“To air condition or not?” That’s the question . . . at least it has been in our house for the last month.
A friend called on Monday. “How are you handling the heat?”
While our current heatwave is nothing compared to the one that swept Europe last month, there are afternoons when we all start to melt like snowmen and slink downstairs to seek refuge in the cool rooms on the lowest level of our house. Our home was built in the time before air conditioning. And really, many houses here in Colorado don’t have it. We just don’t need it, at least not for about ten months out of the year. As for those other two months – July and August – despite the scorching afternoons, the nights are cool enough that, if you open the windows wide when it’s dark, by morning the house is blissfully cool. And that’s just what we do. As soon as we wake up, with coffee in hand, we wander around the house closing all the windows to keep the heat out. It’s become almost a ritual, and it keeps the house cool until late in the afternoon when the cycle starts all over again. Continue reading “Tomato Galette with Sweet Basil Crust”
Fickle summer weather! It will be beautiful in the morning; I’ll wake up dreaming of lighting the grill, seasoning meat, pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner outside while the kids run through the yard and the dog barks at the neighbor’s chickens, only to have the dream shattered mid-afternoon, when storms race in over the mountains and force us inside. Other days we wake up to a cool, cloudy drizzle and I think, there’s no way I could start the grill in weather like this. Only after I’ve panned a meal inside does the sun come out and the weather becomes perfect for grilling. The dichotomy of Colorado weather is that it can go from soggy to parched in a matter of hours, thanks to the elevation and the drying mountain winds. Sometimes we go weeks without even a drop of rain, and everything gets so dry that just the tiniest rogue spark from the grill’s coals could ignite a wildfire. On these days, all outdoor fires, including those in grills, are banned as a precaution. All of this poses a problem, because I’m a planner when it comes to cooking, and grilling so often must happen spontaneously. When the weather happens to be perfect, the stars align and I have all the essential ingredients to create a feast on the grill I have to seize the opportunity. That is, unless, I have something that works just as well on the grill as it does in the oven. That’s why I love this salmon. Each of these recipes can be made in either. Problem solved. Continue reading “Cedar Planked Salmon, Three Ways”
I’m a bit selective when it comes to bringing items into our home. My husband would argue that I’m just paralyzingly picky. I blame it on my tendency toward perfectionism. I spent a year scouring antique shops and flea markets for a painting for our dining room. Something with a bohemian flare to fit with the rest of the house, in soothing hues of blue and green to match the green walls in the room, which, I should mention are not yet green. When I finally found it – an antique reproduction of a John Audubon blue heron – I knew intuitively that it was the one. But about the green walls – that is to say, the walls which are currently just a vision of a painting project we planned three years ago. I can’t seem to find just the right shade. Green, but not too green – more of a silvery-teal, like Tuscan kale after it has just been washed. I’ve been through dozens of paint swatches, each an infinitesimal variation on the same shade, of which my husband claims to see no difference. I haven’t settled on the right one. Selective or just picky? The problem, I think, lies in the curtains. Continue reading “Moscow Mule + Ginger Beer Tonic”
We all know the rules: drink 8 glasses of water a day, limit alcohol and caffeine, cut out refined sugar, etc, but I believe that what we are drinking is more important than what we’re not.
I’ve written a lot about my inside-out approach to skin care. While I try not to obsess over what I eat (or drink), and I thoroughly subscribe to the notion of everything in moderation, including moderation, I do like to make conscious decisions and choices that naturally nourish my skin from the inside out. I don’t spring back from a day of eating junk food or a night out drinking as easily as I did in my twenties, and it shows on my skin. Continue reading “Green Tea and Rose Spritzer”
Sundays. I spend the whole day in the kitchen – no time constraints, unhurried, set apart from the pressures of the work week – piecing together whatever we might have been craving in the days prior. There’s often a pot of pinto beans simmering on the stove for my husband who grew up eating them with every meal. I make a big batch that he can dip into during the week. Meat is braising slowly in the oven with tomatoes and red wine, thyme and bacon. Continue reading “Crêpes with Strawberries and Cream”
I often write about visiting my aunt and uncle’s farm when I was a child and how, every spring, we would forage for wild asparagus near the stream on the edge of the apple orchard. When I moved to Europe at 18 I was enthralled by the assortment and variety of asparagus available. The only asparagus I had ever known was that wild and wiry green variety that grew beneath the apple trees. At the markets in Pisa there were crates full of milky white asparagus, thick stalks of green asparagus with purple tips, and even a sweet variety that was entirely purple from tip to toe. How much fun I had learning to cook with them all! Continue reading “White Asparagus with Vinaigrette”
I was in a floral print mini skirt and a black leather bomber jacket that smelled of cigarettes and musky perfume (Malibu Musk, to be exact). The jacket matched my favourite combat boots and a scarf in the same print as the skirt held my hair back in a high pony tail in that 1950s-preppy-meets-punk-rock-grunge style that was so popular in the 90’s. A pair of Ray-Bans perched atop my head. I felt so grown up at 17. Continue reading “Cerise Chérie Cocktail”
This warm weather has me dreaming of the garden and all the easy summer meals we’ll have out there! My grandmother’s recipe for quick garden pickles is still one of my family’s favourite side dishes. They’re so easy, they come together in just five minutes – perfect for those busy days and hot nights when you really don’t feel like cooking at all. We all have nights like that, don’t we? Growing up, my grandparents had a large garden where we would play as children. There they grew many different varieties of cucumbers – Armenian, gherkins, lemon cucumbers – which my grandmother would combine when making these pickles. If you have several varieties in the garden, it’s fun to mix and match the colours and shapes, but if not, an English cucumber works perfectly well. Continue reading “Quick and Easy Garden Pickles”
Have you ever watched a film or read a book that spoke so deeply to you (good or bad) that you found yourself thinking about it months, even years, later? When the opening scene of a movie shows a woman giving birth on the kitchen table while the cook frantically tries to collect all the amniotic fluid in pots so that it can be dried and the remaining salt used to season the food, you know it’s going to be one of those movies. Like Water for Chocolate came out in 1992 but I only just watched the whole movie a few years ago. To be honest, after the first scene I turn it off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I made myself watch the entire thing, and I’m so glad I did, though I sill relive the scenes in my mind. Continue reading “Chocola’Tita”
For her tenth birthday this year, Eva asked for chocolate cupcakes with green frosting. She also asked for balayage highlights, a new purse and some tasteful pieces of jewelry, so what I thought she meant regarding the cupcakes was a very sophisticated dark chocolate cake with swirls of mint buttercream. What she actually meant were monster cupcakes with green icing hair, googly eyes and sprinkles. We compromised. I made the chocolate cupcakes with mint swirls and she decorated hers with monster eyes and sprinkles. Ten is like that. You get to be both almost grown-up and still a child at the same time. It’s good to be ten. Continue reading “Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream”