29 December 2006

Eight Bookplates

I got a nice set of bookplates for Christmas, from my sister, and I've just stuck them into eight favorite cookbooks (and no, my name isn't Sarah Koffman):

  1. Baking with Julia (Dorie Greenspan)
  2. English Bread and Yeast Cookery (Elizabeth David)
  3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volumes 1 and 2 – bow down to Julia
  4. The Book of Tarts (Maury Rubin) – because I am the Queen of Tarts
  5. The Cake Bible (Rose Levy Beranbaum) – from which I made my wedding cake, and my sister’s, come to think of it
  6. The James Beard Cookbook – from which I learned to make the perfect strawberry shortcake, using a rich biscuit dough
  7. The Joy of Cooking, 1953 – I also have the 1975 edition

28 December 2006

Third Thursday Thirteen

Herewith, for Thursday Thirteen - thirteen books received for Christmas - by the three of us, not just me. There are others - these are just the thirteen presently near to hand.

  1. A Stew or a Story (M.F.K. Fisher) - collected short pieces
  2. Book of Longing (Leonard Cohen) - poetry
  3. Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford
  4. Dirty Sugar Cookies (Ayun Halliday)
  5. English as She is Spoke (José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino) - hysterical!
  6. Little Tree (e.e. cummings/Chris Raschko)
  7. Olivia’s Opposites (Ian Falconer)
  8. Pete's a Pizza (William Steig) - which I have already read to Miss M. three times today
  9. The Omnivore's Dilemma (Michael Pollan) – 2 copies, oops, my sister's getting one back for her birthday
  10. The Reluctant Dragon (Kenneth Grahame)
  11. The Snowy Day (Ezra Jack Keats)
  12. There’s a Monster in My Backpack (Lisa Moser) – thanks to Mother Reader who reviewed this a month or so ago - it sounded charming, and it is.
  13. Wondrous Strange: the life and art of Glenn Gould (Kevin Bazzana)
Other books include The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, a cookbook by Donna Hay, Turn Turn Turn (an illustrated copy of the psalm with a CD of Pete Seeger singing the song) and a book of homophones written and printed by my sister-in-law.

Is there a theme here? Kids books, food books, word books, art and music books.

27 December 2006

Holiday Chaos, or, Bad Things Happen in Threes

When I was about 8, I split my chin open on the side of a swimming pool. Two days later, my then 3 year old sister split her chin open jumping backwards into the same swimming pool. Different crews in the ER - she had black stitches, I had blue. A few days later, our father did a cannonball into, yes, the same pool and sprained his ankle. Bad things happen in threes.

Two weeks ago, W. had a root canal, which subsequently got infected. Last week, Miss M. came down with pinkeye, thereby missing my brother's wedding celebration (her pediatrician said she needed to be quarantined for 24 hours "unless you don't like them"). The next day, the plumbing at my mother's house clogged, requiring a call to Roto-Rooter and heroic measures by W., who babysat the plumber while three stories worth of sewage poured into the basement and all of the rest of us went to see the Nutcracker.

Nothing bad has happened since - fingers crossed - so bad things really do happen in threes? Let's hope so.

21 December 2006

Totemic Thursday Thirteen

Another Thursday Thirteen - this time = Totemic Food Pairings!

1. Byrrh and Soda - Byrrh is a kind of aperitif, pronounce to rhyme with beer. My mother used to drink it occasionally, with club soda. Hence, Byrrh and Soda - sounds like you're mixing Budweiser and Coca-cola, no?

2. Fish Eyes and Glue - what you call tapioca when it's made with big pearl tapioca, the kind that's about 1/4" in diameter.

3. Waffles and Baked Beans - a family joke. It was, alledgedly, a favorite supper of my paternal grandfather's. I have actually never eaten waffles and baked beans together, though we've had many family discussions about the idea of putting a single bean in each crevice of the waffles.

4. Tomato Soup and Cottage Cheese - a strange and wonderful combination. The tomato soup must be Campbell's; the cottage cheese is your choice. I happen to prefer a "pot-style" cottage cheese, it's drier and works better with the soup. You put a big blob of cottage cheese in the bowl, grind some pepper on top, and add the piping hot soup. Yum.

5. Yogurt and pretzels - a nice lunch on the run. The pretzels should be small and broken up a bit; the yogurt should be Dannon with the fruit on the bottom. Once upon a time, this was wonderful with the now departed Dannon Dutch Apple yogurt flavor. The combination of soft and hard, sweet and salty, is hard to beat.

6. Peanut butter and sardines - perhaps another family joke? My maternal grandfather claimed to like a nice sandwich of peanut butter and sardines - he said that the peanut butter held the sardines on the sandwich.

7. Cottage Cheese and Pickle Relish - another quick lunch. I eat this occasionally - again, the sweet and savory combination is great. I like to pretend that the pickles are vegetables and therefore good for me.

8. Popcorn and Sherry - my paternal grandfather served this as hors d'oeuvres for holiday gatherings. The popcorn must be freshly popped in a pan, with salt and butter. The sherry must be Amontillado. He always presented the popcorn in a tall, straight-sided wooden bowl. My mother surmises that a vague rancidity in the bowl added to the distinct flavor of the popcorn. In any case, they do go strangely well together - the nuttiness of the sherry, the salt and grease of the popcorn.

9. Nassau County Snacks - okay, this one is terribly idiosyncratic. I grew up in Nassau County; the county colors are blue and orange. So, Nassau County snacks are Cheez Doodles (orange!) served in a blue enamelware bowl. Blue and orange.

10. Endive and Watercress - served as a salad for holiday meals. It's a great peppery, clean salad and it makes a nice foil for a standing rib roast or other big rich piece of meat.

11. Gin and Tonic - they just go together. It was the only mixed drink at our wedding. We had wine, champagne, beer and gin & tonic. What more do you need?

12. Orange Juice and Cranberry Juice. Yes, it can be a mixed drink if you add vodka, but just orange and cranberry together is a great combination. Somehow, the two together transform into a third flavor.

13. Ginger Ale and Saltines - what you have when you're sick. I don't even like ginger ale, but it does wonders for an upset stomach.

20 December 2006

Christmas Trees

While we got our tree and got it up in a timely fashion, it took a number of days to actually get it decorated. But now that it is, it makes me happy. I love coming into the house and smelling the tree, and trotting over to turn it on is almost the first thing I do.

