Archive for April, 2007

The original blogger

I just finished reading Sketches from a Life by George F. Kennan. It contains entries from his travel diaries written during his long career as a cold-war diplomat and after. He seems to have spent most of his life in different cities and countries, mostly Northern countries and writes beautifully of the particular slant of the northern light and the beauty of the tidy Norwegian farms and valleys (his wife was Norwegian). The book touches very little on the official business that engaged him, but instead is his record of impressions, chance occurrences and observations. It is very much in the style of a blog – personal, impressionistic and impromptu. He writes very beautifully and with great feeling at every stage of his life. The first sketch is from 1927, when he was stationed in Hamburg and his last, an epilogue written at his beloved farm in Pennsylvania in 1988.  Kennan died in 2005, at the age 0f 101.


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Homemade Potato Chips

Roasted Potato Chips a la Hotel Roanoke

The last thing I need are potato chips, but I had some homemade chips as an appetizer at the beautiful old hotel in Roanoke, Virginia.  I’ve been craving them ever since and came up with a non-fried alternative.

2 pounds (2 or 3 large) potatoes (I used russets or largish red ones), sliced as thin as you can. If your knife is sharp enough you can do it. I had a mandolin once but I was afraid of it so I returned it.

Toss in a bowl with 1/2 tsp coarse salt, 1/4 tsp sugar and 3 T. olive oil.  Thinly slice 6 cloves garlic and toss with 1/2 T. olive oil. Spread potatoes evenly across a cookie sheet and bake at 450 (I use the convection feature) for about 15 minutes, checking often and turning or redistributing as needed. When they are nearly done, add the garlic and continue to cook until crisp and beginning to brown.

Sprinkle with crumbled bleu cheese or gorgonzola and sliced scallions.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or side-dish.

These were well-received along with some California Rolls and Tuna Skewers with Wasabi Mayonnaise for a light pre-theatre meal.

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It’s probably sacrilege, but I don’t usually enjoy John McPhee’s essays – too long, dry and minutely detailed, but the latest “Season on the Chalk,” is an easy read, with many amusing touches. It was quite enjoyable. The Fiction, “See the Other Side” was also quite good, with a wonderful moment in a chapel crowded with tourists somewhere in Italy, “This is how it will be right after death:  there will be the sound of others breathing and sniffling in the dark; heat, anticipation, a subtle hostility toward one’s fellow-traveler; a polite decision not to show this hostility…”

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