Friday, November 15, 2013

tomato pomegranate salad

i put this salad together
for a fall brunch
using what i had on hand

starting with the beautiful yellow tomato
adding ingredients for contrast
flavor, color and texture
creates a delicious and beautiful salad

tomato pomegranate salad

heirloom (or other flavorful tomato)
fresh chevre or fresh ricotta
pomegranate seeds
toasted and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
chopped chives
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil

arrange the tomato wedges--cut into one bite pieces, on platter.  drop chevre or ricotta evenly over the tomatoes.  sprinkle pomegranate seeds, chives and pistachio nuts.  the idea is that each bite will have a bit of each element, but not an overwhelming amount of each.  so be mindful of the proportion.  add a bit of sea salt and black pepper to taste and lightly drizzle a "finishing" olive oil on top
serve room temperature. if you prepare in advance, allow to come to room temperature before serving

Monday, October 28, 2013


to be honest
i mistakenly posted this photo
but now that i did
this is our new greenhouse
dressed for a luncheon we are hosting tomorrow
we are still laying the stone
and have yet to lay sod
i love it so much!

Monday, October 21, 2013


these are the spires
of the church
which sits
on the campus of my alma mater

this weekend past
i attended my 25th reunion
it is hard to believe
that many days have expired
and yet
it seemed as if only minutes ticked
as we were able to pick up where we had last left

we laughed until we cried
poured through photos and stories and wine
good wine
now that we can afford to
know the difference

as we sat around a small table
in those hours that are really not meant for those our age
we debated
tartar sauce and french fries
the legacy we will leave

the spouse of a good friend
a stranger just days before
stopped us all with the sincerest of compliment

"around this table" she said "are some high quality people"

i couldn't agree more

Friday, October 4, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

hungarian goulash

the first signs of autumn
has meandered on to our ranch
cool evenings
transitioning to near frosty nights
just the kind of weather
that gets me back into the mood
for hearty stews
slow cooked meats
hungarian goulash
2 1/2 lbs stew meat (beef or venison)-- cut into cubes {at least 1"}
1/2 cup (about) all purpose flour for dredging
olive oil
1 large onion--cut in half then thinly sliced in have moons
10-12 crimini mushrooms--sliced
4 cloves of garlic--smashed and kept whole or near whole
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp hot paprika
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
14 ounce diced tomatoes-with juice
1/2 cup water
2 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp of each)
1/3 cup sour cream
 1 Tbs lemon juice
 1/4 cup chopped parsley

heat oil in bottom of a dutch oven (just enough to coat the bottom).  dredge the meat cubes in flour and shake of excess.  toss into the hot oil and sear meat on all sides.  do not crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary.  once the meat is seared add it back to the pan with juices (if working in batches) and add onion, mushrooms and garlic.  add a bit more olive oil if needed. allow to cook down for a few minutes. add the sweet paprika, smoked paprika, hot paprika and caraway seeds and give it a good stir, so the spices are evenly distributed.  this will also toast the spices a bit. add the tomatoes and water and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pan.  add beef broth and cover.  place in a 350 preheated oven and allow to cook for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fall apart tender. 
remove from oven and add lemon juice.  add salt and pepper to taste.  allow to sit for a few minutes, then taste again for salt.  stir in sour cream and parsley (check one more time for salt). serve over buttered wide-noodles or dumplings

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

adventures in goat milk

we have goats
dairy goats

darling sweet girls
that will provide us with lots of milk
in the years to come
but for now
they are still growing
little doelings

while we wait
i have been practicing my recipes
goat milk from a local dairy

i am trying out my cream separator for the first time

goat's milk is naturally homogenized
which means the cream does not automatically rise to the top
you have to spin it out

this is how you do it
i ran a half-gallon of fresh goat milk through
yielding about 1/2 cup of heavy cream

in order to get the best results
the milk needs to be warm as it goes through the separator

what to do with all that delicious warm frothy milk?
make delicious coffee drinks 
of course
fresh goat milk is delicious
it has a mild and sweet taste
virtually indistinguishable 
fresh cow's milk

best of all
it can be used to make

Monday, August 26, 2013

Simple Roasted Banana Peppers {in the savory kitchen}

my garden overproduces
the most opportune time

recently guests came up to the ranch for a visit
at an hour
which isn't quite lunch
while being
too early for dinner

the time of day where one begins to feel peckish

what to do?
what to do?

i went a bit spanish
the abundance of banana peppers
create a delicious and simple
addition to afternoon tapas
roasted banana peppers

as many banana peppers and other fresh (smallish) peppers you can gather
olive oil
sea salt
sherry vinegar

preheat oven to 400F.  place peppers in large shallow pan.  lightly coat in olive oil.  roast until the peppers begin to blister and soften. remove from oven and immediately splash with sherry vinegar. sprinkle with sea salt.
serve warm or room temperature

