the practical pantry

For most of my adult life, I have collected cookbooks. Old ones, new ones, anything that had beautiful photos, or stellar writing, or covered a subject I wanted to learn about – they all snuggle up next to one another on my bookshelves, stack up on my desk and clutter my nightstand. In my dreams. In my imagination. In my secret world, there was a cookbook up there with my name on it. I have news. Big news. Happy news. I’m writing a book. That’s right. Me. A book. Me and a book. Me, writing a book. Seriously. I still can’t quite believe it. And the best news of all? I’ve got a star studded team to help me. My literary agent, Martha Kaplan, has […]



We took Louie on his birthday trip. (He shares a birthday with Dennis.) The three of us in a packed car, the bike on top, drove to Martha’s Vineyard. We visited my friend Katrin’s ancient cottage, built in 1680, where I have had many meaningful times in our multi-decade friendship. This is not a photo of her cottage (below.) Dennis has been there a few times, too, but not for two years, when we escaped during our renovation, when Louie was a brand new member of the family. We walked in Oak Bluffs among the cottages. We wandered to the Edgartown Lighthouse. We walked barefoot on Katama Beach where Louie chased sticks and dug up clamshells. It was a good time away. For Dennis’ birthday, […]


nectarine preserves, peach tequila jam, and two end of summer salads

Inspirations for new flavor combinations come in many forms and from many sources. The Washington State Fruit Producers kindly sent me a gorgeous box of their fruits to play with – prune plums, nectarines and peaches – and declared me a Canbassador. (I’ll admit, I was hoping for a fancy hat or some sort of sash, too ….) They have a terrific website – Sweet Preservation – that has many superb tips for canning novices and lots of great recipes, too. There was no question that slivovitz would be the fate of those plums. That was easy. Last year’s batch was gone all too soon, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. I had hoarded saved the very last two ounces but had […]


aubergine is just a fancy name for eggplant

Really, isn’t aubergine a great word? It’s sexy. Much hotter than eggplant, which just sounds like a bad idea. When you offer your family aubergine with buttermilk dressing, za’atar and pomegranate (from the fantastic cookbook, Plenty) you will be a superstar. Ask if they want eggplant for dinner, and the reception might not be so warm. In my preserving mind, I see these purple veggies  as a freezer-friendly food. The next two months are going to be really busy… I’ll be traveling almost half of October. Aubergine, stuffed with flavors of Morocco, or cut into rounds, dredged, fried and stacked, make brilliant, small freezer meals for my left-at-home husband. It’s a big step up from granola, which is what he would eat if left to […]

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make your own kombucha

I am spending the week at the beach and in my absence, my most wonderful new kitchen assistant, Ally Kirkpatrick, is here guest blogging. Today, learn to make kombucha. It’s a wonderful drink, fresh tasting and healthful. And totally easy to make yourself. Follow @Ally_T_K on Twitter and visit The Green Cabin Year. Kombucha is sweetened tea fermented by yeast and bacteria, and it’s everywhere these days: grocery stores, farmers markets, even on tap at restaurants and bars. For some it’s a health tonic, for others it’s just plain delicious. For me, it was a bit of both… Hello. My name is Ally and I was once addicted to diet soda. Some say acceptance is the first step in overcoming a problem, but in my […]


habanero, apricot and honey jelly with cheese, please

It’s a spectacular year for chiles of all sorts. The markets have everything from sweet Italian peppers, perfect for salsa or pickle relish, to jalapenos, serranos, and incendiary Thai bird chiles. I’ve made a few batches of hot sauce, using this brilliant Sriracha-style recipe from Food52. I use cherry bombs to make Sriracha, easier to find on the East Coast than red jalapenos, or fresnos. But you can also swap out jalapenos or cayenne, adding apple cider vinegar or malt vinegar and instead of palm sugar, try honey or maple syrup. Add mustard seed, celery seed, allspice. It’s a solid recipe that begs for tweaking to adjust to your market (or garden) conditions. There is always a jar of pickled peppers in the refrigerator. I’ve […]