Blue Apron Journey, Weeks 8-9

June 27, 2015

Wow, I guess I got a little behind in my Blue Apron blogs. I’ll attribute that to two factors

  1. The newness and wonder of cooking is wearing off as I gain confidence and skills (although I use that term loosely). Without blood or other injury, it just isn’t as interesting.
  2. Rich and I have both been traveling, so we haven’t been able to keep pace with our 3-meals-per-week schedule

And so I find myself faced with two Blue Apron conundrums:

  • If your travel plans impact your cooking schedule and you don’t adjust your deliveries, what do you do with the extra meal(s)? The first time this happened, I offered it to a foodie friend who lives on a property with organic gardeners and an even bigger foodie landlord. I was shamed, and I learned. The second time, I brought it to a fellow Blue Aproner at work and he was delighted to take it off my hands. The third time, I sent a FaceBook message to another BA friend who had posted a rave about the meal I was offering. He and his wife were willing to take the chance that it involved salmon and it was a week old – they survived and loved it.
  • If your husband is out of town and you don’t adjust your deliveries, what does that mean? Twice as much food for dinner? Twice as many dinners (but half are leftovers, still fresher and tastier than what you usually eat)? Invite someone over? After cooking my first meal under these conditions, I choose Door #2. So sorry, Rich, that you were out of town for tonight’s Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini & Brown Rice.

Week 8, Meal 1 (6/10/15)

Arepas de Carne Molida with Avocado and Pickled Jalapeno

Wow, there was a lot going on tonight. A cacophony of flavors, if you will. Arepas (savory round flatbreads made with corn meal), avocado and cilantro, sliced radishes, pickled onion and jalapeno, beef with spices and onion. It was hard to know where to start, so I kept everything separated on the plate and picked various combinations with every bite. And in a triumphant improvisation, I opted to pan-sear the radishes at the last minute because it’s well established by now that we still aren’t fans of raw radishes, but have learned to love them cooked.

Week8Meal1 Arepas1
Week8Meal1 Arepas2

Ratings: Rich, 4.65; me, 4.8
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5

Week 8, Meal 2 (6/12/15)

Chicken Piccata with Fresh Linguine Pasta & Garlic Chives

The chicken was already boneless and skinless, so I didn’t have to remember to pull the greasy skin off. The sauce was lemon juice and capers – how can that go wrong? It can’t. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked. Prep was relatively easy, Home Run!

Week8Meal2 Chicken Piccata1
Week8Meal2 Chicken Piccata2

Ratings: Rich, 4.75; me, 4.75
Degree of Difficulty: 2.0

Week 8, Meal 3

Salmon Burgers with Creme Fraiche Sauce, Arugula & Potato Salad

I’ve heard from two people that this was their favorite Blue Apron meal to date. Rich and I aren’t huge salmon fans, so I wasn’t sad to lose it. And I’m pretty sure that Scott and Vanessa were thrilled to inherit this meal, despite its age (7 days post delivery).

Week 9, Meal 1 (6/21/15)

Hoisin-Glazed Chicken Meatballs with Zucchini & Brown Rice

Love Hoisin sauce, love zucchini, love brown rice. Not much to go wrong here, and it didn’t. This was the first meal I had to eat by myself, and despite the soggy zucchini, I thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers for lunch two days later.


Ratings: Rich, not home, too bad; me, 4.95
Degree of Difficulty: 2.0 (including the 0.5 deduction for the “ick-factor” of intimately handling raw ground chicken)

Week 9, Meal 2 (6/27/15)

Seared Steaks & Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Radishes & Snap Peas

Snap Peas? no problem, now that we’ve reached an understanding about the stupid string
Radishes? love ’em, now that I know how to cook them.
Mashed Potatoes? I can honestly say that I’ve never mashed a potato before tonight. Meh, no big deal!
Everything else? What’s not to love?

Week9Meal2-Seared Steaks1
Week8Meal1 Arepas2

Week 9, Meal 3

Seared Cod with Spring Vegetables & Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette

I’m sad to say that this might be the first meal I have to toss (at least partially) because the fish is now 11 days post-delivery. I certainly can’t foist that off on someone else, and I’m not sure I’m brave enough to give it a try. But the rest of it sounds great, so I’ll take a look at the vegetables tomorrow night and decide if it’s worth adapting and giving it a chance as a vegetarian meal.

Weeks 8-9 Wrap-up

  • Plan ahead for travel schedules – If you don’t have time to cook all three meals, or you’ll be cooking for yourself for a week, better to skip a delivery than have them stack up and either be given away or tossed. And since half the fun of cooking is Rich’s response (not to mention his help with cleanup), I’ll be more careful with my delivery schedule in the future.
  • Leftover Blue Apron meals are still better than most things I would otherwise eat.
  • My chopping skills are improving – I only wear my protective gloves (or as Rich calls them, my chainmail gloves) for grating and mandolining. It helps that I bought a spring-chopper for PITA stuff like nuts.
  • I mashed my first potatoes ever. No big deal!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 7

June 3, 2015

Week 7, Meal 1 (6/3/15)

Pan-Seared Cod with Curried Basmati Rice, Snow Peas & Mint


  • If the fish is still frozen when it shows up and that’s the meal you choose on the first night, throw it in the microwave to defrost for a few minutes or the cooking time will be off. It’ll sear too much and cook too little. This ended up right on the edge.
  • Loved the Curried Basmati Rice. At first I was taken aback by the amount I spooned onto the plate, but we both ate every bite.
  • Damn, those Snow Peas. Surely there’s a trick to stripping the spine fiber more efficiently… Thanks to WikiHow, I’ve now concluded that
    • I only need to worry about the extra-tough string on the straight edge, and
    • If it breaks while I’m stripping it, it wasn’t tough enough to bother with.
Week7Meal1 Pan-Seared Cod1
Week7Meal1 Pan-Seared Cod2

Ratings: Rich, 4.5; me, 4.0
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5 (0.5 addition for the Snow Peas)

Week 7, Meal 2 (6/5/15)

Fresh Fettuccine Pasta with Sugar Snap peas & Arugula Pesto

I don’t have much to say about this except this: Who knew you could make a pesto sauce from arugula? I didn’t, that’s for sure. But then, I didn’t know anything when I started this journey so that’s no surprise. The chopped pistachios on top added a wonderful flavor, texture and character.

