26 February 2009

If I met Jackie Robinson

Sarah's homework assignment last night was to write an essay about what might happen if you'd had the opportunity to meet Jackie Robinson. This is her story.

This weekend I was going to sleep late but at 6:00am on Saturday Jackie Robinson knoked [sic] on my door. I was so surprised. I said, "Oh my god. What are you doing here?"

"You won an art contest. I'm the prize. A lesson."
"I don't want to learn baseball. I want ice cream."
"Sounds good."

We went to Coldstone. I got a milkshake. So did Jackie.

Now every Saturday I wake up thinking I'm getting to meet someone famous.

And she doesn't even like Coldstone.

After reading this, my brother referred me to a few stories he wrote at age 10. The comparison (or contrast), is striking.

Ah, boys. Someone should have referred him to the school psychologist.

23 February 2009


On Sunday afternoon David and I availed ourselves of some free babysitting (thanks, mom!). Our plan was to see Waltz for Bashir, but despite arriving an hour and fifteen minutes early, that, and every film that fit our time frame, was sold out. What were we to do? Drink!

This was Sunday afternoon in the suburbs, though; not a lot of choices. Upon entering the first establishment, the host told us that the kitchen was "getting ready to close." We don't want to eat, we said, would it be alright to have a drink at the bar? "Well...the bartenders are really anxious to close out and go home," was the reply.


Whatever happened to, "I'm sorry, we're closed."?

So we went to the brewpub next door. Since our plan was now to have an early dinner, a beer would have been too filling. We've been enjoying old-fashioneds at home lately. Did we dare order them, at a bar?

We did.

The first sign that we'd made a mistake came when the bartender procured a shaker. The second, when she poured the drink into a MARTINI GLASS. The third indication was the color; maraschino red, with bits of pulp floating in the glass. The final proof, however, was in the tasting. It tasted like a fiery glass of pulpy bitters. It wasn't a good drink in the wrong glass; it was a bad drink in the wrong glass.

This was a shame, because an old-fashioned couldn't be simpler to make:

Place a sugar cube in an old-fashioned glass.
Douse with 2 dashes of bitters, a teaspoon of water, and muddle.
Add 2 oz bourbon or whiskey, an ice cube or two, and stir gently.
Garnish with a maraschino cherry and orange slice, or, not.

I did not have the heart to send it back, because our bartender was clearly excited to be asked to mix a proper drink rather than pour another beer, and proud of her handiwork. So I drank my medicine, and, it turns out to have been good for me. Because yoga has taught me to look for the good (if not to give up alcohol), the story has a happy ending. First, there was enough booze in the drink to dissolve the edges of my sour mood, and second, because as we sat at the bar, we heard this song, which I hadn't heard in ages. And, a silly video to boot!

16 February 2009


The nice thing about writing about food is that it totally takes the subject line pressure off. It's so straightforward; no clever hook needed. Granola.

I used to make a very satisfactory granola years ago, based on a recipe, or really, more a formula, from Cooks Illustrated. My friend Sharon liked it so much that I lent her my copy, and it accidentally wound up in her recycling bin. (This just indicates how old that recipe was; Can you imagine loosing a recipe now to a recycling mishap?) I tried finding it for a while, but no luck. A few years ago, Mark Bittman published a granola recipe in his New York Times column which seemed very similar to my old Cooks Illustrated standard. I clipped it, and dutifully reproduced it; I found it...meh. Then I discovered Bear Naked, which is really pretty good. But I got bored with it after a while, and besides, even when it goes on sale, store-bought granola is still pretty expensive.

But a few weeks, or maybe it was months ago by now, I came across a recipe for a Macadamia Maple Granola on Chocolate and Zucchini. I don't care for macadamia nuts --too unctuous-- but this simplicity of this recipe appealed to me. Other than some lime zest, which I imagine would pair nicely with the nuts, it was just oats, fat, sweetener. No spices, no dried fruit. So I gave it a try. I was prepared to add the lime zest, sans macadamia, but when I tasted it prior to baking, I decided it wasn't necessary. This granola was good. Very good. I've scarcely been without a batch since I started making it. By now, it's sufficiently unrecognizable from its inspiration that I can proudly call it my own.

Sharon likes this one as well. And I don't have to worry about her recycling the recipe.

The original formula called for 1 cup of oats and 2/3 cup nuts, and specified that the recipe could be halved. Doubled, or tripled is more like it. Granola is pretty adaptable; I find that as long as I have roughly 3 cups of grains to 4 tablespoons fat, it works out well. You can use all oats, or some combination of oats with whatever grain you like--flax seed (which I tried, and hated), barley, etc. I like the combination of almonds and pecans, but of course, you can use your favorites. I originally used 4 tablespoons of butter, but have since switched to half butter, half canola oil. The end result is equally delicious, though, I think, a bit crunchier. If your oven has a convection setting, I find it helpful to use here, if I remember to turn it on; it helps to dry the granola out nicely. I don't lower the heat by 25 degrees, however, as is customary when baking with convection.


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 tablespoons maple syrup
a sprinkling of vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
2/3 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small saucepan over medium heat warm the butter and oil with the maple syrup until butter just melts. Remove from heat, add the vanilla.

Combine the oats, coconut, wheat germ, nuts and salt. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the grains, stir to combine, and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

12 February 2009

The layered look

"Mama, can you help me?" Gabriel called, with a mixture bemusement and panic. "I was playing, and I got stuck."

So upstairs I went. Gabriel occasionally entertains himself by donning many, many layers of clothing. This time he had put on enough layers to wedge himself in good and tight.

I gingerly peeled him out of the following:
two long-sleeved pajama tops; a short-sleeved pajama top; a hooded sweater (backwards), a long-sleeved knit polo shirt. Oh, and his pants were backwards.

He looked like the spawn of the Michelin Man and Popeye. I wanted to take a series of shots as I removed each layer, but Gabriel was not in the mood to be photographed. So these, from the archives, will have to suffice.

Oh, my love.

04 February 2009

Not what Disney had in mind

Last night Sacha and David were playing silly games of the tickling and raspberry variety. At one point Sacha asked through his laughter, "Daddy, can I bang you?" followed by "Daddy, can I screw you?"

We were taken aback for a moment, until we realized he heard this on the show Handy Mandy, where tools come to life and I guess, do their own banging and screwing. Did this never come up in a production meeting?