Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Kind of Blue

I've met people who seem to resent their bodies. Maybe they find their skin and bones limiting or ugly or even bothersome. Truthfully, there is responsibility involved in owning a body. It needs to be fed, walked, watered, bathed and stroked. Some would, understandably, rather just spend time on other projects and pursuits.

On the other hand, there here are, among us, those who truly relish living in their bodies. They're sensualists. Hedonists. Lovers. Athletes. Thrill-seekers. Epicurians. Dancers. These are often the people we describe as having a joie de vivre.

My dad was among that latter group. He loved his body. He praised it and developed it. He grew his hair long and shiny. He was fearless at the beach, and he showed off his thickly muscled arms and legs whenever he could.

So it was especially rotten when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease) last fall. His muscles freaked out. His nerves stopped talking. He grew a little weaker every day. It progressed faster than anyone expected.

There was nothing to be done. It's fatal. Weirdly, doctors told him to avoid saturated fat and meat. But when you're issued a death sentence, that advice doesn't seem very rational. A coronary would've been a blessing.

So I cooked. We ate. We talked. I'm grateful for that.

Honestly, all lives have limited-time offers. We hope for 80 or more healthy years, but we really don't know how much time we're allotted. It's one of those mysteries we collectively share. Today could be the last day above ground. Or maybe it's tomorrow. Who knows?

washed blueberries

My childhood Sundays with dad always meant picking apart the Sunday paper with hot blueberry muffins and a soundtrack by Miles Davis.

Sometimes he put on Sketches of Spain, but most of the time, it was Kind of Blue.

He sipped coffee. I drank milk. And we spent our Sunday mornings in delicious idle domesticity.

Coincidentally, his death corresponds with the dawn of our local blueberry season, so I submit this recipe in honor of my dad, who so beautifully demonstrated a love of life.
Classic Sunday-Morning Blueberry Muffins (Makes 12-15)
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 3/4 cup sifted flour (use All-Purpose or an AP/whole wheat blend)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries (or more!)
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
2. Beat in the milk, egg and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add the dry mixture into the butter mixture.
4. Mix until just moistened. Fold in the blueberries and zest (if using).
5. Line a muffin pan with papers, or grease the cups before filling each cup 2/3 full with the batter.
6. Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, and serve with butter, the Sunday paper and Miles Davis, if desired.

You can actually use whichever berry strikes your fancy or happens to look good at the market.


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The Second Day Goes to the Dogs

Dragons and lions will be set loose in the streets. Explosions will sound. Noodles will be slurped.

Yes, the Lunar New Year (celebrating the Brown Earth Rat) celebrations begin this week on Thursday and run for 15 days. Here in New York, that means parades out in New York's new Chinatown (Flushing, Queens) and many a dumpling consumed down in Manhattan's old Chinatown.

I've been doing a bit of research, and it turns out that New Year traditions are pretty involved: clean the house, burn the kitchen god, visit the old folks, light up lots of fireworks, give the kids red envelopes full of money, cook whole fish and dumplings, remember which days are unlucky for visiting the relatives, etc. etc.

In all, it's a pretty exhausting list of tasks, but I'm particularly charmed by a few details, including the tradition on the second day of the New Year, which is reserved for being sweet to dogs. Apparently, the second Lunar New Year day is the birthday of all dogs. Awww!

Attack Pugs

I don't have a pup of my own at the moment, but there's certainly some four-legged friends I love quite a lot. Here's a recipe for homemade Lunar New Year pooch treats just in time for your second-day celebrations.

Make up a batch of all-natural bites for some cutie canine you care for, and wish 'em a happy birthday for me.

Lunar New Year Doggie Crunchers

2 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup mashed squash or squash baby food
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or reserved bacon fat)
4 crisp-cooked bacon slices, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Blend flour and wheat germ in a bowl.
3. Mix milk, egg, squash and vegetable oil in a separate bowl.
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix in bacon crumbles.
5. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/2" thick and cut out shapes with your favorite cookie cutter (or the open edge of a juice glass).
6. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until crisp and dried.
7. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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