Week7Meal2 Fettuccine Pasta1
Week7Meal2 Fettuccine Pasta2

Ratings: Rich, 4.85; me, 4.9
Degree of Difficulty: 3.5 (including a 0.5 bump for the Snap Peas)

Week 7, Meal 3 (6/6/15)

Turkey Steam Buns with Quick Cucumber-Radish Kimchi

I didn’t have high hopes for this one. And as it turned out, I didn’t have time to prepare all three meals this week. Luckily, several of my colleagues at work have become Blue Aproners. One of them had prepared this meal earlier in the week, loved it, and was happy to take it off my hands. He now owes me lunch and nothing went to waste. I think I’ll start a BA swap group amongst my colleagues and local FB friends!

More Accessorizing

More shopping, this time at Big Lots, thanks to a suggestion from a friend.:

  1. Grease spatter shield
  2. Silicon whisks
  3. Spring chopper
  4. Small baking sheet
  5. Palm peeler
  6. Two small stainless steel bowls

Week 7 Wrap-up

  • I’ve reached detente with the Snap/Snow Peas:
    • I’m only dealing with the really thick string on the flat edge
    • If it’s so weak that it can’t survive my best effort to strip it, it’s tender enough to eat.
  • Rich and I have become nose-blind to the dog smell in our house. It sure is a pleasant change to smell curry or something equally fragrant for a day or two after we cook.
  • Sonoma County Blue Apron swap group – who’s in?

Next up, Weeks 8 and 9!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 6

June 1, 2015

Week 6, Meal 1 (5/27/15)

Curry-Spiced Chicken Thighs with Sugar Snap Peas & Fingerling Potatoes

I was really looking forward to this because I love all of the ingredients, especially the curry. And though not mentioned in the name of the dish, I was delighted to see that the whole thing was topped with a cucumber-yogurt sauce. The result was delectable, but I learned a few more things:

  • No matter how careful I pretend I’ll be, I will eventually screw up if I insist on using my sentimental favorite oven mitt after the puppy has chewed the end of the thumb off. Ouch. Back to Amazon.Week6Meal1Casualty
  • If I make this dish again (or any chicken thing) I’ll remember to take the skin off. I thought of it too late because I had already started rubbing the curry powder on it and didn’t want to run out.
  • Couldn’t find my box grater, so I went shopping again – details below.

Ratings: Rich, 4.9; me, 4.5 (0.3 deduction for the chicken skin)
Degree of Difficulty: 4.9

Lessons Learned:

  • Frying the chicken with the skin on left me with excess grease to dump. I mopped it up with paper towels, and then was pleased to be reminded that those paper scraps can go in the green bin trash with the vegetable trimmings.
  • Didn’t have the right tool to grate the cucumber. My bad, fixed for next time.
  • Exceeded my threshold for dirty dishes. A friend suggested I use parchment squares (aka hamburger patty paper) instead of mise-en-place bowls for the drier ingredients. I think I’m going to try that.

Week 6, Meal 2 (6/1/15)

Stir-Fried Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce, Gai Lan & Snow Peas

Only two meals this week because I went out of town for the weekend. I gave the Seared Salmon with Sorrel Salad & Creamy Barley to a friend – can’t wait to hear how it went for her.

Update: she lives on a 23-acre property. Her landlords are foodies and the other tenants run an organic farm. They adopted the ingredients, supplemented with freshly-picked produce, and threw the recipe out the window. Ah, to have those resources and skills.

Meanwhile, back in my Literal Kitchen, tonight’s meal was a grand slam: 4.925 on the combined rate-o-meter with a sane degree of difficulty. I love Pad Thai and this was a fresh variation that will definitely get a repeat try. Next time, I’ll try not to overcook the rice noodles, and I may get more adventurous and add some shrimp and braised tofu.


Ratings: Rich, 4.9; me, 4.95
Degree of Difficulty: 2.5

More Accessorizing

This week’s Amazon foray resulted in the following:

  1. Bad-Ass Oven Mitts: After burning my thumb last week with my puppy-chewed oven mitt, it was time.
  2. Coarse and Medium Grater: I hate box graters because they’re so hard to clean, but OXO has come up with this nifty alternative. The two parts come apart for easy cleaning.
  3. Fine-Mesh Stainless-Steel Strainers: All I have is an old colander, and the holes are too big for things like rinsing bulgar wheat (I improvised last week with a flour sifter). It was obvious from the Blue Apron photos that I needed something with smaller holes and a handle, so I bought a nested set of 3 from Cuisinart.
  4. Parchment Patty Papers: A friend suggested that I could use parchment paper instead of mise-en-place bowls for some ingredients – I thought that was a great idea so I bought these. (And besides, Parchment Patty Papers is just fun to say!)


Week 6 Wrap-up

  • All-time record score for the Stir-Fried Rice Noodles, with bonus points for a low degree of difficulty.
  • Shamed by my foodie friends who blew off the Seared Salmon recipe and did their own thing. I’ll get over it.
  • No more chicken skins, ever.
  • Bought even more accessories.
  • Snap Peas and Snow Peas are a pain in the ass. I finally figured out how to deal with them as instructed, getting rid of the “tough string that runs the length of the pod” (on both edges, I might add). But any time I see these, I’m going to automatically add at least 0.5 to the degree-of-difficulty score.

Next up, Week 7!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 5

May 24, 2015

Let the Accessorizing Begin!

I made it past the critical 4-week mark with (a) no sign of ADD-fatigue and (b) continued spousal support (“Hey Rich, you know what tomorrow is?” “Yep, it’s Blue Apron Day!”). So I had no choice but to accessorize.

  1. After having suffered multiple bloody zesting injuries, I clearly needed a safer tool. OXO to the rescue with a Zester/Garnisher.
  2. I suck at slicing with a knife, and that suckage was exacerbated when faced with “matchsticking”. Again, OXO to the rescue with a mandoline slicer.
  3. The pretty pictures on the recipe cards assume I own an endless supply of small glass bowls, just like on the cooking shows. Turns out they have a name, “mise en place” bowls, and now I have them too.

Several friends also suggested No-Cut gloves (perhaps based on my previous zesting injuries), so I went back to Amazon and found them, plus a wide-screen scoop for frying and a magnetic recipe card holder. Go ahead, my cooking-savvy friends, laugh your asses off. It’s all new and fresh to me!


