T. Susan Chang

T. Susan Chang regularly writes about food and reviews cookbooks for The Boston Globe, NPR.org and the cookbook-indexing website Eat Your Books. She's the author of A Spoonful of Promises: Recipes and Stories From a Well-Tempered Table (Lyons Press, 2011). Her app, CookShelf, features reviews and recommendations for the latest cookbooks, and is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Visit her blog, Cookbooks for Dinner, to find out more.

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8:24am

Wed May 8, 2013
Kitchen Window

Try A Do-It-Yourself Mother's Day

Originally published on Wed May 8, 2013 1:22 pm

T. Susan Chang for NPR

My mother didn't plant a great many spring bulbs. But over by the pachysandra patch, there was a single lovely pink tulip, and I kept my eye on it for two weeks before Mother's Day. When that Sunday morning arrived, I rushed out, snipped it and ran inside to where she lay sleeping to present it to her. "Did you pick that outside?" she inquired, her expression shifting from sleepy surprise to something more complicated. I nodded proudly. "Oh ... thank you, sweetie."

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2:11am

Wed April 10, 2013
Kitchen Window

Preserved Lemons: Older, Wiser And Full Of Flavor

T. Susan Chang for NPR

On many occasions in my longtime relationship with cookbooks, I have had this experience (which will sound familiar, if you like Middle Eastern flavors as much as I do). I'm happily paging through my new Moroccan or Lebanese or Israeli book, lost in dreams of lamb and sumac, saffron and figs. "Mmmm," I murmur over a glossy page, "that looks delicious."

I trace my finger down the ingredients list. Shallots, check. Tomatoes, check. Cinnamon stick, check. And then there it is: Preserved lemon. "Drat," I think. "Foiled again."

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2:01am

Wed February 27, 2013
Kitchen Window

In Praise Of The Humble Lentil

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 10:01 am

T. Susan Chang for NPR

The year I discovered lentils, I was broke and lonely and didn't know how to cook. Lentils, it turned out, would have gone a long way toward providing the solution to some of these problems. However, when I first had them, they were a mystery.

They also were the cheapest thing on the menu at the Middle Eastern deli around the corner. The dish was mudardara, I was told. "What's that again?" I said, unable to untangle the knot of plosive consonants. It was repeated.

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1:47am

Wed January 30, 2013
Kitchen Window

Understanding The Brussels Sprout

Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 1:44 pm

T. Susan Chang for NPR

"What are those?" I asked my mom, suspiciously eyeing the little cardboard tub with its cellophane cover. It held a heap of pale, miniature cabbages. "They're Brussels sprouts," she said. "They're supposed to be good for you," she added, sealing my doom.

At dinnertime, the mystery vegetable reappeared, steaming hot and greenish-yellow but otherwise unaltered. It gave off a sulfurous stench. I recoiled, but I knew my job. I took a bite.

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7:03am

Tue December 4, 2012
Best Books Of 2012

Recipe Rebellion: A Year Of Contrarian Cookbooks

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

Nishant Choksi

"Just throw the whole lemon in the food processor for lemon bars."
"Don't just soak your dried beans — brine them!"
"You don't need a whole day (or two) to make a good sauce."

Some of the things this year's cookbooks said to me as I tested them were downright contrarian. But that's the brilliant thing about cooking in a global, crowdsourced, Web-fueled world: People no longer cook according to some received wisdom handed down by a guy in a white toque. They figure it out as they go along, and if they stumble on a shortcut, it's blogged and shared in no time flat.

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3:26am

Wed October 31, 2012
Kitchen Window

The Hard-Boiled Truth About Egg Soups

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 9:38 am

T. Susan Chang for NPR

The chicks arrived five months ago — eight gray, blond, black and tawny puffballs no bigger than the eggs they'd been hatched from a day earlier. They had a slavishly devoted audience within minutes and names within 24 hours. Every couple of weeks they doubled in size, and over the summer they ballooned from 2 ounces to 7 pounds as we furiously worked to complete their permanent coop.

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7:42am

Wed September 26, 2012
Kitchen Window

A Roll For All Seasons, Wrapped In Rice Paper

T. Susan Chang for NPR

It all started several months ago, when I was fishing around for something not-too-unhealthy for lunch. Spring was over — the once-tender lettuces now milky-hearted and stiff-leaved — and I was bored with salad. I love sandwiches, but every time I gorged on bread I stepped a little heavier onto the scale. "If you're going to eat constantly," I said to myself, knowing that I would, "you simply can't afford to pack on that many carbs at a time."

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7:43am

Wed August 29, 2012
Kitchen Window

Zucchini You Actually Can't Resist

Originally published on Wed August 29, 2012 11:56 am

T. Susan Chang for NPR

"Ugh," my sister exclaimed one evening as we were making dinner. It was supposed to be an easy poached chicken with a ginger-scallion sauce, eaten with cold cucumber wedges, and we had just discovered that what we had bought at the store was not cucumber, but zucchini. It was an easy mistake to make — they were the precise same shade of green. But where the zucchini's skin was mostly smooth, the cucumber's was lumpy. We were not happy.

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5:29pm

Tue July 17, 2012
Kitchen Window

Just Add Water: The Miracle Of Seaweed

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 7:41 am

T. Susan Chang for NPR

A while back, a craze hit my kids' school. It seemed as though everyone in the lunchroom was bringing in those little green packs of seaweed from Trader Joe's — roasted, salted nori, sometimes flavored with wasabi. (Most of these kids like yogurt and olives, too.) Granted, our town has an idiosyncratic population, and many of the parents are health-minded. It was the kids, though, who couldn't get enough of them.

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11:59am

Fri May 25, 2012
The Salt

Stand Back When Snapping Turtles Crop Up In The Garden

Originally published on Fri May 25, 2012 5:09 pm

The best thing to do when this gal shows up in your garden is to let her be
T. Susan Chang

Late spring in a New England vegetable garden is usually a time for the last asparagus, the crisp lettuce and arugula, the first pea shoots, and the first sprouting of warm-weather crops like peppers and zucchini. What you don't expect to see planted in your beds are snapping turtles. But that's just what turned up in mine twice this week.

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