Wednesday, August 24, 2011

18,850 SALADS

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Addictions? Oh, yes. When it comes to food, I tend to have addictions in cycles. There was one summer, many years ago, when I was in the throes of a love disappointment, that I lived on frappucinos and plain bagels. I craved them. I went through a broccoli and baked potato phase. And I just finished a peanut butter and apples addiction.. I cannot look at peanut butter and apples now. NO. But that's after a many-month love affair.

When it comes to clothes, I'm clearly addicted to black. If you look in my closet, it's like being in a silhouette. Black, black, black. I just did a little shopping, and even the store clerk could not contain her amusement when I arrived with my choices in the dressing room. "The Hank Collection," she announced. "Black, black and black."

But if I had to finish the sentence: Not a day goes by that I do not have______"-- hmm. What would that be? I would certainly miss coffee. And my brain-alarm absolutely rings when it's time for the six o'clock news--it's actually kind of scary.

But the wonderful mystery author Kathleen George knows how she'd finish the sentence. And her answers might surprise you!

What would she miss?

Eighteen Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty...Salads!

KATHLEEN GEORGE: I have addictions: Ice cream, chocolate, baseball, football, reading, writing, and salad. By this I mean that if a day goes by (sports in season) in which I do not do or have these fixes, I’ll feel restless, funny, unfinished. Also, let it be noted that there are a few weeks in autumn in which it is possible to get both baseball and football on the same day.

The salad thing started when I was a child. The elder, helpful child, I got a daily assignment (beyond practicing the piano and cleaning the upstairs). I was to make the family’s salad for dinner. I learned later than many Lebanese people are addicted to salad dressed in lemon and olive oil and that they have to have it daily. There was once a secretary in my department who was married to one of my countrymen and she exclaimed, “He says he needs a salad every day. He makes it.”

Yes, I know,” I said. “Lemon and olive oil.”

Lately one of my brothers in law, said, as if he could surprise me, “ “Vivie makes a huge salad every day, I mean huge.”

“I know,” I said.

In summer the salads are glorious with the lemon and tomato juices mingling. In winter, we eat the salad anyway. Lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, sometimes mint, dressed in lemon, olive oil, lots of salt, coarse black pepper. Everything tastes better—steak, pork chops, salmon, chicken wings, lentils and rice, everything.

When I traveled on Semester at Sea, I bought a bowl in one port and thereafter each time I hit a port, I stocked up on vegetables I could store in my cabin refrigerator. In France, Cape May, Provincetown, Mexico, wherever I go, I make salad.

I read. I must read. Every day. No exceptions.

My husband taught me about writing every day whether I felt like it or not—whether I felt I was doing something good or not. “Ten years later,” he assured me, “you can’t tell the bad days from the good days.” After I started writing every day, that was it. And addiction for sure. If a doctor’s appointment can’t be rescheduled and I have to be out of the house in the morning, I am pretty growly for the day.

So I write, bad or good. I check the baseball scores. I make a salad, winter and summer. I might read or have chocolate midday. I definitely have chocolate in my ice cream at night. I definitely read before I go to sleep. Some of these are ordinary addictions, I know. Some aren't particularly healthy.

On the other hand, I think of the poor folks who need alcohol, heroin or crack. I write about them substituting one fix for another. Alcohol and Valium in combination are what keeps my character in FALLEN going, alcohol buffers the pain and guilt in AFTERIMAGE, heroin and booze mark two characters in THE ODDS, and I have a fellow who needs crack in HIDEOUT. My detective friend and mentor tells me that substance abuse us contributed to a huge amount of crimes. Might there almost be no crime without it? Wikipedia (we don't rely on it, of course!) says:

“One survey shows that in about 67% of child-beating cases, 41% of forcible rape cases, 80% of wife-battering, 72% of stabbings, and 83% of homicides, either the attacker or the victim or both had been drinking.

