Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


October 2009

Cake and Sagge

One of the best things about having a child is the opportunity to see that child learn and grow.  Even the little things – when they first smile, when they first use their hands.  And every once in a while, they really astonish you.  Tonight I had two such moments with our daughter. 

I got home from work and she and I were treasure hunting through my work bag.  Out of nowhere, she says "Cake!".  I said "We don't have any cake." She looked at me, as if to say "You fool" got up, went to my bookshelf full of no fewer than 75+ cookbooks and fished out At Home with Magnolia.  She brought it to me, pointed to the cover and said "cake!"

I was a little speechless.  I knew she knew the word "cake."  I did not realize that at age not quite 21 months she would somehow know THAT cookbook and associate it with cake, let alone be able to fish it out of a crowd.  I had never shown it to her before.  She then got up, went back over to the shelf and picked out none other than More From Magnolia.  She came back, said "Lap!", sat down on my lap, and we paged through the cookbooks looking at cakes as if we were reading Mother Goose.  I go to bed with cookbooks too.  Clearly, this trait runs in the family.

And clearly, my girl likes cake.

And further evidence she is not one to deprive herself of the great pleasure of life, this weekend in the car she pointed her little barefoot foot of hers at me and said "sagge?" as in "massage."  And tonight as I rubbed her back before turning out the light, she said "sagge" once again. 

Clever girl.  No doubt she is her mother and father's daughter.

Is it still Wednesday? What time zone am I in?

I think it's sad that they lipsync on Glee.

On the topic of Saving Gourmet – it appears I have been BANNED.  I think I am the only person in America who has not received my November issue, the last issue (unless someone is ponying up millions of dollars – any takers?).  Perhaps its the obnoxious signs I have in my office window taunting the Conde Nast folks across the street.  In any event, hope springs eternal…I will look for it in my mailbox tomorrow night.

WHEN WHEN WHEN is season 4 of Friday Night Lights coming out on DVD???

I have been learning a lot about credit card processing systems these days.  Surprisingly, fascinating stuff.

So in-plane wifi has only been around for about a year but I tell ya, I don't know how we lived without it.  I got onto a plane today that was without (BOO American Airlines) and it about killed me.  I was twitching by the time I got off the plane.  I was that person running into people because I was looking at my Blackberry rather than where I was going.

Do you know that in the November issue of Martha, she actually has on her calendar "Bathe the cats".  I would pay good money to see Martha bathe cats.  If she tried to bathe my cats they would rip her to shreds.  Could that woman have been named more appropriately, btw?  Martha.  The cat bather.

Someone very generous (a friend) told me once after reading this blog they thought I should consider a career as a writer.  This was shocking to me; I politely said "thank you" but then sat there in disbelief.  I respect this person and it was a nice thing to say.  BUT, the most interesting part of it was that I realized I had not only never considered being a writer, I had written it off when I was young, along with many other careers, saying to myself "I am not good enough for that, I need to find something else to do."  Now, don't get me wrong, I like my career path but I have to say the interaction got me thinking.  Why had I written off being a writer?  I never even explored the idea.  Just like I never explored about a million other things that now somehow feel far off and impossible, yet potentially interesting.  I don't know that I would have ultimately made different choices, but as I reflected on the conversation, I was disappointed with myself that I had written off so many things before even given them a shot.  So how do you encourage people/children/yourself to be open to exploring a lot of possibilities (the world is your oyster; you can do anything) while reaping the benefits of focusing (which is what so many people tell you to do – and which, frankly, works for a lot of people who stay on track)?  I suppose one thing to realize is that really, it's never too late.  It may feel too late with mortgages and other realities to be contended with, but it's really not.  I suppose, it's just a matter of trade-offs.

That is my long-winded thought of the night.

Going on day 2 of having the Top Gun Anthem in my head (thank you, Harold Faltermeyer/Steve Stevens).  If you want to join my insanity, sample a listen here.  What do we think this means?  Either I should be hauling the family to Miramar, or joining the Scientologists.  Thoughts?

Monday Musings

I cooked two recipes from Gourmet this weekend and was impressed with both (nothing shocking here – the recipes from Gourmet are almost ALWAYS good.  That is why I love(d) it so).  If you are interested, make the Lamb Provencal or the Chicken Liver Mousse.  No pictures.  I am not the best photographer.  Just use your imagination. 