Carrying the boxes of ornaments up from the cellar and lovingly unpacking them and fondling them as they go on the tree is so memory filled, in a wholly affectionate way. First the lights go on. Then the tree topper - an old glass finial type topper. Then the little old ornaments at the top of the tree. As I make my way down, the ornaments get bigger and less fragile (and newer). Concessions in the past to cats and in the present to the toddler mean that there are ornaments on the tree that I'd just as soon not have, but practicality dictates some unbreakable ornaments for Miss M. to poke.

Getting the tree itself has often been some kind of an adventure too. There was the tree that was part of the party decorations for the early December opening night party of The Forest by Robert Wilson and David Byrne at BAM a long time ago. After the party, I single-handedly crammed a tree (free!) in the back of the Ford Fiesta at an ungodly hour of the night, drove it home from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side, and lugged it into my apartment. My then boyfriend (now husband) got up in the morning and was stunned to discover a tree that hadn't been there the night before. Another time, we bought at tree at the Union Square market and brought it home on the subway.

15 December 2006

Wrapping Paper

Every week, Miss M. comes home from school with two or three of those big sheets of newsprint covered with tempura, you know, art. I can't keep them all, but I feel guilty tossing them. So, the vaguely color appropriate became Christmas wrapping. It's also been used as birthday wrapping for her school chums. And, I believe I wrapped all of her own birthday presents in her own wrapping paper...


My new favorite website is the complete Mozart archive. It is completely searchable, and returns pdfs of everything he wrote. Everything. I keep printing things out, like I'm going to sing the Queen of the Night aria next week. If I did, I might sound a little like Florence Foster Jenkins.

Silent Night

At last check, I have 36 versions of Silent Night in iTunes.

A particularly wonderful one is Silent Night played on the musical saw, on the Asylum Street Spankers Christmas record.

[Can you tell how old I am? Records are still records, even though they're CDs.]

14 December 2006

Thirsty Thursday Thirteen

I grew up in a sailing community. On Thursday evenings in the summer, there was a little racing series called Thirsty Thursdays. Cocktails under sail. It wasn't about the racing per se, as much as the being out on the water for a sunset sail and a picnic on a weeknight. With that in mind, here's my thirsty Thursday Thirteen - beverages for a work day seguing into a holiday meal:

1. Black Coffee – made from freshly ground Peet’s house blend
2. Hot Apple Cider from the Union Square Greenmarket
3. Lemon Zinger tea
4. Seltzer (plain or lemon-lime)
5. Chicken Noodle Soup (well, it’s mostly liquid)
6. V-8
7. Coffee with milk, and a chocolate chip cookie on the side
8. Gus Pomegranate Soda
9. Gin & Tonic, heavy on the lime
10. Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose
11. White wine, especially a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc
12. Apple Ice wine
13. Calvados

12 December 2006


During her bath last night, Miss M. announced to me: "Bangoo's a kind of watermelon when you wash your hair." What on earth could she mean?


I have a subscription to Brain Child - it was originally a gift from my sister, the first Christmas after Miss M. was born, and I've continued to renew it because it's good provocative germane writing.

The Winter 2007 arrived in the mailbox last week and was promptly devoured. Well, no I didn't eat it. But I did read it cover to cover.

I frequently feel like some kind of mother imposter - just flying by the seat of my pants, trying to keep Miss M. on an even keel. And that pretending-to-be-someone's-mother feeling is often exacerbated in the presence of other mothers (unless they're clearly slacker moms, too!). So while reading an essay* in Brain Child about a woman and her adopted Chinese daughter, I was struck by this passage excerpt:

I had to develop an expression which showed slight embarrassment and wry amusement along with great fondness...

She goes on about her kid's exploits in the grocery store (watching the lobsters! singing "Old MacDonald" in the meat department!), but that description floored me - I know it so well - slight embarrassment, wry amusement, great fondness - oh yes, daily.

* The essay is My Girl: Made in China, raised in Illinois, by Gale Renee Walden.

11 December 2006

Disney Cheese

Last week's New Yorker had a piece by Anthony Lane about Walt Disney - a book review, mostly, but broader and more rambling than just a book review. Disney, blah blah blah, more Disney, more blah blah blah. Then this:

To understand Disney's advance, you need to go to Paris. In particular, you need to go to Paris before January 15th, to the Grand Palais, which is home to an exhibit of Disney's art. This in itself is astounding. To the French mind, Disney represents the arrowhead of American cultural assault, and if America were to return the favor it would need to mount a major retrospective of soft, unpasteurized French cheese at the Metropolitan Museum.

This stopped me in my tracks (on the tracks; I was on the train). What would a cheese retrospective look like? Would tasting be involved? Soft cheeses are usually young - can you have a retrospective of young cheese? Would there be cave replicas? Affineurs on display? A didactic interactive display of pasteurization and why it knocks the character out of cheese? Don't get me wrong - I love cheese. I just thought the idea of a cheese retrospective was something else.

Christmas Music

I have a sickness. I have 2.7 days worth of Christmas music in iTunes. More than 30 versions of Jingle Bells. 36 of Silent Night. 20 of O Holy Night. It goes on. The next door neighbor suggested that perhaps my husband needed a support group.

But there are others out there! Sweetney posted a whole holiday mix tape - she's my kind of girl.

09 December 2006

Word of the Day: Absquatulate

Absquatulate is one of my favorite words. Every time I use it in conversation, I get a "huh?". It means, no joke, get up and squat elsewhere.

The only definition I found on the web was at Wordnet:

(v) abscond, bolt, absquatulate, decamp, run off, go off, make off (run away; usually includes taking something or somebody along) "The thief made off with our silver"; "the accountant absconded with the cash from the safe"

"Get up and squat elsewhere" is better, no?

08 December 2006

Christmas Meme

I found this at Irish Goddess, and borrowed it for here.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
To drink while decorating? Sherry, preferably a nice amontillado.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa wraps, I wrap, Daddy wraps - we all wrap.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Only white.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nah. Where do you get it anyway?

5. When do you put up your decorations?
Well, the wreath is up and the tree is going up tomorrow.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Julia Child's Garlic Mashed Potatoes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Maybe I'll post the recipe later.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child:
Making endless numbers of cookies and decorating them with multiple colors of piped royal icing.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What do you mean?

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Never. And every year we pester my mother to let us do so.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
With white lights, and old glass bead chains, and glass ornaments - lots old, some new. I will reluctantly put some non-breakable ornaments on the tree as a concession to the 3 year old.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it Especially when there's a snow day.

