Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Adventures in Paris!

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well".
                                                                                                ~Virginia Woolf

Bonjour, mes amis!

     I took Bella to Paris for her birthday/graduation gift and we had a fabulous time. I loved the entire adventure. We enjoyed so many fun things together. We wore lots of fun summer dresses, biked to Monet's former home and garden in Giverny (the photo above of the lovely kitchen was where Monet and his family ate their meals), visited le jardin de tuileries, the Louvre, Champs Elysees, Notre Dame and of course the Eiffel Tower.
We ate our way through every step of the trip. There was a Patisserie right down the stairs from the small apartment we rented and would stop daily for either a fresh baked quiche, a baguette or a chocolate éclair.

 Honestly, it was hard to decide what to choose because there were so many amazing options. We never let ourselves feel guilty trying them all because we walked everywhere and well, we were in Paris! Paris reignited my already strong passion for baking because there are so many bakeries with delicious and beautiful treats with careful attention to detail everywhere.

And at the end of the day one of my favorite things to do was head back to our apartment and make dinner for us--it was always something simple yet cooking at 'home' and enjoying our meal on the kitchen table or out on the patio was a nice way to relax after our travels exploring the City of Light.

 In the photo above we simply warmed a baguette with olive oil and rosemary for dipping, tossed a leafy green salad with mozzarella, tomatoes and peppers along with a pasta dish with sharp cheddar and goat cheese. Paris has a wonderfully long twilight and on a few occasions we would sit down to our evening meal at ten pm and it was not yet dark.

Our Paris adventure is something we will remember for a lifetime.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Exciting News & New Appetizer Perfection!

Last month I signed an official book publishing contract to produce an updated version of my 2009 self-published book "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen". I'm excited for this creative opportunity. I can add photographs of people, places and additional recipes to the current collection. I'm going to include more sections and some of my favorite food related quotes too.
I hope you will celebrate this fun opportunity with me and look forward to its release date. It's a great feeling to produce this book in the way I originally imagined because of the collaboration between me and the publishing company.
In the meantime, the Cape always offers so many fun opportunities to try new recipes. Just recently I attended a friend's party. She was celebrating her birthday, her father's birthday and her daughter's birthday all in one cool event at their home on Waquoit Bay overlooking the water. It was a fun time of good food, music and conversation.
 Her husband served an amazing appetizer that I found to be the perfect combination of sweet and savory. I'd like to tell you about it here in case you'd like to try it yourself.
You simply take individual pitted dates and wrap them in a small piece of bacon and then cook them just right under a low broil. And enjoy. Delicious!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter's Beauty & Butternut Squash Ravioli with Mascarpone Cream Sauce

One of the cool things about living on Cape year round is that even when all the crowds leave and the tourist season is over there's still so much beauty. Here's a sample: the early morning winter sun from my walk on the shining sea bike path, the swans from Waquoit bay and the sun rising over the snow taken from my living room window. 
On a walk with a friend earlier today it was only 14 degrees. 
I prefer the sun and warmth over the winter any day. Although the beauty is so comforting despite the cold. 
Last weekend I hosted a dinner party at my house for family we didn't get a chance to see over the Holidays. I so love to cook good food for family and friends and be creative in the Kitchen.
My son is home from College--and said "Mom, you really should be a professional chef". At least it's nice to be appreciated.
One of the dishes I made was a roasted butter-nut squash ravioli with a mascarpone cream sauce with candied pecans, and freshly ground black pepper. I also made a flat-bread with goat cheese, mozzarella, sautéed mushrooms and a balsamic glaze. We had Tiramisu and Peppermint stick ice cream for dessert.  I even opened my last bottle of red wine from Italy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chicken Soup & Apple Cranberry Pie

   "God gave us our memories so that we may have roses in December". 

Because of daylight savings time sunset is at 4:30 today! We've had a beautiful summer and an amazing autumn so I feel I need to focus on the gratitude from the wonderful season I've had rather than my sadness of the upcoming early dark and cold winter that is soon to follow. I don't like when it's so dark so early on Cape.
I'm meeting a friend soon and we're going together to celebrate with another friend her current art show and reception. I've been making a large pot of home made chicken soup and a cranberry apple pie this afternoon so that there will be something to offer my daughter's and I comfort here at the house when we return.
I'm going to try and embrace the early dark this season with more get together's at home, the sharing of good food with friends and catching up on creative projects  instead of simply waiting for the good weather to return.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Brownies topped with Chocolate Chip Cookies & The Changing Autumn Leaves

Hey there! I never meant to wait so long to update my blog.When I came back from my adventure to Italy I thought about sitting right down at my desk and sharing stories about all the amazing food I ate, the super fun cooking class I took and all the great people I met. But it was summer on Cape Cod and I knew my son would be leaving for College soon, my daughter would be starting her senior year of High School and my youngest would be starting fourth grade. In short, I went straight from living happy in the moment in Italy to living happy in the moment right here at home.

The weather has been amazing here lately and even though we have been making and eating lots of good food these past couple of months I haven't paused long enough to post about it. Although, I have written a few food related articles including two that will be published in the local Dining Guide soon about "Preparing an Italian Meal" and another called "Five Desserts your Guests will Love".

  My son is home this weekend from College and I've found myself in the kitchen again. It has felt something like Christmas waking up on Saturday, Sunday and Monday with all three of my kids in the house and in their beds. Each morning I woke before them all and peeked on them while they slept. It's one of those simple joys of mother hood that I will probably cherish for as long as I live.
 I've been cooking a lot because my son said the thing he misses most is home cooking. I made a batch of dark chocolate brownies topped with a layer of chocolate chip cookie bars yesterday afternoon. The house felt all warm and cozy and smelled good in the way a house does when there's a chill in the air and an oven is turned on.  I love listening to the sounds of my kids throughout the house as they wait for the baking to be done. 

As for the changing colors. I took the two photographs above of the same tree in my front yard within hours of one another. One thing the fall always inspires me to do is bake more bread, pies, soups and even pull out my crock-pot while keeping a fire going in the fire place. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Dinner Party!

"Summer afternoon-- Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the most beautiful words in the English Language". ~ Henry James

I invited a friend and her husband over last night for an impromptu dinner party. They were both so helpful to me in pulling off my son's graduation party at my house last week that I wanted to thank them personally. It gave us a chance to catch up over a simple summer meal.
I baked a summer vegetable tart, tossed a Ceasar salad, made a Caprese salad and then whipped fresh cream to spoon over just ripe strawberries and blueberries for dessert.
The dinner was delicious-light and just picked ingredients, easy to prepare and healthy like a good summer meal should be. Yet what really made me happy was to know that I am loved and cared for by such good friends. And that since summer always seems to pass by in a flash we took the opportunity to chat outdoors under the night sky on my patio after dinner.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Supporting Student Writers, Graduation & Cake!

Take a look at this cool cake I had made for one of my students. It's a  photo transferred on a cake of a pencil drawing he made of a barn. Early on in the semester I asked students to bring in a photograph of something they love or care about and then write a narrative essay based on their connection to what's in the picture.

One student brought in this drawing that reflects his passion for barns. He wrote a beautiful essay reflecting on his life growing up in Vermont and his interest in preserving the simple yet special architecture found in an American treasure-an old barn.

I encouraged him to submit his essay to our campus journal Turning Tides and when it was accepted for publication I wanted to show him I was proud of his efforts to write and to write well. I wasn't only celebrating him but the class as a whole. They worked hard and it took dedication throughout the entire semester to put together final portfolios. Portfolios they could feel proud of.

As for the photo of the butterfly cake my oldest son graduated this past weekend from high school. I felt that strange dichotomy of emotion where my deep happiness and pride in his accomplishments rubbed right up against my intense sadness for what will no longer be. So, I shed a whole lot of tears this weekend.