Armed with four weeks of success and a new batch of tools, I really felt ready for this week’s box:


Week 5, Meal 1 (5/20/15)

Flat Iron Steaks with Ramps, Fingerling Potatoes & Shaved Asparagus Salad

I actually sort of know how to cook a steak (that was one of my mother’s staples), so I wasn’t too intimidated by this one. And now that I’m an expert on Ramps (having learned last week that they’re nothing more than wild green onions), and Fingerling Potatoes (also from last week), this one felt like a walk in the park. And it was, except for the part where one of the dogs stole one of the steaks off the counter – I turned around and it was gone.

I have no doubt that Billy was the thief, but I also know that Tippi the puppy is the new alpha bitch in town, and he no doubt conceded it to her when challenged. Sure enough, there she was in her crate with the steak, which I quickly recovered. I was lucky – had he retained possession, it would have been gone in a gulp or two. But she’s a more dainty eater, so it just had a few puncture wounds. I thanked her for the tenderizing effort, washed it off, and proceeded with the meal prep.

Some of you might be grossed out, but I know my dog friends will understand (and probably cheer). This meal, with lots of chopped and diced ingredients, also gave me a perfect opportunity to use my new “mise en place” bowls. So instead of my usual first photo being the raw ingredients from the box, I decided instead to post my prepped results in their individual bowls.


Week 5, Meal 2 (5/22/15)

Rice Flake-Crusted Hake with Sauteed Daikon Radish & Yuzu-Soy Sauce

Setting aside the lack of professional manicure and the skin that I once thought belonged only to my mother, which fingers do not look like the others? I know, the two red ones on the left. Yes, after 4-1/3 weeks of playing with hot oil and avoiding injury, I did it tonight. Other than that, tonight’s meal was spectacular (4.75 on the Rich-o-Meter). And thanks to my new cut-proof gloves, I’m tackling slicing and dicing with new-found confidence. RiceFlakeCrustedHake1

The injury happened early in the prep (during the placement of the Daikon Radish slices in the frying pan), but I persevered – the show must go on! And I’m the first to admit that it’s hard to ignore the irony of buying fancy gloves to avoid my previous zesting injuries and then burning myself instead.


Week 5, Meal 3 (5/24/15)

Turkey Kibbeh with Cucumber Salad & Mint-Yogurt Sauce

I had mixed expectations for this meal because though we love mediterranean food, Rich isn’t a huge cucumber fan. When I served it, I even gave him an out: “I’ll eat whatever cucumbers are left over” (to which he replied, “of course you will”). So imagine my surprise when despite the presentation challenges described below, (a) there were no cucumbers left on his plate, (b) he rated this 4.25 on the Rich-o-Meter, and (c) he further offered that he liked the cucumber/yogurt sauce so much that it raised the score from a 3.25. Wow!

Thanks to my No-Cut gloves (along with OXO zester and mandoline), I zested the lemon and sliced the cucumber with confidence bordering on reckless abandon!


That said, this one was a bitch, and prompted me to add a “degree of difficulty” rating to our scoring. Tonight I used a combined total of 11 vessels – 1 pot, 1 pan, 2 mixing bowls, 8 prep bowls – not counting the spare plate for the turkey patties. I don’t know what my threshold is, but I know that 11 exceeds it. Plus, my “large” pan wasn’t large enough to properly segregate the patties, which caused them to fail and detrimentally affect the plating/presentation. The result looked more like a Sloppy Joe than 6 Turkey Patties. So this one got 4.5 for degree of difficulty, only outdone by the fried fish fiasco, in which I was presented with the “WTF do I do with all this oil?” conundrum.

Going forward, the degree of difficulty rating will be totally subjective, but will take into consideration the following components: number of things that got dirty; number of times I had to google to understand an instruction; risk of injury (or worse, actual injury); whether or not the resulting mess was bad enough that I resorted to asking Rich to help clean up.

Week 5 Wrap-up

  • Committed enough that I bought accessories
  • That redness on the index finger turned into a nasty blister – ouch!
  • Other than that, no injuries, and new confidence with the No-Cut gloves
  • Added a “degree of difficulty” number to our rating

Looking forward to Week 6!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 4

May 18, 2015

Still going strong!

I’ve made it through three weeks of cooking (for the first time in my life), and there’s no sign of ADD-driven fatigue. I’m still looking forward to delivery day on Wednesday. Lots of ingredients in this box – spilled onto a separate section of the counter from previous boxes. Here’s what came this week:

2015-05-13 Week4 Box

Week 4, Meal 1 (5/13/15)

Hearty Chicken Salad with New Potatoes, Pickled Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

Until this point, I had posted every meal on Facebook because each was such a triumph, and some were punctuated with bloody injuries as I stumbled to get familiar with sharp implements. But I’m fairly certain my friends have started to get bored so I’m moving on to blogging, unless something spectacular happens.

Sad timing, because tonight’s dinner was a knock-out – 4.95 on the Rich-o-Meter, no injuries, and I’d definitely try it again on my own. The chicken salad was special because the chicken was pulled instead of diced, which allowed the flavors of the pickled rhubarb dressing to inundate the shreds. Wait, did those words just come out of my mouth? Until this week, rhubarb was something found only in a pie that Rich loves and I haven’t even had the guts to taste.

2015-05-13 Hearty Chicken Salad1

2015-05-13 Hearty Chicken Salad2

Week 4, Meal 2 (5/15/15)

Steamed Cod with Pickled Ramps and Yu Choy

What is a Ramp? As with the Celeriac, I admit that I had to look this up before I approached it. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that it’s a “North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States.” I love onions, good enough! I was also concerned about the steaming (evoking images of double-boilers or steamer baskets), until I followed the instructions and discovered that the steaming actually happens in the same pan with the vegetables and a simple aluminum foil cover.

2015-05-15 Steamed Cod1
2015-05-15 Steamed Cod2

Week 4, Meal 3 (5/17/15)

Mushroom & Swiss Burgers with Pan-Seared Fingerling Potatoes

We lost a little momentum on this one. Rich charitably gave it a 4.5, but I couldn’t muster more than a 3. I’m not a huge burger fan, and making it with fancy ingredients, like Cremini Mushrooms and Beef Demi-Glace, doesn’t help. I won’t be repeating this one because I’d rather have a Crush burger from Mike’s at the Crossroads. I’m glad this didn’t happen in Week 1 because I might not have carried the same degree of enthusiasm into subsequent weeks. But with 11 successes under my belt, I was undaunted and looking forward to Week 5.

