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May 2011 (24 posts)
Feta cheese has long been the darling of the Greek food world, and for good reason: Its tangy flavor is key to such classics as spanakopita and Greek salads. But a new book on the country's cuisine, Food from Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros, introduces items that are just as versatile.
Kiros, the daughter of Finnish and Greek parents, begins her cookbook with a glossary of Greek staples.
On the list, amid such familiar items as feta, Greek yogurt, and phyllo, are three that we've become taken with:
One hundred years ago today, the world's largest ship, the Titanic, was launched into the dark, cold waters of Belfast. Fourteen years ago, the world's first movie to rake in over a billion dollars, Titanic, was released into the dark, warm theaters of America.
In homage, I planned to break out the DVD and Kleenex. Unfortunately, I don't own the movie and physical video rental stores no longer exist. On YouTube, I thought I'd found a way to bawl quietly and quickly at my desk: The Five-Second Titanic.
The Five-Second Titanic lacks the beauty and mystery of the 1994 regular Titanic. There is a sweep of dreamy music, then a clip of a minor character saying in a fancy English accent, "This ship can't sink." After which, splash, the ship sinks.
I've ruined the joke but not the point: Sometimes, exceptionally complex things in life can be distilled down to a single moment.
A close friend of mine recently told me a story about her old, dear college roommate, Sarah, who didn't come to her mother's funeral. Sarah, my friend told me, had had all kinds of terrible situations with her own mother. Sarah had two kids. Sarah was under a lot of stress at work. Sarah had troubles with intimacy. But Sarah was still a good person and a good friend.
I listened to all this. I groped around for something to say. But what I needed was a video camera in order to tape the 10 minutes that my friend spent talking about Sarah, then cut the footage down to the five seconds during which she said, "Sarah didn't come to my mom's funeral."
Yes, life is complicated and messy. Yes, people do regrettable things for a myriad of understandable reasons. But sometimes five seconds all is we need to tell us what is really going on in a relationship. Then we can spend the next five—or 5,000—seconds figuring out what to do about it.
The Friendship Quiz: Good friend? Bad friend?
Martha Beck on what friends never do
What makes Oprah and Gayle's friendship special?
Like a crisp white oxford or a little black dress, the long-sleeved striped boatneck tee is a timeless staple. Wear it under a blazer or on its own, with chinos, jeans or cropped black pants, and you can't go wrong.
Julia Leach, the former creative director of Kate Spade, has based her entire new line, Chance, on this one iconic piece. Her soft, lightweight cotton versions are simply irresistible.
Chance, $60 each; ChanceCo.com.
Even if you think of your family history as generations of boring, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan begs you to reconsider. The former Wall Street Journal fashion reporter stumbled upon all kinds of surprises when she went back to Singapore (where she was born) after being laid off. Tan's book, A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family, is a reminder that asking your mom for a recipe can lead to much more than cooking instructions. Tan has three pieces of advice for drawing out the good stuff:
1. Get out of the living room and into the kitchen. Some of Tan's relatives were skeptical about being "interviewed." It wasn't until Tan and her aunts were immersed in, say, filling pork dumplings that the stories began to unfold. That's when Tan heard about the illegal things her family did in the '60s to make extra money.
Seven years ago, when all the lights went off in New York City, I did not assume, as the rest of the world did, that we were dealing with a multistate blackout. I thought we were being attacked by terrorists, who had knocked out the lights so that they could move on to the next phase in their plan. Accordingly, I threw on my flip-flops and grabbed my laptop, my mother's pearls, a jar of peanut butter and my dog, Leonard.
I was panting. The dog was wheezing. I held up my backpack in triumph. We had peanut butter, pearls and a computer to live on!
My husband sighed. "At least we know what you'll take in case of a fire." He, of course, would have taken our social security cards and birth certificates and other practicalities such as his shoebox of high school cassette tapes for which we have no tape player.
It turns out that we are not that unique in our understanding of what's really important. The new site The Burning House documents what people worldwide would grab from their homes in case of a fire. The objects are arranged and photographed, creating surprisingly intimate portraits.
