Madam, I’m Adam

An introduction

By
March 30, 2011

Well, don’t I feel like the new kid in class. Has anyone seen my Speed Racer lunchbox? It would definitely be more comforting right now than the laptop in front of me.

So yes, I am the new kid. Please allow me to introduce myself: I’m Adam Ried, the humble proprietor of the new Culinate column Adam’s Rib.

My column is new, but actually I’ve been around, obsessing about things in the kitchen, for ages. For 10 years, I was an editor at Cook’s Illustrated in Boston, where I’m still based. Though I worked on just about every part of the magazine over that period, my primary gig there was testing kitchen equipment. You know, everything from stand mixers and gas grills — someday remind me to tell you the story of how I caused the entire staff at the Consumer Reports laboratory to evacuate the building, into a 10-degree January day, while testing those freakin’ grills — to pots and pans and knives of every imaginable configuration, all the way down to such kitchen minutiae as spatulas, slotted spoons, apple peelers, nutmeg graters, and even kitchen twine.

Adam’s kitchen is about to get a facelift.

Hey, we all use this stuff, and there are differences between various types, and we’re only going to buy so many slotted spoons in our lives, so why not choose the best?

Anyway, I continue to stir that pot on the PBS cooking shows "America’s Test Kitchen" and "Cook’s Country" from America’s Test Kitchen. I also write regularly for Cook’s Country, among other magazines.

I am also the weekly cooking columnist for the Boston Globe Magazine, a job I love, chiefly because it feeds my most unmanaged addiction: cookbooks. I can’t get enough of them. I’m a junkie. I haunt used bookstores and cookbook swaps and libraries. The floors in my apartment sag from the books’ cumulative weight, and that’s just the ones I can fit onto the shelves. Half of them are in boxes in the basement for lack of shelf space.

Since reading cookbooks is so much fun, I wanted to try my hand at writing them, too. I did two books in quick succession, both published in 2009. The first was a soup book for Williams-Sonoma called New Flavors for Soups. The second, called Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes, I refer to only half-jokingly as “the world’s pre-eminent treatise on the critical topic of milkshakes.” It may sound familiar to Culinate readers because Matthew Amster-Burton took a look at it for his June 2009 Unexplained Bacon column on shakes.

In terms of subject matter for Adam’s Rib, it’s going to be a bit of a mashup, which is to say whatever is on my mind at the moment. And by way of fair warning, what’s often on my mind these days is the kitchen renovation that we’re just beginning. The kitchen in my apartment was apparently someone’s DIY-on-the-(very)-cheap project circa 1973, and for the most part, it hasn’t been touched since.

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When I moved in, I slapped some white paint over the wood paneling, some blue paint on the cabinet doors, hung a few clip-on lamps from exposed pipes, and called it a day. It’s dark, dingy, downtrodden, and most heinous of all, sans dishwasher. The primary workspace is between the burners on the early 1950s gas range. For years I’ve joked with friends that if I had my own TV show, it would have to be called “Cooking from a Crappy Kitchen.”

So yes, at the moment my mind is filled with specifications and reviews of counter-depth refrigerators and the like. Less storage space for more money? Go figure. It’s been a hard sell, but I’m coming around to the realization that a standard-depth fridge just won’t fit well into the space, thanks largely to an idiotically placed and immovable chimney. Bye-bye, fantasy mega fridge. That dishwasher, though, is still definitely coming down the pike.

So stay tuned, at least for a few good “after” shots of the new kitchen once it’s complete. Speaking of which, does anyone have a recommendation for a good 30-inch dual-fuel range?

Adam Ried writes about food and cooking from Boston.

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Comments
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1. by Matthew Amster-Burton on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:43 AM PDT

Adam, it’s great to see you writing for Culinate. I still make your milkshakes all the time. Even in winter. Possibly this afternoon.

2. by CookingInStilettos on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:32 AM PDT

Looking forward to reading your column and also seeing what you do to makeover the kitchen :)

3. by Nina D on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:19 AM PDT

I always thought if I had a cooking show, it would be the crappy kitchen route, as well. I once had a kitchen (basically, a galley shoved in a hallway between the living room and bathroom) with no drawers.

Looking forward to reading your column, without having to be exposed to Christopher Kimball.

4. by nlaugust on Mar 31, 2011 at 1:10 PM PDT

A good 30” dual-fuel range? So glad you asked! Actually this is a little self-serving. I am salivating for this range but would love to have a pro like you
test it and render an opinion-That’s what you do, after all.
It’s the American Range Saute Step-up Hybrid (http://www.americanrange.com/residential/30hybrid.html).
Can’t wait to follow your remodel on Culinate.

