Stop! Sandwich Time! II

It’s sandwich time again.  This is another of my favorites, and it’s extremely simple.  I call it the ultimate tuna melt.

The Ultimate Tuna Melt

(2 sandwiches)

Ingredients

4 slices of bread (I prefer rye for this one)
Jarlsberg cheese
1 can light tuna
1 tbsp light mayo
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter or butter substitute (I use promise)

Directions

1. Mix in a small bowl: tuna, mayo, mustard, celery, onion, and peppers.
2. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
3. Place the bread butter side down on a skillet over medium low heat.
4. Spoon the tuna mixture on top and top with cheese.
5. After the bread is golden brown on the bottom, place the second slice on top and flip, again butter side down.
6. Remove when the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is gooey.

Eat.

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An Interesting Breakfast for Dinner with Andy Kaufman

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“Andy’s legacy is certainly one of the true artist who had the ultimate freedom to do whatever he wanted in art. He taught us to be true to your vision, no matter what. Nobody was freer than Andy Kaufman.” Bob Zmuda, Andy’s writer.

Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer at age 25, on May 16, 1984.

Most likely.  Actually, rumors that he faked his death rival those that Elvis is still alive somewhere.  Just last year, his writer and best buddy Bob Zmdua and former girlfriend Lynne Margulies published “Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally,” a book making this claim.  Bob explained, “When he died, 85 percent of the population believed he had faked his death.”

He was nowhere near as famous as Elvis, more of a cult comic than a popular legend.  So why does the mythology persist?  In part, he became sick and died very abruptly, a non-smoker with a very rare and deadly form of lung cancer.  His death was improbable, but most deaths at 35 are improbable.  Really, it’s the fact that he made a career out of lying, and lying really well.  He may be the greatest deadpan the world has ever or will ever see.

One of his final projects before his death was a straight-faced and utterly bizarre parody of “My Dinner with Andre,” entitled “My Breakfast with Blassie.”  You can watch it right now on youtube.  More on that later.  He faked an amateur wrestling career, in which he only wrestled women (and accordingly faked a showdown with wrestler Jerry “the King” Lawler).  This is well chronicled in his other faux documentary, “I’m From Hollywood,” which you can also watch right now.  And he often assumed an alter ego in his stand up shows.  Okay, go ahead and watch that too (this one is short).

His comedy was innovative, and not always particularly funny (funny wasn’t really the point).  Some of his well known performances include lip synching to the Mighty Mouse theme song, introducing Robin Williams as his grandmother to an audience at a show at Carnegie Hall, and impersonating Elvis as a foreigner from a fictional country.  On one occasion, he began to cry uncontrollably as an audience jeered at him, then proceeded to pull out a toy cap gun, go backstage, fire into the microphone and fall down with a loud thump.

So he built his persona on very straight-faced and sometimes questionably funny acts and stunts.  Faking his own death would probably be something he would do, if only he thought of it before he became sick (and who knows, maybe he did.  Believers are still waiting for a long overdue punchline to that one).  In fact, he did consider it, according to Bob Zmuda (of course, according to Zmuda, he also DID fake his own death): “Andy told Lynne he was gonna fake his death, and she asked, “How long are you gonna be gone for? A year? Two?” Andy said to Lynne, “If I was a little boy about it, it would be a year or two. If I was a man, it would be 30 years.”

Bob Zmuda recalls that he and Andy first met in 1974 in New York City at Budd Friedman’s Improv. They formed a partnership that lasted the length of Andy’s career. Early in Kaufman’s career, he opened for musicians, such as Barry Manilow and the Temptations.  As he became more successful, he accepted a role on the tv comedy Taxi, basically playing his “foreign man” standup character.

Taxi wasn’t his first television experience.  During college, Andy Kaufman wrote, produced, directed, and starred in his own program on a campus TV station. Even in college, however, Kaufman was no novice to performance art.  Andy began performing at age 8 at children’s birthday parties, in Long Island, where he spent his childhood.  He was born in New York City on January 17, 1949.

Andy Kaufman will be remembered for a long time by fans of comedy and performance art, for his bizarre performances, his fantastic lies, and possibly for faking his own death.  He probably won’t be remembered for his parody film, My Breakfast with Blassie. But it really is funny, in the way that Andy Kaufman’s work is funny anyhow, and worth devoting an interesting dinner to.  So here is a recipe for Andy’s order:

“I’ll have two eggs, scrambled, and a waffle with a lot of butter on the side.”

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An Interesting Dinner with Shirley Chisholm

Shirley_Chisholm

Shirley Anita St. Hill was born on November 20, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, to working-class immigrants from Guyana and Barbados. She spend much of her childhood in Barbados with her sisters and grandmother, and acquired a slight British accent that lasted the rest of her life. She attended school in Barbados as a girl and moved back to Brooklyn to excel in her studies.  She graduated from Brooklyn’s Girls’ High in 1942, and from Brooklyn College in 1946 with honors.  In 1949, she married her first husband, Conrad Q. Chisholm.  Three years later, Shirley Chisholm earned an M.A. in early childhood education from Columbia University. She was an educational consultant for New York City’s Division of Day Care from 1959 to 1964, when she was elected to the New York state legislature, the second African–American woman to serve in Albany.

Barbara Winslow wrote in her biography of Chisholm: “Albany at that time was not particularly welcoming to African Americans, and in the mid 1960s, respectable women did not go out to restaurants or bars on their own…Once the day’s legislative session ended, the male legislators would go off to bars, movies, restaurants and clubs. Not a single one of Chisholm’s colleagues ever invited her to their social gatherings.”

In 1968, Chisholm was the first African-American women to run for Congress. Chisholm faced Republican–Liberal James Farmer, one of the principal figures of the civil rights movement, a cofounder of the Congress for Racial Equality, and an organizer of the Freedom Riders in the early 1960s. Although they had similar position on most of the issues, Farmer maintained that “women have been in the driver’s seat” in black communities for too long and that the district needed “a man’s voice in Washington,” not that of a “little schoolteacher.” Chisholm won the general election by 67 percent.

Not bad for a little schoolteacher.

On March 26, 1969, she gave her first floor speech, and spoke vehemently against the war in Vietnam. From 1971 to 1977 she served on the Committee on Education and Labor during which time she became a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus.  In 1977, she became the first black woman to serve on the Rules Committee, and from 1977 to 1981, Chisholm served as Secretary of the Democratic Caucus.

In 1972, she became the first black woman to run for the Democratic nomination for president. At the Democratic National Convention she received 152 delegate votes, or 10 percent of the total, a respectable showing given her modest funding.  She did not have the full backing of the CBC due to opposition from male members, and noted: “Black male politicians are no different from white male politicians. This ‘woman thing’ is so deep. I’ve found it out in this campaign if I never knew it before.”

Shirley Chisholm said of her bid for the presidency, “I ran because somebody had to do it first. … I ran because most people think the country is not ready for a Black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate.”

In 1977 she divorced her first husband and married Arthur Hardwick, Jr., a New York state legislator.  Chisholm left Congress in 1982 and accepted a teaching position at the women’s college Mount Holyoke. “Shirley Chisholm would like to have a little life of her own,” she told the Christian Science Monitor.  Still, after leaving Congress, she cofounded the National Political Congress of Black Women, campaigned for Jesse Jackson’s presidential bids in 1984 and 1988. She declined president Bill Clinton’s nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica due to health issues, and eventually retired to Florida in 1991, where she died on January 1, 2005.

Barbara Winslow wrote of Chisholm’s childhood in Barbados: “Grandmother’s large house sat on a plot that provided the family’s food: Sweet potatoes, yams, corn, tomatoes and root vegetables.  The waters around the island provided abundant seafood, including the Barbadian staple flying fish.”

The recipe I’ve chosen is for that staple that Shirley Chisholm likely ate many times as a young girl, with her impressive future lying ahead of her.  Flying fish with cou-cou is “the national dish of Barbados.”

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An Interesting Dinner With Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

She’s the queen of crime.  The best selling author of all time.  As it so happens, a great consumer of cream (yes, just plain clotted cream out of the jar).  And it’s her 125th anniversary this year.

Of course I am referring to the late, the great, the impossible to emulate Agatha Christie.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on September 15, 1890 in Devon, England into a middle class family. She was home schooled largely by her American father, and taught herself to read by the age of five.  Like the Bronte sisters, Agatha invented imaginary friends, played with her animals, attended dance classes and began writing poems when she was still a child.  Her father died when she was eleven, and she grew very close to her mother. She was an accomplished piano player but was too shy to play in public. By the age of 18 she began to write short stories that were later published.

In 1912, Agatha met Archie Christie. They married on Christmas Eve 1914 after Archie returned from war in France, while Agatha worked with the Voluntary Aid Detachment in a Red Cross Hospital. Archie returned to France two days later, and they didn’t see each other often until Archie was posted to the War Office in London in 1918.

