A Better Brine for Chicken

There comes a time when even the most beloved and closely held adages need to be challenged. Take Plato’s “necessity is the mother of invention.” Centuries ago, for example, long before refrigeration, people had to figure out how to preserve food for long periods, especially fallow times, and — boom — salting food, either by packing it in salt (think bacalao) or adding it to a brine (think pickles), was born. I submit that necessity isn’t the only path to invention. Laziness can be just as effective and infinitely less work.

At least in our kitchen. Read more “A Better Brine for Chicken” »

In a ’64 T-Bird, Chasing a Date with a Clam

A red and white paper container of whole-belly fried clams, behind is onion rings and condiments

Recapturing a childhood memory is nearly impossible. Chasing after it in a black 1964 Thunderbird convertible with red interior certainly helps.

The memory: lightly fried clams with big, juicy bellies, like the kind I munched on nearly every summer weekend growing up in Swansea, Mass. The car, owned by my friend Bob Pidkameny: a nod to my godfather, a local celebrity and stock car driver, who would pile my two cousins and me into whatever sleek beauty he was tinkering with and take us to Macray’s in Westport, Mass. There we sat—three lard slicks—digging into red-and-white cardboard boxes, while screams from the riders on the Comet, the wooden roller coaster at a nearby amusement park, floated across the highway. Read more “In a ’64 T-Bird, Chasing a Date with a Clam” »

My Problem With Balls

Baseball Glove

I have a problem with balls. I can’t catch them, I can’t hold on to them, and I certainly can’t throw them. But apparently, balls don’t have a problem with me. They seem drawn to me. I could be walking by a playing field, a tennis court, even a neighbor’s yard, and balls of all sorts would inevitably seek me out.

This unusual Law of Attraction started the summer when I was 11 years old and played right field in the Swansea Little League. (Or was it left field? I can never get it straight. You know, that spot beyond first base?) I was on the politically indecently named team known as the Indians. I never wanted to be on a baseball team. In fact, I loathed the very idea. But it was my parents’ way of trying to assimilate me with other boys and get me out of the house.

Not long before, I had walked up to my father while he was reading the newspaper on a Sunday afternoon and said, “Daddy, I think I’m a drug addict.”

He slowly lowered his paper and his La-Z-Boy. He looked over my head to my mother. Then he looked at me. “Why do you say that, son?” He was gentle, a hand on my arm.

I explained that we had been given a handout in school that listed the possible signs of preteen and teen drug addiction. One of them was spending excessive time alone, especially in a bedroom behind closed doors. Because of squalls of anxiety that were storming through my body, I had often locked myself in my room alone. Read more “My Problem With Balls” »