a miracle involving gin

Gentle reader, Today, I bring you a tale of a Christmas miracle. It involves gin. Bill, my step-(may-as-well-be-my-)Dad, lives in a small (tiny) town in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. He is a spry 82, still teaches one class each semester at Trinity College, has a lady friend who lives down the road and around the corner, regularly goes to the gym, prefers movies without gore, blood and sad stories, and generally, wants for very little. Exchanging gifts is not necessary, but can be nice. If I can, I like to get a sour cherry pie to him for his July 10 birthday. (My friend Christine actually baked him a pie once, delivering it to his front porch and startling him. Whoops.) Bill always gets […]

one simple change, the perfect stocking stuffer

I don’t know about you, but January 1 never fails to be a day of self-recrimination. Every year, I swear it will be different. I will exercise every day. I will mail more (handwritten) letters. I’ll cut back on sugar. I’ll keep my office tidy. I’ll blog more, pitch more stories, take a stab at that novel. I’m very hard on myself. I’m guessing some of you recognize this behavior. After this last year of book-writing, once it was over and I had some breathing room, I could tell my life was out of balance. So many areas of my life  took a backseat to writing, and it’s taken a toll. For the last few weeks, I’ve been making (and breaking) promises to myself about […]

books for gifting (or keeping) and more giveaways

Before we go any further, congratulations to Bernice, who won the cookie box! There are so many fantastic books available this holiday season. Whether shopping for your family, or yourself, tis the season for new publications. Here are a few I highly recommend. In the Charcuterie. Boetticher and Miller. Beautiful book with excellent instructions and impressive recipes. Pati’s Mexican Kitchen. Pati Jinich. I reach for this book all the time and it never disappoints. Pati’s recipes are approachable, delicious and inventive. I’ve written about it in detail here. The Heart of the Plate. Mollie Katzen. I adore this book. It’s full of sensational, flavorful vegetarian recipes. It’s really pretty, with Mollie’s marvelous illustrations interspersed with the photographs. Vegetable Literacy. Deborah Madison. A completely novel way […]

gratitude, sweets and a giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving. I adore this holiday, especially for the reminder to count my blessings. It’s that time of year. The gratitude days. Today, I am feeling particularly grateful for this space, and all of you who come to visit me here. I am grateful for my kooky dog who leaps into my lap at the most surprising moments. I am grateful for lazy mornings and apple fritters with Dennis. Gratitude extends to good novels (The Goldfinch. Read it. No kidding) and afternoons spent knitting, watching movies on Netflix. I am breathing again. Remembering what I do when not facing a massive list of obligations. For the first year in ages, we’ll have Thanksgiving elsewhere and will forego our annual Dead Poultry Society party. It didn’t […]

cauliflower steaks on polenta. inspiration from newburyport’s enzo restaurant

It all started with the photograph, above. It arrived in my email, sent by Mary Reilly, Chef-owner of Enzo Restaurant in Newburyport, Massachusetts. I responded “Tell me everything.” Her reply: Romanesco steaks over a sauté of romanesco, confit garlic cloves, sun dried tomatoes, parsley pesto, brown butter almonds. Over polenta made with stone ground flint corn and corn kernels, topped with poached egg and Parmigiano. Golden raisins are nice too. And butternut squash. And here’s what’s crazy. I looked at the photo, reviewed the reply and realized I had everything for this meal except the cauliflower. I headed to the grocery store where my hopes of a fancy green pointy romanesco cauliflower or orangish cheese cauliflower were dashed. There were only white cauliflowers, not too […]

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 […]