All posts filed under: Eats

7 Steps to Making a Successful Toast

It is an American tragedy, a weakness of our education system. We teach our children multiplication and division, a smattering of reading skills and how to use a condom, but never the ancient skill of the proper toast. Americans become tongue-tied when raising their glass at a colleague’s retirement dinner, a nephew’s graduation or a friend’s wedding. So let’s make 2017 the year we learn to make a toast. Of all the toasts in the toasting genre, the wedding toast is the most dangerous. It requires a bard’s wit and a magician’s sleight of hand. A wedding toast must be humorous and serious, spontaneous and heartfelt. It must celebrate our culture’s most sacred bond, marriage, with the most ephemeral of human emotions, love. Here is a handy guide to the steps of making a proper toast, using my own wedding from fifteen years ago as an example. Step 1: Establish the premise. As in any good story, from a dirty joke to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, there is always a basic “hook.” It is same …

5 Champagne Cocktails To Send 2016 Off Properly

A little bubbly never hurt anyone, and Champagne cocktails are indisputably one of the more elegant ways to celebrate, especially during the holidays. But what could you add to Champagne to make it any better, you might ask? Well, fine Cognac for one — and why not? This year has been a doozy. Here are five bubble-driven drinks to set it right:   The French 75 Created around the time of Prohibition and ironically named after a WWI field gun, this drink packs a punch. When served in a flute, it can also make for an incredibly elegant and enticing toast. Though the French 75 was originally made with gin, I often prefer a rounder, richer choice of Cognac or, sometimes, bourbon. A lemon twist brightens the drink and adds a touch of class. Remember: Garnishes can make a room. French 75  1 oz Louis Royer Force 53 VSOP Cognac 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/2 oz simple syrup Top with Champagne Directions: 1. Combine Cognac, lemon and simple syrup with ice into a cocktail shaker. 2. Shake …

Easy Recipes for Fancy Toast (Yes, Including Avocado)

There’s really no easier meal than toast. All you need is a piece of bread and a toaster, right? Technically yes, but it can, and should, be so much more than just a piece of bread. Toast toppings are just about endless, and whether you prefer a sweet or savory breakfast there’s a way for everyone to enjoy it. You can pretty much top a slice of toast with anything you have in your fridge already, it’s the combination of ingredients that may be new to you. Nothing complicated, nothing too fancy, no extra frills needed. You can prepare the rest of the ingredients in the time the bread is toasting for a five minute breakfast that’s easy, healthy and delicious. Remember though, toast doesn’t only have to be for breakfast. These make great snacks and even a light lunch with something extra on the side. Feed more than yourself with a “Toast Bar” and lay out multiple topping options for everyone to create their favorite combination. Let’s toast to toast!! Blueberry Cream Toast What …

Pumpkin Pie Cookies for Those Who Want to Eat a Whole Pumpkin Pie

I’m a firm believer in cooking things from scratch, except when it comes to baking. Boxed cake mix is my best friend, as are those break-and-bake cookies and pop-open cinnamon rolls. I am, however, always looking for new ways to make my pre-made baking look fabulous and homemade. (Because no one has to know my secrets!) Autumn is my favorite time to experiment with baking. It’s cooling down just enough that you want to warm your house up by turning on the oven, and everybody is talking about their love of pumpkin — pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pasta and, of course, pumpkin pie. These Pumpkin Pie Cookies are just the right portion of pie to pop one or two in your mouth (if you can stop there!) and feel satisfied. They pack a whole lot of flavor in a little bite AND look super fancy while being incredibly easy to make. Just cut, fill and bake. Make a batch for your Friendsgiving dinner or gift a dozen to your kid’s teachers. These mini …

