Stop! Sandwich Time: the Dana

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I happen to believe that the sandwich is the most perfect food in existence.  From panini to gyros to pb+h (I don’t much care for j) to s’mores (this is technically a sandwich), I am smitten.  I would go so far as to call myself a sandwich enthusiast.  Therefore, from time to time I will feature a sandwich.

Tory Avey, a food historian on PBS.com explains, “the earliest recognizable form of a sandwich may be the Korech or “Hillel sandwich” that is eaten during Jewish Passover. Hillel the Elder, a Jewish leader and rabbi who lived in Jerusalem during the time of King Herod (circa 110 BC), first suggested eating bitter herbs inside unleavened matzo bread. The herbs symbolized the bitterness of slavery, and the bread resembled the flatbreads made in haste by the ancient Israelites as they fled Egypt. Hillel’s simple recommendation of sandwiching the two foods together may indicate that this was already a popular way of serving food in the Middle East.” So it’s uncertain where they first originated, but this may be where today’s sandwich originates from.

My favorite sandwich has the distinction of being created by my husband and named after me.  The Dana.  It is so named because it is the most delicious thing in the world, and I am not shy about singing its praises.

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An Interesting Dinner With Ms. Bronte

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There is a legend (I can’t find a verifiable source) that Emily Brontë had a thing for pie.  Meat pie.  Supposedly, Ms. Brontë  wrote to her sister from Belgium that she would rather be in Haworth House making this pie than be abroad.  I’m not sure what that says about the pie- that she loves it so much she would forgo her trip just to make the pie, or that she hates traveling so much she would rather be home making gross meat pies.  However, the legend holds she favored the pie, so here is the recipe.  But first a bit about Ms. Brontë.

Emily Brontë was born on July 30, 1818 in Yorkshire, the fifth of six children, including fellow writers Charlotte and Anne. Her mother died when she was young, and her aunt moved in to the Brontë household to help raise the children.  Emily Brontë’s childhood play with her siblings significantly influenced her writing. In1824, the Brontë sisters (except for Anne) went away to Cowan Bridge School, where Emily was a favorite; she was called “quite the pet nursling of the school.” Unfortunately, conditions at the school were poor, and Maria and Elizabeth Brontë  both caught consumption and died in 1825.

Emily and Charlotte were brought home from school and the Brontë children began to write plays set in the imaginary lands of Angria and Gondal.  In 1831, Charlotte left for Roe Head School, and Emily and Anne continued the Gondal play. Emily Bronte’s diary entry on November 24, 1834 contains the earliest piece surviving piece of the Brontë’s writing. It began, “Taby said just now Come Anne pilloputate (i.e. pill a potato) Aunt has come into the kitchen just now and said where are you feet Anne Anne answered On the floor Aunt papa opened the parlour door and gave Branwell a letter saying here Branwell read this and show it to your Aunt and Charlotte–The Gondals are discovering the interior of Gaaldine Sally Mosley is washing in the back kitchen.” The Gondal stories were adventures of royals and soldiers, tragic love and political intrigue, murder and war. The main character was the passionate queen Augusta G. Almeda. Critic Teddi Lynn Chichester suggested that “through Augusta, Brontë could explore, in private, her need to create a powerful, even indestructible” woman, due to the loss of significant women in her life.

In 1835, Emily accompanied Charlotte, now a teacher, to Roe Head, but Charlotte sent her home, believing Emily would die without “sources purely imaginary.”  Emily left home only two other times, to teach at Law Hill and to study in Brussels. Back home, Emily continued to write in her spare time. Her poems centered around the themes of nature and death. Emily wondered in her diary on June 26, 1837 where she and her siblings would be in four years and hoped they would be in “this drawing room comfortable” or “gone somewhere together comfortable.” Brontë continued to write poetry in 1838, along with a translation of Virgil’s Aeneid. During this year, she accepted a teaching position at Law Hill, a girls’ school, where she found spare time to write a little, but she only lasted a year.

On her July 30, 1841 birthday, Ms. Brontë wrote that she hoped in four years she and her sisters would have set up a school of their own. In pursuit of this goal, Emily and Charlotte studied at a boarding school in Brussels in 1842. Brontë completed no poems in Brussels, and both sisters left for Haworth again when their aunt died.  Emily Brontë never left home again. In 1844, the Brontë sisters sent their poetry to publishers, using the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell and agreed to publish Poems at their own expense with the publishing company of Aylott and Jones in 1846.  In December, 1847 Emily’s most famous work, Wuthering Heights, was published. Sadly, Ms. Brontë caught consumption in October 1848.  She refused all medical help, and died on December 19, 1848, at age thirty.

