About Me

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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On the Road

I have just finished writing a review (find it at the www.ingoodtastestore.com website)of Two for the Road by Jane & Michael Stern. It's perfect easy- breezy summer reading for any passionate foodie.As I careened through the pages I was constantly struck by their passion for the food and people that cook it. On a monthly basis the Sterns write articles for Gourmet magazine and they have written over 20 books about their various passions. I delved into my library and discovered I have 3 other of their books.

For those who know me, and those who don't, I have a very high tolerance for kitsch. In my mind tacky is beautiful and as I write I can glance up at a picture taken last year of me in Las Vegas with none other than Elvis! Yes, he is alive and well! I do feel one can't be too over the top- a stray Hello Kitty here and a Flamingo there are just the right garnishes to make me smile.

The first book I have is The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste it extols the virtues of accordion music, aerosol cheese, bouffants,fake fur, maraschino cherries, wonder bread, and zoot suits.
Each submission is hilariously analyzed and justified as bad taste.

The second book is Square Meals, a romp through "taste thrills of only yesterday- from mom's best pot roast and tuna noodle casserole to ladies' lunch and the perfect living room luau." These are recipes gleaned from those little paperback cookbooks we used to find at the 5-10 cent store. Your party will be a success with Candlelight Salad. A simple recipe created by laying a ring of pineapple on a plate, sticking a piece of banana in the middle,dribbling some mayonnaise on top to simulate wax and inserting coconut and pimento to simulate wick and fire. Yum!

The third book I unearthed is American Gourmet "classic recipes, deluxe delights, flamboyant favorites, and swank company food from the '50's and '60's" . The Stern's turn their wit to entertaining and flaming skewers. The recipes embrace packaged food as most stay at home housewives did in the '50's-'60's. Nothing like Noodle Doodle & Cheese to fill the stomach. Just a quick dish with packaged macaroni & cheese dinner, cottage cheese frozen chopped broccoli, scallions, dried oregano and French fried onions, Manifique!

I do have my own collection of little dime store cookbooks and hope to share some pictures and recipes.

Do you have any favorites?
Queen Art-o-Eat

Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Romance with the Times

I have a secret (and soon to be exposed) fetish- I love the NYT (New York Times). It started over a summer in New Jersey. I don’t know the year- it could have been the summer I traveled alone by train from Iowa to New Jersey or another time, but I do know the B.O.B. (Burst of Brilliance).

I was sitting at my grandfather’s kitchen table. A non-descript faux colonial wooden table with barrel shaped chairs. In front of us billions of words and piles of papers were languishing. There was the sensational NY Daily, Philadelphia Inquirer, New Jersey Star Ledger, Daily Record. Hidden underneath the glossy adds and comics was the NYT. It was complete. It was untouched.

I don’t know why I grabbed that paper- perhaps it was because no one else had claimed it. The front page had a center picture in black and white. I dropped the paper in my lap and removed the first section. As I opened the first page my eyes fell on the upper right corner and a Tiffany’s add for jewelry, this habit continues.

As I laboriously read the paper I realized its tone was removed and analytical lacking the!! points and sensationalism that other papers possessed. At the time I couldn’t perceive the political bent or slight liberal persuasion, I just found it refreshingly dry and “tailored” to my point of view.

Sitting at the table that summer Sunday with my grandfather, I felt we were exploring the news together. My grandfather, a slight man who was quite wealthy always dressed in a matching Sears khaki or green shirt and pant outfit. Brown belt resting high on his waist, brown tie-up shoes and always snow white socks. His top shirt pockets were full. The left one held a pocket protector filled with pens and pencils. The right held his soft pack of Camel cigarettes and non-descript matches.

On the table his ever lit Camel was resting to the left in an ashtray and a Stangl coffee cup and saucer held black coffee. Of course we never spoke that day in the kitchen and I have no clue what he read in the mounds of papers in front of him but it was a quiet time that sealed my affair with the NYT.

My affair grew in college. I would scrape up quarters to by certain editions that I couldn’t live without. Fox Butterfield “wrote” me articles about China as I studied Asian history. I eagerly clipped Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey’s recipes not realizing it was a slice of culinary history taking place.

Shortly after I met the NSSP (see second entry for term) he was wooing me with a future in Grand Rapids, MI and away from my favorite city, Boston. Having lived in the mid-west I had few questions about my future there. I did want to know if we would be able to get the Sunday NYT. There would be no trip down the aisle without the NYT. Lacking computers, a phone call answered my question and off we went to seek our fortunes.

The paper wasn’t delivered to our door so a weekly trek to our little village and bookstore quickly became our family’s Sunday “church” amid the dedicated Christian Reform natives crowding the streets. At first it was hand-in-hand with NSSP. Later we walked with the Princess in her stroller as she randomly tested her vocabulary on each bump. Later we graduated to family bicycles and a goal of going from point A to point B without falling down.All to retrieve my beloved paper.

We’ve had several opportunities to live in different places, but the first and foremost question was if the NYT could be delivered. There was a brief time when we lived in New Jersey. Living in NJ and receiving the NYT was like getting its news in real time. If I read a review I could fantasize a trip to NYC. Museum event? No problem- 4-star restaurant- give me the phone. The reality of our lifestyle didn’t allow too many dips into NYC culture but to fantasize about going was “awesome”.

Today I live on the edge and each day I crawl to the top our driveway to retrieve my blue bagged newspaper. Yes, I could get it online but I would be missing “my” Tiffany ad on the upper right.

I love the blue plastic bag. Each day it announces a new weekly section. Monday is the sport section (the only part I overlook) and a little Metro department where people contribute their NYC observations. Tuesday is the Science section and Jane Brody always discusses timely topics with me. Wednesday holds the food section, and the amazing restaurant reviews by Frank Bruni.Thursday is a busy day with a circuits section hidden in the business section, a house and garden section And a fashion and style section! So what could be better? The Friday escapes and the two arts sections; one for the movies and the other for the museum openings. I coast into the weekend with Saturday’s stripped down paper and a few human interest articles. Finally it’s Sunday and a world of news awaits me.

My kitchen table today, a black marble rectangle that rarely sees the light of day, resembles my grandfather’s table from long ago. Mounds of reading matter wait to be read through the now necessary reading glasses and my mug of coffee.

Read and Explore!

Queen Art-o-Eat

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Links and Chains 6.20.06

Until I become more fluent in this medium and figure out how to garnish my site with side bars and real links I would like to suggest you check out these links- you will have to type them into your opening page.
www.ingoodtastestore.com - enter the store,scroll down to the cookbooks and find my reviews.
www.gildedfork.com - click on articles, scroll down to cookbooks and archives-voila! More of my reviews!
www.dianemorgancooks.com - a prolific Portland cookbook author who has created loads of excellent tasty recipes check out
one of her books!
www.nwpalate.com - if your planning a visit to the edge, this bi-monthly magazine and website always has great articles on
food, wine, and things to do in the Pacific NW.
www.brunidigest.blogspot.com - if you are a reader of the Wednesday New York Times you will find restaurant reviews by Frank Bruni- this woman does an excellent "roast" of his reviews.
www.ecookbooks.com - Jessica's Biscuit cookbook website- sign up for their weekly e-mail and drool.
Do you have sites you like? Send them along as a comment! They don't just have to be about food just something you are passionate about!
Queen Art-o-Eat