Old Friends

March 30, 2009

Do you have recipes that you make over and over, recipes that are stained and tattered at the edges, and recipes that you never read because you know them by heart?

Here’s my list – leave yours in comments.

Focaccia & variants

Pancakes of one variety or another

Lentil-spinach soup

Grits with cheese

Breakfast at J’s – boiled sweet potatoes, eggs, and kale

Dressing a salad with lemon & olive oil


Coconut pie


Sauteing onions & garlic

Oatmeal bread & variants

Muffins & variants


Stand Up For Your Place

March 29, 2009
A page from my sketchbook

A page from my sketchbook

I think localizing is about loving the place where you are, wherever it is. It’s about knowing when the crocuses are starting to come up, having a favorite block, and dragging your houseguests on zigzagging tours of your neighborhood. It’s about going to the farmers market and eating all the things that are in season. It’s about spending a little more because you want to have farms outside your town, not endless strip malls and subdivisions.

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Men on the Subway, New York

March 28, 2009


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Things I Love Thursday

March 26, 2009


1. Wind mill close-up, 2. The Robin is the One, 3. Subeam in my Pocket, 4. Blümchen

  • Checking off big projects
  • Generating income
  • Learning that there is such a thing as environmental mediation
  • Renewable energy and the lawyers that help make it happen
  • The huge bed of crocuses in Central Park
  • The first scilla of the year
  • The little hillock full of blooming daffodils
  • Robins
  • Playing peek-a-boo with toddlers on the subway

I Regularly Exercise My Substitution Muscle

March 25, 2009

I’ve been thinking about the logic of substitution, and it’s not just about food. A well exercised substitution muscle greatly increases our odds of being, doing, and attaining what we want in life, because it allows us to navigate the obstacles. There is almost always a way to work around whatever has gone wrong.

I think the first step to working around whatever has gone wrong is to recognize the thing you were trying to do or obtain as a means to an end. Once you can do that, it’s easy to identify what it’s job is, and you can start looking for ways to do the same job.

For example, if you want to go to business school but haven’t gotten into the programs you applied to, it’s really time to sit down and think about business school as a means to an end rather than an end to itself. Why do you want to go to business school? What do you want to learn there? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to do after business school? Now that you’ve identified all the jobs that you wanted business school to accomplish, it’s time to find something (or more than one something) that gets the job(s) done. Want to learn about accounting and finance? Buy a few textbooks, arrange to audit a course for free, and e-mail good questions to people in the field who know their stuff. Want to establish a network? Contact the people you want to know, ask good questions, and get to know their story. Don’t forget to ask them if there’s someone else you can talk to. Want to start your own business? Go ahead! No degree required!

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Making Do: The Logic of Substitution

March 24, 2009

I’ve been doing a lot of improvisionational baking lately – see here, here, and here – and so I have been thinking about what makes a recipe work and how to make do when you’re missing a tool, an ingredient, or both. How do you make a pie without butter? What if you don’t have a rolling pin? What if you can’t find the measuring spoons? What do you do when you’re halfway through a muffin recipe and realize you’re out of milk?

I think the key here is to zero in on the function of the missing tool and ingredient and then try to find something else that fulfills that function. The substitute doesn’t have to look or taste exactly the same, it just needs to do the same job.

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Pancakes with a Hint of Orange

March 22, 2009
1. Easter Egg, 2. Baby-Goat im Jülicher Brückenkopfpark, 3. Green Apple Bee!, 4. California Oranges on the Vine in San Diego, California
I was in the middle of making pancakes when I realized that we were out of milk. We were also out of soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk.*

Not one to be discouraged by a lack of basic ingredients, I plunged ahead.

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