Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Bear-Man calls

Sometime early this afternoon, while was sitting at my desk, hunched over my lunchtime salad, my cell phone started vibrate. I didn’t recognize the number, but was intrigued enough to pick up (when you have a sister who’s an itinerant folksinger, you just never know).

A man’s voice was on the other end of the line (decidedly not my sister). He identified himself as Barry, the man behind the Bear-Man barbecue sauces. I had met him briefly last summer at the Fancy Food Show and liked his sauces so much (particularly the Sap Happy variety as it’s sweetened with maple syrup) that I included them in my round-up of favorite products that ran on AOL Food. He was calling to say thanks, as that placement had generated a whole bunch of orders for him.

I was so touched that he took the time to call and thank me. As I head into my final days with Slashfood, it’s nice to know that I’ve had a positive impact on so many different people during the time I spent there.

Being driven and driving

Yesterday was one of those perfect Sundays, where there were no pressing commitments or even a reason to leave the apartment. We lazed around, making breakfast just before noon and climbing back into bed to watch TV around 2 pm. However, I’ve come to discover that I’m not particularly comfortable with that type of unstructured day anymore. I am driven to feel like I’m using my time effectively and so I heaped 17 different tasks upon myself, cleaning, breaking down a couple of boxes for recycling and stripping the bed so that I could wash everything, including the pillows (in my defense, they did need it).

I scurried with this chore and that scrubbing errand, not finishing and sitting down until 10:30 pm, at which point I was totally exhausted and had negated any of the relaxing benefits that the earlier day had possessed.

I don’t know why I do this to myself. I long to read books or fall back into the trance that comes when you write for extended periods of time. Instead, I write short blog posts, leaping up to wash each dish the moment it becomes dirty. My eyes dart over Twitter, a service that has increased my connection with other people but which has shortened my attention span to the point where I’m unable to absorb more than two or three sentences before needing a topic shift.

At work this morning, I find myself returning to a sensory memory from childhood. It’s a moment that contains a feeling of freedom and is one I’ve continually flashed on over the years. In it, I am driving along a Los Angeles freeway with my mom, heading towards Pasadena. It’s the middle of a weekday and I am aware that under normal circumstances, we should both be at school or work. Whether we’re playing hooky or just in the midst of a week-long break from school, I don’t know. I can feel the rays of the Southern California sun and the am excited by the speed and movement of the highway. There is something so joyous about the moment, back in the days when kids were still allowed to sit in the front seat and nothing was more exciting than going to a thrift store with my mom. I am desperate to feel that way again.

The best of me on Slashfood

My parents' Joy of Cooking
I’ve been working on a project that has me sorting through some of the earliest posts I wrote at Slashfood. I’m finding that there are quite a few that I’ve enjoyed re-reading and so I thought there might be a few of you who’d be interested in seeing what I consider to be my “Slashfood Greatest Hits.”

I’ve always loved old recipe boxes, here’s a post written about a recipe card file I plucked from a junk store many years back. Vintage Recipe: Spiced Peaches

I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to summer tomatoes. My body is particularly craving the sweet acidity of the yellow ones. The picture on this post, Fresh Mellowed Tomatoes from the Weeknight Kitchen, isn’t helping things any.

I can’t wait for zucchini season to be here again, so that I can make these Whole Wheat Zucchini Walnut Muffins and this Zucchini and Eggplant Casserole.

Memories of popovers, roasted red peppers, stuffed zucchini, plums and chai.

Over the years, I’ve written more than is seemly about the pleasure I take in avocados (and I realize, as I look back at some of these posts, I’ve essentially written the same intro paragraph over and over again). Here’s one of my favorite avocado posts.

It’s still true, I can’t make corn on the cob without thinking of my grandma Bunny.

I love this post, about eating ripe figs, late at night, alone in my kitchen.

Reading this post makes me remember that I still need to take my Toas-Tite for a spin.

Oh and how could forget this one! This Broiled Lemon Salad Dressing is one of the best things ever.

Time picks Slashfood as a Best Blog 2009

Slashfood is a Top Blog!

Since July 12, 2007, not a day has gone by where I did not spend a portion of my waking hours attending to Slashfood. I’ve written nearly half a millon words across 1,700 posts, devised features, taken pictures and offered up some of my most treasured recipes (the granola recipe my mom got from her friend Melinda is now the first Google result when one searches for ‘granola recipe’).

This morning I learned that Time Magazine had picked Slashfood to be on its list of the Best Blogs of 2009. I am delighted by this news and am so grateful that it has come now, just prior to the time when I’ll be stepping down as the site’s lead blogger. While I know that I don’t need any external source to tell me that I’ve worked hard and done a good job there, this recognition feels awfully good nonetheless. It makes all the hard work seem increasingly worthwhile.

Without a coat

This morning I went to work without a coat on. I exercised* before work this morning and even after taking a shower, I was overly warm. I had dressed myself in three layers (camisole, long sleeve black top and a drape-y/wrap-y sweater) and couldn’t deal with putting any additional warmth on my body. Checking the weather, I decided to risk the one and a half block walk to work without a coat.

