The first short story collected here dates from 1995 capturing the moment of leaving home while moving to Alaska. Other stories will appear and disappear from these pages as I strive to keep you entertained.
On the morning of Passover 2022, we remembered kugels past (as well as holidays past, and all sort of things past, exodus, loss, and the importance of community). In considering the ignoble kugel, we explored the fact that this dish is cooked once per year. Given we are a family rather fond of the potato, then why do we make this dish for this one night, the wait the required number of lunar months for the next spring cycle of remembrance.What’s wrong with our kugel? Answer: it lacks flavor. It lacks lack textures. It lacks that bit of yumminess. Do we blame this on the holiday’s rules that forbid dairy on the table with our lamb? No, we face an opportunity to celebrate the potato. At its worst, our Passover kugel is a bit thick, gooey, mildly gray. And because of the nature of this holiday, we posit most of missions in the form of questions: typically in quartets.
In our kitchen, we asked: How to we make this dish delish? From whence does flavor come? What rules must we follow? And can we change the recipe?
Flavor: salt, savory, fat, acid (thank you Samin Nosrat); it goes further to include textures and colors.
Echoes of a Lincoln Song
Ancient roads etch the landscape of the Harrington property. Stonewalls bound acres once planted. The ruins of a house rest quietly in the brambles. In the brief walk from my childhood home through the marsh, over a well-worn esker and down to these old roads, I would seek treasures. Treasures included the rusted carcass of an automobile from the 1920s, springs, footprints of raccoon and pheasant tail feathers.
One early discovery still brings awe. At the first ages of my education, I saw, I felt connected to distant people of our history. Boundaries between then and now fade on these walks. Those names and words of history live. They breathed in these woods, and they breathe still. Just as their boots, wagon wheels, tractors and horseshoes compacted the roads I see below me; their ideas can be heard in the rustle of oak leaves, sniffed in the warm smell of decay, felt by fingers playing in the lichen growing on the granite at my thigh.
My bruddahs up in Westminister celebrate First Corn. Infectious enthusiasm. Checking the trucks in the morning the thought emerges from one brain, seconds later both crews acknowledge the ersatz holy-day. Returning to the station from the hospital, we sneak to a local sto-ah and buy mow-ah corn than is necessary.
“I’m gwanna eat so much corn, I’ll shit kernels ‘til Thursday.”
The Big Guy
With sleep, all shall be better. The first day of a 6,000-mile trip involves crying, driving slowly, and stopping for farewells to friends. For five years, I lived in Milwaukee. All totaled, I called Wisconsin home for 12 years, including the college years. My home range territory extended as far as Madison to the west, Chicago to the south and north to the hilly rural areas. Today, my drive takes seven hours to Madison, a trip of 75 miles. West of Madison, I rest my new Ford Explorer and myself in a big, muddy truck stop.