Family Therapy.

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of my father’s death. Part of me can’t believe it’s been five years; the other part of me can’t believe it’s only been five years: It feels like yesterday, and an eternity ago. When my phone rings on Friday afternoons, I still half-expect him to be on the other end of the line, wishing me a happy Friday — as he did every week, pretty much, from when I left for college until he went into the hospital that final time. When I hung pictures in my apartment a few days ago, I heard his voice telling me to measure twice and hammer once; when I found a note on the back of one of those prints, in his inimitable handwriting, with birthday greetings for a year with “a pure silver lining,” I cried as if I’d lost him all over again. The enormous, overwhelming unfairness of it still just floors me.

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I miss him, every day. Not as brutally as I did those first couple of years, and for that I’m grateful, but the ache is constant. I’m usually alone on his yahrzeit — previously, I’ve marked the occasion with too many martinis and/or Manhattans — but this year, my mother and I spent the weekend together at the beach. I hope it’ll be a new tradition.

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Still Shot.

Monteverde, Costa Rica April 2012

The horses knew exactly where they were going. When to stop for the scenery, when to slow down for the grade. A good thing, as our guide, Jose, spoke no English. Los caballos entendían la brecha en el lenguaje.

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Fried Chicken Find.

I’m not going to lie. I was on the way to Wendy’s for their #2 (regular size, Diet Coke, no mayo) when I saw Mya’s Fried Chicken saddled up to the Super Food Mart at the corner of Pacemont and High Street in Clintonville. I was feeling a little guilty about the whole drive-through thing, and was happy to find a reason to substitute it with a local (and trendy!) business for my lazy lunch.

In a food truck shuffle, Mya’s recently showed up to fill the void left by Ray Ray’s Hog Pit when they moved down to Ace of Cups. They have a basic menu of fried chicken and house-made (truck-made?) sides, and reviews, Tweets and blog posts about the place have been blowing up the internet.

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Sunday Best.

“Let’s go somewhere cheap for brunch.” Except, as a rule, brunch is never cheap. (I can’t not order the mimosa, you see.)

So we stayed in. Because the weather was perfect for open windows and we’d get a great seat without a wait.

I’m not great at cooking morning food. I once made breakfast for a boyfriend who critiqued the entire endeavor before announcing — after he refused to do the dishes — that he guessed he was just used to his mom’s cooking. I wish I could say that I ended it right there. The breakup was awful, but amazing. I never had to watch 24 again.

This brunch was much better. Eggs cooked with Ohio-made pesto (compliments of my roommate’s mom). This-and-that from the Wayward Seed Farm produce bowl. (Plum and tomato.) Wheat toast smothered with lemon curd made by my friend Jenny. And so much delicious coffee.

To have so much local food within our immediate reach? All without having to put on shoes? Somehow upgrading from a cheap brunch to a free brunch made me feel a little rich. (Bonus: I didn’t have to do the dishes.)

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Blue(grass) Balls.

For more than a decade, when I’ve heard the Mermaid Avenue version of Woodie Guthrie’s “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key,” I’ve thought that the word were “Way over yonder in the monarchy. Ain’t nobody that can sing like me.” In my mind, Natalie Merchant was folksily letting us all know, without a trace of arrogance, that she can sing better than pretty much all of the Queen’s people.

This is all a preamble to what were to be the first three words of this post about a meatball.

Way over yonder where Worthington meets Clintonville, there’s a new pizza shop that showcases bluegrass music and coal-fired pizza. Coal. Bluegrass. Sounds like the Ohio river moved a couple hours west and joined us in Columbus. I haven’t spent enough time at this place, but I think that I will like it.

This is a 4-inch meatball covered in tomato sauce, a little Parmesan cheese and some flat leaf parsley for a little color. It cost $6.25 and was their special for the evening. (I love that the special was a single ball of meat and not, say, a coal-fired pizza.) Our server said that they kept running out, that the kitchen was in constant production of giant meatballs.

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Procrastibaking.

There are a few notable exceptions to the rule, but in general, I’m not one for repeating recipes — my backlog of magazine clippings, printouts, and barely opened cookbooks rarely allows for such luxuries. When I do have the urge to go back for seconds, it has to be for something good.


Even though it pains me to turn on the oven in August, I made this cobbler twice in the past week. I think it qualifies. (Sure, baking is more fun than the work I should’ve been doing, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that this is one stellar dessert.)

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Grieving the Grill.

This has been my first summer without a grill in five years. I cannot overstate how lucky I was to have one at my fingertips in this city, and how completely that spoiled me for life on the other side.

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If I were to tell you the withdrawal nearly killed me, would you pardon the hyperbole?

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Gastronomical Geography.

I never pay attention to where I am when I visit New York City and her boroughs. Instead, I blindly follow the natives — mainly Maya — around from restaurant to bar to coffee shop to bar to restaurant. And the touristy things? They’re pretty low on the list of priorities. I’ve seen more of Buttermilk Channel than I have the Statue of Liberty.

In my most recent trip, we shared Maya (and her one bedroom apartment) with her mom and sister; she wasn’t as available as she’d been in the past. With the exception of a few meals, we would be navigating the city on our own, with heavy reliance on the map function of the iPhone. The result was mixed: more mess-ups on the subway and a chance to do something touristy. (Enjoy the shot above taken from the Staten Island Ferry.) Somehow, though, we managed to stay hydrated and well fed.

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Hooky Day.

Last week, I took a day off.

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I slept in. I had a leisurely breakfast and a large cup of bodega coffee, then hopped the train to the Rockaways.

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Brown-Bag Blessing.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have gotten the wrong impression. Sure, I’ve done the odd bit of grilling here and there, but with the exception of this salad awhile back, I have been eating horribly unseasonably for most of the summer. I have been to the farmers’ market zero times, I do not have a CSA membership, and my status at the co-op falls somewhere between “not allowed to shop” and “utterly disgraced.”

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After an especially brutal weekend—one filled with ghetto Chinese, pizza, and food poisoning from said pizza—I was perhaps particularly susceptible to the charms of a light, clean dish of unquestionable provenance, but I was still surprised when a friend’s tweet provoked an instantaneous craving for something simple, fresh, and homemade. Clearly, my body was trying to tell me that one cannot live on takeout, Sour Patch Kids and Nutty Bars alone.

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