The Garden of Him

Papa Leite

My father is a good man. Just ask my mother. Actually, if you spend enough time with her, she’ll tell you anyway, blurting it out while watching TV or holding out a bag of mini Milky Way bars to you. “Manny Leite’s a good man,” she’ll say.

The measure of a good man is calculated by many yardsticks. For my father, it was being a provider. It began with a home. First with a floor, eventually covered in the lightest of oak—“Only three-quarter-inch will do,” he’d say—that supported us, two-by-fours that became walls that surrounded us, and, finally, a roof that protected us—all built with his own hands.

Then there was sustenance. He cut a garden from what has to be God’s rockiest half-acre, situated behind our house. A grape arbor appeared first. Beneath it we lingered over many long, lazy meals, just we three. Plump bunches of grapes hung heavily, and my father would pluck some and feed them to my mother. The shaded table grew crowded with our expanding family my father brought over from the Azores. First my grandfather, then my uncle, my aunt, another aunt, and finally my grandmother and the youngest aunt of all. And, in time, their spouses and later their kids gathered round. It was understood back then that this half-acre was on loan: It was meant for me, my wife, and my children—a family that would never come to be. Read more »

See What Happens When You Avoid Writing?

Shredded Envelopes

No, that’s not a pretty picture. Yes, I know that food blogs are supposed to be fairly busting out of their posts with succulent, juicy, fantastic pictures. Hell, that’s not even food. But that is a picture of my mind this afternoon and how antsy, a bit manic, and certainly ADD-ish I’m feeling as I’m trying to avoid writing my book.

Okay, one giant step backwards. Earlier today, I was in the middle of answering comments on my post about being depressed and baking bread. (I’m no longer depressed, but I’m still baking bread.) Then I heard the honk of the mail carrier. She pulls into our driveway whenever she has packages, and that honk is a heads up to get my ass out there and pick up my mail. “Holy go to war,” I say aloud to no one. It’s pouring here today—for the past two days, actually–and the last thing I wanted to do (besides writing) was slosh through the stream that’s carving its way along our driveway. Still, out I ran, barefoot, with my shoulders somewhere up around the top of my ears, as if that would prevent me from getting soaked.  Read more »

Shauna Sever: Natural Sugars

the Splendid Table Shauna Sever


[Editor’s Note: Guess who The Splendid Table asked to be a special correspondent? We couldn’t be more pleased or grateful. (And David couldn’t be more nervous wondering if you’ll like it. So go on, give it a listen and tell him what you think…)]

In this week’s episode. I had the pleasure of chatting with the always charming Shauna SeverShauna Sever, aka the Next Door Baker and author of the new book Real Sweet, who explained to me some natural alternatives to conventional refined white sugar—including muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, and maple syrup—and how to bake with them. (Note to self: You really have to expand your shopping list when it comes to the baking aisle at the supermarket.)

And as if that wasn’t enough, also in this episode of The Splendid Table listen as:

  • Journalist and author Barry Estabrook gives us an insider’s peek at the pork industry via his newest book, Pig Tales.
  • Jen Stevenson, co-author of the book The Picnic, offers professional help on creating the best picnic ever while keeping the work to a minimum.
  • Robyn Lea, author of Dinner with Jackson Pollock, explains how she unearthed painter Jackson Pollock’s recipes.
  • Jan and Michael Stern share their thoughts on Honey from the Rock Café in Augusta, Georgia.
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