TV Dinners

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by Evan Kleiman

oberman.jpgBig TV nights…what’s a restaurant owner to do?  I’ll tell you the last thing you want to do.  Stand in your empty place sobbing with your head on the bar.  There are a couple of nights a year when you are pretty much guaranteed to be hosting a bowling alley rather than a bustling “eatery”.  Those would be, the night of The Academy Awards and THE UPCOMING ELECTION NIGHT. 

So I decided to close the Angeli Caffe on November 4th  for in-house dining, but take-out?  Hold onto that phone!  It’s sure to be a night of fingerbiting, sighing, barely held in panic attacks and a lot of swearing at the television.  It’s a night that caps off a couple months of the most intensely escalating high anxiety most of us have ever experienced not brought on by ourselves.  The solution to get us through the night?  LET’S EAT!

This isn’t the night to savor a slow meal of a perfectly balanced plate of meat/fish/veggie entrée accompanied by two veg and a starch.  No, I think this night calls for hours of guilt free grazing. Think crunchy, salty, (fatty?) bites.  Cheese boards with your favorite crackers you never let yourself have.  Full fat cheeses that seem like strangers to your home.  Little plates of deep fried goodies…

Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More

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by Andrew Martin

spam.jpgThe economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant here, times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

The workers make Spam, perhaps the emblematic hard-times food in the American pantry.

Through war and recession, Americans have turned to the glistening canned product from Hormel as a way to save money while still putting something that resembles meat on the table. Now, in a sign of the times, it is happening again, and Hormel is cranking out as much Spam as its workers can produce.

In a factory that abuts Interstate 90, two shifts of workers have been making Spam seven days a week since July, and they have been told that the relentless work schedule will continue indefinitely.

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A New Movement

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by Amy Ephron

nealogotaglinecolor.jpgThere is a movement to strip billions of dollars from the stimulus bill led by Ben Nelson of Omaha (whose Democratic status is debatable) and Susan Collins (Republican) of Maine. 

Included in the cuts are $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts (of course), $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department (that makes sense?), $1 billion for the National Science Foundation (are they kidding – when we’re this close to ground-breaking stem cell research, understanding the nature of viruses, struggling to keep our oceans alive, not to mention the catastrophic potential ozone depletion – the model’s still the same even though we’ve stopped emitting...), $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (hasn’t anyone thought about the amount we would be saving on health-care behind this initiative and how many jobs would be created by it?), $850 million for Amtrak (right, people should drive their own car to work and not take the train, or God forbid, carpool and coupled with the tax incentive to buy a new car, wonder who’s lobbying for this one – the only person this helps is GM and Exxon and the banking industry, God bless them), and $400 million for climate change research (oh, I forgot, we still don’t believe it exists and we haven’t signed the Kyoto Agreement...)  Really, are they kidding?!!!!

If I Were Running for Vice-President

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by Amy Ephron

sarah-palin-speech.jpgIf I were running for Vice-President, what would I wear?  In light of Sarah Palin’s recent clothing expenditures ($150,000 and counting), it occurred to me to wonder if I were running for Vice-President, what would I wear? I’m a Brentwood Mom. Jeans? Sweats? No, probably not.

But Sarah Palin’s put herself out there as a one-woman beauty pageant.  I’ve never seen her wear the same thing twice.  By the way, there’s nothing wrong with wearing the same thing twice.  Same jacket, different skirt, same jacket, different top.  By the way, t-shirts look perfectly fine under a fancy jacket.  Could someone teach this girl to accessorize? 

Newsflash:  no one ever sees your feet, mostly you’re standing behind a podium. 

Fashion tip:  cranberry goes with almost everything.  One pair of cranberry heels, one pair of black heels, one pair of beige heels, a couple of pairs of boots, on a particularly long day – wear flats.

The First Suppers

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by Andrew F. Smith

From the L.A. Times

lincolnmenu.jpgBarack Obama will be sworn into office on Tuesday -- just weeks before the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. Obama's inaugural theme, "A New Birth of Freedom," has, fittingly, been drawn from his fellow Illinoisan's Gettysburg Address, and he's supposed to be sworn in using Lincoln's own Bible. The inaugural menu is based on what supposedly were some of Lincoln's favorite foods, and even the inaugural china is a replica of that used in the Lincoln White House. Despite these connections, let's hope that Obama's inaugural meal does not duplicate Lincoln's first, which turned into a food fight.

Lincoln's inaugural committee had planned a lavish midnight buffet for the inaugural ball: terrapin stew, leg of veal, beef à l'anglais, foie gras, pâté, cream candies, fruit ices, tarts, cakes and more. The venue was the Patent Office, which had two spacious halls for dancing and dining. The buffet was set out in a corridor where patent models were displayed.

