Experiments In KitchenLand

The photo that accompanied my very first post ever, in 2009

Look! She’s wearing an apron; she must know what she’s doing! (Spoiler: she did not.)

The other night, I made grilled pizzas for dinner – one with tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil (FROM MY GARDEN, #bam), and the other with arugula, peaches, prosciutto and goat cheese (and both with store-bought dough, obviously, because dough-making is not my thing). We were sitting outside eating dinner and Kendrick said something about the peach pizza being good, and then he said, “Remember when you didn’t know how to cook?”

To be clear: I still don’t consider myself an especially proficient cook. I make things that are easy and that I think taste good, I cut corners virtually everywhere, and I never met a package of pre-marinated Trader Joe’s anything that I didn’t like. But what Kendrick was referring to was the fact that when I started this website six years ago, my idea of “making dinner” was boiling some ravioli and throwing a bit of Prego over it that I’d tarted up with diced onions and mushrooms (I still make this sometimes when I’m alone, because it may not be elevated cuisine, but it is GOOD).

The original idea behind Ramshackle Glam was that it would be a food and entertaining blog written by a person who didn’t know a whole lot about either. I figured hey, I just got married and moved into a (massive-for-us, at 800 square feet) new apartment, I’m interested in spending time at home and cultivating a cozy home life (as opposed to spending as many nights as possible out at some bar or another) for the first time ever…I might as well try to figure out this whole “cooking and entertaining and decorating” thing. And I might as well write about it on the internet while I do it, because there are a hell of a lot of sites that explore cooking from an expert perspective…but I always think it’s fun to watch someone figure things out as they go.

I do know how to cook now, by which I mean I can usually look in the refrigerator, see what we’ve got, and get a reasonably balanced, reasonably good-tasting meal on the table in a reasonable amount of time – and trust me, that is not something that I was able to do seven years ago. I’m pretty proud of having developed my ability to function in the kitchen, but I still have a loooot to learn, and I think it’s fun to keep documenting the learning process here, even if it’s a sometimes a little mortifying that even at this point I still don’t know how to make something seemingly simple.

Take roasted garlic, for example. At the restaurant in Carmel we went to over the weekend we were served a whole roasted garlic head: you pulled out the soft, caramelized cloves and mashed them onto buttered bread. It looked simple, but I’ve never done it before, so when I decided to roast some garlic to serve alongside dinner the next night, I had to google “how to roast a whole garlic.” Which is sort of ridiculous, given that I’ve been writing about food online for over half a decade now, but there you go.

I guess I could just skip the whole “I didn’t know how to make this” explanation and just write about how to roast garlic…but pretending you’ve already got a handle on everything – even when the degree to which you don’t is a pretty embarrassing thing to admit – doesn’t seem like an especially fun way to go through life, you know?

how to roast a whole head of garlic


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Remove most of the papery outer layer, but not so much that the head falls apart – you want it to stay intact for the duration of roasting.
  3. Trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head to expose the garlic cloves.
  4. Drizzle about 1-2 tsp of olive oil over the top of the head, allowing it to absorb into the cloves, then wrap the head in aluminum foil and roast on the center rack of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until a center clove is very soft when pierced with a paring knife (you can roast it for longer, until it turns golden-brown, for an even sweeter, more caramelized flavor).
  5. Let cool and serve with whatever: mashed into dips and spreads, on top of buttered bread, sprinkled over pizza…whatever.
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