May 2017 issue of Millburn Short Hills Magazine is out

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The May issue of Millburn Short Hills Magazine is out. Thanks to everyone who contributed to it: our fabulous writers Jo VarnishRandi Mazzella, Debbie Schapiro and Cindy Clegg Potters, our awesome photographer Anne-Marie Caruso and our fantastic designer Michael Ostendorp. In this issue, you will find stories about Greenwood Gardens, gain insights into the friendships that have developed out of the local women’s softball league, and learn tips about how to get your game on in middle age (eat well and don’t go crazy playing team sports). We also feature a beautifully renovated Hartshorn house, go for a tasting at the the newly opened, gorgeous and delicious restaurant Summit House and take a look back at the nursery that used to do big business in Millburn ShortHills a century ago. We interview two-time breast cancer survivor and personal trainer Anne Santaniello Nappi  profile gardening doyenne and longtime Millburn resident Lezette Proud and talk to three talented Millburn High School athletes. And don’t forget Mother’s Day is coming—we have suggestions for what to buy and give the maternal women in your life. This issue is my swan song and I’ve loved every minute of ediiting it. Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine and contributed to it this past year. It has been wonderful working with and getting to know all of you!

Spring 2017 Issue: Readers’ Choice

The Spring 2017 Readers’ Choice issue of Millburn Short Hills Magazine is out and it’s a juicy one! It’s packed with information on where to eat, drink, shop, stroll, work out, get your air and nails done, listen to live music, read, walk your dog, zone out and find free Wi-Fi. We also have great profiles of Tony-award winning Broadway actor and Netflix star Norbert Leo Butz and Investors Bank CEO Kevin Cummings, plus a look at the inside of Haya Taitel and Steve Becker’s gorgeous almost-empty nest, and a funny, practical story about how to clean out your house for spring. We also have a dining out profile on Restaurant Serenade, celebrating 20 years in Chatham. Thanks, as always, to our writers—Jo Varnish, Randi Mazzella, Nancy Cohen and Cindy Potters—for their wit and humor and making the magazine read so well. 

Winter 2016 issue: Food, Fashion & Holiday Entertaining

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The Winter 2016 issue of Millburn Short Hills Magazine is out and we’re particularly proud of this one. Thanks to our gifted writers Liz Brous Guevara, Joanne Fisher, Deborah Schapiro and Jo Varnish for making the issue read so well and to stylist Felicia Geller, who did our fashion spread and made everyone look so good. In this issue, we feature stories on the spectacular Millburn restaurant Common Lot, where the chef/owner Ehren Ryan shared his recipes with us (after adapting them for the home cook) and let us shoot our fashion story in the restaurant on an sultry August afternoon. We also have a wonderful and funny story about dogs and friendship, an interview with local novelist Judith Natelli McLaughlin, a terrific story about the non-profit Interfaith Hospitality Network, which finds temporary and permanent housing for homeless families, and a Dining Out profile of the tiny-but-awesome Madison restaurant, Slamwich Scratch Kitchen. Enjoy!

Fall 2016 issue: Debut as Editor of Millburn Short Hills Magazine

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The Fall2016 issue of  Millburn Short Hills Magazine is out. It’s my debut issue as editor and it was a blast and a treat to pull this together. Check out our stories on Diwali, gun control and gardening (same story!) and the surge in blow-dry salons. We also have an interview with local architect Thomas Baio, a spread of the spectacular renovation and decoration of an old-but-feels-new home, and a dining out profile of Cedar Ridge Cafe & Bakery, published shortly after co-owner Joe Ramaikas unexpectedly passed away.


Helping Writers Get Published

I’m thrilled to share that many of the writers I work with have been publishing their work. Congratulations to E.B. Axelrod, Susan Berger Ellman, Ruth Carmel, Kristen Fealy, Roseline Glazer, Laurie Izes, Jeff Lawenda, Voichita Nachescu, Debbie Nathan, Karen Satran, Jo Varnish and Nora Wong. It has been absolutely wonderful helping these writers get their work written, finished and published!