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Black History in Washington, D.C

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by Susan D. Anderson

washington-dc.jpgEvery four years, we inaugurate our presidents in what Parliament Funkadelic called Chocolate City. But there’s never a focus on the people, places and events of the District of Columbia.

America’s first city with a black majority has contributed dramatically to American history. Washington is full of extraordinary sites that document the rise of African American influence in the city — and the nation’s – history. With the inauguration of our first African American president, the White House is no longer segregated. History needs to shed its whites-only bias, too.

Federal City, as Washington was known, was established in 1800. The population included 10,066 whites; 3,244 slaves; and 793 free Negroes. Few people are aware that until 1850, when Congress shut down the slave trade, but kept slavery legal, Washington was a major hub for the slave trade. It’s where the largest slave auction in the nation operated, and slave pens, jails and auction blocks were common sights near the White House.

As slavery flourished, the African American scientist Benjamin Banneker was appointed by President George Washington to work with the Federal City architect and other officials to survey and help design the capitol. A school in the District of Columbia is named after him, and there is a park and museum dedicated to the scientist just outside Washington in Baltimore.

Party On!

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by Ann Nichols

lansingsnow.jpgIt’s so cold here in Michigan that school was cancelled today, lest small children freeze at the bus stop. Our hearts are warm, though, as we make plans to celebrate Tuesday’s inauguration. I’ve received invitations to parties of every flavor imaginable, and most people I talk to are so excited and hopeful that it’s difficult to worry about the lost jobs and arctic air that might otherwise result in collective depression.

My first invitation was to a neighborhood party given by Kenny (who looks like an Old Testament character with his long, gray-black hair and full beard) and his wife Val. It’s one of many parties organized at the request of Move On, the organization that kept us  motivated and informed as we worked on the election. There are other Move On parties here, one of which touchingly invites us to “come celebrate a new beginning with my friends, my dog, my cat, and myself, in my home. I'll provide some soft drinks and popcorn, napkins, paper plates, etc. Some friends will bring a snack to share; you're welcome to do the same if you wish.” If that invitation doesn’t say something good about Democrats, I don’t know what does.

Inauguration Little Rock-Style

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by Kaki Hockersmith

little_rock_capitol.jpgMy husband Max and I are hosting an Inaugural Celebration at our home on January 20th.  It will be a reality party during real time with lots of role playing and surprises.  Guests will go through our homemade megatometer manned by uniformed security.  Their purses, etc. will be screened and upon presentation of photo ID will receive their "credentials".  They will be seated outdoors and given programs outlining our schedule.  Our state Attorney General will make opening remarks followed by a violinist and an invocation by Hillary's former minister.  

At that point, our flat screens will be activated in time for Rev. Warren's much anticipated prayer.  After President Obama's speech in Washington, our Bill Clinton impersonator in Little Rock will introduce an actor playing President Obama.  The Obama impersonator's remarks will be followed by Constitutional readings by a State Supreme Court Justice, musical performances and of course, our own Poet Laureate.

Obama and Risotto

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by Michael Elias

balancing-a-checkbook-paying-bills.jpgIt’s Sunday night and there’s school tomorrow and homework is probably unfinished and not confessed to and likely a quiz unstudied for so Fred isn’t in a good mood.

He’s sixteen and I have to pay bills tomorrow and I’m not feeling so zipadeedoodah myself.

What’s for dinner? Meatloaf. Can I have chicken and bacon risotto? No. Why not? Too much trouble.

The meatloaf is ready. I don’t like meatloaf. It’s not true, but meatloaf is one of those foods you’re allowed to dislike depending on how you feel.

I weaken and think of my friend Jerry whose mother Ida ran a lunch joint on La Cienega in the fifties. Ida cooked at night for her family of six.  She went around the table and made them pretty much whatever they wanted for dinner as in two steaks, one chicken, and three noodles with kasha.

Jerry remembers the first time his bride uttered the words “Dinner is ready.” He replied, ”Aren’t you going to ask me what I want?”  He learned fast.


I Want The Chair

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by Cathy Pollak

pelosichair.jpgEverytime I see "the chair" I am instantly drawn to it. 

Regardless of how intently I am listening to what United States Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is saying...once I see the enormous chair she sits in while conducting House business, my mind turns into a cavernous cavern, focusing only on "the chair".

Personally, there is something so appealing about having a chair 2-3 times larger than my body.  What does that say about me? 

Maybe I'm power tripping at the moment but when I see "the chair" I am able to successfully block out all the depressing political chatter relating to budget, the decrepit economy and rising unemployment.  I have no problem just pining away for the chair.  Shallow but true.

So what does "the chair" have to do with this dessert?  Nothing, other than this is Nancy Pelosi's Chocolate Mousse.  If I can't have her chair, I'll take the mousse.  It makes me feel closer to the chair for whatever reason.


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