A Time Out

Before I saw this article in The New York Times, I had been considering a self-imposed time out from social media. Then yesterday, I maxed out. I took a step back and realized how obsessed I am with keeping up with you all and everything that’s it. I do not want to miss a beat. You all are so interesting.


Stop and smell the Spider Lillies
















But, as Brazilians say, “Chega!” “Enough!”

With you as my witness, I hereby vow to take a thirteen-day break from all online things social beginning today. Almost TWO weeks. No checking in, no posting photos, no liking what you’re up to, no tweeting, nada.

It will give you a break, too.

And, no, there’s no deep reason, no one is forcing me, I’m not trying to set a good example. I just want to.

See you in two weeks.



Benne There?

Christian was bored this morning so he decided to cook up a batch of benne wafers. Go figure. Of course, he included a “super sized” version.

Here’s the recipe courtesy of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

1/2 c. sesame seeds

1 tbsp. butter

1 c. light-brown sugar

3 tbsp. flour

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and lightly flour some cookie sheets. Put the sesame seeds in a small pan and stir or shake them over moderate heat until they are slightly brown. Remove from the heat, stir in the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between them for the cookies to spread. Bake until just slightly brown, 4 – 6 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheets very carefully while still warm. If they stiffen and are hard to remove, put the cookie sheets back in the oven for 1 minute. Makes about 36 cookies.



I did it. I took a restaurant reviewer up on a recommendation and dove in. Manhattan is a daunting place–one does not decide what to eat but rather where to eat. It’s definitely not Charleston where there are maybe two or three worthwhile Asian spots. Leaning towards ordering room service, I checked the menu and nearly coughed up my lunch. $19.25 for a grilled cheese??? On my feet went my wide, white, I-am-a-tourist New Balance 940’s, and I headed down 7th Avenue, after a short detour to Central Park, to try my first izakaya.

Even more daunting was knowing what to order…such pressure to fit in, to be cool. So, I asked my new friends at the bar. I’m going back. To Sake Bar Hagi.

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wasabi pork dumplings

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roasted shishito pepper

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the scene

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fried squid legs

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look closely, it’s easy to miss

Lean in or lean out. What’s your pleasure? I will begin reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg to form my own opinion. But do take a minute to read this letter posted by Susan Patton in the Daily Princetonian. It will be getting a lot of attention.

The Daily Princetonian

Guest Contributor

Published: Friday, March 29th, 2013

Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had

Forget about having it all, or not having it all, leaning in or leaning out — here’s what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.

For years (decades, really) we have been bombarded with advice on professional advancement, breaking through that glass ceiling and achieving work-life balance. We can figure that out — we are Princeton women. If anyone can overcome professional obstacles, it will be our brilliant, resourceful, very well-educated selves.

Read the rest of the letter at http://dailyprincetonian.com/2013/03/29/32755/

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Dog is His Co-Pilot

photoThis weekend, Christian and Jasmine learned a new trick. She is now his co-pilot.

He had wanted badly to let her run along beside him while he pedaled. So be it, I said. And, they did. It’s something. Jasmine actually pays attention to his every move, as if to say, “See? I told you I could do it!”

Kona, on the other hand, is quite perplexed. “Stay within our sight!” I yell as they ride and run off. Kona tugs on the leash, begins to wimper, moving into full whine. And, then high pitched barks. “Wait,” I scold her, “only Jasmine may do that!” Not to worry, Kona gets her chance, every once and a while. But, poor thing, she doesn’t seem to get the anticipate-the-bike and slow down parts.

Christian is happy. I am happy and predict many adventures with his co-pilot.

My Five Know’s of Air Travel

20130223-084608.jpgWe all know the don’ts of air travel: Don’t turn on your phone after the doors are closed or before landing, don’t carry on more than two items, and, by God, don’t dare think of boarding before your turn.

So, instead I present five of my do’s.

Charge! I have become extremely dependent upon my smartphone for just about everything (boarding pass, watch, book, magazine, messenger, planner, theater, and phone) that I take advantage of every opportunity to keep it juiced up. Many airports now have convenient charging stations and we no longer have to look silly sitting on the carpet by some isolated outlet. But such amenities are few and far between (i.e., a privilege and not yet a convenience). And, unless you’re sitting in first class on certain planes or on an overseas flight, charging above 10,000 feet is not an option.

Stand, Stretch, Walk Move! Instead of sitting at the gate, waiting impatiently and listening to annoying announcements, get up and wander around. Peruse the overpriced souvenirs. Blocking fellow travelers rushing to their gates can be fun, too! There’ll be time enough for lounging around later. 

Elevate If you must sit and wait at the gate, then throw your feet up on your suitcase like I do.  Yes, it may seem gauche to some, but who cares? Your legs and feet will thank you later. Socks or no socks, that’s up to you (socks for me). But, ladies, do take extra caution when wearing a skirt or dress.

Alleviate Popping a few pills before your flight may be just as important as staying hydrated. Two regular old aspirin to prevent DVT. I know personally of frequent fliers hospitalized because of it and that’s proof enough for me. Though, remember, I am not a medical doctor so best to consult one when in doubt.

Learn and Obey Get over it and learn to tolerate the Transportation Security Administration. They are here to stay. The TSA website is chockfull of useful information; everyone who flies commercially should review this at least once. They even have an app (gasp!). And, the TSA actually has a formal complaint process if you feel you have been treated unfairly…I highly recommended using this over making a scene at the airport. Really. Bottom line: THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO BE PREPARED. And, you are dumb if you get into trouble for making snide remarks out loud.

