Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I just can't. Every time I hear the name or see a picture of Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad I start to hear Patsy Cline singing "Crazy" in my head. Over and over. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes I hum along. Sometimes I sing backup.

By the end of Mike Wallace's 60 Minutes interview I was doing a full-fledged drag number in the family room, complete with choreography. (Does anyone have any size 12 white cowboy/gogo boots I could borrow?)

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wond'ring what in the world did I do?

Crazy for thinking that my love could hold you,

I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying

And I'm crazy for loving you.

Do you think they make medicine for this?

Sunday, August 27, 2006


My booboo finger is still quite unable to knit -- bending it really hurts, so I'm still not knitting. So you'll have to hear about sausage -- one of my other obsessions!

When we got back from New York I wanted to try to make a nobblewurst sausage like that they serve at Katz's on 2nd Avenue -- full of garlic, moist, full-flavored beef.

So I made a nice beef sausage, using a moderate amount of suet, plenty of chuck I ground coursely with the fat, cayenne, curing salts, lots of black pepper, and a whole head of garlic. I'm still not good at the stuffing and twisting part, but it all tastes good.

I let the sausage mature at room temperature (cool -- in front of the air conditioner) for 3 days, then moved it to the refrigerator. I think this might have a different effect in winter, when the room can be cool but more humid. The air conditioner drys out the casing, which I think makes a difference. If I have to do it again in the summer, I'll probably mist the sausages down once a day.

Anyway, Friday evening I poached the sausage, then crisped it on the grill and served it with the best sauerkraut I've ever had. I made the saurekraut Julia Child's way -- soaked it in water, squeezed it dry, sauted some onions, carrot, and (beef) bacon in oil, then added the saurkraut and chicken broth au fleur -- until almost covered -- and let it braise for a couple of hours. Man, it was good. I served it for my friends Ben and Nancy and their two boys.

Today we were at Costco, and I was looking at the chicken sausage, which is delicious, but is $13.85 for 3 pounds. Right across the aisle was boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat, 6 pounds for $15. So I decided to make my own.

When we got home I put up a small (2 pound) batch of chicken and apple sausage, trying out a trick I had picked up using ice cubes to keep the sausage moise instead of additional fat. Not only is it beautiful, but it was among the best sausage I've ever had. (Tho you can see the unfortunate air bubbles. Oi!) It was so good, I decided to makie it for Rosh Hashanah dinner. (The apple thing makes it work.) I'm thinking with a gratin of vegetable maybe and a waldorf salad? Suggestions, anyone?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Sometimes there are posts that just seem too big to blog -- so I'm going to take a cue from my more clever, funnier, thinner, and better looking friend, Franklin, and start writing and the beginning. I will stop where I need to and continue on next time from where I leave off. (Let me add yet another reason for my slow posting. I was in an auto accident on Tuesday and injured my right index finger. You can't imagine how slowly I type with only 9 fingers!)


We flew to New York towards the end of the most restrictive of the new carry-on guidelines, so we were well prepared and had absolutely no problem getting through securityin a timely manner. Of course it was 5:30 in the blessed morning, so there weren't any people around.

So -- uneventful flight, arrive in Newark, AirTrain, New Jersey Transit, and Boom! We are in Penn Station. The cab ride ($15 with generous tip -- oh, I feel just like Andy Warhol) to the hotel was a bit slow because of noontime traffic and because the cabbie took 44th St. instead of taking 42nd to 1st...anyway, we got there, checked our bags, and dove right into our first day in New York. Unfortunately, we did it sans camera, as I had forgotten to retrieve it from a bag we left at the hotel.

Even without the camera, though, we still had a great time. We had a slice of NY pizza at Pizza Rustica, a block from the hotel, then walked to the NY Public Library, which isn't, we found out, open on Mondays. We went down to the Empire State Building, then to Habu Textiles, which had been one of the top things I wanted to do.

I've got to say, Habu was a major disappointment. I had apartments in New York that were bigger, and I lived in studios. The yarn was hung on rods in a sort of walk-in closet (maybe walk-thru is better?) and I seriously had a bit of claustraphobia set in. And their yarn just didn't feel as softr and luxurious as I had expected. The bamboo and silk yarns all felt a bit like butcher's twine to me. Oh -- and the teensy-tinesy showroom was hot...something I can't excuse. Myfanwe and Norbert ended up laying down in the hallway outside the shop. There was a lovely group of women visiting from California who were shopping at the same time as I was -- they were so nice to refill our water bottle in the ladies' room for me-- and they didn't buy any yarn either.