12. Can you ice skate?
I haven't skated in years. I used to be able to do a waltz jump.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite gift ever was when my husband woke me up at about 2:00 in the morning on Valentine's Day to give me an iPod. I still love my Pod. I can fill it up with days worth of Christmas music.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Putting iTunes on random with the Christmas music.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Julia Child's Apple Clafouti. Simple, delicious, and not too rich. And good for breakfast the next day if there are leftovers.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The huge party at my mother's house every year on Christmas Eve. Of course, it's not happening this year - but we'll figure something out.

17. What tops your tree?
An antique blown glass tree-topper.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Giving. I like making lists, buying things, wrapping them, and watching people open stuff they didn't know they needed.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
It is not possible to answer this question. I do like Pavarotti singing O Holy Night with an Italian accent, though. And it's fun to belt out Jerusalem around the piano.

20. Candy Canes!
That's not a question.


Cost of an IUI ~$3000.
Cost of a simple IVF ~$10,000.
Julie's Snowflakes = Priceless

06 December 2006

Phenomenal Woman

Thanks to Mitali at The Fire Escape I got to re-read a favorite poem this morning. Maya Angelou was the speaker at my college graduation, nearly 25 years ago. She was (and is) wonderful - a force of nature and a great inspiration. And her phrase "Phenomenal Woman" - or more commonly amongst my fellow alumnae, "Phenomenal Women", so as to encompass the all of us - has become a catch-phrase, a slogan for the class.

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.


Oh the Google searchers. Someone landed at my site having typed "Sharks Patrol By Cake" into the Google search engine. I love that.

04 December 2006


I wasn't very interested in the article, but I read every word of the sign in the accompanying photo. It's nice to see that Tyson's internal signage is so well grammar-checked.

[If the photo is too small to read the sign, it says "Don't Walk To Fast For Floor Conditions".]

02 December 2006

Striped Socks and Starbucks

Or, alliteration is fun. Okay, I digress.

The other day, I asked Miss M. what she'd like to get Daddy for Christmas. She said "striped socks". Where that came from, I don't know. We're not a household of patterned socks; mine are usually black or white though I do have a few patterned ones, W's are usually black or another dark solid color, Miss M's are bold and pastel solid colors. So this afternoon, we walked into town to find some striped socks. Sure enough, at the somewhat twee clothing store in town, we found some. She picked the color, I paid, we left.

For further amusement, we went to Starbuck's for hot chocolate. Generally, I think Starbuck's is the evil empire. My pet peeve is that if you ask for a cup of coffee with milk - i.e. not a fancy latte or some such, just a plain old coffee with milk - You Have To Put The Milk In Yourself. I'm sorry, but that's not service. If you go in there with a little kid and a handful of shopping bags and an umbrella and and and...you can't do it. They should put the milk in your damned coffee.

Anyway, back to this afternoon: I asked the cashier for a small hot chocolate with a spare cup - figuring that I could split it and add a little milk to one to cool it down for Miss M. The cashier said, "we can put it in two cups for you". Okay. So we go to the end of the counter to wait for the cups, and the coffee maker lady (I can't bring myself to say "barista") hands over two full cups. Full. She didn't make one hot chocolate and pour half into a second cup - she gave us two. For the price of one. I was strangely moved by this - who'd have thought that Starbuck's was capable of such generosity?

01 December 2006

Holiday Gift Guides

Wow, a lot of people are way more organized than me. I root around the net while wasting time at work, but I can't get it together to actually make lists with links of ideas of gifts to buy. But other people do and have! Cool Mom Picks has a bunch of interesting stuff, usefully organized by recipient. Miss Doxie has a hysterical list of things to buy and where to get them. Mighty Girl always has lots of great picks - I drool over her picks on a regular basis. And besides, it's December 1st and time to get cracking on your shopping if you haven't finished it already.

30 November 2006

Exit NaBloPoMo - Tomorrow You May Rest

Phew. This has been interesting, this posting everyday. In fact, I've averaged 1 1/2 posts per day: including this post, I've logged 45 posts in the 30 days of November - and yes, I posted every single day. Weekends have been the hardest...all of a sudden it's 9:00 on a Saturday night and, oh no, what to post? But for the most part, it hasn't felt like a millstone around the neck. I've had stuff rattling around in my head looking for an outlet, and this posting business has given me someplace to put it. And there's more to come. I've got two draft posts in the queue, and a bunch more on a to-do list.

Thank you, M. Kennedy, for the needed kick in the pants.

29 November 2006

Go, Dog. Go!

I love Go, Dog. Go! I don't mind reading it to Miss M. a lot (it's in heavy rotation again these days). But here's what I hate.

Four times in the book, a girl dog encounters a boy dog and asks "Do you like my hat?"

The first three times, the exchange ends:
"I do not."

[The fourth time, the boy dog loves the party hat.]

Here's what makes me nuts: "Good-by" is not how you spell it.
I cringe every single time.

The Jungle

One of the blogs that I read fairly regularly is The Gurgling Cod. Recently, Upton Sinclair has come up in two of his posts. The first was a couple of weeks ago, and includes a link to a hilarious and artless rap video deconstruction of The Jungle by a couple of high school girls. Totally worth watching.

Yesterday's post of his takes off from Peter Hoffman's op-ed piece in the Times last week about curing meat, and his inability to do so in his restaurant Savoy, due to all sorts of food safety regulations. The Cod segues from Hoffman to Sinclair and The Jungle, and points out the fact that the book is so often held up as an indictment of the food industry at the turn of the century, and that it spurred the legislation that created the now FDA. In fact, the meatpacking industry is just the hook, the MacGuffin if you will, to a book that's really about immigration and labor relations and poverty and socialism.

I recently read The Jungle, somehow having missed it in high school. I'm interested in food, local food production, sustainable agriculture, cooking, eating - that whole matrix of things. The Jungle gets referenced so often, I thought it was time to read it. And I was startled to find that it really is about so much more than the Chicago meatpacking business of 1906. As Sinclair supposedly said: "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."


28 November 2006

Three Year Olds

The other day, there was a piece in the Times about the use of psychiatric drugs in children. It was a troubling story, as while there are lots of cases where kids do well on a drugs, there are other kids being dosed with drug combinations that are not well tested in children, and that may or may not do any good, and may in fact do harm. But that's not my point. Midway through the piece, there was a description of a three year old child that raised my hackles:

Fate Riske, 3, of Fond du Lac, Wis., takes two antipsychotics and a sleeping medicine to control what her mother, Elizabeth Klein-Riske, said were hours-long tantrums, a desire to watch the same movies repeatedly and an insistence on eating the meat, cheese and bread in her sandwiches separately.

