Food Things

-- First, after more than an hour of hopping to many, many offices, I FINALLY got myself admitted to a Food Studies class in the fall as a non-matriculated student!!!! Naturally, the school didn’t exactly give me a wide range of sexy classes to take – I’m taking a non-sexy core class. Food Systems I: Agriculture. Here’s the description:

Food Systems I: Agriculture
E33.2033 30 hours: 3 points

Surveys issues surrounding food production from an agricultural perspective. Students will gain anunderstanding of how agricultural production shifted from a Jeffersonian ideal to an industrial and politicalpracticality. Topics include the agrarian ideal of the yeoman farmer, the ascendancy of markets and agricultural commodification, the politicization of agriculture and the farm bill, and sustainable agricultural systems.

No, definitely not sexy. But fascinating, nevertheless.

-- Los Angeles has blocked any new fast-food “restaurants” in their poorest areas, particularly South L.A. Places like Subway that are usually in strip malls and don’t use heat lamps are exempt. I actually have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, something needs to be done because the poorest people in our country are the ones with the highest rate of obesity and fast food restaurants certainly play a role in that. However, I’m not a fan of governments legislating behavior and I’m annoyed that personal accountability and responsibility, as well as education about nutrition, is being undervalued or totally ignored. Additionally, kids won’t have new fast food places coming into their neighborhood…but often what they get at school is even worse than fast food. Spend some time and tax dollars worrying about that, lawmakers.

-- I found this article in the San Francisco Chronicle: 10 Techniques Every Cook Should Know. It even includes video. Happily, I can do almost all of these things successfully: Breading, Browning/Searing, Dicing an Onion, Making Pan Sauce, Rolling Out Pie Crust, Making a Roux, Segmenting Citrus, and Making a Vinaigrette. Where I am less successful is Tempering: sometimes I’ve nailed it…other times, I’ve had chunks of cooked egg or bits of curdled cream in my dish. And the last one is Folding: I’ve actually never folded anything since I don’t bake and I’ve never tried a soufflé. So I don’t even know if I can do it or not.

-- As I mentioned in my earlier post, my friend Heather introduced me to the book What to Drink with What You Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (See their website). It is the definitive source. Wanna know what to eat with that IPA you have in the fridge? This book has a list. Wondering what in the hell one drinks with Pad Thai…or pretzels? This is the book. Not only does it have “chicken” but it breaks it out into “chicken with lemon or lime”, “chicken tikki masala”, “chicken with cream sauce”, and maaany more. It includes beer, cocktails, wine, tea, and even water. I checked out the 2006 version from the library but Heather informed me that a new edition is coming out this fall (but I can’t find the new one anywhere online). So look out for a new edition sometime soon. Likewise, Heather is highly recommending The Flavor Bible, which is also by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It comes out in September so I’ll be keeping an eye out for that one too.

Eat, drink, and master the 10 Techniques Every Cook Should Know

Book Things

-- I had a fantastic time at Fuse #8’s KidLit Drink Night last night; in fact, I might chalk it up as the best one yet (for me, anyway). I spent a good chunk of time with Betsy and her husband Matt (who is just wicked smart), but I also was able to yell across the table to Heather Scott (who so understands my food obsession and recommended What to Drink with What You Eat to me). We also had the pleasure of chatting with authors Marie Rutkoski (The Cabinet of Wonders) and Donna Freitas (The Possibilities of Sainthood): their books are releasing on Tuesday, August 5th. One of the coolest parts of the evening for me? Seeing the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle up close and personal, which I had not yet had the opportunity to do. I had shunned both devices, preferring to read a “real” book on the subway. Nevertheless, I’m swooning over the idea of traveling with one of these devices. No more books left in the seat pocket in front of me! No more bringing 5 books in my carry-on…only to discover I’m not in the mood for any of them! No more sore shoulders! No more sore back!

-- Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom, I got to see this poster of Nick and Norah:

I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Clearly, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is not going to go all Entertainment-Weekly-hideous-Twilight on me:

-- I’m reading The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli right now. It’s taken me an age to get through it because I’m just savoring it; it’s one of those books. But this morning I read this lush passage and had to share it since this is also a food blog:

I rush downstairs and heat up the sauce I made this morning. It’s oxtail ground up with so much rosemary you can’t tell meat from herb. Vinegar and honey tease the tongue together…The smell is exquisite. I boil long, thick strands of pasta to serve it over. There will only be two dishes. The other is biancomangiare: pancreas and thymus in a chicken broth enriched with egg yolk, Vinsanto wine, almond paste, milk, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and clove.

