jacl lalanne

Jack LaLanne was certainly a fitness superhero. Exercise guru, promoter, inventor, Jack could do it all, and kept doing it until he died at 96. Maybe that’s what it takes, find out what you’re good at and keep doing it.

Julia Child taught us to cook by way of the TV, and Jack LaLanne taught us to exercise to keep the excess weight in bounds also by watching TV. Each of them appeared on morning TV for a half hour, and we learned how to make an omelet, and how do do deep squats afterward.

Our kids didn’t bother too much with Julia, but Jack was a different story. He commanded you to stop whatever you were doing and flex those muscles. He frequently had his dog on the show, a nice white shepherd dog, which caught the attention of the little ones.

Where Julia spoke slowly, as if feeling her way along, Jack talked in machine gun mode, and you were forced to tear yourself away from the sight of Jack in his blue jumpsuits, to follow him in each exercise.

He did amazing stunts such as swimming across the Bay while towing 13 boats, long after he could have been quietly enjoying life. He lived in Morro Bay down the coast, and ate at the same restaurant each evening. The waiters knew he had the same table and a small glass of red wine.

When parking meters were first installed in Oakland, he and some cohorts showed off by bending them to the ground. No idea if the cops caught the boys.


Julia occasionally dropped something on the floor and picked it up with a laugh, advising you not to tell your guests. She guided you through an entire dinner party with decorations on the table. You were always sure of a chuckle, because she was obviously having such a good time. Her many cookbook grace the shelves of kitchens worldwide.

Both Julia and Jack LaLanne were the innovators of good things, and both lived long lives, Julia passing at 91 and Jack at 96. Maybe we should take another look.


The story of Johnny Appleseed may be apocryphal, but it is so charming that I always think of some little wrinkly old gnome tramping through the countryside sprinkling apple seeds wherever he went whenever I put an apple pie into the oven.  Which I just did.

Years ago when our family had a house at the Russian River, my mother-in-law and I went to orchards in nearby Sebastopol and picked boxes of apples for sauce and pies.  We were great canners of fruit in those days.  We did the picking and the rest of the family ate.  When it was blackberry season she and I picked berries and brought them back so that she could make pies and the rest of us could go swimming.  I feel guilty about leaving her with all that work, but she was a better pie baker than I in those days.

For years, our garage was filled with the delicious and tantalizing smell of apples in summer, at least until I fell off the roof while making applesauce.  I would take a week off from work and devote it to making 50 quarts of applesauce.  As the sink filled with the accumulation  of appleskins, I kept trying to grind them up in the disposal.  It jammed up nicely so don’t ever try that.  Dr. Advice was away on a business trip, and I felt quite capable of unplugging it by sticking a hose down that pipe that sticks up out of the roof.  I don’t remember what they call it.  Anyway, I climbed the ladder carrying the running hose and prepared to poke it down the pipe, when the ladder gave way and I fell off the roof. Dr. Advice said it wouldn’t have worked anyway.   Mott’s makes a fine substitute for homemade sauce now.

My old cooking teacher Marian Cunningham just passed away a few months ago.  She was the second one to teach me to not “sweat the small stuff”after Julia Child had instilled the thought.  Marian believed in keeping it simple.  She was so honest she even disagreed strongly with her good friend Alice Waters about which lettuce was best.  Long after we were using spring greens, arugula, radicchio, etc., Marian still like the old iceberg lettuce she (and I) had grown up with.

I’m passing along Marian’s recipe for pie crust which is infallible.  (I know everyone who gives you their favorite recipe says it is infallible, but this one really is.)

My mother-in-law’s crust was divinely flakey because she only used shortening, but I prefer the buttery taste of this one.  As Julia used to say “Bon Appetit”!!


2 Cups All-Purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. sugar       Pulse 8-10 times till mixed well.

Add 1 and 3/4 cubes of butter very cold and cut into small pieces, 1 Tbs. cold shortening

Pulse about 10 times till butter is nicely distributed and you can still see flakes of it

Add 1/3 Cup ice water and pulse 8-10 times or until it comes together in a mass

Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill about an hour before rolling.  Freezes well