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Archive for December, 2010

Don’t apologize for your shortcomings as a cook. Making food is an assertion of capability. Even a bad meal, made for another, tells that person you will try, that you will come back stronger and better informed.- Tom Chiarella, Esquire

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Matt Wright’s Buckwheat Pancakes, a favorite weekend treat.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve always known how to cook, though that can’t possibly be an accurate statement. But from a very young age I understood the joy of cooking for others, thanks to parents who taught my sister and me that most important value.

I think we were just 8 years old when they bought us a kids’ cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens. It contained recipes for things like “Hot Dog Roll Ups” and “Super Supper Salad,” easy meals that kids could put together. I think the most complicated of the bunch was a recipe for a “Creamy Lemony Pie,” which consisted of a store-bought, graham cracker crust and a filling made entirely of condensed milk, whipped cream and lemon juice. The point of the book wasn’t to turn us kids into gourmands, but to teach us how to put a meal together and, more importantly, the pleasure and satisfaction of feeding others.

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Dealing with any government agency or office in the United States, at least in my experience, is an absolute nightmare. If you’re calling on the telephone, forget the naïve notion that you’ll actually get a human being on the other end; the truth is you’ll end up going through a series of automated communications designed to never, ever connect you with anything other than a taunting, recorded message. It’s like the digital equivalent of a garden maze, except there is no exit.

And don’t even get me started on the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), where people go to slowly spiral into mental insanity from excruciating waiting periods and the miles of red tape it takes to do simple tasks like getting a driver’s license, renewing your vehicle registration or filing paperwork to sell your car. People who work at the DMV are a whole other species as well. Generally they are intentionally rude, pissed-off types who seem to take great pleasure in toying with their hapless victims customers.* If you have to accomplish anything at the DMV you need to block out the entire day because you’ll be there under those Vitamin D-draining fluorescent lights, listening to an automated voice calling out numbers (none of which will be yours) all…day..long.

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A packed house at the Eastern Seaboard Bar & Grill in Drogheda

If you live in Ireland, the only news you’ve been hearing about for the last few weeks is that the country is on the verge of collapse and that it’s covered in snow. From the way some people talk, you should be packing your bags and fleeing Ireland right about now. Just be sure you don’t slip on all that black ice while you’re getting the hell outta Dodge.

While I’m not arguing that Ireland is in some serious financial trouble, the onslaught of negative commentary on the subject is down-right exhausting. What people are overlooking is that in spite of it all, there are little glimmers of hope all around and perhaps it’s more productive to highlight the positive instead of jumping on the bad news bandwagon. To put it simply: it makes more sense to focus on what you want, not what you fear.

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