I’m guessing that Napoli did her research about the authenticity of this dish, and it just sounds sumptuous.

-- We did some talking about Twilight at KidLit Drink Night and Heather and I were in completely agreement on this point: no teen marriages!!!! Stephenie Meyer, as most people know now, has “given away” that there is a wedding between Edward and Bella at the beginning of Breaking Dawn. I do have a real problem with this notion of teen marriage, especially since I’m not convinced that it’s not agenda-pushing by Meyer.

Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter: I just want to read a good story.


What can only be described as A Tirade By Me That I Will Probably Regret Posting

Okay, that’s it. That’s all I can stand, and I can’t stand no more. I have had up to HERE with all the Stephenie-Meyer Bella-haters.

I was already mulling over the content of this post in my head a few days ago. Then this morning, as I was reading Louise Rennison’s Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas on the train, it occurred to me: Bella – thus, Stephenie Meyer – has become nothing but a scapegoat. Why now? Why this one series? I mean, if we’re going to go there, let’s go there:

Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson (nothing but makeup and boys, people)
Gossip Girls (have you seeeen those billboards for the show in Times Square?!)
Sweet Valley High
The Luxe/Rumors
Many of Sarah Dessen’s characters
Mia Thermopolis of The Princess Diaries
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Nick and Norah/Naomi and Ely

Hardly any of the characters listed are poster children for the feminist movement, either they’re single-mindedly boy-crazy…or they’re catty and bitchy…or they’re giggly and vapid. For every Kiki Strike or Anne Shirley, there are at least 3 books that one can claim feature not-as-strong female heroines. But I haven’t seen the books above blasted all over the blogosphere: heck, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging got a Printz Honor! The AskCosmo books are on the Quick Picks list!

But the posts in the kidlitosphere on the Twilight series (or, fittingly, called "saga") are just getting mean. And personal. If anyone is treating the series as if the characters were real, breathing people…it’s the haters. You do realize that Bella is a caricature, right? That she doesn’t represent the state of women and feminism today? That just because so many tweens, teens, and adults (yep, me) love the stories doesn’t mean that they themselves are vapid and devoid of taste, right? Because that’s the vibe out there and it’s often getting vicious. I hate the moment when I’m at a publisher’s event or a conference and Twilight comes up because, inevitably, I’ll be told that the fans of the series have no taste in young adult literature and Bella is the most vapid, most helpless, stupidest female character to be written into YA. Wow. Really?

The character of Bella aside and addressing the series, I believe Stephenie Meyer is an amazing writer. Anyone that can create that much sexual tension, make me blush from head to toe on the subway, but never write in anything more than a kiss? Well, she has my vote for being a damn good storyteller.

Lastly, (and I realize that I’m probably reading a lot more into this but…) I do feel that all this Bella-hate is a tad misogynistic. I’ve never encountered a book with a male protagonist where everyone has picked apart and argued about his behavior and personality to this degree. Let’s talk about Edward’s stupid tendency to totally shut down and give Bella the silent treatment like the sullen child he is. Let’s talk about Jacob’s out-of-control temper and, again, how he tends to pout and give Bella the silent treatment. Nope, I haven’t heard much ranting about that.

Better yet, let’s talk about that other #1 bestseller, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Greg revels in his boyness: he and his friends are disgusting and immature and everything we love to hate about boys. Are we totally out to destroy him? Are we analyzing him to death? No? Well, of course not. Because, you know, he’s just being a boy. We’re doing Greg and Bella both a huge disservice. By ignoring Greg entirely (minus the starred reviews), we’re once again discounting boys as "just being boys". By being out to destroy Bella, we’re not recognizing that, in most females, there is a certain amount of Bella’s character. We do want to swoon, we do want to fall in love, we do want to surrender…we do want two passionate and beautiful men fighting over us. By conveying to tween/teen girls that this isn’t okay – and judging them for having those feelings – we’re holding them to a standard that is impossible to uphold every minute of every day.

