Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sandwich Contest Deadline Extended to Oct. 3!

If you've been perfecting that sandwich recipe all week, today is the day to submit! Don't be shy. The SANDWICH CONTEST closes tomorrow-October 1. So far there are a couple of really good entries. By "a couple" I mean TWO, so you are not too late! Oh, what the heck, I'll extend the contest deadline to October 3rd! So now you have no excuse.

The winner will be determined by quality of sandwich, heartfelt description of sandwich, and any and all other creative elements.

Also, I've been told that, um, I need to offer an actual PRIZE to the winner. That my making and eating a sandwich in my kitchen does not constitute a real incentive....

So, as far as a prize...drumroll please...I will send you a crisp $10 bill for lunch at your favorite sandwich shop. Please sit at the counter if possible. And please eat at Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop if you can! Which by the way, I looked up, and it sounds like it is still alive and well and much-loved by (almost) all. The official address is:
174 5th Ave, New York 10010
Btwn 22nd & 23rd St

Sorry if you have been wandering around Broadway looking for it. I'll check my addresses in advance the next time!

Cheers! And L'Shana Tova to all the Jews today!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sandwich Week Continues: What's Your Favorite?

Welcome back to "Sandwich Week!" Enter exciting CONTEST below!

When I was a kid, I did not like peanut butter. I did like peanut butter commercials, though, and even produced one at school which a classmate and I read over the intercom for the whole school. It went something like: "Hi, try Pan Peter Butter Peanut..." I finally convinced myself as a teen (the power of advertising) that I SHOULD like peanut butter, that it was un-American not to. And it worked! I started eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Now my kids have peanut sensitivities and get a rash around their mouths and/or gastrointestinal problems from peanut butter, but they still beg me for it even though I buy them almond butter, which really, is much better (really, it has to be -- it's 4X the price)!

For a while, it was the BLT, because it's so sublime--the opposite of a stuffed-full New York deli sandwich.

In high school I made lunches for myself and my younger brother. I have no idea what I put inside the bag, but I liked to decorate the outside of the brown bag, and Robbie lived in fear of what I would do to his lunch that he had to carry to school where people could see it.

This could go on and on, but just to mix it up:

1. Must be a sandwich, not any other favorite food.
2. Entrants must be 5 years of age or older.
3. You may enter as many times as you like.
4. Deadline is October 1, 2008. *DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 3RD!!!
5. Must be a sandwich you've actually eaten. So if it's fried worms on toast that's your favorite, I want evidence!

There, my first blog contest, official rules and all. Come one, come all! Tell your friends. Something to debate about between presidential debates (because they're not likely to cover this topic).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop

I was talking to my very talented writer and artist friend Wendy Wax today, and she'd read my "sandwich" post and reminded me of my favorite sandwich shop when we used to work as editors at Byron Preiss Visual Publications in New York -- Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop, somewhere around Fifth Ave & 21st (thanks for address correx, Wendy!). I used to plan my day around it (well, not really, but I'd think about it a lot) and go there to grab a sandwich two or three times a week. I LOVED that place. It was still there the last time I checked. I hope it's always there.

Sometimes I went with a co-worker, and lots of times I went myself, to just be able to not have to think or talk for 20 minutes, and found a seat at the counter of the old place.

California's great, and there are lots of things I'll never miss about New York City, but that sandwich delivery system was one of the best things ever. If you ordered a tuna on rye bread, the order was shouted out down the line by the old guys who worked there as "tuna on whiskey!" The younger guys behind them assembled the sandwiches and about a minute later there it was in front of me, with a slice of real New York pickle on the side. And by the way, it was REAL rye bread, not a slice of something resembling white or wheat with a couple of caraway seeds pushed half-heartedly into a soft crust and labeled "rye," but the real thing -- a hard crust, soft but substantial middle laced with caraway seeds all the way through. Oh, it makes me want to bite right into it. The loss of good rye bread is one of my few regrets in moving here. New York has better bagels and brick-oven pizza, too, but for me, it's been 13 years in exile from rye bread.

But I digress. The other great thing about Eisenberg's was the really old woman who took orders at the 6 tiny tables shoved against the wall running opposite the counter. A narrow place to walk ran between them, and this ancient woman came to the table and announced the special of the day, which invariably was either meatloaf or pastrami. "The special's meatloaf. You can have it in a sandwich or on a plate. It's very good," she said, order pad in hand. I can still hear the timbre of her voice -- a little shaky but unconcerned, sincere, and on with it. I don't think I ever ate meatloaf any other place. It was banned from my house growing up. My father hated it, and the only time my mother ever served it to him was just after they started dating, the very first time she ever had him over for dinner in college at her parents house. He told her it was "delicious" and hid it in his napkin. From then on, whenever Dad described something as "delicious," we knew it was not so.

But now and then, I did have Eisenberg's meatloaf, in a sandwich, on rye. And it was good.

Meatloaf on "whiskey": this one's for you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Exalted Sandwich

Can a sandwich be exalted? Perhaps. I saw someone making something like this at a cafe, and I decided to try it at home, as I had just picked up real farm-fresh organic eggs from the farmers' market.

