Providence has a certain industrial beauty that gets me every time…

I’m going to tell you something that will aggravate you tremendously.

Then I’ll tell you a story that may cause you to reach through your screen, snuggle me close to your breast and tell me that these things happen to everyone, one day I’ll laugh about it.

First, the dagger throwing comment: I was one of those fortunate people who was blessed with acne-free skin. There has never been a period – high school, pregnancy, stressed out work situations – when I’ve gotten a pimple. It’s really nothing to brag about since I suffer from sub-Saharan level dry skin which comes with its own challenges. The silver lining though is that despite the occasional dry patch, skin blemishes have eluded me almost completely. So there you go, I hope your blades aren’t too sharp.

Now, before you throw them, hear me out on the rest of my story.

I traveled to Providence over the Memorial Day weekend to attend my 15-year reunion at Brown, and a few days beforehand, the spot directly underneath my nose became sore. “Strange, what is this thing?” I asked myself and willed it to heal with a combination of Cosmos-directed prayer and some cleansing turmeric tonic. Sensing a zit that was attached directly to my brain stem, I may have also used a few other techniques including toothpaste, baking soda paste, rubbing alcohol and raw cider vinegar.

Despite my efforts, the Cosmos didn’t hear my prayers, the baking soda was completely ineffective, and I woke up the next day to a spot that had doubled in size, developing a large white head. It seemed to mock me. I could practically see its little arms waving at me, telling me that it was likewise looking forward to seeing everyone at our reunion in a few days.

I searched for YouTube videos that would give me the desperately-needed advice to shorten my new friend’s lifespan. I also started to lurk on group boards where teens with cystic acne commiserated about their plight in life. The most common advice I came across was to do nothing – “don’t pop that sucker” they warned. It will lead to infection and scarring and a host of other tragedies.

So I left it, confident that in 3 days, the whitehead would get reabsorbed into my body and swallowed by a colony of white blood cells.

That evening Rodney came home from work and I put on my Wolf Blitzer hat, relaying the situation, and asking smart, probing questions about where it might have come from and how to best remove it. He agreed that things were looking desperate and told me to pop it.

Damn, now I was second guessing my strategy. Back to YouTube, where Dr. Oz told me that if I MUST pop it, at least use a sterilized pin. He then walked me through a technique too graphic to mention on a food blog. My kids, who were watching the clip over my shoulder, reacted with the kind of horror normally reserved for cicada invasions.

Out came the pin (which, of course, I did behind closed doors).

Long story short, just like the acne boards warned, I woke up on Thursday morning to see something under my nose that looked like a moldy pomegranate seed. It was angry and red with flabby skin surrounding a hard yellow seed. As a test case, I tried covering it with Bacitracin and concealer. Which just looked like a pomegranate seed covered with face paint.

I could only imagine my reunion conversations. “Oh, so wonderful to see you! Wow, you haven’t changed one bit!”

At this point, I was wondering whether I should cancel my reunion plans altogether, or if 24 hours was enough time to arrange for a cosmetic skin graft.

I emailed Rodney in one last plea for mercy.

“Questioning the reunion at this point.”

His response was that it wasn’t that noticeable…”and you have another full 48 hours until Sat morning when daylight is up on that piece.”

Having not seen “that piece” since he’d told me to pop it, I sent him a picture, subject line “You liiike your wiiife” (channel your inner Borat).

He did not.

At this point we both decided that my Friday night eveningwear for Campus Dance should be one of the following:


The obvious choice being Cara Delevingne in that sassy football outfit. I would probably wear that regularly if I looked like her and had a wardrobe full of football apparel.

I decided to go, independent of where my face would take me on Friday morning. And by some miracle (maybe the Cosmos were listening), it healed just enough overnight for me to look like a version of my former self.

And wouldn’t you know that all of that stress and self-pity became pointless when I drank a little too much red wine at dinner and passed around the picture that I’d sent Rodney. “Two days ago!” I hollered to my friends at the other end of our steakhouse banquet table.

Not my finest hour. Or the most mature…About as mature as strapping bottles of Gin & Jack to my shins with medical tape to avoid detection at our reunion event.


But I think that’s what college reunions are for, am I right? To leave the kids at home, let your behavior regress a little, and slosh around the old stomping grounds with good friends?

This place brings back so many fond memories, one of the defining experiences in my life. A few images that I took from my visit back to campus….

The Van Wickle gates

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Stay in Touch



One of the inconveniences of a New York City apartment is the noise.

Say, for instance, you live on the North side of the street, with your window facing an apartment complex that’s filled with 23-year olds, fresh out of college, living the dream.

Say there’s a courtyard separating both buildings, and that like all people in their early 20s, these young adults like to party.

Say these parties happen in the teensy gardens of their ground floor apartments, and that they happen from the hours of 11PM until 1AM, sometimes later.