5. by Kathleen Collins on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:40 PM PDT

I can hear your voice clear as a bell, Adam! So glad I’ll have another internet addiction. Don’t forget about the Fisher & Paykel counter-depth. You don’t notice the minor loss of space one bit.

6. by Annie on Apr 1, 2011 at 10:52 AM PDT

No great recommendations for ranges but my next door neighbor hates her 30” Wolf range - the oven randomly turns off when supposedly cooking at a low temp and the Wolf repairman said it’s a known issue. It’s beautiful but what’s beauty when you have to keep monitoring your oven?

I hope you post your decisions or indecisions on appliances - can’t wait to see what you go with. I’ve been obsessing about counter-depth refrigerators recently. Love the french door style with double freezer drawers (Hello, LG) but I’m not sure if the french door style is a true refrigeration innovation or just a passing fad.

7. by cook.bot on Apr 2, 2011 at 11:47 AM PDT

So great to be able to put you in my RSS feed, Adam. I’ve loved your equipment segments on ATK for years & years, and followed many of your recommendations, always with great success. Looking forward to your takes on cooking, too.

PS: I love your vintage stove -- if you must dispose of it, please find it a good home!

8. by Adam Ried on Apr 11, 2011 at 2:17 PM PDT

Matthew --

Thanks for the warm greeting to Culinate. I’m delighted to be here and I’ll be a happy man if I can come up with a column half as great as yours.

Glad you’re still making shakes. It’s always shake weather in my book. Last weekend I was in Wisconsin -- frozen custard territory. Despite the chill in the air and the snow still on the ground there, I had my first custard of the weekend before I even made it from the arrival gate to baggage claim.

9. by Adam Ried on Apr 11, 2011 at 2:20 PM PDT

Hey CookinginStilettos and Nina D --

I can’t wait to see what happens in the kitchen, either. Whatever we do to it, though, you can see from the picture that we have nowhere to go but up!

10. by Adam Ried on Apr 11, 2011 at 2:37 PM PDT

Hey nlaugust, Kathleen, and Annie --

Appliance decisions will have to be made soon. The kitchen designer has talked me into a counter depth fridge --smaller than a full-depth, but it will still be larger than the current fridge.

Nlaugust, thanks for the American Range link -- I hadn’t heard of that brand. I know I’m not going for a Wolf or the like -- too expensive. Wish I had a place to test ranges before plunking down the plastic -- drives me nuts that I can’t cook on these before buying one. Wish there was space for that type of testing at Cook’s.

11. by Adam Ried on Apr 11, 2011 at 2:44 PM PDT

Hey cook.bot --

Isn’t that old stove a kick? It’s a Kenmore, from somewhere between 1950 and ‘55 I was told. I’ve used it heavily for the 12 years that we’ve kept company with no problems (though I use several oven thermometers). I’ll definitely find it a good home -- I know of two old stove restorers in my area and I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t jump for this thing. Part of me will be sorry to see it go.... but not sorry enough to keep it!

12. by Caroline Cummins on Apr 28, 2011 at 7:36 PM PDT

I hope you get an exhaust fan installed over the stove in your new kitchen — we finally got one (and yes, it actually vents to the outside, not just into, say, the attic) and are so grateful to no longer have to scrape grease off our ceiling all the time. Blech.

13. by Adam Ried on May 9, 2011 at 12:49 PM PDT

Hey Caroline --

YOU BET we’ll have a hood over the stove. I certainly won’t miss the blaring smoke alarm every time I sear something.....

14. by Paul Corsa on Jan 4, 2012 at 6:54 PM PST

We opted for an induction cooktop and double ovens stuffed into what used to be a small pantry. We love this option. If I need flames I have a HollandGrill with Sear infrared burner on the deck.

15. by Adam Ried on Jan 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM PST

If I’d had room for wall ovens I’d have gone that way, too. I didn’t even consider induction because I develop recipes for a living and few people have them at this point. What do you think of it?

16. by nlaugust on Jan 5, 2012 at 9:57 AM PST

PaulCorsa, I’d love to know what brand of induction cooktop you chose and why.

Adam-Do you have any experience with French door ovens?

17. by Adam Ried on Jan 7, 2012 at 11:15 PM PST

I’m afraid not, nlaugust

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Adam’s Rib

Adam Ried's regular gigs include a weekly Boston Globe Magazine cooking column, spots on the PBS cooking shows “America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen,” and frequent articles in Cook’s Country magazine. His most recent book is Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes.

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