Tracie on The Rachel Maddow Show

MSNBC • March 8, 2012 Rachel Maddow interviews Tracie McMillan about Rush Limbaugh’s attack on The American Way of Eating. Learn more about The Rachel Maddow Show clip here.  

Soothing Chicken Soup is Worth the Time • Feb. 16, 2007

My first attempt at chicken soup ended in an explosion. I was nine, and making a Laura Ingalls-inspired effort to nurse my pneumonia-stricken father to health. In keeping with the pioneer theme, I had grabbed an old-fashioned ceramic pot out of my mother’s china cabinet. It shattered in about five minutes, having endured the highest heat setting possible on the electric stovetop.

This particular experience illustrates several rules to keep in mind before undertaking the creation of your very own chicken soup. Nostalgia may well work against you. Though the end product will be pretty, the process is not. And while the work stops short of being complicated, it nonetheless attains the label of “time-consuming.”

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Perfect Grilled Cheese is Simple, Satisfying • Jan. 4, 2007

It’s easy to overlook the grilled cheese as a culinary delight. Reminiscent of rainy childhood afternoons, and most typically prepared with highly processed ingredients, this hot sandwich can in fact yield an opportunity for fresh and delicious experimentation — even for the most cooking-averse grown ups.

“Put together properly, you can really experience the perfect bite,” says Nancy Silverton, whose famed Campanile made waves in L.A. with its sandwich nights — so much so that she went on publish “Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book.”

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Mashed Potatoes, Holiday Time’s Comfort Food • Nov. 13, 2006

For a thoughtful home cook, whipping up a batch of mashed potato can induce an identity crisis. What kind of potato: Russet, Yukon, fingerling, blue or red? Do you boil or steam? Use broth or cream? Melt the butter or keep it at room temperature? And don’t even start on the add-ins: garlic, onions, herbs, chiles, even chocolate. Fortunately, while this humble concoction’s versatility resembles nothing so much as a choose your own adventure book, all roads lead to a delicious conclusion.

The first order of business for a mashed-potato cook is simply deciding which kind of potato to use, a debate largely settled amongst American chefs. It’s either Idaho russets or Yukon golds, depending on your flavor preferences. The former is the least likely to turn starchy while the latter has a mild buttery flavor. Be wary of other spuds, particularly smaller ones.

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Perfect Cheesecake Recipe Takes the Cake • Nov. 6, 2006

With American’s predilection towards easy and inexpensive, it’s difficult to comprehend just how cheesecake became a family gathering staple. Yet, from Brooklyn splurges at Junior’s Restaurant to Midwestern family reunions, there are few desserts that elicit as strong a sigh of delight — and sense of home — as this finicky, cheese-based custard.

That delectable indulgence doesn’t come easily. From top-notch chefs to down-home cooks, everyone agrees: If there’s one thing to keep in abundant supply when baking a cheesecake, it’s patience.

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Nix the Pancake Mix for Breakfast Perfection • Oct. 17, 2006

If you’re like me, your first pancakes came from a griddle manned by your dad on the weekends. My father as chef was a special breed, one whose culinary skills — as with many men of the Boomer generation — were limited to summertime barbeque and Sunday breakfast. Indeed, pancakes likely became “Dad’s specialty” due to one of their finer selling points: They’re extraordinarily simple to make from scratch.

“There’s no need to use a mix when it’s so easy to make them,” marvels Maryana Vollstedt, author of The Big Book of Breakfast. “It’s just about as fast as mixing up a mix.”

The typical American hotcake is soft, spongy and golden brown, with the slightest of crispiness at the edges, and getting there takes mastering the three tenets of pancake cookery: Batter, griddle, and flipping.

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Thick Enough to Stand up a Straw • Sept. 26, 2006

These are difficult times for the milkshake. The coffee craze has brought a series of sophisticated imitators — most of them ending in “cino” — to the table, and whether you’re avoiding fats or carbs this mid-century treat is an offender on both counts.

All of which suggests that if you’re going for a shake, you want it to be worth the trouble. That means adhering to the three pillars of shake-making: quality ice cream, thick consistency, and creamy texture.

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