Jack Frost Nipping

Frost

This morning, long before the sun peeked over the gargantuan pines lining the front yard, I went outside with my camera. (I’m trying to be a good blogger and take pictures as often as I can. So far, I’d give myself a D minus.) What the hell can I shoot today? I wondered. The yard is the yard is the yard. Trees, grass, shrubs. The broken-down Adirondack chair that neither The One nor I have the heart to bring to the dump. The lichen-covered hammock. As I was about to turn on my very cold heels, I heard it. The grass crunching. Kind of the way Momma Leite’s heavily shellacked beehive crunches right after Noreen does her hair on Thursdays.

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Not a Creature Was Stirring

Hibernating Mouse

Yesterday I walked around the backyard, taking in the remainder of the damage from Hurricane Sandy. Our biggest loss was a 70-foot pine tree that crashed down within feet of the house, taking with it two other majestically mature trees. Although we cleaned up that mess a week after the storm, The One is still dragging downed branches and smashed bushes to our Christmas-tree graveyard beyond the back stone wall.

As I sat on the wall, thinking about how exposed we suddenly were to the neighbors—whom we’re thrilled rarely to see, either accidentally or socially–I spied our old grill. I was surprised that it was still standing. After all, it’s a cheap roller version, no bigger than those rickety carts that flight attendants wheel past row after row of passive-aggressive passengers.

Then I remembered a certain family that lived nearby and wondered how they’d weathered the storm. The Peromyscus leucopus family. Field mice, to be exact. Unlike the neighbors who live on either side of us and creep through the thicket of trees (which are now gone, thanks to Sandy) and scare the hell out of us while we have dinner on the patio, this family had never, ever accosted us. Read more »

A Tale of Two Dressings

Portuguese Turkey with Two Stuffings Recipe

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was part holiday, part carnival. We’d gather around the table and all the women (that’s not as sexist a remark as it may seem; it was the ’60s, after all) would become carnie barkers. Right after my grandfather finished grace, the air would explode with their babble—Hey, you, young man! How about you, little lady!—trying to coax you to step up and try their kale soup, sausage stuffing, or meringue cookies. Sides were heavily drawn along immediate family lines, until that first brave (read: foolish) cousin dared dip his fork into an aunt’s paprika-and-chouriço-roasted potatoes, and all hell broke lose. Matrilineal allegiances would drop like canaries in a mine shaft and the annual holiday season had begun. Read more »

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