Betty Teller is an intrepid food lover and home cook who tries not to take food or life too seriously. Laugh with her about kitchen catastrophes, her endless battle with the oak tree in her yard and whatever else strikes her funny in her column amuse-bouche, appearing biweekly on the Food Page.

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I think it is all the pictures you see of old cars that did it.

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A few months ago, I was sitting at my computer getting ready to write yet another column about my oak tree.

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I lied in my last column when I told you I don’t watch reality TV. I confess there is one type I do watch: home improvement shows.

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I don’t know if it is the time change, spring fever or something else, but I’ve been making a lot of mistakes recently. My brain seems to have been on a vacation.

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When I started writing this column 10 years ago, I confess I was a bit nervous. I was certain my weird cooking, eating and housekeeping quirks were unique to me, and that once I exposed them, you would know how strange I am and judge me for it.

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I don’t have time to write this column today.

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My house has a distinctive smell. It’s not unpleasant, but I don’t especially like it and yet I can’t make it go away. It doesn’t matter what room fresheners or deodorizers I use. It returned even after major renovations that took part of the house down to studs.

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With Christmas present rapidly receding into Christmas past, it’s time to prepare for the next big event. Are you ready? Have you made your attitude adjustment yet?

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Hanukkah has done it again. It crept in on Sunday night, while I wasn’t paying attention. Oops. I’d better go light some candles.

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Having milked every last detail of my life for material during the past 10 years, I admit there are times when I stare at the empty screen on my computer and contemplate giving up this column for good. I mean, how many times can I write about raking leaves or cleaning drawers before you get …

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As you may have noticed, I haven’t been writing columns as regularly as usual this fall. In part, that’s because I have been traveling a lot, and have not been able to hit deadlines. But mostly I’ve just been having a hard time finding the humorous side of life to report in this column.

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I’d say the odds of there being a recipe at the end of this column are pretty slim. Because in order for there to be a recipe, I’d first need to have cooked it. And to cook, I’d need to have ingredients. Which would require a trip to the store, as there is absolutely nothing to eat in my hou…

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I thought I was over last year’s trauma, but the one-year anniversary of the Napa earthquake this week has stirred up repressed memories, and my body has pushed the alert level into the red zone. I’ve been jumping at loud noises and having trouble sleeping.

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I started my spring cleaning this past week. (Yes, I know, it is technically not spring, but in seven short months it will be, so I thought I’d get a jump on the season.)

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When I started writing this column nearly 10 years ago, my intention was to share my love of food, and to encourage you all to cook more. But I quickly found there is only so much that I can say about the joys of a perfectly roasted chicken or an imperfectly baked loaf of bread before utter …

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Hi there. Did you miss me? In case you hadn’t noticed, I skipped writing a column last time.

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With hot weather and Father’s Day upon us and a family gathering coming up, I was reminiscing the other day with my dad about summers past and the time I nearly drowned on one of our family camping trips.

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They say the first step to dealing with addiction is admitting that you have a problem. I’ve been in denial for months, but I’m finally ready to fess up.

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One of the results of writing this column for so many years is that a large number of PR agencies and food companies have placed me on their mailing lists.

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My culinary historians group gathered last week for a tasty feast of dishes we had prepared to share. But it wasn’t your ordinary potluck.

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In my ongoing skirmishes with CVS, I brought this on myself.

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They say travel is broadening, but it isn’t. At least, not in the physical sense. I have developed and proved an important scientific theory that holds that it is impossible to gain weight while traveling.

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It has been more than 16 years since I bought my adorable little bungalow in Napa. To me, it seems like I just got here, but that may be because since then, it feels like I have moved more than once — just without having to buy a new house. The town has changed so much that I live in a compl…

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I own enough gadgets to stock a small kitchen store. My drawers are jammed with parers, graters, slicers, juicers, thermometers, brushes and measurers. You name it, I’ve got it. I’m prepared to tackle just about any food you throw at me.

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I recently spotted a piece on a local TV news show about a guy who has carved out a unique niche for himself in the wacky world of the blogosphere. He bills himself as the world’s first “refrigerator dating expert.”

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On gloomy winter days, I dream of exotic travel. And my college alumnae group must know it, because information about their latest group adventure usually shows up about now to lure me.

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I woke up the other day with the oddest feeling in the pit of my stomach. An odd kind of gurgle.

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Some evil person has been meddling with my calendar. Thanksgiving was just the other day. How did it suddenly get to be December 20-something? I demand an explanation. Who let this happen? When I find out, heads will roll.

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Hi friends. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and ate as well as I did (though perhaps with a little more moderation). I told you about my sister Judy’s plans, so you know my trip to Florida was a weeklong feast.

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Seriously, do I even have to write this column? You already know what it is going to say. After all, it’s late November. Of course, I am heading for the airport to catch a plane to Boca Raton for Thanksgiving.

