on a blanket in the park


…we lunched on cold meatloaf sandwiches, pimiento cheese and green goddess dressing with crackers and crunchy vegetables.


Julian ate two giant, juicy peaches, then ran around with his “brand new full-size soccer ball!” until his cheeks were red and his little legs all wobbly.


Mira rolled around on our blanket, watching the leaves above us rustling in the breeze and investigating blades of grass and fallen acorns, smiling and giggling, just taking it all in. This was the first of many picnics she has to look forward to.


Mike mixed us up a sipper of Campari (shhhh) and raspberry shrub, topped off with a little fizzy water – refreshing and low-octane.


A good time was had by all.


outside the box


One of the best decisions I’ve made recently is to use some unexpected vacation time to ease our transition from my maternity leave into our new routine. I was able to arrange for my first four weeks back on the job to be short weeks, scheduling a month of Thursdays off to spend at home with the kids. It has helped to break up the week for me as I get back in the swing of things at the office, and it allows Mike a bit more freedom to get the things done for his book and other writing projects that he needs to, as well.

Last week, Julian –out of the blue – asked me for mac and cheese, and since it was Thursday, and I was home, I figured why not? But with naptime approaching, I didn’t want to keep him waiting an hour or more for my regular skillet mac and cheese. Instead, I used that tried-and-true recipe as a jumping-off point, stripping down and changing up the proportions of my cheese sauce, and using a smaller (and quicker-cooking) pasta shape to produce a simple, super-creamy stove-top version for him.


Three servings later, I was pretty sure I had a winner on my hands, and when Julian asked for it again yesterday, I figured I’d better write my recipe down for posterity. I hope Julian and his baby sister always push me to think outside the box, in the kitchen and elsewhere.

Simple Stove-top Mac & Cheese

1/2 lb. small pasta (we like Garofalo’s Lumachine, but any little tube or shell is fine)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. grated extra-sharp cheddar
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1-2 dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook it until tender. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat and whisk in the flour until combined. Whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Add the cheeses a little at a time, stirring until they are well incorporated, and let cook over medium heat until the sauce is thickened and a bit reduced. Whisk in the Dijon, Worcestershire, and Tabasco (if using), then season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir gently until the pasta is thoroughly enveloped, and the cheese sauce gets into all of its little nooks and crannies. Serve immediately.




So somehow in the middle of my recent spate of 50-hour work weeks, I managed to get pregnant again. No burying the lede this time, I’m just putting it right out here, and letting you all know that baby number two is set to join us in October, a month after Julian’s second birthday. We’re thrilled of course, though my tiredness has reached a whole new level, and my appetite, to my chagrin, is all but gone these days.

I had no such trouble eating throughout my first pregnancy. My first trimester nausea was just mildly bothersome, and I had no real morning sickness to speak of. I ate well and often: lots of fruit and fish, big salads and eggs and nuts by the handful. Indian food, Mexican food, any kind of spicy food – bring it on. Just about everything tasted great, and physically, I felt better than I had in years.

But things are different this time around – not drastically so, just enough to throw me for a loop. I feel a little bit queasier, a little more fatigued than I remember being last time, and I just don’t have much of an appetite. For anything. Frustrating for many, but downright maddening for a typically food-fixated sort like myself.


It doesn’t help that I feel guilty about not eating. I’m building a baby, after all.


I’m in a lull between trials right now, and my schedule has cleared up a bit. Mike has taken on the lion’s share of dinner prep in recent weeks, between my work commitments and lack of interest in eating, but I was eager to get back in the kitchen over the weekend, even though I had no clue what to make for us. Inspiration came, as it often does these days, via Pinterest, and a beautiful panade from Emily of Five and Spice. Since I’ve been able to reliably keep down bread and cheese, and we had a fresh batch of rich chicken stock in the fridge, it seemed like a good bet.


So I headed into the kitchen yesterday afternoon while Julian napped and Mike took care of some things around the apartment, and I sliced onions and trimmed chard, grated cheese and massaged stale bread. I sauteed the greens and alliums in batches, built some layers and moistened them with stock, then I set my covered pan in a low oven to bake for a good long while.

And then I put my feet up.

The three of us sat down to eat together as the sun set, something I have missed more than anything else over the last few months, and as I watched the boys tucking into their respective portions, I was happy that at least they were enjoying their meal. I still wasn’t sure if I would. But I took a spoonful from my own bowl, satiny greens and wobbly bread, the aroma of stock and cheese and onions set aloft on a pocket of steam, and I closed my eyes as I took it into my mouth. I took another bite, and another, and another, and soon, my belly was as full as my heart felt.



