Grumpy and Happy are Here, but Where are Dismayed, Smug and Well Fed?

I was thinking of using emoticons in this posting to celebrate the digital smiley face’s 25th anniversary. But they’re so … elementary. Where are the grown-up emoticons for dismay, smugness or ennui?

If I could find a “withering glare” emoticon, for example, it would go here:”Do I look like a short order cook to you?” How many times have you said it to your kids, accompanied by the Withering Glare?

    1. The truth is, at my house, apparently the answer was, “Yes, mom, now that you mention, a short order cook is exactly what you look like. Maybe if you had a hair net…..” I cooked two dinners a night for seven years, one for grown-ups and one for Sweet Cheeks. Here is a photo of the two cheese pizza and the pesto feta sun-dried tomato pizzas I made for dinner one evening. Because Sweet Cheeks couldn’t just scrape off the offending items — that would leave behind a few of the dreaded flavor molecules. (Emoticon: dismay)

I complained at work to the other editors. One of the senior editors said, “They’ll remember the time together around the table — that’s what is important. Don’t worry so much the day-to-day quality of the food.” (emoticon: really?!?!wow!)

        So now I cook more food but less often with my strategy called Big Piece of Meat. Cook a big piece of meat and it’s dinner for two or three nights. Roast the first night, sandwiches the second night, enchiladas or pot pie the third night. (Emoticon:

most people figure this out by 30  

    1. self-satisfaction)

The beauty is that there are so many varieties of Big Pieces of Meat. Pork, chicken, turkey, ham, beef, even salmon. Even chili. And, if you select something that goes into a slow cooker, you can have Big Pieces of Meat in the summer without heating up the kitchen. (Emoticon: check out my ingenuity!)

Here’s one of mine — show me yours. (emoticon: envy) I’ll be sharing a few others over the next couple of weeks. Because who doesn’t need a little self-satisfaction in the kitchen?

Garlic Fennel Pork Roast

    1. 1 (6-pound) boneless pork butt roast


    1. 2 teaspoons salt


    1. 2 tablespoons pepper (less if you’re feeding children)


    1. 10 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)


    1. 1 cup chopped parsley


    1. ½ cup fennel seeds


    1. ¼ cup olive oil


    1. 6 potatoes, cut into chunks


    1. 2 stalks celery, optional, cut into chunks


    1. 6 carrots, peeled and chunked


    2 onions, peeled and chunked

Cut the roast in half lengthwise, but not all the way through, so you can open it like a book. Combine salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, fennel seeds, and olive oil and spread it all over the meat, particularly in the “book” part, pressing it into the meat. Fold up the meat and tie or skewer it shut. Roast, covered, for 3 hours at 325 degrees. Toward the last 30 minutes of cooking, arrange the vegetables around the roast and cook until the meat falls apart.

Tomorrow’s forecast: continued tomatoes

Grocery shopping is on my list of fun things somewhere above “wart removal” but below “oiling door hinges.” I’d rather bake a loaf of bread than go to the store to buy one.

So I loved the idea of picking up a box of organic vegetables from a farmer in a church parking lot. No lines, no aisles, no parking struggles, no junk food luring my child, no endcaps trying to sell me vitamin-enriched vanilla chai pretzel mix.

My friend Susan was leaving town for a few days and asked me to pick up her box of organic vegetables. It was so easy, and the farmers (Todd and Sarah) so terrific that I signed up for the next year with Sylvanus Farm ( For about $400, members get vegetables and herbs delivered 28 weeks a year plus the opportunity to buy eggs, flowers, chickens and meat as the farmers have them.

It’s been a wonderful culinary and sustainable step. We’ve had to adjust our cooking and eating expectations, though. A big box of vegetables each week means a commitment to seasonal eating. For better (sweet Italian peppers! Juicy heirloom tomatoes!) and not-so-better (eggplant every week). At this point in the year, the family just wants something familiar, like broccoli or salad.

It also means canning and freezing that reckless abundance. I love making homemade pizza sauce because I can add more garlic, and there’s no added sugar. I usually make a couple of half pints. Half-pints work best because the sauce has no preservative and only keeps a couple of weeks. It’s so delicious that you’ll probably use it all within a week anyway. Keen intellects will note that I used an old caviar jar from Russia. NASA should identify the adhesive holding the label on and use it for attaching the heat-shield — that jar has been through the dishwasher about a dozen times.

When I feel really lazy, I just skin and puree the tomatoes, pour them into a skillet and cook until slightly thickened, then pour into sterile jars, top with sterile lids and boil the sealed jars for 10 minutes. Not exactly USDA approved, but it hasn’t failed yet.

Pizza Sauce
2 pounds tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Pile the tomatoes into a heatproof bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Let them stand about 5 minutes, then drain and run cold water over then. Cut out the core and slip off the skins. Puree the tomatoes with the garlic in a blender. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the puree until thickened, seasoning lightly with salt.
Boil half-pint jars and lids until sterile. Spoon in the sauce and seal. Boil the jars 10 minutes. Makes 2 half pints.