I'm sorry, but I'm the mother of a three year old, and frankly, that sounds like normal three year old behavior, not something that needs three medications. My kid will watch the same movie three times in a row, and wants "plain pasta" for dinner every night, and throws fits because she can't wear her black patent leather party shoes to school, and in no way is she a candidate for medication. Sorry, no.

An Academic Chain Letter

Thanks to Raising Weg I learned about an academic experiment about how quickly stuff travels about the blogosphere...so I'm trying to participate. With that, here's my link to Scott Eric Kaufman's own blog, which spells out what he's trying to do, and what he wants you to do:

    1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
    2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply that he's one of them.
    3. Ping Techorati.

    Please don't ask me what "Ping Technorati" actually means. I just scribble stuff, and follow instructions.

    Vanity Plates

    My favorite license plate ever: ENTROPY

    On a Ford Fiesta. Not mine. Yes, a long time ago.

    27 November 2006

    Someone Else's Thanksgiving

    I am impressed - I want to be invited next year: A Thanksgiving Odyssey

    26 November 2006

    Pincus, the flying horse

    W. and I are always trying to teach something new to our little person. When stopped at a light near a Mobil station, Miss M. pointed to the sign and said "that's a flying horse". We told her that its name was Pegasus. This morning, in the bedroom, apropos of nothing, W. asked her what the flying horse was called. She said "Pincus".

    Christmas is coming!

    Helped my mother buy a tree yesterday, bought a wreath hanger for myself, finished my shopping last Tuesday, organized the iTunes holiday music (don't ask how many Christmas tunes I've got), and today, made my own little Christmas postcard. If I can figure it out, later I may add snow to this here blog. Okay, I'm a dork.

    25 November 2006


    Tomorrow's Times has a piece in the magazine - in the food column - about arguing with a loved one over a fancy dinner at the beginning of a relationship. When W. and I were first dating, he had a deal with Continental Airlines, and we were able to go to Paris twice for long weekends. Because the airfare was free (with first or business class upgrades!), we were able to splurge and eat very well.

    One night, we had dinner at Le Pré Catelan in the Bois de Boulogne - a charming and romantic old school restaurant. While there, we had our first big argument - about asparagus - namely, what part of the plant do you eat. I was right (as usual!). As the meal went on, the restaurant starting clearing out. Eventually they turned the lights down. We thought this was quite offputting - were they trying to kick us out? - until we discovered that they'd turned the lights down so that the private fireworks in the garden for the largish birthday party also at the restaurant would be better visible. It was a stunning end to a memorable meal.

    24 November 2006

    Taking the Westbound

    I think that reading the Douglas Martin's Times obits should be mandatory for all for the rich glance into the obscure that they offer. Today's gem was the obituary of one Steam Train Maury, also known as the Grand Patriarch of the Hobos, and the Life King of the Hobos East of the Mississippi, dead at 89. More than a mere obit, the piece is a tiny history of hobos in America.

    When The Washington Times asked Mr. Graham in 1989 whether it was true that some hobos used deodorant, he answered: “It’s a shame, but I don’t know what we can do about it.”

    I could quote endlessly, or you could go read the elegant obit. I do wonder though, is/was there a Life King of the Hobos West of the Mississippi?

    RIP, Steam Train Maury.

    23 November 2006


    Thank you to Miss M. for being a wonderful, funny, willful, charming, smart and cunning little girl. Thank you to Dr. Chung and CRMI for making said girlie possible. And thank you to W., for being her father and my husband, and for cooking nearly all of the Thanksgiving feast we will consume later, except for the things his mother is making:

    Turkey (locally grown)
    Cauliflower stained in red wine (from the Campagna cookbook)
    Hashed Brussels Sprouts (from the Union Square Cafe cookbook)
    Garlic Mashed Potatoes (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. 1)
    Parker House rolls (W's mom)
    Cranberry Onion Chutney (from Epicurious)
    Fresh Cranberry sauce (W's mom)
    Pumpkin Pie (W's mom, from his grandmother's recipe)
    Apple Tart (my sole contribution, with a piecrust made from yesterday's lard)

    22 November 2006


    I bought a pound or so of unrendered leaf lard at the Greenmarket this morning, to try in a pie crust tomorrow. I googled how to render it, I'm planning to use about 30% lard to 70% butter, and I'm making a simple apple tart with it.

    It seems to me that I'm beginning to have a few too many posts about pigs and their culinary uses. Maybe I need a new label for PORK.

    Meat and Drink

    The things that show up in the Good Grey Lady: Pork Margaritas

    Will wonders never cease?

    My brother's comment was "Wow. Finally, someone has invented the Perfect Food."

    21 November 2006

    Jet Blue and the Cheese Man

    I make these cryptic notes to myself of things to write about...mostly the list is single word entries...but one item was this title: Jet Blue and the Cheese Man. It sounds like a kid's book, doesn't it?

    Last month, I went to California for a long weekend with my mother, who doesn't walk terribly well, and my daughter, who's only just three now and wasn't yet three then. I poked around on the web for plane tickets, with the one caveat that we had to fly non-stop from NYC to LA - no stopping in Cleveland for hours and changing planes. It came down to a handful of flights - most going to LAX, or Jet Blue to Long Beach. In a moment of great thrift and lucidity, I realized that I had enough mileage points to book all three tickets on Jet Blue and so I did. Jet Blue into Long Beach turned out to be a great solution. Long Beach is a tiny airport - you get off the plane by walking down the stairs onto the tarmac, the baggage claim is about 100 feet away from the plane, and you can see the car rental kiosk from the baggage area. All this was perfect for one older gimp and one willful toddler. Even though Long Beach is about 20 miles south of LAX, and therefore farther south of where we were headed, the ease of transition from plane to rental car - at both ends - made up for the extra miles.

    The other wonderful thing about Jet Blue was that everyone gets a TV on the back of the seat. Miss M.'s TV was tuned to Nickelodeon (I'd have preferred Noggin, but they didn't have it) most of the time and she was duly fascinated. She watched without sound because her headphones kept falling off and finally she just forgot about them. On the trip back, Nick seemed to be having a SpongeBob marathon - all SpongeBob, all the time. Well, Miss M. had never seen SpongeBob before, and kept calling him the Cheese Man. I had no interest in correcting her - who would? And she is still calling him the Cheese Man - we saw a SpongeBob helium balloon in the supermarket the other day and she said "Look, it's the Cheese Man". And frankly, the character really does look like a hunk of swiss cheese.