The reality is the turning tide of his life is that he's no longer in High School. And I'll never get to make his lunch for school or wake him up to get to class in the same way as  I have been since he first went off to kindergarten.

People tell me it will get easier and our relationship will grow and change in unexpected ways. I have faith this is possible. For now, I think I'm just going to need a little more time to get used to the idea.

In the meantime, I've been baking for parties and celebrations for both end of semester and graduation. I baked a few butterfly cakes dipped in ganache to remind the graduating seniors that they now can open their wings and fly.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sunsets, Dinner with Friends & Italy!

Baking is a form of meditation for me. I pull out the ingredients, turn on the oven and settle into my kitchen to bake cookies, a cake or a loaf of fresh bread for dinner. I don't have to be anywhere or do anything except bake. And I love the comfort I feel from the simplicity of that.

It's been warming up on Cape. I am so grateful for this because what I love the most about it here is early morning bike rides down to the beach or packing a picnic for dinner and watching the sun set over the water.

 I'm finally making a trip to Italy this summer. It's something I've wanted to do for a very long time. And I can't wait to take it all in--the food, the people, the art and the country side. I am flying into Rome and spending a couple of days there then taking the train up to Florence.
 I can't wait to go to Florence. It feels like a dream come true to finally go. I plan to write some while I am there too.

I haven't been blogging as much. I am still writing though. I have a few articles I've written coming out soon; one on local spots for a Picnic and another piece on Community Potlucks. And since my teaching semester will be done soon I am thinking about what I'm going to write about this summer.

And as for dinner with friends Sophia and I had fun at a friends house the other night. They made the most delicious Pesto and Spinach Lasagna. When I get the recipe from her I will post it here. It's a tasty lighter version of a traditional red sauce and meat Lasagna.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Let's Celebrate!

I brought Bella into Boston last week for a re-check with the surgeon who did her ankle surgery. She and I were so happy when he told us she was 100% recovered.

 I baked him a special package of my celebration cookies as a thank you because he's given her such good care since we first met him last December. He seemed to really appreciate our gesture and told us he and his resident intern would enjoy eating them later that day.

The kids are on Spring Break this week and I wanted Sophia to have a fun way to kick off her break. Last Friday she invited a good friend over to play and have dinner. I baked more cookies and helped them make home made ice cream sandwiches. They were delicious. We took some candy she had left over in her Easter basket and chopped it fine then they dipped the ice cream in the candy as a sweet mix-in before smoothing in between the cookies.

 I love that simply having a friend over to make home made ice cream sandwiches with and getting time to hang out around the house to laugh and play with her friend is the kind of fun she enjoys most.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lemon Cake, Butterfly Cake Dipped in Ganache & Celebration Cookies

Sophia invited a friend over last week to color easter eggs. I'm grateful I have one at home who is still young enough to want to do this simple and fun easter tradition. They were meticulous about it too. They carefully divided the eggs, chose colors for dipping, markers for drawing and stickers to decorate each with. They decorated for the better part of an afternoon.
My spring semester has begun and I have been teaching every day. So for now I have less time for baking and fun projects around the house.
I decided while they were carefully coloring their eggs I'd bake a few batches of Celebration Cookies. There are a few people I wanted to bake for. I love to wrap a handful of just baked cookies in celophane bags, tie them with a colorful silk ribbon and leave on the doorstep of a friend or send in the mail to someone who lives further away. It's my way of letting them know I was thinking of them. Or I'll bake them as a Thank-you for someone who did something nice for me.
Easter is Sunday and I've decided to make Lemon Cake and my butterfly cake dipped in chocolate Ganache for dessert. I am long over due for baking both of them. When I told Sophia what I'd decided she said she couldn't wait until Sunday. I remember I used to bake and sell many of my Lemon Cakes but now it has become a treat I only make every once and awhile.