Andrew Sachs
Los Angeles, United States

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Wow. Looks more like gaudi than dali to me.

Gingerbread odyssey

Two days ago we started construction on a gingerbread house, using the Lebkuchen recipe. If you are thinking about making a gingerbread house I would highly recommend this recipe. The walls were sturdy, yet still moist and most important delicious.

The first part of the process was a delight. My buddy Eric came by and we started with some serious “gingerneering.” As a marriage saving precaution I highly recommend embarking on a gingerbread house with a friend and not a spouse. After all a friend goes home at the end of the day, but a spouse you have to sleep with.

We planned out the structure before we began rolling. We double checked our plans and lots of baking ensued. The lebkuchen walls came out of the oven nice and moist and were easy to cut. As they cooled the walls hardened.

The next step was the most dangerous and required the most dexterity — melted sugar as glue. Miraculously no fingers were burned. Better yet the walls held together beautifully. We put the roof on before calling it a night and the kids found a completed, albeit undecorated, house waiting for them in the morning.

Our eight year old neighbor Sara joined the party (my girls are 2 and 5) and we set about making gingerbread men, smiley faces, peace signs and snails from the leftover dough.

Up to now the process was peacefully and fun. Then the storm hit. A gaggle of children came over to help decorate. Candy and cookies, coconut and confections were set out for decorations. Within moments the carefully constructed house looked like something out of a Dali dream. Little hands alternated between hurling calories at our icing coated structure and stuffing building materials into their mouths. The pitch in the room grew to deafening proportions. Some parents attempted to moderate the madness, most gave in to the inevitable, grabbed a cocktail and searched for quiet locations.

There was a brief moment of calm when construction halted, glasses of milk were filled and all admired the colorful caloric creation. You could almost hear the sugar coursing through the young veins. There are scientists who claim that sugar does not impact hyperactivity. These charlatans would have conceded to the inevitable reality had they been within two square miles of my home in the late afternoon yesterday.

The destruction began slow. Even the most misbehaved child was weary of taking the first whack. But after a little encouragement — all hell broke loose. My carefully constructed creation was reduced to a delicious ruble.

I’m headed to the farmers market now to atone for my sins.

Happy holidays.


Today we are making gingerbread houses using John’s Lebkuchen recipe. The dough tastes great. Pictures coming soon.

Soup —It’s a marvelous thing!

A new study reported in the the open-access journal Pathogens documents why the flu is more common in winter than in summer. “Using the guinea pig model, we have evaluated the effects of temperature and relative humidity on influenza virus spread. By housing infected and naïve guinea pigs together in an environmental chamber, we carried out transmission experiments under conditions of controlled temperature and humidity. We found that low relative humidities of 20%–35% were most favorable, while transmission was completely blocked at a high relative humidity of 80%.

So a house in winter filled with the warm embrace of a chicken soup simmering does more than smell good. It raises the relative humidity (my windows are always fogging up) and as the good scientists say he higher the humidity the lower the level of influenza transmission. Grandma was right, so eat your soup it’ll keep your healthy and strong — provided you simmer your own at home.

The season of the cookie has begun.


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Sending you a Happy Thanksgiving from Rhode Island!!!!! Love and hugs, Sara, Mathew, Cooper, Fiona and Mo :)

It’s a large world after all!

Disneyland has quietly closed it’s signature “It’s a Small World” ride for a much needed face lift. Apparently the boats are bottoming out thanks to heavier than anticipated loads. That’s Disney speak for politely saying that we are getting fatter and the boats can’t handle the excess weight.

When the ride was built forty-three years ago American men and woman were on average 25 pounds lighter. The average weight for men in 1960 was 166 pounds and women were a scant 140. As of 2002 the average male weighs in at 191 and the female at 164.

So after 40 years of fad diets we are fatter than ever. Perhaps it is time to revisit the GreatGrub diet strategy of everything in moderation.

Disney handles the indelicate task of lightening the load by offering the booted tubsters coupons for free food.

“Oooh, I hope it’s not natures candy”

spoken by one of the neighborhood kids while waiting at the door for a Halloween treat

This is an astonishing story. I can’t help wondering, though, why they don’t just cut big carrots into small, bite-sized pieces.

Where are you Jamie Oliver
Our nation turns it’s hungry eyes to you

Today the New York Times published an article about the difficulties getting locally grown carrots into New York City school cafeterias. It’s an reasonable article and I encourage you to read it. But while reading about the absurdity of upstate farmers trying to figure out how to manufacture baby carrots to satisfy the red tape requirements of the bureaucracy to in the name of environmentalism, in the back of my mind I was thinking about Jamie Oliver.

Jamie is an example of a brave chef standing up for his beliefs and risking his good name in the process. The celebrity chef has badgered politicians, parents and educators to pay attention to the meals served in London Schools. He’s paid a price for passion. The news has jumped on reports of angry mom’s smuggling junk food into their hungry children all the while cursing the name of Jamie Oliver. But I tilt my hat to the young man who has affected change and brought the debate to the fore.

But what about the shining metropolis of Manhattan? Is there not one celebrity chef willing to take up the call? Childhood obesity rates are rising at alarming rates and the best we can come up with is manufactured baby carrots and the wife of a celebrity comedian promoting pureed vegitables in brownies. Is that really the best we can do?

