July 24, 2014
One Part Plant and I talk about improv at Magnet Theater, the actor Tiffani Thiessen and my desire to be a rich lady on a bus.
There is no person more delightful than Jessica Murnane.

One Part Plant and I talk about improv at Magnet Theater, the actor Tiffani Thiessen and my desire to be a rich lady on a bus.

There is no person more delightful than Jessica Murnane.

July 23, 2014



Hometown: Madison, WI



Jell-O mix



Empty whole packet of dry Jell-O mix into a small bowl. With an eye dropper, drop a single drop of water onto the surface. Once the drop has congealed, take a spoon and sift out the “gum drop”. Eat with spoon.


In an effort to be as frugal as humanly possible, my father would “borrow” lab equipment from his work and substitute it for kitchenware (because why buy something new if you can just convince your family it’s “close enough”?). It was not unusual in my house growing up to use a beaker or a test tube to measure liquids for baking or use them in a pinch if there were no clean drinking glasses. Thus the presence of a veterinary eye dropper in our silverware drawer.
Being raised in a hyper-thrifty environment meant getting creative when you wanted to eat something that approximated a more name-brand snack. So, more often than not, my older brothers and I would create some weird Frankenstein-y treat to satisfy our sweet or savory cravings. Sometimes it was melted cheddar cheese in a bowl eaten with a fork, other times it was simply a spoon full of honey licked like a lollipop. It was a solitary experience (we respected each other’s “snack space”): going into the kitchen, deciding what your palate wanted, and then approximating your snack using the various “Flav-O-Rite” items stocked on the shelves.
But some ideas were just too good to keep to yourself, and one of my brothers or I came up with this “gum drop” recipe (based on some long-forgotten science demonstration in one of our grade school classes). This was a rare treat that we would usually break out when our mom had bought way too much Jell-O with a coupon, or when we were left home alone and couldn’t find candy. In essence it was just wet sugar, but we felt like scientists and innovators making our little concoction plus our tongues would turn a cool color- so, it was totally worth the amount of unnatural dyes we were ingesting.

July 21, 2014
February 6, 2014



Hometown: Scarsdale, NY



Frozen chicken nuggets

1 to 2 slices of Kraft Singles American Cheese

Ketchup or BBQ sauce (optional)


Rip out a square foot of aluminum foil, place inside mini toaster oven. Fold over sides of aluminum foil as needed. Open box of chicken nuggets, follow heating instructions. When nuggets are done, rip up cheese into squares, place on top of nuggets. Serve with orange juice.


Advanced: When heating has five minutes remaining, place cheese squares on nuggets in toaster, creating a melty burned cheese topping.


When my mom got a job at the Scarsdale Recreation Office, it fell to my neighbor to give me rides home from school. I would be home at 3:15 and have unmanaged free time until 5pm. This would translate into the following schedule:

3:15 - 4:00pm / Make a snack, set-up G.I. Joes

4:00 - 5:00pm / Play G.I. Joes


Meanwhile, the Disney Afternoon programming block would be playing in the background: Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Tail Spin, and Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers (later to be replaced by the inferior Goof Troop).  

Remembering the toaster was operating was paramount, since the TV room was in the attic. If I forgot about the snack, I would run down to the kitchen 10 minutes too late and find smoke billowing from the toaster, the cheese reduced to a black sludge, and the meal utterly ruined. This would result in throwing the food out and being filled with shame. 

Later in 10th grade, because I joined the debate team, I had a countdown timer that I used to keep track of food prep. By then, the meals had graduated to Hungry Man TV Dinners (usually fried chicken, occasionally Salisbury steak), which I would bake in the oven. The TV programming had also graduated to watching VHS tapes of Simpsons episodes I had recorded (I was very proud of my mastery over the “record / pause” dynamic, which I used to eliminate all traces of commercials from every episode I taped).

It did not occur to me as odd or pathetic that I was 16, eating chicken nuggets, and watching self-curated Simpsons tapes by myself for hours every day. It was a very natural extension of being a child raised essentially by toys and TV. Once Joe Wiggins, another neighbor, came by and offered to take me outside. I think he felt a brotherly responsibility over me. I wouldn’t have any of it, and was annoyed that my private rituals were impinged upon. 


January 9, 2014



Hometown: Huntington, New York



Iceburg Lettuce

Thinly Sliced Deli Swiss Cheese

Mayonnaise (optional)



Peel off 4-5 layers of lettuce from the head and place on a small plate.  Lay 2 slices of cheese over the top of the lettuce.  Microwave approximately 45 seconds until melted.  Eat with fork and knife and smear mayo over the top if desired.  Sometimes a dash of black pepper is also nice.


Although the reader may assume that I was a latchkey kid with no stay-at-home parent, that is not the case.  My father worked, but my mother did not. However, that does not mean that she was willing (or capable) to feed us children or make dinner all of the time.  Frequently, my brother and I were met with the dreaded statement, “Fend for yourselves!” as my mother darted out the door to some event or simply did not feel like cooking on a particular night.

Chris and I would then rummage through the spartan refrigerator like savages so that we could feed ourselves.  Looking behind the many cans of beer for anything remotely edible, we would usually find some lettuce and sliced Swiss cheese.  This became our staple.  

The experiences I learned as a child, having been left alone, unsupervised; are put to good use today as an adult.  I now own and operate Kerber’s Farm, a historic farm and market on Long Island’s North Shore.  Here we sell fruits and vegetables and produce amazing pies, jams, and other tasty treats.

November 11, 2013


Hometown: Columbus, Ohio


About 1 cup stale Cheerios 

Half-eaten tub of Cool Whip


Open box of Cheerios. Look inside and shake box towards you to make sure it isn’t just dust at the bottom. Pour Cheerios into tub of Cool Whip. 

Mix together with a large spoon (making sure to coat Cheerios thoroughly). Eat directly from tub with spoon.


Cheerios and Cool Whip, this was my finest creation. I would brag about this recipe to my friends, and with their eyes wide open in jealously and disbelief would ask, ”Your mom lets you make that?” 

"Um, yeah," I would tell them. In my head, I created a romanticized vision of me in my kitchen floating around getting to make whatever I pleased. Wearing a sleek apron that made my awkward body go away, choosing from all the fresh ingredients from our pantry and fridge. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. 

Voila! Cheerios and Cool Whip. What I left out of my fantasy was that the Cheerios were stale, my mom had no idea what I was doing after school, and this “recipe” was created out of the only ingredients that I could find that weren’t moldy or fermented. This was long before Kombucha was cool. 

My mom worked a lot. Sometimes three jobs at a time. I don’t ever remember her being there when I got home from school. But I also didn’t know any different. It felt so strange to go over to someone else’s house and have their mom there to welcome us. Why was she asking us so many questions? When were we going to be able to watch Meatballs on HBO? What couldn’t she just leave us alone?

I remember once at a friend’s house after school, we started rummaging through her cupboards without asking. I suggested we make something fun with pretzels (another all-purpose ingredient). Her mom saw us, gave us a side eye, and called her into the other room. She was whispering, but loud enough for me to hear. She told her that if she continued to snack all the time and not ask before she did, she would turn out like her friend (me). Chubby.

This was heartbreaking for a fifth grader to hear. More confusing than sad. Maybe I was kinda fat and my ingredients weren’t that fancy. But my time at home alone in that kitchen, experimenting and scraping together what I could find, was part of an education that still helps me today.

By the way, I still stand by my recipe. Don’t tell me it doesn’t sound delicious.

October 1, 2013
August 21, 2013
August 20, 2013


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July 29, 2013