Thursday, August 15, 2013

browned butter berry bars {in the sweet kitchen}

this weekend past
we took a long drive
with no real agenda
except to explore
as we drove north
i began to obsess

a cookbook was given to me about a year ago
big sur bakery
while getting lost in its pages
i fell in love with the place
and began imagining each bite

while big sur is coastal
 we were on an inland route
a little jot west, wasn't too far off course
{it wasn't like we had anywhere to be}
an hour, and ten white knuckles later
we arrived in big sur

the bakery was hosting a wedding
which meant
it was closed

double dip dang-nabbit ugh

we stopped at a half bad restaurant
for nourishment
not enjoyment
planning our return

when we got home
promptly made these
which are a variation of the brown butter rhubarb bars
berries we picked that morning
brown butter berry bars
(adapted from the big sur bakery cookbook)

2 cups blackberries and mulberries {or berries of your choice}
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup sugar
place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  cook on low heat until it begins to bubble and thicken.  watch closely and cook until it is thick and jammy. set aside to cool

1 cup unsalted butter--melted
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups flour{whole wheat or all-purpose}
whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and salt.  stir in butter.  press into a 9"x 13" pan.  bake in a 375^ oven until it just begins to brown(15-18 minutes).  remove from oven and allow to cool.

brown butter filling
3 large eggs
 1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs flour {whole wheat or all purpose}
1 teaspoon vanilla
place the butter in a saucepan and cook on low heat until it becomes brown and nutty, careful not to burn.  whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, flour and vanilla.  carefully stir in the browned butter.

to assemble
spread about half of the browned butter mixture on the prepared crust.  dollop about 3/4 of the jam on top.  spread the remaining browned butter filling and then dollop the remaining jam.  bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges just begin to turn brown.  do not overbake, (allowing the filling to souffle). allow to cool before cutting into bars. 
delicious room temperature or directly from refrigerator.

Monday, August 5, 2013

eggplant! {in the garden}

our garden got a bit of a late start
and is just starting to throw off

i've gathered some recipes
that are both 


eggplant parmesan

eggplant involtini

eggplant verde

...and now a question (or two) for you....
do you have eggplant in your garden?
what is your favorite way to enjoy it?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


in the dog days of summer
gardens overflow with tomatoes
i find myself
stores of the fruit
preservation on my mind

here are a few 
ways to preserve  the bounty
to enjoy
when days are not so long

this is really simple.  peel tomatoes and cram into a jar, use a skewer to secure tomatoes if they start to float to the top.  fill the jar with vodka and store in the refrigerator for at least 5 days.  i make several jars because i like to use the tomatoes and the vodka for pasta alla vodka sauce. leftover vodka is really great for a bloody mary pick me up.

Friday, July 5, 2013

huckleberry ice cream

huckleberries are hard to come by
competing with bears after a long hilly hike
just ain't my thing
those whom are 
"into it"
are willing to share
with one little caveat
my dealer
is 1200 miles away

traveling for a case of berries
now that is
my thing

huckleberries are a bit like blueberries
with more punch of flavor
sweet with a tinge of sour
no pucker
just enough to 
wet your whistle

this gorgeous purple berry
 cuts rich vanilla ice cream
Huckleberry Ice Cream
(vanilla base recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)
vanilla custard
1 cup whole milk
generous pinch kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
7 large egg yolks
4 tsp good vanilla extract
huckleberry swirl
1 1/2 cups huckleberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice

heat whole milk with 1/2 cup of sugar, and kosher salt.  meanwhile whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.  once milk comes to a simmer, slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  quickly rinse the milk saucepan to remove any dried or burnt milk.  transfer warm egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook on low heat, constantly stirring with a spatula.  watch carefully, as to not overcook the eggs.  cook and stir just until the mixture coats the spatula (consistency of a light crepe batter).  remove from heat and run through a sieve into a clean bowl.  stir in heavy cream and vanilla.  place entire bowl into another bowl filled with ice and cool water.  stir until it is cooled to room temperature.  pour mixture into a covered container and refrigerate at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
make huckleberry swirl
in a small saucepan, place berries, sugar and lemon juice. cook until the berries throw off juice and all of the sugar has melted, then cook for about 10 minutes more..keep the heat low, you don't want to burn the sugars.  mash the berries slightly (you will want some whole, some mashed).  allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to freeze the ice cream.

