Dad’s Helpers

Grandma’s hands made the best apple pie ever.

Everyone needs helpers, right? Learning how to cook often involves a mom or grandma, but not everyone has one of those or one who’s a good cook. I learned a little from my mom, who was an average, suburban middle-class 1950’s mom who tried out TV dinners, fish sticks, and margarine when they were popular and for all the right convenience reasons touted in the ads. I learned other stuff from my Irish grandma—like always use butter; use lard to make pie crust; and put sugar and milk in your afternoon tea. Grandma also showed me, unintentionally, that most cooking has been done for millenia by semi-literate women with long experience, mothers who taught them, and persistent effort. I needed to understand that to stop being intimidated by cooking.

Thank God for moms and grandmas.

Starting early in the Age of TV, home cooking went commercial, or in the case of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on public television, non-commercial. Then in the 90’s, we got Food TV, America’s Test Kitchen, and more. In the 2000’s, we read Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan, upon whose sage and prolific shoulders I have built my food philosophy and this blog.

I (Dad) don’t actually know any of these people. But they sure have been important in getting my head screwed on right about food and cooking. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Dad’s Helpers: My gurus for the food and cooking revolution

  • Michael Pollan – author of In Defense of Food and the book that started Dad thinking about food and not just eating it, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
  • Mark Bittman—author of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating and the unpretentious How to Cook Everything, my personal replacement for all the general cookbooks of the past 50+ years.
  • America’s Test Kitchen—TV cooks or media empire? Whatever—their recipes, research, and tips are always entertaining and outstandingly helpful.
  • Jacques Pepin—my Gold Standard for TV chefs.

Media Cooks

Pundits and Podcasts

Amateurs (Doin’ it for the love of it)


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