family-meal-@1020

  Virginia Heffernan adds to the increasing noise about how unfair cooking is for working moms in the NYT magazine. I’m a fan of her work, but her Sunday essay, a long, shrill, monochromatic whine about not liking to cook dinner, is so sad and self-unaware I feel compelled to figure out my own thoughts on a subject I write about regularly. I don’t disagree that there are many people who really don’t like cooking. More, I’ve argued that it’s probably important that every family includes people who don’t like to cook. But I do think cooking food where you live is important, as readers here know, and we fail to recognize just how important at our peril. Heffernan early on calls Ruth Reichl pompous for saying that cooking food is the most important thing you can Read On »

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Pimm's-Cup

It’s 45 goddam degrees as I write this—morning but it’s only supposed to go up 6 more degrees by midday, and I am so tired of this cold gloomy weather I’ve decided to offer one of the great warm-weather libations, the Pimm’s Cup. It was downright hot last week, and the lilacs and dogwood are in bloom, so I make today’s Friday cocktail a harbinger of the warm weather to come. And for those of you who live where’s it’s already hot. Also, I now have a new fave of all Donna’s cocktail shots. Nice lighting on that pour, hon! (Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.) My first encounter with Pimm’s Cup came once again from my dear old pal Blake. It was even before we were living together, when he was holed up trying to Read On »

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Bourbon Milk Punch/photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

This is considered more a morning cocktail than one for a Friday evening, one to be offered, say, at a Tulane frat house brunch after a heavy night on Bourbon Street. But I want to write about it now for two reasons. First, it was a revelation to me when my dearest pal, Blake Bailey, Tulane class of 1985, offered it to me (one hung-over Sunday morning in Manhattan, in 1986)—wow, bourbon, milk, and sugar make a fabulous elixir. And two, because those days are now vividly returned to me in Blake’s acclaimed new memoir, The Splendid Things We Planned, where I, our shared New York apartment, and a pregnant hooker from New Jersey, enjoy a cameo in this wrenching, tragic story about the havoc Blake’s older brother brought on Blake’s entire extended family. In Read On »

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Today’s cocktail is in honor of my best friend’s latest biography out this week, Farther & Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Jackson is all but forgotten but was the toast of Hollywood for a time and a highly regarded novelist, best known for The Lost Weekend. The Wall Street Journal calls Blake Bailey’s book “brilliant and gripping,” which is all the more amazing in that the story is largely about literary failure. The Lost Weekend was until now Jackson’s only enduring legacy, and remembered only because a great movie was made of it. Blake, whom the Daily Beast and his next subject, Philip Roth, both called the best biographer working today, also wrote the award-winning Cheever biography, and his non-award-winning bio of Richard Yates, which was even better than Cheever in my opinion (shows Read On »

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My dear old pal Blake, author of two superlative biographies of American authors, Richard Yates and John Cheever, and currently the authorized biography of Philip Roth, ended a recent email with “and send me that damned curry recipe.” Blake works very hard, both as a writer (he has not one, but two new books coming out, a memoir and a biography of Charles Jackson), and as a teacher at Old Dominion University. His wife, a psychologist, works as well. They have a young daughter, and provided they aren’t flooded out of their home in Virginia and their generator is working (weather tends to follow him—read his Slate stories on being a Katrina victim), one of them will be charged with putting dinner on the table tonight. Both he and Mary want their meal to be Read On »

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