Stolen Salads: Lean-To Salad

This is, in fact, not a stolen salad since my college roommate and I made it up. It takes its name from the fact that she thought we should have a cool name for our apartment and the best we could come up with was “The Lean-To” (abbreviated “/2”). It works as a side salad or a full meal and is a good way to use leftover chicken. Try to make this when pears are

Unconventional Ingredients: Pomegranate, Persimmon, and Quince

One of the great joys of making your own meals comes from discovering new ingredients. There’s a certain pride in knowing what you’re looking at as you walk through the grocery store, and in knowing what you can do with what you find. To that end, I’ve decided to begin profiling some of the more daunting offerings that you might find whilst shopping. My goal is to provide an introduction to the ingredients rather than

Sandwich Upgrades: Part I

Most cuisines have a food that acts, as my husband would say, as a “delivery system” for other foods. Think pasta, rice, salad greens, tortillas. Sandwich bread falls into this category. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to throw mayo, cheese, and deli meat between two slices of whole wheat that we don’t often take advantage of the opportunity that the sandwich really affords: namely, here is a great way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your

Happy Trails: Dealing with Diet as You Travel

Prepare enough homemade meals, and you’ll soon discover that eating out presents unforeseen challenges. Why pay $10.50 for a plate of pasta when you can make a better version for less? The more confidence you develop in the kitchen, the more you’ll notice a preference for dining in. Meanwhile, your digestive system will begin to shift its preferences as well, with the result that a sudden intake of fast food can leave you feeling bloated,

Step-By-Step: Almond Tea Cookies

Where would our holidays be without cookies? If you are one of those people who bakes forty-five batches of cookies each Christmas, participates in one of those crazy cookie swap parties, or has kids leaving sweets out for Santa, give these a shot. They contain nuts, so they won’t work if you’re likely to encounter someone with an allergy. But even my husband, who makes fun of me for loving vanilla and almonds (“the most

Basic Formula: Homemade Granola

When I first moved to Arkansas, I discovered I could easily spend a small fortune on granola. In grocery stores, granola is often available in bulk (so it appears to be cheaper), touted as organic (so it appears to be healthy), and full of sugar (so it appears to be delicious, which it most certainly is). Unfortunately, I love to eat it like cereal with milk and little else, so a $5 box of French

Two Great Books for First-Time Cooks (Gift Ideas, Anyone?)

It’s incredibly difficult to recommend cookbooks on Ditch The Ramen. If you’ve visited the resources page, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorites, but I haven’t recommended any particular text if you’re just starting out. The books I’ve learned from have various drawbacks that make them hard to recommend to an internet audience: no illustrations, for instance, or too many exotic ingredients. To offset this problem, I’ve posted about how you can choose a cookbook

Basic Formula: Soup

Two summers ago, I had the brilliant idea to drive, accompanied by seven college students, from Indiana to Los Angeles. This venture turned into a seventeen-day road trip incorporating thirteen states and, to my fiancĂ©’s intense dismay, a dozen different homemade soups. Realizing that soups could be frozen, stored in an ice chest, and reheated in a microwave, I had determined that they would be the perfect road trip solution for penny-pinching undergraduates and one

Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Part II

Happy Thanksgiving! May your morning be filled with parades, holiday 5Ks, and crisp fall weather. May your festivities be filled with movies you love, stories that make you laugh, and youngsters who fall asleep when they’re supposed to. And may your table be filled with the most scrumptious meal you’ve ever laid eyes on, all of it cooked lovingly by hand in your very own kitchen and applauded by everyone from your cat to your

Thanksgiving Survival Guide: Part I

If you do enough cooking, sooner or later you’ll decide to tackle Thanksgiving dinner. (If this isn’t your year, bookmark this post and come back when you’re ready. One of these days, you’ll feel primed for a challenge.) This is the one meal of the year that resembles a cross between a marathon and a musical: it involves advance planning and pacing, but also crazy choreography and an overdose of drama. The turkey isn’t cooking

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