arugula.jpg I watched Mark Bittman’s video Pasta With Anchovies and Arugula.

He’s very simpatico and easy to follow and his recipes are usually simple and good. This one is another take on aglio-olio, the iconic Roman dish of spaghetti in garlic and oil.

You can do a lot of things with this dish, adding almost anything you feel like or have around in the fridge, but you have to be careful not to get too creative and ruin what is a classic way to sauce spaghetti. Don’t, for example, throw in that leftover lox from last Sunday’s brunch. That won’t work.

Anyway, I went to the farmer’s market on Saturday – the one across from Lincoln Center – to pick up some farmer-fresh arugula to use in the dish – and every single farmer was sold out of it.arugula It seems everyone on the Upper West Side saw the Mark Bittman video and wanted to make the dish on the same night. Such is the power of the New York Times.

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wizarddorthyAh, we’re off once again to see the wizard, played by, in his newest incarnation, James Franco. Apparently, according to a recent story on NPR, there are 8 other Oz-related projects in the works, and I suspect that the reason for this recent surge in interest has to do with the boom in dystopian literature and film. The 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a dreamscape antidote to the Great Depression, The Hunger Games of its time, as its central character, the unsinkable Dorothy Gale, and her little dog, too, took off to have a series of adventures— only to be quite happy, at the end, in true Hollywood romance fashion, to return to the home that she was once so desperate to leave. Like Katniss Everdeen prepping for the opening ceremony on the eve of the hunger games, Dorothy cleaned up nicely at the Emerald City Beauty Salon, and like Katniss, Dorothy was plucky and brave.

Unfortunately, Dorothy is what’s missing from Oz the Great and Terrible, for this is a prequel. And this version gives us something quite different: one part buddy film (the main buddy being a monkey—surely viewers can’t help but think of the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in which Franco spent a good amount of time with a chimp), and one-part Updikian Witches of Eastwick. The 1939 MGM musical and the current film are, of course, only two among many adaptations, which began shortly after the novel’s publication in 1900. Baum himself wrote two versions for the stage. And when there are remakes and sequels, a blockbuster prequel is sure to follow, so this latest development shouldn’t surprise us. (There is a rumor of a sequel to this prequel— let’s not go down that yellow-brick road for now).

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money-shot-1024x959I got startled the other day while I was baking and accidentally knocked the bright orange box of baking soda to the ground, spilling the powder out into a small white mound.  Dexter bounded into the kitchen and began to lick up my mess, when suddenly his tongue stopped short and he looked up at me with this “what the fuck is that?” look on his face.  I was transported back to a childhood game my mother and I used to play.

My parents have been divorced since I was about one, so I have no memory of them together. Their separation was more a fact than a hardship.  I grew up with my father and my stepmother in New York but would visit my mother in Washington DC one weekend a month.  I think every child that spends a smaller amount of time with one parent than the other develops rituals with that parent.  The familiarity of the ritual melts the separation time and you pick up right where you left off.

My mother and I made pancakes.

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From the LA Times

cookinglbosterI ate my share of lobsters while spending summers in Rhode Island. My family still talks about the 10-pounder we bought from a shop in Galilee. We spent an hour scouring the neighborhood looking for someone who owned a pot big enough to cook it. Lobster is still one of my favorite foods of summer — that's when it is the cheapest, when they move closer to shore and the fishing conditions are better.

A good lobster is something to be relished, eaten with your hands, the buttery juices wiped from your chin and licked from your fingers.

The easiest way to cook lobster is simply boiled and then served on a picnic table spread with newspaper. Select a pot that is large enough to accommodate all the lobsters. Add enough salt to the water to approximate the salinity of the sea, about 3.5%. Add enough vinegar that the water tastes slightly acidic.

Bring the water to a boil, add the lobsters and cover the pot. The water should maintain a simmer but no more — that makes more tender meat. The general rule for cooking lobster is to allow 7 to 8 minutes per pound. I think lobster tends to be better when slightly less than fully cooked, but most people want their shellfish well done. This is totally understandable, but a hint of translucence in the flesh is not a bad thing.