Meet The Kitchn Team: Dana Velden

updated Jun 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Blogger: Dana Velden
Started at The Kitchn: 2008

Dana Velden lives in San Francisco, where she works and practices at San Francisco Zen Center. She brings a depth and a soulfulness to her posts, from her Weekend Meditations, to her recipes and small pieces on ingredients and favorite books. Dana is a true friend, and a wonderful gift to the site. Here is a little more about Dana — her favorite kitchen indulgence, and a look back at a few of her posts from this past year.


  1. What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
    The French have the idiom au pif which means ‘by the nose’ or more accurately ‘the schnoz.’ In cooking this means the ability to cook by feel, or by intuition. I have always thought this instinctual sense of food and the kitchen is the most important tool I have, and one that I use the most often. It is something I believe we all possess and try to encourage its cultivation as often as I can in my writing and classes.

    I also like the fact that au pif refers to the nose, which I believe is just as important as the mouth when it comes to cooking and eating. Even before we taste something, we smell it and it’s that initial whiff that sets the stage for all that comes after.

  2. What’s your secret indulgence in the kitchen?
    I’m not sure how ‘secret’ this is since I wrote about them here last year but I would say pastured raised eggs. I remain committed to using them in my kitchen, even at their high price and, especially now in the darker, colder months, their irregular availability. I’ve tried to substitute so called free-range eggs when the pastured ones weren’t available and am always disappointed. In taste, texture and ethical values, pastured raised eggs get the highest marks from me. I’m so convinced of this that one of the requirements for my next home is that there is an appropriate place for me to raise my own chickens.

  3. What’s your favorite quote on food, cooking, or eating?
    ten-der tender/adj soft enough for the teeth to go through easily; the point at which something is ready to eat; the leaves of a bunch of spinach, a ripe fig. Soft or delicate in substance. Not hard or tough. Ripe. Ripe and ready to eat. Yielding readily to pressure. Fragile. Of a delicate nature; so soft as to be hurt, crushed or broken easily. Requiring careful handling: a tender subject. Affectionate. Benevolent; compassionate; careful. With gentle feeling. Showing care, gentleness, sensitivity and feeling. – from the endpapers to Tender, vols I & II by Nigel Slater

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Thanksgiving Fail: Tales from the Front Lines (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

• Thanksgiving Fail: Tales from the Front Lines
Edible Gift Idea: The Best Chai Tea Mix!
Weekend Meditation: Confidence
• The Farmers’ Market: Helpful Hints and Etiquette Tips
• Weekend Meditation: Stories

Welcome to The Kitchn’s end-of-year roundup! We are rounding up some of our favorite (and your favorite) posts from the last year, including lots of recipes. We are also shaking out our reader mailbag, and giving you a few more great guest posts from our friends.
More of the Best of 2010

(Images: as credited in above links)