And by “tween/teen girls” am I also referring to the grown women, like myself, who are totally in love with the series as well? Of course I am.

Eat, drink, and stop judging other peoples’ reading choices.

Tomi Ungerer in the Times

The New York Times has a very interesting article by Randy Kennedy about Tomi Ungerer and the reissues of his books in the States. Having met my fair share of authors and illustrators, I've been convinced that there are some out there that have no business having access to children. Likewise, there are many I have met who are rotten relating to adults but turn into big-hearted lovebugs around children. I would love to meet Tomi Ungerer and see if he fits into either of these categories. On that note, you also have the third category: Jon Scieszka.

I also find the debate about a children's author's "outside" interests intriguing and I don't really have an opinion formulated yet. I mean, Ungerer's politics and his interest in erotic cartoons affected (still affect?) his popularity in the States. Sound a little similar to a certain Orson Scott Card? Yep. Lots of similarities. I mean, if there are writers who are contributing to the children's literature canon, is it really for me to say what they do in other media outlets? I'm leaning toward "no." You know, when it comes down to the basics, I just want to read a really amazing story that kids will relate to, and I don't give a rat's arse what the author is creating outside of that gorgeous story. But still mulling it over...
Lastly, I think they liiiiiied to Tomi Ungerer: Times Square really is that Disney-fied. Let's hope the poor man doesn't fly over here to see it.


California Adventures: Part II

Our California vacation had a number of legs to it:

1) Me in Anaheim, while Adam and the Kiddo were at my parents’ house in El Dorado County;

2) All three of us at my parents’ house;

3) Kiddo at my parents’ house while Adam and I were in San Francisco for three days;

4) I fly back to NYC alone and Adam stays in Cali for two more days, working in Mountain View;

5) Adam and I are in NYC for a week sans Kiddo;

6) My mom flies Kiddo back to NYC and stays three days;

7) My mom leaves and it’s just the three of us again.

Do you have any idea how many one-way tickets we had to buy to make this all happen???? Ah, but it was so worth it. We had a glorious time.

After many tears and stress leaving Kiddo with my family, we drove the short distance to our friends’ house on the Berkeley border: Amy and Lisa, of Simple Things Made Great and The Great Malaise, respectively. They have a daughter who is beyond darlingness and helped me feel better about leaving my own girl behind. Knowing that we’d need a “post-family cocktail”, Lisa had drinks waiting: Lillet and seltzer over ice with a slice of lemon. Aaaaaaah, yeah. That is now my go-to summer refresher.

Amy and Lisa have truly made an oasis in the middle of the city: classic details in their home with everything updated that needs to be, a lovely patio complete with BBQ and a patch of grass, music always playing. Amy arrived home and, while we read stories to their daughter, they created the perfect summer patio meal: marinated chicken (I believe it was chicken…it’s been awhile now…), an orzo-esque pasta that had a playful texture compared to the meat and the vegetables. It was refreshing and satisfying, and there was the right amount so that we were content but not overstuffed. Amy, consider this a public plea for the recipe…

Amy is currently taking a course to be a Certified Sommelier (because she’s a rock star) so Lisa took us into “The City” for a Food Extravaganza. We started off at The Ferry Building and the farmers’ market outside. Unfortunately, since we were leaving the next day, we couldn’t buy anything perishable – I nearly cried bypassing the cheeses, the squash blossoms, the nectarines, the heirloom tomatoes. Lisa introduced us to Blue Bottle Coffee Co., which was on par with Ninth Street: we were immediately smitten. We ate at Boccalone and shared one of their “cones”, which is literally a paper snowcone cup, filled with the day’s selection of three meats. Adam eyed their fridge filled with cured meats, drooling, wishing that we were instantly rich so that he could install one in our apartment. We longingly passed up the Cowgirl Creamery, knowing that cheese would be difficult to transport home. We bought pluot butter and the freshest trail mix EVER from the purveyor outside. It was all so decadent and deliciously overwhelming.

