Pasta Vazool: The Conclusion

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    A Note to My Readers -- Part 3 In learning to cook, I find that I am learning to think, in recipe form. That's different from cooking per se, because a recipe is communication, a medium that's supposed to outlive a Tweet, or a chef. It's also not supposed to hurt you: Place the unopened cans — yes, unopened — in a pot of boiling water, perhaps on top of a washcloth so that they don’t rattle. Cover the pot and simmer for two and a half or three hours, taking care to replenish the water as needed to keep the cans submerged: … [Read more...]

Vazool

Brooklyn '50s street scene

A Note to My Readers — Part 2 His name was Harry. Don't think English king; instead, it's from the Yiddish "Herschel," although his three brothers, three sisters and many friends called him "Hashel." When I stared at my freckled, rusty-skinned dad as he watched Gunsmoke or smoked Chesterfields while having his cup of Chock full o'Nuts, I often thought of the Irish name Dinty Moore, the hash that came in a can. I'm watching him now as he drives the Buick Special -- bottom of the line, only three portholes -- on his weekend rounds through … [Read more...]

What Cooking and Writing Have in Common

Writing blocks

A Note to My Readers -- Part 1 When I was a youngster, I thought writing blocks were cubes with different letters that I could arrange into words. I'd do it horizontally, left to right, just as I had learned to print letters in penmanship class, or I'd do it by piling the blocks into towers and read the result from top to bottom. In that case, I'd have to lift the whole pile each time I added a letter, and if the word were too long it would topple. To prevent that, I tried to fashion my words from the bottom up, but I'd be stumped. What's … [Read more...]

Learning To Cook: Frittata

Potato, scallion, mushroom, sweet onion and Parmesan frittata

  Eggs, and recipes for eggs, are paradoxical. That shouldn't seem so at first. An egg will do a certain thing when placed near, or mixed with, another thing, and do that thing at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time. Which is what all ingredients do. But actually, as lucky four-year-olds know, eggs are full of surprises. Eggs are also full of doubt. Their clichéd purity of form is challenged by the slippery dualism of yolk versus white, which is why there's something sad, even destructive, when you take a fork or whisk … [Read more...]

Can Tweets Save Letters? The Postcard Solution

Sent to Miss Freda Fayman, Hall, West Virginia, June 30, 1913 (this and all postcards from collection of Jeff Weinstein)

  Can tweets, texts and email save the post office? Seems a foolish question, same as asking if Facebook or HuffPo could rescue newspapers. Congress has again been going postal about the semi-Thatcherized U.S. Postal Service, on the one hand not wanting to spend a sou to keep it going, on the other not willing to offend business lobbies and scotch that expensive Saturday delivery. Yet there was a time when a similar absurd idea really did work: More than a century ago, the tweetlike penny postcard, enemy to the ostensibly profitable … [Read more...]

A Repost Re: Photographer Milton Rogovin

By Milton Rogovin. Copyright and reprinted with the permission of the Rogovin Collection LLC and the Board of Regents at the University of Arizona.

"Out There" has been on indefinite holiday, but during this cheerful pre-election period of lies, greed, and cynicism, Daylight Magazine has taken the opportunity to repost a video slideshow (with an odd voice, mine) about a man whose life was an antidote to all these awful things: the late photographer Milton Rogovin. So I'm using this opportunity to say hello, "Out There" friends, and cheer you up with an appreciation of a life lived right -- rather, left. … [Read more...]

Frankenthaler Reminder (Tag: ‘Right-Wing’)

I haven't read each and every worshipful Helen Frankenthaler obit, but of those I have seen, only the Los Angeles Times version mentions that she was one of those responsible for gutting the National Endowment for the Arts, especially the visual part: eliminating direct grants to artists.  She worked with those who earlier had defunded those pathetic hangers-on, art critics. Frankenthaler was proud of her conservative stance, as this 1989 piece by her in the New York Times opinion section makes clear. A sample: "I feel there was a time when … [Read more...]

Learning To Cook: Meatloaf

meatloaf jewel

Neither my brother nor I can recall sitting down to eat meatloaf when we were Brooklyn kids.  But we must have, because we share a childhood "meatloaf ghost." "It had something red and burnt on top," he told me on the phone. "But I can't remember anything else about it." That must have been tomato sauce or, more likely, ketchup -- probably Heinz in our conventional household. We have no idea how the ghost's corpse tasted. I wouldn't blame Mom's particular meatloaf for that. No matter how good the food she gave us every single night … [Read more...]

More About Old Menus

New York Central wartime menu, c. 1943

My favored outside writing-home of the moment, the cheerful Obit Magazine, just published a piece and a slideshow, What the Dead Once Ate, about old menus and the stories they tell that partners last week's Out There post called Menu Time-Travel. Both include links to the New York Public Library's collection of 10,000 examples of past gluttony -- the library has massed 40,000 -- that are definitely click-worthy. Do you wonder, as I do, what every faded stain once tasted like? Oh, the captions for the Obit slideshow seem to have slipped … [Read more...]

Menu Time-Travel

Uncle Tom's Cabin Fried Pies

You need not ask me to explain the piles of old restaurant menus and food ephemera loaded into boxes and bags in my closet, because each item is more than glad to tell its story. The 1920s candy wrapper with crumbs of ancient chocolate hiding in the creases or stained S.S. Lurline dinner card (to and from Hawaii) are straining to brag about their former flavors and who last sampled them. Vintage object are patient in the long run, but they ultimately demand total attention. When I brought that candy wrapper home from the flea, it forced me … [Read more...]