27 February 2023

In Which Some Oatmeal Cookies Lead To A Rabbit Hole

Every few weeks, I bake a batch of cookies and mail them off to the college kid. This morning, I was looking for a gingersnap/molasses cookie recipe in my mother's black book, but I got sidetracked by Lady Harlech's oatmeal cookies.

So I made them, with shortening even. After the dough was made, I realized that there is no salt in the recipe. So instead of squishing the cookies with a sugar-dipped glass, I seasoned the sugar with a bit of salt and cinnamon. The cookies were definitely too sweet, and sort of boring. If I try them again, I will use salted butter, and a half teaspoon of salt, and only a half a cup of white sugar. And then they won't be Lady Harlech's, they'll be mine.

Cookies aside though, I started wondering about Lady Harlech. The recipe was photocopied from somewhere, but I don't know where. Google turned up NOTHING tying Lady Harlech to any oatmeal cookies.

I detoured into ChatGPT for my own amusement, and it produced a semi-plausible bio:

Except that said bio doesn't actually track with other information I found about her - like: 

  •  She married Lord Harlech in 1969. 
  • I don't know where the Guiness bit came from, because her maiden name was Pamela Colin. 
  • I think she was born in 1934.
  • While she worked for Vogue, it was as a food editor. 
  • And I think she's not dead.

The Wikipedia entry on her husband seems a whole lot more sound.

Eventually, I figured out that she published two cookbooks as Pamela Harlech. Both cookbooks (Feast Without Fuss and Practical Guide to Cooking, Entertaining, and Household Management) had been scanned into the Internet Archive, and while one contains an oatmeal cooky recipe, it's not this one.


26 February 2023

Who Sits On Boards?

An article in the Times about a handful of states that are trying to legislate against ESG investing included this aside:

Keeping an eye on how climate change may affect a stock holding (or the place for a retirement home), or whether a board is made up mainly of white men from fancy colleges, is part of what anyone should consider when picking stocks.

I have teensy bits of money invested in a handful of places, and from time to time, I get proxy notices and an opportunity to vote for directors. I - without researching them - vote only for the women. It could be that I'm voting for horrible people with abhorrent opinions, but I also know that my vote is essentially meaningless and so I persist. Because boards shouldn't be only white men from fancy colleges.

03 February 2023


My day, two days ago, my Wednesday, was bookended by cracks.

Wednesday, 8:30 am

I am fascinated by the marking paint that touches nearly every bit of the train platform. It’s neon orange, pink, green, and it traces out the hairline cracks that snake hither and yon across the concrete. Presumably someone has a crack filling plan, but to my eye it looks like they should rip up the whole platform and start over.

Wednesday, 6:30pm

I missed my train and had 20+ minutes to kill so I went sightseeing through a bit of the new LIRR terminal at GCT. It’s very clean (still!) and doesn’t (yet!) have that Penn Station aroma of glazed donuts overlaid with beer. It also has some nice huge mosaics. This is a small section of Kiki Smith’s River Light.

At the north end of my train commute, the platform is in high disrepair. At the south end, new construction is enlivened with mosaics.

Cracks, undesired.

Cracks, desired.

There is a crack, a crack in everything That's how the light gets in.