Nov 13, 2012

my holiday laboratory

i'll be cooking and serving a lot of food in these two rooms over the next 6 weeks. i'm looking forward to it. i'm not cooking anything new for thanksgiving or christmas or new year's. entirely repeat recipes. after decades of experimentation we've arrived at our favorite versions of the feasts. and i am grateful for that. more time enjoying family and friends, less time obsessing over recipes and ingredients. see some of the recipes we'll be using here, here, here, and here. i wish you all a wonderful feast and a few moments to pause and reflect on all that is good in your life this year. next year will certainly be different, but also full of new good things. warmest wishes xo, g

Sep 25, 2012

Delectable Meatballs

i love a good meatball as much as the next person. whether vietnamese pork meatballs, or swedish meatballs in gravy, or american italian meatballs, homemade, they are a wonderful and satisfying meal, and so pleasingly filling. sturdy, lovable, flavorful meatballs. i had not made them in quite some time due to the new nondairy diet business, however with most recipes and even most indulgences, i am finding a way to forge ahead with creative alterations to dairy recipes, as it was with these italian american meatballs.

1 lb organic ground beef or mixture of organic beef and pork
1/2 medium onion, grated or finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed with a garlic press or minced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, made by putting a slice or two of bread into the blender and chopping until they are medium fine
1 large egg
salt and pepper to taste ( i use about 2 teaspoons of salt and a few grinds of the pepper mill)
2 tablespoons chicken stock more or less

mix together onion garlic parsley and breadcrumbs in medium mixing bowl. add in the egg. stir with large spoon to combine. add in meat, break up with your hands. add in the chicken stock to moisten as needed. mix all ingredients to combine thoroughly. once combined, begin to roll small clumps of meat into meatballs with your hands.

with many recipes there are a few secrets for success. rule number one is always use high quality ingredients. "you can't rise above your ingredients," my cooking school teacher often remarked. rule number two is pay attention to technique. the same recipe can yield woefully disparate results if technique isn't maximized. it's the thing that is often not included in the recipe, unfortunately, that really matters. for meatballs the technique is a light yet thorough hand in the mixing and forming of the balls. you can make them sort of light and tender or dense and firm depending on your technique. i try to make them as light and tender as possible. to accomplish this i mix all the ingredients together before adding the meat. i use my hands to mix in and break up the meat. it takes a bit of mixing to get everything thoroughly combined, yet not smushed together. sort of lightly clinging to the other ingredients is one way to describe it. then divide meat into 4 equal portions in the bowl. and begin rolling 6 meatballs from each of the 4 portions. lightly roll between your two hands into nice round balls. place the finished meatballs on a tray.

i like to wear surgical gloves while i mix meatballs, personal preference, which i buy at my local drugstore in a box. i use them for handling raw poultry as well. i use them also for painting to avoid lengthy cleanup and reduce oil paint and solvent exposure, and for various messy household chores. i love them and always have them on hand, just like using bare hands, only better.

i saute the meatballs in a little olive oil over medium high heat in a preheated cast iron skillet. they cook up beautifully in about 6 minutes. browning nicely on all sides. versatile, you can then simmer them in tomato sauce for 15 to 20 minutes and serve with pasta. or make a gravy and serve them like swedish meatballs. or make a meatball sub with pickled cabbage as jamie oliver does in his meals in minutes (or thirty minute meals as its known in the uk) cookbooks. delectable.

Aug 20, 2012

stone fruit crumble -- dairy free

plum crumble

i have been making this every other day. it is wonderful. i make it every two days because i hate to run out of it. i really love fruit tarts, crisps and crumbles. but since i can no longer eat butter, my enthusiasm for baking has waned. this fruit crumble, i am happy to report, is every bit as delicious as buttery fruit crumble. absolutely no sacrifice in taste, texture or beauty. 
added bonus: this recipe easily double or triples to suit your needs.
stone fruit crumble

prepare the fruit. wash and slice
3-4 cups plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches. sprinkle with
1 T sugar and the dribble the juice of 1 lemon. place in medium baking dish.

next, prepare the dairy free crumble topping
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup oat flour
1 T teff flour
1 T oat bran
1.5 T brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil

mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl. add in 1/4 cup olive oil. blend with your fingers and crumble over the top of the fruit. place in a preheated 375 degree F oven for 40 minutes.
allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. serve plain or with vanilla ice cream. 

Aug 13, 2012

bacon fish

My kids, who generally enjoy fish only sparingly, love this dish of salmon paired with bacon and have dubbed it "bacon fish." I might add "collage" as it is a colorful, textural, and varied assemblage with vegetables, citrus, and tomatoes. It is so easy, so tasty and so new, we make it repeatedly this summer. This bacon fish recipe is based closely on a Jamie Oliver recipe from his book 30 minute meals, I have changed a few things to suit our taste.

Bacon Fish 
serves 4 
4 6 oz salmon fillets, skin on
4 cloves of garlic, whole, with skin on
8 very large shrimp, in shells
1 bunch skinny asparagus, washed and trimmed
1 large lemon, de seeded cut into wedges
4 slices bacon
1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed and sliced in half
olive oil

note: Mr. Oliver uses pancetta, not american style-bacon, adds anchovies and serves this with a salsa verde made from mint, parsley, mustard, capers, anchovies, garlic, wine vinegar, and olive oil. We usually don't bother with the salsa verde, despite how much i love saying "salsa verde" as the dish is already very flavorful. We serve it with a green salad and sourdough bread. Mr. Oliver recommends boiled potatoes and spinach salad, lovely.

