New story on cooking through a snow storm with help from Chez Panisse

I have a new story up on HuffPo, about cooking your way through a snow storm, when the cupboard is pretty bare and all you have for inspiration is a cookbook by Cal Peternell, head chef at Chez Panisse.

I am normally not irresponsible, at least when it comes to feeding my kids. Usually, our fridge is a lot like the one Philip Roth satirized in Goodbye, Columbus. There are drawers crammed with carrots, red peppers and purple grapes, and a freezer stocked with whole chickens and packages of flank steak. On the counters, baskets brim with bananas, sweet potatoes, apples and oranges. I have teenage boys and if I don’t keep healthy food in the house, they will fill up on pretzels and Gatorade. But for this most recent snow storm, the cupboards were pretty bare

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New story on friendship, funerals and turning 50

I have a new story up on HuffPo. On my 50th birthday, instead of eating birthday cake, I went to the funeral of the father of one of my closest friends from high school. He was a wonderful man, and his loss was sudden. In an effort to make us all feel better, I made Coeur a la Creme and brought it to shiva.

My birthday was coming up. Nifty fifty. The oldest I’ve ever been. The beginning, perhaps, of the end. Or the end of the beginning. Whatever your view, turning 50 is a milestone, and you ignore its implications at your peril. If you’re a woman, it means the arrival of flab you’ve never had before. It means you are surprised when you receive a holiday card with a picture of small children on it and you marvel that people are still doing that. As my neighbor said to me the other day, “We’re the old ladies in the neighborhood now.”





New story on old friends and old-fashioned coffee cake

I have a new story up on HuffPo about the power and the pleasures of old friends and old-fashioned coffee cake.

It was a dark and rainy night. A Tuesday. The semester was winding down. I only had two more classes left to teach. I had gone into New York that morning to get my hair cut and colored and then rushed uptown to have lunch with my oldest friend. D. and I used to work together. I have no idea how old she is but her son is in his early thirties and I know she had him when she was close to 40. She is tall, beautiful, funny, went to an Ivy League school at a time when many women didn’t necessarily finish college, has gorgeous skin and has had various big writing jobs over the years. She has a couple of famous writer friends and her love life was the subject of a best-selling book that was made into a movie. During her maternity leave, she co-wrote a book proposal and helped a major columnist get a $750,000 advance for a book — a lot now and exponentially more 30-some-odd years ago


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New story on post-Thanksgiving pasta

I have a new story up on HuffPo. This is a great, creamy, middle-of-winter, meatless pasta dish that will make you and anyone you might be cooking for feel warm, loved and well-fed.

I don’t feel like cooking. Neither do you. You’re probably in a Thanksgiving coma and were cooking for days. Or perhaps you weren’t cooking but were eating excessively and wondering when you were going to stop. Whatever you’re feeling now, it’s not excitement about eating. But tonight, you will feel differently. Tonight, you have to eat. Your spouse or significant other or your kids also have to eat. Plus, it’s cold out. December. Do you really feel like going out?

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These Cookies Are Better Than…

I have a new story up on HuffPo on the terrors and thrills of reading a memoir in front of a crowd.

After I finished writing my first book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, I realized I would have to promote it. What I didn’t expect was that I’d inadvertently become a caterer.

I have no talent for this. Though I worked briefly for my cousin’s bakery in 1995, I’ve never been paid to make anything look pretty on a plate. But the book is about food, and how cooking a pan of roasted cauliflower or a mind-blowing layer cake with buttercream frosting can make you feel better about almost anything. So I quickly learned that part of enticing people to buy and read the book was to bake something yummy for them to eat first…

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Why You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Tasted This Corn Dish

I have a new story up on HuffPo about craving corn out on the water…

It was a beautiful day. The weather was warm. The sun was hidden behind a cloud but the water was calm and it was late morning, a lovely time to take a paddle board out.

Paddle boarding is the sport I have come to in middle age. Easier than surfing, less rigorous than kayaking, a paddle board lets you glide through the water with a modicum of effort. You stand on the board, suck in your stomach, and paddle. Little is required of you except balance. You rarely break a sweat as you take in the view. Most weekend mornings, my husband and I take paddle boards out, and circle each other in a quiet lagoon. Sometimes, we climb into a kayak and paddle out to the bay, but when we do that, my husband sits in the back and does most of the paddling and I feel like the princess he suspects I am. This morning, at 11 a.m., my younger son and his friend decided they wanted to go kayaking. My husband and I each took out a paddle board so we could keep an eye on them. The kids immediately headed out of the lagoon and into the bay. My husband and I followed suit…


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Feeding the Summer Crowd: Roasted Tomatoes and Pasta

I have a new story up on HuffPo about feeding a crowd in summer.

We’ve been spending our weekends at the Jersey Shore this summer and that means company. Between the laundry and the grocery shopping, the wet bathing suits falling off the rail into the bushes, the making up of the pullout couch, the root-beer cans piling up in bathroom wastepaper baskets, and the moldy towels hidden under the beds, sometimes it feels as if my husband and I are running a B&B. Today, I’d had just about enough and told my younger son and his friend to go walk the mile to the deli in the mid-day heat and buy themselves lunch. My treat. But over the weekend, I was feeling more hospitable. Both my sons had friends sleeping over, which meant four hungry teenage boys. My husband’s aunt and uncle were coming for dinner and my in-laws were coming the next day for lunch. The sun was out, the weather was glorious, and because it’s summer, everyone was sitting around not doing much except waiting to be fed. Sometimes this makes me crazy but most of the time I love it.


Go to the Bigger Bowl: 4 Great Ways (and a Recipe) To Keep Your Demons at Bay

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I have a new story up on HuffPo about cooking and coping with sad news.

One of my oldest friends called me yesterday. She lived 10 minutes away from Robin Williams and wanted to talk about him. She’d recently seen him at a bookstore and one of her kids had gone to school with his stepdaughter. My friend and I are alike in many ways, but perhaps in one that is most important: suicide hits too close to home.

My friend’s brother had killed himself and my father had tried twice. We both knew about suicides and suicide attempts. We had worked hard to find ways not to go off the rails ourselves. Years ago, we had seen each other every day when we worked together as reporters at Business Week. But now we’re on different coasts. We don’t talk much. Maybe we see each other once a year. When I saw it was her calling, I immediately picked up the phone. “I put off my run so I could talk to you,” she said. “Can we talk about Robin Williams?”

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Life’s a Peach

I have a new story up on HuffPo about letting your children go off into the world—and restraining yourself from bringing them lunch on the job.

My older son has a weekend job restocking supermarket shelves. No one calls him by his name; they summon him by yelling “stock!” He walks around with a clipboard, checking to see what’s run out and is constantly scrambling to replace the diet Raspberry Snapple. He’s still new at the job and though he knows he is allowed to help himself to as much as fountain soda as he wants, no one told him the rules for eating lunch. The day before, he had texted us, asking us to bring him something to eat…

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It’s Mother’s Day, Baby. Butter Yourself Some Coffee

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I have a new story up on HuffPo. This story of buttered coffee generated a lot of buzz on HuffPo and eventually made its way into various other publications.  The New York Times covered it on 12/12/14. I’m very glad I wrote about it when I did! 

You are not going to be cooking for yourself on Mother’s Day. You are not going to be making restaurant reservations either. You’re going to let the people who made you a mother take care of that.

You are, however, going to make yourself one hell of a cup of coffee, because any day that calls for celebration also calls for a little liquid pick-me-up. Continue reading