First Supper

You might think that I come back from conferences wanting to get into the kitchen and make something rather fancy, something show off-y. But when I'm at conferences, I eat out every meal so when I come home, I prefer to get back to the basics, to cleanse my system, to keep things simple. So my first meal back from the IRA conference was Ina Garten's Mâche* with Warm Brie and Apples (which I also made here):

It was exactly what I needed. I also found some ramps at the store so I fried those up in bacon fat ('cause that's how I roll):

But it's not just about food. It's about being in my home, about conversation, about sharing with my family and friends - that's what I miss most when I'm away. So let me set the scene for you and let you in on what sort of things the Lutz family talks about at the table after I've been gone for a week:

A family sits around the table eating dinner: a man and a woman, in their 30's and rather dashing, and a darling young girl, about 8 years old. The young girl has studied some art at school, which informs the family's conversation.

Woman: There was a Matisse exhibit at the Art Institute during my conference. It was torture! Every day I drove by the museum on my way to the convention center and the Matisse signs just taunted me. But you know how conferences are...

: But don't you think it'll come to New York?

: Maybe. I'll keep an eye out.

: Which reminds me, I still want to see that Picasso exhibit before it leaves the Met.

: I want to see it! I love Picasso. He's my third favorite.

: Your third favorite?

: Who are number 1 and 2?

: My first is Eric Carle. My second is Mo Willems - I love him. And then Picasso.

And there you have it, folks. Carle, Mo...and Picasso.

Eat, drink, and do both en famille.

NOTE: Unlike my previous attempt, I was actually able to find m
âche this time. It was really wonderful - super delicate and light - and I highly recommend that you snatch it up immediately if you see it at the store.

Poetry Friday: Self-publishing

In an attempt to be all centered and Zen yesterday, I brought along my well-worn copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass to read on the subway. I opened to random pages, reading whatever, and then I tripped upon this one:


Shut not your doors to me proud libraries,
For that which was lacking on all your well-fill'd shelves, yet needed most, I bring,
Forth from the war emerging, a book I have made,
The words of my book nothing, the drift of it every thing,
A book separate, not link'd with the rest nor felt by the intellect,
But you ye untold latencies will thrill to every page.

I'll admit that I'm awful at deconstructing poetry - I get too lost in the language to take it apart piece by piece to figure out what it means. And deconstructing it just seems to take away the beauty and romanticism of it all, you know?

So I thought that this was a poem about libraries.

THEN I re-read it. Wait...wait...just...one...second. Is he a self-published author trying to get a library to stock his book?! Is that what this poem is about? Yeah, I think it might be. Do you know how often this happened to me when I worked at Queens Library?! Self-published authors contacting me directly to put their book on their shelves. Wow.

Well, I would hate to be the collection development specialist who said no, no thank you, Mr. Whitman. I think your poetry is crap. Yeah, I'd hate to be that librarian.

Help me out, poetry aficionados. Is he an aggressive self-pubbed poet, selling his collection to whoever will stock it?



Just when I thought I wouldn't have time...I've sneaked away to send this missive. Or maybe I'm just stealing a moment while Adam reads Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to Bug during bedtime...

A post is forthcoming about my adventures at the Texas Library Association (TLA) conference in San Antonio but, in the meantime, feast your eyes on this:

Yep. That's a crepe with Nutella and bananas. Don't I have the best family?

I arrived home from Texas on Saturday night around 9:00 p.m. Bug was in bed so there wasn't much else for me to do, post-conference, but follow suit. But the next morning? A feast awaited me! Adam and Bug had shopped for all the fixins for crepes!

Home sweet home, indeed.

Shortly after Adam and I married, I bought a crepe maker (similar to this one). Really, there isn't an easier way to make crepes than this. It may not be authentic, but it's accessible and simple and delicious. Not to mention that my crepe maker has lasted me more than 10 years. And I still use the recipe that came with the contraption. Here it is:

1 c. flour
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Mix in bowl with a wire whisk or mixer, first combining the flour and the eggs, adding liquid gradually. Beat until smooth, add other ingredients. Makes about 16 crepes.

That's the official recipe but you wanna know the truth? I dump every ingredient together, whisk, and start the crepe making. No muss, no fuss.

It's kind of breaking my heart that I have to leave again in a short four days for the IRA conference. But I sure am enjoying the food and the joys of the kitchen while I'm here.

Eat, drink, and enjoy your family.


The Glamour! The Grace! The STYLE!