1. preheat broiler 
2. place fish fillets in large baking ceramic baking dish, skin side down
3. add garlic, asparagus, shrimp, lemon wedges, and cherry tomatoes
4. season with salt and pepper
5. drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive oil
6. squeeze one lemon wedge over the dish
7. lay 4 slices bacon over top
8. place pan in oven right up close to the broiler for 10 minutes
9. voila! bring pan directly to table

Even more delicious than the sum of its parts. Hats off to Mr. Oliver, I would never have dreamed this many different sorts of things would bake up so well together. Really good.

Jul 22, 2012


I was blueberry picking in Maine last week. Hidden Pond Resort in Kennebunkport has little blueberry bushes all over the resort and a large vegetable garden, they allow their guests to forage in. I really enjoy it and I hope it will be a newly popular trend at hotels and resorts worldwide. I've been to only one other resort, Carneros Inn, Napa Valley California, where this is a hotel amenity. Maine was lovely btw even though it was mostly a business trip. I hope you are enjoying the fruits of the season wherever you are.

Jun 19, 2012

House Tour

time for a house tour, this is our house in new england, connecticut coastal woodland. i've been slowly puttering and decorating and gardening since we moved in 5 years ago. this is our most traditional house so far, which i found challenging in a completely new way. i love to mix the old and the new and i am pleased it's finally coming together.

our prior house, on the west coast, was modern and colorful, overlooking san francisco bay and the golden gate. this one is opposite house in so many ways. coasts, style, setting, a more grown-up house since the kids are now teens. it's good to have new challenges, different problems to solve. when decorating, i like to work slow because it is more affordable, and i think you get a better result if you collect things over time. i am always rearranging things, revising, improving little by little. this allows me to take advantage of great finds when i travel or happen upon a great deal. understand the space and light a bit better. my favorite things about this house are the five fireplaces. not much use in the summer i'm afraid, but i so love having them the rest of the year. i always dreamed of having a dining room with a fireplace, and that one came true in this house. it turns out this particular fireplace puts out way way too much heat to dine comfortably, and if you sit by the fireplace with the fire roaring, you quickly feel a prickly heat and a sudden fear you might be roasting to death. (if you look closely in the dining room picture you can see one side of the table is practically in the fireplace.) a smaller fireplace or a bigger dining room would might solve the problem, maybe in the next house. my best advice on decorating is take it slow, don't rush in, live with the space a while.

Jun 17, 2012

ny times piece on stockholm, mentions the hotel skeppsholmen, where we stayed last summer. cannot recommend their breakfast highly enough. truly memorable. maybe favorite one ever.

May 24, 2012

completely tumbled

it's been a while. to be honest, i've been completely tumbled. hooked on tumblr that is. been having loads of fun looking at art and artists from all over the world. sharing images. very inspiring. and sending me in this direction is the simple fact i've sort of lost interest in food since i became newly allergic to dairy products last winter. without cheese, milk, butter, cream, i've found i'd rather not think about food too much. the adjustment to diet and menu has me flummoxed most days. 

i have had some great successes. for example, it turns out that oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made with palm oil are just as, if not more, delicious than ones made with butter. really. recipe coming soon. the texture, all light and crispy, is phenomenal. and presumably better for you health-wise. vegan lasagna and vegan ravioli were not winners on any scale. on the plus side soy milk makes a great substitute for yogurt in a smoothie. but otherwise cheese-less pizza is okay. tacos and burritos are fine. japanese, thai, chinese and vietnamese foods never had dairy in the first place. plenty of diary free chocolate out there in all shapes and sizes. so all the news is not too bad.

it's all about changing habits. until i can adjust completely i am taking things slow in the kitchen. of course i'm still living with 3 cheese heads, people who can still eat dairy, so i'm the anomaly, which adds to the alien terrain. all i can say is i'm working on it.

in the meantime, there is always tumblr. check it out.

Apr 9, 2012

passion flowers, sweden summer 2011

i just want to think about summer. i've got that summer feeling. breezes, open air, beaches, flowers, picnics, farmer's markets, travel, a break from the school and work routine. haven't even begun to plan my summer escape, have you? time to get right on that. any ideas? i'm wide open. scandinavia again? back to japan? fun and familiarity of martha's vineyard? maine? canada? scotland? west coast usa? any ideas?

Feb 5, 2012

baby kale

lately, a new green has entered my life. just in time too. baby kale. it is even more delicious than regular kale and is great in salads (tender and sweet), stir fries (cooks fast and yet remains intact), and soups (great flavor). it is my new favorite. i especially like it with stir fried with shrimp or chicken or tofu. I also love it as a side dish sautéed with leeks, and sautéed with scallions and tomatoes for an omelet.

Feb 4, 2012

i heart color

happy february.

tell me, how's february treating you? not too bad? we are surviving though, well, it's awfully dreary outside. it seems enormous and intractable, this grayness. but actually, it is easily remedied.

solution: color and art. i love to look at art this time of year, okay, well, make that anytime of year, but especially this time of year. i bought a new wide screen mac desktop and illustrator last week and have been having fun re-learning how to use ai. good fun. one should always have art and projects in a new england winter. so i made the heart above just this morning and am rather liking it as my new screensaver. i may make a few more for bookmarks or cards for friends & family.

if you want to add some color or art to your february, i recommend you check out these art sites:

color and light. inspiration. levity and gravity. all worthwhile. you can lose yourself for hours immersed in beautiful art and then spring will be here before you know it. at least that's my plan, and i'm sticking to it.