A Recipe for Time

Maybe it’s my age. Perhaps technology and rapid processors are to blame. But days–like slick egg whites passing through my fingers as I separate out the yolks—disappear now, leaving me with nothing but solid month markers to score their departure.  February, becomes March. April turns to May. May will soon be June.

Computers crunch information. Twitter feeds give news (and musings) the moment it happens. Google offers micro-second answers. Video chats replace old-fashioned phone calls and day trips. The library reduces hours and librarians sells old hard covers for pennies to pay the bills. Mom buys an organic frozen meal in the microwave and calls it dinner.

What’s happening to us?

I step into the kitchen and scan my shelves for answers. There’s a loaf of bread. A box of pasta. A bag of rice. The cooler holds radishes, kale, and slippery pods of fava beans. What’s for lunch? What do I have time to make?

Michael Ruhlman, a food-writing hero, recently hit the boiling point at the IACP conference after hearing one too many talking heads extol the virtues of cutting corners in the kitchen. Though I did not attend the Portland event, I was able to see the meltdown online via You Tube (see below). The panel’s talk turned to the need to make cooking easy for people and one speaker celebrated the idea that “pre-cooked” food items could get busy folk motivation to step up to the stove to cook.

God bless the man and his charcuterie making soul for standing up for the good old fashioned cooking process. In his recent rant, Ruhlman extolled the need for time in the kitchen as “perhaps the single most important thing to save our families and our humanity.” Amen.

Time is tight around here. Working multiple jobs and at odd restaurant hours makes cooking a challenge. Meals consist of simple ingredients, paired together last minute to fill my belly and sustain me for long hours of writing or bartending.

Time in the kitchen must remain a priority. There are bowls of cereal topped with berries to eat. Ceramic mugs of cardamom-spiced chai tea to drink. Green salads of torn herbs, bright red radishes, spicy arugula, and squeezed lemon beg for a light toss in a salad bowl.

Maybe time is speeding past all of us. It’s important to remember—no matter how busy we get—to mark the passing days with good and simple things that celebrate the life we’ve been given. Because whether we care to acknowledge it or not, every day we have to spend in the kitchen is a precious one.

Toasted Bread with Butter and a Simple Radish Salad
Serves oneOne thick slice of bread, the best bread you can get your hands on

1 teaspoon butter, the best butter you’ve got

1 pinch of Maldon Sea salt

6 small radishes, washed with tops on

1 ¼  teaspoon olive oil

1 ¼ wedge of lemon

½ teaspoon vinegar, a smiple white wine or champagne vinegar will do

1. Wash the radishes well. Remove the little tail off each radish, and thinly slice. Put in a small mixing bowl. Tear the radish leaves and add to bowl. Add a pinch of salt and olive oil to the radish mix. Toss. Squeeze lemon wedge and add vinegar. Lightly toss.

2. Toast bread and slather with butter. Top with radish salad. Enjoy every bite!


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.


  1. May 4

    couldn’t have said it better myself!!! I love having a quick meal up my sleeve to whip up when time is tight… and I also love spending the entire day in the kitchen if possible!!!

    The little 9 year old at my clients house spends at least 2 hours with me in the kitchen when I am at work and helps me cook! I love being able to teach her cooking techniques and how to eat healthy… if we could get more people to get their kids into the kitchen that would be so amazing as well!!

  2. May 11

    another fantastically written article by you, my friend! I totally agree. We need to spend more time in the kitchen. When we cannot however, you have hit the nail on the head. Keep it simple with top-shelf ingredients, and you are going to have one seriously tasty meal.

  3. terrin
    June 21

    I read ruhlmans entire “rant” and well, he has a point….. You find time for what’s important to you- if the average american can find 3 hours to watch tv but only 30min to make food, well…..maybe they need to prioritize themselves, their families and meal times. I love a good chunk of bread with radishes- looks like lunching tommarrow for me!

  4. johanna
    June 24

    i just tonight finally got around to having radishes–or radish-like things like baby turnips–WITH their tops not wilted in order to make this. (the wilting was my fault for not using them quickly enough!).
    and i have to say, this is THE yummiest sandwhich i have had in a very long time–(perhaps influenced by the seasonal aspect of this taste). i am ecstatic!! thank you SOOOOOOOO MUCH for creating this AND having the generosity to post it!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and so did my very surprised hubby who was skeptical initially ;-). best dinner ever! THANKS!!!!!

    • Food Woolf
      June 29

      So glad you enjoyed the radish recipe! Happy to hear ecstasy was reached via the consuming of a radish and that the husband’s perspective was turned around by the peppery little morsel.

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