    20 November 2006

    Parent Hack #1

    Lots of the time I feel like I'm pretending to know how to be a parent, kind of like I'm pretending to be a grown-up (and what am I going to do when I grow up anyway?). Today, though, I feel like a real parent - my carabiner hack is on Parent Hacks!

    19 November 2006

    Hot Dog

    I am slowly working backwards through Michael Ruhlman's blog, and enjoying it immensely. Tonight's nugget:

    The hot dog is what’s known in the trade as an emulsified forcemeat.

    Today's adventure began with a visit to the holiday train show at the New York Botanical Garden. The train show is awesome, although it was staggeringly crowded even though we arrived at 10:10am (why weren't they all in church?). The trains weave through the shrubbery in the conservatory and around fabulous replicas of famous NYC buildings, all built of botanical bits and pieces. It's good for kids AND train buffs AND crafty types.

    Afterwards, we had lunch at a fine hot dog stand - Walter's in Mamaroneck. When we got there, Miss M. was asleep in the car so I waited with her while W. went to fetch the dogs. And waited. And waited. Eventually he returned, with five dogs for the three of us and fine coffee milkshakes. Why the wait? Turns out that someone further up the line had ordered THIRTY SIX hotdogs. THIRTY SIX. It torpedoed the line.

    But here's the question - how many of those people eating Walter's split grilled dogs on toasted buns know that a hotdog is an emulsified forcemeat?

    18 November 2006

    O unctuous pig

    Yup: Pork without fat is sex without orgasm.

    I was very happy to stumble on Michael Ruhlman's blog this morning, via Foodmomiac. Ruhlman has written some great books about food and cooking - including The Soul of a Chef and The Making of a Chef. The last section of Soul has Ruhlman hanging out in the kitchen at The French Laundry. I was salivating by the end and wanted to jump on the next plane to San Francisco.

    Ruhlman also wrote a book called Walk on Water - a book about pediatric heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. I had bought this on impulse because I'd liked other stuff that Ruhlman had written and I like reading about medical stuff. Problem is, I bought this on Election Day in 2003, at the PTA book sale at the school I was voting at, when I was about 37 weeks pregnant with Miss M. In a flight of amazing masochism, I devoured the book in days, reading with horrified fascination and a sick feeling that I was somehow jinxing my poor little babe in utero. Luckily she was fine, but it really wasn't the best choice of reading material in my then delicate condition. And all that said, it's a fascinating book about a world one hopes never to enter.

    16 November 2006

    Woman kicked off plane for breastfeeding!

    Can you believe a woman was recently kicked off a Delta Airlines flight for discreetly breastfeeding her child!? Here's an article on it, and here's where to sign the petition to support breastfeeding.

    It's time to tell Delta Airlines to get a clue and be supportive of breastfeeding mothers; and to tell Congress it's time to pass the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect breastfeeding mothers. Why this hasn't happened yet is a mystery to me.

    Cross Promotion Gone Wild

    Here's the subject of an email I got in the office this morning:

    Watch the Staples MailMate Shredder on The Office tonight!

    I'm so perplexed I don't even know where to begin. Did the folks promoting The Office put Staples up to this? Is Staples just so excited that their shredder will be on TV that they sent out this email?


    I found this a while ago. It amused me. I have a long-standing fondness for Gorey and particularly The Gashlycrumb Tinies. If you don't know the book, click here for some more letters or here for the whole thing.

    What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

    You will sink in a mire. You like to think you're normal, but deep down you really just want to strip off your clothes and roll around in chicken fat.
    Take this quiz!

    15 November 2006


    Fascinating stats on last week's election, courtesy of Rick Hertzberg in the New Yorker:

    In 2000, the last time this year’s thirty-three Senate seats were up for grabs, the popular-vote totals in those races, like the popular-vote totals for President, were essentially a tie. Democrats got forty-eight per cent of the vote, Republicans slightly more than forty-seven per cent. This time, in those same thirty-three states, Democrats got fifty-five per cent of the vote, Republicans not quite forty-three per cent. In raw numbers, the national Democratic plurality in the 2000 senatorial races was the same as Al Gore’s: around half a million. This time, despite the inevitably smaller off-year turnout and the fact that there were Senate races in only two-thirds of the states, it was more than seven million.

    14 November 2006

    Found Objects, or The Joy of Motherhood

    Walking to the train this morning I sensed that there was something in the pocket of my rain jacket. Underpants! Clean ones, that I'd stuck in my pocket yesterday on the way to the pediatrician, just in case Miss M. needed a spare pair.

    Later on, I stuck my hand in the pocket of my jeans and turned up two pink plastic hairclips, not mine.

    No-Knead Bread

    Nearly a week after the article was published, the article and related recipe for No-Knead Bread are #8 and #9 on the Times list of most emailed articles. People are hankering for bread I guess. I haven't tried it...but I think I will this weekend.

    Smitten Kitchen already tried it, with only one good arm...

    13 November 2006

    Spam humor

    Mostly the spam just annoys the hell out of me, like this morning when there were almost 300 new messages and only 15 or so were legit.

    But this header made me laugh.

    Subject: [SPAM] Re: Turd Ferguson pakmansc

    I think it's a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel - Turd Ferguson. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

    Toddler Logic

    This morning in the car, Miss M. announced to me "animals have fur, but we have blankets." Yes, indeed.

    12 November 2006


    How did we get so many dishes? I remember thinking the same thing when we moved 2 years ago and I had to pack up THREE complete sets of china, plus a whole mess of assorted plates, platters, bowls, cups, casseroles, etc.

    Today we had a birthday party for Miss M., who turned three a few days ago. Cleaning up afterwards involved a lot of handwashing - many pieces are too big for the dishwasher. I found myself musing whilst handwashing - remembering where they'd come from, who'd given them to us, why we'd bought them.

    1. Glass cake stand - from W.'s grandmother
    2. Another glass cake stand - a gift from my mother (includes a dome for keeping your cake fresh, or you can turn the whole thing upside down and use it as a punch bowl)
    3. Handmade cobalt blue glass plate with irises cast into the back of it - a wedding present from a board member at a place I once worked
    4. Oval Armetale dish - another wedding present, from an elderly neighbor of my mother's - actually her husband was still alive then, so it was from elderly neighbors
    5. Two large white plates with blue lines - bought by us in Maine one year, because we'd rented a house for a week, and the house had only small dark brown plates, and we just couldn't eat dinner off of those plates, so we bought these nice big plates at a housewares store in Ellsworth
    6. A big round white platter with blue edging, by Dansk - once upon a time, long before we were married, W. bought a whole set of Dansk Bistro china for me. It's one of the three sets of china we have - the other two are by Cuisinart (also blue and white) and Crate & Barrel (white with raised dots and lines)
    7. Another big round white platter with blue edging - bought by me at Fishs Eddy as a gift for W. - but really I bought it because it's a very flat plate and therefore good for serving tarts and quiches
    8. A pottery bowl made by my cousin
    9. Another pottery bowl - given to us as a wedding present - it has a lid, I think so it can be a covered vegetable dish. Which begs the question, what IS a covered vegetable dish?
    I could go on all day about this, but I won't.