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The cookbook book club gathered together for an absolutely dreadful meal last week. What a fun night. We had a riotous evening in which we all united in hating just about every dish we made. As host and the person who selected the book, I can humbly take credit for ensuring this most excelle…

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Remember back a few years ago, when we were freaking out about gas prices, the collapse of the global economy, unemployment and upside-down mortgages?

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My book club recently read a novel in which one of the characters was uptight and overly controlled. The author established this in part by describing the woman’s pristine kitchen and, more particularly, her cabinets filled with neatly labeled and alphabetized Tupperware containers.

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My old college roommate, Margo, and I were reminiscing recently via Facebook about the horrendous acts of cooking we performed with our other roommates in the suite we shared in our apartment-style dorm oh those many eons ago.

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Here’s the thing about an earthquake. Days and weeks after the ground has stopped shaking and you’ve swept up the shards of your beloved possessions, you keep finding new problems.

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I’m not sure if it is still in the curriculum, but when I was in high school the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” was required reading. It’s the ultimate “be careful what you wish for” tale, where the three wishes granted by the magic paw bring horrific unintended consequences. I still shiver …

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It has recently come to my attention that a terrible food fraud is being perpetrated in this country. I’m outraged, and I feel it is my duty to draw attention to it so that you do not fall victim.

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Here’s something I learned recently: It’s really hard to work at a computer while jogging in place. I know it can be done, because my friend’s son Brett, who works in one of those tech start-ups with a ping pong table in the lobby, has a treadmill under his desk and walks nonstop all day lon…

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Here’s the secret to having a spotless house and a perfectly organized life: Get yourself in a position where you have a column to write, the deadline is looming and you just know the topic you have picked will result in hate mail.

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I tuned in to “The Colbert Report” a couple of weeks ago and caught the show just in time for a fantastic comedic segment featuring an interview with a young comedian named Rob Rhinehart. I have to tell you about it — it was so funny.

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I know, I know. You’re thinking “enough about Turkey already!,” and wondering how much longer I can possibly milk a two-week vacation.

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I know you want to hear tales of Turkey, and I promise I’ll bring them to you in the coming weeks. But today, I have another much more pressing topic: wishing my dad a happy birthday.

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I know you find my tales of life in Napa to be infinitely fascinating. I mean, who wouldn’t be enthralled with stories about my oak tree, the weather, my efforts at housecleaning and, of course, the antics of the always fascinating cats?

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Today is the day we all get to celebrate and be super happy that I was born, all those many years ago. Yes, it’s my birthday. Hip, hip, hooray! And ugh.

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When I woke up on the first official day of spring, the sun was shining, the air was warm and my yard was decorated with drifting cherry blossoms. I thought it was a perfect day to relax and smell the roses, which had conveniently burst into bloom.

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In honor of Fat Tuesday last week, I started writing a column about the obesity epidemic and the inexact science behind everything we think we know about what is good for us and what we should do about it.

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The cookbook club had another amazing meeting last week. Together, we produced a delectable Thai meal from Pok Pok (a renowned Portland, Ore., restaurant) — perhaps the best dinner I’ve had all year.

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Oh, Italy. What has happened to you? You used to be such a nice country. Beautiful countryside, magnificent art, handsome and charming men, the only coffee worth drinking, and of course amazing food — you were such a paradise.

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As I get older, I am realizing that my abilities are not as boundless as I once thought. Even if I went back to school and studied, there are an amazing number of jobs out there in the world that I could not possibly do. Doctor, lawyer, plumber, garbage collector? Trust me, even if I could l…

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The interesting thing about living on a planet with 7 billion people is that even if we are one in a million (and who among us is not?), there could still be about 7,000 of each of us.

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It’s New Year’s Eve — have you drawn up your list of resolutions? I admit, I’m running a bit behind on mine. I’ve only come up with one resolution so far, and I really shouldn’t put it in print.

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I wasn’t planning to write a word about my sister’s sleek new kitchen renovation, because kitchen envy is such a very unattractive trait and I don’t want you to think ill of me. But she has left me no choice.

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Seriously, who is in charge of the calendar? Someone really dropped the ball with scheduling this year. All the holidays have been bunching up and overlapping.

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Autumn is here. Sigh. You may enjoy the crisp days, the clear air and the contrast of brilliant red and gold foliage against clear blue skies. You might even be looking forward to seeing rain in the forecast. But not I. When the clocks change and the light fades earlier each day, I begin to …

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It never fails. Labor Day comes along, the weather turns crisp, leaves start falling and I wake up one morning in a back-to-school mood. I feel the urge to buy myself a cute outfit, sharpen some pencils and sign up for a class.

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Have you ever tried to cook a meal in a rented vacation house? Maybe you were tired, or just wanted to hang out that night. You felt like eating something simple and familiar. Why not cook and eat in? After all, the place came with a furnished kitchen.

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It has been a slow month and I don’t have any exciting stories to relate. So instead, I thought I’d use this column to bring you some updates on past exciting stories.

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I had a bit of a scare last week. I kept seeing spots darting in front of my eyes. It was unnerving.

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