The Kids are alright

The Kids are alright

Here is another reason my kids rock – not just because they wash the dishes – they also entertain me with their interesting views on the world and play Canasta. Best of all, they also give me handmade birthday and Christmas cards and gifts. Check out this year’s gift:

BlogHer Food ’12 notes and thoughts

BlogHer Food ’12 notes and thoughts

I’ve been sorting through my notes and photographs from this summer’s BlogHer ’12 in Seattle and am newly inspired by the entire experience. Food bloggers, I was surprised to learn, are kind and generous with their knowledge. Here are some of the highlights, both personal and professional, with links to many people I met so you can go discover yourself how wonderful they are: That gorgeous, inspiring, tear-jerker of an opening keynote from Todd Porter & Diani Cu of Whiteonricecouple.com on voice and story. They underscored the idea that we each have a unique story; believe in it. Someone will listen. A tremendously informative traffic building session, where Jeanette Chen, Kalyn Denny, Neysa King, and Stephanie Stiavetti gave us a social networking reality check and well as tips and tricks on using Pinterest and bit.ly, establishing a Facebook strategy, and tweeting effectively. Professional photography and video tips from pros Alice Currah, Aran Goyoaga, Michael Natkin, Catherine McCord, and Michael Ervin. A behind-the-scenes glimpse at turning blogging into freelance writing gigs from Jess Thomson, Lara Ferroni, Melissa Lanz, and Tara Austin Weaver. The suprememely galvanizing and amazingly impressive eco-chef and activist Bryant Terry, answering questions about how great food, good health, and social justice all intersect. A very sweet Recipe Boy taking it all in and asking questions, representing a new generation of bloggers. Chef Peter Berley, who told me how to transform my rampant garden nasturtiums into spicy compound butter. The delicious tropical smoothies from 8th Continent Soymilk. New friends, especially cookbook editor Diane Sepanski. Old friends, too; unbelievably I sat down at lunch the first day and ran into Kelly O’Malley, a co-worker...
Retro gourmet at Craft & Commerce

Retro gourmet at Craft & Commerce

Imagine the nerdy-cool kid from high school: the quiet and deliberately unfashionable one, the one who chose to wear horn-rimmed glasses and ride his bike to school every single day, the one who actually understood all the cultural references, and who surprised everyone by nonchalantly unveiling an enormous Calvin & Hobbes tattoo on his back one day toward the end of senior year. Imagine he went on to graduate studies in Twentieth-Century American Literature and spent the requisite semester at Oxford where he fell in love with pub life, rough-hewn wood, and full-bodied beer. Then he spent a summer on his uncle’s farm, where he fell in love with state fairs and home-cooked meals and classic rock, spending pleasantly stoned evenings absorbing The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Welcome to the Machine and Court of the Crimson King through oversized headphones. Then, with newly acquired grown-up tastebuds and the deepened courage of his convictions, he made a life-changing leap to culinary school. And he was good. And so he opened a Restaurant. Imagine he approached the task philosophically, defining the vision of simplicity, value, and quality he’d experienced in his life thus far, and he used that vision to define his design, decor, and menu – inadvertently inventing a nouveau nostalgia along the way. And the rest of the world gets it because they’ve jumped on that early wave of hipster-dom he rode in his youth. Thus he created a Destination. That’s my vision, anyway, of how Craft & Commerce came to be. Call it fan fiction, foodie-style. My fantasy is based in delicious truth, though – here’s the evidence: He...
Food for the soul

Food for the soul

Seen on my lunchtime walk at the beach: a yellow school bus parked next to a red fire truck, bus driver and firefighters all perched on the low storm wall, alternately sipping coffee, crunching apples, rummaging through coolers, watching the water, waiting for us to need them. Contractors sitting in their pick up trucks, some eating, some holding cell phones to their faces, also gazing out toward the water. A mom’s boot camp taking over a few parking spaces: t-shirt clad women sweating through crunches on blue or purple yoga mats rolled out on the asphalt next to their babies in strollers, attention directed toward a handsomely built man who counts down from 30 and calls out encouraging words. They stop for a few minutes at the nearby drone of a small plane and watch it climb and loop in the sky, practicing contrail cursive.   I walked past an elderly couple sat sharing a sandwich at one picnic table; at another, a group of students were gathered around a laptop. I nodded hello to a Franciscan nun in her full black habit, to two Hare Krishna women with shaved heads and saffron robes, and to a young Amish couple pushing a stroller – she in a long indigo dress and white bonnet, he in black pilgrim hat with a long beard. People from different walks of life, all proudly wearing their faith on their sleeves. I walked past the large Samoan man we often see, clad only in blue track shorts, sweating profusely and grinning broadly at me in recognition. Past a thin man riding his yellow unicycle with a...

Mama Magic

My magic wand is eighteen inches long. A pewter mermaid-fairy perches on top of a thin stainless steel stem, hands held high above her head offering up a clear crystal marble. Knee-length hair winds around her body, and her wings – embossed with tiny pink and yellow crystal stars – fan out from her back. A miniature crystal bouquet hangs from her tail, which wraps around the stem. Read more . . .