On the up side, we liked the lightly-dressed Upland Cress salad. And Rich pointed out that the “green stuff” on the potatoes really brought them to life. That was Rosemary, and I got a little pang when I remembered how unceremoniously we pulled the rosemary bushes out of our yard to make room for a storage locker.


Week 4 Wrap-up

  • No injuries!
  • ADD-fatique hasn’t kicked in yet
  • Two more hits, and one minor miss
  • Week 5, beginning of Month 2, coming up

Blue Apron Journey, Week 3

May 11, 2015

Mexican Week!

After two weeks of getting used to the idea of cooking (for the first time in my life), I found myself looking forward to my third Blue Apron delivery on Wednesday. Here’s what it looked like:

2015-05-06 Week3 Box

Week 3, Meal 1 (5/6/15)

Crispy Fish Tacos with English Pea Guacamole and Pea Tip Salad

Tonight’s dinner set new records for highs and lows:

  1. It rated a 4.7 on the Rich-o-meter, a new high. He’s still holding out for the 5, but he said this was close …
  2. …except for “the white stuff” (aka the raw matchstick-cut Golden Beet) in the accompanying salad. He didn’t mind it as long as he could stuff it on the taco, but it cost me a 0.01 rating decrease for every bite I insisted he eat after that (resulting in a net of 4.65). I don’t blame him, it wasn’t high on my list of raw experiments either.
  3. WTF do I do with the leftover oil? I grew up in the suburbs, we didn’t fry stuff by dousing it in an oil bath – we left that to Colonel Sanders. My first experience with a frying pan full of oil was a few years ago, when my Cordon-Bleu-trained friend Wendy prepared schnitzel with noodles to accompany an authentic Sound of Music Sing-along at my house. It was delicious, but I didn’t know what to do with the leftover oil then and I still don’t. Please help – the only two choices I can come up with are (a) sop up the oil with dozens of paper towels until it disappears, or (b) abandon the pan on the stove and pretend it isn’t there (and hope that my dog, Billy takes care of it).

2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos3

2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos1
2015-05-06 Crispy Fish Tacos2

Week 3, Meal 2 (5/9/15)

Chiles Rellenos with Spiced Tamarind Rice & Queso Fresco

This one was a winner! Rich and I both rated it 4.9. It would have been 4.95 on the Rich-o-Meter, but it lost 0.05 because the Poblano Peppers weren’t quite cooked enough. Point taken, lesson learned. We’ll definitely be doing this one again.

2015-05-09 Chiles Rellenos1
2015-05-09 Chiles Rellenos2

Week 3, Meal 3 (5/10/15)

Enchiladas Rojas with Nopales & Black Beans

When our Mexican week box showed up, we had high expectations – we both love Mexican food. But this meal nailed it. Are you old enough to remember Euell Gibbons, and his “ever eat a pine cone?” ads? We are. And that’s how I felt when I was presented with two giant cactus leaves for this meal. I trusted BA, and boy did they come through. In fact, as I was cooking this meal, I found myself thinking that corn might have been a good ingredient. Guess what? The diced Poblano Cactus Pad filled the bill – same texture, less sweet. The result was the highest combined score to date: 4.9 for me, and 4.95 for Rich. There was nothing wrong with it, but he’s holding out for the Perfect 5.

2015-05-10 Enchiladas Rojas1
2015-05-10 Enchiladas Rojas2

Week 3 Wrap-up

  • Mexican week rocked!
  • Poblano chiles need a little extra time
  • We ate cactus and weren’t afraid
  • Week 4, here we come

Blue Apron Journey, Week 2

May 4, 2015

Week 2, Meal 1 (4/29/15)

Sirloin Tip Steaks with New Potato, Asparagus, & Radish Hash

My second BA box showed up. As I unpacked it, I had the following responses:
1) “Fennel!” (which I couldn’t even recognize until last week)
2) “Radishes!” (which I didn’t know could be cooked until last week)
3) “Parsley?” (which until tonight, I thought was just another disposable garnish, but approached with a freshly-opened mind based on having recently overcome my Radish bias)

2015-04-29 Sirloin Tip Steaks1
2015-04-29 Sirloin Tip Steaks2

The Rich-o-Meter rates this a strong 4.5 (out of 5), tied with last week’s Almond-Crusted Cod for things he’d like me to try again (from scratch !?!).

Week 2, Meal 2 (5/1/15)

Dukkah-Spiced Salmon with Spring Vegetable & Oyster Mushroom Ragout

Tonight I faced the scariest ingredient to date: Celeriac. This thing has everything going against it: I’ve never heard of it, its name sounds like a disease requiring a gluten-free diet, it’s really, really ugly, and I had no idea what tools I should use to prep it. I googled it and overcame my fear when I learned that it’s nothing more than a fancy, unfortunately-named, root-based relative of celery. I confirmed its heritage with a quick sniff check, peeled it like a potato, whacked off the nasty root end, chopped the rest into bite-sized chunks, and now I can embrace it the same way I have the radishes.

2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon2

That said, tonight’s meal was by far the highest-effort and most adventurous meal so far. It got mixed reviews on the Rich-o-Meter (overall rating of 3): Plus points because he liked it in spite of the salmon (which isn’t one of our favorites), and Minus points for too much fennel (note to self: it’s OK to adjust and toss the extra if the fennel bulb in this box is significantly larger than the one you learned on in the last box). Oh, and I still need practice with the zester, although tonight’s injury was trivial compared to the first one.

2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon1
2015-05-01 Dukkah-Spiced Salmon3

On a side note, this conversation happened tonight:
Me: “I know you’re busy, but sometime after the race bikes have left on the ship for the Isle of Man, we need to take our knives to the knife-sharpening guy at the Cotati Farmer’s Market.” (The last time we did that was several years ago.)
Him: “If it’ll keep you cooking like this, I’ll take care of that next week.”

Week 2, Meal 3 (5/3/15)

Laotian Larb Gai with Sticky Rice, Peanuts & Mint

Two weeks ago, I didn’t know how to cook and I didn’t care about learning. One week ago, I was rewarded by some early successes with my Blue Apron kits, but assumed my ADD-driven curiosity would quickly wane. Tonight, I’m truly looking forward to my next delivery on Wednesday (it’s Mexican week!). I’ve no doubt that my serotonin-deficient brain chemistry will ultimately prevail, but my interest has already lasted a week longer than expected. I still don’t know HOW to cook, but thanks to pre-measured ingredients and excellent instructions, somehow I actually AM cooking (in spite of myself).

Tonight’s Laotian meal rated 4 on the Rich-o-Meter. And yes, as my friends predicted, the “how can I make it better” has kicked in: I was faced with a plateful of raw cabbage, which neither of us care for. Undaunted, I pulled out a bottle of Comfort’s Chinese Chicken Salad Dressing to salvage (well, disguise) that part of the meal – success, no cabbage went to compost!

2015-05-03 Laotian Larb Gai1
2015-05-03 Laotian Larb Gai2

Week 2 Wrap-up

  • I cooked some more
  • It was still good
  • Week 3, bring it on!

Blue Apron Journey, Week 1

April 27, 2015

Week 1, Meal 1 (4/22/15)

Almond-Crusted Cod with Snap Peas & Radish-Red Quinoa Salad

Inspired by the posts of friends, I signed up for the Blue Apron meal kit delivery service. I don’t cook, but I can follow directions and assemble kits so I thought I’d give it a shot. My first attempt didn’t look much like the picture (because I forgot to refer to it before I shoveled the food onto the plate), but it tasted pretty darned good. Rich (my husband) concurs, and trust me, he wouldn’t hesitate to tell me otherwise. I only suffered one injury (need a little more practice with the zester), which isn’t bad considering I repeatedly tempted fate with knives and hot olive oil.

Week1Meal1 Almond-Crusted Cod

But damn, what to do with all of the packaging? Definitely not earth-friendly, which is ironic because today is Earth Day. Shipping box? Recycle. Ice packs? Reuse and Freecycle or donate after the first week or two. But what about all of the little plastic zip-lock bags? And the huge foil insulated bag? I finally found the Blue Apron recycling guide. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

Week 1, Meal 2 (4/24/15)

Spring Casserole with Fennel, Asparagus, and Golden Raisins

Until about an hour ago, I had never cooked a casserole, had no idea what fennel was (let alone that it is disturbingly reminiscent of “Wilson” from Castaway), and didn’t know that béchamel sauce was even a thing. But here it is, the before and after pic of tonight’s Spring Casserole with fennel, asparagus, and golden raisins (in béchamel sauce).

2015-04-24 Spring Casserole1
2015-04-24 Spring Casserole2

Spousal Responses (after taking the obligatory and safe half-portion):

  1. Hm, I took the first bite in the kitchen assuming it would need more salt. It doesn’t.
  2. Damn, I’m glad there’s more.”

Week 1, Meal 3 (4/26/15)

Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry with Radishes, Bok Choy, and Pink Rice

I want to summarize the results of week 1.

  1. Aside from lack of passion, there are many reasons I don’t cook: (a) I have no imagination for ingredients and no idea what to do with them; (b) I don’t want to buy a 16-oz bottle of X because a recipe calls for 1 tsp; (c) I’m terrible at planning, making decisions, and shopping – grab ‘n go at Trader Joe’s or Oliver’s is so much easier. Blue Apron probably won’t overcome my overall apathy for learning this skill, but it has addressed the other problems I mentioned.
  2. We’re expanding our food horizons. In addition to the fennel example I posted earlier this week, we have this: Rich and I both hate radishes. Raw, that is. Until this week, neither of us had any clue that they were good for anything other than garnish or things to pick out of your salad. Now I know how to cook them, and surprise, we like them!
  3. Tonight, I learned how to recover from mistakes. Mistake #1: When step 1 of the recipe is to simply cook rice, just use the rice cooker so you don’t have to worry about that timing while you prepare the rest of the meal; Mistake #2: 1/2-cup isn’t the same as 1/4 cup (time to fix those glasses), especially when you’re adding the ponzu/cornstarch/water mix to the final phase of the stir-fry. Solution: throw the excess stir-fry goop into the rice that wasn’t quite timed right and turn it on High.
  4. Inspired by a friend’s question, we are not only keeping the recipe cards, we are rating them so that we can decide which ones are worth repeating in the future.

Here is tonight’s triumph:

2015-04-26 Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry1
2015-04-26 Sweet and Sour Vegetable Stir-Fry2

Week 1 Wrap-up

  • I cooked
  • It was good
  • I’m looking forward to Week 2

Frances B. Newman, January 14, 1915 – June 11, 2008

January 13, 2015

Several friends have asked me to publish the eulogy I delivered at my mom’s memorial in September of 2008. Today, on what would have been her 100th birthday, I have finally done it – embellished with a few choice photographs (click to expand the thumbnails). I have also produced a labor-of-love DVD for people who couldn’t be there, complete with video of all the speakers, photos by my friend Eileen Gayle, and music, which was so important in her life. If you’d like a copy of the DVD, please contact me directly or let me know in a Comment.


FBN Memorial

Although Memorial Celebrations are inherently sad affairs, I have learned to appreciate and even look forward to them. And not so much for the obvious reasons–closure, saying goodbye, or even just a decent excuse to raise a glass. For me, the unexpected value is getting to know people in ways that just aren’t possible during their lifetimes. No matter how broad or deep a relationship, we’re still constrained by our own perspectives and can never know anybody the way others do. I first experienced this at Frank’s [my father’s] Memorial in 1996, and have since approached all such events with the same positive attitude and expectations. Thanks to our speakers today, as well as others who will step up during the Open Remarks, I am well on my way to exceeding those expectations today.

My longtime friend Peter Sorenson wrote this when he received the news: “Frannie possessed a rare and endearing combo of being fully present and available in the moment, but at the same time, being staunchly in control of her own reality. She graciously allowed us to be guests in this reality. With age and maturity, I have come to appreciate how important and highly evolved these two qualities of character truly are.”

As her youngest and only living child, I will now do my best to give you a glimpse into my view of her staunchly-controlled reality. But please understand my limitations. After all, I was constrained by the dynamics of the parent/child relationship, and remember, since I was born when she was 43, I only actually knew her for the second half of her life.