I could hear my mother’s voice in my head as I walked to the elevator. It was the same voice that would always comment when she saw kids walking to school in winter wearing shorts instead of long pants (that particular sartorial choice always left her gasping in outrage and demanding to know where the mothers of those children were). This morning, the voice stated in astonishment, “Where is your coat! How could my child be going outside in February without a coat?”

Still brushing away the echos of my internalized mama, I stepped onto the elevator. There was one other person on there before me, a stylish woman that I’ve seen in the building for years. She’s in her late sixties and often reminds me of my grandmother, with her oversized sunglasses and gold jewelry.

She took one look at me, raised an eyebrow and asked in a way that made it sound less like a question and more like gospel, “Aren’t you going to be cold?”

It was as if she picked up on the thought process I’d been having with myself only moments before, and so before I could stop it, a flurry of excuses tumbled out of my mouth.

“Well, I only work a block away, and I exercised this morning so I was really warm, and I couldn’t figure out what coat to put on with this sweater and, well, it’s not supposed to be too cold today.”

My eyes has found the floor during this confession, partly in an attempt to avoid indicting myself any further through visual contact and also because I felt a little ashamed, because she was right, I might just be cold and I knew it. It was like I was back in middle school, choosing not to wear a hat in winter because I didn’t want my bangs to be crushed.

When I finally did look up, she was gazing at me with a bit of worry, as if she had gotten in far deeper than anticipated with a simple question. By this time we were nearing the lobby.

“I was only asking because I thought maybe you worked in the building.”

“Oh. Nope, I’m just a block down Ludlow Street. But I know my mother would appreciate that you asked. She’d kill me if she knew I went out without a coat.”

The woman laughed and I laughed, and we both headed off the elevator and into our days.

*I recently started doing (if doing it twice counts as doing) Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred DVD, which kicks my ass in a very good way. I did it for the first time on Monday and it took me three days before I was walking normally again. Here’s hoping for shorter recovery periods from here on out.

Longing for light

Sunlit Tree

Growing up in Portland, one of the things I prided myself on was the fact that I was never one of those people who was plagued by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I didn’t mind the long, overcast days and the weeks without sun. I was tough, I was a Pacific Northwesterner.

Then I moved to Philadelphia and began to lose my resilient ways. First, I stopped seeing sandals as appropriate year-round footwear. Then I started using an umbrella (people in the Northwest don’t use umbrellas, they either don a hood or just dodge the raindrops). Finally, I began to long for the sun.

While I still don’t think I’m someone who gets excessively blue because of the lack of sunlight, I’m finding myself desperate for natural light these days. I hate to leave my apartment to go to work, in large part because it means that I’m bidding farewell to the light that comes in our nearly wall-to-wall living room windows. There’s still some light left in the sky when I leave work in the evenings these days and when I walk out into it each evening, I feel a wave of gratitude sweep over me for the absence of darkness.

Part of the problem is that I work in the far corner of the office. I’m tucked back here with some truly lovely people, but their charm doesn’t make up for the fact that we are nowhere near a window.

I know that lots of people find relief for this sort of thing from light boxes. However, I don’t think that’s the solution for me. I don’t think I need the particular UV rays. I need the space and air that comes from having access to light. Unfortunately, there’s no solution for this problem at the moment. For the time being, I will just be grateful for the approach of spring.

Fork You: Bee Mine

Fork You: Bee mine from Fork You on Vimeo.

The latest episode of Fork You is up. We filmed this one last summer during a visit to Anne and Tony‘s house out in Jenkintown. For the last few years, Anne has been keeping bees at home for the last couple of years and so had us out to check out her hives and learn a little about how honey is made. It was really interesting and made me want to have my own hive someday (sadly, not possible in my current living situation).

In other news, I’ve been doing some writing over at Super Eco of late and my second feature ran today, all about ways to eat local during the winter (you can find the first one, about the meaning of organics, here).

Blackberry jam has nothing to do with the contents of this post

Blackberry Jam

Back at the beginning of January, someone told me that they could feel that there were some significant changes on the horizon for me. I grabbed ahold of those words like they were a delicious treat and kept them close by, for those moments when my discontentedness threatened to overwhelm me. I had a good idea in mind of what I wanted to those changes to be and didn’t want to conceive of the possibility that some other way might come to pass.

However, in the way that things most often work out, I didn’t predict the change that’s coming for me and it wasn’t along the path that I was hoping. Instead of finding myself closer to a full-time freelance career, I’ll be stepping down as the lead blogger at Slashfood at the end of this month. It’s not a demotion, I haven’t offended anyone with my posts about luscious food pictures or recipes for linguine. AOL has simply decided to alter the leadership framework of a few of their blogs, Slashfood included, and my skill-set and geographic location no longer fit the bill.

I was sad when I first found out, although as the days have passed, I’ve started to feel a good bit of relief in being released from the drudgery of daily, weekly and monthly reports and numbers. I’ve already starting doing some writing elsewhere and I’m looking at this particular change as one that will lead to more opportunities as opposed to less.