God? No. Religion? Maybe a Little.

I need events that can’t be canceled.

We don’t need religion any more to explain the universe. And we obviously don’t need it to tell us right from wrong. But it must be useful, or why would people hang on to it? This essay is about one of those uses.

Read the whole thing here at the Washington Post. (And if you don’t subscribe to the Post and don’t want to, you can probably read it online courtesy of your library. Check into that.)

(Art by Ellen Weinstein for The Washington Post)

Read the rest here at the Washington Post.

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Cooking for the Family Again

With one kid at college and one kid eating all her meals at school, I got out of the cooking habit this year. I still loved to cook, but I cooked mostly for dinner parties, cocktail parties, potlucks — occasions that assembled a more gratifying number of eaters. Suppers with my husband and the one kid who ate at home became more about sharing the same space than sharing the same food, especially since that kid’s no-animal rule and our (intermittent) no-carb rule created only a small vegetal overlap. I was still making roasted broccoli and slow-cooked green beans, but complete meals? Not so much.

Things are a bit different now, to say the least. Not only I am feeding everyone again, but feeding everyone is one of the few things I can do for them. Much as I love them, though, and much as the days call out to be filled with some sort of productive activity, I still don’t feel like cooking anything elaborate. The general mood calls for pantry food, not fancy food.

So when I wanted to make pizza the other day, I didn’t use the recipe that begins with sourdough starter and ends with unglazed quarry tiles. Or the recipe that begins with specially ordering 14-inch deep-dish pans and ends with . . . unglazed quarry tiles. I used my new favorite: a Sheet-Pan Pizza recipe in which the measurements are exact but the timing is loose, the ingredients are ordinary but the flavor pops. Best of all, the effort is minimal. Is it the best pizza ever? No. But it might be the best pizza recipe. If you happen to be sharing the same space and the same food with your family right now, I recommend it.

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Making Us Behave

On laws that treat us like kids . . . for our own good. By me, in The Washington Post. Click here to read the whole thing.

Note: My father pointed out to me that I mention two house rules in the piece (as you’ll see), but named only one, apparently violating one of his rules. So I’ll tell you. The other house rule does not involve flossing or hand-washing, and I’ve always found telling the truth to be overrated. The other rule is about thank-you notes. You can read more about those here.

(graphic by Michelle Kondrich)

Read the rest here.

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