Zen and the Art of Cooking for The One

Smiling Buddha

I was abandoned on New Year’s Day by The One.

Yes, I was left to kick off 2012 by my lonesome. Just me and the kids. He was on his way to a five-day respite at Kripalu, a center for yoga and health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Far be it from me to stop him from bending himself into a human challah braid every morning at 6:30 and eating Tofu Surprise three times a day. We each have our own path to enlightenment. Mine just happens to be slicked with butter and duck fat.

His hope was to get centered, cleanse both body and mind, and sort through some things that have been weighing on him. Being the immensely insecure–and let’s just say it: self-centered–person that I am, I immediately thought it was all about me. So at the front door, I flipped up his collar, tugged him close to me, and warned, Don Corleone-style, “Don’t talk to anyone thinner, richer, or cuter than me.” He simply smiled, long ago inured to my threats, protestations, and tantrums. “I mean it!” I added.

And I did. This idea of giving someone you love so much undisturbed time to think can be dangerous. Thinking turns into analyzing. Analyzing turns into realizing. Realizing turns into acting. Acting turns into divorce. Or something like that. Read more »

What I Learned in 2011

Hourglass

I don’t bother making New Year’s resolutions anymore. What’s the sense of setting myself up for failure when January is but a few hours old? Guaranteed, two weeks into the new year I’ll feel like a loser. Instead I try to quiet my mind (a hard thing to do, what with all this ADD rattling around inside) and contemplate what I learned in the dearly departed year. From that furrowed-brow cogitation I cobble together a list of personal goals. Which, as I write this, probably sounds a lot like resolutions. But to me, resolutions feel rigid. Like my second-grade  teacher, Mrs. Firs, slapping her ruler–thwack, thwack, thwack–in time to some internal clock, just waiting to whap one of us in the back of the head for misbehaving. A goal is all shiny and bright–a bauble of hope. It doesn’t have the word not in it, as in, “I will not overeat” and “I will not curse like a sailor on shore leave” and “I will not look at some twentysomething with his whole life ahead of him and who already knows as much as I do at more than twice his age and find fault with his fashion choices.” Uh, not that any of these have ever applied to me.

This year, more than ever, a great many of the lessons I learned came from fellow bloggers. As a nod of gratitude to them, and as a way of getting my dolls and dishes packed up for next year, I thought I’d share some of the more inspiring lessons.  Read more »

Kitchen Confessional: Burnin’ Down Da House

Burning House

Now that the turkey leftovers are gone, the tryptophan torpor has receded, and we’ve physically and emotionally pushed away from the Thanksgiving table, I need to get something off my chest. A kitchen confessional, if you will: On the Holiest of Holy Days for culinistas all over the country, I failed miserably at the stove. Twice.

Best Food Writing 2012

Featured in

It was far and away the worst hatchet job I’ve ever committed–and it was at baking, my bailiwick. In the 20-something years that I’ve been cooking Thanksgiving dinner, yes, I’ve forgotten to take the giblets packet out of the bird; yes, I’ve both under- and overcooked the turkey; and, yes, I’ve neglected to heat the stuffing to the ideal (read: salmonella-free) temperature. But I’ve never, ever failed to whip up gasp-inducing desserts. But I can’t take full responsibility for my fumble: I mostly blame Twitter and Instagram, because if it weren’t for me snapping pictures of my marvelosity in the kitchen for public consumption, I would’ve had a relaxing holiday, and the members of the Roxbury volunteer fire department would’ve been able to finish their meal undisturbed. Read more »

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