” Perhaps the story of our love belongs to the 1960s, when everything seemed possible, a spirit we never lost.”

Dick and I 1968

Dick and I 1968

I met him in graduate school during the early sixties, the kind of smart, studious young man I‘d always been drawn to but never managed to date.  He said “oops” a lot and was so funny that being in his company felt like having childhood for the first time. He knew music, wrote poetry in a serious way, and was, in my eyes, the smartest person in our circle. We only saw each other in a group or in a threesome, but we began to rest in each other‘s company, to draw close without touching.

In the spring of our second year, he had a series of anxiety attacks, and that summer he left graduate school to teach. He also entered therapy. We sent each other letters–he rather less frequently than I–and two years later he returned, giving me a passionate kiss upon arrival. In November he said to me, “I think I love you.” I told my friend, “He is the only man I’ve ever wanted. I’ll do anything to have him.” Continue reading

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Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.
Dorothy Day

Coyote Cafe CoverMark Miller’s Coyote Café  was first published in January of 1989, the year I became director of a women’s studies program. And, in ways I couldn’t have imagined, it  began to influence my life. I discovered the cookbook on my first trip to Santa Fe in the spring of 1992. I had recently divorced and was trying to evolve, move on, and redefine my personal life. I had also become immersed in an effort to create a cross race political alliance on my campus among faculty in women’s and ethnic studies programs. Cooking large buffets had become central to my organizing efforts. Continue reading

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99centSale_SWP2013She Writes Press (SWP), is holding a seven-day holiday sale on 18 of their titles (featured above) starting today, Friday, November 29th.  This means that the e-book version of  Tasting Home (along with 17 of its SWP litter-mates) is available for 99 cents between November 29th and December 6th.

Treat yourself or give these books as gifts to anyone with an email account. Your holiday shopping problems solved!  The books are available across all e-book formats, such as Kindle and Nook. You just pick a title you like, look it up on, say, Amazon, and click on the Give As Gift Button.  For under a buck you’ve got your e-book.  No muss, no fuss, no shipping.  For under 18 dollars you can have every book on this list. Continue reading

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Tasting Home

Tasting Home

While writing my food memoir, Tasting Home, I avoided reading anything analytical about women and food. (I had been a professor for most of my life and didn’t want to write an academic memoir.) Only after I finished the book, did I begin to read critical work on women’s culinary reflections.  It was then I learned about “the new domesticity.”

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Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

Since my interest in writing about food lies mainly in the emotional work that cooking for, and dining with, others perform, I always begin a piece on food by asking what did this cooking or dining experience mean to me? Why did I think it important?  Everything follows from that answer.

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A guest post by my favorite flash fiction writer.



Mardith Louisell writes short stories with crazy neurotic narrators. Her fiction, essays, and memoirs can be found most recently in Hospital Drive, Solstice Literary Magazine (“Had They Learned about Jayne Mansfield?”), and Redwood Coast Review, and in the anthology Travelers’ Tales:  Best Travel Writing 2012.  Beside Myself, a book of flash fiction, is her current project. Follow her at http://mardithlouisell.com/ Continue reading

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“Even siblings we don’t see, who live differently from us, who move in their own world, may be shoring up our lives, our sense of family, our feeling of being at home in the world without our knowing it.”

My younger brother died quite unexpectedly in March. He was my only sibling, the only other person left in my immediate family, both of our parents being gone.  His daughter had asked my daughter to tell me the news. “Mom?” she said on the phone, and the sorrow in her voice stopped my breathing. Had something awful happened–to her? “Gary died.” The moment tore at both of us, I initially fearing for my daughter, then losing my brother, then breaking down in tears. She thinking, I am certain, what would happen to me if, you, my mother, were to die? Continue reading

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A Lava Flow of a Pie

A Lava Flow of a Pie

Mother liked to say that Dad married her for her pies. And they were some pies. I know because I grew up on them. The undulating edges of Mother’s crusts were never hard. They flaked on the fork and melted on the tongue.  She used margarine and Crisco and a secret pinch of baking powder, an ingredient she never divulged when asked to share her recipe.  Mother, indeed, never passed on any of her recipes without quietly altering them in some way. “I always change something,” she’d say, with a childish sense of scandal in her voice, “and then people wonder why their pies don’t taste as good as mine.” In the eyes of my father and in those of family and friends, Mother was the Queen of Pies and of the kitchen in general, a modest source of power that she was invested in maintaining. Continue reading

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It is late afternoon on our last day in Santa Fe, and our reunion suppers with old friends have come to an end. We have packed, tidied our rented casita, and have made one last walk to the downtown plaza.  It is 4:30, too late for lunch, too early for dinner, but we decide to eat anyway and stroll into the courtyard of La Casa Sena, an impressionist garden of greenery, of light and shade,  and of white, yellow, and tan umbrellas. The  restaurant  had been jammed at lunch the day before, and we had refused to wait the estimated forty minutes for a table, but now, miraculously, the place  is almost empty.  Is it even serving food we wonder. Yes!  We sit at a table off to the side,  partly shielded by a bush as tall as a tree, and order mushroom tamales and chicken enchiladas.

Casa Sena 3 Continue reading

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Tasting Home Cover ThumbnailThe best piece of writing advice I ever got came from Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott. It had to do with accepting the idea of “shitty first drafts.” The second best piece of advice came from a professor whose teaching assistant I had been in English graduate school in the 1960s.  He had struck me, when we first met, as incredibly brash, an effect that he was deliberately seeking to achieve.  He’d barge into the classroom, send the blinds crashing up or down, and lie on the desk with a cigar between his teeth. “I’m Smith,” he’d say to a wide-eyed class.  He went on to become a rock star of literary criticism, publishing countless books, writing regularly for the New York Times, becoming an internationally famous intellectual. He even appeared as a character in a well known novel.

His advice? “Always recycle.” Continue reading

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