Anti-Aging Policy

Aging was not a part of Frannie’s reality. Instead, she established a strict Anti-Aging Policy, which served her pretty well for most of her 93 years. She didn’t rely on creams and potions or surgery, nor did she exercise regularly or maintain a particularly healthy lifestyle. Instead, she adhered to three basic principles:

  1. Principle #1: Deny (to yourself and others) that aging is happening at all. How many here didn’t really know her age until after June 11? She guarded this secret vigorously, and entrusted all who were close to her to do the same – she didn’t even really want anybody to know that she was two years older than Frank. Protecting this information occasionally caused some internal conflict between privacy and frugality, another of her strongest characteristics. For example, when she was commuting to her job in the city, she carried two different BART tickets – a blue one to use when she traveled with others, and a green one to use when nobody she cared about was looking. In the last year, when she could no longer deny to herself what was happening, she stood firm in her refusal to let others see it, which is why she discouraged visitors during her illness. I know many of you were affected by her position, so I hope you now understand that it wasn’t personal, she just wasn’t willing to expose her new reality.
  2. Principle #2: Avoid modifying your life and activities. Closely tied to Principle #1, anybody who paid attention during the last couple of decades saw very little change in what Fran did. She didn’t believe in growing old gracefully, she simply avoided the idea of growing old. She worked, traveled, sang, partied and entertained. She remained in the family home, and for better or worse, she drove her car until a month before she got sick. Places like “Senior Centers”, “Retirement Communities” and “Assisted Living” belonged in other people’s realities, not hers.
  3. Principle #3: Stay true to your contemporaries, but ensure a continual flow of young people. Her success in this area is demonstrated by the crowd in this room today. When I was planning this event, my advisors suggested that I might need a bigger limo, assuming a large crowd of old people needing to be shuttled. I chuckled because I knew differently. Many of us didn’t even realize our roles in this component of her Anti-Aging Policy.

As I continue with my story, you’ll soon see how she engineered her reality and the major themes of her life to support these three Principles. It seems to have been pretty successful, so maybe we can all learn a little from her in this respect.


FBN Memorial.004

Music was a constant thread in Frannie’s life. She originally met Frank at the Mask and Dagger Revue, where a single piano pla

yer (Frank) served as the “orchestra”. She was committed to instilling a love for music in her kids and endeavored to teach us all piano from an early age. She hauled us off to the symphony, ballet, musicals and jazz concerts to expand our musical tastes and passion beyond children’s songs and top 40 hits. She shuttled each of us to instrument lessons, band and orchestra rehearsals, and all varieties of performances. She sent us to Cazadero Music Camp every summer. In retrospect, I’m not so sure that was an entirely altruistic move since she and Frank always managed to schedule a marvelous adventure out of the country during those multi-week sessions. I guess they considered the City of Berkeley to be a suitable baby-sitter.

But more than any other aspect of music, she loved to sing. My earliest memories include her singing to me and teaching me a wide variety of songs – I doubt there were many 5-year-olds in 1963 who could confidently render such ditties as Irving Berlin’s “Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning” and “Tell Me Pretty Maiden” (from the operetta Floradora), both penned in the early part of the 20th century.

She looked forward every holiday season to hosting the “Christmas Sing” and neighborhood caroling parties at our home, always improvising the Alto harmony to enhance the crowd of singers, most of whom were locked on the melody.

At a more public level she sang with the Oakland Symphony Chorus in the 60s and 70s. In 1973, she found a home with the Berkeley University Chorus, where she remained a fixture for 33 years. I’m sure that her decision to switch was heavily influenced by the difference in the average age of the two groups – taking us back to Principle #3 of the Anti-Aging Policy: surround yourself with young people. In the fall of 2006, at the age of 91, she decided not to rejoin the Chorus, conceding that she didn’t have the stamina to stand up through rehearsals and concerts. I pointed out that they would undoubtedly make accommodations for her to sit, but her unwillingness to consider that option led me to understand that this was actually a graceful way to avoid facing the fact (or worse, having it pointed out) that her voice was no longer what it once was. She loved nearly everything about singing with these groups, with one notable exception: Auditions, which she detested without reservation or apology. Auditions fell into the same category of necessary evils as root canals, colonoscopies and income tax preparation. For the last few years, the Director of the chorus, Marika Kuzma [also a speaker], graciously waived Fran’s auditions, a concession to her tenure for which she was (and I remain) eternally grateful.


FBN Memorial.090In 1970, Fran began searching for something new to help distract her from the tragedy of Ralph’s [my closest brother] death. I was twelve and presumed to be self-sufficient – I was a decidedly precocious kid, so this wasn’t a big stretch. She was 55 at the time, an age when most people are planning their retirement. Not only did she decide to rejoin the workforce, but to make it even more interesting, she took on the task of helping to define and develop an embryonic profession, “Paralegal”. With support from a close family friend, John Page Austin, a senior partner at Morrison-Foerster, she embarked on what would eventually be a 28-year career, ending with her retirement just 10 years ago at the age of 83. I guess she finally decided she needed a spend a little more time doing more important things, like traveling. I always wondered if she might have exaggerated her involvement in defining the Paralegal role, until I recently uncovered a memo she wrote that does exactly that [displayed at the Memorial].

Art Shartsis [also a speaker] has done a fine of job of portraying her career, so I don’t need to say much more, except to point out how important it was to her. The office provided a constant touchstone of distraction and support through various personal losses, and it also served as a key component of Principle #3 of her Anti-Aging Policy, with a wonderful crew of younger colleagues and a self-refreshing pool of new Associates.

Echo Lake

FBN Memorial.054Echo Lake wasn’t so much a part of her life, as an integral part of her being. I don’t even know where to start. Do I begin in the 1930s, with her stories of paddling the canoe down to the chalet alone to pick up a beau who had traveled from Tahoe, then paddling him back to cabin, then back down to the chalet (because of course, he couldn’t possibly spend the night), and then back to the cabin alone? And that apparently she did this regardless of the wind conditions, which as far as I can tell, used to change directions randomly in the 30s so that she somehow always ended up paddling upwind? Or do I somehow try to summarize eight decades of activities with family and friends, including hiking, canoeing, waterskiing, swimming, sailing, fishing, oiling the deck, and in the early part of the season, snow sliding?

FBN Memorial.064Or maybe I should just fast-forward ahead to 1999, when at the age of 84, she hiked with Mary Lou Peterson and me up to the Echo Peak ridge for a final look at the stunning view of Lake Tahoe and Mt. Tallac.

Highlights include the frequent productions of the Echo Lake Playhouse, in which a variety show of skits and vignettes was presented from behind the curtain that bisected the tiny log cabin, all conceived, written, cast, and directed by Fran, and performed by various kids from the family and neighboring cabins to an appreciative audience of indulgent adults.

