Piece in Daily Record about Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping

by Comments Off on Piece in Daily Record about Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping

Huge thanks to Susan Bloom at the Daily Record for writing this piece about Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping. She concentrated as much on the coping as she did on the cooking, which I was grateful for.


Read It: Writing Students Getting Published

I’m thrilled to share that many of my writing students have been getting their work published. Congratulations to Susan Berger Ellman, Ruth Carmel, Kristen Fealy, Roseline Glazer, Laurie Izes and Debbie Nathan. As an editor and writing instructor, this is extremely exciting and deeply satisfying! It has been a total pleasure working with all these writers.

Susan Berger Ellman

The Hunt

Ruth Carmel

My Big Fat Orthodox Thanksgiving

Why I Write About My Family

Misdirection (Winner of the 2014 Talking Writing Prize for Advice Writing)

Kristen Fealy

I am a Very Bad Person

Things I Say to My Children

Roseline Glazer

The Jewish Bride

Laurie Izes

The Store

Debbie Nathan

We’ll Be Here All Night (radio piece)


“Should Parents Give Alcohol to Their Kids?”

CBS News – Watch the video

Studies show that, by the time kids reach the legal drinking age of 21, there’s an 86 percent chance they’ve already had alcohol. And while some teens have to sneak it or even steal it, others are being served by the people you’d least expect — their parents.

With spring break wrapping up and prom season under way, teen drinking is a hot topic of conversation.

Each year, nearly 200,000 underage drinkers visit emergency rooms due to alcohol-related incidents. And that’s leading some parents to begin alcohol education at home.

“Early Show” contributor Taryn Winter Brill reported some parents, such as Laura Zinn Fromm, have begun allowing their kids to imbibe.

New story up on HuffPo50

I have a new story up on HuffPo this morning about new uses for old bananas. Thank you to my friend, Karina Muro, a nutritionist and cooking instructor, for the inspiration and instruction. And happy Mother’s Day, to everyone who is a mother, has a mother and/or nurtures his or her mothering instincts.

Read It: Bettyville, by George Hodgman

I try to keep these posts to one paragraph. But in writing about this beautiful book, George Hodgman’s Bettyville, a memoir of a gay, Protestant, middle age man’s decision to go back to Missouri to tend to his aging mother, it is just too hard to do that. This memoir is so quotable, so moving, so funny, so sad, so painfully honest, so distressing and ultimately, so wonderful. It was one of those books, where I just kept underlining and writing, “Love this.” The author, a former editor at Vanity Fair, is a recovering drug addict, who used to live high and hard in Manhattan and Fire Island. His parents never acknowledged he was gay. Yet they loved him and he loved them back. You will too. He makes small-town Missouri, a place filled with roses, old churches, donuts and meth addicts, come alive. Here are some great sentences. There are just so many. If you want to read more about the author, go to his website, www.Georgehodgman.com.

“When she opens her eyes, I put an old soft towel in the dryer to warm up and thren spread it around her feet, which she complains get cold at night.” (p.20)

“I was raised to get it right. I was raised to work. These were some of the things my mother taught me by example.” (p.21)

“This morning, as usual, there was coffee, ready and waiting. Every night Betty changes the filter and puts the water, some of which she always manages to spill, into our old, huffy-puffy machine. She is very conscientious about this; it almost is the last task, aside from the laundry, that she is able to complete successfully.” (p.23)

“In the mornings my mother stands at the window in the dining room, where the silver is tarnished now, in front of a wicker stand where she once kept geraniums, gazing out at the roses for as long as she can bear to stand up.” (p. 24)

“Our moods fold into each other’s more and more as the days pass.” (p. 26)

“As I leave to take my shower, she picks up  her book, oblivious to my concerns, to the demands of the world. Something in her has just let go of all that.” (p.26)

 “Luckily to distract us there is Wheel of Fortune, a show we despise so avidly we cannot ever miss it.” (p.29)

“The sky is the sea here, our object of contemplation in all its moods and shades. My father taught me to observe it.” (p.30)

“I have no husband or domestic partner or even beloved pet. Betty would never guess quite how things have been. If pressed to do so, she could not really imagine how I have lived.” (p.33)

“Before sleep, I go outside to check the stars, so much more visible here than in New York. They calm me after seeing Betty under siege. I turn on the coach light by the driveway; I leave it burning all night every night. We are expecting no guests but it says that we are still alive, not ready yet to disappear into the dark.” (p.33)