It’s annoying, but that’s what headphones are for.

Come 9:30PM or 10PM each night, after reading a chapter or two of my latest book, I retrieve an eye mask from my nightstand, switch my phone to airplane mode, and turn on the soothing sounds of ocean waves.

Rodney, on the other hand, chooses to go naked. Ear naked, not naked naked.

It’s smooth sailing on most nights. But on the evenings when the weather’s warm, the stars are shining, and the 20 somethings are in the mood to knock back some craft beers with their 50 closest friends, we’re in deep.

We had one of those nights recently.

Rodney, at 10PM interrupted me as the ocean waves were kicking in.

“I need your help, it’s getting loud outside. It’s a 2-man job. You need to hold the window screen open while I throw the water. That way I’ll have time to duck back inside without them noticing where it came from.”

Raising my contoured floral eye mask, I asked the obvious. “What are you 90?”

His response seemed to indicate that he is, in fact, 90. “I’m thinking one of those big buckets – the ones that hold a lot of volume. You just lift and I’ll spray. I really need Chris right now.” Chris being our friend in the building who hates the noise as much as Rodney. “Chris would help me throw eggs at them.”

What I wanted to tell my husband is that a chicken somewhere in Upstate New York didn’t give birth to big, beautiful blue-shelled eggs with golden yolks, so that they could end up in a shattered mess, drying against a pair of J Brands.

The only job required of these eggs is to allow me to purchase them at the farmers’ market for whatever full price the farmer is charging, carry them home gingerly in a burlap sac, and make them into breakfast.

Although I didn’t tell him that, I did tell him to knock it off and go to sleep.

But here, I must confess to an even worse egg crime: until this year, I didn’t know how properly cook an egg.

And I’m guessing that many of you are in the same boat. We have a general sense for how to cook eggs, but there’s room for improvement. Even restaurant chefs don’t always get it right. Ask Thomas Keller, who has claimed for years that the real test of a chef isn’t his or her ability to put together an elaborate dish; rather, it’s how you treat something humble, like an egg.

So, to prevent any ongoing egg shame, and the destruction of these gorgeous farm stand eggs, I thought I’d share a few tricks that I’ve learned along the way. I will fully admit that if I were to draw an egg continuum, I’d place myself here:

Total Disaster –––––––X––– Total Master

But still above average with some hard-won wisdom to share, so here we go:

Soft boiled eggs:

Soft boiled eggs were a mystery to me until I learned about the perfect 6-minute egg. My previous technique was a common one that you’ll find online; start the eggs in cold water, bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, and let them sit in the water, covered for 10 minutes. At which point I’d dunk them into ice water, and attempt to peel their shells, which generally removed half of the white in ragged chunks.

This technique has never worked for me. I don’t care what all of the online sources
say about not letting your eggs bounce around in the boiling water. I’d rather have an egg that I can peel properly than one whose white has not been “traumatized” by boiling water. And yes, I’ve tried the peeling tricks- the spoon, the Tim Ferris technique, which I talked about in this post; I even once bought something called The Eggstractor, which I saw on an infomercial. I learned a valuable lesson that with the exception of Snuggies, one should never buy anything from an infomercial.

If you haven’t been doing this to date, and want to achieve the creamy consistency of that perfect ramen egg, try this method – it’s the only thing I’ve found to work.

The technique: Bring your eggs to room temp (about half an hour outside of the fridge before you cook them). Bring your water to a boil, drop the eggs in, and set your timer for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, scoop them out with a strainer, run for a few seconds under cold water, and peel. Boom, perfect egg.

For some reason, (and I’m guessing here) but the agitation in the boiling water seems to crack the shell ever so slightly, which allows the shell to separate from the egg white, making it far easier to peel. And 6 minutes is the lucky number. I’ve never once had it fail.

Want a firmer egg? Check out how much time is needed for each of the following yolk centers…


Fried eggs:

Over the years, I’ve become much more adept at flipping over easy eggs without breaking the yolks. But even when done correctly, the yolk is always cooked a little more than I’d like it to be. And sunny side up eggs have too much uncooked white on top for my taste.

Although this is by no means revolutionary, the perfect solution came to me years after I’d started to cook. I discovered it while eating some restaurant corned beef & hash with a perfect egg on top and I had to smack myself in the head for not thinking of it. Fried eggs, with a perfectly (slightly) cooked top, and a runny center.

The technique: Add some butter to a pan on medium heat. Crack two eggs into the pan, and at the point where you would normally flip the eggs, simply cover the pan with a lid so that the top of the eggs firm up ever so slightly.

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green leaf lettuce

If last week’s fava beans were a disappointment, we found redemption in a head of green leaf lettuce. Sometimes you don’t need to smell, feel, and talk about a vegetable to make it appealing. Sometimes it’s so wonderful that your kid just shoves it in his mouth without asking questions. Sometimes…..sometimes you just get lucky.

