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.
30 November 2006
29 November 2006
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.
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
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.
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:
- Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
- 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.
- Ping Techorati.
Please don't ask me what "Ping Technorati" actually means. I just scribble stuff, and follow instructions.
27 November 2006
26 November 2006
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".
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
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.
21 November 2006
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
19 November 2006
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Labels: found writing
14 November 2006
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.
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
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.
I think it's a character in a Carl Hiaasen novel - Turd Ferguson. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Labels: found writing
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.
- Glass cake stand - from W.'s grandmother
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- A pottery bowl made by my cousin
- 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?
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?
Pomo may refer to:
* Pomo people, indigenous peoples of Northern California
* Postmodernism, an artistic movement emerging from and reacting to modernism.
09 November 2006
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
04 November 2006
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.
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
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.