Aug 31, 2009

gorgeous cherries


these gorgeous dark sweet cherries (from the hood river cherry company in oregon) were unlike anything i've ever tasted in the u.s. before. so sweet, so large, so juicy. and we marvelled that the ratio of good cherries to bad was like 99 to 1. normally it is more like 60 to 40. they were giant, delicious, perfect specimens. i went back to the grocery store a few days later, alas they were all gone. all the more wonderful that they were so briefly available. 

lots of pictures from belgium and france to post. got the kids off to school today: first day of middle school for one, first day of preseason two-a-day practices for another. the house seems very quiet, but in a serious, purposeful way, like we are back in the thick of it. 

Aug 25, 2009

raindrops, clouds and pencils

my hungarian grandfather often used to repeat an old chinese expression, "if you are troubled, sweep. if you are happy, sweep. if you are tired, sweep. if you are lonely, sweep..." he was very handsome and funny and completely organized, tidy, and responsible. and he swept up a lot of messes. like after my parents divorce when he would come over every morning after we'd all left for school and work and he would clean the kitchen and our house and take our dog lucy for a nice long walk every single day. no one asked him too. it was all just part of his regular battle against chaos. except for an occasional scotch, he had no vices (except maybe retelling the same old jokes a few too many times). he swept his front porch and back steps every day. he always turned the lights off when he left a room. he never ate any fast food. he cleaned his car inside and out, even under the hood, every single day. a pinnacle of virtue really. he worked hard, he was generous, knew how to have fun, and lived a rich, full, happy life.

well, i've been a bit bereft lately. a dear old friend of mine passed away quite suddenly this month. he wasn't feeling well one day, and died not two weeks later of a very rare and extremely aggressive form of leukemia. david was a dear sweet person, pure goodness. and he had a brilliant wit. r and i knew him for 20 years, he danced at our wedding 16 years ago in napa, california. we hadn't seen him recently, he was busy taking care of his ailing father, so devoted to his family he was. we were busy raising our children, we always thought we would have plenty of time to see him in a few years when our schedules became less hectic. regretting that thinking very much now. you couldn't ask for a more understanding friend or more delightful dinner companion than david.

so anyway, we are taking my grandfather's advice and using this time to devote ourselves to the art of household maintenance. i am helping the kids organize their desks and pencils, colored and otherwise, pens, rulers, protractors and compasses, erasers, folders and binders. time to get ready for the new school year. and frankly, now that the pencil cups are organized the shelves are looking a bit off. they could benefit from a redo as well, and the closets of course. this could go on for quite some time. all this cleaning, prioritizing and restructuring around here feels most comforting. i find myself wanting to be more virtuous, funnier and more organized like my sweet grandfather. and wanting to be more warm and friendly, devoted and caring, like lovely david. the best things in life really are the wonderful people you meet and the wonderful things they teach you. it makes all the difference. 

Aug 21, 2009

stormy weather

oh of hurricanes and storms and crashing thunder. just took this photo minutes ago. heavy rain thundering down now with dramatic lightening and ground shaking thunder. we have arrived home safely after a wonderful getaway. lots to show and tell. hope you've all had a lovely few weeks. we will batten down the hatches this weekend and be back at it next week. xo, g

Aug 16, 2009


lovely paris. we are enjoying ourselves enormously. despite the crowds, despite the heat, despite the "non" and "ferme a aout" it is all still wonderfully, beautifully, paris.

Aug 14, 2009


bonjour my friends. through a small technological miracle i am blogging from a high speed thalys train speeding toward paris. cars all announce "wifi inside" only they pronounce it "weefee" which i love, sounds better i think. only 90 minutes from brussels to paris. really fast. having a really fabulous trip. hope you are having a great august. i'll be back in a week. see you soon. xo, g

Aug 7, 2009

summer harvest continues

its been great fun growing parsley, cilantro, peas, cherry tomatoes and radishes in 4 pots on our deck. something wonderful about growing food from seeds. we've enjoyed cooking with super fresh just-picked ingredients. yet, the four pots are not a burden as they are completely manageable to care for. i know my limits, a full vegetable garden would overwhelm me at this point, but someday, hopefully, maybe. of course, our little tomatoes have not ripened yet. delayed by all the cool rainy weather this summer in the east, they really like the heat those tomatoes. in any case, of course, the tomatoes are finally ripening just as we are leaving for a quick trip to europe, as i somehow knew they would. can't complain however, travel trumps tomatoes. will have loads of pictures to share with you upon return. see you soon.

Aug 6, 2009

seared tuna, vietnamese style

internet was down for a day and a half, so i had to fill my time packing and readying for our trip to europe later this week. but now the internet is back up, and our really easy summer super series can continue. 

take some tuna steaks, sustainably caught, cook up some three ladies brand vietnamese rice in the rice cooker or your favorite brand of fluffy long grain rice. make a bit of nuoc cham sauce (1/4 cup fish sauce, 2 garlic cloves minced. 1 shallot, minced, 3 TBSP minced cilantro stems, 1/3 cup lime juice, 2TBSP organic brown sugar). maybe some green beans cooked in salted water or stir fried vietnamese style with garlic, cilantro and fish sauce. cut the tuna into attractive hunks. sear in a copper or other skillet (things sear so beautifully in copper). when attractively, gorgeously browned, yet the interior still quite red, remove from skillet. allow to rest a minute. thinly slice the tuna. arrange on a platter, pour the nuoc cham over the fish. sprinkle on a generous supply of cilantro leaves and dig in. my kids never used to like tuna, but served this way they thought it was really tender pork at first. now they love it, and we never have any leftovers (to my great dismay). but every time we do eat pork they ask whether it is tuna. good to keep them guessing.

Aug 3, 2009

east coast apricots

they are finally here! my favorite element of new england summer. i just saw them for the first time end of last week and they will be in the stores for about 4 weeks. i always imagine tarts and pastries and crumbles and all sorts of pies and things but they are so good right out of their clamshell box that we rarely get them into the oven at all. and that clamshell box, it is sustainable, made entirely from recycled water bottles. i love this grower.

these gorgeous apricots are so delicious they've been written up in the new york times and gourmet magazine. they really are that good. you can even buy them online here. i buy them from whole foods generally. you can also follow them, with harvest updates, on twitter here. these lovely east coast apricots are really juicy with the perfect firm texture and sweet to tart balance i am looking for. i never even knew they grew apricots in new york until our rearrival here 3 years ago after 10 years on the west coast. how did i miss them the last time i lived in new york? when i lived in california i always thought the blenheim apricots were the best i had ever tasted. and they are amazing. but now it's these. a minimalist's perfect breakfast: cup of tea and a few of these luscious apricots. okay apricot infomercial complete. full disclosure: i am not on their payroll, and have received no compensation of any kind for this post, i am just swooning on my own time.