The recipe:
-Two slices whole wheat (I use Beckman's Honey Whole Wheat, also from the Farmers' Market, but at some stores, too), toasted
-Spread one slice of toast with hummus (I used one with capers)
-A couple of thick slices of fresh red tomato (get 'em at your Farmers' Market if you can!)
-And fry up a couple of those fresh eggs, flip them to over medium or over hard. Add to sandwich.
-Add a slice of swiss cheese
-opt: some ripe avocado slices (I didn't have any that day but the guy at the cafe did, but mine was sure good without them.)
-Cut in half and eat

Wa-la. A sandwich to feed a king. Really, it was SO good. I give it 5 stars.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lisa's Book Stack

Sometimes a stack of book sits on my nighttable for months as I eye it suspiciously before going to sleep. I picked up some new ones and starting ALL of them last night, so I'm happy to have rotated the stack!

They all started off with a bang, seductively drawing me in like a box of chocolates, which is a delightful thought while lying in bed. Seriously.

Books are in order picked up:

1. THE HAKAWATI (Translates from the Arabic to "The Storyteller") by Rabih Alameddine. I bought this because it had such a BEAUTIFUL cover...pretty sea blue with swirling gold designs and tree roots and birds and hints of red...as well as a great first line: "Listen. Allow me to be your god. let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story." Who could resist that invitation? Though so far I keep getting impatient with the "modern" tale that is interspersed with the old tale. I just want the old one, which has a totally fabulous and totally in control slave woman named Fatima running the show.

2. RUN by Ann Patchett. I loved her novel BEL CANTO so much, that this was an easy sell, now in a nice trade paperback, also with lots of pretty blue and hints of trees. Seems to be a tree theme all around for me today. This one begins with a family rivalry for ownership of a small statue handed down through the generations to the person it looks most like. I thought of Cinderella's stepsisters trying to shove their big feet into the glass slipper. But only now, while thinking about it. Last night I just wanted to hear the story of what happened.

3. THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown. Amazingly, I have not yet read this, though it's been on my "list" for years. I finally signed it out of the library. I didn't want to buy it. Begins with a slow, painful death. I left the poor guy bleeding out even longer as I left the pages of that book for...

4. PALACE WALK by Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Originally published in Arabic in 1956 and here in 1990 (wow, long wait!), it was loaned to me by my friend Wendy who was wholly absorbed in it on the porch of her little cabin when we met at Oakland's Feather River Family Camp north of Tahoe in July. We finally got together for dinner over the weekend -- we'd all gotten to be good friends but travel and out-of-town company schedules conflicted till now -- and I got to take this book home for a spin. It's a WOW so far. Set in old (but not ancient) Egypt, I think, it begins with a wife who exists solely to serve her husband. I can't wait to see what cracks begin to open up in this existence. It's quiet, and yet pulls me right into the scene and the story. I love that.

Interesting how two of the four are translated from Arabic!

I keep trying to read Salman Rushdie's MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN. I've talked to at least three other people recently who have been trying to read him, and having difficulty getting pulled into the story. I WILL try again, because I love his writing, I just can't seem to stay with it so far, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth it to try to get there.

THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE was also recommended to me by a couple of different people, so I'll see if I can get that one to land on the nighttable soon. All so much better than (most) TV!

I'm a little sad I'm through the WRINKLE IN TIME quartet. I enjoyed it so much. I also figured out why I hadn't read some of them before -- they weren't written until I was in my twenties!


Monday morning. At the risk of this sounding like a gratitude journal entry, I LOVED MY WALK!

The kids were picked up for school, I had tea (Numi Green Jasmine Organic Monkey King -- Jon likes to call it "Monkey Brains tea"), ate breakfast (Sophie's leftover egg in a cup - she always leaves the white and half the yolk), read part of the newspaper, then went out into the world of the neighborhood and the streets and the fresh air of morning. It really IS a new day every day. Everything I saw and felt, I couldn't have from the car, when we are hurrying by, and the kids are bickering and punching each other in the back seat.

The young girl sticking her blond head out the window and calling back inside "I think it's jeans weather!" The baby crying from inside another house, and the young boy on the porch smiling and saying "Hi" to me as I went past. The way the streets felt to me when they were flat, and when they went uphill, how I had to lean into them and notice them with something besides a gas pedal. The older couple walking by with their little dachsund who kept stopping to sniff everything. The fresh paint on one house - a striking rich blue the color of the sea way out. And always the trees and flowers along the way, the twisting branches, the care people take (or don't take) with their gardens and fountains, the people I said hello to on the way.

A good start to the week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reflections in the Rear-View Mirror

This week I was driving Sophie to soccer practice, and dropping off her friend Melissa on the way. I picked up my water bottle and tipped it back to take a drink. As I did, I caught my reflection in the rear-view mirror, tipping back her bottle.

