Tag Archives: Food

Top 11 Posts of 2014, With Thanks to Spinal Tap

Here we are at the end of the year when those of us in the entertainment industry run out of funny steam and cover it up with top 10 lists. Because I really want to push up the volume, I’m going for the top 11 posts. I was going to list a mix of posts that WordPress stats tell me you liked and add some of my own personal favorites. But as I reread them I realized I had a lot of fun writing most of them, so it’s too hard to pick. Plus, if you don’t like the list, you only have yourselves to blame.

Thank you for hanging out with me this year, and I promise more shenanigans in 2015. Have a happy new year!

11. Black Lives Matter Thanks for reading this one. It was a bit of a departure for me and more serious, but something I needed to write.

10. I would Have Gotten Away with It if It weren’t for that meddling Hamster, Who knew a hamster could be such a rich source of blog material? As a follow-up to this post, yes, he did need surgery, it cost a bundle, I learned that there is actually hamster medical literature, and he is still with us to ring in 2015. More Hamphrey posts to come!

9. Real-Life math Sucks. It still sucks, but I got to let off steam about my divorce and laugh at math, so it’s all good!

8. Let’s Do Things Without Shoes. This was the oldie, but goodie–misheard lyrics. I had a lot of fun reading people’s responses to this one.

7. It’s All About Me, Hannah. Alas, I never did get Lena Dunham to comment on this or respond to my tweet about it. I’ll increase my celebrity social media stalking next season.

6. California Steamin’ I wrote about two East Coast friends who left me for the Left Coast. I saw one at Christmas and I am happy to report he still has his Masshole chops. To the other one, who still hasn’t read this post and is from New York, I say, Boston’s bettah and Yankees suck!

5. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Divorce.  If your divorce isn’t funny, please feel free to laugh at mine.

4. I’m Sexy (if Only in My Head).  Perhaps it’s bad taste to be amused by your own writing, but this one still cracks me up. It made the top 5, so both you and I have excellent taste.

3. Radishes, Carrots, and Kale, Oh My! I love that this post is the third most popular and it was the second one I wrote this year. Foodies and their gastronomic obsessions are all over the blogsphere, but I’m a Cheez Whiz and Parmesan-in-a-can girl, as this post proves. Seems like I can work with that.

2. Thanks a Lot. I was surprised by how much the “kid table” really resonated with people. I also need to add a post script about my brother. For the record, I was describing our holidays from 20 and 30 years ago, because I’m a bratty youngest sister and that’s how I roll. He actually has been attending our holiday get togethers in recent years and seems to enjoy himself (as much as anyone can when they are with their bratty younger sister for more than 24 hours).

1. And what continues to be the Number One, most visited piece on my blog? Yes, It’s still that crazy serious piece I did about women and shaving many years ago. Shaving, Waxing, Electrocution: A Primer on Women’s War on Hair. So much for my humor ego. Go figure. Next year, I’m leaving that thing out of my stats or will try to sell the movie rights to Seth Rogen.

See you next year!

It’s Nothing Personal

So here I am four years post-separation and marriage. During the summer I amused myself by getting reacquainted with girlie things—dresses, shoes, and those whatchamacallits…oh, yeah, accessories. I couldn’t quite pull off sexy, but I got and had a lot of laughs. Summer slipped into autumn and winter is nearly upon us, and even though the girlie dresses are getting cold, I still want to wear them. Out. Somewhere. With sincere apologies to Keats, I now find myself slouching towards dating Bethlehem. I’m still not interested in actual dating, but I’m interested in the idea of thinking about maybe seeing what might be out there. Makes me a perfect catch, don’t you think? I am the consummate researcher and thinker, which, for your information is absolutely very different from a procrastinator. I’m a writer, I know the nuances of language better than you.

In any event, I realized I’m in a good position to evaluate the personals. What do they look like compared to when I answered my ex’s personal ad in the Boston Phoenix, Boston’s alternative weekly newspaper, more than 25 years ago? Of course the internet and apps have intervened in the interim, but I limited my research to just personals because 1) I’m too lazy to actually create a dating profile on a site like Match.com, 2) I’m still scarred by my friends’ stories about how brutal and dishonest these dating sites are and 3) I’m not quite ready for an app like Adult Friend Finder—no explanation needed for that I think, except to emphasize that the technology allows you to meet someone RIGHT NOW. No judgment and call me old fashioned, but I just like to get a drink or two and dinner first.