E. B. Axelrod , Break Fast (Split Lip)

Susan Berger Ellman, The Hunt (

Ruth Carmel, My Big Fat Orthodox Thanksgiving (Alimentum); Why I Write About My Family (; Misdirection (Winner of the 2014 Talking Writing Prize for Advice Writing,; Too Much Information (; Writing Actually is Hard Work (Brevity)

Kristen Fealy, Janice Has a Bad Sex Life; I am a Very Bad Person; Things I Say to My Children, And the Heavens Opened (The East Hampton Star)

Roseline Glazer, The Jewish Bride (Writing Raw)

Laurie Izes, The Store (

Jeff Lawenda, Pathways

Debbie Nathan, We’ll Be Here All Night (This American Life, radio piece); Fear Itself in the Rio Grande (

Voichita Nachescu, The Traveling Tomato (

Karen Satran, Nights (The Yale Review)

Jo Varnish, Chasing Shadows, (, Metamorphosis (;

Nora Wong, Loving My Son, After His Death (The New York Times)

Eat It: Jersey Peppermint Patties

Chocolate Peppermint Bars: Make these as fast as you can. They’re extraordinary. And easy. As long as you can get your head around 3 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar, a half cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup heavy cream, you’ll love them. I made them because my  younger son love York Peppermint Patties. These are so much better. They are wonderful to share and make a lovely gift. (You can even make them gluten-free.) The New York Times made our Valentine’s Day with with this one.



Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of paper to hang over the sides.

1 cup/125 grams all-purpose flour (Note: I used King Arthur Gluten-Free)
½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
2 tablespoons/15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons/113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)

3 ¼ cups/405 grams confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons/43 grams unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup/60 milliliters heavy cream
2 ¼ teaspoons/10 milliliters peppermint extract, or to taste
9 ounces/255 grams bittersweet chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa solids), chopped (Note: I used 9 ounces of Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips)
½ teaspoon coconut oil (optional, I skipped this)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of paper to hang over the sides.

Make the shortbread: In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Add butter and process until a smooth dough forms. Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake until firm to the touch, and sides of the crust are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Make the filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine confectioners’ sugar, butter, cream and peppermint extract. Beat until mixture forms a thick, smooth paste. Press filling evenly over shortbread. Chill to set the filling for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. (Note: Chill at least 2 hours. I only chilled for 1 hour and the wax paper stuck to the bottom of the short-bread.)

Use parchment paper overhang to lift the shortbread and peppermint out of the baking pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares (there should be 36 squares). Place squares on a rack placed over a parchment-lined sheet tray, and let them come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.

In the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt 7 ounces chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat, add remaining 2 ounces chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes. (Note: This is a lot of chocolate and you may not use it all. I’m a chocolate lover and I thought it was too much.)

Add coconut oil, if using, and stir the chocolate until smooth. Spoon 1 teaspoon chocolate on top of a cut peppermint square, using the back of the spoon to spread chocolate to the edges. Be sure to fully cover the top of the square with chocolate. (Leave the sides exposed, though it’s O.K. if some of the chocolate drips down.) Repeat with remaining squares.
Let squares sit at room temperature until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.

Eat It: Yoga + Super Bowl Party= Skinny Mac ‘N Cheese

unnamed-1My favorite bearded nephew. eating one of my new favorite foods: Gluten-free cauliflower mac ‘n cheese with low-fat sour cream. I realize it sounds disgusting but it was friggin delicious. My yoga teacher training mentor @stefhaberman from @bhaktibarnyoga gave me the recipe and I made it for the Beyoncé/Bruno Mars dance-off. Namaste, Super Bowl. (


Skinny Mac ‘n Cheese



2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup Panko* (I really wanted it gluten-free so skipped the Panko)_
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (I skipped the parsley—sometimes it scares children)
1 cup elbows gluten-free pasta
2 cups cauliflower florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup 2% milk, or more, to taste (I used skim plus; you could use almond milk)
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese*
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese*
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*(I changed the ratios and used 1 cup shredded cheddar and 1/2 cup gruyere)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add Panko and cook, stirring, until browned and toasted, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley; set aside.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Within the last 3 minutes of cooking time, add cauliflower; drain well.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pot. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions have become translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in pasta, cauliflower, sour cream, milk and cheeses, a handful at a time, until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more milk as needed until desired consistency is reached.
Spread pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place into oven and bake until bubbly, about 12-15 minutes.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with Panko, if desired.

*Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb and can be found in the Asian section of your local grocery store.

Thank you, Sally Friedman and Dr. So-and-So

It’s always a little nerve-wracking when someone takes your measure, and you know that person well. While I was writing my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published by Greenpoint Press, I wrote with two people in mind: My therapist (who shall remain nameless) and my sister-in-law Nancy Friedman’s mother (whose name is Sally Friedman). Sally is a journalist and personal-essay columnist who writes for a range of publications, including the NY Times. Her work has always made me want to grab a computer or a pen and start writing my own. Neither of these women knew that they were my imaginary, first, “go to” readers. But they were always the ideal readers I held in my mind—thoughtful, intelligent women who read a lot, laughed a lot and knew how to cope. When I wrote, I thought about making them nod or laugh. I hoped that some day they would read my work, and maybe, hopefully, like it. Sally recently wrote a piece about my book in The Burlington County Times. Thank you, Sally, for being both my imaginary reader and now, a real one! And thank you Dr. So-and-So, for telling me to write and cook and write some more. Words can describe how I feel about both of you: Love! Gratitude! More!

Cooking up the courage to experiment in the kitchen

Posted: Sunday, February 7, 2016 5:30 am

When our youngest daughter, Nancy, married her beloved Michael — can it really be 22 years ago? — we got a wonderful gift. We merged with a terrific family that included a prominent former governor, his high-powered/high-energy wife, and Michael’s sister, Laura.
I loved Laura from the moment I met her. There was something at once wonderful and vulnerable about her. She had gone to a famous women’s college, had been on the staff of a national magazine, and had this added bonus: Laura was —and is — a gourmet cook.

Read It: Gordon Lish on Raymond Carver, and a few other writers

Love for the Paris Review again: There is a great interview in the Winter 2015 issue with Gordon Lish, who edited and transformed many of Raymond Carver’s best short stories. Here he is funny, frank, self-serving and bracingly honest. My favorite lines: “I expect I’m a fearful fellow, paranoid. But when I read, when I edit, or revise, I don’t fear anything in the least. I feel at home, at peace, assured.”

You have to subscribe to the Paris Review to read the whole interview but here is an excerpt:

Outside the Esquire offices, in New York, ca. 1970. Photo by Bud Lee.

Gordon Lish, The Art of Editing No. 2
Interviewed by Christian Lorentzen
It’s the custom for editors to keep a low profile and to underplay any changes they may make to an author’s manuscript. Gordon Lish is a different animal. Not since Maxwell Perkins has an editor been so famous—or notorious—as a sculptor of other people’s prose. As fiction editor of Esquire from 1969 to 1977, then as an editor at Knopf and of The Quarterly until 1995, Lish worked closely with many of the most daring writers of the past fifty years, including Harold Brodkey, Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo, Barry Hannah, and Joy Williams. In an interview with this magazine in 2004, Hannah said, “Gordon Lish was a genius editor. A deep friend and mentor. He taught me how to write short stories. He would cross out everything so there’d be like three lines left, and he would be right.”

His collaborations have not always ended ami­cably. His editorial relationship with Carver ceased ­after three books. When Lish donated his papers to the Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington, they indeed showed that he had drastically cut, and often rewritten, some of Carver’s best loved stories. For the Collected Stories, published in 2009, Carver’s widow printed some of them in both edited and unedited versions. The critical reaction was divided. In the New York Times Book Review, Stephen King described the ­effect on one ­story as “a total ­rewrite . . . a cheat”; in The New York Review of Books, Giles Harvey wrote that the publication of Carver’s ­unedited stories “has not done Carver any favors. Rather, it has inadvertently pointed up the editorial genius of Gordon Lish.”