tuenight foodie tamar anitai brunch

Here’s Why Brunch Is the Absolute Worst

What I’m about to say may sound indelicate, impolitic or even impure, but here goes: fuck brunch. Brunch is the absolute worst. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, brunch is the least important, most overhyped, overblown and overindulgent meal of all time. It combines two of my least favorite things (sitting too close to other New Yorkers and paying too much for eggs) into one undeservingly grandiose food event. Brunch doesn’t need the foolhardy pomp and circumstance and gratuitous excess of a Monster Truck rally. It’s just a plate of eggs, y’all. Let’s all calm down. Now, don’t go befouling your boy shorts. Just know that I truly believe that brunch is for sucker emcees and basics. It’s easily the biggest racket of the post-industrial modern age (next to thigh-firming creams — might as well rub a half-dozen hot glazed Krispie Kremes all over your legs because same/same.) Why spend $18 on two eggs when you know how many eggs $18 will get you from the grocery store? APPROXIMATELY THIS MANY …

tuenight foodie colleen colwell travel food

Eating My Way Through the World

When I travel, food is a focus. Friends who travel with me know that I leave all cultural points of interest to their choosing, but I take charge of the meals. Restaurants are booked in advance of hotels, and there may well be multiple lunches and “snacks” in order to squeeze additional samples into the itinerary. I don’t visit countries as much as eat my way through them. And it’s not just because I love food – I love the experience of it. Many stories begin with the hunt for a local specialty or with a hidden gem stumbled upon unexpectedly. I’ve crossed busy, signal-free intersections of Ho Chi Minh City with motorcycles passing close enough for me to touch the three or more passengers – all in search of the “best” pho. I’ve haunted side alleys and street vendors in Uruguay on a quest for the perfect Chivito, a sublime sandwich of thinly sliced beef with cheese, tomatoes, fried egg and bacon. That alone was worth the trip. Sometimes, it’s a search well rewarded; …

The White Zins of My Past

There are two types of pink wine: rosé and white zinfandel. Even the casual drinker knows they are only related by color and barely even at that. I wasn’t one of those kids who went to keg parties in the desert in high school — I was too busy in choir and theatre rehearsals or running track meets or working at the IHOP to have time for it. And, honestly, I thought I was better than those kids. (I was an early adopter of snobbery.) Aside from an unfortunate incident that involved a couple of older private school boys, a missed Roger Waters concert and a bottle of Almaden Mountain Chablis, I didn’t really drink at all until I went away to North Texas State University for college. It was my first time away from home and I was living in the “artists’ dorm,” so naturally two days in I ended up at a Sigma Tau Gamma party and the next thing I knew I was a “little sister” of the fraternity. Again, I thought …

10 Hostess Gifts They’ll Actually Want to Use

Our household throws a lot of parties. And although I’ve never expected a hostess gift for our efforts, it’s always lovely to receive something thoughtful. Host gifts are tricky gifting — you don’t want to clutter up someone’s home, but you also don’t want to be the odd guest out who arrives empty-handed. With those caveats in mind, I’ve pulled together my dream list of host gifts — all for less than $50. 1. Linen Dish Towels I love receiving gifts that are a luxurious upgrade to life’s regular, cruddy routines. These natural linen hand towels are the luxurious upgrade you didn’t know your dishes wanted. $32, Etsy.com 2. Footed Aeirum Upgrade your host’s desktop with this adorably footed container for some sweet little plants. Moss, lichens and Tillandsia will change as they grow, or you can add an air plant (starting at $14) for even more magic. $32, floragrubb.com 3. Multi-function Cake Stand Responsible for bringing a dessert? Leave behind this multipurpose cake stand, which also becomes a chip-and-dip platter, punch bowl and salad …

12 Gifts for Aspiring Bartenders & Drink Lovers

Craft cocktails have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, moving some to try their hand at making these drinks at home for gatherings or for themselves; avoiding the $15 per drink cost. For those who want to revive the lost art of home hospitality and entertaining, or for those who just love the art of drinks, here’s a list of gifts that any expert or novice would love. 1. Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds  Ice is one of the most important things for bartenders to consider. If a stirred drink calls for a cube of ice or someone requests a whiskey on the rocks, a good bartender will reach for one solid hunk of clear ice both for appearance and to provide the slowest dilution rate possible — no one wants a watered down drink. Though bartenders in Japan will hand carve these spheres, these silicone molds are the easiest way to make them at home. $10, amazon.com 2. Cocktail Kit with Canvas and Leather Tote For those who love to travel and show off their …

