Saturday, June 25, 2005

CELL PHONES lead to bad driving? I'm stunned. (Attention, D.C.: It's not about the hands.)

Friday, June 10, 2005

THE ACCIDENTAL VEGETARIAN. I've liked vegetables more than the average carnivore. Broccoli, asparagus (of course), lima beans -- even brussels sprouts, but only after I learned what they tasted like when not overcooked. Cauliflower and beets, in particular, speak to me. When my friends and I rented a hotel (OK, motel) room on college-graduation night, in fact, the most passionate happening was an argument over the merits of beets (me, pro-. I can understand visceral aversion to the green vegetables, but beets are practically candy).

Still, when I cook I generally cook one thing at a time. Two, if steak frites counts as two. And vegetables aren't usually main-dish recipes. So my eating-at-home diet tends to consist largely of pasta or meat, period. (Sure, pasta is vegetarian, but, well ...) And, frankly, I've always tended to look askance at vegetarianism. Well, I don't know if my body was trying to tell me something or what, but for the past couple of weeks that one thing I've cooked (in our new kitchen) has tended to be vegetarian -- not just as in no meat (again, my years of cappellini with Ragu sauce would qualify there), but as in actual vegetables.

Let's see, there was the eggplant-tomato-onion-garlic-mushroom-cheese casserole. Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce. Cauliflower with garlic, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Cauliflower with Indian spices. Cauliflower and peas with Dubliner/parmesan cheese sauce. Eggplant parmesan. Roasted beets. Grilled portobello mushrooms and broiled tomatoes. That's all for now, but it's a big veggie world. I'm looking to re-create and retool some of the red-lentil recipes I came up with when I went on a big red-lentil cook as part of a misguided low-fat regime several years back.

I'm not elevating this to a fetish. I had crabs the other day, and beef fajitas the day before that. In Las Vegas I'll be all about the meat. If you invite me to Morton's, I'll be at Morton's. But I figure that I might as well make up for lost time as long as this kind of cooking remains appealing to me. I feel healthier already.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

WHAT'S ALL THIS about a Tabasco penalty? This is an outrage! If I want my food a little spicy, I shouldn't have the government trying to fine me!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I'M NOT ONE for preachy causes, and my charity record consists largely of voting for members of the Tax-and-Spend Party, but here's an easy thing that most all of us can do to save lives:

Be an organ donor.

Jacqueline and I were fortunate enough this weekend to be invited to a casual but somewhat star-studded (Carl Lewis, Christine Brennan) awareness-raising event put together by our neighbor Jeff Marx, and, I must say, my awareness was raised. A dozen or so people who otherwise might have been saved die each day in this country because of a shortage of donor organs. Jeff's sister, Wendy, saw both sides of the coin. A liver transplant saved her life in 1989, but she wasn't as fortunate when the new liver failed 14 years later.

So, please, check that little box. And talk to your family members and friends about doing the same.

An aside: You'd think I would have had a decent chance, as a piece of management scum at the Washington Post, of being the most accomplished journalist on my block. Or at least within a two-house radius. But no. Jeffrey Marx, our two-doors-down neighbor, got a bachelor's degree of journalism in 1984, as I did. Two years later I was doing pretty well, running the Phoenix Gazette's metro desk while more important people slept and on the cusp of becoming a founding member of one of the first large-scale conversions to computer-assisted page layout in American newspapering.

Jeff, meanwhile, was, uh, winning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. At 23, he was the youngest winner of that award. He exposed rampant corruption in the University of Kentucky basketball program. He and his writing partner beat out the Dallas Morning News duo that blew the lid off Henry Lee Lucas's story.

But at least I'm the most accomplished author within sight of my front porch? Well, no. Jeff has written four books -- one was about Wendy's struggle, two were with Carl Lewis, and his most recent, "Season of Life," is a bestseller.

Meanwhile, three doors down, next door to Jeff, Emery Battis, our block's top Shakespearean actor, turned 90 and got his picture in the Post with Sandra Day O'Connor.

Oh, and another Capitol Hill friend, Jonathan Ernst, a freelance photographer who's the brother of Jacqueline's good friend Heidi, turned up today in the Washington Post Magazine as the photographer and author of the cover story.

I feel so lame. But, aside from my bum pancreas, I'm offering up my organs if anyone needs 'em.

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