The Land of Enchantment

I go to New Mexico to be inspired.  The culture, the landscape, the food, the history, the textures, the colours – they’re all threads in a complex and fascinating tapestry.  At first sight New Mexico may be deceiving – a harsh, desolate wilderness where even the plethora of adobe houses somehow fade seamlessly into the landscape beyond leaving you to wonder whether they ever even existed in the first place.  Were they just mirages on the desert floor?   This is the place where dreams of the American Wild West were born and quickly went to die.  But there’s a reason New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment.” There’s a magic here, deep and ancient, rooted in traditions that never die. Continue reading “The Land of Enchantment”

Calvados Martini

Normandy is famous for many of the world’s most delicious delicacies: Camembert, apples, oysters, and the most luscious cream and butter, cidre and of course, Calvados -the apple brandy that has been distilled there for over five centuries.  Calvados, in a way, is made like a fine perfume, with producers meticulously combining upwards of 200 different varieties of apples ranging from sweet to tart to bittersweet and bitter into their eau de vie.  In one appellation, pears are also used in the formula.  Bitter and tart apples must make up the majority of the composition (70%), while the remainder is comprised Continue reading “Calvados Martini”

L’art de l’omelette

The omelette, like a work of art, is something that’s never fully mastered or perfected… but it gives me great satisfaction to try.  Did Monet ever say, “I’ve painted my best garden,” and put away his brushes and easel?  Did Van Gogh ever think, “I’ve perfected the Iris, let’s move on to more important things.”?  Of course not.   Instead, when one painting was completed, he picked up his brush and began again on a new canvas.  Yes, the ingredients were the same – wispy petals, blade-like leaves on unruly stems – but Continue reading “L’art de l’omelette”

An Easter Menu

Without a doubt, Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday!  I dream of turkey and dressing and cornbread and pumpkins for weeks leading up to the day.  Of course, when all the dishes are done and the tablecloth is in the washing machine, I start to realize that I like Christmas, maybe just a little more.  All the sweets, breads, nuts and big cinnamon rolls for breakfast!  I mean, how could Christmas NOT be your favourite holiday, really?  Oh, but then… Champagne and caviar and oysters and fireworks and the promise of a blank slate and a fresh start in the year to come and I’m certain that New Years is, indeed, my favorite.  But when the confetti settles, the house is cleaned, the windows are opened letting in the freshness of spring, I determine that, in fact, Easter must really be my favourite holiday. Continue reading “An Easter Menu”

On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee

I spent my life believing I was Irish.  My grandmother’s family immigrated from Ireland and the proof hung proudly in a frame on the wall in her brother’s living room – County Cork to New York, New York; 1922.  I stood looking at it once, this yellowing paper in a frame – finding it incredibly strange that something like a government issued form would be considered a work of art.  But, to our family, it was.  It was proof of how far they had come, and a reminder to never forget where their roots were planted.  It’s a conflict that perhaps all immigrant families feel, this pull of two different lands, two different homes.  Continue reading “On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee”

Garlic-Turmeric Soup and Ginger Tea

I try not to worry about little things like the cold and flu season.  I tell myself, kids get sick.  It’s just a fact of life.  It strengthens their immune systems when they’re young so that they are healthier as adults.  Little colds here and there I can manage, but this flu season has been rough, and when there are so many teachers out sick at school that the children cannot even go out to recess because there aren’t enough adults to watch them, then I start to worry.  I’m a worrier by nature, thanks to my grandmother who worried herself into four heart attacks.  The best way, I believe, to stave off worry is by Continue reading “Garlic-Turmeric Soup and Ginger Tea”

The Vesper Martini

In the world of martinis I like to think of a vodka martini as sort of an entry-level martini.  A martini with training wheels.  It can be jazzed up or dressed down. Shaken or stirred. It’s easy and fun and fairly forgiving.  Then there’s the gin martini.  This is the grown-up martini.  It’s like a family sedan.  Safe and reliable, and you can run it through the car wash when it gets a little “dirty”…  Then there is this.  The Vesper.  This is not for the casual martini drinker.  This is a midlife crisis Aston Martin bought on a whim and driven backwards down a hill in Monaco while trying to escape your lover’s enraged husband.  It’s not for the faint of heart. Continue reading “The Vesper Martini”

Linguine with Chard and Bacon

While many people become depressed in the dark months of mid-winter because of the lack of sunlight, I become depressed by the absence of green.  In Colorado we have plenty of sunshine year round, a photographer’s dream, really, but in winter, nearly every where you look nature is dead, brown or sleeping.  This, I have to tell myself, is the price you pay for living in place where the light is so pure and the air crystal clean, but Colorado is essentially a high desert with a lot of wind and little moisture, leaving everything parched and dry in wintertime. Continue reading “Linguine with Chard and Bacon”

Eggs in tomato sauce (Shakshouka)

I come from a family of “food-hoarders.”  You can’t blame them.  For the generation that endured the Great Depression, food stockpiles were a necessity… and the generation after simply learned from their parents.  But I’ve found that when food is hoarded, food is wasted.  So, as to not fall into the same pattern, and to be sure nothing goes to waste, I’ve set a few rules for myself: 1.) do not buy something until it’s actually needed. Continue reading “Eggs in tomato sauce (Shakshouka)”

Yogurt Pancakes

We have our milk delivered from a local dairy – one gallon every Wednesday morning.  It’s just a little touch of nostalgia that makes my kitschy housewife alter-ego so very happy.  I love getting up in the morning, in my robe and slippers, and opening the milk box on the front porch to find that last week’s old, empty jar has been replaced with a new one.   It reminds me of simpler times, of days when the milk delivery was possibly the highlight of the week.  (At least in my case I would have been!)  Maybe you had used the last bit of milk a few days earlier and were craving pudding or pancakes but had to make do with whatever you had until the milkman came around again.  People were certainly more creative in the kitchen back before you could type the words “pancakes without milk” into Google.  “Necessity is the mother of invention,” or so they say. Continue reading “Yogurt Pancakes”