Except something was different. My face looked different, my skin softer, my hair...blonder! (which is strange, as I have brown hair). Was it time to clean the mirror? No, I was looking at Melissa's 8-year old reflection. She was simultaneously drinking from her water bottle, following the exact same motion.

It's strange and wonderful sometimes to catch yourself unawares. Even when it's not yourself.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Variable Distances

My title sounds like a math construct.

Finally I was able to give myself the small but wonderful gift of a walk in the cool morning air after the kids were picked up for school. Beds are made, I have my chai tea, and I'm warmed up for the day!

I miss my walks greatly. My thoughts get moving in a flow and I get to think them instead of feeling at the mercy of them.

So, Madeleine L'Engle's "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" is pretty awesome. And you know what, I don't think I ever did read it when I was a kid. Maybe it wasn't in the library when I was looking for it. I stayed up late reading it, and only have six pages to go, but stopped because Jon finally arrived home a little before 1am and then I realized how much I missed him. Not for the logistical stuff and to get me out of survival mode, but for him. Worth putting a book down for. But I'm finishing it right after this. Another small treat for myself, all before 9am or so.

It's kind of nice to see some clouds again and coolness, it's been so hot.

While I was walking, I got to thinking about how when we got back from Family Camp, where we'd been walking just to get to the bathroom or breakfast, walking seemed much more natural to us. We walked to the farmer's market that weekend instead of driving, and it didn't seem far it all. It isn't. It's less than a mile, but we usually drive. It's all relative, isn't it? Walking should be totally natural to us. Didn't kids used to walk miles to school all the time?

One of my neighbors was talking about a "Walking Schoolbus" to relieve some of the congestion at drop-off and pick-up time. A parent or parents would don an orange vest, routes would be marked, and a line of kids would walk the route to school. It's a little far, and would take some time. Also there's a hill and not many sidewalks till you get up the hill. So some safety concerns. Maybe there could be crossing guards along the way manning their posts, the way it used to be done, I think. Just some thoughts.

Now back to Madeleine L'Engle and work!

Good morning!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Reluctant Housewife

Straightening up. I did a lot of that this week. And surface cleaning. And lots of laundry. I can't wait for the housecleaners to get here to do the real stuff, but really I tried hard to keep the house looking NEAT. I had a roommate in college who always said she was "neat but not clean."

Jon's been out of town for a full week. Sophie was home from school (or I was being called to the school to pick her up) with a bad stomach several days. I feel like the reluctant housewife. I don't want the mess to take over, so I'm trying to deal with it on more of a daily basis. But it's all ME, so it's more time. And with all of that, I had ZERO time to do any of my own projects, in spite of looming deadlines to get stuff out to agents, write some ad copy that was due Friday, and start editing Bruce Coville's Unicorn Chronicles Book #4 for Scholastic.

By 9:45 pm, all I could do was collapse into bed and read Sophie's library books she'd already finished -- this week the Wrinkle in Time quartet -- I'm on A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I haven't read these in years-- plus one night of indulging in TV. I did go out one night also for a WNBA (that's Women's National Book Association, not basketball) mixer in Menlo Park that was a lot of fun at Kepler's Bookstore. All in all, the week went fairly well, considering. I just had to embrace my mom role more than ever.

I mean, yesterday the kids had their first soccer games of the season. The temperatures were in the 90's, so after running back and forth between their games and having some sandwiches in the park, I took them out for ice-cream at Baskin Robbins and then swimming with their friends for the rest of the afternoon. Determined to get the kitchen cleaned up so I wouldn't have to do it after putting the kids to bed -- as it always seems much more daunting then and I tend to move much more s l o w l y -- I cleaned up and didn't get Aaron into the shower until 9pm. He was tired out by then and got cranky quickly, and before they went to sleep, both kids were telling me I was mean. So even ice-cream and swimming doesn't guarantee anything.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wonders of the World

It's 4:30 pm. I'm late for the party! My wonder of the world is:

Lying down on the grass under the trees, feeling the breeze on my skin, and watching the leaves dance around. It's wonderful. There's nothing, nothing, nothing better than this.

Also the way even a dopey dog can cock its head and look at you and seem momentarily intelligent.

Can you tell I'd rather be in the park?

To link to more wonders of the world, visit my new friend Becky's site

Monday, September 1, 2008

Moment of Power

Is the summer over yet? The summer is over.

The kids started school last week. I parked and walked them to the playground, where, miraculously, we were so early it wasn't even open yet! But soon it was, and the kids had fun playing before the bell rang. Sophie's 3rd grade class is right next to the playground in a portable classroom. Aaron's Kindergarten is around the building, and I called him over five minutes before the bell so he could walk with his friends to class and be ready to head in. Then I called Sophie's name loudly so I could let her know I was going and to have a good day. She came over, and the other hundred or so kids on the playground structure looked up as well, thinking it was time for school, and all came running over and headed to their class lines where their backpacks were already holding their places.

I was dumbfounded. At home, I might call my child's name ten times and get no response. But one name called on the playground opening day netted a hundred children!

I felt so powerful and capable, that I imagined the whole year would be charmed. Let that thought be released into the universe!