Feature and Essay Writing
My weekly column for the site’s “Small Plates” vertical, aimed at busy parents. It features five weeknight dinner menus of kid-friendly dishes, including recipes, time-saving tips, and creative ways to repurpose leftovers.
Imagine you’re about to bite into a decadent-looking burger. You inhale the aroma of grilled meat, note the enticing char, anticipate that first juicy mouthful. Take a bite and savor the umami richness. The heat and the smoky flavor are there. It’s perfectly dense and sublime.
Now imagine learning you’ve just eaten a veggie burger.
I used to be the kind of home cook who loved winging it. At the end of the day I’d wander into the kitchen—which I made sure to keep well-stocked—and decide what to make for dinner. If I fancied something specific, I’d run to the store and pick up what I needed. Dinner might be a little late, but my husband and I didn’t care. I loved the freedom, the flexibility, the challenge.
And then I had a kid.
My son wrote his first recipe two years ago, when he was eight years old. Scrawled in pencil with haphazard spelling, Harry’s “Musterd Dogs” calls for precise amounts of Gulden’s and water, plus hot dogs chopped into one-centimeter pieces. Equally detailed instructions follow—he spells out four separate steps, with cooking timed to the half-minute. The chef ends his recipe with a copyright claim: “P.S If you use this recape [sic] you owe Harry $100,000.”
Imagine if having freckles or curly hair meant you were banished from society. That’s basically what’s happening in the produce aisle. One unsightly blemish or extra curve, and otherwise top-notch fruits and vegetables don’t make it onto dinner plates.
It has taken Dave Poorbaugh almost 10 years to get back to the 1740s. Maybe that’s because instead of a DeLorean, his time machine is the historic Annville Flouring Mill in Lebanon County, Pa., which he says is the oldest continually operating flour mill in the country. President of the company that owns the mill, Poorbaugh is a genial history buff who relishes telling tales of his own Colonial lineage. And with this summer’s harvest of 35 acres of heritage wheat, it looks as if he’ll finally taste the bread of his fore¬fathers.
Food writers are lying to you. In our quest to inspire people to cook, we offer images of glorious plates of food, dramatically lit, propped with carefully-chosen cloth napkins and color-coordinated dishes, with the most adorable little trail of crumbs to suggest that someone’s actually eating this slice of perfection. My dinner plate never looks like that anywhere but the computer screen, on a really good day. In real life it’s chipped, with maybe some sauce spilling over an edge onto the crumpled paper napkin.
New York Times
The kombucha guy was doing it wrong, and so was I. By the time Rich Awn, the owner of the one-man tea-and-coffee brewery Mombucha, arrived at the food swap in a TriBeCa apartment building, the table brimmed with inventive homemade goods, including vodka infused with the needles from an organic Christmas tree. Next to each offering was a green placard where swappers could “bid” — I had already scribbled my name and my offer (chocolate-chip cookies, Samoa bars and granola) on cards for Meyer lemon curd and a few other enticing treats.
New York Times
Some children are omnivorous, equally enthusiastic for broccoli and brownies. Mine, on the other hand, is non-nivorous. For almost five years now, since he turned 2, Harry’s will-eat list has allowed fruit, snacky things, plain pasta with olive oil, yogurt and mozzarella (shredded only, thank you very much), and sometimes chicken. Oh, and hot dogs. His favorite “vegetables”: olives and capers.
Though most parents know that catching something like molluscum, ringworm, or scabies has nothing to do with the cleanliness of their house or their kids, they still feel embarrassed. And unfortunately, that self-consciousness can be a powerful silencer that gives germs time to infect others.
From my bedroom off the kitchen, a cramped space that had once been the pantry, I couldn’t help but hear my parents fighting, again. Like a cat burglar, I crept out for a hunk of leftover potato kugel and devoured it in the dim light of the open refrigerator. I licked my fingers, snagged a few cookies, and tiptoed back to my room. By the time I turned 10, I’d honed my sneak-eating skills: