Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Happy St. Patrick’s Day


Not hard to guess what’s on the menu this morning: Irish Soda Bread from the Brooklyn Bread Lab in honor of the grit and talent of the Irish and Irish-Americans who made New York City such an energetic, productive city.


And the end result: Light and sweet! The dough is very shaggy, so keep your hands well floured as you incorporate the raisins and shape the loaf.  I cut an X into the top to ensure it cooks through.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fresh orange zest

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3 tbsp. butter (chilled, cubed)

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup raisings

Sugar in the raw to garnish

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, and baking soda. Add butter and pinch into flour until pea-size pieces are formed. Add buttermilk and stir with a spoon until dough begins to form. Add raisins and word dough with hands until mixture is fully combined. Grease a lined sheet tray. Form round dough ball in tray center. Flatten dough ball until it’s 1 1/2 inches thick. Sprinkle loaf with raw sugar. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool before cutting.

So I’m off to the parade and a pint at my local. I’ve had many a raucous time at St. Paddy’s Day celebrations in my past, so this one can be quiet for a change. I saw a notice for a Sober St. Pat’s party and I thought, “Hey, maybe…” and then I said, “Nah.”

I’ll be thinking about Donegal, my favorite part of the Auld Country. You can see why.




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Happy Oktoberfest!

Finally! The air is almost wrung out of all the humidity of late summer. The sunlight has taken on a softer golden glow and the leaves are drifting down from the trees. Turning on the oven to bake is not the torture it is in Manhattan in August/September. And with Oktoberfest upon us, pumpernickel is the flavor of the day.

pumpernickel muffins.jpg

Made fresh this morning, these are easy and delicious. I made the batter last night; it rests in the fridge overnight. You pop the muffin tin into a cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and, in 20 minutes, you’re enjoying the hot, savory taste of pumpernickel.

The dark rye flour, molasses, and caraway seeds supply the traditional slightly sour flavor. The yeast (which rises as the oven warms) gives the crumb a texture more like bread than a muffin. Raisins and toasted walnuts give it even more savor. This goes into my rotation, for sure.\

muffins and biscuits

Heidi Gibson; Chronicle Books; $19.95 hardcover


Thank you, Heidi Gibson, for a healthy kick-start to this beautiful early-fall day. Next up from this charming cookbook, Cheddar-Bacon Biscuits!




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Still Giving Thanks!

Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment. I put it on cornmeal pancakes this morning for a last blast of Thanksgiving flavor.


It looks so festive, too. Happy December, everybody!



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Roasted Potato Hash in Brown Butter–and more to be grateful for

I’ll be at the farm in upstate NY for the next few days, surrounded by out-laws but grateful to be in beautiful countryside, around well-loved farm animals, and in a fabulous kitchen with a fireplace.



So what am I grateful for this year? It spans centuries.

First, as always for Johannes Gutenberg and his moveable type. I can’t go a day (a day? An hour) without opening a book. I’m re-reading The House of Mirth (while amusing it’s not, it’s certainly compelling) and getting ready to read the bound galley of Pig Tales, new from Barry Estabrook, the author of Tomatoland.

pig tales


The most recent tech invention I’m thankful for is the digital camera. I’ve gotten more joy out of the one my sister gave me years ago for my birthday than any video game, DVD player, Wii, ATM machine, or smart phone could ever have provided.

I’m grateful for a dog who’s taught me to live in the moment. If she’s got a free minute or two, she’s going to take advantage of it.


I’m thankful for my elderly dad who has so generously removed any guilt I was feeling for going away this Thanksgiving. I know it won’t be easy, but he’s reassured me time and again he’d rather be at home watching football!

I’m grateful to Chuck for about a billion things.


Appropriate to a blog about food, I’ll give him this: he can sure sniff out a great recipe. We’ve made this twice and it only gets better. Thanks really go to Jessica Koslow, chef at Squirl in Los Angeles, who shared this with the Slow Food Fast column in the weekend Wall Street Journal.

Brown Butter Roasted Potato Hash

2 pounds small potatoes (such as baby whites or reds)

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons lemon juice

4 scallions, thinly sliced

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Bring a large pot, filled halfway with salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add potatoes and cook until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Strain potatoes, halve them and place on a baking sheet.
  2. Toss potatoes with olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper, then spread them out in a single later. Place in oven and roast, flipping potatoes once halfway through, until browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, fill a medium lidded pot of water with cold water. Add eggs to pot, place over high heat and bring to a full boil. Cover pot, remove from heat and let sit 12 minutes. Strain eggs. Once cool enough to handle, peel warm eggs and roughly chop. Set aside.
  4. Make brown butter: in a medium sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook gently until it turns brown and aromatic, about 5 minute. (Monitor butter carefully to prevent it from blackening.)
  5. In a large bowl, toss roasted potatoes with brown butter, lemon juice, and scallions. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste. Scatter crumbled egg over potatoes and serve immediately.

