Real Life

When I Grow Up I Want to be Miss Olivia High

The weekly meal service and food pantry at Union Baptist Church is not one of the biggest around. It’s not one of the oldest. It’s certainly not one of the most modern. But it’s something special, in large part because it was conceived of and still run by a vibrant 92-year old woman, Miss Olivia High. If you arrive at the pantry and kitchen, which is tucked into the basement of the church in the Bedford- Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, just before the meal service starts, you should get to hear a freeform sermon from one of the church leaders, …

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Eat Smartly and Carry a Small Stick … of 100% Grass-fed Beef

What does a teenage football-playing boy and an American Pygmy Shrew have in common?  They both eat 3 times their body weight every day in food. Okay, that is NOT true (well, it’s true about the American Pygmy Shrew), but if you are the person who is feeding one or more teenage boys then you might feel like that statement is believable.  All I know is that starting in late August and heading into November my guys are in full-on football mode, working hard and eating like there isn’t a bottom in sight. And I’m cooking as fast (and as …

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Why I’m Excited for Friendsgiving

You may have heard of Friendsgiving, that wacky new Thanksgiving trend that’s sweeping the country; basically it’s Thanksgiving with friends instead of family, either instead of the family thing, or in addition to.  And frankly when this started becoming a “thing” I reacted with an eye roll, given that America does love itself a brand new holiday that people can throw themselves into (read: create commerce out of). It’s not that I don’t like the spirit of the new holiday — we’ve always had friends at our Thanksgivings for as long as I can remember, which have made them much …

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The Olympics Are A-Comin’!

My newsletters are nothing if not inconsistent (how do you like my flagrant use of the double negative?). Last month, I talked about my recent favorite grain salads. The month before, it was Mother’s Day. The month before that, it was my eighth-grade home ec teacher. I’m telling you, this writing thing is not a bad way to compensate for those little ADD flare-ups. (I’m recently self-diagnosed, but I’m really quite sure, and  I think it may explain a lot.) Today’s topic: the Olympics! They’re a-comin’. And like the whole world, I’m excited, though my own athletic prowess vacillates between taking …

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In Memory of Christopher Idone (The Dirtiest Dinner Ever)

Last Friday the inimitable Christopher Idone died after a long battle with cancer, and two years in hospice. He was one of the best cooks I ever knew — decades ago he lived and wrote about much of what we know about authentic, simple, seasonal, and regional cooking today. His cookbooks Glorious Food and Glorious American Food (and many others) were revolutionary. I met him when I was 25; he was a legend and I was a kid, but I became his editor on Brazil:A Cook’s Tour, and he took a shine to me and we became great friends. He …

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Just Hanging Out with My Eighth Grade Home Ec Teacher!

Here’s a story that I can’t get tired of sharing, and that just keeps getting better. When I was in the eighth grade, you know, OVER 30 YEARS AGO, I had a home ec teacher who I thought was pretty cool, and she somehow thought I was pretty cool (even though I was a bit, uh, mischievous). She taught home ec for just two years, saving money to go get her master’s in business, which then led her to become a big executive at a major company doing things I will never understand. We stayed in contact a bit through …

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