A few articles/blog posts have come out recently about how the VC industry is sexist.  I sent out a tweet about that today.  For those of you who might read that and think I was standing in my window doing BIRD impressions, let me clarify.  A "tweet" is a post to Twitter.  If you don't know what Twitter is, just move on, but rest assured I have not lost my mind and chosen to join the ranks of aves.  Back to my point, if you would like to read those posts, click here and here.  Interestingly, I hesitated before tweeting (there it is again, that funny BIRD thing) about the articles, not wanting to be branded "That Woman" playing the chick card.  But then I thought, wait a minute…these are just the facts.  Let others draw their own conclusions…and the fact that I had that moment's hesitation, well, that speaks volumes.

I have started reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and wow, a mere 50 pages in and I am amazed by corn.  We are ruled by corn.  All we eat is corn.  The children we bear are really, well, corn.  If you have not read it and want to learn where your food comes from, I suggest it (at least the first 50 pages). 

If you are looking for a great chick read, check this out: Perfect on Paper.  A review of it is HERE from The Gotham Gal (I always read her reviews – she reads a ton and does not pull punches).  Full disclosure, this is a shameless plug for a friend (Maria, the author) and damn it, you better listen to me because it is a really fun, laugh out loud, WOW I have been there, has she been following me around with a camera kind of book.  The holidays are right around the corner!  Order your copy now!

Missing Gourmet, sort of wanting to cook, but craving Chinese delivery…what is a girl to do.  Boy those Singapore Noodles are cravable.

If I had more time, I might start a food blog for busy New Yorkers titled "Ovens Aren't For Sweater Storage"

PUSHY BUT INSPIRATIONAL END NOTE: If you want to Save Gourmet, please follow here and try to come up with millions or dollars to help me buy it, OR, send some other brilliant ideas to bring it back.  Barring either of those, make a plan to cook for yourself, your family, your friends a few recipes from Gourmet.  Really, saving Gourmet is about saving the sacred event that used to be known as "Dinner Time."  In the olden days, people would gather around a table to share food that had been lovingly and patiently prepared.  They would talk, laugh and debate all while enjoying a menu that someone had taken time to prepare.  If this ritual sounds pagan to you, trust me.  Try it.  You just might like it.

Good Living, One Meal at a Time

The response to SaveGourmet has been outstanding thus far!  More than 500 followers on Twitter in 3 days and a mention in The New York Times (click here!!!).  Tons of comments, support and good sentiment.  Naturally, there has also been outrage.  Why?  Because ending what Gourmet stands for is ridiculous.  Keeping your other properties alive which cater to a more mass audience may make good business sense in the short-term but it sure seems to cater to a sign of the times (i.e., flash in the pan) that is already REALLY well covered in the media. 

Condé Nast and friends, dare to be different and RAISE standards, SET a tone, LEAD a market not just follow every Tom, Dick and Rachael*.

Surely, someone could have been a little more creative with those expense budgets and said, "you know what, we can be more frugal while not sacrificing our creative leadership and integrity."

It appears that Cond√© wants to hold onto the Gourmet brand (though I could be wrong on this – just rumors but based upon their desire to maintain the TV shows, etc.).  Honestly, if they don't update the website content in stylish Gourmet fashion, then it feels like keeping the brand is more like holding it HOSTAGE!  Let it go – let someone else capitalize upon what Gourmet stands for.

So what to do?  

If I had a lot of money, I might make a play to start something that would revive the brand/ideals in a for-profit fashion.  Alas, that is not the case…  

But I can live it.  I can LIVE Save Gourmet.  So that is what I will do (this is starting small – I have not given up on a grand plan, I just don't have one…if you do, let me know if I can help).  I was inspired by a woman named Julie O'Hara who is hosting a blogging event between now and October 15th, asking people to cook a favorite recipe from Gourmet magazine and publish a blog post about it. I love that, and will be participating.  In that spirit, I want to keep some of the features of Gourmet alive.  So tomorrow night, a quiet Friday evening when I can wind down from the week, I will be cooking from one of my favorite Gourmet features, One or Two For Dinner (did you love that feature?  I did.)  Specifically, we will make the provencal rack of lamb with roasted tomatoes from October 2008.  Will you join me in this quest?  Tomorrow night, or maybe some other upcoming evening, find a recipe from that feature and cook it.  If you like, tweet it and/or let me know and if I get a few, I can post them here.  I would love to know what you make.   

Cheers and Good Living,


Save Gourmet on Twitter 

p.s. I don't actually have anything against Rachael.  I just think her type of cooking is pretty well covered and it is no substitute for what Gourmet stands for.

