feeding the creative mind (paté grandmère)

It’s been a few days since I returned from Ham Heaven and I can’t think of anything but paté grandmere.  There is a lot to say for travel, particularly if you have a job that demands creativity. Nothing kills new ideas like the same old same old. And nothing lights a fire under the creative soup pot like seeing, tasting, breathing, and engaging in a new place.  I thought a lot about eating while in France. About how the French eat, and how we eat, how I eat. There really is no snacking. You sit down to eat three meals a day.  At the market, shoppers gather fresh foods as well as all sorts of preserved foods — charcuterie, cheeses, fresh dairy and yogurt. There is a wide range of […]


treasure hunting in gascony and basquelandia

Last week, the New York Times published this story about packing for 10 days in a carry-on bag. It’s impressive. When I read it, I was, at that very moment, cramming Every Single Thing in France into my suitcase. I had long since given up any thoughts of staying below the 50 pound limit and was only worrying about getting everything to fit. I thought about it before I left DC. I knew I would shop. In fact, there were a couple of items already on my list, and I was open to so much more. So, really, I should have known better. Bringing a wee little bag with me was short sighted. I needed a duffle bag. Or more. Hello, my name is Cathy and […]


Ham Heaven

Seven days ago I left Washington, D.C. to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. I arrived at Kate Hill’s gastronomic slice of heaven, Camont, and moved into the little gypsy caravan I have called home once before. After five quiet days alongside the canal, eating well, drinking Gascon wines and visiting with friends, we left yesterday to trace the Ham Trail in Basque country. We drove through four styles of architecture and as many types of  agriculture until we reached a small, charming hotel at the base of the Pyrenees. Basque country spreads out before me in the valley. Sheep and pigs and stocky horses roam the hillsides. There are hams hanging everywhere, even over last night’s dinner table. There is so much to say, but […]

how to cut a mango

mango coconut macadamia conserve

So, did I mention I’m going to France? I’ll be visiting Kate at Camont where I hope to putter in her beautiful gardens and go brocante-ing with her sister Stephanie (check out her Etsy shop of fabulous vintage French household goods). I’m going to  scritch Bacon the big dog and soak up Kate’s Gascony. It’s paradise. When Elaine joins us next week, we’ll be heading to Basque country, south and towards the sea. Still France, almost Spain, a land all its own. (Elaine is continuing work on her project This Little Piggy. I’m tagging along.) We’ll be on the seashore. The eastern shore of the Atlantic. I’ll wave! (You can follow my adventures on Instagram. I don’t know how much social media you can expect when I’m […]

Tamari Almonds

tamari almonds and a party from the pantry

We’re very popular these days and it’s all about a little gray dog. Everyone wants to come hang out with Morty. Whenever anyone comes to visit I like to create a little nibble using something from the pantry. Saveur grabbed my attention with their Spring Cocktail Party and I realized I could make three of the recipes by buying only a bunch of scallions. I call that a win. I highly recommend Batter-Fried Scallions. They’re fabulous, easy, and very snackable. I might want a nice garlicky, anchovy laced aioli the next time. Fondi di Carciofi (Bacon-Wrapped Artichokes) were tasty. A little frustrating to fry, but tasty. I had my own canned artichokes and wrapped them in three kinds of cured meat: pancetta, smoked duck breast, and lamb ventreche. I think […]

Biscoff Crumbs 2

biscoff cannoli tart

Two things arrived in the mail this week. The nice people at Lotus Bakery sent me their Biscoff cookies with the understanding that I would post a recipe on their site. I confess. I have a soft spot for Biscoff cookies, also called Speculoos. The whisper of cinnamon and shortbread crumb just send me. I made a delicious tart recipe using these cookies awhile back and posted it on Food52. It was scrumptious, and at first I thought I might just make it again and post it on the Lotus site. And then my dairy godmother handed over another package of ricotta. For weeks, I have been fantasizing about two specific treats. Ricotta pie and cannoli. I know there must be someplace in DC to […]