She also loved the pre-season Echo Lakes Association dinners, where she was a frequent winner of the “stand-up/sit-down” contest. This game begins with all of the guests standing, and then sitting down as the “number of years at Echo” is called out and incrementally increased. The result is a spotlight on the last one standing, the one who has been at the lake the longest. In this isolated case, her competitive spirit and desire to win overrode the paradox presented by Principle #1 of the Anti-Aging Policy, and she conveniently ignored the other guests’ ability to do the math.

Her final trip to the lake was last summer [2007] on the Fourth of July, just before she was hospitalized for the first time. I’m thankful that she never had to endure a summer of being unable to make it up to the lake.


Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and Russia. Alaska, San Diego (3 times), Ensenada, Vancouver Island, East Coast (3 times), Canyonlands Utah. The Amazon, the Danube, the Columbia, and the Mississippi (twice). For most people, this would be a dream list for a lifetime of travel. But remarkably, this list of trips reflects her travelogue after she turned 80. If I go back before that, we would be here all day.

She thrived on travel, mostly with Frank of course. As a career citizen of the world, Frank was a frequent traveler to new and sometimes exotic locations. Frannie leveraged that brilliantly for several decades, frequently accompanying him to meetings, seminars and conferences all over the world – China, Japan, Austria, Macedonia, Greece, to name a few, and of course, Switzerland.

holly dirndl1

Frannie’s Austrian dirndl.

She and Frank loved to integrate with the locals. Frannie frequently acquired and donned traditional garb, adding a level of interest during the trips, but also resulting in an almost endless supply of material for various costume parties. One example is her authentic Austrian dirndl, procured in 1954, which she dusted off one year for a Halloween party at Shartsis. I more recently appropriated the dirndl for a Sing-along Sound of Music party I hosted at my house last December.

She and Frank were proud of a trick they used for convincing even the shyest of local kids to pose for photos – she carried a Polaroid camera so she could hand over an instant picture for them to keep. The kids were universally thrilled – some had never even seen a photo of themselves. This broke through all of their inhibitions, freeing Frank to take the “take-home’ candid shots with the Konica SLR.

FBN Memorial.160After Frank died in 1996, she adapted quickly, cultivating new travel companions – Allan Viguers, Dick Johnston, Dorothy Clements, Francoise Debreu, as well as me and Rich. One of my most memorable trips with Frannie involved an 8-day tour of the Canyonlands of Southwest Utah in 1997. She was 82. The three of us traveled in our full-size pickup with a camper, towing a motorcycle trailer. We planned all of our overnight stops at RV parks that also featured motels – we stayed in the camper and she got a room. She embraced all aspects of this trip, including two Virgin River experiences: a lazy ride in an inner tube, and a ½-mile wade up the river in Zion Canyon.

Her travels also frequently incorporated her interest in her ancestors and family history.

  • In San Diego, we found the downtown address where her parents lived (now a vacant lot with a view of the airport) and visited the Historical Society, uncovering a photo of the 1902 “Normal School” faculty, numbering 9 and including her father.
  • In Barrington RI, we identified the church where her grandfather was pastor and performed the marriage ceremony of her parents in 1900.
  • In Manhattan, we took the subway to the apartment that they shared while Frank was doing post-graduate studies at Columbia (and where Bob was born), and in Cambridge, we stopped by the house they rented while Frank was a visiting professor at Harvard.
  • In Utah, we explored the Geneology Library, uncovering a family history book on the Greenwoods, a branch of her family tree about which she knew very little. To her great delight, we also validated the family lore that the Dismukes family name was actually an Americanization of the French, Desmeaux.
  • In Ireland, she and Frank explored the homeland of his Dillon ancestors. This quest was memorialized in a display she prepared for his memorial in 1996.


Fran thrived on tradition. She absorbed cultural traditions and also created her own. The nature was not as important as the concept – she held equal enthusiasm for holiday gatherings, birthdays (other than her own), costume parties, any sort of reunion, and other annualized events with family and friends.

FBN Memorial.084At the core of several of her annual events were “The Crew“ – the Austins, the Goodins, and the Helmholz’s, as well as others I didn’t know as well. Three times a year, for as long as I can remember, the Crew had gatherings that trumped all other plans, except maybe a trip to a foreign land. The annual New Year’s ski trip at the Helmholz/Austin cabin, named “Old Shoe” to reflect how comfortable it was. The summer “birthday party” at Echo Lake, acknowledging Frank and Marion Goodin’s July birthdays. The October trip to the Austin Ranch in the Gold Country. After Old Shoe was sold, the New Year’s trip shifted to the Ahwani Lodge in Yosemite, and later scaled back to a dinner gathering at a local restaurant, with the hosting duties rotating through the Crew year to year. The Echo trip dissolved as fewer and fewer were able to make the trek. But the Austin Ranch trip endured, albeit with dwindling numbers, until the passing of Betty Austin in 2006.

Reunions – it seemed that every year, she would announce that she was headed for some sort of reunion – Stanford, Dartmouth, Boalt Hall. In 2001, she even went to a gathering marking the 75th year of The Peninsula School, the progressive private elementary school she attended in Palo Alto in the 1920s. I have no doubt she would have attended last weekend’s Boalt Hall Alumni weekend had she been around.

FBN Memorial.140The Faculty Club holds a special place in Newman family traditions. Many significant Newman parties have happened here, including weddings, anniversary parties, and yes, memorials (I believe this one makes three). She frequently relied on the hospitality of the Kerr Dining Hall to host lunches and dinners before concerts and for various other occasions. And of course, there was the Faculty Holiday Party, at which she hosted many tables of friends over the years. To double the impact, she actually reserved tables for two consecutive nights. When over-subscription caused the Faculty Club to crack down on this practice and limit members to one table, she simply recruited a member friend to make the booking for her, in exchange for a guaranteed seat at the table. I, on the other hand, was always asked to leave both dates open but never had a guaranteed seat – instead, Rich and I were expected to show up as designated chair-fillers in case one or more of the confirmed guests fell through at the last minute.

FBN Memorial.120Holiday gatherings with family were precious to her, especially Thanksgiving. This holiday, with its long weekend, gave us the opportunity to reconnect with cousins who are scattered all over Northern California (many of whom are here today). We’ve had wonderful Thanksgiving dinners in Carmichael, Woodland, Chico and Fort Bragg. She cooked her last turkey in 2000, when she hosted an assorted crew of Newman women (Dorothy, Anna, Ellie and myself) at the Orinda house.

