Writing Recipes, Sharing Recipes



Because I’m such a public cook, it often happens that people ask what was in a dish or how it was made.  And almost all the time I’m happy to answer.  I really do  believe that cooking is sharing and that hoarding anything, including information, is bad for the soul. And sometimes I do write recipes and give them out, as when I give cooking classes or now, on this blog.  

   And yet I have to admit, I have a love/hate relationship with recipes.  Publishing recipes makes me uneasy.  What if a typo or some oversight in my recipe ruins your dinner?  You see the problem.  Unlike Betty Crocker who has a team of home economists testing and retesting each recipe (I’ve toured the General Mills test kitchens, I can vouch that this is true), I’m just a poor, lone cook, with limited resources, hoping to be helpful.

   What I’m getting to is this: when approaching a new recipe, be aware.  Be alert.  Even the most reputable cookbooks have been known to contain errors.  Read the recipe all the way through to the end before beginning. Make sure all the ingredients and procedures make sense.  Taste. And taste again. Follow the recipe the first time to understand what it’s all about, but after that make it your own.  Adapt it to your kitchen and to the needs and desires of the people you’re cooking for.  Good cooking is not so much a matter of following written rules as it is of paying attention to the smells, sounds and tastes around us. The people you feed will give you clues, some spoken, most not as to how the food suited them. How did you feel after eating, or the next day? These are all things to keep in mind when when cooking the same dish again.

     And so, I give you recipes, but please consider them works in progress. Be it known, they are my humble attempts to communicate something that I have cooked, but they may not be cookbook ready.  To be honest, I’m hoping all of you will be my recipe testers.  Please give me feedback, tell me how to improve them. And if there are recipes you’d like me to post, let me know and I will attempt to do so.  There may be a cookbook in all this some day, and I’d love to list your name as among those who contributed! Happy cooking!


N.B. Recipes appear by clicking on the titles under Pages, to the right of this column. Email me your comments on the recipes to AlinderSF@aol.com




Health Care: What We Pay, What We Get

I am forever astounded at how much we pay for health care in the U.S., and how comparatively little we get for it. In  America, with nearly a quarter of adults uninsured or underinsured, we spend $6,657 per capita or 15.9 % of our GDP on health care.  In the United Kingdom where nearly everyone gets government health care it costs about $3,064 per person or 8.2% of GDP. This Reuters article compares health care costs among leading countries.  Read it and weep.

Where to Shop: In San Francisco There’s Only One Rainbow

Being a  cook and cooking teacher, people often ask where I like to shop. While there are hundreds of good natural, ethnic and produce markets in the Bay Area, for me one stands  out far above the others, and that is  the Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco.  Although it  has great organic produce, cheeses, and natural health and beauty products, I love Rainbow most for it’s phenomenal bulk foods department.

Rainbow claims they offer over 800 food items in bulk, and I can  well  believe it.  They make the selection  offered in even the largest and best-stocked Whole Foods Market look  puny in comparison. You will find sea vegetables, dozens of kinds of beans, thirty kinds of flour, not only brown quinoa, but black and red as well–all in bulk–even esoteric items such as brown rice syrup, Lima sea salt, umeboshi plums, kuzu and twig tea. I find the herb and spice area especially useful because you can buy only what you need and at fair prices.

Rainbow was born in 1975 as part of the  “People’s Food System” cooperative movement, and is still collectively owned by the now more than 200 workers. As such it’s a uniquely San Francisco kind of place  and may not be to everyone’s taste, although I  appreciate it’s colorful workers and quirky politics (they’re open on the Fourth of July, but close for Gay Pride Sunday). A few of the 771 Yelp reviews complain that the worker-owners are less than friendly and helpful, however in 23 years of shopping there I’ve found  that only rarely to be true. If you live outside San Francisco I’m not suggesting you drive into the City solely  to  shop at Rainbow, but if you’re coming in anyway, you foodies will find Rainbow to be a stimulating stop.

The details: Rainbow is located at 1745 Folsom Street (at 13th Street),  at the border of the South of Market and Mission Districts and is open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Somewhat tight on-site parking. Seniors 60 and over receive a 10% discount. (415) 863-0620.