Book spine poetry: the food edition

Kid One was quite amused to see me standing in the kitchen this morning, staring intently at books piled on the counters while “Appalachian Spring” played on the iPod dock. He thought it would make a great scene from a movie – I’m hoping he was imagining a romantic comedy of some sort, although knowing him, more likely it was the prelude to a zombie invasion. I was actually not auditioning for my son, though, I was trying my hand at book spine poetry, a concept introduced to me recently by Susan Bearman via Brain Pickings in honor of National Poetry Month. All you have to do is arrange a pile of books so that the titles say something poetic, profound, or perhaps preposterous. It would be a great party game if you had lots of books and a few nerdy friends. This morning I decided to handicap myself by choosing only food fiction or food fact books. There’s a collection spilling around the kitchen; I thought it would be easy. But turns out a shelf of titles starting with “The” and ending in “Cookbook” is a bit limiting, and try as I might I couldn’t figure out how to put “The Widow Cliquot” together with “A Goose In Toulouse” and “The Nasty Bits” without cheating. Here’s the first one I came up with: What Einstein Told His Cook: The Sweet Life in Paris Tastes of Paradise. Banana, Fruits & Vegetables, Nuts, Secret Ingredients, Spam. Are You Hungry Tonight? And then this more haiku-inspired poem: Pacific Feast From My Mexican Kitchen, Fish, Without a Doubt. Then I played around...

Is making dinner getting boring? How about glowing sushi?

I know a few things about zebrafish, much of it from writing Animalfish Alphabet. I know that they are small, non-aggressive, inexpensive aquarium fish. They are native to Southeast Asian rivers and streams. They easy to breed and produce transparent embryos, so scientists love to study them. They were the first fish in outer space. Our bala sharks think they are a tasty treat. You have a chance to see if zebrafish are a tasty treat, too, if you live in a state that allows the sale and possession of GloFish®. If this is for real, you’ll have an interesting conversation dish at your next dinner party. Assuming your guests don’t mind reading the advised safety essay that begins, “Are Transgenic Fluorescent Zebrafish Safe for Humans?” Go ahead and watch the video – it’s only 2:22 seconds out of your life. I guarantee you’ll be amused – unless you’re horrified.   I’m going to pass. My boys are already scared of Jell-O.  ...
Maker Faire 2011: a field trip

Maker Faire 2011: a field trip

Seen Saturday at Maker Faire 2011: kids licking 9-volt batteries and setting tissue paper on fire with magnifying glasses. A bicycle-powered string band on one stage and an electronic digideroo on another. Guitar amps made from trash. A mechanical giraffe wandering the grounds proclaiming my star sign is Virgo: Robots of assorted sizes and shapes: Firefighters, of sorts: Fire flowers, of sorts: Bubbles: Vikings: Eco-friendly vehicles: And would you know – the Muffin Man! The food, as befitting a feel-good gathering celebrating curiosity and experimentation, was decidedly un-Boardwalk like. The Kids hit the churros and garlic fries pretty hard, but there was something for everyone: But the CRAZIEST invention I saw all day – the biggest revelation – had nothing to do with 3-D printers or Arduino controllers. Drum roll, please . . . here it is: Can you imagine?! Garlic fries topped with Dungeness crab and aioli?! No, I know you can’t because I’m still having trouble with the idea. Here’s what it looks like: I wish I could say I had some and it was delicious, but none of us were brave enough to go there. The boys ate their garlic fries straight, no...
In a pickle

In a pickle

Most recently, my universe wanted pickled red onions.

It started one afternoon when Kid Two and his Buddy sat here after school and ate an entire jar of baby dill pickles and a one of cornichons for their snack.

Make: Online | Individually labeled egg

Last spring I took the boys to the Make Magazine-sponsored Maker’s Faire in San Mateo, an uber-science fair of ideas brought to life by creative gadget-minded people from all walks of life. This is from their blog today, and is too good not to share. Think of the possibilities! Link to the blog here: Make: Online | Individually labeled...
Traditionally Halloween

Traditionally Halloween

What are the traditions – new or old – you do at this time every year? For me, the process of creating and carrying on traditions is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting for me, in part because my energies and interests don’t always match what the calendar and drugstore displays tell me it’s time to do. We’ve made some progress, though; click to hear how.

What makes a good hash (latimes.com)

Many weekend mornings lately have started this way: mince a handful of onion, dice a couple ribs of celery, saute in a little grapeseed oil, add some leftovers and a couple of cubed potatoes, and pretty soon we’ve got hash. It’s gone Mexican, topped with poached eggs and smoked poblano and red onion-laced Hollandaise sauce. It’s gone Italian, flavored with our own version of muffaletta (ham, salami, black olives, pimiento-stuffed green olives, celery, yellow onion, green onion, provolone cheese) that was the previous night’s pizza topping. Making hash makes me feel like I’ve made good use of leftovers in a creative, hearty, and thrifty way. So this story from the LA Times caught my eye this morning: What makes a good hash. Sarah Karnasiewic, the author, does a nice job outlining hash’s basic theme and variations. If you’ve never made hash before, you should read this article to get inspired – especially if, as in my case, you’re cooking for a family and find it’s easy to get stuck in the “what in the world am I going to feed them NOW!” rut. I was interested and please to see that my hash-making instincts match a professional’s. Most valuable to me are her suggestions on incorporating different types of root vegetables – and even...
Entropy, creativity, and dinner

Entropy, creativity, and dinner

Are dried drips in the silverware drawer a badge I should wear proudly, marking a life spent living, not cleaning? Or do I just wipe out the drawers and get writing? Exploring the inverse relationship between clutter and creativity, as manifested in my kitchen, I discover it’s simple entropy.