The Lousy Cook Takes a Cooking Class

Curry! Amanda Coba teaching at The Book Larder, recipe from Anna Jones's "A Modern Way to Cook"
Curry! Amanda Coba teaching at The Book Larder (Anna Jones recipe)

Hot on the heels of acquiring my first new set of pots and pans since 1987, I signed up for a cooking class.

My 30-year-old pots were a gift from my parents, in hopes, I think, that I wouldn’t move back in with them. Again. Rather impressive that I’ve used the same cookware since the advent of Prozac and The Simpsons, though my set has dwindled to three pots and two lids (two pots have no lid; one lid doesn’t match any pot, but I hate to toss the lid, since it’s good for extinguishing fires). Especially impressive since it’s glass cookware for a klutz (the other day the Man I Married asked me if dropping things was a sign of MS, and I asked him if insensitivity was a sign of divorce).Read More »

Getting Smart (Finally!) for the Annual Science Fair

Scientist at work. “Don’t get my dorky shoes in the photo, Mom.”

It’s that time of year again, when the makers of trifold boards once again rack up enough dollars to fund their annual cruises to the Bahamas. What a scam. Our underfunded schools must be in cahoots with the manufacturers and receive a kickback for every board sold. Try as I might, I couldn’t get last year’s trifold exhibit returned in order to reuse it for this year’s project. Of course, it’s entirely possible that the Little Man never remembered to bring it home despite my nagging. (You think?)Read More »

Store-bought versus Homemade

Store-bought suet cake and female Northern Flickers
Female Northern Flickers and the last store-bought suet cake

When the Little Man moved in with us at just barely six years old, he’d eaten only at Denny’s and McDonald’s for the previous month. I assumed Denny’s for breakfast and McDonald’s for dinner, but it turns out it was the other way around: orange juice and a large cookie at McD’s for breakfast, fries and a burger at Denny’s for dinner. He had full access to soda, candy, and cable TV throughout the night.

The month before he moved in, I ate my daily favorite: brown rice, cooked greens, and tofu.

Now that’s a recipe for disaster.Read More »

Trumpeting Our Success

Happy Valentine's Day from our family of three
Happy Valentine’s Day from our family of three

I had no idea that our state has native swans, until a year ago when the Little Man and I drove north for the Snow Goose Festival. Silly me, I thought the day would be about geese, but hopefully not about snow. LM thought the day would be about eating out for lunch.

I thought swans were for castle moats, fairy tales, and ballet.

I might not have known about the swans because for a long while there weren’t very many. Less than 100 breeding Trumpeter Swans remained by the early 1900s, due to overhunting. Factor in DDT and lead ammunition, and things looked more grim for our native swans than for a ballerina who’d eaten Big Macs all winter.Read More »

Patti Smith is No Crazy Cat Lady

“Crazy Cat Lady?” Step a little closer.

Reading from her memoir at Town Hall—a renovated old church, still replete with stained-glass windows, wooden pews, and a domed ceiling—Patti Smith mentioned her cats. A lot. Unapologetically. Her cat named Cairo is the color of the pyramids, she said.

The term Crazy Cat Lady bothers me, primarily because there is no male equivalent. There’s nothing pathetically female, nothing crazy or less than empowering about balls-of-brass Smith or her strong bond with her cats.

The next night, the Man I Married and I had a difficult scene with the Little Monkey.Read More »

Snide-ex with Stridex

The Little Monkey, once known as thteenagers2e Little Monster, turns 13 this month.

Since we met him close to his 6th birthday, this means we have finally tipped the scales: He’s now been our son for more than half his life. Last year’s milepost of being a family for half his life seemed it would never get here, but now the time is rushing by, and our scales will soon look like the heavily lopsided comparison of our wedding-day weights to our current poundage.

According to my bossy sidekick, Merriam-Webster, “teenage” begins at age 13, so I dread a return to more Monster than Monkey. The L is also now more Large than Little.

However, as I dozed off to an audio book recently—as I do at an embarrassing early hour every evening, missing great swaths of books but still proclaiming I have “read” them—my eyes popped open at this sentence by Bill Bryson:

The word teenager had only been coined in 1941.*

Even more incredibly, I remembered the sentence the next morning.

Teenagers as we currently know them (and wished we didn’t) did not exist 75 years ago?

If you ask me, it’s no coincidence that a World War began in the same year as the birth of the term teenager.Read More »