This covers only an iota of what I feel grateful for: trusted women who are helping me find a new job, friends who keep up my spirits, family who make me laugh, neighbors who enrich my world, readers who like these blog posts. Thank you all, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

live turkeys



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Bastille Day

I have to admit, I didn’t realize it was Bastille Day yesterday until mid-morning by which time I’d had an English muffin (sacre bleu!) with Swiss cheese (quelle domage) and kiwi fruit (qu’est-ce que c’est “keeeeeweeee”?). I’ll have to try to salvage the holiday by reminiscing about our honeymoon in Paris which was everything a romantic could hope for.

The courtyard outside the apartment loaned to us by Paul Audi's family.

The courtyard outside the apartment loaned to us by Paul Audi’s family.

Love's young (well, young-ish) dream

Love’s young (well, young-ish) dream

Catching up on the news en plein air.

Catching up on the news en plein air.

We’ve been back once, maybe twice, but never will we know that same nervous excitement, the thrill of discovery, the heightened sensations. Vive la France…vive l’amour! 

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The Fastest Early Bird


The early bird I forgot when I was writing about chickens, turkeys, and kiwi is the ostrich which lays the largest eggs of an living bird. Perfect for entertaining!


This morning,  I invited my neighbors in for an omelette, toast, and fried tomato. A good time was had by… April Fool’s!

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Cuteness Alert!

It’s the first day of spring. I couldn’t help myself.

baby bunny

baby chick

baby goat


calf and cow


baby birds in nest

Make this morning’s breakfast a healthy, happy one–things are looking up!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I work on another blog for work with some very talented crafters, bakers, and artists which I think you all would enjoy. Today’s post is a St. Patrick’s Day one, so please visit HowtoPickleASweater.com. Enjoy!

Wheaten Soda Bread from Noel McMeel's IRISH PANTRY (Running Press, 2013)

Wheaten Soda Bread from Noel McMeel’s IRISH PANTRY (Running Press, 2013)

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As American as…

colonial era fireplace

Pearlash? According to Feeding America, “the Historic American Cookbook Project,” America’s second Declaration of Independence was Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, originally published in 1796, the first cookbook by an American for us Americans. Simmons’s baking recipes used pearlash, a potassium carbonate obtained from wood ashes and a common household staple in America’s kitchens, as a chemical leavener. It’s the precursor to today’s baking powder.  Amelia, I raise my tricorner hat to you!

A tip of the coonskin cap goes to the pioneer women who settled the frontier. Their ingenuity was severely tested. We can thank them and their men for cornbread, mush (gee, swell!), and distilled whiskey. 

And that is my President’s Day post, composed over a plate of blueberry focaccia with vanilla yogurt and strawberries. 


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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

As I get older, I appreciate the healthy food gifts from friends and family the most. They don’t clutter up the closets forever (since I can never remember from whom I’ve received things, I’m terrified of re-gifting to the one who gave something to me in the first place!), I don’t have to return them to get the right size, and they don’t make me feel like a Scrooge for thinking as I open them, “Gosh…thanks.”

Nancy’s pears are a delicious “flash in the pan,” or in the case of this morning, “whirl in the blender.” The last pear and a half were languishing in the fridge, getting mealy brown spots that, when presented raw, turn me into a fussy, jaw-clenching three-year-old.

mary jane

“Smoothie,” I thought. A cup of apple juice, a cup and a quarter of peeled, chopped fresh pear, two heaping tablespoons of vanilla yogurt, and a good shake of cinnamon and I have two servings. A delicious antidote to holiday excess.

While I’m on the subject of pears, I have to recommend “Saving Mr. Banks.” I want it to win Best Picture. Every actor, every location, every line of dialogue is aligned to deliver the most moving experience I’ve had in the movies in ages! Paul Giamatti is such a humble actor: he’s not too big for a small part that, by virtue of his total commitment and talent, becomes one of the highlights of the whole film. Emma Thompson is perhaps too nice, even while she’s bullying everyone around here, to really portray P.L. Travers at her worst, but she keeps unveiling more and more of the story by gesture and the way a little bit of Australian slips into her prim British accent. Tom Hanks is magnificent; there’s no other way to describe it.


saving mr. banks

And the whole Goff family from the past–Colin Farrell, Rachel Griffiths, Ruth Wilson (a beautiful, haunting actress unfamiliar to me who plays Ginty’s mother), and Ginty herself–had me weeping through the whole two hours.

saving mr. banks 2


And what do pears have to do with it? I won’t spoil the movie for you, but they play a recurring role as central to this story as P.L. Travers, Walt Disney, the Sherman Brothers, and Don DaGradi. Do not miss this!



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