How Did We Get Here?

As a rule, I am quite an optimist. I keep asking myself, how did we get here? I am dismayed, freaked, scared, shaking my head, and unsure what to do.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has announced plans to establish a state militia of trained civilians “unencumbered by the federal government.” Mr. DeSantis said the Florida State Guard, which would answer solely to him, would be a 200-strong civilian-based military unit to support emergency response efforts in the event of natural disasters and unspecified “other state emergencies.” Reading this scares the shit out of me.

Schools teaching kids how to cover themselves during gun shootings seem insane. How about changing the gun laws or teaching curriculums that help each other see danger coming before it gets there. This is essentially teaching kids to live in constant fear. Trauma?

I watched Lead Me Home, a forty-minute documentary on the Homeless in major US cities. There is an underbelly of communities in places like LA, SF, and Seattle, exactly like the Brazilian favelas resulting from unequal wealth distribution. It is a worthy watch. Most of these people want a room they can call their own. Unclear how we help these people get out of their rut. It is not for lack of hard work but lack of affordable housing. Many Americans live hand to mouth. When the hand stops, the roof disappears.

Seeing the conversation return to SRO’s in hotels, a disastrous mess in the NY ’80s, scares me. What did we learn, and can we make this work better this time? Why does every neighborhood protest housing in their neighborhood? NYCHA, New York City Housing Authority, houses 15% of NYers. Most of them are indeed the backbone of our city. Many homeless are, too, but that is not the story we are told.

Roe v Wade could be overturned. The majority of American’s don’t want to see this happen. Are we all just adrift trying to figure out where we are going? Why is the minority leading the way?

The guns in Congressman Massie of Kentucky Christmas card are so tone-deaf, am I? Do we have to return to the wild wild west where there was significant inequality to take us somewhere better?

All I know is I don’t think this will end well. History does repeat itself. Remember 1929?

All Things Food, Alison Roman, Podcast #162

Alison Roman is a chef, cookbook author, and YouTube personality. Her career has spanned across various areas of the food industry, from the kitchens of high-end restaurants to food magazines. Known for her accessible writing style and warm cooking approach, Alison has empowered many of her readers to become home chefs. We talked about her journey of finding her voice through the food world and lessons learned along the way.


Please visit her website and sign up for her newsletter to learn more about Alison Roman.

You can also listen to the podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.


Our next guest on PGG will be Eleanor Kuntz and Kerin Law to talk about their company LeafWorks, a botanical identification company that does DNA sequencing for cannabis.

Web 3.0, The Age of Freedom?

What is web 3.0? I have been asked that question countless times. You have to understand Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 to understand 3.0 truly.

Web 1.0 was the first blast of using technology to build on the World Wide Web. Many content-related sites and the beginnings of e-commerce. Many entrepreneurs saw the opportunity, but it was a replication of old-school tactile businesses just moving online. Web 2.0 was a bit of the same but more participatory. Also, this generation of entrepreneurs grew up with technology, so their companies had a deeper understanding of how people engaged with the World Wide Web. And now we are at Web 3.0, where all this technology is merging to build on the blockchain that allows for decentralization, openness, and more disruption. Taking control of our currencies, the Government, and large corporations is a start. That is what we all had hoped for in Web 1.0, but good things take time.

So where are we going? Supersonic jets, flying cars, robots for menial labor, community ownership in places like Bright Moments or any other NFT platform, new business plans, equality in hiring, the democratization of information and knowledge, multiple currencies, power to the people. A complete disruption to the underpinning foundation of the global economy. A recalculation on all business models.

We need to work hard to ensure equality in this next generation of the web. We must hold this technology over the fire for equality and community. That is what I love about crypto; it is forcing change. I am so disappointed these days in our gatekeepers and Government. Perhaps web 3.0 rids us of the white masters of the universe where we see the world through white men’s eyes who don’t understand how privileged they are regardless of how smart they are. I want to see a myriad of faces at every level pushing society into the next world.

That is what I am seeing in the world of web 3.0.

Supply Chain

Every day we are all touched by the supply chain. Many of our products come from somewhere else. No matter how they get to the final stop, that last stop is loaded onto a truck, and that is where the problems lie.