The loveliest are poetic mixes of antique keys and beloved books. But a shockingly huge amount of people included their Mac laptops, passports and pets. Other quirkier items include an antique British maritime crest, a volcanic rock from Mt. Kilimanjaro and a "coconut broke with my head." One practical guy included a cast-iron skillet (presumably to cook food?) and a bottle of musk (to disguise body odor)—apparently confusing running out of a burning house with running out of burning house into a survivalist world without showers or restaurants.
Kids, of course, understand what's really crucial. Six-year old Brody grabbed his Garfield cup, his Lego helicopter, a bumblebee Transformer and a yellow belt (via FlavorPill.com).
Perhaps you're thinking, "Leftover wine? What is that?" If so, you may want to skip this. But you can freeze extra wine—not for drinking, for cooking. Maybe you bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to make Zucchini and Tuna Pappardelle, only used a half cup of it but don't love to drink dry whites, or can't drink it for medical reasons. Freeze what's left over and use it to make Barramundi with Sweet Corn Risotto and Onion-Basil Salsa or Tarragon Chicken. Here's how to do it...
"I wanted to find a way to be more in the moment, to be more in every day, to understand my life more..." So if you're Jonathan Harris staring down a milestone birthday, your next project is to take a photo every day. Called Today, it's now a short film: one image per second, some supersaturated, some stark, all focus-grabbing. "No matter what you do in your life—what you create, what career you have, whether you have a family or kids—your greatest creation," says Harris, "is always going to be your life story." Listening to Harris as the images flip from one to the next, we're convinced: In this moment-to-moment world, what a person needs most is time to create stories that will help make sense of what exactly it is we're doing here (via ThoughtYouShouldSeeThis.com).
There are a lot of children's picture books out there that speak to grown-ups as well as kids. This is why 21-year college graduates often get a copy of The Lorax—and why I still get weepy over The Giving Tree by page three, embarrassing my children and staining the black-and-white drawings with tear blobs.
But what about children's picture books that aren't for kids? Two weeks ago, Go the F*** to Sleep hit the number one best-selling spot on Amazon.com, and the book isn't even slated to reach stores until June. Every parent in the world—and child-free friend of a parent—can relate to the message of this hysterical, brilliant, totally inappropriate, curse-filled nursery rhyme:
The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest / And the creatures who crawl, run and creep / I know you're not thirsty. That's bullshit. Stop lying / Lie the f*** down, my darling, and sleep.
Meanwhile, David Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) also has an adult-only children's book coming out the same month. When Marlana Pulled a Thread tells the story of a girl who finds a loose stitch in the world and yanks—undoing trees, palaces, towns, people—until all that's left is a black tangle. For a child, the idea that you can destroy things long past the point of any happy ending is a little overwhelming and scary. But for an adult, it's a much-needed reminder of the consequences of how we live our lives.
There's something kinder and easier to take, too, about being shown such a painfully true parable by comforting, retro line drawings. I am considering writing and illustrating such a book for my husband called Lawrence Takes Out the Trash.
The next time you go on a date, don't worry about whether your hair is perfectly combed or your palms are a little sweaty, or if you can possibly eat a taco at the restaurant without getting meat stuck in your teeth and guacamole all over your lap. What you say is what matters to the person across the table, at least when it comes to your "thes".
Last week, Scientific American published an article on social psychologist and author of the upcoming book, The Secret Life of Pronouns, James Pennebaker. Pennebaker recorded the four-minute-long conversations of 80 speed daters, attempting to predict if each couple would—or wouldn't—want to go on a second date. On the tapes, he wasn't looking for awkward pauses or even lonely sighs, but instead for each person's use of seemingly innocuous words like "an," "as" and "her."
For stressed-out city dwellers, Eoin Finn has a relaxing remedy.
After years as a yoga teacher, Eoin Finn still hadn't reached enlightenment—a serene state of appreciation for the present moment. Then, on a retreat in Costa Rica in 2006, he lay in a hammock. "I thought, 'If everyone did this for 10 minutes a day, we'd be calmer and more productive.'" He's right: Studies show that even short periods of relaxation can lower blood pressure and improve concentration. Finn gathered some hammocks and set up a "spontaneous relaxation" zone in Vancouver (his home), inviting hurried passersby to have a swing. "There's some bewilderment, then they melt right in," he says.
Now Finn hosts events across North America (see Blissology.com for details). "We're not selling anything," he says. "We're just helping people sit down and enjoy the simple splendors of life."