Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I have a ticket in my pocket that will take me from Lynchburg
to New York in nine hours, from the Blue Ridge to Stuy Town,

from blue jays wrangling over sunflower seeds to my alarm
clock and startled pigeons. If I had a daughter I'd take her

with me. She'd sit by the window wearing the blue dress
with the stars and sickle moons, counting houses and cemeteries,

watching the knotted rope of fence posts slip by while I sat
beside her pretending to read, but unable to stop studying

her in disbelief. Her name would tell her that she's beautiful.
Belle. Or something strong, biblical. Sarah. She would tolerate

the blue jay and weep for the pigeon; she would have all the music
she wanted and always the seat by the window. If I had a daughter

she would know who her father is and he would be home writing letters
or playing the banjo, waiting for us, and I would be her mother.

We'd have a dog, a mutt, a stray we took in from the rain one night
in November, the only stray we ever had to take in, one night in our

cabin in the Catskills. It would be impossibly simple: two train tickets;
a man, a dog, waiting; and a girl with her nose pressed to the window.

by Meg Kearney

Monday, September 15, 2008

Brown Butter Fennel Cookies

-because we’re all just grown up kids or kids growing up

The best way to bake these cookies is to divide and bake the dough in two batches. While the first batch is in the oven, prepare the remaining dough for baking. Do not use a nonstick skillet to brown the butter. The dark color of nonstick coating makes it difficult to see when the butter begins to brown.

Makes about 26 cookies

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¼ cup granulated or superfine sugar
2 cups packed dark brown sugar, divided
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook while swirling the pan until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Off the heat and transfer browned butter to a large heat-safe bowl. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to melt. Let the butter cool for 15 minutes.
2. While butter cools, adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow dish, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and fennel seeds together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar and salt to the bowl with cooled butter; mix until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until well incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. To be sure that no flour pockets remain and the ingredients are evenly distributed, stir the dough once again.
4. Divide the dough into two batches. Then make each cookie about 2 tablespoons in size, rolling the dough between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll the first batch of cookie dough balls in reserved sugar mixture and set on a prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
5. Only bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and the edges begin to set but the centers still look raw (the cookies will seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Make no mistake - do not over bake!
6. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

* The French have been browning butter since medieval times to add a nutty complexity to fish, vegetables, and many other dishes. Beurre noisette (say this instead of brown butter if you’d like to annoy the plebes) is made when butter is heated to about 250 degrees, the water boils off, and milk sugar and protein react with each other turning brown and releasing new flavors and aromas.

Recipe adapted by Cristina Paul

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

Unseasonably and unreasonably cold here on the East coast, I have taken to wearing these dazzling booties. Not even the cats will be seen with me. Where, you may wonder, did I find these treasures? They were in my Nana's closet, still wrapped in the produce bags that she uses to suffocate and preserve all of her unused oldies but goodies. She thought they might be nice for the cold inside my aunt and uncles' house, since I don't believe in heat. I mean, I know it exists, I just don't think it's good for the sinuses. May have to change my ways... Perhaps I will return to L.A. a completely different animal. I get out here and start doing hot yoga, stop driving my car, purchase an iPhone and incessantly sweep my fingers across its screen, start eating pork regularly (the Jews are right about this one - it's a doozy to digest) and doing all sorts of previously unthinkable things - like wearing this highly flammable and extremely reproachable foot gear.