Had she lived another year, perhaps her next work would have been a cookbook.  Certainly it would include the following meat pie recipe, reputed to be her favorite:

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An Interesting Dinner with Marilyn Monroe

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Marilyn Monroe isn’t best known for her cooking, but it turns out she was probably fairly accomplished.  This recipe for stuffing in her handwriting was published in “Fragments” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $30), a collection of writings, assorted letters, poems and back-of-the-envelope scribblings that span the time from Monroe’s first marriage in 1943 to her death in 1962.

Marilyn Monroe had a difficult life.  Norma Jeane Mortensen was born on June 1, 1926 in Los Angeles.  She never knew her father, and her mother was deemed unable to care for her and placed in a mental institution. Ms. Monroe spent much of childhood in foster care and in an orphanage, where she was on several occasions sexually assaulted. She dropped out of high school at 15 and married her first husband at 16. She was discovered by a photographer while working in a factory in Burbank, CA. She changed her name, dyed her hair, built a career as a model, and divorced her husband in 1946—the year she signed her first movie contract.

Marilyn Monroe first earned attention and acclaim in small roles in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve.  In 1953, Ms. Monroe starred in Niagara, as a young married woman out to kill her husband with help from her lover, and in the hit musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), followed by a series of comedies.

Ms. Monroe struggled with mental health issues.  Throughout her career, she was signed and released from several contracts with film studios due to her chronic tardiness and absenteeism.  In an attempt to shake off her typecast, she moved to New York City to study acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio. However, it was in the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, that she won her Golden Globe aware for Best Actress in a Comedy.  Her famously tragic love life was very public, to her dismay.  While dated her second husband, Joe DiMaggio, she attempted to keep a low profile, spending evenings at home or in a back corner of DiMaggio’s restaurant.  The press swarmed their wedding, however, which didn’t last very long.  He took objection to her sex-symbol status, and they were divorced within 9 months.  They remained close, however.  After her marriage to her third husband, Arthur Miller, who wrote that she disappointed and embarrassed him, she struggled more and more with insomnia and depression and was admitted to inpatient psychiatric care.  Her ex-husband Mr. DiMaggio secured her release, and they remained good friends until her death.  She died of a drug overdose, an apparent suicide, on August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old.  Mr. DiMaggio arranged her funeral, and for 20 years until his own death, had flowers sent to her grave twice a week.

Ms. Monroe may have married a baseball legend and a literary legend, and had an affair with a political legend, but that’s beside the point.  She made her mark on the world because of her own accomplishments.  During her career, Marilyn Monroe’s films grossed more than $200 million.  She was one of the first women to own her own production company.  She was a brilliantly funny, shrewd self-marketer.  And apparently, she could make a mean turkey stuffing.

The recipe is written in shorthand, but here is my attempt to translate it:

note: the amounts are not always specified, so this recipe may take some adjusting.

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An Interesting Dinner with Ruth Bader Ginsburg

ginsburg_vert-4e99c4db46e472e5da5edc041caea913d5ca2a8d-s400-c85“Neither federal nor state government acts compatibly with equal protection when a law or official policy denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature – equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society based on their individual talents and capacities.” -Justice Ginsburg, United States v. Virginia.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s birthday was this past Sunday, March 15th.  She was born in Brooklyn in 1933.  She graduated first in her class at Cornell in 1954, and shortly after having her first child, she enrolled in Harvard Law School.  She was one of only eight women in a class of 500, and she became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.  She later transferred to Columbia, where she again graduated first in her class in 1959.

Justice Ginsburg taught at Rutgers University Law School from 1963-1972 and at Columbia from 1972-1980, where she became the school’s first female, tenured professor. She also served as director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU, arguing six cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980, and to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. In 1999, she won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights.  Among her most famous opinions are the majority in United States v. Virginia, which held that Virginia acted unconstitutionally in refusing to admit women to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI); M.L.B. V. S.L.J., holding that a state may not deny a parent, because of her poverty, appellate review of the sufficiency of the evidence of a parental termination decree; Ring v. Arizona, holding that the Sixth Amendment prohibits a sentencing judge, without a jury, to find an aggravating circumstance necessary for imposition of the death penalty.  She authored notable dissents in cases involving affirmative action, racial gerrymandering, and in Bush v. Gore, which effectively decided the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush.

Justice Ginsburg was never much for cooking.  Her husband, Martin, an avid amateur chef, said of their relationship’s success, “My wife doesn’t give me any advice about cooking and I don’t give her any advice about the law.”  They were married for 56 years until his death in 2010.  Shortly after he died, the spouses of the Court justices compiled his recipes into a cookbook, Chef Supreme: Martin Ginsburg.  Among the recipes Justice and Marty Ginsburg dined on is a delicious salmon with a grapefruit and coriander sauce.

May it please the Court.

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An Interesting Dinner with Tina Fey

FNK_30-Rock-Dinner-FN-Kitchens-229_s4x3.jpg.rend.snigalleryslideTina Fey is awesome.