Acknowledgements and Closing

I never dreamed that I would be able to stand up and deliver this tribute. I’ve spent the last several years gearing up for the complete collapse I was sure to experience when I lost Mom, the last of my immediate family. But that isn’t what happened. I miss her terribly, but I can’t quite figure out how to mourn her death when she had such a long and full and rich life. The script I had written in my head had her living forever. But since that’s not possible, I think she did the next best thing – she lived fully until her body just couldn’t keep up any longer.

I’d like to thank all of our speakers, each of whom had a distinct and important influence in her life. In addition, there are a few people I need to give special thanks to today, for their role in helping to preserve Fran’s dignity and my sanity during the past 15 months.

Richard Johnston [also a speaker] was Fran’s loving companion for the last several years of her life. He visited her nearly every day that she was confined to the hospital and nursing homes, bringing not only support and friendly conversation (and her mail), but also a copy of the Chronicle so she could continue to do her daily crossword puzzle.

Joan Miura spent countless hours at the house in Orinda, sorting and organizing and labeling and moving things around so that Fran could safely return home after her first hospitalization.

Barbara Wilcox provided invaluable medical guidance and oversight. She was a frequent drop-in at both the house and the nursing home to review Fran’s medication list and to ensure she was being treated appropriately. And at the end, she was with me at the hospital to help guide me through the decisions that a daughter should never have to make.

Sarah Johnson has been my backstop all year, available on a moment’s notice for anything I needed in the North Bay while I was in the East Bay with Fran. And she was instrumental in the success of this event – she provided a sounding board for every detail, and she spent hours digitally scanning nearly 200 photos to develop the slide show.

And of course Rich, who when not in Colorado helping his own aging mother, provided limitless support and comfort, and also took on every “honey-do” task I presented him without hesitation or complaint, including hand-folding all 200 of the programs you hold in your hands.

Thank you all for joining us today.

DUH, of course we should pay state sales tax on internet purchases

September 20, 2011

I am 100% opposed to any effort to continue our ridiculous exemption from CA Sales Tax on internet purchases. There, I’ve said it out loud. Our state and local municipalities are on the verge of financial collapse, and nobody seems to be dealing with the impact of sales tax revenue losses on that trend. There are only two solutions: decrease spending or increase revenue. We’ve cut about as much as we can cut. We’re already 47th in the nation in per-student education spending – do we really want to hit bottom?

Am I part of the problem?

You bet. Yes, I buy from Amazon (and others). And yes, I have enjoyed the absurd windfall of an ongoing 8+% discount by doing so. And yes, I have ignored the stern admonishment from my CPA that I am obligated to declare all of those purchases as “Use Tax” on my CA Income Tax return. Here is the link that describes my obligation – what a convoluted piece of crap:

Why do I think I/we should pay?

I shop from my couch – in California. My purchases are delivered to my doorstep – in California. I enjoy the use of most of these items – in California. I don’t know or care where the orders are processed or where the items come from. How are these NOT sales-taxable events? How does this activity differ from driving 1/2-mile to (insert local store name here) and buying something to bring home and use? It doesn’t, and any attempt to differentiate the two is pure rationalization.

Why do I not declare these purchases on my 540?

The legislature should have seen this coming at least a decade ago and gotten on top of it. It’s not my job to help them sort out their lack of vision. If their “solution” is to put the onus on me and the Franchise Tax Board through my 540 return, then I would assert that the merchants in CA should no longer be required to collect sales tax either. We should all be equally bound by the honor system. But since the law requires brick-and-mortar merchants in CA to deal with this collection burden on behalf of the State Board of Equalization, the legislature should require nothing less of the internet merchants who do business in CA. I repeat, not my job.

What about Amazon’s threat to abandon California buyers if we implement an internet sales tax?

Seriously? According to the 2010 census, California represents 12% of the nation’s population. Do you really think that Amazon is going to give up that market? Sure, they’ll lose some of their competitive edge (against local businesses) if they have to collect sales tax. But realistically, all we’re really talking about is a little programmer time to adjust their software and a slight adjustment to the FTE count in their accounting department to file the returns with the FTB. Their threat is as much crap as the current CA sales tax law.

What about the local merchants?

I would hope that a fair sales tax will help local merchants to some extent, as compared to the current ridiculous state of affairs. But to keep my business, the local merchants will still have to stay on their toes to be competitive. I’m unapologetically lazy and unless I have an immediate need, shopping from my couch and having the product show up at my door will usually win.

 Do you really want to avoid Sales Tax?

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you don’t want to pay so much sales tax, then you ought to do one of three things:

1. Move to a state that doesn’t have it.

2. Stop complaining about the condition of our infrastructure and educational system.

3. Actively promote legislative alternatives for either increased revenues (which I would argue includes fair sales tax) or reduced expenses.

If you’re not willing to do one of those three things, then you need to SHUT UP about the current internet sales tax proposals and stop harrassing me when I show up at the County Fair or Wal-Mart or wherever you are lobbying that day when your unrealistic and pathetic life happens to converge with mine.

 The Real Scam: Use Tax

Here’s the dirty little secret about Sales Tax – it’s actually called “Sales and Use Tax”. Which, IMHO, is a total load of crap. Here’s how it affects you:

1. If you buy a used washing machine from Craig’s List, you are legally required to pay “Use” tax on that purchase by reporting it on your state Income Tax return. Really? Has anybody ever actually done that? Why not? Because either you don’t even know that you’re supposed to (because it’s so illogical and absurd), or you know in your heart that it’s double taxation and a load of crap. BUT:

2. If you buy a used car, the DMV charges you “Use” tax when you register it. Why? Because they are a government agency and have been empowered and entitled to do so. How many of you have colluded to defraud the state of this bullshit revenue, either as a buyer or a seller, by “agreeing” on a false selling price that you know you can get away with? I know I have, on both sides of that equation. Why is it such a scam? Because it’s so capricious. If I buy a new car and keep it until it dies, I pay the Sales & Use Tax once – through the dealer. But if I sell it after a year and the next buyer does the same (and so on and so on), the state could collect multiple “Use” taxes in that same car’s lifetime. And the only way the state gets away with it is that they have their own agency (the DMV) that is empowered with collecting.

 My Naive Conclusion

If we all paid our fair share of the Sales Tax, regardless of the “source” of our purchases, perhaps we could (a) avoid the financial collapse of our state and our education system and (b) repeal the DMV-enabled scam called “Use” tax on vehicles.