In 1919, Agatha gave birth to her daughter, Rosalind, and John Lane of The Bodley Head accepted The Mysterious Affair at Styles for publication and contracted five additional books. Following the war Agatha continued to write, creating Tommy and Tuppence and Miss Marple. In 1922, she and Archie travelled across the then British Empire, promoting The Empire Exhibition of 1924. She became the first British woman to surf standing up in Cape Town.  She changed publishers to William Collins and Sons (HarperCollins).

After returning to England, Archie and Agatha began to grow apart.  Agatha’s mother died, and Archie fell in love with another woman. One night, Agatha disappeared.  She left her daughter behind and told no one where she was going; her car was found abandoned the next morning several miles away. After a high profile search, hotel staff at the Harrogate Spa Hotel recognized her and notified the police.  Agatha was suffering from amnesia and had no idea who she was.

She and Archie never reunited.  Agatha lived with Rosalind and her close friend and secretary Carlo following a course of psychiatric treatment in Harley Street.  She was not officially divorced until 1928, when she and Rosalind left England for the Canary Islands where she continued to write.

In 1929 she met her second husband, the archaeologist-in-training Max Mallowan.  They married on September 11, 1930 on the Isle of Skye.  They split their time between England and on digs.  Agatha averaged about two to three books a year.  During WW II,  Max worked in Cairo while Agatha remained in England, writing volunteering at the Dispensary at University College Hospital in London. In 1943, Rosalind gave birth to Agatha’s grandson Mathew, who she spent much time visiting.  She wrote as productively as ever, including her best selling novel, And Then There Were None.

By the end of the war, Agatha became less prolific. She spent much of the 1940s and 50s working with theatrical productions, and died on January 12, 1976, after a very long and successful career, and many happy years.

Here are some more interesting things about Mrs. Christie:

* She didn’t drink or smoke.
* She is the only female dramatist ever to have had three plays running simultaneously in London’s West End.
* Her first book waited five years before publication having been rejected by six publishers.
* Hercule Poirot was given a full-page obituary in The New York Times.

She ate cream out of the jar.  When you’re Agatha Christie and you don’t drink or smoke, you choose your vices wisely.

A recipe for Devonshire cream (and some scones to go with them:

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An Interesting Dinner with Emmy Noether

Noether
Amalie Emmy Noether was a revolutionary in the field of mathematics.  She is known for her work in abstract algebra, ring theory, and Noether’s theorem.  She was born today, March 23, in 1882 in Erlangen, Germany, daughter of Max Noether (1844–1921), a prominent mathematics professor.
As a girl, she attended a school for girls where she studied foreign languages, sewing, and cooking.  We’ll get to that later.
In 1904 she enrolled in University to study mathematics, the only woman among 46 male students. She was the second woman ever to earn a doctorate at the University of Erlangen, with her thesis on invariant theory. However, her career was hindered by her pro-Soviet politics, anti-semitism, and opposition to women taking professorships, and Noether never drew a regular University salary.  She was known as a radical, a member of the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany, who was unapologetically political and “hated war and chauvinism in all its forms and with her whole being.”
Mathematicians Felix Klein and David Hilbert established a “centre of excellence” for mathematics in Göttingen, where Emmy was the first woman to receive a teaching license, but she received no salary. In 1932, Emmy Noether and Emil Artin were awarded the prestigious Ackermann-Teubner Memorial Prize for arithmetic and algebra.  Just one year later, the Nazis revoked her teaching license.  She was invited to teach in the United States as a visiting professor for a year, at the women’s college Bryn Mawr.  She also lectured at Princeton. In 1935, Emmy Noether died unexpectedly during surgery at Bryn Mawr Hospital.
The number theorist Olga Taussky-Todd said of Noether, “not everybody liked [Noether], and not everybody trusted that her achievements were what they were later accepted to be. She irritated people by bragging about them.”  However, she also had her fans. Albert Einstein was noted to remark of Noether, “In the judgement of the most competent living mathematicians, Fräulein Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”
Emmy enjoyed good debate and good food.  Taussky-Todd recalled that during a dinner, Emmy talked constantly and “…gesticulated violently when eating. This kept her left hand busy too, for she spilled her food constantly and wiped it off from her dress, completely unperturbed.”
What did Emmy eat?  Well, absent a menu, we can narrow it down.  She studied cooking, as all young girls did at school, in Bavaria in the late 19th century.  She likely made and ate traditional Bavarian dishes.  I’ve chosen one that won’t be too messy during a lively dinner debate- though I suggest using a napkin nonetheless. As Noether could tell you though, a dress will do fine.

