A few years ago, I remember Teenage Nephew 2 pointed out (from his newly gathered storehouse of driver’s ed wisdom) that I put my hands in the wrong positions on the steering wheel. The new placement, he told me, is either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 on the clock face, to avoid breaking your arms if the airbag deploys. It’s been a while since I’ve been in driver’s ed (in fact, to a teenage brain I’m sure it was so long ago that Teenage Nephew imagines my training included dinosaur-avoidance tactics), so I took it on faith that he was right.… more
Thirteen years. The project I began in 2003 has had that many birthdays. It occupies two large crates in my office. It has dominated my life, involving travel, research, reading. It has spawned four versions, each dragging multiple drafts. Rejections span ten years. Nobody, it seems, wants this book. “Kids won’t be interested.” The subject, Margaret Wise Brown, would find this funny. … more
I had pretty much given up on finding an appropriate gift for my dad’s 82nd birthday; the last thing he needed was more stuff. So I headed off to the family lake cabin for the 4th of July holiday (also his birthday weekend) with the thought that I’d figure out a clever celebratory idea at the last minute. Maybe some kind of game that everyone would enjoy?
A Cajun-inspired favorite recipe from jazz musician Louis Armstrong, this is a perfect accompaniment to your reading of Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill.
1 pound kidney beans1⁄2 pound salt pork strip of lean, strip of fat1 small can of tomato sauce if desired6 small ham hocks or 1 smokedpork butt2 onions diced1⁄4 green bell pepper5 tiny or 2 medium dried peppers1 clove garlic choppedSalt to taste
Wash beans thoroughly, then soak overnight in cold water.
I finished reading The Road to Little Dribbling over a week ago, and I’m still laughing. I’m a sucker for a funny story, and Bill Bryson has provided me with a steady stream of them since I first discovered him in Granta magazine back in the ’80s. I couldn’t get enough of his wisecracking tales about growing up in Des Moines, especially the epic family road trips he endured.… more
Author Aimee Bissonette writes, “To accompany your reading of Miss Colfax’s Lighthouse, here’s the type of recipe Harriet would have cooked in winter months. It gets incredibly cold on Lake Michigan in the winter and Harriet was always so busy! She would have needed something that was pretty easy to make (no time to fuss) but would warm her inside and out.… more
We wouldn't be surprised if Travis's grandmother had a frozen version of this hotdish stored next to the state fair butterhead. This recipe is a staple across the Midwest.
“I might have instamatic flu,” said the young girl as her mother checked her in at the doctor’s office. “Let’s hope not,” her mother replied. Instamatic flu. Instamatic…flu…. The words bounced around in my head. “My mouth is wet, my throat is dry…” the girl said in half-hearted sing-songy voice as they took a chair in the waiting room.… more
In Leroy Ninker Saddles Up Maybelline’s favorite food is spaghetti. Here we share our best recipe for a savory sauce to top any pasta. Serves four (or one hungry horse).
The secret of this savory spaghetti sauce is the pepperoni.
1 15- oz can tomato sauce1 6- oz can tomato paste¼ cup sherry or white wine1 tsp beef stock concentrate such as Better Than Bouillon®7 oz 1⁄2 pkg turkey pepperoni or regular2 tsp garlic salt1 Tbsp dried parsley1 tsp dried oregano1 tsp dried basil
Using a microwave-safe plate, arrange 7 oz.
Leroy Ninker has a hat, a lasso, and boots. What he doesn’t have is a horse — until he meets Maybelline, that is, and then it’s love at first sight. Maybelline loves spaghetti and sweet nothings, and she loves Leroy, too. But when Leroy forgets the third and final rule of caring for Maybelline, disaster ensues. Can Leroy wrestle fate to the ground, rescue the horse of his heart, and lasso loneliness for good? Join Leroy, Maybelline, and a cast of familiar characters — Stella, Frank, Mrs. Watson, and everyone’s favorite porcine wonder, Mercy — for some hilarious and heartfelt horsing around on Deckawoo Drive.
Do you remember any book reports you wrote or gave while in elementary school? No one has ever asked me this question before! Here is the truth: I don't remember doing one, single book report. Have I blocked the memories out? Or did I really not do any? I'm thinking it's the latter. Truly. Describe your all-time favorite pair of pajamas.… more
The images below are a small part of a larger photo or book cover. Each of the images pertains to a book in this month’s issue. Can you guess what these are? When you believe you’ve decided, click on the image and you’ll see if you’re right. My, you pay careful attention! Well done.… more