Sunday Almanac: We Need Lowcountry Tabby Concrete

Tabby is a type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells. —Wikipedia “Maybe we ought to build a wall instead of a fence.” The words spilled out of me suddenly as they’re wont to do, even though the thought had been knocking around in my head for a while. Chef David … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: We Need Lowcountry Tabby Concrete

Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake Christmas Trees

We finally did it, gentle reader, bought our first (and last?) artificial Christmas tree. There she stands at an impressive nine-point-five feet, all aglow with baked-in lights, and strewn with garland and all our favorite ornaments. Right off the bat, let me just say we miss that fragrance, you know the one. Thus far we’ve tried burning a scented candle to compensate, but because we … Continue reading Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake Christmas Trees

Sunday Almanac: We Have No Snow But We Do Have Eleanor

It’s almost like a luge track,” The Chef observed during the winter of 2014. I had been in Vermont for only about a year and a half but was already in my second place there. My first place had been an idyllic cottage on picturesque Lake Morey, where I damn near ran out of cash owing to an errant ex who failed to honor the … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: We Have No Snow But We Do Have Eleanor

Almanac: Labor Day 2022

Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today and you know I can see summertime slipping on away. James Taylor, September Grass Another birthday week has come and gone with relatively little fanfare (although it was a significant year for one of us), but it included plenty of inspired cuisine as always. The Chef has returned to pastry, not professionally yet in this … Continue reading Almanac: Labor Day 2022

Family Reflection: Bastard Son of a Woman Named Minnie

You probably got it from Granddaddy Eddie, mom opined over the phone. It doesn’t matter, I have it and now I’ll deal with it, I returned. High blood pressure. Maybe it runs in the family, maybe not, who knows. My doctor put me on some meds, told me to shed a few pounds, and then asked me to check in with her again in a … Continue reading Family Reflection: Bastard Son of a Woman Named Minnie

Sunday Almanac: Distractions for Weeks

Art has something to do with the arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. —George Plimpton And what is writing after all, but art. Betcha Mr. Plimpton’s right. It’s as plausible an explanation as any for my utter unwillingness to sit down on a Sunday and put pen to paper, as I’m wont to do most Sundays: distractions. Just ask any self-respecting dog about … Continue reading Sunday Almanac: Distractions for Weeks

A Memory: When Fresh Food Still Had Flavor

However you think of Garrison Keillor’s indiscretion, the one that got him dismissed from NPR, no bad behavior can eclipse his storytelling talent, and that is the truth. Who among us has never been lost in a news monologue from fictional Lake Wobegon, who hasn’t nodded along silently or smiled at a yarn about some character’s ill-wrought decisions and the unfortunate but hysterical consequences of … Continue reading A Memory: When Fresh Food Still Had Flavor

A Mother’s Day Reflection: Great-Grandmother Grace

My Great-Grandmother Grace was born in 1899, died in 1991, and lived her entire life, as far as I know, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She was not so much a Southerner as an Appalachian, a flavor of Tennessean native to the eastern region of the state known as ‘hill country’ (hence ‘hillbilly’) because of its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains—the particular stretch of the Appalachian … Continue reading A Mother’s Day Reflection: Great-Grandmother Grace

Reflection: ‘Fair’ Is Often Fair Enough

Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need. Rick Riordan It is a crisp November afternoon in mid-1970s Memphis and my younger brother is turning seven; several pint-sized partygoers will soon arrive at our modest suburban home to help him celebrate. They’ll step inside the back door into our game room, once a carport, but thanks to a … Continue reading Reflection: ‘Fair’ Is Often Fair Enough

Reflection: Getting Parenting Right, in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times

I pass a road called Rosa Parks Lane each morning on my way to work. It’s unpaved and does not look like much from the major north-south artery in Wilmington that serves it. Driving past it, were you to turn your head and glance, you’d see the characteristically flat, scrubby, sandy landscape that defines coastal North Carolina, offset by clumps of Loblolly pines with their … Continue reading Reflection: Getting Parenting Right, in the Best of Times and the Worst of Times