Addiction, the mystery writer’s friend . . . .What’s your fix?

HANK: Or--because summer's almost over: What's your favorite salad? Continuing the Jungle Red win-a-book-a-day this week: A copy of Kathy's brand new HIDEOUT to one lucky commenter!

Kathleen George is the editor of PITTSBURGH NOIR and the author of TAKEN, FALLEN, AFTERIMAGE, THE ODDS (Edgar finalist, best novel), and HIDEOUT.
Her website is

And let me ad
d: *HIDEOUT got a starred review from PW!

In Edgar-finalist George's stellar sequel to The Odds (2009), Cmdr. Richard Christie and Det. Colleen Greer of Pittsburgh Homicide look into a late-night hit-and-run, in which a young woman died. Meanwhile, brothers Jack and Ryan Rutter, the two young men in the truck that fatally struck the woman, skip town and break into an unoccupied house in Perrysville, a nearby summer community. Jack is a hapless, sweet-natured kid, but Ryan is an angry, drug-addled coward who's looking for an excuse to hurt someone. The suspense grows as the innocent people of Perrysville go about their business--and the owner of the brothers' hideout heads home for the season. An expert at handling investigative details and pacing, George makes readers care about the people who are about to confront each other. The inevitable violence hurts because it matters. Told in lean, efficient prose, this is a top-notch, emotionally satisfying police procedural. (Aug.)


  1. Books and morning coffee! I could probably list more if I thought about it! (the computer?) Dee

  2. Hi Kathleen--loves your books as you know!! I'm addicted to coffee, to blueberries and peaches with Barbara's oat cereal, to milk, to pets, and most certainly to reading! We went to Europe recently and oh horrors, the new Kindle my husband insisted on buying went on the fritz immediately.

    Luckily, I'd packed 5 books for me and 2 for him--JUST IN CASE!

    good luck on the new book--read these JReds, you'll love them!


  3. Apart from the internet?
    I'm a streaky eater so I can have something every day for weeks and then move on to something else with nary a look behind. Right now it's watermelon and feta salad. And as as already been noted I'm addicted to black jackets, cowboy boots, white blouses (which I buy but rarely wear)tag sales, gardening books and vintage china. Could be worse..could be crack.

  4. 70% dark chocolate, just a square, every single morning with my coffee. No day is complete without it.

    Reading? Of course! Might as well stop breathing, right?

    My husband, who is not Lebanese, likes to have a salad every day. Thank goodness I finally got him to stop eating iceberg lettuce.

  5. White blouses that you don't wear! I'm howling--I thought it was only me. SO FUNNY. They're never--quite right. And you have to save them for the perfect occasion, because they;re only perfect once.

  6. I don't have a blood of Lebanese in me, but give me my green salad! With the fixin's. I have friends who serve salad, lettuce and tomatoes. Not me, add in everything you can.

  7. Coffee. Or more precisely, cafe au lait. I used to have a Sonic M&M Blast addiction. I got over it, much to my waistline's relief! I love salads and eat at least one daily. Bleu cheese is my dressing of choice, followed closely by balsamic vinaigrette. The only thing I won't eat is tomatoes. Or strawberries. Allergic.

    Shoes, clothes, chocolate? I can survive without. Books? Thank goodness for the Kindle! I can get my fix without further cluttering up the house.

  8. Many, many addictions. Chocolate, coffee, reading of course.

  9. Coke from Sonic (has to have Sonic ice!) and ice cream are definitely the two biggies.

    I also love to dress in all black - which was fine when I had black labs, but can be problematic now with yellow labs!

  10. Dark Chocolate, the internet, coffee, God yes!!

    I actually took a salad to the Pirates game last night (no more to be said about the game, alas). I included pecorino, prosciutto, potatoes, and of course fantastic tomatoes along with everything green. This morning I had some pain shots in my back. My husband, to cheer me up and he's a man who doesn't give a whit about my wish to trim down, decided I needed a treat. So he fetched me afterwards with an almond croissant in hand. Ah, those days in Paris in which I ate one of those every day! (And a salad later)

  11. Hi Kathleen (again)! In honor of this post, I just grilled a piece of salmon and threw it over salad greens for lunch. No need for dressing.

