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December 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

from the archives ...being the true story of a Christmas Miracle, for Megan and other foodies at the 'rents for the holidays, with apologies to everyone else...
Barn

Come on over and sit with me Megan. Let me tell you a story. Now this is a true story, though some folks doubt it. But I was there that Christmas Eve and it happened just like this...

Way back when your mama was just a wee thing, there was a great storm. You can find mention of it in the history books, things like this:

"On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1945, 20 hours of continuous snowfall blocked roads and required snowplow operators to work the holiday in southern Minnesota."

But they don't tell the true story. Not the whole story.

They don't tell you about The Thing that happened on a dark road, way out of town...

Picture it. A small town in southern Minnesota, Christmas Eve, 1945. It wasn't like now, where you can order everything under the sun with just a click of your mouse. No, in 1945 if you wanted something you had to go to a store, so near everyone in town was out that fateful day.

The war was finally over and the troops were starting to come home to their families. After the last few holidays which, as you can imagine, were not festive affairs, it seemed that the entire town was having a party...

Continue reading "A Christmas Miracle" »

December 25, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

...being the true story of a Christmas Miracle, for Megan and other foodies at the 'rents for the holidays, with apologies to everyone else...
firstSnow-barn

Come on over and sit with me Megan. Let me tell you a story. Now this is a true story, though some folks doubt it. But I was there that Christmas Eve and it happened just like this...

Way back when your mama was just a wee thing, there was a great storm. You can find mention of it in the history books, things like this:

"On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 1945, 20 hours of continuous snowfall blocked roads and required snowplow operators to work the holiday in southern Minnesota."

But they don't tell the true story. Not the whole story.

They don't tell you about The Thing that happened on a dark road, way out of town...

Picture it. A small town in southern Minnesota, Christmas Eve, 1945. It wasn't like now, where you can order everything under the sun with just a click of your mouse. No, in 1945 if you wanted something you had to go to a store, so near everyone in town was out that fateful day.

The war was finally over and the troops were starting to come home to their families. After the last few holidays which, as you can imagine, were not festive affairs, it seemed that the entire town was having a party...

Continue reading "A Christmas Miracle" »

September 05, 2011

A Labor Day Thank You To "The Help"

kitchen: the long shot

Dear someoneElse, theKid, and various friends...but mostly someoneElse,

As we celebrate Labor Day weekend in the US—mainly by spending three days doing as little labor as possible—I'd like to pause a moment and salute all of your labor on behalf of this site, my cookbook and the rest of my food writing endeavors.

You, and people like you, are the unsung heroes of the food writing world: Our partners, children, roommates, family, friends and random people we happen to con into doing a little cleaning up...since we did all the cooking.

Barely acknowledged, and then usually in some way that reflects well on the writer, you toil unseen and unremarked while the cook reaps all the praise.

"Unseen" was going to be a joke. I was going to post a photo with a blurry figure working through a sink full of dishes in the background. I searched my 45,000 photo library and came up blank. Then I asked friends. Nothing. So, yeah, unseen. Unnoted. Definitely unthanked.

Unsung, and if you were, it would be definitely a Blues song.

Continue reading "A Labor Day Thank You To "The Help"" »

July 03, 2011

Dear Mathematicians, Hands off our pie!

I read the news this morning and ran into an extremely disturbing article.

Mathematicians Want to Say Goodbye to Pi

"I know it will be called blasphemy by some, but I believe that pi (sic) is wrong." mathematician Bob Palais

Given my public cupcake hate, I feel almost hypocritical coming to the defense of pie, but this is just plain wrong.

When I saw the headline, I wondered Why do math geeks have to attack pie? (Note that they call themselves by the formal title of mathematicians, it should have been my first BIG hint. Why the insistence on dropping the 'e' from pie? Do they want to take away even the word for pie? The very idea of pie?

What did pie ever do to them? And does Kate McDermott know about this?

Worse, they want to replace pie with tau which totally confuses me. I see nothing at all in this list that looks tasty. Not even a bit. Tau is also the greek number 300, which is far too many slices for a single pie so any talk of using pie and tau together must be questioned.

Looking further, Google image search for 'tau' turns up mostly hostile looking guys, many with huge guns. They look pissed off. Like someone stole their pie. Or cut it into 300 itsybitsy pieces. A mathematician, I'd guess.

 

220px-2pi-unrolled

Speaking of images, check out this one, borrowed from wiki bits related to this. I approve of cutting the pie into only 8 slices. Big pie slices are marvelous and I am thrilled we're not talking about 300 slices anymore. But what's with the rolling thing? How does that help with serving the pie? I only imagine flying bits of fruit and crust. Do mathematicians not clean up their own mess, like men and kids in those paper towel ads with the ever present robotic spill-wiping mom...hmmm.

The entire idea seems absurd to me. Why would people want to get rid of pie? People love pie. Pie is as American as, well, apple pie. Can you imagine a group of patriotic citizens lining up to demand an end to pie? It's not like it's something truly evil, like chocolate milk.

