Feb 27, 2009

friday photo

long island sound, late winter 2009

salad days

i know i keep talking about how spring is going to show up any minute. and it is. well it has already shown up in my food preferences. i am wanting lighter food and fresher food and SALAD. i try to squeeze as many vegetables i can into family dinners these days. i am in love with vegetables, i really am. and i really agree with michael pollan that we should "eat food, not too much, mostly plants." an easy way to accomplish this is salad. 

the salad above is the one r and the kids are so in love with lately. they are quite used to my garden salad (avocado, cucumber, leek, cherry tomato etc) and my caesar salad. oh, and i never ever in a million years buy pre made salad dressing. i think it is unnatural. it takes 3 seconds to make your own, mixed just the way you like it, so fresh and lively. light. anyway. the salad above is based on one i happened to eat at sundance resort on a ski trip a few years back. only that one had some dried fruit in it as well. a few dried cherries would be great in here, now that i think about it, and maybe some pumpkin seeds. 

but i digress. the salad. it is a mixed baby lettuce salad (red oak, green oak, mache, baby romaine), with a tiny smidge of fresh dill, red cabbage, green apple and leek. the colors are fun dark purple and bright greens and every shade in between. the dressing is a riff on a simple french vinaigrette with a bit of dijon, and a fruity twist.

vinaigrette dressing with a fruity twist
1 heaping tsp dijon mustard
1 minced shallot
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar
2 TBSP pomegranate cherry juice
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin and organic)

favorite salad late winter 2009
6 oz fresh lively organic baby greens
1 TBSP fresh dill
1 granny smith apple, slide extra thin
1/4 red cabbage, sliced thin and chopped
1 leek, sliced (slices rinsed to remove sand)
dried cherries (optional)
pumpkin seeds (optional)

to make a vinaigrette: start with the mustard and shallot in a small bowl. add the vinegars and whisk around lightly. then add the pom juice. maybe a little bit of salt or pepper if you are inclined to such things. and then last add the olive oil whisking like mad, but just for 30 seconds or so.

grab a giant salad bowl (your favorite one). add washed lettuces. tear up a bit of dill (only a little, don't want to overpower it). the red cabbage. the leeks. and last but never least the green apple slices. pour the dressing over and toss lightly. it is especially nice if you can pour the dressing slowly, ever so slowly, over the salad in a uniform way to avoid overdressing or drowning your salad greens. a common problem around here (as some of us love homemade salad dressing a little too much). anyway toss lightly. use only half the dressing at first and add in small increments.

i usually serve this salad with a bit of sausage and roasted potatoes plus some brussels sprouts, or maybe pork chops and wild rice and perhaps some green beans. munch munch. nom nom nom. i cook to eat...

Feb 25, 2009

cape gooseberries

real excitement at the grocery today. a wonderful tart sweet fruit we can never ever find appeared today. barely edible-looking cape gooseberries are a wonderful treat. and they are nothing like regular gooseberries from the farmer's market in the summer. a completely different animal (berry). whenever the gods of grocery inventory are able to provide them, we will partake. usually we see them in london. we clearly have a serious exotic fruit habit in this household. in defense i can say only that there are far worse vices. seriously.  cape gooseberries look like a cross between a tomatillo and and an orange cherry tomato. but they taste like a cross between a passion fruit and a guava and a tomatillo. or something like that. high in vitamins a and c, iron and phosphorous. great in fruit salad. or on their own. store in the fridge. okay, all this talk about cape gooseberries... i am going to go and eat a few right now. so pleasingly tart.

