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The Latest About Butter, According to the Country's Leading Scientists

The Latest About Butter, According to the Country's Leading Scientists

The results are in, and butter is no longer a loser

Butter is better for you than you think.

For over 100 years, butter has been the topic of debate. During that course of time, butter substitutes like margarine and olive oil have fallen into favor — at least temporarily. In fact, the trendy Bulletproof Diet would even have you put butter in your coffee every day. That may be drastic, but using butter in moderation has become part of a healthy diet.

Click here for Butter vs. Margarine and 7 Other Food Face-Offs slideshow.

For many years, butter was looked down upon by the health community because of its saturated fat content. However, not all fats are created equal. Originally, we were told to steer clear of saturated fats, but Alice Lichtenstein, the top scientist guiding the U.S. government’s nutrition recommendations, announced in 2014 that low-fat diets should be avoided.

Interestingly enough, a recent study published by The BMJ found that trans fats increase the risk of heart disease and death, but saturated fats do not increase those risks. Food journalist Mark Bittman defends butter, claiming that the real culprit is processed foods. Bittman states that although we are led to believe that low-fat alternatives such as margarine, which are made with processed oils and other ingredients, are good substitutes for butter, the eliminated fat is replaced with more harmful ingredients.

The verdict? Butter can be consumed in moderation because it does contain healthy properties, such as fat-soluble vitamins, that are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

The accompanying slideshow is provided by fellow Daily Meal editorial staff member Kristie Collado.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


When Did Following Recipes Become a Personal Failure?

L ast spring , early in the pandemic, the host of a radio food program called to ask whether I thought the lockdown would catapult women back to the 1950s. That sure looked likely: Families were home demanding three meals a day, and most of that food was coming from their own kitchens. I started wondering whether the pandemic would succeed where years of cajoling on the part of cookbook writers had failed. Maybe we really had been launched into a new era of cooking from scratch, and would see people joyfully plying their families with homemade grain bowls long after the return of recognizable daily life.

At this point I realized I was conjuring the Happy Housewife, that busy icon of the ’50s often seen transforming leftovers into attractive molded salads to be served on lettuce leaves. She wore high heels when she cooked, she kept two blond children by her side, and she was very, very happy at all times. So is she back?

Only as a refrigerator magnet, thank goodness. But I did sense a familiar presence hovering over the pages of Sam Sifton’s new cookbook, in which he declares right at the outset that he’s going to “make the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore.” Fun? It’s a promise that has Happy Housewife written all over it. Not last century’s version, of course—the one I’m detecting in this book is a distinctly contemporary icon of unspecified gender, a casual figure in sweatpants and bedroom slippers. Eager to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients, the new home cook is wonderfully adept at tasting and tweaking until any mistakes with a recipe have been remedied. Actually, there’s no such thing anymore as making a mistake with a recipe. This enviable creature cooks with abandon, recipes optional.

Sifton, the New York Times editor who masterminds NYT Cooking, the paper’s hugely popular site for recipes and culinary chat, has long campaigned for what he calls “no-recipe recipes,” featuring them every Wednesday in his What to Cook newsletter. Now he’s gathered them into a cookbook called The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes—an unwieldy title, but his intentions are clear. Conventional recipes that spell out each step are useful, he says, and if you follow them correctly, you’ll arrive at the destination planned for you. But that’s not the only way to get dinner on the table, and here he evokes the great jazz masters who wouldn’t dream of relying on a printed score. Each “no-recipe recipe,” Sifton explains, is “an invitation for you to improvise,” a skill that will turn you into an imaginative, stress-free cook able to wing it through the preparation of any meal. To this end, Sifton has ditched the time-honored recipe format that starts with a list of measured ingredients, followed by a list of instructions. Instead, he sets out his directions in the form of a conversational paragraph, like this one for “Teriyaki Salmon With Mixed Greens”:

Apart from that sudden leap to zen in the last sentence, what’s most striking about this no-recipe recipe is that it is, unmistakably, a recipe. It’s clear and detailed all that’s missing are the measurements. But if we’re being told how hot to make the oven, how the sauce should taste, how to prepare the pan, how long to cook the fish, and how to serve it—why not tell us how much soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger we’re going to need? What’s so uncool about measuring? Okay, okay, so packing minced ginger into a spoon labeled “1 tablespoon” means we’re never going to cook like Coltrane. Schubert isn’t good enough?

Cups and spoons manufactured in standardized sizes for cooking have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for more than a century. Fannie Farmer, who was the principal of the Boston Cooking School in the 1890s, was the first culinary authority to insist on their use. She herself had grown up with such recipe locutions as “butter the size of an egg” and “a heaping spoonful,” but as a teacher she found them far too impressionistic to be practical. Standardized measurements, she believed, were indispensable to good cooking: They would guarantee correct results no matter who was reading the recipe.


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