    Addictions? Coffee in the morning, ice cream at night, and I own more than 50 vintage tablecloths...and counting.

  12. Ramona--tablecloths! Whoa. Wonderful.

    Four little words: Triple venti non-fat latte.

  13. Going w/ traditional Greek Island salad.

  14. Oh my God - you've never had Sonic ice?? Sonic drive ins - supposed to be fast food, bad for you food, "car hops" on roller skates? Well, they have some special kind of ice maker - makes ice that is very small (I don't know how else to describe it). But I swear, drinks taste much better with Sonic ice than with any other ice!

  15. Tea, of course. I can't imagine a day without tea. On the rare occasions when I miss that morning cuppa I'm quite cranky.

    Reading? A given. I MUST read every day, even if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes when I get in bed. My idea of heaven is to be able to read a really good book straight through. While drinking tea.

    Salads? Love them. No iceberg. LOVE arugula. Arugula, lemon juice, barely blanched green beans, olive oil. My latest is cut-up organic grape tomatoes with baby buffalo mozzarella (thank you, Costco), lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh ground salt and pepper.

    Not so big on sweets, but then there's the pastry the chef at a local cafe is making with fresh local figs, this week on Friday. It's on my calendar...

  16. Deb! Your salads sound Delicious. And how about those lovely little yellow tomatoes?

    Oh,so hungry. Getting lunch now.

    Sonic--no, but I'm a big fan of tiny ice. I agree it's fabulous. Maybe there's a Sonic around here...

  17. I'm addicted to nuts... almonds, cashews, peanuts, you name it. And of course coffee. And lately little tiny rootbeer floats. Kills the craving for something sweet with... something sweet!

    Kathleen, I love salads, too. When people ask what could you not do without in your kitchen, for me it's olive oil and vinegars. We've been buying baskets of tomatoes and serving them with fresh basil, oregano, and chives from the backyard and of course olive oil and cider vinegar. Throw on fried chicken strips or leftover steak or fish from the night before and voila, DINNER!

  18. 2 salads I love are the "Barbie" salad, which has fresh strawberries, feta cheese, and honey-roasted pecans with lettuce and strawberry vinaigrette dressing, and the Mexican salad, which has ranch style beans, Catalina dressing, avocados, and Fritos corn chips in it. Scrumptious. Otherwise, I'm more into beef than greens. Call me carniverous.

  19. Laurie, why is it called the Barbie salad?

    And Kathy George? Tell us about your new book!

  20. Loving reading these odes to addictions!

    Kathleen, we spent a month in France and I vowed to eat pain au chocolat or an almond croissant every day -- delighted to say I did it! Your reference to Lebanese salads reminds me of a favorite: fattoush. I made it for my book club when we read Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo -- loved her recipe with sumac and pomegranate molasses.

    Ramona, 50 vintage tablecloths?? And I was so proud of my three -- admittedly all stolen from my mother!

    For me, it's an ounce of Green & Black's Organic Baking Chocolate half an hour after lunch. Despite the name, it's great for eating - 72% cocoa solids, and fab. A dr prescribed it a few years ago -- one of the few health routines I can manage to keep!

  21. Root beer floats...are they the little candies that look like barrels? We should blog about oldtime candy one of these days. Vintage too.

    @Hank white blouses, I love it when I have something in common with you! The Anne Fontaines..forget it, they're so beautiful I'm afraid to wear them .