    10 November 2006


    Everytime I think or write NaBloPoMo I think "PoMo - isn't that short for post-modern?" (my mid-80s graduate school career rearing its erudite head).

    So I googled PoMo and found a bunch of references to some Native Americans in California. Who knew?

    From Wikipedia

    Pomo may refer to:

    * Pomo people, indigenous peoples of Northern California
    * Postmodernism, an artistic movement emerging from and reacting to modernism.

    09 November 2006

    Stunning Timewaster!

    I heard about this distraction at Mother Reader, and had to post about it here. Wow. Try it. But don't blame me!


    I went to an event last night, an annual benefit that my father always buys tickets for, and that I've been to regularly for the past number of years (except three years ago when I was in the hospital after Miss M. was born). I went to the ladies room and suddenly remembered that four years ago I'd been on stims for IVF#2 and had to shoot up in that there ladies room. The stalls were big and clean and the doors went all the way to the floor and there was a convenient lip along the top edge of the tile that gave me somewhere to put the syringe and vials and stuff. It was a powerful flashback, made wistful - IVF#2 failed. I hadn't thought about all of that messy IVF drug work in a long time. And I'm glad it's behind us, and that IVF#3 resulted in the divine Miss M.

    08 November 2006

    Biblical Animals

    And for today's Times chuckle:

    Yesterday, for example, Eliot Spitzer was scheduled to vote on the Upper East Side at 7 a.m., Andrew Cuomo was scheduled to vote in Lower Manhattan at 10 a.m., and camels, sheep and a donkey were scheduled to arrive at Radio City Music Hall for its Christmas Spectacular at 1:15 p.m. — which has nothing to do with Election Day but seemed important enough to share.

    Thanks, Dan Barry.

    This shouldn't be in politics

    Lieberman is not MY elected official, but it burns me that he (and others) say things like this:

    “I will try in every way I can, every day I am your senator, to reach out in a way and get things done in a way that honors and sanctifies God’s holy name,” Mr. Lieberman said in his victory speech.

    When I'm in charge, "under god" is coming out of the Pledge of Allegience.

    NYS Comptroller

    I voted for Hevesi, with reservations, but the Hevesi/Callaghan race was indeed odd, and this (from today's Times) is a tiny bit heart-breaking:

    Mr. Callaghan was emotional in defeat, untying his bow tie and choking back tears as he addressed supporters at an Albany hotel. “I cannot help but regard the decision of New York voters as odd,” he said.

    The un-tying of the bow tie is what got me.

    On an semi-related note - why is it a Comptroller? I suppose I should just go look it up.

    This is not about politics

    I met Senator Clinton yesterday at the train station, and introduced myself as Wellesley 82. She leaned over conspiratorially and said "We should have a secret handshake."

    07 November 2006

    Cheese Swanwiches

    Here's my favorite parent hack: speedy cheese sandwiches, a/k/a quesadillas.

    Buy a package of flour tortillas, whole wheat if you're feeling virtuous. Grate some cheese - cheddar, monterey jack, colby, muenster or some combination of those, or whatever you like (maybe not brie or Humboldt Fog). Spread all of the tortillas out on the counter. Cover half of each one with grated cheese. Fold all of the tortillas in half and press down along the fold line. Stack them up with parchment paper between and slide into a plastic bag (or two) and freeze. When you need a quick lunch, pull out a frozen sandwich and plop it in a dry non-stick (or seasoned cast iron) pan. Heat until it starts to brown on one side, then flip it over. Cut into triangles and serve to hungry appreciative toddler.

    This is hardly any work for a whole pile of swanwiches.

    06 November 2006

    Pump Moms, part 2

    The close reader of the post below about pumping will note that I said I pumped at my desk. It's actually a cubicle.

    I started out trying to be private about the whole thing. I carted self and pump down the hall to my boss's dressing room - which had a lock and a phone and a private bathroom. All well and good until I got tired (very quickly) of the trek down the very long hall. So I started using his office - with non-locking glass doors - but there was a phone and I could tuck myself in the corner and be pretty much out of sight. Fine for a while, until people realized I was in there and some just wandered in to talk. I think the final straw was when said boss sent someone in to talk to me. So then I gave up hiding and just started pumping in my cubicle. I was discreet: I could talk on the phone, work on the computer, and talk to people who happened by. Really, no one could see anything scandalous...though they did know what was going on.

    When it was all over, I made a speech at a staff meeting and said that I appreciated the consideration and accomodation that everyone had offered me, and that I hoped that they would all be as supportive of other nursing mothers in any future situations they might encounter.

    05 November 2006


    My father just called to ask if there was anything in today's Times Arts & Leisure section about Sasha Cohen's new movie. After a moment, it dawned on me that he'd confused the figure skater with Sacha Baron Cohen - who does have a new movie out. But he was asking about the figure skater.

    Aw, Hedgedog!

    my pet!

    Thanks, Fussy!

    04 November 2006

    The Joy of Squirrels

    The New York Times reviewed the new edition of The Joy of Cooking the other day. In the course of the review, they touched on the various changes made to Joy over time - what styles and recipes and techniques have come in and out of favor. I have two earlier editions - 1953 and 1975. The 1953 edition was my grandmother's and is complete with her pencil markings in the margin, and amusingly, some of my pencil markings from days when I cooked with her.

    This paragraph:

    The game sections offer another example of nostalgia run amok. The 1997 book removed references to porcupine, raccoon and squirrel, omissions that have been held up as proof that “Joy” had lost its soul. The new version includes no recipes for those creatures, although it does suggest they can be cooked like chicken. (To be fair, the rabbit-skinning diagram is back, and the venison section is much improved.)

    sent me to my earlier editions to check on the squirrel techniques.

    In 1953, the squirrel section begins "there are proverbially many ways to skin a squirrel."

    In 1975, the instructions begin "To skin, don gloves to avoid possible tularemia infection."

    It seems to me that Joy was losing its soul, and its joy, by 1975.

    Another difference between these two editions...note the shoes in the drawings. In 1953, there are delicate old-style ladies boots doing the holding down of the squirrel. In 1975, we're wearing steel-toed work boots.