I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it. We’re not yet done with January and we’ve had more than our yearly average snowfall. My commute has been awful – if the trains aren’t delayed by snow and ice, then switches are breaking, signals malfunctioning, rail cars creeping ever so slowly from station to station. I’ve missed my bus home from the train station every night this week, and tonight looks to be no exception, with more snow expected to begin this afternoon, continuing overnight.

Dinner: January 25, 2011

We’ve been on a steady diet of comfort food – a hearty pot roast Sunday night, an almost-meatless soup on Monday, loaded with creamy beans, pasta, and bits of pancetta (not yet our own, but we’re oh-so-close). Last night, I threw together this simple pasta dish, a combination of grated beets cooked down in butter with a healthy splash of white balsamic, the pasta par-cooked then added to the beets with some pasta water to finish, becoming infused with beet flavor and that lovely rich hue. There are similar pastas out there that include poppy seeds and mint, but Mike and I both wanted goat cheese, so I crumbled a bit of Vermont Butter & Cheese chevre on our plates, along with some chopped pistachios for a visual and textural pop. The vibrant colors and bright flavors chased my winter blues away, at least for a little while.

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere, you’ve probably already seen me proudly cheering on my cool friends Cathy and Kim, who are featured in the Washington Post today. If you haven’t, check it out. I’m there, too, on page two, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

In the ‘zone

As you know, Mike and I do love our pizza, and he makes it at home often. He’s been working on refining the dough recipe for his pizza stone version, weighing the finished dough and pinching off 7 to 8 ounces of it so the crust fits our peel better, and that has left us with a freezer full of little dough balls. Since opening the freezer door has become a bit of a hazard lately, what with the frozen dough and other items crammed inside often shifting and plummeting south toward unsuspecting toes, I decided to take action: I’d thaw some of those balls of dough and turn them into calzones.

I took two nice bunches of farmers’ market greens (one kale and one mustard, but any type of greens would probably work well here), stemmed and chopped them, and cooked them down with a good amount of olive oil and smashed garlic. When they were nicely wilted down but still bright green, I removed them from the heat and let them cool. I tipped a container of Narragansett Creamery ricotta into a big bowl, then added some salt, freshly ground pepper, an egg yolk, and a bit of grated parm, then mixed it all to combine. When my greens were cool enough to handle, I ran my knife through them again to chop them really fine, then squeezed out the excess liquid and added them to the cheese mix, stirring until the greens were evenly distributed.

Dinner: October 4, 2010

I made a bit of a mess with the dough at first – it was a little wet and kept sticking to my parchment, so I had to incorporate a bit more flour into it (getting it all over the counter, the floor, and myself in the process), but I finally got a couple of rounds I could work with. I mounded a big scoop of the filling on half of each round, folded them over, crimped the edges, brushed them with a bit of beaten egg white, cut a few slashes in the tops to help them vent steam, then I placed them on the pizza stone in a preheated 450 degree oven for about half an hour.

a peek inside

I served them up with a rich, winey tomato sauce (which also ended up all over me as I cooked it – not my finest hour in the kitchen that night), and some lightly dressed Arcadian Fields Teenage Lettuce Mix. My calzones are a work in progress, but I think we got off to a great start.

So long, September

Dinner: September 29, 2010

I’m incredibly grateful to put September behind us and move forward. Dietschtoberfest is nearly upon us after all – time to plan for happier days.


By the way, it’s National Pizza Month, too, and Mike is embarking on another round of tweaking recipes in the quest for his perfect pie. This one was pretty fabulous. Stay tuned for more.

Happy weekend, and I hope it’s full of delicious things.

The Mission


It all started with these.

I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, and Mike’s even less so, but when I saw the big bags of tiny, shiny-skinned eggplant at the Arcadian Fields table at last Saturday’s farmers’ market, I couldn’t resist. With cold, rainy weather predicted for this week, I knew I wanted to do something similar to eggplant parmesan, though I didn’t want to fry the eggplant, and I also wanted to incorporate a bit more vegetable matter into the dish. Mostly, I wanted to come up with an eggplant dish we’d really love.

eggplant casserole

I ended up borrowing a technique from Nancy Jo’s winning Eggplant Parmesan recipe from food52, salting my eggplant slices, drying them, then tossing them with flour and oven-frying them on sheet pans. When my eggplant coins were crisp and browned, I layered them in a baking dish with a mixture of slow-roasted plum tomatoes, frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained, and the same blend of cheeses Mike’s been playing with for his pizzas.

Dinner: September 27, 2010

What we ended up with was a very unpretty, but surprisingly tasty eggplant casserole, so good, in fact, that my eggplant-averse husband went back for seconds. As did I.

I’m on a mission now: Mike and I are both generally good about eating our favorite seasonal vegetables, but as we enter into the cooler months of the year, I want to work with as many of our lesser-loved vegetables as possible and try to find at least one way to cook them that leaves us wanting more. I think we’ve found our new favorite way to eat eggplant.