Category Archives: Holidays

Happy Easter

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My husband’s been sick lately and it’s been raining, so I had a two-fold reason to stay inside and keep busy yesterday. The problem: a holiday, especially one as pastel-forward as Easter, plus boredom can produce insane behavior. Witness the Sandra Lee-esque tablescape I created. It was as if I blacked out and came to an hour later only to discover I’d created a semi-homemade monster! Not that that means I won’t dye eggs using the Paas neon colors I bought, however. I’d hate to be wasteful…

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Happy 2011

The flu has been going around my family this holiday season, so I’m just getting around to making our New Year’s Day meal today. The fact that I’m already two days late on my to-do list doesn’t bode well for the rest of my resolutions, but I’m adopting a “better late than never” strategy for this year and cutting myself some slack. In addition to making my mother-in-law’s hoppin’ john (of which I had a small taste on the way to the airport on New Year’s Day), I’ll also make some collards and what’s left of the country ham I picked up from the Carolina Country Store before the holidays. Somewhere in there, I’ll sprinkle some of the mysterious spice blend called Soul Food Seasoning I picked up from my parents’ local Piggy Wiggly last week. Not sure what’s in it, exactly, but it seems like the kind of all-purpose taste enhancer that will liven up just about any dish.

As for resolutions, I typically go the “be better in general” route, rather than create a Thomas Jefferson–style perfection plan. However, I do enjoy reading the vows other people have made. Here are a few of my favorites:

Charlie Brown: Keep the ball low, don’t leave your crayons in the sun, use dental floss every day, don’t spill the shoe polish, always knock before entering, don’t let the ants get in the sugar, never volunteer to be a program chairman, always get your first serve in, and feed your dog whenever he’s hungry.

Benjamin Franklin: Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.

Mark Twain: New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.

And finally

William Faulkner: Pouring out liquor is like burning books.

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Winter Images c/o Ronald Searle

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

British artist Ronald Searle is one of the most brilliant illustrators and cartoonists I’ve encountered. Ever. Period. His work is insightful and intelligent and whimsical and lovely, and I can’t get enough of it. In honor of the upcoming holidays, I thought I’d share some of my favorite seasonal Searle images. Most of these are taken from the magazines he worked for over the years—Holiday, Lilliput, Punch, Travel+Leisure, among others—via the very amazing Ronald Searle Tribute Blog, and they represent decades of smart satire and social commentary. There’s nothing Southern or, come to think of it, particularly New York about this post (except that Searle worked for a number of magazines based in NYC), but we all get off message every now and again. Enjoy, and merry times to you all this holiday season.

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

Ronald Searle, Holiday magazine, Punch magazine, Lilliput magazine

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It’s Watermelon Season (Happy Labor Day)

This guy, spotted on Metro-North heading toward Connecticut, loves watermelon. My husband took these pictures of him two minutes apart. Somehow, he put his entire face into a wedge of wamamama and emerged dry, spotless, and not the least bit sticky–and somehow oblivious to the random spectator who was filming it all. File this under: One More Reason to Love this Crazy City.

Eating watermelon. Not a huge.

How did the newspaper stay dry?!

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Just One Day Out of Life

Images via gono.com

If you’ve ever read any of Slim Aarons‘ iconic books–Poolside, A Place in the Sun, Once Upon a Time–then you’ve most likely seen an image from or commissioned by Holiday magazine. Though it’s now defunct, it still stands as a testament to the pleasures of the Good Life. In honor of our upcoming holiday weekend (and the vacation I’m leaving for RIGHT NOW), I thought I’d share a few Holiday covers with you.

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Easter Eating: Ham + Mac and Cheese

Contemplating the country ham from Esposito's. Photo: Will Mischner

Growing up, Easter dinner meant two things in my house: ham and macaroni and cheese. Sure, we had other things over the years–green beans and new potatoes, sometimes stuffing, rolls–but there was no doubt about the main event. Mac and cheese is pretty easy to do no matter where you live (see my mom’s killer, souffle-style preparation below). Ham, however, can be kind of hard to source outside of the south if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and most of us don’t give the matter any thought until Easter or some other event makes finding it a priority.  You don’t move to New York and immediately think: Ok, I’m here. Now, first things first. Gotta get a ham guy. It just doesn’t come up.
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Happy Passover, Y’all

Southern Jews have come a long way. Photos: UNC (left), Annual Kosher BBQ fest in Memphis (right)

Over the last 30 years, the numbers of Jews in the South has tripled–from 382,000 in 1970 to more than 1.2 million today–but Jews have been a part of southern culture for as long as there’s been a “South.” In 1800, there were more Jews in Charleston than in any other city in the U.S. Obviously, that’s not true today (hard to get that confused when you live in New York) but both Atlanta and Austin have incredibly thriving Jewish communities. All of this is to say, Happy Passover to all the Jewish southerners in New York and beyond. If you’re attending a seder or just feeling hungry, try my dad’s incredibly easy recipe for potato latkes.

Photo: James Beard

Dad’s Famous Latkes

Idaho Russet potatoes

White onions*

2-3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4-1/2 cup matzo meal

Salt and pepper to taste

*The ratio should be 3:1 potatoes to onions.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. If you’re not going to make the latkes instantly, grate potatoes into cold water so that they don’t brown. Grate onion right into mixing bowl. Remove potatoes from water if soaking and place in a clean, white kitchen towel. Squeeze to remove all the water out. Transfer potatoes to bowl and mix with onions. Add beaten eggs (don’t worry too much about the amount of beaten egg here, as any excess will just drip to the bottom of the bowl). Add 1/4-1/2 cup matzo meal, depending on how many potatoes and onions you’ve used, to bind mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Meanwhile, add 1/8-inch of good vegetable oil (my dad uses safflower) to the bottom of a frying pan. Heat to a sizzle. Drop spoonfuls of potato-onion mixture into the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd pan. Drain latkes on paper towel­lined plate, add salt and transfer to a baking sheet. Keep warm in preheated oven until all are done.

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