So where to go? Craigslist personals, that ubiquitous, democratic, free internet space that provokes pretty much the same response from people as the Boston Phoenix personals did 25 years ago. Mild shock quickly followed by admonitions to be careful of all the murderers on there. The similarity was downright heartwarming. So far so good! I plunged on with my research, and here, dear reader, is my take on personals then and now:

The Phoenix had the regular personals and a section where sex was a main feature. I believe it was hip enough to also have the basic categories for gays and straights. Craigslist has nine sections and within in them, evidence of the wonder of human variation and preference. Since I’m kind of boring, I stuck with two, “casual encounters” and the “men seeking women.”

All I remember from the Phoenix was that the personals pretty much sounded all the same. The guys liked dinners, movies, and walks on the beach, which was pretty useless—what kind of food? What kind of movies? My ex’s ad actually had specifics, which made him stand out. Now? Holy acronym Batman! LTR, BBW, HWP. Within minutes I was Googling “Craigslist acronyms”: long-term relationship, big beautiful or black woman, height-weight proportional. And that’s when things really got interesting. At one point I forgot I was looking to see if there was anyone I maybe wanted to think about contacting because the specificity is fascinating. This ain’t no dinner and movies crowd.

First there are all the attributes. Ladies, if you get discouraged about all the ways the media reinforces ridiculous standards of beauty, just go to Craigslist—fair warning you are going to see more pictures of men’s junk than a porn site and the fetishes are rampant, but once you get past that, you will find guys looking for BBW, bubble butts, big breasts, small breasts, requests that a woman have a little meat on them. Tall women, petite women, single mothers, HWP, geeky women, tiny waists with big hips. Something called “thick” which even the guides can’t agree on. I thought it was maybe somewhere between HWP and BBW, but then I saw a picture of a “thick” example, and I thought she was actually HWP, so what do I know? I guess the poster will know it when he sees it. Of course there are the straight out requests for being hot looking and thin/athletic. But there are not as many as you would think, and the guys claim to be the same. And that has been going on since Adam was hoping for a hot babe who was an independent thinker and had healthy eating habits.

When men do make very specific or even wacky requests, they often apologize for it and explain they don’t mean to offend, it’s just what they prefer, which I found kind of touching. Sure they may have gotten flamed by some pissed off women or they are simply savvy marketers. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a nice touch.

The details included in the personals turned out to be my downfall. I stopped looking for myself and got lost in my writer’s curiosity. I tend to be attracted to guys who make me laugh, and so don’t really have a type. How do people get such specific types? For example what is it about a bubble butt that gets you going? Honestly, thank goodness they included a picture, because I wasn’t even sure what that was. Of course the pictures, clearly of real people, got me started on a whole other line of thought. Where are these people now? Do they know they are a Craigslist poster girl for a ______ (fill in the blank). Then I think how many women actually respond? How many of a type can there be?

Which of course brings it around back to me. I’m happy for all the women out there whose type is being called out and worshipped (a lot of guys promise to worship these various parts). But then that means I have the opposite, but equally annoying problem of 25 years ago when the ads were too vague. Then it was OK, we both like movies, but what if I like “Equalizer” and you like “Her”? Now I have to figure out where my body fits into the acronyms. I can knock out the extremes—I’m proudly not fit or athletic. Which is just as well because the guys who ask for a fit or athletic woman always list their hobbies as hiking, running and all manner of exercise—ugh. I tend to gravitate to the guys who talk about food and wine. Also, I’m not a BBW or a bubble butt. My breasts have never been big, and thanks to my recent weight loss, they have actually gotten slightly smaller (you really can’t win sometimes). I have big hips, but my waist ain’t anywhere near tiny. It actually was a while before I encountered HWP, which shows you how many requests there are for just a regular gal—not many. I guess they are all on Match.com.

Once I could tear myself away from these fascinating guys and their requests and I decided I was HWP, I started lurking among this small number of ads. I could eliminate at least 75% of the guys off the bat. They are in their thirties or younger, and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar (although that is not an infrequent request).  Of the remaining men, there are the people who are looking for love and long-term, while others are uncomfortably honest (married seeking same). A few are just liars/too creepy if true. One guy claimed to be very successful and was looking for someone to travel with him on his boat and winter in Florida. Um, I was just looking for dinner, wine, a few laughs, and home by midnight, thanks! And that leaves me about one possibility every few weeks. And even at that point the general rule of Craigslist is that half the time, people will flake out on you and not show up.

So through very careful, research, combing through pages of original documents, I have come to a very scientific conclusion about dating today versus 25 years ago. It ain’t any easier, whether you are looking for an LTR, an Adult Friend, or just looking for dinner, wine and a few laughs. But at least if you have been hiding your Craigslist lurking habit, you can tell people you only know about it because you read it here. You’re welcome. The girlie dresses can wait until spring.

Photo credit: Glamour.com, “Here Are a Few Not-So-Solid Dating Tips From the 1930s”

Dieting Tips for the Lazy in Mid-Life

The internet is lousy with dieting tips, 95% of of it is quack science (I’m talking to you Dr. Oz), the other 5% is useful, but you have to be prepared to tailor it to your own needs. Here is my part of the 5%:

  1. Have a compelling reason. My sisters and I coincidentally found ourselves trying to lose weight at the same time. One had a knee injury and was losing it to help with healing and the other was battling some pounds that slipped on. I had come face to face with yet another unpleasant reality of perimenopause: the meno-pot. I’m no stranger to extra pounds, having watched them creep on gradually over the last 20 years. But we had a gentlewoman’s agreement about it. The pounds were added very slowly and evenly, and I occasionally cut back to make them appear even more slowly. The meno-pot changed all that. One day I realized the pounds had begun to concentrate in my mid-drift, which I’d heard would happen and didn’t believe it. But worse than that, they were concentrating unevenly. Instead of an even ring around my middle, which I could have gotten used to, the ring has two sloping sand dune–like formations. Staring down at them I noticed the dune on the right side sticks out more. What the hell is that all about, I ask you? Clearly all gentlewomanly agreements were off, and this was war.
  2. Forget about those stupid lists. “Top 10 ways to cut calories.” One thing that’s on all of them is “Stop drinking regular soda.” I haven’t had regular soda since the early 90s—who the hell drinks regular soda any more anyway? Other useless tidbits: “Use low cal dressing” and “avoid nuts.” Been there, done that. My advice is to avoid these lists. If you are a professional at knowing what you put in your body, these lists will just piss you off and make you reach for a handful of chocolate chip cookies: butter, eggs, sugar and chocolate. Hold the soda, dumbass.
  3. Be brutal in your calorie count. I was eating healthy (see things I’d given up in #2) but not losing the weight. I knew I needed to get serious about counting calories, even though I’m not a huge fan of counting in general. I had to get ruthless. Know what I found out? I was eating a apple a day as a snack, which can be anywhere from 120 to 150 calories. WTF? The same amount of vegetables has a fraction of the calories. Apple a day, kiss my patooties. I also had to ditch sandwich bread. I’ve been eating whole grain wheat bread for years. Like fruit, it’s good for you, but holy crap the calories! I’m strictly a wrap girl now.
  4. The lazier eater you are, the better. I can eat the same thing week after week without getting tired of it. This helps keep the calorie counts even. No wondering how a new food stacks up calories-wise with a tried-and-true food. Bonus: If I can eat it out of the bag I bought it in, I’m good to go. The second part of the lazy, is don’t try to be  a hero and lose 2 or more pounds a week—that’s too much work. Keep the long view—at 1 pound a week, you’ll get there and you won’t bore your friends to death with your account of everything you can and can’t eat.
  5. If you have perimenopause, you can ignore your day-to-day weight. I have lost a pound a week for the last four weeks, but not in a steady pattern. Depending on my hormones and how much water I’m retaining, I can gain 2 pounds one day, lose it the next, gain 1 pound and keep it for three days, then lose ½ a pound a day over 4 days. A weekly weigh-in would probably be more accurate, but not nearly as much fun. I should think about bringing this game to Vegas—my house would win every time.
  6. Technology can help. I like the Web MD food and fitness planner. You put in how much you want to lose overall per week and then it calculates how much you can eat based on how much exercise you’ve done. I don’t entirely trust it—it counts things like grocery shopping and doing laundry as exercise, and allegedly I burn 600 calories sitting at my desk at work for 6 hours.  Um, OK if you say so. But at the end of the day, it always says I could eat a bit more—I’m down with that.
  7. Get moving, but in a way that makes sense to you and you can sustain. I take a train to work and try to make the most out of walking to and from the train. As a concession to #1, I decided to add the gym once a week. Boy, was I excited to learn that you get all the benefits if you push as fast you can in a shorter amount of time. The pushing part kind of stinks, but I love getting it over with faster!
  8. What goes on during the weekend stays in the weekend. I have a five-day tolerance for eating healthy and low-cal. The other two days, well, I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.