when ready to freeze
place vanilla base into the bowl of your freezer.  freeze according to manufacturer's directions.  when your ice cream is finished...remove into your freezer container.  as you scoop into your freezer container, layer with your huckleberry swirl.  this will allow you to have a true swirl.  if you put the huckleberry swirl into the mixer, it will completely mix in.  continue to layer adding as much huckleberries and juice as you wish.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

blueberry-rhubarb margarita jam

i drive past a blueberry farm
most days
wishing for the season
some days
mourning the end of summer
the day the
open sign pops up
on our little stretch of highway
i stop in
continuing my routine
each week
until blueberries are no more

i hoard
more berries than our small family can eat, out of hand
but not more than we can eat, prepared

i love to pair sweet blueberries with rhubarb from our garden
for this delicious
not too sweet
 blueberry rhubarb margarita jam
3 pints blueberries
8 oz rhubarb--chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
juice of 10 key limes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ginger
juice of 1/2 grapefruit (plus/minus)
1 oz tequila (can add up to 2 oz)

dump blueberries rhubarb, sugar, key lime juice, salt and ginger into your jam pot.  Cook on med-low heat, stirring occasionally, until you have a nice jam consistency (about 25-30 minutes).  taste for sweetness.  add at least 1/4 grapefruit juice to both adjust sweetness and for flavor.  cook for 5 more minutes and check again for sweetness. add more grapefruit if desired. pour in tequila and cook at least 5 minutes more.
test jam for firmness on a frozen plate. **i like my jam to be a bit runny.  you do not need pectin for this jam to firm up.  you can cook it to come out firmer, but be careful not to caramelize it.
place in sterilized jars and refrigerate or if you are a seasoned canner, process for longer storage.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

strawberry crumb cake

strawberries are ripe, ripe, ripe
in my neck of the woods
every farm stand along my tuesday evening route
touts the sweetest and freshest
organic berries
i can't resist
particularly because i make a really great strawberry-rhubarb jam
that disappears faster than anything else in the pantry
i grab loads of the juicy red fruit
whenever i find it
which now
is a lot

being as we spend most days at the ranch now
finding ourselves at days end
counting idle minutes on one hand
it feels less guilty to indulge in a bit of sweet
at day's close

when i have a moment
i bake a cake
like this one
a simple twist on a classic crumb cake
using the sweet ripe fruit of the season
in its crumb
strawberry crumb cake
1 1/4 cup cake flour (sifted, then measured)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature--cut into cubes)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
4 tsp of your favorite strawberry (or strawberry-rhubarb) jam
place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  quickly give it a few turns to incorporate everything together.  add the butter. *the butter should be softened, but not warm and creamy.  you want it to mix into the flour mixture making more of a clumpy sand consistency, then a creamed.  mix the ingredients until the butter is finely incorporated into the flour mixture.  meanwhile, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.  add the whole egg and the egg yolk to the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.  use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure there are no dry spots.  with the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk/vanilla mixture and mix until just incorporated. do not over mix  pour into a 8x8 buttered square cake pan.  strategically plop the 4 tsp of jam (you can add a bit more if you like) in the batter.  run the back of a butter knife through the cake batter to swirl the jam through evenly.  set aside while you prepare the crumble.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all purpose flour
10 Tbs unsalted butter--fairly cold--cut into 1/2" pieces
1 cup fresh ripe strawberries--cut into 1/4" dice
mix together the sugar, salt and flour by hand in a large bowl.  drop in butter and either work in by hand, or use pastry knives/fork/blender to make fairly large crumble.  tip in the strawberries and work in by hand, using a bit of a firm hand, to get them mixed up well in the flour mixture.  don't squeeze and knead, you do not want to warm the butter, but allow the strawberries to fully incorporate into the crumb.  gently pile on top of the cake. *some of the crumbs will sink into the cake as it bakes, which is why i make SO MUCH CRUMB! 
bake in a 375F oven for about 35-45 minutes.  Check after 30 minutes and keep an eye on it.  the cake is moist, so it can tolerate a bit of over baking, but don't forget to keep an eye on it.  check  by using a toothpick or wooden skewer to see if it is done baking. allow to cool completely before eating

