Pooh-bah Rules

This is just a running list. Posted because I forget my own rules. Now anywhere there’s an Internet connection, I can remind myself. First, are ground rules, long posted here. Related is my commonplace book.


0512 brick logoDon’t take company to the restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Go to one of the old reliable standbys, unless your guests are reliably easy-going.

Don’t order pizza anywhere but a pizzeria. The Italian restaurants with the stone ovens? You get either a large round cracker with glop on top or a yeasty flatbread with glop on top. Neither is pizza.

  • A watched pot never boils. Actually it does, but why not wash that early sinkful of dishes while you’re waiting?
  • A watched pot never boils. An unattended pot boils over.

Chip theory. Tortilla and potato chips have low salt and oil compared to many processed foods, even snack crackers. It must be because those ingredients are on the surface and tingle your taste buds first. Apply chip theory to a sensible diet. [Exception: In baking, salt and oil have chemical functions so follow recipes.] Add salt to rice as it’s cooking, and you still want salt at the table. Thus: Boil just in water (or salt-free broth), then sprinkle salt and maybe a sliver of butter when it’s done and it tastes right. Microwave frozen green beans with a spoon of water, then stir in a sprinkle of salt (or spritz of soy sauce) and a sliver of butter (or a dash of olive or dark sesame oil). Yeah. The theory holds for sugar, too, as a condiment.

Bulk-food aisles are wonderful. You’d think some items would stale or spoil like that but by their nature the items sell and are replenished quickly. Often — the spices and loose teas — it’s cheaper than a comparable amount sold in a bottle or bag. When you have a new recipe with what for you is an unusual spice, you can buy just what’s needed.

We usually have two coffee grinders: the new one and the older one that’s about to break. Use the latter to grind whole spices, just before cooking. If the recipe calls only for a small amount of spice, also put the salt and pepper the recipe probably wants as well in the grinder, to give it enough to work with. By spice I mean seeds like cumin. Dried herbs are the leaves, which shouldn’t be ground.


Doing a good thing often doesn’t quite match doing the right thing.

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