Kitchen Projects

facing heaven peppers and a new hot sauce

This story starts on our 14th wedding anniversary. For the second year in a row, we opted to have dinner at The Source, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant in DC. I have had the pleasure of working with Scott Drewno, the imaginative and curious chef, and every single morsel of food I’ve had at The Source has made me gasp in sheer delight. Scott is a magician with a dumpling, an artist with duck, and a really nice guy, to boot. Because the cuisine lends itself so seamlessly to a vegetarian diet, it’s the perfect place for our celebration meals. When we arrived, I looked at the table, the Reserved sign placed, just so, and a mason jar of peppers gracing the center. It was startling, […]

the perfect condiment. cherry tomato confit.

The end of summer garden generally falls into one of two categories. So abundant the gardener is making stealth visits to neighbor’s homes with zucchini the size of baseball bats and bags overflowing with tomatoes or, unfortunately, the other option, sad and desolate with a few hardy chiles and cherry tomatoes in among all the vigorous vegetation. I’m going to make a huge admission. The potager, started with great enthusiasm, has been treated like a unwelcome houseguest for the last few weeks. My garden is getting on my nerves. All the heirloom tomato plants filled with promise in June have been overwhelmed by volunteer cherry tomato vines. Where are my Cherokee Purples? What about Mr. Stripey? Lost to the Sweet One Hundreds and the ever abundant […]

fear and respect in the canning kitchen (and peach melba sauce)

Before I rant, and I am afraid you’re in for a bit of a rant (sprinkled with some pictures to soften the blow), I want to thank all of you for the great What-To-Do-With-800-Canning-Rings challenge. Congratulations to Flan who had the idea of using bungee cords. Done and done. Thank you, Flan. I’ll send an email, please send me your mailing address. Jars on the way! And, because subjective judging is so annoying, I promised a randomly selected winner for another pantry giveaway box, congratulations Madeline. I’ll send you some extra rings while I’m at it. Thank you all for the ideas.  My neighborhood listserv hooked me up with an art teacher who will take many many rings for her classroom. All’s well that ends […]

Tropical Tart with Homemade Cajeta

It’s been busy around here. Recipe testing takes place twice a week and right after the last dish is washed, I’m up in my office writing writing writing. The book is taking shape and feeling real. The last few days have been incredibly productive and satisfying. I now have two assistants to wash dishes help a few hours a week. This definitely makes me happy and productive. This week, Ally and Maria ventured to the basement shelves and organized everything. They took inventory and grouped similar products together, even alphabetizing! Now, the OCD part of me will rest easy. As the book deadline nears (October.. not that far away,) the produce season ramps up (no pun intended!) and plans for photography get finalized, it’s going […]

canning season starts with a ball jar giveaway

Canning season is starting up. If you’re like me, and a passionate (um, other adjectives have been used…) canner, you’re canning all year ’round, sure, but those first local strawberries, the slim young asparagus, ramps, garlic chives, candy onions – they’re just around the corner and that feels like the first day of school for me. Check Your Gear Pressure canner gauges should be calibrated once a year. Many hardware stores will do this for you. Give the gasket (the rubber ring around the inside rim) a good going over – has it dried out, is it cracking? If so, order a new one, easily found at the manufacturer’s website or on Amazon. This is a good time to check carefully and then scour the […]

Winter Borscht

I woke up from a forgotten dream, but for the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking of my grandmother’s borscht. What is it about food memories? I hadn’t thought of this soup in decades, but then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I knew every flavor in this soup before I found the recipe in the avocado green metal recipe box. And there was another word knocking around my head. Flanken. When Mary would make soup, and there were only six in her repertoire – matzo ball in deeply flavored chicken broth; split pea, no ham – maybe hot dogs; vegetable barley with beef; and beefy borscht. There were two exceptional cold soups, too, but with snow flurries, cold days and […]