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Barack Obama, our nation’s 44th president, turns 48 today. Happy Birthday, Barack!

Mr. President, I haven’t known you for that long, but I am SO glad we ‘met’. You’ve quickly became one of my favorite people ever and I look forward to the year ahead and all of our wonderful adventu-… What? I’m sorry, you what?? You don’t like CAKE? I… oh.

Not a problem... Anyone know when Abe Vigoda's birthday is?

Not a problem... Anyone know when Abe Vigoda's birthday is?

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What is food to one, is to others bitter poison.  – Lucretius

Take acorns, for example. Native Americans learned to leach caustic tannins from the nuts so that they could be used harmlessly in cooking, whereas a more impatient/whiter person might have gulped down an oak nut and suffered vomiting (among other more vivid symptoms) within hours. There is a fine line between food an poison indeed.

A Hupa woman improving upon Nuts au Naturel

A Hupa woman improving upon Nuts au Naturel

Sometimes the riskiest endeavors have the biggest pay-offs though and as much in this life is about competition and one-upsmanship, risk is key, even when it comes to what you’re willing to ingest. New York City is an especially competitive market in which to offer up an edible product. A man named Alejandro Rad provides inspiration as an example of a risk taker who found fame and fortune with nothing but his nuts and a dream. 

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Cut the crêpes

If you haven’t added yet added crêpes to your repertoire, carpe diem already. Crêpes have been around for hundreds of years. Originating in the Brittany region of France, the word crêpe derives from the Latin “crispus” meaning crisp. These days, crêpes are considered a national food in France and their popularity has spread via worldwide crêperies.
Full of nothing but possibility

Full of nothing but possibility

Mostly eaten indiscriminitely throughout the year, especially by teenagers and others in need of immediate snackage, crêpes have a special role to play on Candlemas in France. While we Americans are in the throes of the traditional Groundhog Day bacchanalia (or is that just me?), the French flip crêpes with the hope of earning fortune and happiness. Crêpe pan in the left hand, gold coin in the right, a successfully flipped Candlemas crêpe promises wealth in the coming year.

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By Zeus!

“Open your mouth and shut your eyes and see what Zeus will send you.” – Aristophanes

Another weekend of thunderstorms is rolling in over the Eastern seaboard right now and the air is suddenly the ominous khaki green color of impending lightning. As a native West Coaster, I haven’t yet gotten over the thrill of a truly frightening New England summer storm. I love lightning with the feral passion that only a person who has never been struck by lightning can possess.

"But that's another story, nevermind, anyway..."

"But that's another story, nevermind, anyway..."

When I think of lightning strikes, it conjures images of electrocution and woodland blazes and animals with their fur standing comically on end. I hadn’t really thought of it so much as a life giving force before. But scientists think it may have played a crucial role in helping life spring forth from our planet. Let’s see if I can make any sense of this.

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Bride’s Pye

In the spirit of honesty and the boozy congeniality which I always like to promote, booze or no, I’ll admit that my sister’s engagement was liberating. I finally had an excuse to buy all previously verboten bridal magazines and do all the research and contemplation of a topic that I could only consider with feigned aloofness before. I had a license to swoon, and to swoon over pastry specifically. No problem.

Sigh...

Sigh...

I was shocked (in a sedate way) to learn that the first recipe ever written expressly for wedding pastry was not for a cake, but for a pie. An extraordinary British Pye, to be exact.

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It’s been a distracting day. I started out with the best of intentions and realized halfway through that I would need some serious comfort food at lunchtime to remain upright. I am in a phase where I sort of forego everything I know about how to eat well and just focus on eating anything at all. There have been plenty of fried chicken parts consumed, let’s just say that.

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'... it's way too damn close to the damn subway for me NOT to succumb!

I am not proud of this.

I am tentatively dipping my toes into the stagnant NYC job market waters and I’m literally dizzy either from the prospects or from the panic and the caffeine. Coca-Cola really gets me high these days for some reason, and yet I crave it. Sort of like once in a while I crave a 5-piece chicken dinner with fries, two rolls and beaucoup hot sauce: conceptually comforting but in reality kind of gross, heart palpitation-inducing and no doubt killing me.

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Teach us, Steve.

Teach us, Steve.

Oh, if only it were so simple.

My darling younger sister announced her engagement to me at the end of March. Or rather, she and her fiancé stood at the foot of my bed in our shared apartment as she asked with puffy eyes if I had a moment to “talk”. I said yes and braced myself against the duvet.

“We’re moving in together.”

“Oh.” I was surprised. I was expecting a break-up or a pregnancy or a religious conversion, “Okay.”

“And we’re engaged!!!!” Well, that was more like it.

They were concerned I’d be distraught by the prospect of losing my roommate of 4 years to marriage. After effusive hugs and tears and sputtered congratulations, I was more concerned with the cake. Where did they plan on getting it?

They hadn’t really thought further than “marriage” at that point, so I took the opportunity to pounce on pastry detail. Knowing that I had never made a multi-tiered, fondanted and sugar flowered confection before, they generously agreed that I could be trusted to make The Most Important Cake of Their Lives.  And then they decided they would be married at the end of August (THIS August) and I had my first cake-related anxiety pang ever.

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