apricot gelato from the practical pantry

Today, winter came to stay. The wind is blowing and I’m watching leaves leave. The backyard is ankle deep in crackling colorful oak, hickory and dogwood leaves, the trees now stripped bare. The Japanese maples are the last to turn, and the last to let go of their leaves. When we moved in to the house nearly fifteen years ago, this maple at the top of the stairway took my breath away. We constructed the stone wall with the maple in mind, and I paired the squat miniature spruce with the range of colors the tree produces. I adore this laceleaf beauty, all gnarled and structural in the winter when I prune away all the tiny dead branches with miniature clippers. In spring, little bright […]

#DinnerWithMarcella. Va bene.

Saturday, October 26th was the date I randomly chose to celebrate the life of Marcella Hazan. And, grazie mille, so many of you joined in! Dinners happened across the globe, from Australia to London, from my home in Washington, DC to homes in California. My heart is so full of love for all of you. I cannot wait to share your glorious dinners with the Hazan family. Marcella’s books were a fundamental cornerstone of my culinary education. Introduced to her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, in 1981, I proceeded to “cook the book” long before those words were strung together. I loved the way she organized my meals, suggesting what foods complimented others, what pasta should proceed a main course, what contorni (vegetables) should […]

so many jars (musings on the mason jar)

As a home canner and preserver, dozens of jars leave my home every year filled with foods carefully crafted in my kitchen. Yet, hardly any make their way back. Two of my friends are meticulous about returning jars, but others have been very casual (egregiously) disposing of them as I watched. Here we are — a hard frost is not far away, and with it the last of the fresh produce. I’ve got a couple of projects still to complete and I’m scrounging for jars and matching lids. It’s a rag-tag collection, at best. My pantry is replete, swelled with filled jars. The holidays are coming, parties and gatherings where I will arrive with a host’s gift. Sometimes, it’s jars to correspond to the meal. […]

october 26 dinner party: celebrate marcella hazan and cook for people you love

Yesterday the culinary world said goodbye to Marcella Hazan. She taught us about Italian food, the Italian art of eating, and the importance of quality ingredients. Her story is rich and her life was long, but it’s never long enough. Marcella believed cooking for her loved ones was the way to express herself. She cooked lunch every day for her beloved husband Victor in their early years in New York, and eventually cooked lunch for Craig Claiborne. From there, her career took an unexpected trajectory, and she became the singular voice of Italian cooking. She cooked her way into my heart through her clear writing and her clever recipes using few ingredients. She told us to use fresh ground pepper, and in some recipes, the […]

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 […]