springtime rituals

While it still feels cold and blustery, and we’ve had odd days of significant snowfall, the light is changing to the light of Spring, all lemon yellow and bright, surprisingly strong on the back of the neck when clearing debris from a garden bed. It’s Passover, soon to be Easter. There are daffodils blooming in the back garden, on the pathway where I planted them fourteen years ago. The orange Kaufmanniana ‘Early Harvest’ tulips in the upper garden bloom reliably early and that flash of color dazzles. The front garden beds are filled with pink, yellow and purple hyacinths so a stop at the front stoop is intoxicating. It’s all going to happen now, one area of the yard at a time bursting into bloom. […]

Pati’s Mexican Table

I have a new cookbook crush and I can’t put it down. I cook from it all the time, and when I’m not cooking from it, I’m thinking about cooking from it. In the spirit of complete disclosure, Pati Jinich and I are friends. She was one of the first food people I met in Washington, when a lovely group of women had a series of lunches. I cooked with her for Charcutepalooza’s Chorizo challenge and love her PBS television show, Pati’s Mexican Kitchen. Pati is a fantastic cook and a terrific teacher; all that comes to life in this gorgeous book. She’s teamed up with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s talented editor Rux Martin and the glorious Penny De Los Santos, a food photographer who layers […]

hope springs eternal

After eight years of waiting, I’ve been given a community garden plot and I am beyond excited. This may come as a surprise to you for a number of reasons.  It’s that Wheelbarrow thing – the assumption that I have a big garden. In my dreams I do. I dream of a small potager garden outside the back door. I would espalier fruit trees and berry brambles along a perfect fence – weathered wrought iron, simple design, pointy tops to keep out the animals. and allowing for plenty of airflow. There would be small discreet beds, and gravel paths. I would grow herbs and greens, a few chiles that are hard to find. I would hump dirt over potato plantings and dig out small rosy […]

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 […]

marvelous mexico

I’ve been home from Mexico for a few days, but it’s not been an easy re-entry. It’s been gray and gloomy, no bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine and mountains. I’m getting over it. Slowly. It was a lovely week of writing with the inimitable Betty Fussell. She’s brilliant, funny, inquisitive and inspiring. I will forever feel grateful for these few days . What a treat to talk about corn with the woman who knows all about corn. To hear about food as culture, and culture as food, and how the world of food writing has evolved. And the bonus? Paul Muldoon, Yes, a remarkable poet, but also, a completely hilarious fellow. I’ve been reading his poetry since returning and it’s probably extra special that […]

cooking with friends

We had houseguests this weekend. Perfect houseguests. I have known Catherine and Jerry since we were in our very early careers. When we were in our 20s and early 30s. When we wore clothes with very large Joan Collins padded shoulders (!!) We lost touch, then reconnected a few years back, and fell right back into a comfortable friendship. Catherine and I cooked together all those decades ago, and picked up the same rhythm this weekend, spending Friday evening plotting our menu, and Saturday executing it. Inspired by Jerusalem, the marvelous new cookbook, and her recollections of meals in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, we put together a mezza feast, with nine dishes, some from the cookbook, and others from Food52. (Ttwo of the Food52 […]