At that point, Lisa had an errand to run so we headed up to the Mission District (San Francisco actually has fantastic public transportation…which I kept pointing out to Adam in an attempt to convince him that we could move back to the West Coast…someday). Um, and the Mission District is fantastic. It’s the Chelsea NYC of San Francisco. Lisa took us to a darling café, which I can’t remember the name of, where I had some mighty powerful sangria and we just sat against an ivy-strewn wall next to the sidewalk and watched everything go by. Perfection. How did Lisa know that people-watching and drinking sangria are two of my favorite things to do in the summer?

But then I stood up. I foolishly didn’t have anything to eat…and WOO! I felt that sangria! So we headed to a local taco place – which, crap-a-lacka, I can’t remember the same of that place either. Alas, we were hoping for a respite from the heat because The City was uncharacteristically hot that day, but it wasn’t meant to be: the taco place was unairconditioned, for heavens’ sake. So Adam bought four bottles of water and we half-heartedly ate our tacos, just so we could say we tried them. On our way back to the train, we passed gorgeous murals, cute buildings, and lots of great-looking restaurants and cafes. Yeah, I really think I could live there.

From there, it was back to Berkeley to worship at the House of Alice Waters, otherwise known as Chez Panisse. I have no pictures to show you because, you know, that would be sacrilege to snap-snap-snap away on such hallowed ground…not to mention that it would bother other diners and interrupt our conversation flow. Unfortunately, I can’t relate too much, as it’s been a rather long time since we were even there. We ate upstairs in the café because it takes a lifetime, and your unborn child, to get a rezzie in the downstairs section. No matter, I’m more of a café person anyway. Adam (and I believe Amy as well) had salads for a starter with local goat cheese – everything on the menu had its provenance listed. Lisa and I split a pizzette that was perfectly crisped and flavorful. Adam and Amy had the duck for dinner, with the most expertly-done crispy skin I have ever experienced, with a juicy interior that just melted like buttah in your mouth. Adam accused me of being unimaginative (okay, Mr. Salad-with-Goat-Cheese), but I had the grass-fed local steak, rare, with the batter-fried onions. Ooooooh. It was fabulosa. Lisa had the salmon which, curiously, I didn’t ask her if I could try it. She had nothing but great things to say about it. In the meantime, our service was impeccable and the open kitchen was a joy to watch: with the fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, the kitchen staff only had to do what was necessary to enhance the dishes so there was this Zen-ness to their movements and preparation that was a joy to watch and, I believe, permeated throughout the room so that all the diners felt it. Dessert entailed a local peach tart for me and Adam and affogato for Lisa and Amy. Overall, it was heavenly and wonderful and everything I had hoped for. A pinnacle, truly.

Thus ended the California leg of our adventure. The next day, Adam drove off to Mountain View, while I nearly missed my plane since I messed up the times in my head. It was the only time in my life, thus far, that I was relieved to have my flight delayed by two hours: it is the only reason I was actually able to make the flight.

Eat, drink, and say goodbye to California for the time being


WANTED: A Mentor

I’ve been giving lots of thought lately to mentorship and the mentor relationship. We discussed it quite a bit during Emerging Leaders, and I had the pleasure of talking with a former mentor at the ALA conference. Additionally, I’m seeing a group of librarians soon from Salem Public Library in Oregon (another short vacay…to the other side of the country…again), and these three women can take sole credit for me being a children’s librarian, thus rescuing me from the clutches of academic librarianship. Lastly, when I started here at QL, I was “assigned” a mentor which, initially, I wasn’t crazy about. I mean, I don’t believe a mentor can really be “assigned”. Nevertheless, the relationship has turned out to be a beneficial one and, for that, I’m immensely relieved.

All that said, I’m in the market for an additional mentor. At ALA, I had the pleasure of meeting a librarian from Connecticut and I felt like we really hit it off. Her mentor, who is a seasoned Brooklyn Public librarian, was also there. The CT librarian, Gee (name shortened to protect identity, just in case she doesn’t want to be mentioned here), is trying some really innovative and creative stuff at her library, being the young whippersnapper that she is. As her mentor was leaving the event, she leaned over to Gee and said, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” And then they hugged and kissed on the cheek. I actually found myself envious of that sort of relationship. THAT is the kind of mentor I’m longing for. But how to find it? Sitting in my cubicle working in a department without a single children’s (or even young adult) librarian?

