Reader Mail: How To Entertain?

Here’s a question from a reader that I thought might be best answered on the blog. (Note: I edited the letter for brevity’s sake.)

Dear Adam,

I’ve been reading your blog now for six or seven years, though I’ve never commented. I really enjoy your humor and down to earth advice about cooking. I started reading your blog when I was in grad school and loved it as an escape from reading research articles.

One thing I’ve always loved about your blog is when you write about entertaining your friends at your home. You seem like such a natural, warm and welcoming host. Your dinner parties look like the kind I always hope to be invited to or put on myself. Plus, the food always looks delicious.

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How To Not Follow A Recipe

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In this life there are rule-followers and rule-breakers. I’ll never forget the day that Mrs. Murley, my high school A.P. European History teacher, kicked Brian T. out of class for being impertinent. As he was leaving, Mrs. Murley said, “Don’t fall off your motorcycle this summer.” Brian T. replied, “Don’t fall off of your high horse.”

Oof! The rule-breakery of it! This may not come as a shock, but I was the ultimate rule follower growing up. Rules meant structure, they meant a clearly defined path you could follow. Breaking the rules meant casting yourself off into the great unknown.

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Make Your Own Taco Night (with Homemade Corn Tortillas)

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When you have a three year-old staying with you, chances are you’re probably not going out to dinner. We did go out one night and that’s a whole story in and of itself. Most nights, though, I cooked and that turned out to be a lot of fun, coming up with food to make for a small crowd (other friends dropped by in the hours leading up to dinner). One night, someone suggested going out for tacos and I responded, “I can make tacos right here!” Then I ran to the store and bought a bunch of stuff to prove that my homemade tacos would be just as good as whatever we’d get at a restaurant.

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The Best Way To Make Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts Is Not To Buy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

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This is an important message from your sponsor, me. You know how grocery stores sell boneless, skinless chicken breasts more than they do actual chickens? And how people bring them home and cook them in such a way that they’re dry, flavorless pieces of cardboard? And how this leads people to hate food cooked at home so much that they wind up going to Popeye’s where this woman has an orgasm as she watches you eat your chicken? And everyone gets obese as our country goes down the toilet? I’m going to tell you a secret.

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Planning A Dinner Menu

Good morning! Like my bed-head? That’s me at this very moment trying to plan tonight’s dinner menu. I’m having a few friends over this evening and I’m in Phase One of the process: figuring out what I’m going to make. Usually I keep this process to myself but today I’ve decided to share it with you in the hopes that maybe you’ll get something out of it. By the end of this post, I’ll have my menu set.

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How To Cook Perfect Fish At Home

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Very rarely does a chef get a 4-star review while a critic is still at the table, but in my case our resident critic (that would be Craig) exclaimed, on biting into the fish you see above, “This is seriously the best fish I’ve ever had in my life. You could charge $40 for this at a restaurant!”

You might think Craig was hyperbolizing, but when I bit in I felt the same way. And it wasn’t like I considered myself a big fish expert by any means; because good fish takes more effort to find than good chicken or good produce, I very rarely make it. This dinner was a total anomaly but because it turned out so terrific, I’m thinking it’ll become a regular weeknight staple for us. Why did it turn out so good? Let’s examine.

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How I Keep Going To The Gym

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There was a tiny period, at the end of 2011 and the start of 2012, when, upon joining a gym for the 300th time, I blogged about this latest attempt at exercise on my Not Food Blog. I wrote about the advantages of a treadmill vs. an elliptical machine (the treadmill forces you to run), what to think about while exercising (the answer: not exercising), and my fear of quitting.

Then, not-so-shockingly, I stopped. People who were reading these dispatches probably thought, “Ah, he quit.” And, based on my history of quitting gyms, these people would have a very legitimate reason to believe that. Only, I didn’t quit the gym, I just quit blogging about it. And, more than 9 months later, I’m still going and–weirdly–kind of enjoying it. And I’m starting to see changes, like the change in my arm you might notice in the photo above. That’s a strong arm! How did I manage that? Here, then, is my advice for those of you who, like me, always quit gyms but want to learn how to stick to it (a pretty essential thing to know if you enjoy eating like I do!).

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How To Store Strawberries

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Strawberry season may be over in most parts of the country, but here in L.A. the strawberries are still bright red and fragrant and sweet as could be.

On Monday, last week, I brought home two cartons of strawberries from the farmer’s market that I planned to use for a shortcake the next night. The question was: “How do I store them so they don’t lose their fresh-from-the-market flavor?” The answer came via Twitter from my friend, the celebrated pastry chef Shuna Lydon.

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