Thursday, May 16, 2013


just a quickie

tonight is the season finale of a show called elementary

i happen to love the show
but that is not why i am writing to you

i am writing to tell you
that there will be some footage of bees on this episode
those bees are ours

someone from the show saw footage of our bees
that my husband shot
(they are posted on you-tube)
asked if they could use it for the show

pretty cool,

just thought you would like to know
we are pretty excited about it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

florence--day three {travelogue}

day three is usually when jet lag hits
at least for me
after so many years of it being a pattern
it is probably now a learned response
i allow myself to succumb to it
because it is something you can say to people
 they won't judge
which is how
we found ourselves
rip van winkle
a run for his money

after a long sleep
a long walk seemed in order
we cruised the streets of florence
until it seemed a respectable time to look for lunch
i was craving roasted chicken and potatoes
we found it on the menu of a place that looked really nice
except they were playing sade
i can't stand sade
i can't
no specific reason
just can't tolerate her music
reminds me too much of jazz, i think
i like a hook
sade doesn't give you a hook
so i refused to go in
i convinced myself that another place would be just as good
i was wrong
not even photo worthy
 mike liked his
he got some sort of pasta
i ordered chicken with roasted potatoes
and was served
seriously, seriously, seriously
overcooked anorexic chicken thigh-slash-leg
french fries
i poked at it
ate the salad i had ordered
more room for gelato
which was good thinking
because it actually did leave
more room for gelato

but let me get ahead of myself here
don't despair

i had a bad meal in italy
no biggie
i made up for it at dinner
and then some
we ate at a fun place
when i say fun
i mean...bring your sense of fun
because if you bring your
"that would never go in america" attitude
 this place
they will hate you
so don't go
 if you still insist on going
don't tell them i told you to
i happen to like these people
 i would like to think they like us

you must make a reservation at Il Latini
a restaurant that looks small
but it isn't
you make a reservation
then you queue up
like so
then the crowd starts building
everyone starts thinking that their reservation is the most important
they open the door
 it becomes a bit of a fiasco
they start calling out numbers
not names
but numbers
everyone starts pushing and throwing up their hands saying
we are due
we are cinque
but mostly 
they start yelling
i have a reservation
rest assured
everyone has a reservation
 everyone gets in

and all is forgotten
the food starts arriving
first the antipasto
then you make choices
soup or pasta
oh you want pasta?
do you want
hubs chose ravioli
i had soup
but the people next to us had soup and pasta
they had no idea what was next
did i mention that at this place
they open a bottle of wine
you pay for what you drink
drink the whole bottle 10 euros
drink only half
5 euros
drink less
pay less
i love this system

 ooh la la
the main course
roasted meats
you want
chicken, rabbit, steak, lamb, pork, veal?
all of them
some of them
one of them
none of them
you decide
and of course
the side dishes
this is what our table looked like
you should know
we cleaned our plates
but declined dessert
which was a good idea
because they brought out 
a plate loaded with cantucci
glasses of vin santo

just as we thought it was all over
they brought us a glass of moscato
you know
as you do

if you don't know the drill
you think
they get you drunk
so you aren't freaked out by the bill
come on
this kind of meal
doesn't come cheap

unless you are at il latini
because they have
in spades

Monday, April 29, 2013

pisa-lucca---day 2 {travelogue}

saturday in florence
is like saturday in any city
locals pouring into town to do their weekend shopping
tourists milling about in large groups
staring upwards

just an all around
crowded situation
which is why
we got out of town

pisa and lucca the destination

turns out
it wasn't such a bad idea
the weather had turned runny
just as we took our seats on the excursion bus
rain began pouring down
(that really isn't its name...i don't know what the name was, except that it was one of those total tourist deals...which turn out to be a pretty good thing, actually)

i never think i am a fan of the organized tourist train/bus/walk
but i nearly always give them a try
i am hardly disappointed
except when it  includes food
which is a big bad bust
most of the time

those, i avoid
as you know
i am all about the food

speaking of which
we had steak and eggs for breakfast
but there are no photos
because i forgot
and by the time i remembered
it didn't look so appetizing
just trust me
leftover bistecca fiorentina
with a couple of fried eggs
and hunk of bread
is money

in Pisa
we did a tour of the church
which is beautiful
but dark
which is why i don't have any good photos
because in churches
you can't wear a hat
you can't use a flash

the real draw in Pisa
is the tower
a leaning tower
i love all the great photos that people fashion
holding the tower up
grimacing under the supposed weight
they never cease to humor me
but you rarely see this maneuver
someone kicking the darn thing over
but it is funny
that is my husband
who enjoys a good laugh as much as i
we hooted over this one for hours

time for lunch
but in a tourist town
where restaurants actually name themselves
restaurant tourista
getting a good meal is a bit dubious
but we found one
just outside the main tourist area
trattoria bruno
(no identity crisis here)

the pasta outstanding
hubs had
penne with rabbit and boar sauce
and i enjoyed
pasta with porcini mushrooms
the pasta was handmade
and so thin
you could almost see yourself through the sheets

simple yet delicious

from Pisa
we got back on the bus and headed to Lucca
a medieval city
that is usually quite lovely
but on a rainy saturday
with many of the venues closed for the afternoon
there was little to see

