roasting fire

Reader, rejoice!  Destiny’s Child will reunite and release (croon? ooze?) what is sure to be another melismatic album this month.  News good enough to rocket this site from a too-long radio silence?  Probably not.  But maybe if you remix and drop their oldies a few octaves:


On the docket for Winter 2013, and upcoming  posts:
Reading: In the Garden of Beasts, Toast, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Watching: The Hour, Henry Ford (he would approve this bit of shameless self-promotion),the Oscar nominees
Eating and cooking: beans, cabbage (sauerkraut or bust!), bundt cake, bread pudding with whiskey sauce (this is winter after all, even if global warming promises that January will average out at 45 degrees), salads that involve celery and parsley
Drinking: a lot less booze than ol’ Freddie and Hector; a lot more tea. This, if we can find it. And we’ve been throwing whole peeled and de-pithed lemons in the juicer with the regular mix which has really amped things up.
Going: ICA; Lake Dunmore, VT; yoga classes; Puritan & Company; and a Bruins game

It’s a thrilling life we lead. We’re sort of like the couple in the Portlandia “Motorcycle” episode, pre-motorcycles. But I like it. Happy New Year!

Towels Free, Mustaches Extra

Came across this little gem of time-yellowed archival material from 1939 at work today, replicated for your reading pleasure below.  It’s completely irrelevant to what the work project will ultimately be about but made for some fun reading.  I wish I had seen it three years ago for wedding menu inspiration, although I guess if this kind of stuff was still en vogue The Knot would have yet another “to do” (“Write menu poetry liberally speckled with puns and wit and have your calligrapher sketch it on onionskin sheets that white doves will carry in their bedazzled beaks to each and every rehearsal dinner guest! If you want!”) to add to their “Panic Inducing List of Half a Billion Things That We Try to Make Brides Think They Need to Do to Prepare for Their Weddings or ELSE.”

No matter.  I’ve got at least three friends in my back pocket that would appreciate having this style of printed menu when they come over for dinner.  Ok, two friends. Ok, one friend, and my husband. And the friend is my sister.  Also, we won’t be having anything on the menu because it took me so long to make it that we’re eating dry spaghetti and a can of beans from the cabinet.

June 3, 1939

“Think as you munch how hunters tense and grim
Risked everything, risked life, risked limb
To lure the savage olives from their lair
That we might have them on our bill of fare!”
-R. Daughters, B. ED.

“How when I stare upon this small red sea
My thoughts sing me this lyric litany:
How exquisite, ineffable, how super-luscious,
How lovely looks m’lady when she blushes!”
-D. Taylor Coleridge, A.B.

“This of resistance should be the very piece,
One half a pound, no less, immune from grease.
And though we land that fine philosophy:
That in short measure life may perfect be,
Ah, Wilcox! mark you, let there not appear
The faintest vestige of short measure here!”
-E. Dooley & Com., OGPU

“Hats off to him with ringing rhyme
Who raised the spud to heights sublime
Who gave the lowly pomme-de-terre
A fluffy, creamy, regal air.
Greater than Ickes or Jim Farley
He was a real animal rationale.”
-Shea & Labouvie, FAC.

“Dutchmen like their fragrant cheese,
Their foamy beer and skittles.
Lawyers dote on fatted fees
And quick acquittals.
But asparagus and native peas
Are my fondest victuals.”
-E. Solemando, A.B.


“Ice Cream! Did I hear you say?
Then let the horses have their hay,
But tie me, lash me e’re I swoon
To a deep-grooved large-sized spoon!”
-E. Krohn and M. Mahaney, B.S.

“Join in the dancing if you’re able
To leave your plates at the table.”



Back to the Chill, but Warmly

Last week many of us pale Bostonians emerged from our winter dwellings to squint and blink and meander happily in the warm sunshine.  We didn’t have much of a winter but even so, feeling those rays on skin meant a lighter mood felt city-wide.  Now we’re back to 40 and overcast, but that hint of spring was enough to get us looking towards summer. After the trees flower and tulips claim every patch of outdoor space, the Commons will be packed with locals and tourists, the playground behind our apartment will resound with kid-clatter late into the evening, and the tiny restaurant on the corner** will overflow with patrons splitting mouth time between chatter and sweating glasses of sangria.

Special summer menus? Try grilling your choice of steak and eat with a spill of good olive oil and lemon juice and flaky salt – a close friend advised this simple preparation that proved so good that we never, ever stray from it.  Toss thick cut sweet potato pieces with oil, coriander, cumin, hot paprika, salt and pepper and roast, turning once or twice, until the edges are brown and crispy. Another side might be chunky tomato slices, or quickly steamed green beans with butter, lemon, and dill. For dessert, perhaps some watermelon brushed with honey and lime juice slightly charred on the grill, or some drippy  peaches, or soft ice cream. To go with all that food, make a summer playlist. Here’s a great one to start it off:


**That tiny restaurant is Orinoco, and it’s worth a trip to one of their locations. Can’t go wrong with pretty much anything on the menu, but bacon-wrapped dates are especially a no-brainer, along with the empanada mechada, any of the arepas, and the pabellon criollo.