Virgin Cocktail Cooler: The “Fizzy Lifting Drink” (Recipe)

  Before I had children, my friends would bring their kids to my home — and I was sometimes ill-prepared. As the only non-alcoholic beverages in our home were coffee and margarita mix, I needed to think fast. Since I’m a huge Willy Wonka fan, I invented this drink to encourage everyone to stay hydrated. Thankfully, this was the most popular and refreshing drink of the day for both the grownups and the little ones.   Ingredients: 1 can lemonade concentrate 2 of the empty cans of concentrate filled with club soda 1 of the empty cans of concentrate filled with ginger ale 1 lemon’s worth of lemon slices 1/4 cup sugar 1 1-gallon Ziploc-type bag of ice that has been smashed a few times with a mallet straws   Slice the lemon into round slices. Sprinkle both sides with sugar. Gently stir the concentrate, club soda and ginger ale together in a pitcher. Add smashed ice. Add the sugared lemon slices to the glasses and pour the lemonade concentrate mixture into the glasses. Serve with …

The Young & The Cordless: The Story of Our Robot Maid

  The dawn of the internet, the mobile phone, the widescreen TV, and the Apple watch are just a few of the technological advances I’ve seen in my lifetime, but nothing has stirred my futuristic soul quite as much as the release of the iRobot Roomba in 2002. As a child, my favorite cartoon was “The Jetsons,” and for decades I dreamed of owning my own domestic droid like Rosie, the family’s Jane-of-all-trades metallic maid. The real-life Roomba was simplistic compared to Rosie, resembling a large Frisbee on wheels, but despite its humble appearance, the Roomba’s introduction sparked the world’s love affair with autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners. My wife, Sophia, and I were two of the inaugural owners of a Roomba due to a chance encounter with an iRobot salesman at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2001. It took just one look at this new wheeled wonder-product, and we were hooked. Cleaning the house had been causing tension in our marriage, and one of our least favorite tasks was vacuuming. The cord …

Can We Please Stop Talking About Kale Now?

I’m here with a simple request: Can people who talk about kale please stop talking about kale? Don’t get me wrong. I like kale. I buy it. I eat it. I’ve bookmarked kale juice recipes, emailed them to myself, printed them out, and then immediately hated myself for doing that. Because if my teenaged Taco-Bell-loving-self could step into a time machine and visit me now, she’d shame-slap the shit out of me for being the type of stereotypical Brooklynite who cops to juicing kale. But at least — at LEAST —  I can safely say I’m NOT the kind of person who talks about kale. I don’t care if that sounds like reverse snobbism. Because this whole kale situation is completely and utterly out of control, and it’s time someone said something. [pullquote] Talking about kale is the new talking about “crowdsourcing” or “Ted Talks.” It’s the new asshole status symbol.[/pullquote] If you fawn and gush and coo ad nauseam over kale like it’s your twin sister’s newborn or an adorable kitten, you’re most certainly an asshole. If you steer …

Kids These Days! Why Don’t They Watch TV?

By the time I took “History of the 60s” in college, I already knew a bit about intergenerational perspectives on the Vietnam war — mainly based on watching Archie and Meathead fight bitterly about it. In my rural middle-class neighborhood, I never would have understood that stark class differences existed outside my slim circle if it weren’t for Good Times. I never would have known that stoops existed, that people sent mail from blue boxes on street corners and that trash cans were propped outside of brownstone buildings if it weren’t for Sesame Street. My son has never seen any of these shows. There is never a moment in his life when, given the freedom to do what he wants, he chooses to watch television. His dad and I have tried to get him to see some of these old shows, but just from the opening credits, he can identify an otherworldly production — lengthy credits in an ‘80s or ‘70s-style font will immediately make him leave the room and scoff, ”What? Is this a …