What is “Save Gourmet”

Honest answer: I don't know yet.  BUT, I have a lot of rough thoughts – here are a few:

  • Gourmet closes – there is an outpouring of sentiment from loyal readers everywhere that this is a loss of a cultural icon. Gourmet was more then just FOOD.
  • Gourmet, for me, struck the most delicate balance of marrying and fostering the accessible with the aspirational in terms of cooking and living.
  • Every month, Gourmet expanded my culinary and cultural horizons. Food, my friends, is one of the things that makes the world go around and defines cultures. With the loss of Gourmet, who addresses this now? (yes, I know, Saveur, etc. I still feel like there is a void here).
  • We as Americans now eat out all the time, barely sit together around a table and should be afraid of eating ground beef. SOMETHING has to be done about this. The readers of Gourmet -and the staff that created Gourmet – care about these things deeply. And, let's be honest, we are an unhealthy group of folks. Caring about the quality of your food, valuing a meal, creating it yourself…all of these things can actually help address these pretty major societal issues.
  • My husband and I were looking for an apartment a few years ago. We live in NYC. Do you know how many places we saw – new beautiful buildings – that had NO space for a dining room table!! Honestly. The brokers all said the same thing "nobody eats at home anymore, and if they do, they sit in front of a TV but the family dinner…sorry you silly silly people, but the family dinner is a thing of the past." Well, I will tell you what – it is NOT a thing of the past in my world. We don't do it every night, but boy do we think it's important so we do our best to make it happen as often as possible. This, to me, is a breakdown in family values, in connecting with loved ones, in helping your children learn to communicate and learn to listen, learn to try new things, learn to have patience.

There is more to life than Chicken Nuggets, people. 

So this is all a work in progress – and honestly, I don't know if anything big (or small) will come of it.  But when I think of Save Gourmet I think of all of the above.  Saving Gourmet to me means saving values and ideals that I hope we hold sacred, that build our communities, that encourage exploration and curiosity. 

I would love your thoughts.

Save Gourmet

Let me start by saying, for the record, I love food blogs. I read many; I value several; I am inspired by a bunch.

However, food blogs are no replacement for Gourmet magazine.  After 68 years, Gourmet will be closing.  November 2009 will be the last issue.  I recognize that as a country, we have large looming issues like health care, wars, sub-par education, foreign policy issues.  The list goes on…and on.  But for me, Gourmet is Mom and Apple Pie.  You see, I am a foodie.  Self-proclaimed, lover of all things food.  I love shopping for it, cooking it, eating it.  I have a stack of cookbooks and magazines (Gourmet!) beside my bed.  If you come to my house, I will likely be cooking.  Gourmet helped teach me how to create not just consume

So it is with great trepidation (and naturally, no dramatic hyperbole) that we now enter a world sans Gourmet.  To echo my elders "What is this world coming to!" when people are unwilling to pay for good content.  When the world demands free.  A terrible, depressing world of self-entitlement, I say. 

There it's out.  I think we have become a world of self-entitled, why should I have to pay, your content is worth my eyeballs but not worth my money society.

And this, my friends is sad.  Very, very sad.  And dangerous.  If Gourmet goes away, what's next?  Are we on the road to content written and managed and edited by…well, nobody.  Written of course by someone, but quality control?  Hmmm.

I suspect that many readers of Gourmet would have paid more for our subscriptions.  And sadly, because running a print publication is no cheap feat, that probably would not have been enough to sustain this fabulous publication.  So we needed ads.  Well, people hate ads.  And the advertisers recognize this somewhere (they understand their ads in print are "not effective"), so they stop advertising.  And when subscribers stop paying, we fuel the advertisers' fire ("How many PAYING subs do you have?").

We have with free free free created, therefore, a vicious circle.  Folks, SOMEBODY has to pay for quality.  To use a wonderfully appropriate (and true) cliche, there ain't no free lunch.  And I fear that with the free movement, we have created a Monster of Mediocracy.  Gourmet's content was edited, culled, reviewed, tested and for many, trusted.  My recipes (which I post here every once in a while) are the wild west of cooking!  I can assure you that nobody died by eating what I cook but that's about it.  Don't trust me, trust Gourmet!

I think we are asking too much to expect advertisers alone to support quality.  WE, the consumer, may have to pony up.  Seriously, what is the last ad in print that you remember?  That moved you to purchase?  If you are drawing a blank and then move on to page through a favorite magazine, look at it as an ENDANGERED SPECIES.  Especially if you pay little to nothing for that magazine.

I can hear some of you thinking I am going overboard, get with it, jump on the bandwagon.  But I associate the monthly receipt of Gourmet magazine with inspiration, a catalyst for creativity, a bevy of ideas that will draw friends together.  Heck, they even did the menu planning for me.  

So as a social experiment, I grabbed  I have no idea if there is something to be done here, but if viewers of Party of Five could bring that show back to life, perhaps there is a way through social collaboration that we can rally support for Gourmet

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