So here’s my advert:

WANTED: Mentor for young(ish) children’s materials selector. Must be a “Yes!” person who still has passion for children, libraries, and books. Must work on not only a professional level but a personal level. Must ask “why not?” rather than “why?” Someone who thinks the “generation gap” issue is silly and someone who loves quality food a bonus. Age not important, though over-40 is a plus. Children’s materials selector is energetic, passionate, and quick to laugh. Not naïve, but hopeful and optimistic. Has lots of ideas but often needs guidance with the details. Genuinely enthusiastic about her job and books. Doesn’t need mentor to be a friend but still needs to relate on a personal level. Interested? Respond today – we’re not getting any younger!

Eat, drink, preferably with a mentor


California Adventures: Part I

Now it’s time to tell you all about my California adventures* and hope that I convey some sense of how gorgeous and wonderful it was.

My parents built this enormous retreat on top of a hill overlooking the Sierra Nevada mountains – my siblings and I jokingly refer to it as the “post-kids house”. They have planted fresh herbs everywhere and submerged Adirondack chairs right in the middle of all the action. There is a pool table, a hot tub, and enough wine and beer to last through a nuclear winter. While my parents do love all things Costco, they always have good cheese, good bread, and fresh produce on hand. And did I mention the wine?

Adam was determined to barbecue “every single meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” He only did breakfast on the grill the first two days, both of which I was still in Anaheim; nevertheless, I do believe we grilled lunch twice and dinner three times. And I hardly got my fix – in fact, it only made me miss grilling that much more.

My family also took us to their favorite sushi place and, I have to admit, I was skeptical. I mean, sushi in Cameron Park? In Burke Junction? I should have known better… It’s often the most unassuming places that have the best food. It was the freshest, most tender, most flavorful sushi I have had to date. My family ordered several platters of rolls, which were all intensely rich, but I definitely needed to try their sashimi. I love sashimi. It’s deceptively simple and easy to underestimate, but I also trust it because a chef can’t hide behind anything – it has to be the absolute best and freshest or it fails. Well, Kobe’s sushi succeeded on all counts. In addition, my family claimed to never have had sashimi…and they proceeded to gobble it up, and I hope my family has become converts. To top it all off, it ends up the chef was raised in Brooklyn (Bensonhurst) and has lived in California for 20-some years. So he came out to the table to say hi to Adam and me, being fellow New Yorkers. Overall, it was this gorgeous oasis of food and culture in an unexpected place. I loved it.

We also went to two different farmers’ markets on two different days in El Dorado Hills. The first one was small but lovely. I bought some cheese from a local cheese store that sets up at the market, though they didn’t have any local cheese (apparently, according to the purveyor, there are no creameries local to El Dorado County). I also picked up some locally baked bread and stone fruits galore. There was more of the same at the larger, weekend market, though the cheese purveyor wasn’t there. The bonus was that a woman was there with her daughter, selling their homemade Indian food**: herb naan, chicken tikki masala, yogurt dressing, curries, samosas… And she gave us endless samples of everything, and it took every ounce of willpower I had not to snatch up all of it. We got back to my parents’ house where my father, who had never heard of naan and didn’t care to, tried to put his pseudo peanut butter (Better Than Peanut Butter) on the garlic naan. We all screeched and refused to let him…but were forced to compromise when he insisted on putting black bean salsa on the naan instead. Siiiiigh.

We also did a considerable amount of wine tasting, as El Dorado County is certainly an up-and-coming wine country. We started off at Sogno Winery, which is about a half-mile from my high school…weird! To quote my friend Amy: “If you had told me that there would, someday, be a winery that close to my high school, I never would have believed you.” I visited Sogno years ago and, at that time, they weren’t ready to use their own grapes so they were still buying them from elsewhere in California. But for the most part, they’re using their own grapes now. I bought a case of Tempranillo for a ridiculously low price. We also went to Boeger Winery, which was just divine and beautiful with lovely grounds. Which is code for There Were Plenty of Things for the Kiddo to do While My Mom and I Drank Wine (we bought 6 bottles of their Cabernet Franc, 6 bottles of their Tempranillo, and 6 bottles of their exceptional Rubies dessert wine). Lastly, my mom introduced me to Acorn Hill Vineyards***, which is a 2-acre tiny teeny little winery in El Dorado County. I baaarely scored a bottle of their 2004 Sangiovese and 2004 Rhone Blend. The only thing that bummed me out was that I desperately wanted to talk to the winemaker! Having read Battle for Wine and Love, I wanted to find out his techniques for such a small winery. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. Overall, I really loved the El Dorado County wines. Are they the best? Heavens, no. But they’re still so different from anything I’m used to tasting: they’re young, fresh, herbal, floral, unadulterated…dare I say virginal? Which doesn’t make for the best wines but they were certainly interesting.