I Know You Are But What Am I? Pee-Wee and Me

When I was five, I accidentally watched every terrifying, adult, weird moment of The Pee-wee Herman Show. PHS was a 1980 nightclub show — captured on HBO — that predated Pee-Wee’s Playhouse by five years. As my parents were busy hosting a party, no one noticed that I was absorbing some of the more adult themes. After witnessing the scene with a hypnotized woman who shed her clothes under Pee-Wee’s command, I was terrified for years that I could be hypnotized into public nudity. From the opening song to the final cut of Pee-Wee magically flying over the stage, scenes from the show have been in my subconscious ever since. There was the hypnotized lady, for sure, but also the evocative set design and costumes. The characters were slightly scary as well. Phil Hartman as a gruff Captain Carl was on the menacing side of surly, Miss Yvonne’s outfits and hair were so over the top it became near spectacle. Pee-Wee showed me an exciting, creative world I hadn’t even imagined for myself. It was …

5 Juicy Memoirs from Old-School TV Stars

Who among us has not wiled away an evening or weekend afternoon watching reruns of a sitcom or drama? Such a great guilty pleasure. For this week’s book list, I’ve got some more guilty pleasures: Delicious gossipy memoirs penned by some stars of your most beloved old-school shows. Don’t tell us you didn’t watch. Don’t tell us you don’t remember. Love Life by Rob Lowe Who knew this guy would be able to make the transition from child actor to Brat Pack bad boy to happily married, in-demand TV star? Now 50-something, Lowe remains handsome and funny, but has added humility and compassion — plus, the guy can write! From stories about the Playboy Mansion’s hot tub to tales of coaching Little League; Lowe’s life is full — and juicy! Born with Teeth by Kate Mulgrew You loved her as Captain Janeway, the first female Star Trek captain, but you may love her even more as the irascible Red on Orange Is the New Black. Kate Mulgrew spins an honest, funny and breathless account of …

We’re Hungry For: Deviled Eggs

You have extra hard boiled eggs right about now, I can tell. Let’s make a delicious snack. Helen Jane’s Deviled Eggs Ingredients 6 hard boiled eggs 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 slices bacon 1 tablespoon minced parsley Directions 1. Cut the 4 slices of bacon into tiny, bacon bit sized pieces and brown in a pan. When cooked through and crispy, drain on paper towels. Taste three bacon bits because you deserve it. 2. Peel hard boiled eggs and slice them the long way, narrow top to bottom. 3. Pop the yellow yolks into a medium bowl and mash firmly until the consistency of damp yellow sulphury sand. Add mayonnaise, mustard and salt and stir through. 4. Also to your bowl, add 3/4 of your bacon bits and 3/4 of your minced parsley. Stir through. 5. Put mixture into a large plastic bag and snip off a corner, piping the mixture back into the empty holes of the hard boiled egg where the yolks used to be. 6. Sprinkle …

5 Very Different Books About Eggs

Eggs, those delicious sources of protein, are also packed with symbolism and meaning. A book list based on the idea of “egg” could include titles about pregnancy, birth, infertility, new beginnings, chickens and so much more. Instead of selecting one theme, this list includes books from five different genres: Memoir, science fiction, mystery, cooking and even children’s literature. The Egg and I: Life on a Wilderness Chicken Ranch by Betty MacDonald Ms. MacDonald had a farm — and no, it wasn’t that kind of “chicken ranch!” From 1927 to 1931, Betty MacDonald and her husband ran (or attempted to run) a chicken farm on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. While dated, the book (also a 1946 movie starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray) is still very funny — especially if you’re trying to raise urban chickens in your Park Slope backyard. Bluebeard’s Egg and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood These Margaret Atwood-penned short stories are a departure from the author’s more well-known pieces such as The Handmaid’s Tale. They’re quieter than much of her other work, and based on folktales …