Common Sense Alert

Don’t lie to your kids. Choose whatever metaphor you like when it comes to the birds and the bee’s, but for goodness sake don’t lie to them about something a basic and delicious as food.

Jessica Seinfeld, the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, has come out with a terrible sounding cookbook called “deceptively delicious” designed to sneak “healthy” foods into convenience foods and desserts. And shame on her and her publishers for selling her book as the antidote to rapidly expanding childhood obesity. Sticking pureed broccoli into brownies does not make fat kids thin. It is crime to brownies, broccoli, and the poor confused kids who have to eat them. Treats are treats, broccoli is damn good when well prepared and if you want your kids to eat well sit down and have a meal with them. After all they eat what we eat.

And most important - please don’t buy this book. If you want your kids to be healthy apply a little common sense, and don’t believe anything that sounds too cute to be true.

Common Sense Alert

Last night was our anniversary. We passed the seven year itch with barely a scratch.

To celebrate we cooked a special dinner with the kids. From the butcher we picked up a beautifully marbled aged ribeye which is as rich and buttery as it is pricey. The kids had great fun watching the flames of the grill leap to the melting fat. Meanwhile my wife made an Israeli Couscous and in the spirit of improvisation attempted a creamed spinach which didn’t quite work but was well appreciated. For dessert we whipped up some cream and sprinkled raspberries on top. The delight the kids took from whipping the cream was almost as great as their joy in eating the finished product. It was a magical night for all of us that exceed by far the sum of the mere ingredients that comprised the meal.

It occurs to me that there are three kinds of salads.

  1. Bad salads. You know these salads well. Think about salad bar salads, iceberg lettuce with bottled dressing salads, wilted lettuce with a random tasteless cherry tomato garnish salads.

  2. Salads that are delicious because they are filled with all kinds of yummie things. Think about the chopped salads, Cobb Salads and the like that so many restaurants are famous for. With these salads the lettuce is reduced to nothing more than a means to an end, a conveyance for toppings.

  3. Salads where the crisp fresh flavors of the lettuce jump out at you. Everything from butter to endive to spinach and through to rocket arugula and radicchio. Think about crisp, fresh picked organic salads with a simple vinaigrette where the flavors are balanced and the bite brightens in the mouth.

One of my favorite writers in food, Jeffery Steingarten, once wrote that any restaurant review is incomplete with out a proper discussion of the bread. The same holds true for the salad. Restaurants can be categorized by the same 3 listings. Guess which ones I like to eat in.

“No matter what the growers and the supermarkets would like you to believe, most harvested fruits do not ripen nearly as well as they would on a tree, vine, or bush, and some don’t ripen at all”

Jeffery Steigarten
from The Man Who Ate Everything

Test this precept for yourself. By a fresh peach, apple, orange, or pear at a farmers market. Then buy the same at your local big box grocer and do a blind taste test. Let me know the result. I bet you get better for cheaper dealing direct with the farmer.

Once again the New York Times has missed the message in their attempt to sensationalize a story. In the September 23 article Don’t Even Think of Touching That Cupcake by Sarah Kershaw, the writer focuses on inciting the cultural wars by highlghting the political correctness in baning cupcakes from classroom birthday parties. She pays only scant attention to the real problem which is the rapidly rising rate of child obesity in the United States. The NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics) reports from a study between 1999-2002 16 percent of children and adolescents ages 6-19 years are overweight.” This is represents a a whopping 45% increase over a similar study from 1988-1994.

Cupcakes are not the problem, they are merely a minor symptom of a much larger problem. As a nation we are not eating well and our children our suffering from our addiction to convenience foods. That does not bode well for our future and that’s the story.

The other day I was working on a chicken soup recipe using a clay pot from Chinatown. When I went to move the pot from the stove the bottom broke off spilling boiling water across my legs and feet. Fortunately my burns were only first degree and will heal. But that’s the last time I use a clay pot to make soup. If you have a similar pot I suggest you use it with care. It looks great and some believe that soup tastes better when it does not touch metal, but I now believe that chicken soup is supposed to heal not harm and the risk is not worth the benefit. I think about my daughters who were thankfully not in the kitchen. It was bad enough I had to rush to the emergency room in agony. It would have killed me if we had to take them too.

One day my daughter told me she had a recipe to write and she wanted to put it on GreatGrub. She’s was four-years-old and needless to say I was a little skeptical. But she was determined so we made an adventure out of it. She loves fish so we went to the fishmonger to pick out the fish. Then we needed some other ingredients so we stopped in the grocery store. I carried the basket and she showed me the way. That night we made the fish and after dinner she dictated while I typed. Chloe’s Fish with Eyes is that start of what I hope for Chloe is a long relationship with cooking.

Apparently all these years we’ve had it wrong. Dinner, not breakfast, is the most important meal of the day!

“A couple of years ago, there was a study to determine what caused children to get high score in the SAT’s. IQ., social circumstances, and economic states all seemed less import than another subtle factor. Youngsters who got the highest SAT scores all regularly had dinner with their parents.”

Shari Lewis Awakening your child’s natural genius

My wife has been baking non-stop and I have been making comfort dishes like Three Cheese Macaroni & Cheese. You see our daughter started nursery school this week and although she may be off on an exciting new adventure, we apparently are in need of some serious consolation.

My wife and children made White Trash Toffee. Boy is that good. It’s an awfully sweet indulgence on a hot hot day.