“Her emotions are her most delicate possessions, rarely taken out, even for company.” (p.55)

“Where do the hidden things go? Not away. Nothing goes away.” (p. 99)

“Kindness may have been the most difficult of virtues,but when I have encountered it, it has meant everything to me.” (p.132)

“I get angry along with her when she makes a mistake. I get mad when she is less than she was.” (p.135)

“I’m not sure I have a tribe, though I think I have always longed for one.” (p. 146)

‘Take care of my little girl,’ she said. I am trying.” (p. 229)

“I think people who have always felt okay in the world will never understand those of us who don’t.” (p.237)

“I told the truth. It was the strangest thing to not try to cover it up.” (p.244)

“I can never be a person who has not made mistakes. But I can be someone honest who has lived through them: one of those who look you square in the eye and say, ‘This is how it’s been, and it is okay.” It has been a long, long struggle to hold my head up. I think I have survived because of Betty, more than anyone. I will never stop remembering my mother’s strength, her struggle to remember words, to hang on to the world. I will always hear her at the piano, an old woman practicing, still trying to get it right, to find the right notes. I will see her walking, haltingly, in the dark, doing her best to find her way. We have sometimes struggled with words, but I am Betty’s boy. There are so many things I will carry when I leave Bettyville with my old suitcase.” (p.245)

“Sometimes it is okay to be broken open, even if it is sadness that finally connects you to everything you are feeling.” (p.273)

“Because I have come through for her. It has taken me so long to feel okay in my own skin, but I feel better, more at home in the world. Most days.” (p.275)

“The bane of writing is self-doubt; the gift is friends, real friends, who save you.” (Acknowledgements, p. 277)

“My greatest wish is to hurt no one, though I believe we are often the most triumphant when revealed at our most human.” (Author’s Note, p.289)


Simmer, the app, part III: Flourless, chocolate cake

Here is the last installment of our flourless, chocolate dessert series for Simmer by Panna Cooking. This is either the beginning or the end of my cooking-for-the-camera career. Writing is less fattening. The recipe for this flourless chocolate cake is on the Simmer site and on page 264 of my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published by Greenpoint Press. Click here to watch.


Read It: Hilary Mantel, Jennifer Egan, Samuel Beckett

Read It: I love reading about how other writers work, especially when those writers are still alive, although posthumously published letters about the writing process are often fascinating to read too. Here are two great interviews with the writers Hilary Mantel and Jennifer Egan and one review of the late Samuel Beckett’s letters, The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume III: 1957-1964  from The New York Review of Books. My favorite line in the Beckett collection comes from Beckett’s letter to his old love, Ethna MacCarthy: “I suppose the best I have to do is to open for you my little window on my little world.” That’s what writers do. Mantel is the author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, which to my shame I haven’t read yet. The interview with Mantel is from the current issue of the Paris ReviewEgan is the author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, a fabulous collection of short stories, though she calls the book a novel. The Egan interview is from Book Browse.




Simmer, the app, part II: Chocolate Pots de Creme

Here is a link to the second video we did for the Simmer app, by Panna Cooking. This time, we made chocolate pots de creme—pots of cream—or what I think of as poor man’s chocolate mousse. The recipe is from my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published by Greenpoint Press. Chocolate pot de creme is fast, easy and really, really delicious. I now have eight cups of it sitting in our fridge and freezer. If you want some, let me know. What made me so happy is that we used my Grandma Miriam’s old teacups. I think this would have really made her giggle although she would probably have asked me why I was making so much, why the cups didn’t match and where was my lipstick? At least I combed my hair and washed my apron. Thanks to Amy Dilsheimer Currie of Simmer and Carolyn Hough of Panetica for making it happen.unnamed-1



Simmer, the app, part I: Persian Chocolate Bark

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of recording three cooking videos for the new app Simmer by Panna Cooking. My friend Carolyn Hough of Panetica came over with her friend Amy Currie and they used various iPhones to film me in my clean apron and our kind-of-clean kitchen. We made three chocolate desserts, all gluten-free and kosher for Passover. The recipes are from my book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published by Greenpoint Press. The Simmer app is free —whoo-hoo! Here is a link to the one we did on Persian Chocolate Bark. Stay tuned for more.unnamedapp-ad