I'm sure I am forgetting something, but the next thing I know, we are back at the hotel.

So -- our hotel was located directly across the street from the United Nations. Which, if I might remind you, was still up to its ears in the situation in Southern Lebanon. There were a lot more people booked in the hotel than they expected, methinks,because they couldn't give us the kind of room we booked. It was, actually, significantly different. Smaller. Without a kitchen. And the A/C running full-tilt didn't get the temp below 72 degrees...and, being the hottest man in America, I sweat more in the hotel room than I did in outside in the sun. I didn't sleep well at all.

(They did, eventually, move a refrigerator into the room, which increased the liveability for us. But they never could get the A/C running so that I was comfortable.)

Anyway -- we do the pool bit and showers and hop onto the 2nd Ave. bus, headed to the B&H Dairy, one of my favorite restaurants from my days in New York. The B&H is a little...and I do mean LITTLE kosher dairy restaurant with cabbage soup that is out of this world! I had the spinach blintzes and cabbage soup, Myfanwe had a whitefish salad sandwich on challah and cabbage soup, and Norbert had the macaroni and cheese and gazpacho. Oh -- and I splurged and had an egg cream. Divine! Dessert was obtained from the (unfriendly) kosher bakery two doors down from the B&H. As far as I was concerned, we could go home that night...I done what I came for!

After diner we walked a bit around the east village, then hopped on the 1st Ave. bus, which dropped us off in front of the United Nations. Nothing makes you feel safer than getting off the bus in front of well armed, well trained guards.

Stardate Tuesday, August 20

Up and at 'em bright and early -- ok, we were bright, but the skyline was not. At least not yet. We got our only rain of the trip, and it was while we were still in our jammies.

We ate quickly -- yummy cheese danishes from the unfriendly bakery -- then hopped on the 2nd Ave. bus to the end of the line at Battery Park where we stood in line, went thru security, then got on a ferry to Libery Island where we stood in a line to stand in a line to go through even more and more stringent security to stand in a line to get into the museum. Oi. Norbert loved it, tho. (He says Liberty and Ellis Islands were the highpoint of the trip for him.)

To be perfectly honest, while it was cool to see the replica of Lady Liberty's big toe, it wasn't really worth the cost and the wait. I would have been happier taking the Staten Island Ferry for the view and saving $40 or so.

Ellis Island was, at least to me, much more interesting. I ws taken by the beautiful architecture and moved by the stories of people who had entered America through this awesome portal. (My favorite quote, from a film at Ellis Island, was an old Jewish man saying "And the white bread they were having in America, it was like cake already." Oh, my, I love that.)

I was saddened, though, by the condition of the majority of buildings at Ellis Island. One would think our government would be able to put them to good use.

As you can imagine, we were pretty tired after all those lines...oops, I mean after so much activity, so after swimming and showers at the hotel we ate at The Oriental Noodle Shop on 45th near Lexington, which is my friend Joel's favorite noodle shop. Norbert ordered chicken lo mien, Myfanwe ordered a green bean and beef dish, and I ordered the crispy beef. It turned out rather peculiarly, in that I liked Myfanwe's dish better than my own, Myfanwe liked Norbert's more than hers, and Norbert liked mine more than his lo mien. But in the end we were all happy.


Since I've already blogged most of Wednesday for you, next time I will pick up with Wednesday dinner. Until then, peace out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


There are a million things to blog about concerning our trip to New York, but most of them will have to wait until we get home and my feet stop hurting.

But a few things must be put down while they are fresh.

While in Boro Park completing the multi-year quest of finding oval challah pans...don't ask...we had lunch at an (un-airconditioned) Israeli restaurant on 13th Avenue called Amnon. We didn't find many of the people to be friendly. To be honest, with only one exception I found the people in Boro Park to be rude, condescending, and dismissive. But there was an exception.

This is Bronia.

Bronia -- I won't use her last name -- approached our table and spent a very pleasant few minutes in conversation with us. She wanted to make sure we felt welcome -- it was pretty obvious we were outsiders -- and to tell us about the Museum of Jewish Heritage, at which she volunteers.

Bronia is originally from Galicia, in Poland. She was born about 20 miles from the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Her parents were exterminated there. So were her mother's 10 siblings.

Bronia and her sisters were sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis when Bronia was only 8 years old. She was originally chosen for immediate extermination in the gas chambers, but snuck into the line her sister was in and began 4 years as a slave laborer. She exited the camps at the age of 12 when the camps were liberated. Only she survived.

