It’s Always Darkest

Early Snowy Morning

Sometimes I think my cat is better than my doctor at prescribing what I need.

Early Wednesday morning, Devil Cat woke me at 3 a.m. wanting to play, as he does every morning when we’re in Connecticut. It was our usual dance number—he leading, me following, of course. First he used his claws to pull himself across the rug—I guess you could call this his floor routine. Then he jumped on the bed and kneaded my chest with his lethal weapons, which he just honed on the rug. When I couldn’t take it anymore, we quickly two-stepped to the bathroom, dancing on each other’s feet, where he figure-eighted between my legs while I winced bleary-eyed into the mirror to see how much blood he’d drawn from my chest. Read more »

Call Me Puff Daddy

Prosciutto-Parmesan Puffs Recipe

I knew I was different when I was seven years old. While all the other kids in the neighborhood were playing in the Jennings’ backyard, sniggering at stolen copies of Playboy and knocking back enough Pez, Twizzlers, and s’mores to make our dentist start shopping for a new ’67 Acapulco blue Mustang, I was hiding out in our kitchen.

“Don’t hang from the oven handle,” Momma Leite would yell, thwacking me on the back of the head with her constant companion, a wet dish rag. “And don’t open the door until they’re done.”

Inside were four Pepperidge Farm apple turnovers. One for her, one for my dad, and two for me. It was the occasional dessert she deigned to serve when I would purposely convulse at the grocery or pronounce in front of company that I was adopted and that my real family lived in a mansion by the sea.

I stood vigil, forehead pressed against the splattered oven window because I desperately wanted to watch the puffery in action. Too many times I’d grown impatient or distracted and stepped away from four flat, pallid triangles only to return to a quartet of buxom beauties, just a hint of their lovely juices seeping through the frills of their ruffles. But that afternoon, I was determined to study every tiny transition in this alchemy. I watched how the sealed edges were the first to blossom and split into a million layers. As the turnovers began to brown, I watched, spellbound, while they bubbled and heaved as though they were coming alive, becoming bigger and firmer until they’d risen, fully engorged! What can I say? While the Freeborns and Jennings ogled what Lynn Winchell, Miss December 1967, had to offer, I was becoming addicted to a very different kind of porn—one that  conveniently required no confession with Father Fraga at St. John of God on Saturday afternoons. Read more »

Bolognese Lasagne

Bolognese Lasagne Recipe

I’ve always looked upon making my own pasta as a virtuous endeavor. Like tithing, volunteering, or rotating my tires on a regular basis. So when I told The One I was going to make Giuliano’s lasagne with homemade noodles, he gave me a very impressed nod of the head. I liked that. He was even more intrigued when I hauled out all my new KitchenAid rollers and cutters along with a ruler, broomstick, and 00 flour. Clearly I meant business.

This recipe is a cinch to follow. Guiliano writes that you can make it over two days, but if you’re organized (which I’m not), you can make in an afternoon—which I did. My only problem was that I had to stop rolling the dough two settings before the narrowest setting that the recipe specified because the dough was stretching too thin. Thinking I perhaps made a mistake and had already rolled it into pasta oblivion (after all, I was picturing those hefty-hefty, thick-as-plywood lasagne noodles of days gone by), I posted a picture on Facebook in the hopes of getting feedback. And who should reply? None other than the doyen of Italian cooking—Marcella Hazan. She wrote, “Nice touch David, to lay out the pasta on checked fabric to display its transparency. Homemade egg pasta is at the top of the pasta pyramid, and homemade lasagne alla Bolognese commands the very peak. Why have so few refused to make that ascent? Congrats, D.L.” As you can imagine, I was practically vibrating with pride. Read more »

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