Posts Categorized: Rituals

Marcella Hazan 1924-2013

Marcella Hazan, who changed the way Americans think about Italian cooking, and who feels like family in our house even though we knew her only through recipes, died yesterday. She was 89. Here is a beautiful obituary in The New York Times. Here is a tribute I wrote this morning for Bon Appetit. Here is her famous Bolognese. Here is… Read more »

Dinner and a Movie

The night: Friday The scene: Two friends, ages 9 and 11, coming over for dinner and a movie. The movie: Forrest Gump The issue: Very little in the fridge — except the most beautiful CSA Tuscan kale and peak-season tomatoes — but not ordering in and not going shopping again, no way, no how. The other issue: Is it point-blank unfair to… Read more »

Date Night Lamb Chops

The day after we had our first baby, a friend with kids visited us in the hospital to meet the new addition. He held Phoebe, we took some pictures, and before he left, he delivered some advice: “Make sure to get a date night every once in a while,” he said. “Alone time is important, and it can get lost.”… Read more »

Vacation Dinner Highlight Reel

I can’t promise you this will be a very usable guide to exciting eating. As you know, on vacation, you can toast a pop tart for dinner and it will make you as happy as a four-course meal at Cafe Boulud. (In fact, maybe we’ll try that tonight.) But, as you can imagine, we are getting seriously into our South… Read more »

Only on Vacation: Salsa Fresca

Far and away, the most beloved pre-dinner snack in our house is chips-and-salsa. Every night, while the grown-ups are do-si-do-ing around each other assembling something that resembles a meal, the kids are generally popping into the kitchen to dunk a chip into a bowl of decanted Trader Joe’s salsa (and ask, yet again, dinner almost ready? Mom? Dinner almost ready? Dad?) It… Read more »

50 Rules of Vacation

1. You can never, ever pack too many bathing suits. 2. Make a pot of really good coffee before bed, pour immediately into glass pitcher, put said pitcher into the refrigerator, and — voila —  you have a steady supply of high-test iced coffee for the next morning. This could not be more crucial in re vacation happiness. 3. Exercise… Read more »

¡Viva Family Dinner!

I’m a *little* worried this is going to sound like a wedding toast. I have basically been following Mike Paterniti around for the past twelve years. When I worked at Esquire — as a kid, practically — Mike was the star writer who would come into town, from Portland, Maine, with his Patagonia backpack and his good vibes, and be… Read more »

Post-Vacation Guilt Eraser

In our family, few things say vacation like a box of Pop-Tarts. We like the frosted kind with the vaguely cinnamony filling, the ones that make that whispery sound when you break them in half. Within an hour of dumping our luggage, we’re at the supermarket, stocking up on all the staples that sustain a family–milk, pasta, fruit–as well as… Read more »

36-Hour Austin Whirlwind

A few years ago, when I was working full-time and the girls were 3 and 4, a dad-friend of ours invited Andy, Phoebe, and Abby up north to his ski-house for some winter wonderlanding. Just dads and kids. No moms. I should’ve been offended, but I wasn’t. Almost as soon as Andy told me about the invitation I started making… Read more »

Closing the Book

Something momentous has happened in the past month and I haven’t even let you in on it. Not because I’ve been keeping it a secret, but because I just didn’t know how to tell you. And also, I wasn’t exactly sure how to deal with it myself. In truth, the story begins a little over a year ago, on my… Read more »

How to Eat Leftovers

We’re not a camping family. Or maybe, to be fair, we’re not camping parents. We’ve done it a couple of times, for one night, and I wouldn’t say we excelled at it. I’d say we survived it. The ground was too hard. The birds were chirping too loudly. Our sleeping bags were too hot, but our ears were too cold…. Read more »


Two weeks ago, I flew down to Fort Myers, Florida to spend a couple of days with five college friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade, maybe more. It hurts my heart to type this, but it’d been nineteen years since we’d graduated. Nineteen years since we’d borrowed each other’s toothpaste on the way to the bathroom… Read more »

The Magic Onion Effect

A cherished ritual seems to have sprung up in this house, without us ever consciously putting it into effect: we go out to a local restaurant, just the four of us, every Friday night for dinner. The culinary options in our neighborhood being somewhat…limited, we usually end up at a sushi place run by a super friendly Japanese man who… Read more »

Pass it On

Like Santa Claus, my mom never shows up empty-handed. When she visits, the kids gather at the door, waiting to see how lucky they’ll be this time. Will it be the new Lemony Snicket book? That turtleneck Abby had circled — hint, hint — in the Land’s End catalog a few months ago? A pair of earrings for Phoebe’s recently… Read more »

The Family Recipe Contract

Once I was half way through Alex Witchel’s All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother’s Dementia. With Refreshments I stopped underlining passages and moments that I wanted to remember. There were just too many. Witchel’s mother, a college professor and one of the few working moms in their 1960s suburban New Jersey neighborhood, cooked more out of obligation than joy (“Del… Read more »

Thanksgiving Eve

  My mother owns Thanksgiving. Which is another way of saying that she is in charge of the turkey. We are, of course, with her in my sister’s kitchen every step of the way, mincing onions for stuffing, browning anchovy-studded breadcrumbs for the cauliflower, shredding Brussels sprouts, rolling out our pate brisee, whisking Scharffen Berger into chocolate pie filling, and… Read more »

Three Things to Do Now to Make Thanksgiving Easier

Given that I woke up yesterday at 3am worrying about how early I need to leave work on the day before Thanksgiving to make sure I get my pumpkin pie made in time for a seamless departure the next morning, now seems like the perfect time for the last installment of our series featuring Sam Sifton and his new book, Thanksgiving…. Read more »

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