Feb 24, 2009

simple food

with the shifting sands of financial storms swirling about us, this winter has been especially cold and especially hard. uncertainty is everywhere. the weather is just plain awful. anxiety about the economy is trending up. gloom. doubt. worry. household budgets are under greater scrutiny. eating out less is in. what to do, what to do?

luckily, i love eggs. they go so well with scallions and tomatoes and spinach and cheese. they are so easy. they are so cheap (perfect recession food). they are so fast. so full of protein and even all important omega 3 (if you buy the eggs of chickens fed with omega 3 which i always do, as i want to feel they are nutritious and not just a lot of cholesterol, but then i am a sucker for that gimmick every single time). eggs have been rehabilitated since their days as public food enemy #1 after we learned that scientific error caused a cholesterol scare. it turns out eggs are pretty healthy and that only around 15% of the cholesterol in our blood is affected or caused by dietary sources of cholesterol. in other words. don't blame eggs.  

i generally make something halfway between a french omelet and a scramble. the eggs cook really fast this way and don't have time to get rubbery or stiff, still wiggly and luscious, yet fully, safely cooked. and i love the way eggs taste with vegetables. other kinds of onions and red peppers and lots of other things would be good. eggs are as versatile as tofu. and there is so much veg in this dish that it feeds two people until they are happily, luxuriously stuffed.

eggs with scallions, cherry tomato, spinach and parmesan
3 eggs, whisked
3 scallions, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes lightly chopped (and seeded if you like)
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 TBSP olive oil (i use organic extra virgin from italy)
freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

put an 8 or 9 inch nonstick pan on the griddle. heat it up nicely. add olive oil. throw spinach into pan. stir around for 15 seconds. add scallions and tomatoes. saute quickly for a minute or two at most. pour in the whisked eggs. sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top and any salt and pepper you like. with spatula in hand, as soon as bottom of eggs are set, tilt pan and push cooked eggs into center of pan allowing runny uncooked egg to fill the void. turn pan and repeat on other sides of pan until all egg is set. gently fold in the sides and slide onto serving dish. slice in two. serve with some nice sourdough toast, a few olives, maybe a slice of prosciutto on the toast. a whole mediterranean thing going on. mmm. i do love breakfast for dinner. or eggs any time of day. there there now. it is not so bad. everything will turn out okay. 

Feb 20, 2009


last in the iphone travel photo series, some snaps from vermont last august. so green. and such gorgeous clouds.

have a great weekend.

Feb 19, 2009


the week continues. more iphoto photos from recent trips. this entry should be titled shrubberies of the british isles. i snapped these lovely herbaceous specimens on a quick trip to england and scotland last april. i do love a good shrubbery. and on this trip i was sure no one does shrubbery better than the english although there is a probably at least a 5-way tie vying for second (french, italian, belgian, swiss, etc.) i don't know if it is the skill or the devotion, or perhaps the climate that edges the british ahead. but perhaps i should revisit all these places and give the subject further study. hmmm.

Feb 18, 2009

wednesday and charles darwin

continuing my armchair traveler series this week. (as i desperately search my photo files for color and inspiration). these flowery photos i snapped the new york botanical garden last may. the closest thing to traveling while staying local i think. these flowers are part of darwin's garden: an evolutionary adventure exhibit inspiring. colorful. cheerful. endlessly interesting exhibit, no longer showing unfortunately.

charles darwin's 200th birthday was just last week as you've no doubt heard in the news. ever since 8th grade. when we all had to memorize the last sentence of the last paragraph of his great work, origin of species. since then, i have admired mr. darwin. i have often considered getting those little fish with legs emblems for my car to show my support and devotion.

here is that last sentence:

there is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been orginally breathed (by the creator)* into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

* i learned it this way, with the creator in it although the first edition did not contain it, yet editions 2 through 6 did. lots of religious pressure then as now. his mother was from the (rather pious) wedgewood family (yes, the famous pottery wedgewoods) and he married emma wedgewood, his cousin. apparently he was rather concerned about shortchanging his 10 children genetically, due to marriage to a close relative. even charles darwin worried he hadn't done well enough by his children. happy birthday charles.

