Bean me up, Scotty


‘At the end of my rope. Er, supply chain’

So The Dude went by the new apartment — the very tiny one we bought late last year and were in the midst of spiffing up when we got locked down — well, he just popped his head in for a peek and, lo and behold, something peeked right back.

It was a rat. A really big rat. Now, our soon-to-be living room is small — very small. As in 11 by 13 (feet!) So even a run-of-the-mill rat would look pretty large. But, huge as he was, Mr. Rat took one look at Mr. Dude and took off. He ran right into the bathroom and disappeared down the waste pipe where the old toilet used to be and where the new toilet is supposed to, er, go.

What will eventually block Mr. Rat’s private entrance into our apartment

Well. I figured that even Andrew Cuomo would agree that getting somebody to block off Mr. Rat’s personal subway entrance into our apartment would count as “essential,” so I got our contractor on the case.

As much as I hate vermin, I must admit it made a nice change of pace to worry about something besides what to make for my 59th dinner in a row. (In case you think I am superficial or callous, of course I worry about the sick and the dying. The unemployed and desperate too. But this is a humor blog, for heavens sakes. And, trust me, I am distracting myself as much as trying to distract you.)

I am totally nostalgic for the Olden Days when choosing the right shade of grout kept me up at night

Even in the Olden Days I turned to cooking for solace in times of stress. (Turn back time by taking a look at “And Then There Were None, ” a piece from what feels like a hundred years ago.)

Dancing to Van the Man while cooking up Dinner #58

I also must admit that I actually enjoy cooking. Maybe not 60-some dinners in a row, but these, of course, are what the Chinese call “interesting times,” and I’ve tried to make the best of it. Which isn’t easy when, basically, you never know what you’re going to find at the ole IGA. As I mentioned before (in “Pots and Pandemics”), as a “senior” I get in to the store early — but that means the shelves haven’t been restocked. Pretty much anything you might have on a list is, as they say, a “serving suggestion.”

Broccoli rabe was on my list. Brussels sprouts ended up in my cart

So I grab what I can and figure out what to do with it later. And usually it works out pretty well. With the possible exception of the pork shoulder calas I tried a couple of weeks ago. Let’s just say it made a nice addition to my pot of pea soup.

Speaking of pea soup, like everyone else on the Planet, I’ve been cooking with lots of peas and beans. And, speaking of beans, NY Times Cooking (an app) is absolutely genius and life-saving when it comes to beans, and just about anything else you find on the shelves — either in the store or in your house. In fact, its guru, Sam Sifton, is my new Hero. Honest to goodness, I worship him even more than Dr. Fauci.

That’s my bible in the background; my bread and butter in front

Speaking of Dr. Fauci, check out my Mom in the picture at the top of this post. It looks like she’s following his advice and putting a mask on Dad. Always ahead of the trends, my Mom. Oh, incidentally, the “Scotty” in my title refers not only to Star Trek, but to my Dad. His nickname when he was little was “Scotty.” (Even though he wasn’t Scottish. I’ll have to ask Mom what was going on with that.)

Don’t ask me why the parsley and cheese are only on one half of this serving of White Bean and Cherry Tomato Stew. Which is darned delicious, BTW. Made it six times

NY Times Cooking has 1629 recipes for “beans” — 16 of which I have saved (and cooked). And so, I guess, has everyone else. Because guess what? Beans are getting scarce.

But never fear. NY Times Cooking has 842 recipes for “pasta.” Just don’t tell anyone else who goes to the Amagansett IGA.

Amagansett, New York. May 2020


Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater


‘The dirty little downside of belonging to a big happy family’

I have this very good friend, Jim, who is astonished that anyone could have grown up in a house with only one bathroom. It’s a good thing he doesn’t read my blog, because he would be shocked (shocked!) to hear that not only did we Henrys share a bathroom — we also shared our bathwater.

(Of course, he told me once he shares a shower with his cat, so there’s that.)

Anyway. Back to the Henrys and their sharing of the suds.

Those of you who do read my blog (bless you many times over) know that I am the proud member of a large, happy family. A large happy family who did a lot of sharing.

We shared popcorn in front of the TV, we shared (sort of) the toys in the toy box, we shared seats in the car. (See ‘He’s Breathing My Air’ for how that worked out.) Of course we shared bedrooms. My parents (natch) shared Mom and Dad’s Room, my three brothers shared The Boys’ Room, and I shared The Girls’ Room with my Favorite Only Younger Sister Laura. She and I shared so nicely that she even tried to move on to cohabit my dorm room when I went to college. (It’s a pretty good story, called ‘Larry and the Nose Holes’; you might like to read it after this one.)

We shared chores too. Here I am enthusiastically taking my turn loading our (quite astonishing at the time) dishwasher

And all five of us (plus two parents) shared our one bathroom — and the bathtub in it. When we were little and there were only three of us kids, Mom would line us up in there all in one go: me in the deep end, Scott in the middle, and Roger at the shallow end. Later, when there were more of us, we took turns.

I’m honestly not sure if this was about efficiency — it taking less time to bathe children using the sequential-dunking technique — or whether it was about the fact that our hot water heater couldn’t face the challenge of five tub fill-ups. But I do remember being grateful that I was the oldest and therefore got dibs on the hottest (first) bath.

In my family, bath sharing happened even before I had any siblings. Here I am getting squeaky-clean with my Aunt Susie and Cousin Jimmy

I guess sharing water was a Henry Thing. Here I am sharing a washtub with some Unidentified Cousin. At least we have pants on

Of course, there was a brief blip before my oldest younger brother was born when I got to have the tub all to myself. (See the photo at the top of this post, taken when Mom and I lived at my Gramma Peterson’s while my Dad was away in Korea, for seriously cute proof.)

Being the firstborn, I got everything all to myself for a while — including the kitchen sink

Being a child at the time, I honestly don’t remember being grossed out or embarrassed by having to share my bath time ablutions. But I do remember being humiliated and horrified when my brothers would dig this particular photo out of the big cardboard box in the attic and taunt me with it. Sometimes they’d even threaten to show it to my friends.

The incriminating photo. It didn’t help that my mother had written “Big Girl!” on the back

The end.

New York City. April 2019