BentoI don’t know why I don’t bring my lunch to work more often. 

I hate buying lunch, the hassle, the expense, the poor quality.  I hate it even more than I hate the picture of me and Rodney that sits on my desk.  I used the red eye remover to zap one of his eyes and accidentally made it bigger and darker.  Now it looks like he’s got a cyborg eye and it stares at me while I do my work. I want to flip it over every time someone stops by my desk and says “oh, that’s your husband?”  I feel the need to say that while yes it is, he doesn’t have a cyborg eye.  You’d think that after 6 years I’d change it, but then again, something about my desk wouldn’t feel right.

The irony of my lunchtime situation is that it would take less time to pack up some good leftovers than it would to go through the whole process of leaving the building, standing in line, ordering, and returning to my desk.  With horrible food, like this little getup that cost me nearly $10 from our local deli.

Tuna salad on limp lettuce that’s one microbe away from giving me a nasty case of dysentery.  Not an exaggeration. My husband loves to get chicken and tuna salads from NYC delis, and I can count on two hands the number of times it’s made him sick.  And stay away from those yogurt parfaits.  And the fresh orange juice.  Actually, in your average NYC deli, stay away from anything that’s not hermetically sealed.  Most of the time you’ll be fine, but once in a while you’ll get nailed and you’ll only have yourself to blame.


continue reading


mashedpotatoesThis happens to all of us.  Well maybe April Bloomfield doesn’t have this problem, but the rest of us do.  Meals gone wrong.  You start out with the best intentions, you painstakingly source your ingredients, you envision your dining companions bowing down to your culinary genius.  And then you blow it.  Undercook the fish, oversalt the sauce.  You sneak away to wring your hands in grief, cursing the day you ever picked up a chef knife and wondering if a better use for it would be to trim your toenails. 

I’ve had some terrific screw ups.  Like the time a guest ran an hour late and I thought I could leave my potatoes in the oven at a low temp while we waited.  This trick works for most foods, not fried potatoes.  When we sat down for dinner, the potatoes had turned into deliciously salted goose-fried rocks. 

Another time I had 16 guests over for Thanksgiving dinner and as I started to carve the turkey, whoops(!) still raw.  I clearly hadn’t shoved the probe in deep enough into that poor fellow’s hindquarters.  

I’ll never forget the evening that my friend, still a novice cook at that point, had a bunch of us over for a dinner party.  She’d put some lamb shanks into the oven, and had gone off to shower and get ready, loving this whole dinner party thing.  What a breeze.  My heart went out to her when she pulled the shanks out of the oven, crisped to a dark shade of black.  Her kitchen suddenly became a triage unit, with three cooks working frantically to save what was left of our meal.


continue reading


PickyEatersLong ago, before my kids entered the picture, I read an article on picky eating written by an editor at one of the prominent food magazines. He admitted that he struggled to feed his kids healthy foods despite his own love for food.  

I wondered how he could have let that happen. I assumed that my kids would fall into line with my own style of eating.  That they’d grow up in a wondrous and accepting food environment where they’d eat a broad range home-cooked meals.

I was wrong. I highly underestimated the degree to which my children would develop their own picky eating tendencies; how they’d turn their heads when I presented them with homemade spaghetti and meatballs and vegetarian lasagna.  In the early months they’d eat pretty much anything I’d put in front of them, but by age 18 months, they had developed minds of their own.  In an act of salvation, I turned to the nugget.

It was like crack.  The kids loved; immediately it became their most requested food. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. Nuggets and fruit. 

So began my painstaking efforts to offer multiple options at every meal. Like a cheap watch salesman on Canal Street, I’d open my worn briefcase and hawk my wares. “What d’ya want, you want broccoli? You want rice? Noodles? Dear God please say yes to noodles.”  Of course the answer was always “no”.  At last, so that they wouldn’t starve: “nuggets”?


And so it went, for months on end.  They had total control. They were schooling me, not the other way around.  My son at one point had become so picky that he barely wanted to eat anything at all.  

continue reading