Feb 17, 2009


last year at this time we were sunning it up in the bahamas. the sand really is some of the best there is. great for building elaborate sand castles and shell collecting which is how we spent most of the week. and that caribbean blue turquoise sea is enchanting. mostly the bahamas are tiny slivers, sand bars with a few palm trees growing on them like weeds. one of the best parts of the trip was the ancient little airplane we took to our island. so old fashioned. you can never feel too comfortable in a plane that old. but once you let go of your fear, your sense of adventure kicks in. beautiful ride. we survived. barely.

anyway. one of us got food poisoning on that trip. really bad food poisoning. so bad that it cured us all of ever wanting to go south in february to get away from winter. at least anywhere without access to modern medical care. we discovered there are far worse things than february in new england. today we are reading and milling about the house smiling at each other. just happy to have nowhere to be at any certain time. 

i took all these photos with my iphone camera. yes it is the slowest app in the world. but it does take nice pictures. when i got home i was treated to an $1800 cell phone bill. new to the iphone, i didn't realize that merely turning on the phone to set an alarm or check the time would get me crazy roaming charges for data. kindly, dear at&t removed the charges for me, all but about $200 of them. a happy ending.

Feb 16, 2009


i was supposed to be in san francisco this week. but we had to cancel the trip at the last minute due to a virus overtaking my household (and by the way, 1000 thank yous for your reasonable changes and cancellations policy virgin america, i heart you!). oh well. saved some money and we'll reuse the tickets this summer. more fun for summer. here is a picture i took last winter in san francisco. our second home. we'll head into nyc this week to nurture our creativity and fill our bellies with interesting food stuffs.

Feb 13, 2009

friday photo

happy valentine's weekend everyone! i hope it is dark, rich, sweet, chewy and maybe a little bit nutty. 

Feb 12, 2009

spinach lasagna

my kids are crazy for spinach lasagna. it is the most requested dish. last night it turned out especially delicious. i got lots of compliments. lots of "i love you moms" "best mom in the universe" that sort of thing. 

this lasagna is much more than the sum of its parts, comforting, noodly goodness, with an entire pound of fresh organic baby spinach hidden inside of there.

spinach lasagna

1 box lasagna noodles 
16 oz ricotta cheese
somewhere between 6 and 16 oz mozzarella (depending on taste and type)
16 0z fresh baby spinach leaves
giant jar italian tomato basil pasta sauce
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
olive oil

i always start this process by assembling all the ingredients. it goes together quickly then. preheat oven to 375 degrees. put giant stock pot of water to boil.

hum to yourself as you open the ricotta and squeeze and wiggle the plastic container until the ricotta falls out into a medium mixing bow. grab a small wire whisk and mix in the milk. (milk? you ask, yes, milk, if you thin your ricotta with milk it is much easier to spread, and your lasagna is more liquidy-juicy and not at all dry. i learned this trick from lidia bastianich). mix in enough milk until it is about the consistency of cake batter. i never measure but it is a bit more than half a cup and can vary depending on the thickness of the particular ricotta you choose. now add a whole lot of freshly grated parmesan cheese. again, i grate and don't measure but i would guess that it is about 3/4 cup parmesan. we like a lot of parmesan

about now the stock pot should be boiling. dash over and throw all the spinach in the water. stand by with a nice mesh strainer. push all the spinach under the water. as soon as it wilts, it is done. which is immediately. now scoop it all out with the strainer into a bowl. let cool for 2 minutes. meanwhile. keep the stock pot water at a low boil. add a tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot. drain the water from the spinach and place it on a cutting board. chop away with a large kitchen knife. mix the chopped spinach into the ricotta milk parmesan mixture and stir till combined. now add your lasagna noodles to the stockpot. cook for 3 maybe 4 minutes tops. no more. they should still be quite undercooked (they cook more in the oven) don't listen to the package that tells you to cook them for 6 to 9 minutes, they will be overdone.

time for assembly. add a couple tablespoons tomato sauce to the bottom of the lasagna pan. layer your noodles. 3 per layer i find. leave plenty of space around them. next smear the ricotta mixture. top with some grated or slice mozzerella. but not too much. add another layer of noodles. now smear some more ricotta. so easy with a little spatula. sprinkle or layer on some more mozzarella. okay more noodles. okay repeat until you end with a layer of noodles on top. now pour the gigantic jar of italian tomato basil jar across the noodles. cover all the noodles and all the sides. now for the final step. layer on another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan. into the oven it goes for 45 minutes. allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. maybe serve a caesar salad with homemade croutons, or some steamed artichokes or broccoli or something and you are good to go.

