barbecue-nc-thumb.jpg I was particularly popular last week. It began with the arrival of our pin up boy president, Barack Obama, just blocks from my house. Since local streets were closed to prevent us local aliens from crashing the political party, and no one was going anywhere, I decided to throw a blocked by Barack block party in my front yard, to celebrate our proximity to all the action at the Beverly Hilton. I fired up the gas grill and texted the next door neighbors whose kids sent tweets to others to bring sweets and treats, and we all e’d others and within an hour we drew a crowd. Folks “came as they were” with whatever was in their refrigerators “as it was.” I have no idea what the expiration dates were on most of the U.F.O’s (unidentified frying objects) on my barbecue, but I sauced, smoked and fed about fifteen denizens of my block who flocked with sniffly progeny to my yard for a gangland eating orgy. Partay!

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There’s not really anything to do with noodle kugel – put it back in the oven and heat it up. There’s not really anything to do with Katherine’s Mother’s carrot ring either (which is more like carrot cake) and which we ate too much of, except wrap it in tinfoil and put it in the oven and heat it up, too.

Brisket, however, is a whole other story. Brisket hash for Sunday brunch with poached eggs on it. BBQ Brisket sandwiches. BBQ Brisket tacos (just go with this, they’re really great!)

BBQ Brisket Sandwiches

So easy. Sauté a little sliced green pepper in olive oil. Slice and shred brisket. Add shredded brisket and heat for a minute or so. Throw in a half a cup of bbq sauce and simmer or more if it seems too dry. If you’re feeling really brave, throw in some sliced jalapenos. Lightly toast a hamburger bun and spoon bbq brisket onto bun, put on top bun, and slice in half, cause it’s kind of messy!

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dijon.jpgI never expected to visit Dijon. But on my first trip to France, I asked my Parisian friends for suggestions for where to go and they said Dijon and nearby Beaune, so off I went. The historic capital of Burgundy, Dijon is a dramatic looking city with lots to do and see. It has many museums, churches, medieval buildings with gargoyles and stunning geometrically patterned roofs of green, white, yellow, black and terra cotta ceramic tiles.

When most people think Dijon, they think mustard. But Dijon is in wine country, home of Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguinon and lots of other rich and rustic dishes including the classic preparation of Escargot in garlic, butter and parsley. In addition to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Aligoté, the region is also known for Cremant de Bourgogne and cassis. It's worth noting that you can get to Dijon in under 2 hours from Paris if you take the TGV.

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New York TimesTwo weeks ago, I swallowed my shock at spending over six dollars for a newspaper, and bought a  Sunday New York Times. It was a revelation, a joy and so completely absorbing that I periodically had to remind myself to stop reading, and do something useful. Comparisons are odious and all, but since I started reading the Times, I am feeling the pain and guilt of finding a new love and leaving the old one with great relief and not much of a parting glance. Our local paper, despite being the only offering in this state’s capital, has lost all of its charm. It was purchased by some national publishing conglomerate which clearly labors under the impression that, because we live in Flyover,  even the goings-on under the Capital dome do not require an experienced and intelligent writing staff. Wire service reports are good enough for us, sometimes about events that occur within 50 miles of our circulation area.

Aside from the odd story about local high school sports heroes or a 1 – inch report on a local crime, the vast majority of our paper is compiled from wire stories, and many of the photographs are either file photos or pictures of folks in some other state getting ready to storm Wal-Mart or protesting taxes. Sometimes, a story about, say, preparations for Hanukkah will be written by a local reporter,  and feature one photograph from a nearby temple and one photograph of Jewish families in Rye or Austin spinning their dreidls.  Nice people, I have no doubt, but part of the joy of a local paper is finding a friend or neighbor captured on newsprint. There is no cutting out and saving these photos of strangers, or attaching them to the refrigerator with magnets.


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grilled_cheese_2.jpgI don't know if it’s the famous economy, or I'm just going through an I can't stand take-out anymore, but I've started to cook again. Not just grill a burger, which turns out pretty good when done on a stove top grill pan. I've actually been making vats of chile, or chicken and vegetables in marinara sauce, and freezing perfect portions in those great plastic containers everyone else in the world discovered before I did It's been a bone-chilling winter in New York this year, and coming home to something yummy that I can pop into the microwave, then actually eat straight from the container, has been life-changing. So that's what the room with all the white stuff that I used to go into all the time, is for.

I'm telling all of this to you for a reason. Sometimes, I want that comforting supper, and the freezer is bare. This requires imagination. And boy was I lucky last night. I had a sizeable hunk of Velveeta in the fridge. I had bread and butter. And I had fresh pineapple. Am I the last person on earth to discover how completely wonderful a grilled cheese sandwich, made with Velveeta, and slices of fresh pineapple, can be.

I'll probably try it with Kraft slices, or even some fancier cheese, but only when I'm out of Velveeta. You can be sure I'll always have the pineapple at hand.

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