We can go back in history where lobbyists, and big money, ensured that cars and trucks, not trains, would get us and products from point A to point B. Time has shown that it hasn’t been good for the environment and has been positive for car, truck, and gas companies. It is changing with electric vehicles, but mostly the issue is nobody wants to drive a truck.

The average age of a truck driver is 55 years old, making roughly $60k a year and always on the road. Many retired during Covid. The turnover rate in truck drivers is 90%. Currently, between the US and Canada, there is a shortage of 80,000 drivers. The pay and the hours are brutal. Most important, they are not attracting a new generation to drivers. This is happening in the school bus community as well.

Just like many industries are experiencing right now, it is a labor problem. On the one hand, you would have thought we would have seen this coming, particularly as the age range continued to grow older. On the other hand, COVID amplified the problem.

What is the answer? Transportation needs to change. Trains need to connect to ports of entry, taking goods to their almost final stop. There will always be a need for trucks to bring products directly to the stores or possibly the consumer, but how many will we need, and can we program trucks to make those deliveries without human beings?

I don’t know the answer, but I know that this is a problem that is not going away but only getting worse.

Escalloped Apples?

At Thanksgiving, we made a new dessert called Skillet Caramel Apple Crisp. I am not a huge apple pie person, but this dessert pulled me back in time.

When I was about 10 or 11, my parents took a trip to Miami. Randomly they left us with some woman we had never met, basically a rent-a-babysitter for the week. Not a very nice human. The one thing that stayed with me was the escalloped apples she made. She told us she made them when I knew my Mom made them and then jazzed them up a bit, using Stouffers Escalloped Apples as the foundation. This woman just warmed up the Stouffers and put them in a different pan. Weird what your memory brings you back to.

We made these apples after partaking in some attitude adjustment products, but they tasted like Escalloped Apples, and I love those. I will make this one again and prep earlier in the day.

Caramel Sauce

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used 2% milk and mixed in 1 tsp. corn starch which is a perfect substitute)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

The key to making caramel sauce is having everything measured out before you begin and pay attention. It can burn in seconds.

Add the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir until melted and combined. Add the butter, and let the sugar and butter combine without stirring. It will take a few minutes until the mixture begins to bubble. Then continue to stir until golden and immediately take off the heat. Whisk in the cream (the batter will splatter a bit) and add the vanilla and salt. Continue to whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Heat the oven to 350.

Apples

  • Peel and core 3 lbs. of crisp apples. I used Honeycrisps.
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon
  • pinch of kosher salt

Mix this all together in a large bowl. Add 1/4 of the caramel sauce (1/2 cup) and mix until all the apples are covered. Scrape all of this into a skillet (I used a cast iron pan)

Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup slice almonds (the recipe called for pecans but you could also do nothing)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. koshere salt
  • 1/2 cup softened salted butter

Mix all this with your fingers until crumbs start to form. Pour evenly over the apple mixture. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the mixture begins to bubble. Take it out, pour the remaining caramel sauce on the side or top as I did (which was a bit overwhelming), and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

A much better version of those escalloped apples. When my Mom returned from Miami, and I asked how their trip was, she said terrible. Never go to Miami. It is the worst. Possibly the beginning of the end of their marriage, but the comments about Florida have never left my head.

Having Children

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that more adults report they do not want to have children — ever. About 44% of people ages 18 to 49 report it’s unlikely or “not too likely” that they’ll have children. In a 2018 survey, 37% of adults who weren’t parents shared those same thoughts.

The number one reason is fear of bringing kids up in the world we are living in today. Now more than ever, there is an armageddon feeling in the air. That everything is going to come crashing down, that the global pandemic will never go away, that the world we know will never return, and it will possibly get worse. Inflation looms, travel is anxiety-ridden, and everything is on the edge of going to shit.

If you go back and read all the US President’s speeches from the start, the consistent theme is we have always been in some crisis. Crisis’ that seemed insurmountable, but somehow we always seem to evolve.

One of our best attributes as humans is that we like to live. We want to stay alive and connect with others. We embrace life as best as we can. Look at Covid; it is pretty impressive how we all managed to adapt.

That is why raising children at any time in our history is essential. It keeps the wheels turning and the circle of life evolving.

I can try and understand someone not wanting to have a child, although it is one of the biggest joys of my life. At times it was trying; we had very little to make ends meet, it was exhausting and a tremendous responsibility, but nothing good is ever easy.

