Opinion

The Flavors of Calcutta Style Biryani

In my friend Nina’s kitchen near Fayettye, MO, there are traces of distant other worlds, and something is always combusting.  While preparing recipes from her mother’s Indian kitchen a few years ago, the idea for a culinary memoir, Biting Through the Skin:  An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, took shape.  Rich in food and geographic

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“Little Women” and Equal Rights Matter

American author Louisa May Alcott understood the life-shaping power of growing up with sisters.  Like her, I grew up as one of four sisters. Kit had three older sisters who collectively provided lively, literate, exuberant memories during his early life that live on to this day. His mother, a poet and outspoken social activist, wrote

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A Holiday Gift of Heritage Beans

Beans don’t always get great press, but being my father’s daughter, our kitchen is never without them. Pinto, kidney, cannellini, garbanzo, navy, black, refried and baked beans are stacked two cans high and three deep in the pantry, along with bags of dried beans as well.  This Christmas, even more beans were added to our

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Winter Light, Winter White

This predawn winter morning, icy patches of snow still cover the edges of the meadow near the woods.  A waning crescent moon and bright stars are my only light as I walk.  As my eyes adjust to the darkness, familiar constellations emerge and assure me that I will never be lost under their watch.  For

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The Stories a Christmas Tree Tells

On December 12 at 12:12 a.m., the final full moon of the decade lit up the early morning sky, and stars twinkled like Shiny Brite ornaments from Christmases past.  That night, I thought about my mother Alice who celebrated 100 Christmases during her lifetime.   My first Christmas memories are of the dazzling trees she

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An Unanticipated Off-the-Grid Detour

As December got underway, bizarre occurrences began taking place in and around Boomerang Creek. It was as if a boggart—a malevolent spirit from English folklore and Harry Potter tales—had taken over our household and fields.  According to English lore, such household fairies were thought to cause mischief, things to disappear, milk to go sour, and

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Snail Mail Time Travel

On January 31, 1995, I mailed a postcard to my father from Sydney, Australia.  Kit and I were near the end of a month-long lecture cruise that had taken us across the Pacific by ship to Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, up the east coast of Australia to Darwin where we left the ship that

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Women of Impact

The November 2019 National Geographic magazine is a celebration of women of impact around the world who fearlessly push boundaries.   The issue is entitled “Women:  A Century of Change.”  Susan Goldberg—the magazine’s 10th and first female editor—writes about some of those changes by going back to the magazine’s founding moment.  “The first scene in

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Planning an Epicurious Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving is always the fourth Thursday of November, which usually leaves at least a week for America to digest the bodacious family meal, travel back home from family gatherings, and have a breather, albeit brief, before preparations for the Christmas holidays take over the December calendar.  This year, it is so late, Kit and I

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Dealing with Change

This November has been a month of dealing with change. As the moon grew full the first week of the month, days were seasonably warm though occasional nighttime lows dipped below freezing—a harbinger of an arctic blast descending from the north. Animals and birds seemed to sense that change was in the air long before

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