Feb 9, 2009

i am grateful for world trade

good morning blogiverse. i had an eye opening weekend. the thaw has begun with a new warming trend. and i am seeing the world with new hope and a bit of clarity this morning. and so, a bit of food philosophy to begin the week. 

i am begging here for a bit of reason regarding the guilt of carbon footprints for importing foods from further than 150 miles from your home. i say, stop the madness. stop feeling guilty. this movement makes perfect sense in only one regard. when produce is in season try to buy it locally. that is all. 

all these chefs, foodies, and climate fanatics, i ask you, where do they buy their shoes? were they made locally? their clothing? their lighting fixtures? their cars? where were their computers made and shipped from? how about their cookware? is it local? what is the carbon footprint on importing that fancy cookware from france? those knives from japan? how about in their restaurants...are the stoves and sinks locally produced? the china? where was the fuel that fires those ovens and stoves produced? where is the tile from on their floors and walls? italy perhaps? egypt maybe? (i realize this is overkill, you got the idea several lines ago, i just cant stop once i get started!) my apologies alice waters, i simply disagree.

by this reasoning, i should never have an avocado, drink tea or peel a tangerine living in new england. like i do. and world trade should cease to exist. if it is wrong to eat blueberries in february. than i am very very wrong. these lovely blueberries are getting me through the winter, making dreary days seem much brighter. so go ahead, enjoy some delicious produce imported from somewhere. 

there are many ways to live responsibly. we should all try harder. but to associate all this guilt with beautiful fresh produce, which is healthful and wonderful, i strongly disagree. and i bet the avocado and passion fruit farmers are with me. and those wonderful chilean blueberry farmers. muchos gracias. and if you do not agree. by all means, stick to the local stuff. i understand.

Feb 6, 2009

friday photo

dylan's candy shop, manhattan, january 31, 2009

happy weekend everyone.

Feb 5, 2009

43 days till spring and counting

well we had another snowstorm this week and another day off school. and i still have a sick child home with a fever. but there are only forty something days until spring now, according to this lovely sign i photographed in town yesterday. i love that it is all hand-painted and has those crazy daisies/sunflowers on it. and it has the the 'only' up above,  an optimistic afterthought. i love everything about it. 

below that are some fox footprints in my driveway, two foxes live just over the stone wall. charming you think. until you see how much they hunt. no wonder we haven't seen the turkeys for a while. feeling bad for the groundhogs that live nearby. lots of fox footprints at the door of their burrow in a boulder retaining wall. tough winter all around.

Feb 3, 2009

food for a sick day

last week one child was home sick, now the other one. it is a feverish flu that doesn't dampen the appetite at all. they are always hungry. add a few snowstorms and i have now another week of extremely low productivity in my work. sometimes these periods of low accomplishment are best acknowledged and enjoyed for what they are. but in the meantime, i really am trying to get them healthy and back at school where they belong.

breakfast of tangerine juice, passion fruit and fresh bread. elevenses of berries and tea. lunch of lentil soup, apple slices and assorted multigrain non-hydrogenated oil crackers (that's a mouthful). there is always next week. sigh.

happy bread

is it me or is this slice of bread smiling at me?

Feb 2, 2009

rouge tomate

really great newish restaurant in the old nicole farhi space in manhattan (60th st and 5th ave) rouge tomate is a belgian restaurant with an emphasis on healthy eating. i had oysters mignonette with pomegranate, ginger and citrus and then my entree was blue prawn salad. it was amazing. i love this place. they have a philosophy to go with their food called S.P.E., or sanitas per escam, health through food. described as a culinary charter developed by chefs and nutritionists that is based on a genuine respect for ingredients and balanced dishes. it did look and taste extra healthy. and really delicious. with restaurant prices what they are these days, it really should be healthy. something you would eat not just because it tasted good and looked pretty. added value, nutrition, worth paying for. it's pretty much been proven that people will eat just about anything (for example the bacon explosion in last week's new york times and which i then saw for sale on sunday at whole foods as 'bacon sausage roll') i think a bit of a nutrition filter is well, a good idea.