If Laura and Hillary were pals.

I’ve been thinking about the war among women and our deepening factions. We who question Jill Abramson’s firing. We who think women belong at home. We #YesAllWomen sign carriers. We who snap photos of other mothers’ bad parenting and send them to police hotlines. We who are pro life, and we pro choice. Anne Lamott and Ann Coutler fans alike.

Remember, if you’re old enough, how it felt to see the pictures of Reagan and Gorbachev together? Ok, so maybe you’re not as old as I am (and for you youngsters, here’s a link that will help). But if you are, then you’ll remember, I know you will.  Even if you, like me, weren’t exactly in sync with the Reagan regime, you’ll remember that little flutter of hope that sprang from seeing a picture of two old men, representing bitter enemies, now shaking hands and smiling. Human. If they could talk and laugh without spitting on each other, then maybe all was not lost.

And so I was thinking: what if Laura and Hillary were pals? Not BFF “let’s go for Mojitos” pals, just two women, from opposite sides of a chasm, sharing the public spotlight and making an effort to show genuine respect and admiration for one another despite, or maybe because of, their significant differences.

What if they, as women, recognized that they shared more challenges than not, even living in diametrically opposed camps, decorated with contrasting colors. What if they conceded, together and out in the open, that the dilemmas women face as women today are vast and complex and without easy answers. What if they just agreed on the situation, shook hands on the shared principle that women supporting women matters. Maybe they’d even record their own #likeagirl video, because Lord knows the two of them know how to run and kick and fight like Olympic champions.

If two women so unlike could claim just one piece of common ground and stand on it, publicly, together, then maybe that would give the rest of us hope that under all the nasty bickering and name calling we women are all still human, all doing the best we can with what we’ve got.

What if Laura and Hillary were pals?

On second thought, what if the rest of us just lay down our proverbial weapons, tamed our words and showed those two former First Ladies how to broker lasting peace on the ponytail-pulling battlefield. That power belongs to us alone. Using it would be the truest declaration of our collective strength.

Happy week.


Food | Week of July 7, 2014

summer eggplant

In a declaration of my own independence, at least in my house, I’ll be making eggplant caponata this week, a dish no one in my family will touch. And since they won’t touch it, no matter how I make it, I’ll be using the very strange but very delicious recipe from Todd English’s 1997 The Olives Table cookbook.  I’d forgotten about The Olives Table and its bad boy author – good cookbook, naughty chef. For this week’s line-up I would share some other recipes from that re-discovered treasure (chorizo mashed potatoes with scallion cream, tomato salad with feta cheese and cumin, and corn cakes with whipped goat cheese would all have made the list), but sadly the caponata seems to be the only recipe from that book that is available online. So I turned to the tables at the farmers market for ideas, and here’s what looked inspiring:

Eggplant Caponata | Grilled Bread | Green Salad

Since this caponata is much heavier than other recipes (because of the sausage), it’s easily a main dish on its own. And since it’s full of flavor, it really needs nothing special other than bread (I like to grill it, or at least toast lightly) and a green salad.

Shrimp and Sausage Stew

This recipe is an experiment for the week, inspired by three things at the market this week: shrimp, andouille,  and celery. And it lets me use the last remaining bag of lima beans from the freezer before this year’s harvest starts rolling in.

Green BeansTomato Variety July 2014Okra

Green Beans | Okra | Roasted New Potato Salad

Fresh green beans are good just about any way you prepare them, as long as they’re not overcooked. Here’s a recipe from Real Simple for green beans with an easy mustard dressing. Although many people don’t like the slime of boiled okra (that would be people who are missing out on good okra, in my opinion), here’s a recipe for roasting that eliminates that particular quality. For the potatoes, I cut them into bite-sized pieces, toss in olive oil and some seasoning (salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence)  and roast at 370 degrees for about 25-30 minutes – until they’re crisp on the edges and tender inside. I’ll let them cool, slightly, then toss with thinly sliced fresh onion rounds and dressing (usually olive oil, vinegar, brown mustard and a pinch of sugar). Pickles or celery pieces (or both) are also good.

Tomato Pie | Grilled Corn on the Cob

It isn’t summer until I’ve had a tomato sandwich and made a tomato pie. The tomato sandwiches have been lunch every day for a week, so now it’s time for a pie. Here’s a recipe for the classic Southern version (from Southern Living, of course). Serve with some fresh corn (here’s a link to Bobby Flay’s instruction for grilling) and maybe something green (or not). NOTE: homemade crust is only better than store-bought if you know how to make pie crust. Seriously. And while it’s really not hard to learn to make a proper crust, it does take practice and suffering through a few unpleasant, tough-tasting results. There are plenty of crusts available at the store, and they work just fine for tomato pie. It’s summer; don’t stress over this.



  1. I suppose if Bill and George (at least H.W.) can fake it, then these ladies can too. And it would probably do the world some good. Wait … you’re not asking me to like somebody who likes Ann Coulter, are you? I don’t see how I can possibly do that. 😉


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