    03 November 2006

    Pump Moms

    The other day, I spotted a woman on my train carrying a Medela Pump-In-Style-Advanced backpack. The PISAs don't have any label or logo on them, but they do have distinctive zipper pulls, so the bag was identifiable to me, a former pumper. Everytime I see one of them, I feel like a member of a secret sorority. I thought of tapping her on the back and asking "how old is your baby?" but I restrained myself.

    I pumped for a year. At the beginning, it was because Miss M. was a lousy nurser - so at the start I was pumping seven times a day. And I still had to supplement with formula. Eventually, I cut back to pumping four times a day - which was actually fairly sane. I'd pump before leaving the house, and before bed, and twice during the work day. I was lucky enough to have two pumps, so I didn't have to haul one back and forth to the office. I had an ancient PIS borrowed from a friend that lived under my desk for a year, and a new PISA that stayed home and went away for weekends. So just the milk and bottles travelled to and from work. And I got the whole thing down to a bare minimum. I'd pump at my desk, put the milk in the fridge and leave the horns unwashed until the second pump of the day. At the end of the day, I washed the horns for the next day and left them to air dry at my desk. I never sterilized anything.

    Eventually Miss M. figured out the nursing thing, but I kept pumping because I was away from her for most of the day. And all through that first year of hers, we supplemented with formula - not much, 2 to 10 ounces per day, maybe 25% of her intake overall.

    [The title of this post comes from the name of a Yahoo group - it was a useful resource for tips and support and sources during those pumping days.]

    02 November 2006


    This morning on the train, I was sitting next to a man whose smell reminded me of an old boyfriend. Old, like more than 20 years ago. I can't quite put a finger on it, it wasn't a smell of cologne, and it wasn't body odor, and it may have been more in the clothes than on the person, but whatever it was, it provoked a sharp involuntary memory. The mind indeed works in curious ways. Many times a smell will conjure up some past experience, but sometimes doing something will do the same thing. Nearly everytime I decompress by doing a Sudoku puzzle in bed, I think of a woman I knew - an aquaintance really - and, for the life of me, I can't figure out what the association is. She died recently. Maybe it was that I was following the saga of her death in postings on the web, each night just before the bedtime Sudoku...? Who knows.

    01 November 2006

    How Many of Me?

    LogoThere are:
    people with my name
    in the U.S.A.

    How many have your name?

    But there's only one person with my name with an Amazon.com wishlist!


    Hmm - can I do this? I'll certainly try!

    31 October 2006

    Poetry in Motion

    I saw this on the subway this morning, read it several times, and for some reason I feel compelled to add it to the collection of odd bits and pieces that is this blog. After all, what else does a magpie do but collect?

    An Old Cracked Tune

    My name is Solomon Levi,
    the desert is my home,
    my mother's breast was thorny,
    and father I had none.

    The sands whispered, Be
    the stones taught me, Be
    I dance, for the joy of surviving,
    on the edge of the road.

    -Stanley Kunitz

    30 October 2006

    Grabbing The Nearest Book

    Spotted on another blog (MotherReader) - a game.

    1. Grab the nearest book.
    2. Open to page 123.
    3. Find the fifth sentence.
    4. Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
    5. Don’t you dare dig around for that “cool” or “intellectual” book on your shelves. (I know you were thinking about it.) Just pick up whatever is closest.

    I always have books at hand...but the closest one right now is unpaginated and largely handwritten...a collection of recipes. Right now, it's open to three recipes - Fish Eyes and Glue, Strawberry Shortcake, and Blueberry Upside Down cake. So, here's that last one:

    Blueberry Upsidedown Cake (also known as Tar Cake)

    3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 cups blueberries
    2 t. grated lemon rind
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1 1/2 cups flour
    2 t. baking powder
    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 cup milk

    Melt 1/4 cup butter in 9” square pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Mix berries with lemon rind and put in pan. Cream 1/2 cup butter. Add sugar and beat. Add egg and beat. Mix dry ingredients and add alternating with milk. Spread on berries. Bake at 375° for ~30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before turning out onto a plate. At that point, you'll understand the secondary title.

    Live Chickens

    From the New York Times, on Sunday 10/29/06:

    It doesn’t get much fresher than the fowl at De Maria’s Country Butcher Shop. Visitors to the store on the grounds of Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor are likely to see a few customers scooping up live hens themselves and bringing them to the in-house butcher for slaughter.

    Well of course, we had to go running off yesterday to buy a fresh chicken. Unfortunately, we got there too late in the day and all of the chickens were gone. Except, of course, for the three chickens that were hauled into the shop upside-down by their legs by the family that followed us into the store...to be taken home alive, not butchered by the in-house guy. The people in front of us ordered rabbits...slaughtered while you wait. We didn't try to catch our own chickens (Miss M. was asleep in the car, for one thing), but we're looking forward to fresh fowl sometime soon. And so close to home! Who knew?

    23 October 2006

    The Dog Costume

    For yesterday's town Ragamuffin parade, Miss M. wore a Scooby Doo costume handed-down by a neighbor. Lots of people said "Hi Scooby!", "Look, there's Scooby!". The great thing is, she has no idea who (what?) Scooby-Doo is. Although, to be perfectly honest, I don't think I've ever seen a Scooby-Doo cartoon either.


    Everyday, twice a day, we drive by a Catholic church on the way to and from daycare. A couple of weeks ago, Miss M. noticed this statue in front of the church and said "That's you, Mommy!" She has repeated this nearly every time we've gone by. Someday, perhaps she'll know that I'm no saint. Though, her birth did result from an immaculate conception, the kind with lots of sterile equipment.

    16 October 2006

    The beach

    Miss M. with Granny, overlooking the Pacific in Malibu. Posted by Picasa

    15 October 2006

    Bug Rabbit

    Miss M. has discovered the joys of Bugs Bunny, through the inclusion of a tiny little short called 8 Ball Bunny, on the March of the Penguins DVD. However, in a great toddlerism, she has been requesting the viewing of Bug Rabbit.

    [And believe it or not, 8 Ball Bunny has its own Wikipedia entry, which takes almost as long to read, as it does to watch the short.]

