There's a side story, equally compelling, about the camera he used: The Polaroid SX-70. An instant camera that delivered color photos with quality that rivalled traditional film, it became an art tool that inspired many projects, including Livingston's.
Photo from Wikipedia
This camera's technology story has always interested me because it is not just about a camera. The SX-70 was a system that embodied dozens of remarkable technologies. Inspired by the genius Edwin Land, the Polaroid team reinvented every aspect of the SX-70 -- the way it works, the film, the mechanics and the electronics, the lenses for both viewing and picture-taking, the flash, the form factor and remarkable folding mechanism, the manufacturing and design processes, the amazing chemistry, the motors, the battery. Few inventions have such a broad range of innovations.
It is a human story, too, as Land and his team spared no effort and no expense to develop what any sane person would have called impossible at the time.
View the film that is included in the article. "Charles and Ray Eames produced an eleven-minute advertisement/explainer film for it in 1972. The film starts with a discussion of Polaroid’s history and goes into a surprisingly technical description of the camera’s operation and even its manufacturing process." It talks about how the SX-70 broke down creative barriers to bring photographers closer to the images and to the stories they wanted to tell.
It was over a year ago that I ran across the most jaw-dropping bacon creation ever. Sitting here now, I am wondering why I never made one. I wanted to. I certainly wanted to see one, to taste one. I don't know, maybe I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the expectations. Maybe my cardiac angel was stopping me.
This is why men hang in packs. As fast as you can say, "Hey Bubba, hold my beer and watch this," surely one of our comrades will step in. So I will start by thanking John Bodeau, the man of the hour.
The Bacon Roll of Doom, as John calls it, was born as The Bacon Explosion at bbqaddicts.com. A meat-on-meat peak protein experience, it stands out even on a meat lover's enclave.
You start with bacon. Add bacon. But bacon alone does not a roll make. We need something for structure. How about sausage?!
Sausage and bacon. Bacon and sausage.
But we are not done. This is where brilliance become genius: They wrap it in a bed of bacon made by (this is so beautiful) weaving bacon
strips to make a manly placemat. Layer sausage on the bacon mat, roll, brush with barbecue sauce, roast and watch men gather as if someone just fired up a gasoline-powered wheelbarrow.
And yes, it was everything any of us could ever have hoped. Meaty and porky, with a crisped bacon jacket and just enough sweet tang from the barbecue sauce.
John contemplates his bacony masterpiece
And when all that was left was the oink, John's comment was, "It was more fun putting it together than I can say."
If you see a typo here on FeedMe — or if I am just wrong about something (could happen!), please do e-mail me. I appreciate being corrected. When I was young, I remember my Mom telling me that people for whom English is not their first language always appreciate a correction. I do, too. Otherwise, how can we learn?
I am reminded of a favorite poem:
I have a spelling checker. It came with my PC. It plainly marks four my revue Mistakes I cannot sea. I've run this poem threw it, I'm sure your please too no, Its letter perfect, in it's weigh, My checker tolled me sew.
Easily the tackiest, ugliest thing that I love in my kitchen is the Ove'Glove. It's actually uglier than its name. I have to wonder what made me buy this "As Seen on TV" item but guess what — I use it. All. The. Time.
Oven mitts, in flower patterns, are a standard item but they make them out of old-school fabrics. Then there are the silicone mitts that are space-age and work great, except that holding anything is like working in a space suit. Yes, nothing better than having a hot roast chicken sliding across the floor. But hey, my hands aren't burned!
The Ove'Glove is a glove made of heat-resistant Nomex and Kevlar, space age fabrics used in firefighting gear. The outside is printed with slip-resistant silicone lines. It fits either hand and is reasonably comfortable. It does what you would hope: lets you handle hot pots with better dexterity and grip appeal than the oven mitts Grandma gave you.
I found mine at the local pharmacy (remember when drug stores only sold drugs?) and they're all over the web, including at Amazon.
There are some other brands now but sadly, they are not as homely.
My mother reminded me today about how we used to deliver Easter baskets. I had all but forgotten.
A few weeks before Easter, my mother would call the school nurse, Mrs. Robinson, and ask for names of local families who were especially needy ("You couldn't do that today," she sighed). Over the next few weeks, she would corral my brothers and me and we would make Easter baskets from milk cartons she had saved. We'd decorate eggs. We'd make Jell-O eggs from hollowed-out egg shells, by filling them halfway with one color of Jell-O, chilling, then topping them off with a second color. We made cupcakes, each decorated with the children's names. A little paper hat, ruffled collar, and glued on nose made a "clown egg." She made sure each basket was identical so children in the family would all get the same thing.
Very early on Easter morning, we would drive to their homes and drop off the Easter baskets.
Over the years, we would hear stories about these mysterious baskets. People would ask neighbors and relatives but no one knew who the secret bunny was. One time, my brother Arthur was confronted by a class mate who said she knew he was the Easter Bunny. She was up very early, saw a car drive up, and saw Arthur drop off the basket. Arthur reported back to Mom that he had to "lie" to keep our secret.