A Green Thumb: Tips From a Gardening Virgin

Did you ever plant radish seeds in Dixie cups back in grade school? Then set the cups on a sunny windowsill until the seedlings emerged? Oh, the excitement of seeing the sprouts push their tiny green heads up through the soil followed by the disappointment of watching those scraggly stems wither and die a few days later. That pretty much summed up my experience with vegetable gardening until just a few summers ago, when my husband and I decided to take a hoe to a patch of grass at our upstate house and try our hands at growing our own. Gardening seems so simple: You plant, you tend, you harvest. But my early experience as a grade-schooler taught me at least one thing about raising veggies: It’s not as easy as it looks. There are endless considerations that can make or break a garden, such as soil composition, weather, irrigation and critters. Just as influential and potentially defeating are human factors, like one spouse haranguing the other to weed, weed, weed! Or said spouse’s insistence …

4 Books on Productivity You Shouldn’t Put Off Reading

It’s a wonder that these lines are appearing on the screen in front of you now and not next week. But since no procrastination was employed in the production of this column, you will be able to learn about a few of the best books to help you stamp out all kinds procrastination. (Wait, where is that list? Oh, phew. A couple of other tasks got in the way…) The Power of Habit may be the most important book to recommend for getting past your unproductive habit of procrastinating. Author Charles Duhigg examines the routine and often unconscious behaviors that rule so many of us through amusing anecdotes and science-based research. He offers productive techniques to help you break bad habits, restructure your life and meet your goals. If your goal is to procrastinate more, well, even Duhigg can’t fix that. In 2002, Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle, and changed many a writer’s life: He identified how outward ambitions get in the way of creative discipline. The key? …

Dating By the Book

From the moment we’re allowed to date (the age of which varies greatly, depending on whether you’re a precocious urbanite or a Duggar), the road to romance is full of perils and potholes. Does he like me? Does she like me? Does this dress make me look fat? Does this mascara make me look fat? Some of these perils have been solved — or forgotten — by the time we reach midlife. Most of us know we have physical imperfections and have made peace with them, learned to camouflage them, or paid hundreds of thousands to have them eliminated (or all three). We’re more comfortable with ourselves and able to put our romantic interests at ease, too. We know what kind of situation we’re looking for, and we make sure our signals remain clear. HAHAHA, right! Dating is just plain hard work no matter how young or old you are. If you don’t believe it, just take a look at the following mix of novels and memoirs about women pursuing love later in life — which, in our current culture, means all …

The Ballsiest, Awkwardest and Cryingest: Our Own Sundance Awards

Park City, Utah, stands about 6,900 feet over sea level. If you are used to, say, the 39 feet Philadelphia sits above the Atlantic, that’s a hell of a long way up. You feel this most walking from the outskirts of town — where the critics and press screenings are mostly ensconced — up the slight-but-treacherous-upgrade mile into the downtown area, where all the celebs, parties and nightlife take place. A couple of times I made this very trek while trying to talk on the phone and found myself unable to speak coherently for all the huffing and puffing I was doing. an apt metaphor for the distance between the Talent and the (digitally) ink-stained hoard that appraise them. Let’s not dwell on it. For this reason among a host of others, I pretty much kept it to the movies on this, my first visit to this annual American Indie showcase, and on that score, I wasn’t disappointed. Sundance 2015 may have been the usual mountainous smorgasbord of indie films, celebs, parties, very long lines, …

5 #Winning Reads

When people hear the words “prize” and “books” together, they usually think of “Pulitzer,” which makes sense given that literary awards are prestigious — not to mention a great way to winnow your reading lists. But there’s another side to the words “prize” and “books,” and that’s books about prizes. Many a plot revolves around winning something: A suitor’s eye, a coveted job, even a lawsuit. The following list involves books in which winning actually involves a prize of some kind. What a fitting reward one of these titles would be to read after a long day.   The Submission by Amy Waldman Imagine what might have happened if they held a juried contest for a New York City 9/11 memorial — and the winner was a Muslim. That’s what Waldman (a former reporter for The New York Times and correspondent for The Atlantic) attempts in her 2011 debut novel about how one woman, widowed by the tragedy, stands up for an artist whose vision she believes to be the most truthful. A powerful and thought-provoking choice for …

