Potluck Dinners are Illegal in Arizona

Potluck dinner table

One of my most popular blog posts is on the legality of buying cherry pie with ice cream on a Sunday in Kansas. By the way it is legal. You most certainly can do this. Because it would be ludicrous if you couldn’t right? But what about potluck dinners?

Just as ludicrous would be if it were illegal to have potlucks at home in Arizona. Crazy right? Well, this is actually true. At least for now.

Currently it’s illegal to have potluck dinners at home in Arizona. Although you can legally have a potluck at work.

Recent legislation (H.B. 2341) created an exemption in the law, so that potlucks in Arizona homes will soon be taking place within the bounds of the law. However, the effective date for the new law isn’t until August 6, 2016, according to the Arizona State Legislature’s website.

So if you want to live on the edge of the law, try having a potluck before then. Or not. I don’t encourage breaking any laws here!

But it does seem unlikely that they would enforce such a law. Maybe to be safe, you can plan your home potluck in Arizona for close to midnight on August 5th. 😀

*Updated* It’s 8/6/2016. So if you’re in Arizona, potlucks are now legal. Start planning your next I mean first one!


On my Father’s Birthday + Zun Lee’s Father Figure Project

Zun Lee's Father Figure Project

Yesterday I read an article on PetaPixel and learned about street photographer and physician Zun Lee. His work is tender and beautiful examining the complexity of what it means to be a father. The way he describes his craft and style is far better than I can do, so here is a snippet from his website.

As a clinician, I’m trained to work with people at their most vulnerable who grant me permission to invade their privacy. As a result, I have always had an intense interest in the dynamics of trust and control when it comes to that interaction. At best, it can reveal a unique connection, a kind of truth that would otherwise not be foregrounded.

When a human being connects with another and – even if for a split second – relinquishes a certain level of control, it is fascinating that complete strangers can share an alternate truth about themselves that was hidden not only to others, but perhaps even to themselves. It is in these moments that individual emotion transcends the personal realm and gains universally understood context.

Learning about his Father Figure project struck a deep chord with me as I read about it yesterday and looked at all the pictures. Today is my father’s 84 birthday. As I’ve mentioned before, my father has Alzheimer’s and it is absolutely heartbreaking. He still knows who I am, but is very confused most of the time and our immediate family is shaken to the core.

We do the best we can and focus on the time that we still have with him. I am so grateful for my father. The older I get, the more I see how lucky I was to get him as my Dad.

The timing of seeing this Father Figure project and trying to be a good daughter, especially on a day that was always important to him and our family has made me even more emotional. I was in CVS last night and saw a father and daughter out shopping together. I had a pang of sadness, then remembered that I had that. At least I had it.

Lee’s project focuses on photographs that break the cruel stereotype of the absent and uncaring black father and instead shows the strong and loving bonds between black men and their children.

Growing up I never thought of myself as a Daddy’s girl. Me and my father have definitely had our moments of major disagreements. We still do. Plus I’m very close with my mother. But a few years ago, one of my parents’ friends referred to me as a Daddy’s girl. I started thinking about it and maybe I am. For the time that I have left with him, I will relish the term.

I’m getting ready to bake my father’s favorite birthday cake and will have dinner with him, my Mom and my brother later today. Luckily, he still likes my baking! Though when I bake the cake now, I just do one layer. We all are watching our weight!

I find that what saves us all, is keeping a sense of humor and being grateful for so many wonderful memories of my childhood. Even as my father is losing his memories bit by bit.

If you have a few minutes, I hope you’ll watch the video about Zun Lee. He reveals his own family struggles and you can see more of his amazing work.

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Screenshot: Vimeo

{You Pick Six} An Interview with Founder of Helen’s Kitchen Cooking School: Helen Rennie

Cooking School Founder Helen Rennie holds a raw chicken

A few weeks ago, I attended Amplify, an event in Boston hosted by Branchfood.