I just have to get this over with quick...I have bad news. I'm taking a blog break for a couple weeks. This probably won't surprise my regular readers and/or those who know me personally: with two conferences in the next three weeks, my time is not my own. I do not exaggerate. It really isn't my own. Just ask Adam.

The good news is that I'll come back with all kinds of stories about TLA (Texas Library Association conference in San Antonio) and IRA (International Reading Association in Chicago). I mean, I'll be hanging out with the likes of Chris Crutcher and Kevin Henkes, for heaven's sake. That won't suck. And we have lovely new authors to our list that I can't wait to take out to dinner: Sophie Jordan and Tera Lynn Childs. And I'll get to be all fangirl on Henry Cole - I might have to recite Why Do Kittens Purr? to him...which, thanks to Bug, I know by heart.

So I'm getting ready to leave on Tuesday for San Antonio. This being my third conference since joining Harper, I'm making better and better choices about packing. For ALA Midwinter, I bought (splurged ridiculously is more like it...) on a 3-piece suit from J. Crew. So I have one skirt, one set of trousers, and a suit jacket. All I have to do is swap out different tops. It drastically reduced the amount of clothes I had to pack.

So here is my new thing:

It's my Conference Care Package! Inspired by my colleague Kayleigh, I put together this kit. Conferences are murder on your body in every way and, in order to not reveal the magic that goes on behind the scenes, I'll avoid the dirty details. But my body truly suffers. This will help! Here's what's inside:
  • Raw almonds (for protein)
  • Breakfast bar (when I don't have time for breakfast)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Advil Cold and Sinus
  • Echinacea
  • Green tea (I swear by it)
  • Band-Aids
  • Tums
  • Gas-X
  • Muscle cream (odorless, of course)
  • Heating pads
  • Hand lotion
  • Visine (how do convention centers manage to suck every ounce of moisture out of the air?!)
In addition, I also bought a waistband clip for my cell phone and my Blackberry so I'll have TWO phones attached to me at all times during the conference.

Between my Conference Care Package, my phones, and my J. Crew suit of armor, I am UNSTOPPABLE!

So I'll be back in a few weeks. If you're going to TLA, visit me in booth #2222 and, at IRA, come say hi at booth #2433. And I might actually have some free moments at each conference, so let me know if you have any recommendations for must-see things (or, more importantly, must-eat things) in San Antonio or Chicago.

Eat, drink, and learn survival skills!

P.S. Wonder what I'm taking to read en route? Firelight by Sophie Jordan, Sir Charlie by Sid Fleischman, The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller, Gastronomical Me by MFK Fisher (for a break), A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole, a Jane Austen (I haven't decided which one yet). Is it any wonder I throw out my back all the time?! If someone would just buy a damn iPad, this wouldn't be an issue...


We've Got Company!

My parents are visiting from California this week. With the kids out of school, it's a great time for them to gallivant all over NYC with Bug (while Adam and I still work, alas).

Here's the thing, though: I have a difficult time cooking for my parents when they visit. My dad is diabetic...with high blood pressure...and he's usually trying to lose some weight. This will give you a mental image: he's an ex-football player for UCLA. Likewise, my mom is often off carbs and she really doesn't eat all that much anyway.

So I had to go with one my tried-and-true standbys: Ina Garten's Herb-Baked Eggs (this is a link to the recipe, which I follow to a T - why mess with genius?). I can make it on a weekday with no hassle, but there's still something elegant about the dish. With a green salad and some toasted bread, it's completely satisfying.

Here's the key, though: don't give away the secret! Don't go telling your dinner guests how easy it was, how it was no problem. Take credit, smile graciously, and thank them. Then raise your glass and tell them you love when they visit from California! They'll never be the wiser!

Eat, drink, and don't sweat it when houseguests come knocking!


SLJ Battle of the Books: Self-Reflection

It's official: Fire did not rise from the dead. The Frog Scientist edged its way in which, I have to confess, shocked the hell out of me. Nevertheless, I fight on.

Here is my Fire quote for today:

[...]even if she sensed pity in the feeling of her
watching friends. The pity only made her more stubborn.

You know those passages in books that make you smile knowingly because you identify so wholeheartedly with the emotions of a particular character? Or nod appreciatively at a situation in a book...because you've been there too? That was this one for me.

As if my Fire-related, SLJ-Battle-of-the-Books-inspired quotes for the past two weeks haven't been the ultimate testament to my stubbornness...

I guess I have to pick a favorite for the final round. Not picking one would be like watching the Super Bowl without a team. Everyone knows you have to choose a side. Therefore, I'm going....

Team Marching Freedom!

Game on!