Eats: Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

MUCH AS I LIKE RESTAURANTS, especially Chinese restaurants, there are some things I’ve learned to like better (and cheaper) from my own kitchen. This recipe (https://www.thekitchn.com/slow-cooker-orange-chicken-recipe-253412) is evidence. It’s a bit of a process to prepare — zesting and juicing a couple of oranges, pan-frying corn-starchy diced chicken, making the sauce — but the results are ample reward: clean, citrusy, non-cloying, delicious. And as it’s designed to serve 4-6 people, you’ll have a ton of freezable leftovers. Bon appetit!

The (Other) Giving Tree

Click to enlarge.

BY A PATH IN SONOMA’S rustic Mountain Cemetery stands an oak tree bearing the creative goodwill of self-selected and diligent passersby.

It began a few years ago, with three small figurines — a white winged angel, a faceless blue woman and a replica of the Venus of Willendorf — all tucked into the tree’s head-high hollow. Ann and I noticed this tableau as we made our way uphill past a right-hand row of Italian graves and sarcophagi (this is your only clue about the tree’s location), and paused. “Somebody made a shrine,” we said. “Cool.”

After a time, and many walks, the blue woman disappeared, to be replaced by a folded dollar bill.

Tortured Gastronome

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock (5895871s)

EVERY TIME ANTHONY BOURDAIN MAKES a reference on one of his TV shows to hanging himself in a shower stall, Ann and I swap meaningful looks.

After all, that’s exactly how the 61-year-old chef, traveler, writer and raconteur ended up this past June: found dead by his best friend in a French hotel bathroom. It’s now jarring to see him make such an apparently-then glib, ultimately prophetic remark. But it’s typical of chronic depression, and likewise typical of Bourdain’s mordant candor and fierce honesty. He was a straight-up, follow-the-story-wherever-it-goes kind of showmaker.

Life’s Little Soundtrack

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ONE OF MY FAVORITE “MIX-TAPE” CDs is titled “The True and The Brave – ANTHEMS.” It’s comprised, near as I could make it so, of songs meant to make one stand up and feel counted. I like to play it when I’m sad or need some mental refreshment. The 24 songs include Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “Won’t Back Down;” DEVO‘s “Through Being Cool” (although ‘most all of DEVO’s songs could fit the anti-melancholy bill); a really bitchin’ punk version of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold);” The Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line;” Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping;” the theme music for the mythical TV show “Galaxy Quest” (which, along with Green Day’s “Fork in the Road,” never fails to bring a tear to at least one eye); and several others.

Words To Bring Back: “Proffer”

– Definition: v. t. To offer for acceptance.

– Used in a sentence:To you the reader, I hereby and humbly proffer my Cook For Any Price stories.

– Why: It implies a social contract somewhat different from its rhyming synonym; I think of it as a kinder, genteeler sort of offer.

First Graf: Understanding Comics

THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE THE way you think about (as author Scott McCloud concisely defines it) “sequential art.”

McCloud takes us inside the art form to explain how and why comics/graphic novels work. He tracks the 3,000-year history of Sequential Art from its Egyptian origins to the present day (well, the book’s 1993 publication anyway), breaking down the elements of composition, line, color, symbols, time, and the use of words; he even has a chapter on the unspoken relationship between panels and the space between them. Let’s let the chapter titles speak for themselves:

365 Names of God: “The Divine”

THE DIVINE This Name tends to be used in circles where the word “God” might cause people discomfort for one reason or another. I’ve mostly seen it in New Age contexts as a non-anthropomorphic gambit to refer to an intentionless force similar to Tao, and have used it myself if I think my co-conversationalist has bad associations with “God.” But I long for a world where “God” can automatically mean “that-which-some-people-call-God,” with no dangerous baggage. (Open your suitcase, please.)