do that to you.

You were wrong. For goodness sake, when ketchup was born, it wasn’t even made of tomatoes.

Yeah, that’s right. In his book Pure Ketchup: A History of America’s National Condiment, culinary… More…

There are endless ways to die with this cookbook — and so much animal fat that I expected each recipe to come with a doctor’s warning. You don’t even have to be particularly accomplished to do it; all levels of difficulty are represented. Sure, I could have cured my own pork belly, but damn it, my “vacuum-pack machine” is at the cleaners. I could have also tried to make my own terrine, which would include me deboning and curing a duck. I wanted something chic and simple, so that when I made my big reveal at my dinner party, I could brush off the oohs and ahhs with an easy, “Oh, this is nothing,” and not be tempted to curl under the table to nap while everyone else ate.

So instead of haunting eBay for a vacuum-pack machine or risking life and limb to debone anything, I turned to the… More…