Eat, drink, and maybe wish you still lived in Cali

* Wondering why this vacay was such a big deal? Well, after 14 months at QL, I have only now been granted three weeks of vacation. For the first 14 months? FIVE DAYS TOTAL. FOR 14 MONTHS. When told that this was standard and asked why I was surprised by this, I told them that I had worked in 4 other library systems country-wide before coming to QL...and this was the first time I had to wait a year+ to get my full-vacation package. Is this an East Coast thing? Clearly, I'm still annoyed and unable to let this go (lordy, just ask The Husband). Nevertheless, the full three weeks are FINALLY mine to burn through...quickly...given that my fam and my in-laws both live on the West Coast...in different states.

** Mike & Kellee - you're the only ones in the fam who read my blog - find out who makes that AWESOME Indian food in The County and let me know - I'm dying to promote her here to a wider audience!!!!!

*** Ummmm...I'm actually not sure he's entirely legal...Shit. Should I even mention it here?

NOTE: As for the family picture up top, I'm the one with the 55-pound weight on my back. Notice that the guy in glasses in the back has a big ol' smile on his face and his arms amiably around everyone's shoulders. Yeah, that's the Husband. I don't see any weight on his back. Whatev.


Two Upcoming Milestones

I have two birthdays coming up: my birthday is tomorrow, July 19th. And I only just recently realized that my 1-year blog-iversary is Saturday, July 26th. WOW!

And I decided that, should you feel so inclined, you can buy me one (or two) of these. I don't think that's too much to ask, do you?

Eat, drink, and celebrate whenever possible


True Confessions

Thanks to my daily Shelf Awareness email, I had the delight of reading The Guardian's list of Top 10 Food Scenes in Children's Literature. My favorite on this list, of course, was Marilla's raspberry cordial from Anne of Green Gables: poor Anne getting her new friend drunk...priceless. And I found Little Women's appearance on this list interesting, as I never thought so much about the apples in the book.

I had a thought, though, while I was reading this list: "Yep, there's that Enid Blyton again. I can't believe I've never read her books." I'm saying it here, loud and proud: I've never read Enid Blyton. You know who else I've never read? Roald Dahl. That's right. I know what the books are about, and I can recommend them to any kid (I have for years). But never read one. Who else? Yeah, Neil Gaiman - never read his novels. I have tried over and over again to get into Coraline but can't do it. And I have one more I'm dying to get off my chest: Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not a single paragraph.

Do you want to know another confession? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. I have, at one point, faked reading all of these authors' books. I haven't outright lied...but when other people were talking about them...I sort of nodded my head and put the necessary expression on my face, implying I knew exactly what that person meant. Why? Because it drives me crazy that I haven't read everything, and I hate admitting that I don't have all the time in the world to read.

There. I've aired some dirty laundry. Anything that any of you want to admit?

I'm sort of making a point here. Does this make me a bad librarian because I haven't read these books? No, absolutely not. There are how many books out there? Exactly. How can a librarian be expected to read all of them? I do need to stop sorta-lying, though, about which ones I've read. That's wrong.

So the point I'm really trying to make, of course, is that once again food and children's literature intersect. Kind of.

Eat, drink, and read as much as you can...one book at a time

Cleaning up Bloglines: the Food Edition

So I was completely off on my Bloglines count…I had about 200 in my “Children’s Literature” section and almost 400 in my “Food” section…most of them as a result of Mr. Ruhlman who had 140 posts or so alone (which I think might have been a mistake...because when I went to his site, there were only 2 posts I hadn't read). Phew! But this concentrated, fast reading of all the posts has been rather fun…though I will try in the future not to repeat it.