after getting a bit drenched in the rain
we stopped for a hot chocolate
which in this part of italy
is more like
warm chocolate pudding
than chocolate water
you decide if it sounds better or not

e poi
(which means and then
not the poi you eat in hawaii
which is not italian by any means
despite having the same name)

we visited a winery just outside of lucca
it turns out
they make the house wine
for one of my favorite places in New York City
Sant. Ambroeus
when i was getting married
my dress came from vera wang
and before my first appointment
and subsequently
my fittings
i would go have
coffee and a little something
sant ambroeus
 so when the proprietor of this winery in lucca
off-handedly mentioned the restaurant
i perked up with
on madison avenue!?!
she and i had a bonding moment
it is her brother's place
and all the "house wine" comes from here
 it is pretty good
a tasty drinkable wine
i was set to buy quite a bit
but then my new friend
(the owner)
gave me the name of their american distributor
so i wouldn't have to pay for shipping
which now means
i'll probably buy a whole case
those italians
so crafty!

after the wine and the food and the travel by bus
we were pretty wiped out
without plans for dinner

we grabbed a quick porchetta sandwich
and called it a night
a night and half a day
since jet lag reared its ugly head
and we slept
about 12 hours
waking up just in time
to search out lunch....

Friday, April 26, 2013

Firenze--day one {travelogue}

i should really keep a food journal
not in the way that you think
i don't want it to scold myself
but to
extol the pleasures of each and every bite
lovely lines filled with prose
explanations of the blissful moment
that fork meets mouth
i would show it to my internist
as i step on the scale
so he might be so wrapped in envy
he'd forget to scold
fat chance
today was our first full day in italy
we rented an apartment
both for economy and luxury
i like to fill a fridge
fresh fruit
and other simple provisions
so each meal isn't eaten out
we can enjoy lazy mornings reading the local paper
or catching up on email

those gorgeous hotel breakfasts served in europe are mostly lost on me
i like to ease into my day
and an apartment in the heart of the city 
affords me that luxury
as luck would have it
for longer stays the cost savings can be quite extraordinary

we dropped in to the local market last evening and stocked the fridge
this morning, i popped down to our local bakery and fruit stand to pick up a couple of things for breakfast
i made a pot of coffee
set up breakfast on the veranda
and enjoyed our
beautiful view of the duomo
these incredible fragoline
(wild strawberries from sicily)
are tiny and pure white on the inside
and are sweet as they are small
with pure strawberry flavor
we are drying a few on the counter
so we can bring them back home to plant
hopefully they will germinate

post breakfast we walked, and walked, and walked some more
this town is crowded
people everywhere

i was in school here in the 1980s and for the last decade or so
i've tried to make it back every year
each time
there are larger crowds
the secret is definitely out
i do still feel the charm of a city i loved in my youth

speaking of the secret being out
we had lunch at one of my favorite spots
it used to be a sleepy little place
in a lesser known square on the oltroarno
partly by my own fault (telling anyone who would listen)
partly because of it hitting the guidebook circuit
it has become very, very popular
the prices remain low
the quality high

is a true gem
with simple yet delicious food
i always get the gnocchi tartufo
(small portion--still enough to share)
with a small salad

the restaurant shared with me the ingredients for the gnocchi..but not the recipe.  i have successfully duplicated the sauce  both with pasta and potatoes. i may be persuaded to share!

mike went with the rabbit cacciatore
which was equally delicious

on our way back to the apartment
we stopped in at the gallileo museum
it is a relatively small space
filled with the most amazing instruments
used in applied sciences
like this early thermometer
which beautifully marries
form and function
it also houses
gallileo's mummified finger
if you are looking for a draw for your teenage son
fully grown husband

the day progressed with more walking
an afternoon relax
ginormous steak
bistecca fiorentina

it is over 2lbs of dry aged beef
fired grilled
3 inches thick
medium rare on the exterior
blood rare inside
juicy and tender
a must try

while just about everyone serves a version of this steak in florence
not everyone does it well
if you find a bargain
it may just taste like a bargain
it is a treat
so treat yourself
skimp tomorrow
we enjoyed ours at
an old establishment
with cloth napkins
and attentive service
they are lovely
and the food is delicious
pair with a nice barolo
dig in
*be nice while you are there, and they may give you a restaurant apron...just like the one they gave me!

tomorrow we are off on a day trip to pisa and lucca
historic sights and olive oil
what more is there in life?
lots more meals
and i will share them all with you

but if you run into my doctor
just mention you heard i was doing a lot of walking
and drinking lots of water
that's a good distraction



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