Yes, no doubt, air travel has moved on from the days of glitz and glamour to comfort and efficiency.  What travel tips or quirks do you have to share to make it a bit more tolerable?

Grape Gratification

Courtesy of wikimedia.org

Yesterday as I thumbed through the online edition of The Wall Street Journal while sitting on my chair in the sky, an article reviewing the benefits of grape seed oil caught my eye.

We began using it for cooking after first making David Chang‘s recipe for ginger scallion sauce. Since then, it has become a kitchen staple for us. So, I thought I would share both the recipe and the article. Plus, what better ways to continue enjoying a good wine way past its time: Eat it then slather it all over you!

Ginger Scallion Sauce

Makes about 3 cups  

2½ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)

½ cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger

¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil

1½ teaspoons soy sauce, preferably usukuchi (light soy sauce)

¾ teaspoon sherry vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it’s best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it’s stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Use as directed, or apply as needed.

Here’s the article by Laura Johannes:

From Cabernet to Chardonnay, the seeds leftover from winemaking are used to make a cooking oil and skin-care products. Doctors say grapeseed oil is a healthy oil for cooking and a good moisturizer, but there is scant evidence that it keeps skin looking youthful.

Some 900 new products containing grapeseed oil have been introduced in the U.S. over the past five years—mostly for personal-care and for consumption, according to Datamonitor.

For cooking, grapeseed oil has a high smoke point—meaning it can get very hot without smoking—and a mild flavor that doesn’t interfere with other ingredients. Grapeseed oil is comparable to other better-known heart-healthy oils, but not necessarily better, says Rachel Johnson, a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont and chairwoman of the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee. Grapeseed, canola and olive oils all “have high concentrations of unsaturated fat that help promote beneficial cholesterol levels,” she says. Since each healthy oil has a different nutrient profile, Dr. Johnson says, she recommends eating a variety—but in moderation, since oils in general have about 120 calories per tablespoon.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional database, 100 grams of grapeseed oil contains 28.8 milligrams of the antioxidant vitamin E—double that of olive oil. It contains heart-healthy unsaturated fats, including linoleic acid, and is low in artery-clogging saturated fat.

The label of Napa Valley Naturals Grapeseed oil, sold by Spruce Naturals LLC of Reno, Nev., for $9.29 for a 25.4 ounce bottle, says grapeseed oil “offers one of the highest concentrations of heart healthy mono and poly-unsaturated fats of any vegetable oil, and the lowest levels of saturated fat of ANY oil.”

The USDA database shows that a tablespoon of grapeseed oil has 1.31 grams of saturated fat; olive oil has 1.86 grams and canola oil, 1.03 grams.

Fatty acid content in vegetable oils can vary significantly, a spokeswoman for Spruce Naturals says, depending on factors such as differences in climate, soil, seed variety and how the oil is pressed. The lowest values for grapeseed oil can be lower than some canola oils, she added.

A spokeswoman for the USDA says its database does account for seasonal, geographic, and varietal differences, although the information isn’t meant to serve as an authority for claims made, including claims on labeling and in marketing.

The market for grapeseed oil as a cosmetic is booming. Aura Cacia, a skin-care, grapeseed oil from Frontier Natural Products Co-op Inc. that sells for $4.99 for four ounces, has an “excellent balance of skin supporting compounds,” such as oleic and linoleic acids, according to the Norway, Iowa, company’s website.

Grapeseed Co., Santa Barbara, Calif., sells about 80 products containing byproducts from the wine industry—including Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Merlot seeds pressed into oils. The label for Grapeseed Co.’s 100% pure grapeseed oil, $16 for 4.4 ounces, says “anti-aging skin care from the vine.”

According to the website, the product is rich in antioxidants, which “help fight free radical damage, the signs of aging, and heal skin exposed to natural elements.”

Jessica Wu, a Los Angeles dermatologist and author of “Feed Your Face,” a book about nutrition and food-based topical treatments for skin, says “there is very little in the way of clinical trials” showing the anti-aging benefits of grapeseed oil.

Grapeseed Co. and Frontier say they haven’t done clinical studies on their products. Grapeseed’s CEO Kristin Fraser Cotte says the company’s claim of anti-aging is based on the fact that its products contain antioxidants, or substances that protect cells against unstable molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells.

She adds that the company’s oil absorbs into the skin “quickly and easily” and customers are happy with the products.

Frontier spokesman Thomas J. Havran says the company’s claim of skin-supporting is based on a “general body of knowledge” about the value of essential fatty acids for skin.

It is unclear whether the antioxidants in grapeseed oil penetrate the skin sufficiently to benefit the skin, dermatologists say. But since grapeseed oil is a light oil, its antioxidants stand a “better chance” of penetrating than those in some other oils, says Washington, D.C., dermatologist Tina Alster.

Antioxidants applied topically have been shown to protect against sun damage that can cause wrinkles and changes in skin pigmentation, Dr. Alster says. Vitamin E in particular can help boost collagen, a protein that gives skin its structure, she says.

Dr. Wu says fatty acids such as linoleic acid have been shown in scientific studies to be good for dry skin—and since dry skin can look more wrinkled, this could soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. She says grapeseed oil is a good moisturizer and is thinner than many other oils so “you won’t look like you are walking around with oil slick on your face.”

– Originally published in The Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2013

Everything’s Amazing

Today, I resurrect my life as a road warrior.

It’s Monday for many of us, so I thought I would add a bit of levity to begin the day: Louis C.K.’s rant about how we whine about everything amazing. Enjoy it during a smoke social break. I’ll still be laughing to myself as I sit on my chair in the sky.

(Be aware that Mr. Szekley is not known for family-friendly language.)