It showcased new local food companies and introduced them to retailers and media. I learned about some great products, that I hope to write about soon.

I also met a fellow food blogger whose blog, Beyond Salmon, was one of the first that I read when I first started blogging.  Helen Rennie has been blogging since 2005, so she is one of the first in the food blogging world. So it delights me to no end to welcome Helen to this blog! Now founder of Helen’s Kitchen Cooking School, let’s find out what she’s cooking up next in the 12th in the interview series, You Pick Six.

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Tell me about what you’re working on now?

I’ve been working on short cooking videos that focus on techniques.  They are all available on YouTube for free.  I started making them to help my students review the material they learn in my cooking and baking classes, but to my surprise and delight I’ve been getting comments from cooks all over the world.

What is a favorite cookbook?
Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.  Judy has always been a great inspiration to me and I was devastated when she passed away at a very young age due to cancer.  Her book is unique in many respects.  She is the only restaurant chef that I am aware of who wrote her book cover to cover without a shadow writer.  The level of detail is fabulous.  I am forever grateful to her editor for not cutting Judy’s wisdom out of this book.  Do you need five pages on how to roast a chicken?  Absolutely! Although the zuni roast chicken is great, the real gem of this book is Judy’s advice to salt all your proteins a day ahead.  It makes everything so juicy — just like brining without the mess of a bucket.
What is some of the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is not the best life advice, but it’s the best advice all home bakers need to hear: weigh all ingredients for baking.  I am a cook by nature.  I taste and adjust.  Baking was a challenge.  My pie crust cracked, my cakes were dry, my breads were dense.  Then I got Rose Beranbaum’s book “The Bread Bible” and started using a scale.  It was like magic.  Everything worked!  It wasn’t just Rose’s recipes that worked, but all my old recipes that gave me trouble worked.  Flour is a powder and it’s compressible.  Measuring it with cups is unreliable.
What is a favorite simple recipe to prepare at home?
Doesn’t get any easier or tastier than seared scallops, though a microwave poached egg is fun too.
What do you think that most people don’t understand about food?
Food is a performing art 99% of the time, and a creative art (1% of the time).  I often hear in classes the following complaint, “I can’t cook because I am not creative.  I can’t figure out what goes with what.”  Then the students watch me cook and are surprised that most of the time I don’t add anything besides salt, lemon, and olive oil.  The reason food tastes good is the balance of salt and acidity, and controlling texture through how you apply heat.  It takes dedication, patience, and constant attention to detail, just like learning a musical instrument.  If you play the violin off key, it’s hard to listen no matter how passionately you play it.  If the cook gets the salt amount wrong, it’s hard to eat their dish no matter what amazing combination of local organic ingredients are in it.  I find that we have a lot of passion for food in the U.S. these days, but not enough skill either at home or in most restaurant kitchens.  But American food culture is in it’s infancy compared to Japan or France.  I am sure the skill will come with time.
What is a favorite food movie?
Ratatouille, of course!
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Thank you so much for participating Helen!

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Photos: Provided by Helen Rennie.


Subway Stories: Walking in the Moonlight

flowers blooming on tree

This week has been mostly uneventful. But that’s actually a good thing. I picked up some more freelance writing work that I’m very excited about. Yay!

Even though it’s been mostly from home to work and back again, I do enjoy the time that I get to spend outdoors in this wonderful spring weather.

Moonrise over tree

Especially when I get to see the moon rising as I walk to and from the subway.

Renovated Government Center MBTA station

I finally saw the renovated Government Center T station. It does look nice, but there is a surprising amount of construction still going on around the subway station.

orange bikes

This pair of orange bikes caught my eye. For a long time I’ve considered orange to be my protective color.

moonrise in Boston against skyscrapers

The moonrise is brighter each night as we approach Saturday’s full moon. Such a beautiful natural light in the sky behind the lights in the buildings.

Those moon rays lift me up with the light. A marvelous night for a Moondance. Do you ever dance in the moonlight? 🙂