Thinking Twice

This is how I feel.

There used to be a great little shop a few blocks from us that only sold local food. In the depths of winter, there wouldn’t be quite as much on the shelves and you couldn’t go there with a recipe in mind, which is sort of freeing. You could always get delicious pre-made dishes, and the meat was out of this world. Unfortunately, after the shop changed ownership about 2 years ago, a belt-tightening economy that doubly dubbed grass-fed beef a luxury (and I’m not saying it isn’t) caused them to shutter rather quickly. I guess the fact that the shop was adjacent to a tanning salon emitting puffs of burnt skin smell along with the A/C couldn’t have helped. Or maybe it did?  That house-rendered leaf lard suuure makes for some good tanning oil.

The original shop owner had an excellent, albeit militant, manifesto posted on his website about eating locally and sustainably. It’s gone now, which is a terrible shame because more than most literature of its nature, it called out Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for some pretty shady corporate games. Didn’t stop me from shopping at both establishments, I’m afraid to admit, but it made me think twice and start asking questions.

Want to know what raises more questions? First, this investigative piece (clip below) from a Philadelphia news station (thanks Mom!). It’s wrapped up in some nauseating zooms and peppered with cringe-inducing commentary, but the meat of the piece is pretty eye-opening.


And this article is a worthwhile read. It’s over a year old but contains at least a glimmer of what that shop owner was pontificating about. The storyline continues today, displayed in this piece in the New York Times.

Fun, Fun, Think About Fun

You know what consistently makes for good fun? See how long you can say everything in a Bob Dylan voice. Calling your significant other and asking about dinner plans? “Hunnn..EEE, let’s go OUT to EAT toNIGHT.” It’s awesome. I usually last through half of my getting ready for bed routine (“Wh-ERE is the tuh-OOTH paaaste???”) before collapsing in a pile of giggles. It’s so effective that the person you are Bob Dylan-ing to, no matter how grumpy that you won’t be serious and make a real decision about what time to set the alarm, will crack at least half a smile. True success. Which is why I really like this:


What’s also fun is when you latch onto an artist (not new but new to you) and fall for their every song. Even more fun when, on top of a cat-lapping-milk voice slightly reminiscent of a less twangy Loretta Lynn, you layer winged eyeliner and a 70s pinup look. Lana Del Rey could sing “Friday” and make it sound profound, like the fake Bob Dylan guy does, which is good because occasionally some of her more colloquial lyrics drift into the shallow end. Lyrics aside, I’m challenged to pick a favorite song from what she offers. If you like her too, get gleeful, because the remixes are already pouring in and there are surely more to come.




Of Half-Sour Pickles and Reubens at Sunrise

If you ever find yourself driving on 84 just north of Hartford at the front or tail-end of a hefty road trip, shore up your stomach with a little detour in Vernon, CT to visit Rein’s Deli.  Over the past decade of making multiple annual hauls between Boston and Philadelphia, I’m sure at least sixty friends, strangers, acquaintances, people on the 86 bus, people on the next treadmill, etc., urged a stopover at Rein’s. But somehow we never made it happen.

This year I remembered, just at the crack of dawn as we barreled down the highway trying to beat the inevitable Thanksgiving rush. While visions of matzoh balls danced in my head, Google maps showed that by maintaining our current semi-illegal speed, we’d hit Rein’s just as it opened at 7 a.m.  And arrive we did, to a line of ten inexplicably cheerful people already waiting outside the shuttered building.

The place is by no means a well-kept secret. That the on/off ramp of the highway deposits you into the front entrance probably doesn’t contribute excess anonymity either. But the lights came on, the door was unlatched, and we rushed in with the other ten to see a straight-faced staff three times our number clearly preparing for battle. To their credit, they didn’t blink at an order of 7 a.m. Reuben, potato knish, and breakfast bagel with a huge bucket of half sours to wash it all down.

It might not have been the best thing to start what is already an indulgent holiday, but it was worth it. So worth it that we stopped by again on our way back to Boston to see the midday crush waiting in a DMV-sized line for lunch. Now wily veterans, we skirted the crowd, and instead grabbed some frozen pints of matzoh ball soup and another bucket of pickles to enjoy later in the week.

We’ve since decided to make the Rein’s Deli stop our new family tradition.  So we’ll see you there in December, other 79% of the holiday highway traveling population!