Saturday, August 8, 2009

Granola for Vacation

Moving on from climate change, we're going away for two weeks and I won't have WiFi, never mind a computer, and so, until the end of August, I'm signing off. But before I do, I urge you to make this granola created by my friend Melissa and published in The New York Times. It's unbelievable. Life changing. Perfect. When my husband tasted it he said: "I love you more and more every day." Enjoy!

Global Warming and Hot Button Security

As terrifying as this article in the New York Times is, maybe it will inspire real action on climate change and energy consumption. Here's the kicker quote (and a kicker it is):

“We will pay for this one way or another,” Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine and the former head of the Central Command, wrote recently in a report he prepared as a member of a military advisory board on energy and climate at CNA, a private group that does research for the Navy. “We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind.

“Or we will pay the price later in military terms,” he warned. “And that will involve human lives.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Few Seconds of Panic-In Paper

My friend Stefan Fatsis got himself onto a professional football team, into their uniform, and onto their practice field. He tells us all about it in A Few Seconds of Panic. Have you ever seen a real live professional football player? When I was five my dad took me and my brother to see John Hannah of the New England Patriots and I have never forgotten the simple size of that man. I believe he was affable, but I was so securely fastened onto the back of my father's leg that I couldn't tell you much more about it. Anyway, Stefan is not all that much bigger than I am now, and, granted, he made his way onto the field as a kicker, but still, his other book was about competitive Scrabble, which is a long way from wearing tighty-whitey football pants on a professional football field, even a practice one. In any case, Stefan's story and those of the players he meets along the way will keep you interested, even riveted, from start to finish. You don't even have to like football. I swear.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Heroic Frittata

I made dinner tonight. I decided to make a frittata and a salad. Then, I decided to flip the frittata, and when I did, I heard Meryl Streep as Julia Child in the once again famous potato pancake show saying to flip anything one needs the courage of her convictions. I found my courage, I flipped the frittata, I felt....proud.

Julia & Julie

Last night I went to see Julia & Julie with my friend Melissa. It was the first time in our very long friendship that we'd gone to the movies together! Very funny. Anyway, the movie was fine. Every time Julia Child/Meryl Streep came on the screen the whole world seemed brighter; the whole project still mostly makes me want to read My Life in France. One thing that was striking about the movie was the husbands -- both Julie Powell's and Julia Child's had very good husbands. As we leaving Melissa turned to me and said, "Didn't Paul Child remind you of David (my husband)?" Stanley Tucci played Paul Child, and there's something of a physical resemblance between him and my husband. But beyond that, the way Paul was, supportive and funny and wry and reasonably realistic and proud, it did remind me of David, and I felt very lucky for that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Strange thing, I used to love a good burger. Now, it's the last thing I want to eat. Ever.


You gotta love the doctors signing off on ghostwritten scientific papers written by drug companies. I mean, talk about gold standard of research!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Camp

For some reason, my husband thought I'd like to read this poignant Washington Post column by Michael Gerson about sending his kids to summer camp. About the ritual of sending his children away Gerson writes:

"So this is the independence we seek for our children -- to turn our closest relationships into acquaintances. Of course, I knew this getting into parenthood. But the reality remains shocking. For a time, small hands take your own -- children look upward, and you fill their entire universe. They remain, to you, the most important things in the world. To them, over time, you become one important thing among many. And then an occasional visit or phone call. And then a memory, fond or otherwise."

Just like the first time I read that I'm all choked up. I mean, I'm not seeking to make my relationship with my kids an acquaintance, but still. I need the hanky. I bet my brother does, too. I hope he dries his eyes before climbing in to that huge honking SUV of his and driving home to his kids. (Not that he couldn't ride his bike.) We both loved summer camp as children, but now that the shoe is on the proverbial other foot, it's all different.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michael Pollan Wants YOU To Cook!

Michael Pollan thinks I should cook more, he thinks you should cook more, he probably even thinks Michelle Obama should cook more. If we cooked more, we Americans would eat less fattening foods, our eating habits wouldn't support industrial farming, never mind packaging, and we'd experience the pleasure of making something, every day. With this it's hard, even pointless, to quibble. Pollan uses a luxuriously long article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine to make this point. He also uses the article to make the point that cooking more would not only make us healthier, it would make us more...what's the word....human.

Apparently, there's something about cooking that makes us human and it's not just the nutritional value of cooked food (which, according to people who should know, helped human brains grow). There's also the time it afforded us to get to know one another sitting around the table, time that we no longer use to cook and hardly use to sit around with friends. Instead, it's time that we now spend like teenagers with their first credit cards in front of the TV watching cooking shows from 8PM until whenever.

Pollan says these prime time shows are nothing like Julia Child's classic show that he watched with his mom in the late afternoons and that changed the way people cook. No, he says we're watching cooking competitions at night that have nothing to do with actual cooking but the fact that we're watching them means that we really, really want to cook. But he never gives us any evidence of the popularity of these shows, no ratings, no comparisons, nothing. So I wonder how popular these prime time shows are anyway. How do their numbers compade to, say, Rachel Ray's? Is Iron Chef more popular than Rachel Ray? The more interesting comparison of cooking shows then and now, the more compelling investigation of attitude towards cooking back when the idea of good food was just emerging against the backdrop of minute rice and canned vegetables and now is the comparison between Julia Childs and Rachel Ray. Both women show women (and men) at home how to cook before nightfall. Both Julia Child and Rachel Ray have sold millions of cookbooks (I'm sure) and Ray has that monthly magazine. So why does Pollan go on and on about Iron Chef when it's so obvious that he's comparing apples to oranges and there's a very good apple right there on the table?

Of course the good apple comparison of Ray and Childs doesn't do a thing for Pollan's argument about cooking and our lost souls and denuded environment. Plus, comparing Ray and Childs would make the essay all about women in the kitchen and Pollan wants to talk about culture and humanity, things that are so much more meaningful than women in the kitchen, right? It's like (mostly male) chefs cook serious food in restaurants and during prime time and women cook regular meals at home at 5:30 and we all know which is more culturally relevant. Insidious when you think about it. But, I still agree that it's a good idea for everyone to cook more and to buy less packaged foods. Except Michelle Obama. She doesn't have to cook more. She already does enough.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thrillseekers, Not So Much

My husband and I, we're not roller coaster people. We'd never bungee jump, ride a motorcycle, jump out of an airplane. The fast-edge thrill thing, it's just not our thing. I can say "our" with confidence because when it comes to fast things, David and I sought the shelter of familiarity with each other, not the thrill of otherness. Today, we took our kids, at their request, on the small roller coaster at Coney Island. I think it's called the Sea Serpent. It's pink, a very appealing pink. Let's just say none of us is in a rush to go back. In our family, when it comes to the fast thrills, there's a great deal of shelter on the sidelines.