She was the first female head writer at SNL, she is the author of the book Bossypants, the screenwriter of Mean Girls, and the creator of shows like the brilliant 30 Rock, considerably less brilliant The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, and an upcoming comedy “which takes place at a women’s college that has just opened its doors to men for the first time.”  On top of that, she is most wanted as the new host of the Daily Show.

Ms. Fey started performing shows with the legendary Chicago improv comedy group The Second City in 1997 and later joined NBC sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live as a writer, eventually becoming head writer and performing on the show until she left in 2006.  To date, Ms. Fey has received two Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards and eight Emmy Awards.  She has two daughter, Alice and Athena, and lives in New York City.

Tina Fey has singled out the kalamata chicken at Chicago’s Athenian Room as her favorite dish in interviews.  While I have no access to the the Athenian Room’s recipe, I could certainly track down a recipe for kalamata chicken and adjust it with what I know of the the Athenian Room dish.  So here, with no further ado, Ms. Tina Fey’s favorite food:

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An Interesting Dinner with Linda Hower Bates

lindahowerbates                                             Linda Hower Bates and her daughters.

Linda Hower Bates is a Wellesley College graduate who enjoys cooking, playing outside and chocolate.  Her daughters also enjoy cooking and playing outside- but they don’t like chocolate!

Luckily, there are many interesting treats with no chocolate in them… and here’s one.

Linda and her family learned this fun snack recipe from their favorite farmer.  Every week they visit the farmers market and pick out favorite foods and try new ones.  They’ve even started our own garden now!

Apple Carrot Slaw

Ingredients

1 medium apple
1 medium carrot
1/2 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
tbsp honey

1. Chop the apple and carrots into matchsticks.
2. Toss with honey and seeds.
3. Let sit at least an hour.
4. Enjoy!

Three cheers for healthy and yummy snacks!

An Interesting Dinner with Pi

piToday is Pi Day (3.14.15).  Pi is not a person.  But it is very interesting.

The people who initiated the hunt for pi were the Babylonians and Egyptians, nearly 4000 years ago. They found that pi was slightly greater than 3, and came up with the value 3 1/8 or 3.125.  At around 1650 BC, a scribe named Ahmes implied in the Rhind Papyrus that pi = 4(8/9)2 = 3.16049, which is also fairly accurate. The next approximation of pi is found in the Old Testament. 1 Kings 7:23, says: “Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” This implies that pi = 3.

The first man to really make an impact in the calculation of pi was the Greek, Archimedes of Syracuse. Archimedes fapproximated the circle’s circumference instead of the area. He started with an inscribed and a circumscribed hexagon, then doubled the sides four times to finish with two 96-sided polygons. The earliest value of pi used in China was 3. In 263 AD, Liu Hui arrived at the value pi = 3.14159, which are the correct first five digits. Near the end of the 5th century, Tsu Ch’ung-chih and his son Tsu Keng-chih calculated 3.1415926 < pi < 3.1415927. Soon after, the Hindu mathematician Aryabhata gave the ‘accurate’ value 62,832/20,000 = 3.141.  Another Indian mathematician, Brahmagupta, calculated pi would approach the square root of 10 [=3.162…].

In 1593, Adrianus Romanus used a circumscribed polygon with 230 sides to compute pi to 17 digits after the decimal, of which 15 were correct. Just three years later, Ludolph Van Ceulen presented 20 digits, and by the time he died in 1610, he had accurately found 35 digits.  These digits were cut into his tombstone in St. Peter’s Churchyard in Leyden. In 1873, an Englishman named William Shanks used the formula to calculate 707 places of pi, but only the first 527 digits were correct. Johann Heinrich Lambert proved the irrationality of pi first in 1761 and then in more detail in 1767. In 1882, Ferdinand von Lindemann proved the transcendence of pi. Since this means that pi is not a solution of any algebraic equation, it lay to rest the uncertainty about squaring the circle.

In the twentieth century, computers allowed mathematicians to get to previously incomprehensible results. In 1947, D. F. presented 808 digits of pi. One and a half years later, Levi Smith and John Wrench hit the 1000-digit-mark . Finally, in 1949, the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was finally functional, the gigantic machine calculated 2037 digits in just seventy hours. John Wrench and Daniel Shanks found 100,000 digits in 1961, and the one-million-mark was surpassed in 1973.

Just thirty-nine decimal places would be enough to compute the circumference of a circle surrounding the known universe to within the radius of a hydrogen atom. At the present time, the only tangible application for all those digits is to test computers and computer chips for bugs.

March 14th has long been considered to be “pi” day, celebrated by eating pies (and maybe doing some Math.  There are some wild and hardcore partiers out there).  This is my favorite recipe, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, from her book The Baking Bible.  Her other book, The Bread Bible, is my favorite cookbook of all time.  We’re talking serious breads, scones, cakes.  But here is the- dare I say- perfect pie recipe:

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