We also heard about a family who woke up to find colored eggs and parts of cupcakes all over their yard. It seems their dog had a wonderful Easter that year.
As I've grown up, I have discovered a lot examples of how unusual my parents were. She did this kind of thing naturally. She was teaching her sons to be giving and to honor other people's holidays and traditions, and giving us a way to participate in Easter.
At the time, it all seemed unremarkable. As kids, we have nothing to
compare to. But now I know, I was raised by Marion Rubenzahl, the Secret Jewish Easter Bunny.
I love the food here in Northern California. It's superior in almost every way to the food I had growing up in upstate New York.
Regulars know that I have been on a long quest for proper New York pizza. The kind that's available in a New York minute on just about every block in Manhattan. (I'm also seeking great fried chicken and New York deli, so comment if you have a lead.)
It’s high and puffy on the edges, with airy, rolling caverns that provide great chew and crunch.
It’s thinner, yet still crisp, in the center. And when the wheel of a pizza cutter slices through it, there’s a distinctive “crack, crack, crackle” sound.
“The pizza talks to me now,” says Chef Howard Bulka of the just-opened Howie’s Artisan Pizza in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.
Indeed, it does.
I was on my way.
Food Gal covered the place well. It was busy, on a weeknight, and we had to wait — not too long — for a table. We ordered three pizzas: An everything, a sausage and broccoli rabe, and a pepperoni.
Sorry about the crappy cell phone pics, by the way — all I had.
Before long, we met Howie. He's easy to spot: the only one without a Howie's shirt.
And covered with flour because Howie has been where he loves to be: behind the counter, throwing dough.
So how was it? Here's what you need to know: I was happy. But Howie? Not satisfied. Compliment his pies and he'll start talking about how he's still tweaking, how it's so busy but he really wants to — well, this is Silicon Valley, and the guy wants to do some more R&D. "I’ve been cooking 30 years, and I’ve never been perplexed as I have been by pizza dough," he told Food Gal.
Me? I give it 4-1/2 stars, which is more than I have given any pizza place outside New York, New Jersey, or Chicago. I rated it as I would if I had this pizza in Manhattan. What worked: Hot oven, crackling, thin crust. Fresh ingredients and really nice flavors. The broccoli rabe was terrific. I didn't see the wild mushroom pie Food Gal had but will go for the more intricate combinations next time.
I'd have liked a bit more chew at the outside edges and I like to see more big bubbles and fire-kissed, blackened spots. Howie's pizzas are more refined than I like. They don't show the scars of the furnace. (Though I note some gloriously charred spots on the pictures Food Gal took — maybe the ovens were fatigued the night I went.) I also might have liked some seriously stretchy cheese, a cushion over the cracker-like crust.
But that's all nit-picking. I'll be going back again. I want to see where Howie's tweaking takes this fine pie.
I've posted before about the vastly superior spices and herbs available on-line. Here's a great gift idea for friends who are foodies (or need your help to turn into a foodie!).
Penzey's has a great gift set. A deal at its normal $12 price, more of a deal ($7.95) until December 31, 2009. It contains four of my favorites: Their must-have cinnamon; Mural of Flavor, a wonderful salt-free blend; their fresh ground pepper; and their granulated garlic. All four are way better than you'll ever find at the grocery store.
I have always been curious about ceramic knives but not curious enough to pay a steep price for what reviews say is a deft, but fragile, instrument. Ceramic is very hard, so they never need sharpening. Indeed, they can't be sharpened so the edge had better last forever. Unlike metal, ceramic is easily chipped. And once damaged, they're trash because unlike a metal knife, chips and nicks can't be ground away. So I am reluctant to spend hundreds of dollars to augment the knives I already love.
Then I stumbled on a ceramic paring knife — for about $9. Dealextreme is an Internet seller of very inexpensive gear. They sell computer and camera accessories, toys, gadgets, and household items that are manufactured on the cheap by Asian manufacturers. Most of what they sell is pretty good quality and the prices are amazing. Shipping is free but it usually takes a couple of weeks. I ordered one and I have to say, I was impressed. The quality is pretty good and it is quite sharp. It will presumably remain sharp for years, and so far hasn't been damaged.
I also bought a ceramic vegetable peeler and was less impressed. A peeler has to be very sharp and this wasn't quite sharp enough. Still, it was mere $3.
All that said, I still am not a ceramic knife fan. They don't need to be sharpened but I don't find sharpening my knives much bother. I use a steel on them every time and only need to sharpen them a couple of times a year. Except for the eversharp edge, a ceramic knife is no better than a well-sharpened metal knife. So I'll probably buy another cheap ceramic knife but they won't be displacing my favorites.
If you're in the market for a knife, be sure to check out my article on knives, with recommendations.
Serious Eats Serious Eats is another blog which plants its stake, and its steak, in the fertile land where food meets science. There is lots of great material here, much of it by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, or Kenji. If you like FeedMe, you will like Serious Eats.
Cooking for Engineers What do you get when you apply the engineer's mind to the kitchen? Straightforward, practical recipes and tips and a passion for simplifying without sacrificing quality.