Luxury by Holly Hughes ’75

Holly Hughes has lived in New York City since 1978, although there isn’t a day she doesn’t dream about moving. She is the founder and editor of 13 editions (and counting) of the annual Best Food Writing anthology. Her past also includes stints as the executive editor of Fodor’s Travel Publications, writer of 12 travel guides for Frommer’s (including 500 Places to See Before They Disappear and 500 Places to Take the Kids Before They Grow Up), and the author of 13 novels for adolescent girls. She and her husband Bob Ward have raised 3 children in NYC and the last of them is heading for college next fall. (Did anyone say “road trip”?) This essay originally appeared in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant (Riverhead Books‚ 2008).

Eating alone? Ah‚ that would be luxury. Cooking alone? That’s an entirely different thing—that I do every night. Or to be more precise‚ every night I am the only person in my kitchen whose activities are directed toward producing a meal for group consumption. There are other people in the kitchen‚ all right‚ but they are busy doing homework‚ or playing with the cat‚ or watching tv‚ or sneaking snacks to spoil their appetites‚ or arguing with the cook (me). They never offer to help with the cooking. No‚ they are simply hanging around‚ bored‚ at loose ends‚ just waiting to be fed.

“What are you going to put on that chicken?”

“What would you like me to put on that chicken?”

“I hate it when you do the tomato sauce.”

“Then what would you like me to put on that chicken?”

“Remember the time you made it with sweet peppers and onions?”

“Want me to do that again?”

“I specially hated it with the peppers and onions.”

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Adventures in Blackberry Picking by Kemp Minifie ’75

Kemp Minifie is senior editor of Epicurious.com, which she joined after 32 years wrapped up in all aspects of food at Gourmet magazine, as well as two years working on the Special Editions of Gourmet and gourmet.com. After attending Mount Holyoke, Kemp studied at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, and later took classes with Madhur Jaffrey, Giuliano Bugiali, Julie Sahni, Diana Kennedy, and Susana Trilling. Although Kemp wishes she was born Italian, she’s accepted her frugal Yankee heritage, but hasn’t let it get in the way of her pure enjoyment of chocolate, mascarpone, eggs, basil, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, for starters. This essay was first published on Gourmet.com in August 2008.

When you’re vacationing in northern New Hampshire, simply looking at the mountains is not enough; you’re supposed to climb them. But sweating up and down a steep trail is not my idea of fun. Bliss is staying at the bottom, picking blackberries. It must fulfill some hunter–gatherer instinct in me. I feel primeval; all this free food available as long as I’m willing to spend a little time harvesting it by hand.

English: Blackberries in a range of ripeness, ...

Blackberries in a range of ripeness, in West Hartford, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of weeks ago I parked at the bottom of a well–worn path up one of the Presidential peaks. With a knapsack and boots I looked as though I was ready for a challenging ascent, but I was actually headed for some serious berrying at the base of the mountain. Only a few yards in, the trail opens onto a huge power line thruway where, unencumbered by trees, the wild blackberry bushes have taken over.

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About Lime Jell-O by Sandi Sonnenfeld ’85

Sandi Sonnenfeld is Founder and Managing Editor of The Lyon Review. Her short stories and personal essays have appeared in more than 30 literary magazines and anthologies, including Sojourner, The Story Teller, ACM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review among others. She is also the author of the 2002 memoir, This is How I Speak (Impassio Press), for which she was named a Celebration Author by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. “About Lime Jello” originally appeared in Volume 9, #1-2 issue of The Raven Chronicles: A Journal of Art, Literature & The Spoken Word.

Last Saturday, my husband Warren and I attended his aunt and uncle’s golden wedding anniversary party on Whidbey Island, an island located about ninety miles from Seattle. Though the happy couple, Dot and Wes, are close to Warren’s mother, I have spoken with them only a half-dozen times, and nearly always at some gathering similar to this one.

Married less than three years, I’m impressed by anyone who has managed to stay together for so long. As we pull into the driveway to the Catholic Church where the reception is to be held, I look at my husband’s profile as he negotiates the parking lot. I look at him for reassurance, hoping for a brief smile or a mild squeeze of my hand that tells me everything will be all right, to ignore the tightening in my stomach that I always get when I have to face a crowd of strangers. He does not return my look; his eyes are fixed on finding the right parking space, one that is reasonably close to the lot’s exit so that we don’t have to wait in a long line of cars when we leave.

Still this is why I married him. Ten years my senior, I thought that surely a man who carries a compass with him wherever he goes would be useful for a person like me who tends to get lost inside her head. I who cannot stop wandering around those messy crevices of the brain’s limbic region, ducking in unexplored caves, picking at half-buried wounds with a prospector’s axe, only to re-emerge moments later, blinking in the sunlight as I readjust to the external world.

Photo of green gelatin

Photo of green gelatin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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