  22. Ahhh, I'm going totally crazy reading about all these great foods that people can't stay away from. And learning about things, too. I didn't know about Sonic ice. Hank asks me about my book (totally forgotten in the subject of food, but there is a connection!). The lovely Addie Ward, widowed, almost 83, alone up in her summer place, gardening (gorgeous vegetables) and cooking and pleasing anyone who stops by, gets a strange visit. A young man is asking for work. She wasn't planning to give him or anyone work, but she does. What she doesn't know is that he's processing lessons in brutality and that he has a brother, also on the run, who excels in those lessons. Meanwhile Addie cooks. Vegetable soup, spaghetti sauce with pork and chicken and meatballs in it, cornbread, chocolate cupcakes. And I love this character, Addie. And there's a lot of danger and a lot of violence. I sweated and cried writing it. Is that a good sign?

  23. For the chocolate addicts, something fun. There's a premium dark chocolate that's also a 500 mg calcium supplement. The vitamin guy at Whole Foods turned me on to it when I said I was looking for a calcium supplement I could swallow. Boy, can you swallow these. One every night before bed. They're called Adora. Pretty cute.

    And Kathleen, the book sounds wonderful! Food AND suspense! And an eighty-three year old heroine. I love it!

  24. Crying is good. In fact,truth be told, if I don't feel teary at the end, I know I'm not finished.

    Sweaty? Because it was exciting? Or because you were nervous?

  25. I can't face the day without diet Coke (I don't like coffee) and toast with Jif peanut butter. I also drink a lot of skim milk.

  26. Toast with Jif! Toast with Jif! Love it, I mean, what could be better? Very good taste in addictions, Cat.

  27. Reading, hot chocolate and the Internet. Never go a day without one or the other.

  28. I have no addictions--apart from tea, the internet, Giant's baseball, tennis, good cheeses, Masterchef, Project Runway,and my Kindle.

    It's funny that the two Reds who write about England are both addicted to tea, not coffee. My English husband, on the other hand, cannot live without coffee.

  29. Unbelievable! I thought I was the only person who bought white blouses and never wore them—never, ever quite right, no matter what. Drives me crazy, yet like an addict or an insane person, I still buy them. Hopeful.

    With the exception of travel days, I have had a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Iced Blended Mocha every day for over ten years. Sometimes twice a day. (Blushing. Never confessed that before.) And (honest, not bragging) I've done sit-ups every day since New Year's 1991. I know, weird, but you know how habits kind of insinuate themselves.

    My current addiction is French fries, ordered burnt so they come out crispy. And Facebook.

  30. Favorite salad: Mozzarella Caprice, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, capers and olive oil. Second choice, baby field green with lemon and olive oil. Third choice: Greek salad.

    Addictions: Reading for sure. NCIS. HGTV. Cooking. Iced tea, Coke, sugar, any lemon dessert, Hershey bars, Fritos, and—no laughing here—radishes. I’m trying to make writing a daily addiction. Can’t not do it, but I do it erratically—you know, binge writing.

  31. Okay, Pat--radishes??

    This whole list of comments is so hilarious...and very revealing!

    Come back tomorrow for another great book offer! And, a hem, some funny memories.


  32. I realized I have a number of white blouses that . . . yes, are just not quite right. It's nice to know I'm not alone. This blog was just the most fun. I even have more addictions than I thought I had. Nuts, of course nuts! And coffee, a given! Even in the form of coffee ice cream which I just had. I'm going to search out those calcium dark chocolates. Night night, all. I'll be thinking of those blueberries and Kindles and tomato salads.

    (Hank, about HIDEOUT, I sweated from the tension. I am currently kindling RULES OF CIVILITY--engaging book so far.)

  33. Thanks, Kathleen! YOur book arrived today..perfect!--and the winner is...well, let's see who enters before midnight. Watch this space tomorrow!

    (Coffee ice cream! My fave. But I try to resist. Almonds, though, I now realize I have them every day. Hmm.)

  34. And the winner is Laurie Moore!! Laurie, contact me via my website--and claim HIDEOUT!