Reading on, I may have found the problem. First, it's not an American. It's a mathematician from the UK. Just before Independence Day. Which we celebrate with pie. I think I may be getting closer to the truth now. (Guys, it's been over 200 years. Get over it!)

At one point, there is a bit of conciliatory talk, "there is no need for pi to be eradicated," (Kevin) Houston said. "You might say I'm not anti-pi, I'm pro-tau." He then goes on to claim that tau is more "natural" as if pie never occurs in nature. That is totally untrue. I eat pie in the garden all the time. (I'm sure Kate's got my back on pies being natural.)

A bit more digging turned up this gem, squirreled away in a UK web site where nobody would find it. Or so the anti-pieists hope.

'How much simpler it would be if we just used tau instead of pi,' Dr Houston added. 'The circle would have tau radians, a semicircle would have half tau, a quarter of a circle a quarter tau, and so on. You don’t have to think.'

'We should be changing the textbooks,' he insisted. 'It would be much simpler than the shift from imperial to metric. If we were to start teaching tau from the moment kids start maths, they would take to it straight away, as it’s more natural.'

"You don't have to think." "more natural" The fundamentalists always say that, don't they?

So are these anti-science mathematicians discouraging thinking? A British plot to force us to give up pie for this 'tau' along with a 'shift from imperial to metric'? (How cleverly that was slipped in!) Or are they simply confused and misled?

Sadly, while I love a good conspiracy theory, I think it is the latter. Simply put, pie scrambles their brains. My evidence? This is from the US article, where the press let this stunning revelation of the power of pie slide in:

"This means one quarter of a circle corresponds to half of pi. That is, one quarter corresponds to a half. That's crazy. Similarly, three quarters of a circle is three halves of pi."

What?

...one quarter equals a half and three quarters is three halves...

I think I understand now. Pie makes math hard. I mean, look at that. A quarter is a half? That means one is two. 1=2? Seriously?

Math geeks, back away from the sugar. It is clearly messing with your brains.

People, please join me in defending pie and making sure it is not eradicated from the planet by these nefarious 'mathematician' people. Make a pie, eat a pie, buy a pie. Better yet, take a mathematician out for pie. They sound like they could use a nice slice of pie.

September 03, 2009

Sheila Lukins, so long and thanks for all the inspiration!

From the archives, in memory of Sheila Lukins who died of brain cancer a few days ago. Lukins, co-author of Silver Palate cookbooks was one of the earlier influences on my cooking as an adult. Fortunately, I had a chance to thank her personally (in email) a couple of years ago.
cake book

As an unapologetically enthusiastic cook, I own a lot of cookbooks. A quick survey from where I sit reveals four bookshelves-one with easily 125 books-and six piles of books in varying states of precariousness. Books with recipes make up the bulk of these, but McGee, Nestle, Pollan, Schlosser, Parsons and others contribute a couple dozen reference books to the clutter in my office. It should be noted that I can only see the dining room and my office.

Out of sight, the guest room has a bookcase of food essayists, designed to be read in small bits: Reichl, Steingarten, Bourdain, the annual Best Food Writing series. Two more boxes, utterly untouched, sit where they were shoved under the entryway bench a few months ago "until we build more bookshelves," an event I expect to happen real soon now. Like next year.

Continue reading "Sheila Lukins, so long and thanks for all the inspiration!" »

August 01, 2008

Recapturing a food memory

Just last weekend, someone asked me what the first thing I remembered cooking was. I thought for a minute, and then I lied to them, saying, "Pound cakes. I took decorated pound cakes to my teachers every year and I baked them myself!"

In my defense, I truly did think that it was the correct answer when I said it - and I did bake pound cakes for my teachers - but a few days ago, something else came across my desk and made me reconsider what was first.

I was presented with the need to pay tribute to Mimi, my grandmother - the woman who, more than any, shaped the kitchenMage I am today - in a single photograph, and one with odd constraints at that. Remembering that recent conversation, I once again went rummaging through cookbooks and memories for the very first thing I remember making.

Needless to say, it wasn't pound cake.

Continue reading "Recapturing a food memory" »

August 29, 2005

Memories of childhood food

I feel I've been somewhat remiss in posting lately, alternating between feast and famine. So when I was finally driven from the warm comfort of my bed at the unbearably early hour of 7am today by the rain that pounded down on the roof all night I figured it was a good day to catch up a bit. You can perhaps imagine my frustration that the same deluge that kept me awake a lot of the night is turning my satellite into a highly intermittent communication device: this does NOT make blogging easier! And I am nowhere near the Gulf coast and Katrina. (if you are, stay safe)

Top of my list of undone writing is Five Childhood food memories you miss, having been tagged by either Mrs. D, Chopper Dave, or one of the four-legged furlings at Belly-Timber. Personally, I am betting it was the cat. Anyway, after the usual delay, here goes.

Continue reading "Memories of childhood food" »

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