Bronia made the infamous Death March from Auschwitz through the snow, pushed onward by the Nazis, who shot anyone who stumbled or slowed. She walked past bodies of people she knew, dead in the snow with bullets through the head. She says it took her 25 years to laugh again, and that she still hasn't cried.

People did this to her. To her family. To humanity. And I don't know how to process it. Now, none of this is news to me...I know all this. And I've met survivors before. But I don't understand it and I can't understand it and I don't want to understand it. I want to cry. Loudly, and unashamedly. I want to give voice to the grief and pain and longing and disbelief.

But I can't cry enough.

So I am going to say Kaddish. For Bronia's mother and father. For her sisters and aunts and uncles. For all of them. And I promise not to forget. I will never be able to understand, but I will remember.

Saturday, August 12, 2006



A couple of weeks ago, on Myfanwe's birthday, a group of us (Myfanwe, L'il Myfanwe, Gale, Jules, Honora, and Elle) decended on the annual book sale at Chicago's Newberry Library. (We all went out afterwards to celebrate Myfanwe's birthday, too.)

If you aren't familiar with the Newberry book sale, it takes up almost all of the public areas of this rather large (and lovely) library. Thousands and thousands of books on almost every subject, all reasonably priced.

As we assembled at the library, I mentioned to 'Lil Myfanwe that my fondest wish was to find, amidst the hundreds of books on cookery, a book on charcuterie -- the art of sausage making. 'Lil Myfanwe thought this was a very funny thing to wish for, and got an even bigger chortle out of the word charcuterie.

'Lil Myfanwe thinks I'm a bit odd*, I suspect, but that's niether here nor there. I didn't think the Newberry book sale was an odd place to look for a book on sausage making, and, indeed, I did find a perfectly lovely book on pates and meatloaves. But, alas, no book on sausages. I was bereft. And the brunt of ridicule.

Now this is as good a place as any to explain my almost cellular love for sausage. I like making my own sausage. It is a very enjoyable way to pass a couple of hours. And I can't think of a better lunch than a really good sausage, a little mustard, and some warm potato salad. But there is more -- my great-grandfather was a butcher and sausage maker; my family in Germany still make sausage professionally. And when Norbert helps me make sausage, I feel like I am passing on a rich heritage to the fifth generation (that I know about) of sausage makers in our family.

Now -- to make a long story even longer.

This morning. the first of our vacation, Myfanwe expressed a desire to take a break from packing and organizing for vacation to attend a sale of discarded books being held at the local branch of our public library. Immediately upon entering the sale I fell upon the tables containing books on knitting (only two -- one I had and the other was filled with such ugly sweaters it came near to turning me off of knitting) and cookery. I picked up books on Turkish cuisine and Hungarian cuisine, but there were no books to be had on sausage. I didn't exactly sulk, but I wandered around the room a bit dejectedly while Myfanwe and Norbert looked for books. I picked up a book on The Troubles in Northern Ireland while I roamed the room.

After a while I began wishing Myfanwe and Norbert would hurry up. As I worked my way across the room to where Myfanwe was looking through boxes, I happened by the cookbooks again and thought that it wouldn't be a bad idea to look through them a second time...I might want to pick up a battered copy of Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America for my friend Nancy Claire if it was still there.

Sitting there on the table -- obviously returned to the table by someone who had changed their mind -- was a copy of Jane Grigson's "The Art of Making Sausages, Pates, and Other Charcuterie"!! This is the out-of-print Holy Grail of American sausage books! Julia and Craig and James ALL said so! (OK -- they hadn't read Ruhlman's new book, but niether have I and I can't at this time, afford to buy one, as much as I would like to...and if I go off on an even bigger sausage-geek tangent this post will never end...)

Anyway, Grigson's book has dozens of different formulae for everything from bulk sausage to Saucisses au Champagne (which calls for pork still warm from the slaughter...all the better to absorb the champaign)! And all for the reasonable price of $0.75! I was all verklempt...my heart was racing and my hands were shaking.

I grabbed book, held it tightly to my my chest to protect it from the pushy lady who had already tried to take a book on the Truman Doctrine right out of my hands. Myfanwe knew something was up -- by the time I reached her I was pale and clammy and my voice was breaking when I asked if she was almost finished. When I showed her the book she understood immediately. Her first response was "I can't wait to tell Myfanwe!"

So, my dear friend, I hope you are reading this. Because I think you should know...


* While at dinner after the Newberry book sale, Myfanwe slipped off to the powder room, giving 'Lil Myfanwe opportunity to ask me what I had gotten Myfanwe for her birthday. When I told her I had purchased a new book on the 1918 influenza pandemic, 'Lil Myfanwe said "No, really -- what did you get her?" I then explained that I had knew Myfanwe wanted it, had purchased one, but then had to return it...I had purchased the wrong one. Myfanwe already had THAT book on the 1918 flu pandemic and wanted a different one. (I am glad I checked the bookshelfs at home!) She thought I was making it all up...until Myfanwe opened her gift, clapped her hands and said "Yeah! This is exactly what I wanted!" 'Lil Myfanwe REALLY thinks we are wierd!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

NOT A Recruiting Video for the University of Chicago

I know -- I already posted today, but I couldn't help myself.


This is a classic clip, and one of my all-time favorites. (It always makes me think of my friends Arthur & Pepe. Hey, Art & Pepe: I love you guys!)

I think I'll go as Irma Munson for Halloween. Hmmm. Do you think wearing a pin "...through her skirt, through her leg, and back through her skirt again..." hurt?

I'm going to go home and practice wearing pantyhose backwards.



Picture it: I was early to the Argo Tea Cafe last evening in order to lay claim to a little space for my fellow Stitches in Britches knitters. I sat at a table, and put my bag on the chair opposite me to ensure at least one chair for my friends. I then brought out the lace and commenced knitting.

A few minutes later, as overdressed tourists sought some way to kill time until the theatre next door opened their doors, a woman in High Uptight Episcopalian Drag walked up, tilted the chair so that my bag slipped to the floor, and started away with the chair -- without so much as a howdydo.

Lucky for me, the chair was close enough to me that I could reach out and grab it before she could wisk it away. Now, normally, if someone had asked if they could use the chair, I would explain that I was being joined by someone and they were welcome to use the chair until my guest arrived. Usually another chair has been vacated before anyone shows, so the issue is moot.

But this woman didn't ask nicely. And that got my Irish up. I grabbed the chair and said, "I'm sorry, that seat is taken." She replied, with a snear and a sickly-sweet Southern drawl, "Where I come from, a chair isn't in use if no one is sitting in it."

I kept my hold firm, and met her snear with a wilting look that would have made my mother proud. And I said, in a volume certain to attrack the attention of at least a few of the people around me, "Well, that may be how they do things in Bugtussle, Honey, but here in the big city we ask politely and say please and thank you."

She increased her snear and say, in a mocking tone, "Please?"

And I met her mocking tone and said "No."

Still holding tight to the chair, she said loudly, "Well, I never!"

And all I could think to say in reply was "Believe me, Honey. It shows."

People in the near vicinity laughed out loud. She released her grip and slunk away. I felt like I had lost ten pounds.

Thursday, August 03, 2006



Can you guess which one is true?

1. I am much taller and thinner than I appear in person. People seem to doubt me when I say this, and it really hurts my feelings. And I say verily unto them, “Blessed is the one who believes, yet does not see."

2. Fred Phelps wants me. Even with the protective order, I never know when he’s going to turn up, asking me to please, please stick my tongue in his ear. Last week I came home and found him on my bed, buck naked, smelling my boxer shorts. Does anyone know where I can get a duvet cleaned?

3. I was once young enough and in good enough shape that I went to a Gold Party at a nightclub in New York with my entire body painted in metallic gold body paint and wearing only a gold lame g-string and little gold sandals. I woke up in [redacted]’s bedroom -- yes, the wife of the rock star -- in her apartment at The Dakota. My g-string was still intact, but my makeup was a little smudged.

4. I once considered a career in banking, but I thought my juvenile conviction of shoplifting from my local yarn shop might hold me back.

5. I once snuck into a fundraiser at a hotel in Los Angeles by pushing a wheelchair (which I had “borrowed: from the cloak room) towards the door and, when approached, saying “I’ve got Ms. Taylor’s wheelchair. Please step aside.” It worked. I ditched the chair in the back of the room and ate 2 pounds of shrimp off the buffet.

6. I was once detained and questioned by the secret service for grabbing President Clinton’s ass. All in all, it was worth it. How many people do you know who have goosed the President of the United States.

7. I once found a presentation at work so boring that I fell asleep. My embarrassment was only magnified by the fact that I was the one giving the presentation in the first place.

8. I have a not-so-secret crush on Stockard Channing. I have naughty dreams about shooting the “Women of The West Wing” calendar.

9. Ever since reading an article about how body hair was a remnant of our caveman past meant to trap pheromones (i.e. odors) to help attract a mate, I have shaved my underarms, legs, and chest. I would shave my back, too, if I could reach it.

10. I once went to synagogue dressed as Monica Lewinsky. It was the 90’s. You had to be there.


Thank you, Joel, for pointing me to this precious, precious video.