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 […]

eat your vegetables giveaway and poblano tapenade

Fifteen years ago I met Dennis. He didn’t mention the vegetarian thing on our first date (lunch at a neighborhood trattoria). Instead he ordered a pasta dish with tomato sauce that did nothing to telegraph the truth. It wasn’t long before I offered to make him dinner and that’s when he dropped the news on me. My friends, all of whom were familiar with my passion for cooking [meat], were concerned. “How can you date a vegetarian,” they asked? It didn’t seem like a deal breaker to me. In fact, I married him. Those first married months were challenging. I was totally bridal, planning elaborate meals, setting the table with all the new pretty things, and fussing about every night. Planning meals took a long […]

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 […]

put a ring on it (another giveaway!)

We reorganized yesterday. It took several hours to move all the canning jars from the basement to the garage in preparation for  painters. Moving all those jars was definitely confronting. There has been a lot of canning going on as I test and test and retest every recipe for the book. But I’m not here to talk about recipes or testing. I have a bigger problem. Canning rings are taking over my house. There must be eight or nine hundred rings lurking in four boxes. I’m willing to trade jams, jellies, sauces and more for just one clever idea. Every canning safety site tells us to store jars in a cool, dark space WITHOUT THE RINGS. The idea is a simple one. If something goes […]