    Annals of Gardening

    Now that the temperature has dipped below 32°F at least once, I guess tomato season is officially over. Last year, I got a six pack of some ordinary hybrid...but because I didn't get them in the ground until after the Fourth of July, we harvested nothing but green tomatoes. This year, I got my act together sooner and got five robust plants into the ground just before Memorial Day. Here's the verdict:

    Black Brandywine - good producer, good fruit.
    Green Zebra - good producer, good fruit.
    Sugar Lump - lots of mostly tiny cherry tomatoes, although not terrific flavor and somewhat tough skins.
    Mortgage Lifter - lousy producer: we did not harvest a single ripe tomato. I'd love to know where it got its inaccurate moniker.
    Heartland - nice compact plant, with a reasonable amount of plain red tomatoes of decent quality.

    Black Brandywine and Green Zebra were sprawling, vibrant, out-of-control vines. I might have gotten more fruit if I'd been a little more ruthless about pruning them earlier in the season.

    I would definitely plant Black Brandywine and Green Zebra again, and maybe Heartland. I think I'll look for a different cherry tomato, and maybe a different all around red tomato.

    There is a whole mess of mostly green tomatoes now resident on cookie sheets in the basement - some will undoubtably ripen, thereby extending tomato season for at least another couple of weeks. Of course, all the basil is gone. Tant pis.

    02 October 2006


    There once was a man from Madras,
    whose balls were made out of brass.
    When he banged them together,
    they played Stormy Weather,
    and lightning shot out of his ass.

    There was a fair maiden of Exeter,
    So pretty that guys craned their necks at her.
    One was even so brave
    as to take out and wave
    The distinguishing mark of his sex at her.

    There was a young man of St. Bee
    Who was stung in the arm by a wasp.
    They asked, "Does it hurt?"
    He replied, "No it doesn't"
    I'm glad that it wasn't a hornet.

    29 September 2006


    I keep a carabiner in my bag for two things:

    1) When Miss. M. sheds an article of clothing, I can clip it to my bag or a belt loop so I don't lose it (and don't have to carry it).

    2) When serial shopping - like at a mall - I can hang all or many of the accumulated shopping bags off of my shoulder bag thereby keeping the hands free for more shopping or toddler-herding.

    19 September 2006

    Go ahead, bite me

    Miss M. has a best friend at daycare. Once upon a time, said best friend bit Miss M. a number of times. The biting has stopped, and generally Miss M. comes home from daycare and says "S. didn't bite me".

    One day last week, the two of them were playing with trains; Miss M. was apparently being quite possessive about the trains, and S. was getting upset. Finally, Miss M. presented her forearm to S. and said "Go ahead, bite me."


    13 September 2006


    Miss M. was splashing in the bath the other night and said "that's an anaconda". She'll be three in November - where did she learn about anacondas?

    18 August 2006

    Weather Report

    The other day dawned dark - rainy and overcast. As Miss M. sat eating her cereal, she looked up and said "the sun is having a little trouble".

    15 August 2006

    New York Places and Pleasures

    I recently came across an old guidebook to New York - (New York Places & Pleasures, Kate Simon, 1959) - published before I was born. It is a charmingly written and rather idiosyncratic book, now very out of date. But it paints a picture of New York, and flipping through it brings back sharp little memories of childhood - lunch at Sweets and Sloppy Louie's when accompanying Pop to the office, a birthday dinner at Luchow's, pre-theater meals at the Xochitl, which had a seemingly permanent open container of hot sauce on every table, fancier pre-theater meals at Pearl's (which I haven't found in this guidebook, but remember the lemon chicken oh so well).

    Fulton Fish Market

    Another snip from an old guidebook to New York:

    "Turn eastward now, toward the East River, and continue east and south toward Fulton and South Streets. The streets will seem empty and waiting as the early dawn slowly brings dimension to the black cardboard buildings, but you will never be quite alone; a young policeman walking his somnolent path will greet you, a head will emerge from a manhole and shout "Good morning," a truck driver will tap his horn gently so that you may notice and greet him. When the Fulton Fish Market breaks through the silences with a tremendous roar, it is time to put on your rubbers against the ice spilling and melting all around. (If you've forgotten them, you can buy a pair, or hip boots for that matter, at one of the general stores on Fulton Street; they open at 4 a.m.) From Fulton Street to the Brooklyn Bridge on South Street, under the highway and to the edge of the river, stream stalls on stalls of red snapper, of endless sacks of scallops and scallop-shaped dogfish, of dried slabs of cod in soldierly rows, of silver threads of smelt glittering in gilt cans, of ice nests holding mounds of shrimp and a strayed starfish or two. Weathered men in high boots and heavy sweaters weigh out heaps of fish in suspended 100-pound scoop scales. Two men drag and carry a grouper twice their size, its face still set in the common fish expression of blustering anger. A row of cod, each in its own basket, stands head down with tail fins spread up and out, like precision divers in a water ballet. Out at the very end of the piers rest a few fishing smacks, rusty and worn, their nets hanging limp and dull. At one time, the bulk of deliveries to the market was made by boats, but they have ben supplanted by trucks, and it is now the truckmen who are the tough salty characters while the fishermen become anachronistic shadows." (New York Places & Pleasures, Kate Simon, 1959).

    03 August 2006

    Swiss Chard Timbale

    Chop an onion and saute it in some butter. Add 1 pound of chopped swiss chard, and saute until chard is wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Move chard to a bowl and add 2 T. melted butter, 1/4 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 t. salt, some ground pepper, 2/3 cup of breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of grated swiss cheese and 5 beaten eggs. Mix well and bake in a buttered souffle dish in a water bath - at 325° F for 45-60 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Yum.

    01 August 2006

    Pronunciation at 2 3/4

    POOL, SCHOOL and STOOL are all two syllable words.

    30 July 2006


    What color is that dress? "Pink Hot!"

    While watching TV, "where's the termote?"

    Her bottom is her "bahmen".

    23 July 2006

    Toddler Industry

    The other day, I put Miss M. in her room for a nap. When all was quiet, I went to check on her. She had turned over the toy box and climbed on the dresser, and was studiously inserting Q-tips into a tub of Vaseline.

    Christ Cella

    From an old guidebook to New York, a description of the now departed Christ Cella:

    "One of the first steak houses in this area, and still venerated. In spite of the disturbingly spiritual name, it is heartily and successfully devoted to the flesh" (New York Places & Pleasures, Kate Simon, 1959).


    A letter to the New York Times, following the death of Julia Child:

    To the Editor:

    Re "Ms. Child Departs the Nation's Table" (Appreciations, editorial, Aug. 14): Francis X. Clines mentions Julia Child's use of butter, not just in cooking but in eating. I recall that she once said that a person who didn't eat butter was a crank with limp hair.

    Julia Child lives on in all our kitchens.

    Estelle Shanley
    York, Me., Aug. 14, 2004