ME: Ok.  Our first mystery food is…

LAUREN: Broccoli?

ME: Nope.  What is this called?

SAM: Salads?

LAUREN: I think I tried it before.

SAM: Salads.

EMMA: Salads.

LAUREN: Wheat… wheat… wheat.

SAM: Salads.  Greens.

ME: It’s called green leaf lettuce.

LAUREN: Oh, I have tried this before.

ME: Yeah?  Ok.  Wow, Sam just shoved it in his mouth! Sam didn’t even smell it or anything he just shoved the whole thing in his mouth.

EMMA: It smells like peanut butter.

LAUREN:  I love this.

ME: Ok.  Sam, you just ate the whole thing, so tell me what did you think?  Did you like it?

SAM:  I love it, not like it.
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Living in New York has its sacrifices, namely indoor space and a backyard. Yes, I know, the world’s tiniest violin is playing for me right now…the horror, such noble sacrifice. But we do get a whole lot in return – including two of my favorite pastimes, food and art.

The Museum of Natural History and The MOMA are the museums we visit the most, but the Met is also great for kids. It’s across town from us, which is why we don’t visit as often. But when we do, we try to spend at least a few hours exploring. Here are a few pictures from our visit last month:



We always hit the Egyptian gallery first so that the kids have a chance to walk through ancient tombs. On the way out of the gallery, Sam thew me his best sourpuss face. There is nothing that strikes fear into the hearts of parents more than seeing sourpuss in the early stages of a museum visit. Thankfully he was making it because he wanted to hold the map, not because I was about to drag him through a collection of ancient artifacts. And at least the kids could both agree on one thing: our next stop would be the knights.



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I’ve been meaning to address the topic of beets for some time because, like ramps, there seem to be divided camps: those who love them, and those who would veer across three lanes of rush hour traffic to avoid them.

I would plant myself firmly in the beet lover camp, although I do admit that they’re an acquired taste. They have an earthy mustiness that takes some getting used to, but once you’re there, rejoice. Because not only do they taste great, but they’re also one of the healthiest foods on earth.

A few of their benefits:

  • They help clear out BPA that resides in everything from your water bottles to your canned vegetables
  • They lower your blood pressure
  • They’re rich in all kinds of vitamins and nutrients like vitamins B and C

I’m sure there are more, but the purpose of this post is to talk about this beet dish and why you need to make it now.

What some of you may not know is that the beet greens themselves are also edible. And I do hate it when vegetables/vegetable parts are described as “edible” since it suggests that you caaaan eat them, but why would you want to?

Beet greens aren’t just edible, but they have a flavor profile on par with Swiss chard, kale, and other leafy greens. The problem is that when you see beet greens in the grocery store, the greens have often seen a few too many days and ill handling, and they end up wilted and yellowing. Sometimes you may scratch your head and think “do moths eat beet greens?”

Those aren’t the delicious greens that I’m referring to. Head to your nearest farmers’ market to find just-picked beets and you’re in for a treat.

In celebration of all things beet, I decided to make a dish that uses all parts of the beet, nose to tail. So put on your beet butchering hat, and take a look at what I’m calling my Jerry Garcia beets.

Alternate titles for this post included “Hallucinogenic beets” and “Meaty nose-to-tail beets” but to keep the vegetarians and non-drug users reading, “Jerry Garcia beets” seemed to be a good compromise.

I also liked the sense that I was naming my dish after an actual person. When I’m reading through cookbooks, I’ll sometimes come across a dish titled after someone special in the author’s life, like “Rinka’s mom’s beans” or “Aunt Julia’s salad dressing”, which makes me think: who is this Rinka and why is he or she so lucky to have a mom who makes such fabulous beans? And why don’t I have a dish named after someone?

I did think of referencing one of my favorite culinary folk heroes, my Dad, famous for his raw flour and red wine Thanksgiving gravy, poured through the beak of a ceramic bird called “the puking chicken”.

But unfortunately – or fortunately – he has no connection to beets. Inspiration needed to come from somewhere else.

By happy accident the beets turned out this color:

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Your reaction here might be “eeeew” (particularly if you’re a beet hater) or “awesome”. So I may be speaking to the minority of people who will agree with me, but multicolored creamed beets were the highlight of my day. And this isn’t joke food. This ain’t no Janet Jackson nipple cupcake, nor is it a cookie dough ice cream-filled taco. It’s real deal food; food that I would happily serve to friends and family, whether they live in California and can handle this kind of thing, or New York, where they’d have mild, wavelike panic attacks about all of that color.

It started as a simple idea. I set out to cook some creamed beets & beet greens, using all parts of the beet, from the vibrant stems to the lush greens.

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