Holly Goldberg Sloan
It’s just a fact. If you don’t love these, it’s over between us. The dialogue will stop. Okay, it’s been sort of one-sided up until now anyway, but these potatoes are defining. They are comforting. They are easy. I’ve been cooking them for years. Believe me, they taste fabulous. You will thank me later.
I can eat these potatoes three times a day. But they are meant for dinner. Still, I bring this up because the potato is one of the few vegetables that people feel comfortable with in the early morning hours. Most people hear the word eggplant and see the sunrise and feel the need to go back to bed. Which is to say, you can make these potatoes for dinner and reheat them in the morning in a skillet with your scrambled eggs and we have what is known as a slice of heaven. This is not something most people want to do with eggplant parm.
Which leads me to mustard. An underachiever. In so many ways.
Now we know, from experience, that the potato is simply a vehicle for a sauce, an oil, or a spice.
This recipe takes advantage of all three propositions.
Today we ended Faith’s life. She was, according to the records, 19 years old.
She had cancer and while still able to go up and down the stairs, take short walks, and eat two square meals a day (her favorite 8 minutes of the day), the tumors were at a point of not just being an annoyance. They caused her pain, and it was clear that as they were now spreading quickly, there was more of that in her future. And so we made an appointment and drove her to the Vet in the Palisades. I was able to hold it together through the signing of release forms, and the initial wait in the entry, but when it was time to take her back, Gary and she went together for the last walk down the hall.
They tried to get her lay down on the floor, but she wanted to sit up, so Gary wrapped his arms around her and they administered the drug. He said she peacefully began to breathe more slowly, until she was no longer with him. He said she looked angelic. The doctor left him alone with her and he said he lost it, beginning to cry, his tears spilling down onto the front of his blue t-shirt like drops of heavy rain. When he came out of the building, I was waiting in the car, and while we knew we’d done the right thing, the strong thing, the best thing for her – it was so incredibly hard.
I had my first dinner party when I was twelve years old. I invited six girls. I can name them all now: Annie Kleinsasser. Katie Kleinsasser (her thirteen year old knowing and powerful big sister who wore a bra). Sara Bingham. Kathy Golden. Sue Cross. Dee Dee Ruff. We were just finishing the sixth grade. We’d be going on to Junior High School.
This was going to be something BIG.
I felt it was worthy of celebration. I would have liked to invite six boys but I also would have liked to travel to the moon and I had about as much chance of that as getting the nerve to cook and then eat actual food in front of Kevin Hoffman, Bill Holland, Dan Chapman, Steve Acker, Jamie Oyama and Robbie Ellis.
So what if kids my age didn’t throw dinner parties? I worked on the seating chart and the menu for a full week. Big glitch number one came at the end of that week.
Was I really cooking dinner for seven kids? Yes. Then why was red wine on my shopping list? Was I considering serving wine and smoking pot at this supposed dinner party? Was that what I was really up to? It was 1970. Being paranoid was justified.
The TEN THINGS (even if you don’t cook) to keep in your KITCHEN at all times (so you can make yourself something decent to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner) even if you only shop for real food once a month:
I feel the eye roll. You think you know what there is to know. It's sat on the table, every day, for a lifetime in an arranged marriage to Salt. A couple. Separate but not equal. I mean, really, isn't Mr. Pepper, in our culture, sort of the lesser of the two? The sides of the shaker by the stove are not as greasy. Pepper is....
A kick. A punch. A jab.
Salt knows her boundaries. She comes to you in the right size. Pepper, the guy, has to be ground down, beat up, knocked into shape.
But what is he really....?
What is the nature of the love affair – not just between them – but between us?
The world can be divided into two groups of people: those who prefer PIE. And those who prefer CAKE. Okay, maybe three groups—those who have never seen a pie or a cake need to be mentioned. But they are not part of this discussion. They are a footnote in a world where no one footnotes anymore.
I’m obsessed. I want to know everything. I’ve hunted for her favorite recipe for Moose stew. I spend hours on my computer searching for footage. I want transcripts. YouTube moments. Because I couldn’t write the stuff that comes out of her mouth. And I write dialogue for a living.
My husband Gary has pointed out that she is our first Reality Television Candidate.
I believe my husband is on to something. Her qualifications would be more appropriate for the television show: "The Amazing Race". For those uninitiated, Wikipedia explains the show on CBS to be: “a reality television game show in which teams of two people, which have some form of a preexisting personal relationship, race around the world in competition with other teams.”
No matter what you think of her run for the Vice Presidency, there is no denying that she and the First Dude (that’s more fun than Todd, isn’t it?) would make an excellent “Amazing Race” team.
It happened suddenly. One minute we were together, touching, my hands on his body, as close as always, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, signs of dire distress. It sounded like a heave or a deep sigh. But I heard a click in there somewhere as well. Something more than the whirl of a distant fan. I heard danger. I heard Mac’s finally gasp.
And then, after four years together, nine to ten hours a day, seven days a week, for all 52 weeks of the year – half of those trying to work, the other half simply searching together for answers – it was over.
Lately, he was the first thing I reached for in the morning after my husband, who gets up early, was gone. I pulled him off the table and woke him up from his sleep. I demanded that he bring me the New York Times. That was always the start.
Every mother needs a signature cookie. Even if it’s one you buy—like a fresh-from-the-bag Pepperidge Farm Milano. Or a local-corner-bakery-purchased elephant ear. Of course, it’s best, when the kids look back, if the signature cookie is one you baked. Why? Because of the effort. People like to see effort and kids seem to really respond to it. It lets them know you weren’t just phoning in the whole motherhood thing.
Growing up, my mother had a signature cookie. She probably hasn’t thought of it as her cookie, but everyone in the family knows. She’ll be 80 years old on her birthday this July and if she’s in the kitchen, and she says she’s going to make cookies, you know what’s coming: