It's Fun To Get Together With Friends, and It's Critical To Our Health!

I always knew when I'm inviting someone to dinner, or they're inviting me for a hike, that more than dinner and walking is involved.  It turns out that the friendship and connection is lengthening and saving our lives.  A wonderful piece in the NYT Science today (June 13) reaffirms this.

 

My experience with EatWith

Seafood Feast at the Beach

A few weeks ago I read about EatWith in the NYT (May 6, 2017).  I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.  A social-dining service that lets chefs cook at home.  For strangers.  For money. I like to cook. I'm good at it.  I know a thing or two about food--I was Food Editor at WNBC-TV News, and I wrote The Good Food Compendium (Doubleday)  We have a gorgeous home on a beautiful beach with a professional chef's kitchen.   (Think 2 WOLF ovens, WOLF cooktop, 3 dishwashers.  Handy for events, right?)  And it would be fun to meet new people-- travelers who are in town, passing through and want to dine somewhere unique.  So I signed up!  My husband, who is a good sport, thought it would either be wonderful or awful.  To my surprise to be accepted on their platform I had to do a Demonstration meal, which required that I post a menu, invite and book guests, and then post photos of the event afterward.  A dress rehearsal for the EatWith folks, who apparently have had some chef-hosts leave patrons wary of the experience because the chef-hosts didn't live up to the patrons' expectations. However, as several friends commented, You had to demonstrate for them?  They should have been so happy to have you, they should have recruited you!  Probably. Anyway, this Sunday I posted and hosted my Demonstration Meal--a Seafood Paella rich with lobsters, shrimp, mussels, and delicious saffron rice.  For dessert--frozen key lime pie.  Heavenly.  This is one of my all-time favorite meals.  It is labor-intensive--the key lime pie alone takes hours to make.  Squeezing all those limes? Although the idea is that this dining experience is mostly for strangers (who pay in advance), on Sunday I invited friends (no charge) and there was only one stranger--a friend of a friend, Scotty from Scotland, who happens to be in Malibu this summer working with Ringo Star.   Today my contact, Zach, at EatWith commented that the photos from the event look amazing.  That's nice.  Then he said that once I have a few solid 4 and 5 star detailed reviews on my host profile, I will be accepted on the platform and able to create additional events!   Wow.  Thanks.  However, their social site, and thus my host profile, is so cumbersome to navigate, and difficult to post photos (impossible?) that I asked Zach if my invitees could send their glowing reviews directly to him? I haven't heard back from him yet.  Boy, what a lot of rigamorarole.  Is it worth it?  Stay tuned.  Maybe I'll research if one of the other social sites --AirDine, Feastly--are easier and more host-friendly to deal with.  

A few weeks ago I read about EatWith in the NYT (May 6, 2017).  I thought it sounded like a lot of fun.  A social-dining service that lets chefs cook at home.  For strangers.  For money.

I like to cook. I'm good at it.  I know a thing or two about food--I was Food Editor at WNBC-TV News, and I wrote The Good Food Compendium (Doubleday)  We have a gorgeous home on a beautiful beach with a professional chef's kitchen.   (Think 2 WOLF ovens, WOLF cooktop, 3 dishwashers.  Handy for events, right?)  And it would be fun to meet new people-- travelers who are in town, passing through and want to dine somewhere unique. 

So I signed up!  My husband, who is a good sport, thought it would either be wonderful or awful.  To my surprise to be accepted on their platform I had to do a Demonstration meal, which required that I post a menu, invite and book guests, and then post photos of the event afterward.  A dress rehearsal for the EatWith folks, who apparently have had some chef-hosts leave patrons wary of the experience because the chef-hosts didn't live up to the patrons' expectations.

However, as several friends commented, You had to demonstrate for them?  They should have been so happy to have you, they should have recruited you!  Probably.

Anyway, this Sunday I posted and hosted my Demonstration Meal--a Seafood Paella rich with lobsters, shrimp, mussels, and delicious saffron rice.  For dessert--frozen key lime pie.  Heavenly.  This is one of my all-time favorite meals.  It is labor-intensive--the key lime pie alone takes hours to make.  Squeezing all those limes?

Although the idea is that this dining experience is mostly for strangers (who pay in advance), on Sunday I invited friends (no charge) and there was only one stranger--a friend of a friend, Scotty from Scotland, who happens to be in Malibu this summer working with Ringo Star.  

Today my contact, Zach, at EatWith commented that the photos from the event look amazing.  That's nice.  Then he said that once I have a few solid 4 and 5 star detailed reviews on my host profile, I will be accepted on the platform and able to create additional events!  

Wow.  Thanks.  However, their social site, and thus my host profile, is so cumbersome to navigate, and difficult to post photos (impossible?) that I asked Zach if my invitees could send their glowing reviews directly to him?

I haven't heard back from him yet.  Boy, what a lot of rigamorarole.  Is it worth it?  Stay tuned.  Maybe I'll research if one of the other social sites --AirDine, Feastly--are easier and more host-friendly to deal with.

 

Blown Away...By Kusama

Two weeks ago in Washington, D.C., thanks to a good friend, I got tickets to the sold-out Kusama exhibit at the Hirschhorn Museum. I'm back home in Southern California, but Kusama's powerfully seductive colorful images linger and beckon.  Last night when I couldn't sleep (again), I wandered downstairs, sipped hot tea and looked through the pages of her book Give Me Love.  I wish everyone could read her introduction where this artist writes...And I want to tell people across the earth: Stop nuclear bombs and wars, now see your shining life With my longing for eternity. Having lived in a psychiatric institute for some 40 plus years, Kusama speaks freely about abusive childhood, her mental illness, and her suicide-prone life.  After I googled her and learned that her art explodes from the depths of her mental illness, this new understanding couldn't help but color how I felt about The Obliteration Room, for example.

Two weeks ago in Washington, D.C., thanks to a good friend, I got tickets to the sold-out Kusama exhibit at the Hirschhorn Museum.

I'm back home in Southern California, but Kusama's powerfully seductive colorful images linger and beckon.  Last night when I couldn't sleep (again), I wandered downstairs, sipped hot tea and looked through the pages of her book Give Me Love.  I wish everyone could read her introduction where this artist writes...And I want to tell people across the earth: Stop nuclear bombs and wars, now see your shining life With my longing for eternity.

Having lived in a psychiatric institute for some 40 plus years, Kusama speaks freely about abusive childhood, her mental illness, and her suicide-prone life.  After I googled her and learned that her art explodes from the depths of her mental illness, this new understanding couldn't help but color how I felt about The Obliteration Room, for example.

At the Hirschhorn Museum, we were each handed a small sheet of colorful stickers to apply wherever we wanted to what had once been an all-white room. It felt playful, happy, colorful, and participatory.   We were  helping the artist "obliterate" the white room.  I mean, when is any museum-goer ever asked to add their two cents, or colorful stickers, in this instance?  Most of the time we're told, Do Not Touch The Objects.  But here we were enthusiastically encouraged to slap on our stickers wherever we wanted.  It was fun.  And Ed even sat down and played at the colorful Kusama piano.  But after I learned that Kusama's mental illness had led her to want to be obliterated, to obliterate herself, my reaction to this exhibit is more complex and nuanced.  And I suspect yours would be, too.

Infinity Mirrors at the same exhibit.  So mesmerizing I didn't want to leave after the guard told me my 20 seconds in the room was up.  

19th century (female) doilies turned into 21st century (male) art?

I was dumbstruck today at the Renswick Gallery in Washington, D.C., when I came across a larger than life-size "figure" by Rick Cave called Soundsuit.   The art is made of numerous, colorful doilies of all sizes and shapes sewed onto a life-like shape.

My grandmother, Josie, a woman born in the 19th century, used to crochet doilies exactly like the ones the artist used.  I wondered how she'd feel if she were still alive and she came upon this work of art?  Would she be proud or puzzled, ashamed or flattered?

And I also wondered from where did the artist get his hands on this treasure trove of handmade lacey doilies?  From the older women in his family? 

And I bristled a bit at the idea of what was always a woman's hand work turned into a man's art?   I don't want to be part of the gender wars, but I would probably have embraced this work of art more warmly if it had been done by a woman.

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Crossword Puzzles

I was telling a friend about my crossword puzzle work.  

I don't do crossword puzzles.  I don't understand them, all their obtuse clues--Bestselling Michale Buble album--make my eyes glaze over, and all those blank squares waiting-to-be-filled-in make me tense.  So why every morning am I cutting these puzzles out of the newspapers we get delivered--The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times--and  decorating them with stickers?  I wait until I have a pretty big pile and I stuff the whole bunch into a colorful envelope--turquoise, pink, orange--and send it to my niece in El Paso. 

"That's a random act of kindness," said Johnnie, bequeathing unto me a huge, unexpected compliment out of the blue.

I hadn't thought much about my crossword puzzle "work;"  and I hadn't labeled it one way or other.  About a year ago, my husband and I were visiting Chris, my nephew, and his wife, Jennifer, and somehow she mentioned about loving to do crossword puzzles.  She said they help her relax.  As the 30-something mother of two young boys, I could see how some relaxation, just for her, could be helpful.  She also said that she never gets any mail in her mailbox.  It would be fun for a change to get some mail.  

I had been so uninterested in crossword puzzles that I'd been oblivious to their existence.  I hadn't realized most newspapers carry them regularly, daily.   As soon as we got back home, I noticed crossword puzzles everywhere.  In the second section of the Wall Street Journal, the Arts section of the New York Times, even the sub-par Los Angeles Times has a crossword puzzle. 

Every morning I started tearing out the puzzles, and because I wanted Jennifer to remember me,  just a little, as she was solving the puzzles, I decorated them.  Depending on the season, and what stickers I had on hand, I glued on stars, pumpkins or Christmas trees.  I was careful only to put on the stickers where they wouldn't interfere with the puzzle.  

Jennifer said getting my colorful envelope was the highlight of her week.  That might be hyperbole.  But still nice.  She said that when she went away, she'd take the envelope on the plane and it was her way to relax.

When I started tearing, clipping, decorating, and mailing these puzzles I had no way of knowing that this activity would assume the quality of a daily zen ritual, and also send a message: We may live 1,000 miles apart, but I think of you daily, Jennifer, and I care about you.

I certainly had no way of realizing that once I started, I wouldn't stop.  And I had no way of knowing that my friend, Johnnie, would say, This is a random act of kindness.

Cranberry Bread

This is special and festive enough for the holidays.
I also like to make a special bread with cranberries. Taking advantage of the cranberry’s availability, I’ve made this in the spring. As in my cranberry conserve recipe, this also features cranberries with oranges.

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Seattle Clam Chowder

When I was growing up in the Pacific Northwest, a special family weekend included clamming for goey ducks (a big clam used in chowders) very early in the morning and returning in time for a fried clam breakfast. As little kids, we used to wait until the very last moment to race the tide back in; part of the thrill of clamming was that we sometimes got stranded out too far, up to our waist in water, and had to rescued. On my return visits to Seattle, I try to include a clamming expedition.
My version differs from many traditional recipes in that there is no cream and no bacon. I guarantee this is so delicious these ingredients are not missed.

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