On one hand, I know I’m not the most consistent, most articulate blogger out there, or even remotely close for that matter. However, in my sassier moments, I satisfy myself knowing that the biggest reason I’m not a blogging star is because I totally have a life away from the computer. So…um….there. Yeah.

Here are the standout foodie posts:

-- Book Club Girl has a post about Bastille Day and some book recommendations for Francophiles (though it’s a very brief list…I’d like to add Gastronomical Me, Paris to the Moon, From Here You Can’t See Paris, among many others…). You have ONE MORE DAY to take advantage of wine.com’s 1-cent shipping on French wines, in celebration of Bastille Day.

-- Confections of a Foodie Bride has a queso dip recipe that sounds like the perfect thing to eat on my balcony on a hot summer day. With a mojito.

-- Cream Puffs in Venice pimps her new favorite cookbook: Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes: Recipes from a Modern Kitchen Garden by Jeanne Kelley. I have bumped this cookbook to the top of my list – I’m such a sucker for beautiful food photography.

-- Speaking of beautiful food photography, La Tartine Gourmande wins my award (the one I just made up) for Most Beautiful Food Photograph Posted in my Absence. Click on the link and feel your blood pressure immediately go down and feel yourself whisked away to simpler days when your only plans for the day were to ride your bike and sell some lemonade. Aaaaah…

-- I’ve been obsessed with MFK Fisher lately, but I missed her birthday. Check out Cooked Books' great post on her…and be envious that you don’t work at NYPL. I might give up children’s to be able to work with NYPL’s culinary archives. Even if I’m not qualified for an archival job…

-- Need yet another reason to buy local produce?

-- For the Love of Food has a recipe for Baked Sweet Potato with Maple Jalapeño Sour Cream that looks yummers and sounds so weird that it probably tastes awesome. She also has a recipe for Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad. Rachael Ray also has a very similar recipe that I really like: Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Salad with Tangy Maple Dressing. Nevertheless, I won’t be working either of these recipes until summer is over and my kitchen gets some ventilation from those 30-degree winds…

-- We Are Never Full, once again, has me in stitches…even when asking a legitimate ethical question about our food and humanity. And who says there's no wildlife or nature in the Big City?

-- This isn’t necessarily food-related, but I’m in love with Simple Things Made Great. Amy talks about two things we could all use more of: great summer music and improved life quality. I'm madly in love with anyone who names their playlists "The Sky is Open" and "My Heart is Bursting."

Last but not least, the kiddo is being delivered by my mom to JFK airport tonight and I am ecstatic. Even if that means I now have to give an explanation for every speck of green in every dish I make.

Eat, drink, and be thankful for time with your family.


Chipping away at Bloglines: the Kids' Edition

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that, even though I’m back from my ALA/California vacation adventure, my kiddo is not. The now-7-year-old darling stayed on with my parents for TEN MORE DAYS. Hence the low bloggage right now…I’m having too much fun with Adam. However, we’ve realized that, even though we are child-free for the moment, it does not mean we can successfully relive our glory days of staying out until 2 a.m. My head still hurts…

There are some California-related posts and photos coming. However, in the meantime, I’m catching up on my 300+ Bloglines posts. While some people (Anali…) are able to click “Mark all read”, I’m incapable. Thus, I have discovered some gems...even though they were written two weeks ago!

-- While I was gone, someone by the email handle “sophie4am” (who?) sent me this fantastic comic about the NYC subway system, created by Christoph Niemann (Police Cloud). He/she sent it to me as incentive to come back from Cali. You need to take a look, especially for all you NYC-philes. Fuse #8 and Read Roger also linked to it.

-- I love cemeteries and, thanks to Allison over at Shelftalker, I realize I’m not the only one (and her pictures are gorgeous). This might be worth the trek up to Boston…and I can finally go to Eric Carle’s museum while I’m up that way.
-- Everyone's all abuzz about Jill Lepore's article in The New Yorker, "The Lion and the Mouse." It's a fascinating article, not terribly sympathetic toward Anne Carroll Moore, but I particularly loved the cartoon at the beginning. Wonderful!

