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”

Rum Apple Tart

As a child we would frequently drive way out in the countryside on Sunday afternoons to visit family.  My aunt and uncle owned an apple orchard, and as soon as the car pulled into their long dirt driveway my brother and I would run out into the trees, without even so much as a “Hello!” to my aunt who was waiting at the front door.  I used to love to skip between the rows of trees, imagining I was Dorothy on the yellow brick road – and there was always a dog around to play the part of Toto. Continue reading “Rum Apple Tart”

Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum

We’ve spent the last few days in the picturesque little town of Dillon, which is quaintly nestled between the larger ski resorts high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  It isn’t itself a ski town, though, its claim to fame is the sapphire lake on the shores of which it is built.  Lake Dillon is absolutely beautiful, filling the deep valley between two snow-covered mountain peaks.  The town is built on the north side of the lake with many little houses, log cabins and a few hotels actually lying below the dam in the arms of the mountainside.  As we drove across Continue reading “Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum”

White Christmas

Today, I sat down to finalize the Christmas menu before going to the market.  “Simplicity” is the name of the game this year, so the menu looks something like this:  The star of the dinner table will be a very traditional American baked ham with a maple glaze and spiced orchard fruits like apples and pears.  The ham will be accompanied by a few of my French favorites like potato gratin with hickory-smoked gruyere, Brussels sprouts lardons (Ina Garten’s recipe, and my kids’ favourite way to eat them!) and, of course, crispy sourdough bread.  For dessert, I will make the Bûche de Noël from my last blog post. Continue reading “White Christmas”

Bûche de Noël

I always return to traditions during the month of December.  Throughout the rest of the year traditions have a reputation for being  “stuffy” or “old-fashioned,” but at Christmas time, when the world seems to be moving at record pace, and not necessarily in the direction we want it to, there’s nothing more comforting than falling back into the old and familiar.  Pulling out the old cookie cutters and sorting through the recipe box for those cookies we bake only once or twice a year; dusting off the boxes of decorations, digging through sheets of tissue paper to find the ornaments we packed away so carefully last year.  It’s almost like a long over-due visit with dear old friends.  (And when the dog accidentally knocks one of those ornaments off the tree, like she did today, and it shatters on the floor there are always tears as I sweep up the pieces.) Continue reading “Bûche de Noël”

Clementine Bourbon Sour

Whiskey is winter’s drink.   Of course, when it comes to the six base spirits (rum, tequila, vodka, gin, brandy and whiskey) there really aren’t any seasonal rules to follow.  But if there were, they might look something like this: light spirits like vodka or tequila, which are best mixed with fresh fruit and juices and served ice-cold, were made for the summertime.  They’re easy and free, flitting along with the cocktail trends that change year after year.  Similarly, the spicy sweetness of rum seems most appropriate when autumn arrives.  It’s rich and versatile and I use it just as frequently in my cakes and cookies as I do in cocktails.  However, whisky is different and that’s what makes it “winter’s drink.”  It is a timeless rule-breaker in an arrogant and cavalier sort of way.  It neither flirts with trends nor lends itself well to baking.  In other words, whisky doesn’t give a shit.   Continue reading “Clementine Bourbon Sour”

An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar

In Colorado skiing is not just a sport, it’s life, and people approach it with a zeal akin to that of a religious institution.  Here in the city, ski shops line the streets and you’d be hard pressed to find a car that doesn’t have a ski rack on the roof or a bumper sticker that says something like, “White powder is my drug of choice.”  Starting around September, the meteorologists begin their daily weather forecasts with a report of the snow accumulations at the popular ski resorts, and everyone waits with baited breath for Continue reading “An Après-Ski Boozy Hot Cocoa Bar”