The New Pop, Pop, Pop Music (And Why I Don’t Like It)

I’m so out of it. Even when I think I’m kind of into it, I’m so out of it. And I can’t believe I’ve become this person. Thumbing through the December 15 year-end wrap up edition of New York magazine, I flipped my way to “The 10 Best Pop Albums of The Year” and got excited by the list of names I didn’t know. A few, I did: Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, Aphex Twin (Aphex Twin? Hello 1990) and Perfume Genius, whose sinister and sinewy “Queen” popped up on Pandora. No Swift, no Mars in the top 10 (they did make the longer online list), this was a more high-minded, artful interpretation of pop by critic Lindsay Zoladz. Fair enough. I decided to sample some of it on Spotify: Frankie Cosmos, Run the Jewels, Angel Olsen, Todd Terje, Jesse Ware and Perfect Pussy. [pullquote]We’re in a new zone, led by a generation waiting for the bass to drop as they dance themselves into a pleasant, sudsy lather.[/pullquote] Oof. Look, I’ve been out of the …

A Chef Shares Her Favorite Food Gifts

Are you inundated with Gift Guides? Yeah, probably. But are you inundated with gift ideas that follow my golden rule: “Give the gift that you would most like to receive?” Probably not. Well, this is that guide. For the chef, home cook, food aficionado, or just plain eater in your life. I would be completely happy to receive any and/or all of these gifts. So you know they are for real. 1. Spices from La Boite Tucked behind a nondescript storefront way over on Eleventh Avenue in NYC is the magical land of La Boite Epices. Chef, owner, and spice blender Lior Lev Sercarz is an absolute alchemist, and the magic he creates in his beautifully packaged spice blends will blow you away. They make all other spice blends I have ever seen seem amateur. Rub a simple roast chicken with his Vadouvan mix and it becomes crispy, lightly curried skin with a hint of Herbs de Provence. His Ararat No. 35 is a smoky blend of Urfa Pepper, Smoked Paprika, and aromatic Fenugreek. His …

Gifts for Coffee Lovers

Coffee can become a big part of your life when you quit drinking. It certainly has for me and many of my sober friends. Surely you, too, have coffee lovers in your life. Here, I’ve rounded up some snazzy gifts for them, from a monogrammed mug to an amazing body scrub to a fancy-schmancy French press, there’s no shortage of goods for the caffeine-inclined. 1. Death Wish Coffee For the seriously addicted. Behold: the world’s strongest coffee. $20, deathwishcoffee.com   2. Monogrammed Travel Mug This sturdy, stainless steel mug is perfect for those who take their coffee on the road. The monogrammed top adds a nice personalized touch. $30, gifttree.com   3. Starbucks Home for the Holidays Gift Basket Give that Starbucks-obsessed best friend a huge holiday treat with three blends that can be enjoyed at home. It’s also packed with gingerbread biscotti, a caramel wafer, hot cocoa and more. $50, ftd.com   4. The World’s Finest Collection of Coffee Beverages Poster A really cool poster that’s perfect for the kitchen (it includes quick recipes!). $25, etsy.com   5. Cool Beans …

Books to Give Your Trickiest Recipients

Like I said last year — there are certain folks that are always tough to shop for. This year I changed up my trickiest recipients list. I’m guessing each of us has one of these types in our life, so hopefully at least one of these suggestions will be helpful. If you can check one item of your list because of my advice, then I’ll have checked one item off of my list, too. Everybody wins!   1. For the Extreme Foodie: Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton You may have seen reviews of Hamilton’s book, some of which were critical and/or puzzled: She doesn’t provide all of the steps for all of the recipes! Who makes capon broth? Etc. Listen, Hamilton can do anything she likes, especially after writing her extraordinary memoir Blood, Bones, and Butter. Only she could get a publisher to make her cookbook look like a giant hot-pink Moleskine (complete with elastic closure) and include restaurant measurements written on strips of masking tape. $45, randomhouse.com   2. For the Long-Married: Kama Sutra Connect-the-Dots by Eland …

