Every day since I first published a tutorial on Biedermeier flower arranging in wet sand a few years ago, someone somewhere in the world reads that post. That is so cool! I guess there are a lot of us who still love to play with sand! Recently, I created a Biedermeier fall arrangement using that same wet-sand technique on a small china cake stand with a variety of mums and asters for a class I was teaching. I created a slideshow of the technique. Take a look:
“Each golden day was cherished to the full for one had the feeling that each must be the last.” Elizabeth Enright
A recent article in my beloved weekend WSJ’s Off Duty section featured nuts as fall cuisine’s under appreciated ingredient. The article showcased recipes with nuts in starring roles. Inspired, I created a flavorful vegetarian fall pasta dish that comes together in minutes with common ingredients. Flash fried sage leaves add a big dose of flavor and are a favorite of mine. Finishing the pasta with big curls of pecorino and brown butter panko crumbs infused the dish with another layer of nutty flavor. Oh, those crumbs! Sooooo good! I think you’ll have to fight the squirrels for this one!
Across from the verdent Peace Valley Park, nestled near the shores of Lake Galena in a picturesque part of Bucks County Pennsylvania, there is a wonderful lavender farm. Although lavender is native to the Mediterranean, it can grow where there is plenty of sun and fast draining soil. Growing 3,000 lavender plants, Peace Valley Lavender Farm specializes in 2 types of lavenders known to do better in high altitude climates such as in Pennsylvania: English lavenders and some hybrid varieties. Continue reading →
“Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul…but I must confess that I love you because you are a prelude to my beloved October.” Peggy Toney Horton
In the small town where I grew up, I could walk to elementary school and back by myself. I would even come home for lunch every day. One of my fondest memories is picking up the pace to get home even faster when I would smell my mom’s molasses cookies permeating the crisp air. Even though the school was a few blocks away, I could recognize that enticing aroma and knew my mom and the cookies would be waiting for me as soon as I got home. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Every fall, when the temperatures start dipping, I get in the mood for baking cookies. Here is a half dozen of great fall cookies sure to fill your home with irresitible aromas for creating happy memories for a loved one of your own and to herald in autumn.
(My childhood molasses cookie recipe is found in the monogrammed gingerbread recipe below. My mom would cut the dough in round shapes. Using a smaller cutter, she would remove the center of half the cookies, creating a window similar to that of Linzer cookies. She would sandwich a bit of her homemade raspberry jam between two soft, perfectly spiced gingerbread-molasses cookies with the jam oozing out of the peekaboo cut out of the top cookie. Pure bliss!)
It’s not every day that someone destined to become famous asks you to collaborate on her first book. Let me explain: could my desk top be used to download the images of the illustrations going into her first children’s book? Of course, and I’ll lmake dinner. Teeny tiny contribution but hey, famous-people-to-be have to eat too, especially if they hold down a demanding 60 plus hours a week real job while writing and illustrating a whole book on the side! So it was, on a weeknight, that I prepared this dish for my super talented friend Ann. The book was inspired by Ann’s safari trip to Africa and stars a darling zebra named Charlie. An African-inspired nourishing dinner it had to be! And one that could sit until whenever the guest of honor would show up. So was born this savoury Moroccan Chicken Thigh dinner with all the flavors of a tagine and the ease of a crockpot. Fast and easy for a weeknight but good enough to serve to the special guests in your life.
Castor Beans have long been grown as annual ornamental plants. The plants grow to towering heights in the late summer garden with spectacular dark green/burgundy 7-pointed leaves and clusters of bright coral-red seed pods. From a distance the seed pod clusters appear to be exotic flowers. But on closer inspection, they are the plant’s spikey seed heads. Aren’t they cool? Continue reading →
This. Was. Insanely. Good. A quick appetizer that was to die for, showcasing the stars of the end of summer harvest: peaches, corn and lima beans.
This recipe was the result of, and inspired by, a farmer’s market road sign announcing the “Limas are in!”. Now lima beans and I are not really acquainted other than in frozen succotash, which I don’t care for. But stop at the market I did, for the sake of keeping an open mind. I discovered they were not already shelled(Horror! Who has time?) and left empty-handed. But visions of limas and burrata were dancing in my head and the next day, I put-my-big-girl-lima-shelling-pants-on and went back to get me some limas. Continue reading →
Burrata improves the flavor of summer and the flavor of life!” Unknown
When life lands you in temporary housing, that’s no excuse to not cook a simple yet delicious meal and be transported to the south of Italy! This recipe is a springboard to creativity: it can be adapted to your tastes and to what is seasonal. In a big bowl I tossed half a pound of hot thin spaghetti with a few glugs of olive oil and some hot pepper flakes. To this I added 2 oz of thinly slivered dry salami, quickly heated in a pan until crispy(pancetta, sausage or bacon would sub well here) then threw in blanched corn kernels from 1 ear, a chopped tomato, a tablespoon of diced red onion and a handful of fresh basil. Coming in at the end, the pièce de résistance, a whole ball of fresh burrata at room temperature, gently broken into creamy chunks. Wildly flavorful, full of texture and color, starring the bounty of the late summer harvest, it was an ode to the simple weeknight dinner. The rich creamy burrata put it over the top. This one’s going on repeat, temporary housing or not!
Until I became a blogger, meatballs were something I enjoyed when someone else made them. I just found them a lot of work and messy to make. Since becoming a blogger I have written and made more meatballs than in my whole life before then. I’ve also realized everyone loves meatballs, especially my family! I am always interested in recipes that simplify the preparation of meatballs and those that make them a bit healthier. I couldn’t wait to try these baked turkey meatballs with Greek flavors and the addition of grated zucchini from Cookin’ Canuck. The grated zucchini makes the meatballs succulent. However I found the grated onion and grated zucchini added too much moisture to the meat mixture and I would recommend really drying the water out of both of these well before mixing them in. I also found the meat mixture a bit bland and added a teaspoon of dried oregano. I increased the feta from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup. My recipe reflects the changes I made but I include the link to the original version. What I loved most about this recipe is that after just 25 minutes in the oven, you have a pipping hot dish of tasty tender meatballs in a nice red sauce to feed 6, fast enough for a weeknight, delicious enough for company. Add a side of pasta or quinoa and dinner is served! If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, the meatballs are even better the next day.