-- Chicken Spaghetti has an interesting post on Tasha Tudor’s obituary by Wall Street Journal’s Meghan Cox Gurdon. "Violently impressionistic” children’s illustrations are the vogue? Really? I wasn't aware of it... Overall, I was really put off by the grumpy, jaded tone of the tribute.

-- I feel all yucky and disappointed because I just read that Steven Page, of Barenaked Ladies, has been arrested on drug charges in upstate NY. But he just did an awesome children’s album! Was it just marijuana? Because I don’t find that a big deal. To quote Meg Ryan in French Kiss, “I mean, is marijuana really a narcotic? Come on.” Sadly, though, Page was reportedly with two women and there was marijuana and cocaine. Ugh. On one hand, I find myself naively thinking, “But what about the children?” On the other hand, I shrug and say, “What else do you expect from a band calling themselves Barenaked Ladies?”

More favorite blog posts and links coming up…all the food-related ones!

Eat, drink, and appreciate how long all this linking takes!


ALA Annual: First night, stunning food and people


As I mentioned before, I resorted to writing blog posts on scraps of paper during ALA. Here is the first post I wrote:

I’m severely jet-lagged – it’s 2 a.m. NYC eastern time, but I had to record tonight’s events…

Here I’ve been reading Gastronomical Me and My Life in France, and I’ve been envying Julia and MFK for their writing skills and travels. They experienced so much of life and food, where it seemed I had done neither. Well, no longer.

A member of my Emerging Leaders group, A__, is a native Hawaiian and lives on Oahu. He invited our group (four of us) over to his suite tonight to work on our poster session. His wife, his wife’s cousin, and his “Hawaiian sister” were there, and they surprised us with what can only be described as a feast. Two kinds of seaweed from the islands that tasted exactly like the ocean: briny, salty, living. Raw crab! Dumplings – some fried, some baked – filled with taro, pork, and all kinds of seasonings I couldn’t identify. Raw onions sprinkled with Hawaiian sea salt made by A__’s relatives. Smoked marlin and dried tuna, caught, dried, and smoked by his family. Limpets, dead and uncooked, in a bowl – they were chewy and tasted like the sea too. He gave us the detailed account of how difficult it is to master the art of getting the limpet detached from the rocks. He told us that he had wanted to prepare a traditional mango dessert but, alas, the agriculture people seized those at the airport. He rattled off the Hawaiian names of everything, rapidly and fluidly, hardly taking a breath.

I was voracious. I couldn’t eat enough. I couldn’t remember the names of anything.

But there’s more. When the feasting was winding down, A__’s wife played the ukulele and sang a Hawaiian song with him. Then his cousin sang a heartbreaking song a cappella about Hawaii’s queen* locked away in her own palace by the white settlers. I was already feeling blessed and overwhelmed…but there was still more! A__ danced a hula while everyone sang a song in Hawaiian, which was apparently all about sex, according to our hosts. A__ kept storytelling throughout, explaining the origin of each song. I felt full, content, satisfied.

Tonight, in a Residence Inn suite, I felt like I saw the Real Hawaii: warm hospitality, full hearts, endless giving, sadness, complicated flavors and emotions, love, community. I’ll never forget it my whole life – the day I flew to Anaheim to experience Hawaii.

Eat, drink, and a warm-hearted mahalo nui loa to A__ and the rest of my Emerging Leaders group for an unforgettable experience.

* I did some research because I couldn’t remember the name of the Queen…however, I came up with a couple names and I don’t want to offend anyone by printing the wrong name here.


Checking In

This is the blog post to remind everyone that I am, in fact, still blogging. I've had very little time and very limited computer access during this working vaca. During my absence, I've been writing blog posts on scraps of paper, visiting farmers' markets, eating the best sushi I've had to date, wine tasting, sitting at the same table as Remy Charlip, reading lots of books...and taking pictures of none of it. Which all you foodies will hate me for when I tell you about the amazing food* I've been eating lately. I'll be coming up for air** later this week so look for posts sometime then.

Eat, drink, and fall in love with California

* Chez Panisse is tomorrow!!!!! All hail Alice Waters!!!!

** I checked my Bloglines today for the first time in almost 2 weeks, and I only have 200+ posts to read. I feel so...disconnected.