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An Interesting Dinner With Nora Ephron

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Nora Ephron and I have a few things in common.  We both graduated from Wellesley College.  We both love New York, which she called, ““the most magical, fraught-with-possibility place.” We are both enamored with food and epicurious.com. We’re ardent fans of each others work. (Half true.  I am an ardent fan of her work). I once dreamed of following in her screenplay writing and film directing footsteps, but alas, it was not to be.  Once thing I can do, though, is cook her favorite recipe.

Nora Ephron was born to two screenwriters on May 19, 1941 in New York City, and grew up in Beverly Hills in a house “full of apples and peaches and milk.”  She graduated from Wellesley in 1962, and worked as an intern in the White House under John F. Kennedy, then began her career as a magazine journalist who wrote about culture and celebrities. She married Carl Bernstein  (her second husband after Dan Greenburg) in 1976 (of Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal.  When she discovered he was cheating on her while she was seven months pregnant, she wrote a novel about it (“Heartburn”) and soon thereafter earned her first Oscar nomination for Silkwood.  She said of the star, “I highly recommend Meryl Streep play you. If your husband is cheating on you with a carhop, get Meryl to play you. You will feel much better. If you get rear-ended in a parking lot, have Meryl Streep play you. If the dingo eats your baby, call Meryl.”

In return, Ms. Streep had this to say about Ms. Ephron, “She always wears black and she’s so cool and she always has the perfect bon mot to toss off just effortlessly. I mean, who can be like that? Anyway, I was intimidated.” (Streep also starred in the film version of Heartburn).  Ephron was nominated for her second Oscar, for “When Harry Met Sally” (arguably her best film), in 1990. In the early nineties, Ephron began directing as well as writing.  She turned out such classics as “Sleepless in Seattle” (third Oscar nod) and “Julie and Julia.”

She married her third husband, the one that stuck, Nick Pileggi (author of “Wiseguys,” the book “Goodfellas” is based on. In 2006, Ephron published the collection “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” a No. 1 best-seller.  Nora Ephron died from pneumonia, caused by acute myeloid leukemia, on June 26, 2012, at the age of 71.

Nora Ephron left behind a legacy of legendary romantic comedies, inspiration to young women aspiring to success in her field, and an example of what a brilliant mind can do, even in the most dominated professions.  And she left behind delicious traces of what went on in her kitchen.

Her recipe for Chilli:

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An Interesting Dinner with Steve Wozniak

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I asked my husband to give me a challenge- name an interesting person, and I would find their favorite dinner.  Steve Wozniak was only too easy.

In 2012, Business Insider did a feature on Steve Wozniak’s favorite restaurants, based on his Foursquare check-ins.  At the top of the list was Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  Mr. Wozniak was quoted as saying, “When in the city, we love this place.  I have a few Ruth’s Chris butter mints in my pocket already, as usual!”

But first, a bit about Woz.

Steve Wozniak is best known for cofounding Apple, Inc. with his partner, Steve Jobs.  Steve Wozniak was born in San Jose, California, on August 11, 1950.  As a child, he was fascinated by electronics.  He met Steve Jobs while studying at UC Berkeley, and the two formed Apple Computer on April 1, 1976.  The early days of Apple famously took place in  a garage, where the Steves worked on creating the first use-friendly personal computer.  Wozniak was responsible for inventing products, and Jobs for marketing.  Wozniak built the Apple I while working out of this garage, and later designed Apple II.

Jobs and Wozniak became billionaires when the company went public in 1980, with Wozniak receiving four million stocks, worth 116 million dollars.  In 1981, Wozniak was injured in a private plane crash in Santa Cruz, and he suffered memory loss so severe that he did not remember the crash or his hospital stay. He eventually recovered from the amnesia.  Wozniak left Apple in 1987.

Post-Apple, Woz founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that provides legal aid for computer hackers facing criminal prosecution, with Mitchell Kapor in 1990.  He has also founded CL 9, the company known for creating the first programmable universal remote control, and Wheels of Zeus (WoZ), with the mission of developing wireless GPS technology.  In 2006 he published his autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It. Two years later, he joined Fusion-io, a Salt Lake City start-up.

What else is interesting about Woz?  He has been awarded a total of 11 Honorary Doctor of Engineering degrees. He pulled a hamstring and broke his foot while competing in Dancing with the Stars. He’s been married four times, he is a member of a Segway polo team, and in the 1990s, he submitted so many high scores in Tetris to Nintendo Power magazine that they eventually refused to print them.

And, as we’ve learned, he’s a big fan of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is kind enough to share some of their recipes on their website.  After looking them over, I chose the recipe for the crab cakes- one of my own favorites.

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