Radishes, Carrots and Kale, Oh My!

Photo credit: Something GUD

I believe in the benefits of farmers markets and community-shared agriculture (CSA). I really do. But there is one tiny problem. I’m not an adventurous cook or eater. So that puts on extra pressure if I’m signing  up to get large amounts of random vegetables, many which are unfamiliar to me or I don’t like (I’m talking to you acorn squash and eggplant). And, when it comes to farmers markets, I admit I can be lazy and forgetful. I either forget the farmers market days, or I remember, but it’s off the path of my routine commute. And even if I were delusional enough to think I could turn over a new leaf, my friends’ story about getting inundated with CSA parsnips for months scared me back to Stop and Shop. But then I read about a new start-up in the Boston area called Something GUD that seemed like the answer for culinary scaredy cats like me. They offer small shares of different kinds of foods—vegetables, dairy, meats, breads—all locally sourced. The free delivery (in a cooler you leave out) and an offer of a reduced-priced trial convinced me to try it. Finally I was going to be able to get rid of my guilt about not supporting local farming!

And then the box arrived. I found:

  • Homemade granola (delicious)
  • Fresh yogurt (made my stomach feel funny, but everyone said it’s because it’s fresh and you have to get used to it—how do people know these things?)
  • Fresh mushroom ravioli (to die for)

So far so good. Then I pulled out the vegetable bag and panicked. If pressed, I can tell you they were root vegetables, because I could see their roots. I recognized a couple of carrots which I clung to like long-lost friends. There were six or seven whitish, purplish round and oval things I have never seen before. A search on the internet seemed to narrow it down to turnips or radishes or both. My inadequacies as a cook and eater came flying at me full force. What the heck was I going to do with this stuff? I took a deep breath and decided that a root vegetable is a root vegetable, so I found a slow cooker recipe, chopped up the lot, threw it in, and pretended I was a celebrity chef. It was edible, but started to wear out its welcome after the third night. Did I mention I also just cook for myself? But I decided not to give up, and ordered the organic vegetables share for the next delivery, thinking I’d have more variety and a better shot at recognizing something. Rookie mistake. While I did find a better recipe, there were way more vegetables than I could use and there were still some I didn’t recognize. But the new recipe was a much better fit and I happily ate my “I’m a do-gooder” stew all week. I skipped a couple of weeks to use up the rest of the food and next decided to try the smaller, regular vegetable share. I also added the Iggy’s Bread and the fresh Nella Pasta ravioli. I finally got the vegetable part right, but as I pulled out the ravioli, I paused. It was kale and currant. I actually made a face like a junk food kid being served a bowl of broccoli. I busied myself with making the do-gooder stew and let the weird ravioli sit for a few days. Finally, though, my practicality set in. I couldn’t let it go to waste. Perhaps guessing that people would wonder at the flavor, the text on the box says that the slight sweetness of the currants counters the bitterness of the kale, making it appealing even to kids (and adults who mimic them, I would add). So how was it? It was insanely good. I can’t even describe what it tastes like, because my taste buds don’t get around a lot. So thank you Something GUD for giving me a chance to face my food and cooking fears and shine my community support halo. And if anyone needs to identify a watermelon radish or purple dragon carrots, my rates are reasonable.