Hello friends! Hope you are well — before I begin, can I just say how thankful I am that you are here reading? Do I tell you that enough? I am so grateful for this space, I think more grateful than I have been in the ten years I’ve been writing. Thank you! Thank you especially to those of you who wrote supportive comments on my last post (and notes directly to my inbox). They all made my day. In other news: I’m working hard to get this book out into the world — the next round of shooting begins this weekend. When I’m not planning, I’m testing and editing, and feeding my all-online high school senior a snack or a treat or a lunch. (Shown above: tomato toast with burrata, olive oil, basil.) I figure, I’m home and I might as well make a crappy situation as delicious as possible for her. Here’s the rest of your PPP…
Project: Beets with Dill-Feta-Pistachios
As I go through my book for the zillionth time, I’m realizing something about myself: I have a real thing for a feta-dill-pistachio trinity. Have you noticed this about me? I absolutely leaned into it on Saturday night when I topped roasted beets (wrap them in foil, unpeeled and bake at 375°F for 1 hour 30 minutes) and I suggest you try it yourself at your earliest convenience. And yes, there’s a bed of herby yogurt there, too, but you’ll have to wait for the book to get that part of the recipe. Oh! How beautiful is that bowl? The nice people over at Signe ceramics are lending me a few pieces for the book’s photo shoot and I’m taking full advantage of having them around, even for just a regular old Tuesday night dinner.
Pantry: Fresh Tomato Pizza
Are you sick of tomatoes? Don’t you dare say yes! Andy made this the other night after a long day and it hit the spot. Press your 16-ounce ball of dough to all corners of a 17x-12 baking sheet, brush the edges with garlic-salt-spiked olive oil, cover with shredded mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, a few rings of red onion, salt, pepper, and basil. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes or until crust looks golden.
Purpose: JFK Biography!
Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m Kennedy obsessed. One of my first jobs out of college was launching the magazine companion to A&E’s Biography TV series (that’s how old I am) and I remember my boss, Anne, telling me that whenever we had a chance to cover a Kennedy we should. Why? I asked, somehow not getting it. Because, she said, people everywhere have an insatiable appetite for anything Kennedy. For my tenure at the job we wrote about them all — from Jack to Jackie to Joe Senior to Joe Junior to Caroline to Bobby to Ethel to John Junior (who died in a plane crash while I was working there)…even to Letitia Baldrige, who was Jackie’s social secretary during her time in the White House. (I still have a recipe for “Jackie’s fruit sauce” somewhere in my recipe notebook.) And my boss was right — People couldn’t get enough! Eventually I became one of them, inhaling anything I could about America’s most glamorous, and most staggeringly tragic royal family.
Twenty-five years later, my appetite remains voracious, which I learned as soon as I picked up Fredrik Logevall’s new biography JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century. It’s the first of two volumes, much of it devoted to Joe Senior — Joseph Kennedy — son of Irish immigrants, and the iconic patriarch of the family, who was born in working class Boston and drove himself and his children into the most rarefied upper echelons of power. He pushed them to be politicians, bestselling authors, deep thinkers and winners-at-all-costs, once telling Ted, his youngest: “I’ll still love you if you don’t do something serious with your life, but I just won’t have much time for you.”
But JFK is the star, of course, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Logevall weaves an extremely satisfying level of salacious anecdotes (not shockingly, almost everyone, especially women, found him charmingly irresistible right from the beginning) into the more serious bullet points of his resume and biography. Living in the shadow of his older brother, Joe, the “golden child;” breaking from his father’s intractable (and controversial) position on appeasement in the ramp-up to World War II; fighting in the Pacific; becoming a war hero; suffering from his relentless health issues; running for Congress and eventually the Senate. (Volume 1 ends in 1956, before he becomes President.) I love biographies, and I’m not going to lie, it feels really good to immerse myself in a completely different world every night. And it’s not just that I’m pining for the era of the Greatest Generation and all that — it’s just fun to be inside the actual Kennedy family. At their dinner table, where they’re grilled about current events; on sailboat races in Hyannis Port (once, when JFK came in second, his dad wondered why he bothered to compete at all); at the prestigious Choate boarding school and inside Harvard’s old-boy “final clubs;” at Hollywood parties; in the front row of Papal coronations; in the Ambassador’s house in London… it goes on.
And the photos! Here he is with his father, Joe Sr. I can’t remember if this one is in the book, but it might as well be. (The book has really sent me down a time-sucking rabbit hole on YouTube and Google.)
And here he is at…actually I have no idea, but does it matter?
Stay safe. Wear a mask!
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your story is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.