An Open Letter to Pigs (And Other Picky Eaters)


photo by David Merrett

Dear Pigs,

By the way, may I call you that? Pigs? It’s meant with the utmost respect, and after all, it is your name. Believe me, pig. I’ve never used your name in vain when referring to perverts or sleazeballs. I don’t know who started that. Uncool. Nor have I ever said, “Go clean up, you filthy pig!” to either of my kids or my husband. Even that time when they were so foul I wouldn’t let them in the house without hosing off in the backyard first. I’ve read that elephants and rhinos are much dirtier than pigs, but the dirtiest of all, obviously, is the dung beetle. Just so you know, whenever possible I do correct people by saying, “Go clean up, you filthy dung beetle!”

Okay, that’s not why I’m writing you. I need to talk to you about the state of pigs. Read more on the Huffington Post:

A Nightmare Author Reading Saved by Rachael Ray

Last night I had a nightmare that I was at the Cornelia Street Café to do a reading from my novel. I stood at the microphone on the small stage in front of a packed house. I had just been introduced to the audience, and in the wane of the applause I was horrified to discover I had forgotten to bring my book. In a panic, I rummaged through my handbag in front of everyone. No book. In fact, my bag was virtually empty. How could I leave my house with an empty handbag? Terror mounted as the patrons settled into an attentive quiet. All eyes were on me. Sweat began to spew from my every pore. The reading was to last twenty minutes; what was I to do? I took one last futile look into my handbag and found one single sheet of paper. continue reading


From the real reading:

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My Mourning After Piece in The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post has published a blog post of mine!! A fan favorite and funny little ditty of a tale: Writer Separation Anxiety. Readers of The Memory Box will enjoy this piece I wrote the day after I finished writing the book. Please feel free to share it, laugh out loud, like it on HuffPo or leave a comment.

Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski

I’m not ashamed to admit I’m afflicted with writer separation anxiety. Hopefully others, by reading this, will come forward. There’s strength in numbers. It may not plague the majority of writers, but that doesn’t make us freaks. Why do you think there are so many serial authors?

I know I should’ve been ecstatic, but when I finished writing my first novel — I was bereft. I couldn’t stop thinking about Caroline, Andy, Lilly, all my characters. We’d been together for so long. It’s not a secret that I spent more time with them than my real family. I never prepared myself for life without them. continue reading


How I Forgave Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver's Sticky Chicken Thighs

Jamie Oliver’s Sticky Chicken Thighs

If you have the time and the patience, and room in your heart to forgive chef Jamie Oliver for referring to his Crispy and Sticky Chicken Thighs with Squashed New Potatoes and Tomatoes as a “simple pan-baked chicken dish” then I encourage you to try this recipe.

But for God’s sake, know up front that it is not “simple.” Okay perhaps, technically, it is “simple” but “simple” implies “quick.” Doesn’t it? To me it does. And quick it is not. The time alone that it took to de-bone and trim the chicken thighs of the cheesy fat clusters could have driven me to chase Mr. Oliver through his English potato garden with a pair of kitchen scissors. To say nothing of the time-consuming tedious task of individually stabbing, then peeling the skins off all those little cherry tomatoes. Peeling skins!

I typically have a rule in the kitchen never to cook anything that takes longer to prepare than it does to eat.

But alas, if I had stuck to that rule I would not have experienced this glorious masterpiece. Could I have skipped the tomato disrobing? Yes. But then I wouldn’t have tasted how “lovely and sweet” the tomatoes become when cooked stripped to their flesh, and the claim from Mr. Oliver that “their intense flavor will infuse the potatoes.” And after all, “Sometimes in cooking, you know what, it’s not all bish-bash-bosh, you need to put a bit of love in it, a bit of care, and it will taste fantastic.”

I got seduced into preparing this dish after seeing an episode of Jamie at Home. He looked tenderly at his ingredients, calling his potatoes “darlings” and “underground jewels.” Everything was “lovely,” from straining veggies to surgically removing the bones from chicken thighs. He even urged viewers to plant potatoes in their own backyard, claiming they’re super easy to grow and there’s nothing quite like using “freshly dug” potatoes. I’m sure he’s probably right about that. Though I have some pretty solid experience using potatoes which are weeks old−in fact, they’re one of the only vegetables that will last and last, even after they’ve practically grown a clone of themselves right there from their own skin. But maybe I should keep that to myself.

There was something charming about Jamie Oliver serving messy portions of his meals into chipped plates and pottery. And the sight of his charming country kitchen, a busy affair with brick walls and jelly jars cluttering counter tops and stacks of dishes and terra cotta, shelves practically leaning to one side. No granite or marble in sight. Not a stand mixer or cappuccino maker to be found. This cozy setting shouted “You can do this too! You American Food Network viewer, sitting on your overstuffed couch in the suburbs!”

Yes, he was talking to me. Thank God I was listening.

He told me to take the fresh oregano and “bash it up a little. Smash the oregano for butt-kicking flavored oil. You can’t chop it up and be nice about it.” It felt so comfortable, the spills and the clutter, the ruffled shirt. It was like I was cooking in the kitchen with my younger brother, if my younger brother could cook. (Of course you can cook, dear! That was just a little joke!) Did I mention the adorable English accent? Who can resist someone who pronounces oregano with the emphasis on the third syllable? Certainly not me.

I can’t explain to you why or how it happens that a mere six ingredients can produce an aroma transcendent. It leaks from your oven door when you least expect it. When you’re not even in the kitchen! You’re upstairs folding the laundry and bam! It finds you. And you go a little weak in the knees. Oh my gosh, you think to yourself, is that coming from my kitchen, from my oven?

Yes it is.

Thank you, Jamie Oliver. I forgive you.