More than a dozen books have appeared under Lish’s own name—­including the novels Dear Mr. Capote (1983), Peru (1986), and Zimzum (1993). These have won Lish a small but passionate cult following as a writer of recursive and often very funny prose. For decades he taught legendary classes in fiction, both at institutions such as Yale and Columbia and in private sessions in New York and across America. Though he titled one of his books Arcade, or, How to Write a Novel (1999), he, like Socrates, never put his teachings on paper. They ­survive in his students, many of whom are now prominent writers and ­teachers of fiction, among them Christine Schutt, Sam Lipsyte, Gary Lutz, and Ben Marcus.

Lish was born in 1934 in Hewlett, New York, the son of a hat manu­facturer and a housewife. In early childhood he was afflicted with acute ­psoriasis, a condition that has persisted all his life. After being kicked out of Andover, he spent the rest of his teens and twenties working in radio and at odd jobs in New York; Pampa, Texas; and Tucson, where he eventually ­received a B.A. from the University of Arizona. Even now he has retained the smooth baritone and cultured vowels of a 1950s disc jockey. After his first marriage, to Frances Fokes, ended in divorce, he married Barbara Works; he lives in the Upper East Side apartment that he shared with his second wife until her death from ALS in 1994. The interview was conducted in his living room, over several long sessions that began in the spring of 2010 and ended last September. Often we would be interrupted by phone calls from Lish’s friends and former students, some of them seeking advice on the finishing stages of their books. He was a convivial host, offering his interviewer bottles of beer and a large brass pot for use as an ashtray.

—Christian Lorentzen


How did you first start editing Raymond Carver?


I was under contract to revise The Perrin-Smith Handbook of Current English for Scott, Foresman. My editor, Curt Johnson, came out to Palo Alto to see his people on Scott, Foresman contracts, and also his contributors to his lit mag, December. I was both. Carver had been a contributor and, I guess, a good buddy of his. I was at Educational Development Corporation at the time, working on A Man’s Work. So we were supposed to meet, and Johnson phoned to say, I can’t keep my appointment with you, I’m stuck here on California Street with a guy who’s too drunk to get home and his car won’t start. I rode my bicycle over there. That was how I met Carver. Then it was revealed that Carver worked across the street from my office. He was a textbook editor at Science Research Associates. When I got the idea to start up a new lit mag, I thought, Well, here’s somebody who will give himself to the endeavor. On one or two occasions, he came to my apartment and I fed him lunch and we talked about starting something called The American Journal of Fiction. There’s a photograph of Carver sitting at Barbara’s and my dining table, sky-high candle-sticks on it, with Ray wearing a shirt of mine. Took the picture for some book he was bringing out. By that time, Frances and I had divorced, and I was readying myself to leave town because Frances had threatened Barbara, and Barbara felt that she had nearly been run down in the street by Frances. Barbara was scared. So was I. We arrive in New York, I get the Esquire job, and had asked Carver if he would collect my mail for me and keep an eye on Frances and the kids—which he never, he in time confessed, did. In exchange for this, I was happy to look at his stuff. I was eager to read anybody’s work who wasn’t an Esquire regular. I read all the slush, for instance—and was less given to reacting to agented material. I wanted newcomers and was faced with the problem of satisfying Hayes and Gingrich’s notion that I was going to turn up something hitherto unseen—the New Fiction. I saw in Carver’s pieces something I could fuck around with. There was a prospect there, certainly. The germ of the thing, in Ray’s stuff, was revealed in the catalogue of his experience. It had that promise in it, something I could fool with and make something new seeming. “Fat” was the first one I revised, but Gingrich nixed it. I got it into Harper’s Bazaar.

Carver wasn’t the only one, you understand. I probably expended rather more assiduity in his case, yes. The degree of my industry was to revise a piece three, four, five times in a day. I did that on weekends, too. Not just with Ray’s work. I was keeping myself alive by doctoring books as well, because the Esquire salary was woefully inadequate. I would get work from McGraw-Hill or Harcourt Brace—one of those outfits that was inclined to arrange for a largish advance for a book they could not then publish without its enjoying a good deal of fixing. It never worked out well, however. There was always bad feeling in the end, always lunacy, particularly with ghost jobs. I can’t think of very many times I did such work and it didn’t end badly.

To read the rest of this piece, purchase the issue.