Walt Whitman, Hipster Advice Columnist

Walt Whitman, advice columnist | Plate & Pencil

“Whoa, Walt Whitman was a lifestyle columnist for modern-day Brooklyn hipster dudes,” my pal Cathy Erway tweeted today, linking to a fun NPR piece. Apparently, the legendary 19th century writer started an advice column called “Manly Health and Training" in 1858 during a period of uncertainty with his journalism career, possibly to rebrand himself as a lifestyle writer and lecturer.

Walt had very strong opinions on important topics such as beards, cold baths, and dancing. But what was most interesting were his thoughts on the optimal diet for the “hearty man”. Pork, lobster, butter, ketchup, and potatoes were among the many things to be avoided. What to consume instead? “A simple diet of rare-cooked beef, seasoned with a little salt, and accompanied with stale bread or sea-biscuit.”

Some recent press

Oof! Where does the time go? I just realized it has been almost a year since I last blogged here and almost a year since launching Plate & Pencil. Between running the shop, promoting my cookbook, and teaching, blogging here and at Appetite for China has unfortunately been put on the backburner. My resolution for this month is go slowly get back into posting about food & design, and for next year to definitely blog more regularly again.

In the meantime, I've been very excited to have been featured in some wide-reaching press and shout outs lately, including Real Simple and the Etsy Finds, and a bit earlier in the year from Food & Wine. It's also been very fun and challenging to progress to doing wholesale with local shops, and thrilling mailing products to customers around the world (11 countries outside the US and counting!) 

Soon I'll also be putting up new holiday products in the shop in addition to recent new fun things like the Food of France print and dumpling onesies in new colors. For now, I'll head back to the drawing board (literally!) to finish off some holiday cards.

A Sneak Peak


It's been a little quiet here the past few months but here's a sneak peak of what has been going on in this neck of the woods. In addition to continuing with cooking classes and food writing, I'm starting up a shop for food-inspired gifts! There will be a site name change, but the blog portion will still be devoted to a love of food from all corners of the globe. 

We're launching this month just in time for the holidays, so stay tuned!

Events, Farms

Tangra Summer - An Indian-Chinese Seasonal Dinner

The idea for Tangra Summer came about a few months ago. My friend Chitra Agrawal, founder of The ABCD's of Cooking and a cooking teacher who specializes in Indian food, had suggested we team up to create a pop-up dinner to celebrate local food in Brooklyn. A farm-to-table dinner with a twist. Instead of New American cooking, we could combine our respective backgrounds in Indian and Chinese cooking and create a cross-cultural vegetarian dinner highlighting seasonal food in Brooklyn.

It took me about half a second to say yes. And so Tangra was born.

Named after a Calcutta neighborhood home that was the birthplace of Indian-Chinese cuisine, Tangra will be held once a season to celebrate farm fresh produce. Our inaugural dinner, Tangra Summer 2013, will debut August 25th at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum, a Dutch farmhouse that dates back to 1652 and is New York's oldest surviving structure. The dinner will take place inside the historic farmhouse, with dishes served family-style, featuring vegetables grown onsite from head Wyckoff gardener Jason Gaspar and beers from our sponsors Big Alice Brewing out of Long Island City.


Raspberry Breakfast Parfait

Last month Fast Company published a great short piece entitled The Hidden Link Between Breakfast and Productivity. But it's not about filling your stomach or nutrition, though those factors are also important. Rather, it was about how having at least one thing completely figured out in the morning leaves you more mental energy for the rest of your day.

Or, as writer Drake Baer put it, "if you don't decide on how to make decisions, you'll be exhausted by the time you finish that bowl of cereal."

I'm one of those people for whom decision-making is usually pretty exhaustive. (A maximizer, according to The Paradox of Choice.) I research every purchase carefully, from important ones like jobs and apartments to minor ones like brands of environmentally-friendly dish soap. And as a food writer, well, friends often leave it up to me to decide where to go for dinner, for occasions big and small. Let's just say I (needlessly) feel the pressure and can spend way too much time cross-referencing 80 restaurant reviews before coming up with some place for a quick bite on a Tuesday night.


Strawberry Rosewater Smoothie

Ever since I bought a blender a few months ago, I haven't gone a day without using it. There were weeks when I bought so many bags of frozen blueberries that my favorite grocery store would run out. When I'm working from home, I'd make 2 or 3 smoothies a day. But, I guess, there are worse things to be addicted to.

Now that fresh berries are in season, the smoothie making has gone into overdrive. There is no time that's inappropriate. Sometimes I'd even make one at 11pm, to sip on the couch while reading a book or catching up on Mad Men. (Sorry, neighbors, for the extra-loudness of my blender.)

I mean, with fresh strawberries that look like these, how can you not?