Undoubtedly, our environment is scary, but so was WWI, WWII, the threat of nuclear war, AIDS, and plenty of other fearful crises’ that took up all the space in the room. Watching a child giggle, grow, and snuggle reminds me that another generation grows and solves the problems of the last generations so they too can grow old and watch their children have children.

It might not be for everybody and indeed, we have more choices today than ever before, but as Roy Bennett said, “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”

The Track Suit

I had to watch Squid Games. More than anything, I was curious about how the show just became such a huge success regardless of the celebration of violence. If you have not watched the show, it is the ugliness of capitalism; winner takes all. It is about the survival of debt-ridden, down on their luck, oppressed people who have come to play a game watched by a group of billionaires for pleasure. It is a sick game, but somehow people can’t stop watching it, and I was one of those people. I finished the first series, and that was plenty. Definitely not going back for Season 2. I got it.

What was also intriguing was the tracksuits. Clothing stands for different things in different cultures. In Korea, wearing a tracksuit means you haven’t made it, so it would make perfect sense that all the contestants in Squid Game wear a tracksuit.

In the US during the ’70s, tracksuits were all the rave. I had a few with the matching jacket and pants and, of course, the striped knee-high sweat socks. It was the beginning of the “casual” life. No longer did we have to dress up every day. People in hipper and more casual industries, like the music industry, were dressing a bit more relaxed. The top execs always wore a suit, but over time, they stopped wearing ties. Girls could stop wearing skirts to school and wear pants. Can you imagine?

In the ’70s, my Grandmother used to make me dress up to go to the bank with her—another generation. I still like getting dressed up every day, not in a suit but in a look that feels good to me based on how I feel that day. It is also relevant to the industry. A female founder I worked with told me she would wear a suit for her Techstars pitch. I gasped, you can not wear that. Wear jeans and a great jacket. Nobody will take you seriously in a suit! What we wear is as tied to history as the art that is made.

The mid-drifts are back in, patterned stockings are coming back, oversized casual clothes are hip, vests are making appearances again, and the tracksuit is raging. Even Anderson Cooper is conducting interviews on 60 minutes wearing jeans, a black t-shirt, and sneakers.

Sometimes when I walk down the street and note the clothes being worn, I can’t help but wonder if there ever was teleportation to our past; what would Martha Washington think walking down the street? How would she have looked in a tracksuit?

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday of the year, even though it is based on a false narrative. Yet having a meal with family friends over a four-day weekend that kicks off the holiday season is always needed.

This year, the family is spread out and will be missed around the table, but they are doing their own meals and celebrating in their own way. I might put out a few glasses of wine for them as we do for Elijah at Passover. LOL.

I plan on doing a little more cooking and relaxing. It has been quite the year for everyone. A global pandemic has been draining, to say the least. The mental impact is significant. How could it not be?

Enjoy the day, eat ridiculous quantities of food and take a good nap! From our table to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Mixing up a Shrimp Dish

I have been making a shrimp tomato feta dish for years. This past week I changed it up a bit. This is definitely the way I will be making this dish in the future. I turned it into a one-pot meal and added capers. Simple but game-changing.

  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb diced
  • 3 tbsp. capers
  • 2 stems of thyme (in a spice sack)
  • dash of red chili flakes (as many as your heat quotient can take)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound large shelled shrimp
  • feta cheese ( I prefer french feta that is a bit milder)
  • 2 cups of cooked orzo

Cover the bottom of a deep pot with olive oil, heat, and toss in the red chili flakes. Saute the onions and fennel until beginning to soften and caramelize. Add in the spice sack of thyme (or you can always toss the thyme leaves in and add some kosher salt for taste. Toss in the capers and cook until they begin to get crispy. Add the tomatoes, stir, bring to boil, and then let hang out on simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors combined.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Make the orzo. Takes ten minutes. When done, drain and pour the orzo on the bottom of a roasting pan. Spread evenly across the bottom.

Add the shrimp to the tomato mixture, stir thoroughly. Put this mixture over the top of the orzo and spread evenly across.

Take the feta and crumble over the entire top.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the feta begins to brown and the tomato sauce is bubbling. I cranked up the broiler for a few minutes to get the top nice and browned.

Delicious! Serve—one dish wonder.