Gifts For the Multi-Cultural-Minded Foodie

Mash-Up Americans love food. Really, really, really love food. It’s how we explore and express our identities. It’s how we bring our families and friends together. So what better way to celebrate the Holidays than with a guide from our Mash-Up Kitchen to Yours. Here’s a list of absolute must-haves! 1. Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer Rice is the staple of many cuisines. Also, it’s so delicious and we eat it at every meal. A rice cooker makes perfect rice and needs no tending to. Arroz for all! $139, amazon.com 2. Wei Kitchen Shallot Oil & Amber Vinegar  This wonderful new company is creating artisan Vietnamese-inspired products. They’ve started with the Amber Vinegar & Shallot Oil that Vietnamese-Chinese-Jewish-American Founder Debbie grew up making at home. You know that vinegar that comes when you order bun? Who wouldn’t love to pour that on everything? $32 for a gift set, $10 for a sample pack, weikitchen.com 3. Stainless Steal Spoon (Sudgarak) and Chopsticks It’s just better to eat with the long handled spoon and the stainless steel chopsticks that …

BookMaven’s Picks: My Favorite Heroines of a Certain Age

While there aren’t scores of books out there specifically and explicitly about menstruation (can anyone name many others than Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Carrie and The Red Tent?), there are none — zip, zero, nada — specifically and explicitly about what our parents and grandparents elliptically referred to as “the change.” Go ahead, comb through your mental library stacks, type away on your search engine of choice — you’ll find that no author of fiction wants to be tagged with “menopause, end of menarche, change of life, cessation of menses.” Small wonder. We live in a youth-obsessed culture, and for centuries women’s nature-driven transition from fertile to fallow has been derided, mocked, given the gimlet eye. Women of a certain age in literature were long given this treatment, too: Think of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, or Lady Macbeth, on and on to Mrs. Danvers and even Miss Jean Brodie. Fortunately, today women tend to think of menopause less as the end of life, and more as “the end of the sentence.” That …

The Thrill Isn’t Gone: Learning Guitar in My 40s

Like most of us, I’ve always kept a list of goals and ambitions in my head. When I was 10, I wanted a pony and an Academy Award. So much for that. But some of the items on my list now have a check mark beside them (get published, visit England), and as for the others, well… my garden is almost ready for its close-up, Sunset Magazine. Those are the dreams I’ve admitted to, when asked. But I also keep a second list, double-padlocked and held close to the heart, of dreams that are too private to divulge, for fear of being laughed at, or worse, being expected to follow through. For most of my life, the same dream sat at the top of my super-secret to-do list: Learn how to play the guitar. It seems like a perfectly mundane goal, well within reach, unlike that Palomino I was going to keep in the driveway. But I couldn’t make myself speak my guitar obsession aloud, let alone actually do something about it. Whenever I had …

The #BinderCon Reading List: Sites, Books and Apps

If you’re a writer — or a woman who loves writing — you might have heard about last weekend’s “BinderCon,” a conference for women writers, spawned from a similarly-intentioned, semi-secret women writer’s group on Facebook. The name? Reclaimed from the Mitt Romney comment during the 2012 election, “they brought us whole binders full of women.” Put together in only three months (unbelievable chutzpah) by Leigh Stein and Lux Alptraum, along with many volunteers, the conference included crush-worthy literary and journalistic luminaries like Anna Holmes, Dodai Stewart, Jenna Wortham, Jill Abramson, Leslie Jamison, and many more. In multiple conversations and panels, I felt happily inundated by book, site and app suggestions, so I, of course, wanted to make a list. This is by no means complete, but a few great recommendations from an esteemed group of women. Books Bad Feminist, Roxanne Gay If you’re reading this site, we probably don’t have to tell you about Gay’s collection of witty, insightful essays, but Gay’s name/ book was invoked in nearly every single talk during the weekend. On iTunes …