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June 23, 2011 / City Living (Boston)

Tennis & Strawberries

When I was about my childrens’ ages I had a favourite nightgown because of a favourite song no doubt because of a favourite food.  It was a long cotton nightgown with a small strawberry print.  The band was The Beatles, my dad used to play the record as we danced around the living room (and by we, I mean my mom and I), and the song was Strawberry Fields.  My daughter was born during Wimbledon 2004 and it cannot be Wimbledon without strawberries and cream.  So while, Wimbledon records on Tivo for a short viewing “en famille” this evening, the kids are at the Tennis Academy at Harvard (a summer program we all love), and I’m making a small batch of strawberry jam.

All this is not to share my recipes (usually Ball Blue Book this time Keeping the Harvest) nor to share which jars to use (I’m trying out my new BPA-free all glass and rubber Weck jars), but rather to share a little “chef’s treat”.  As I was grumbling about skimming the foam off the jam, which I don’t remember doing before, I began to enjoy the task, but then wondered what I could do with that foam, because g-d forbid I waste any of that precious essence of strawberry season, which is less essence more syrup and foam.

Once the jams were in the canning bath, I got out my cup, filled it with ice, then topped it with the foam.  I filled up the seltzer bottle with water, made a fresh batch of seltzer and now as I work and write, I’m enjoying a great glass of strawberry seltzer.



June 13, 2011 / City Living (Boston)

Summer Time and The Livin’ is Easy…Easier?

I’m celebrating summer even if it doesn’t really feel like it with the weather out there.  I’ve been juggling way too many balls the latter half of this school year and I’m taking time to be just a mom with more time with the kids focused on what they are doing at any given time.  I’m taking more time to just be home and doing the “housewife” things that I haven’t had time do properly for a while now. And, I’m taking more time to enjoy the local food that is about to explode on the scene.  (Jam jars are about to be prepped for strawberry jam.

This morning I started off taking the kids to camp for a half day. Then headed over to Formaggio Kitchen for some milk… Two bags of groceries later I headed home, with so much more.  The rosé is in the fridge chilling along with the Campari. I got some of the kids’ staples: Cervelat (a mild salami), baguette, fresh English peas, and some almost local strawberries from CT.  For the grown ups I got a couple thick slices of bacon to sauté with the spinach from our CSA, some day old bread for a fresh batch of croutons, some tiny new potatoes for a salad, and a muffin for my breakfast.  I’m not usually a fan of coconut unless it is fresh coconut recently drilled and cracked, but the lemon coconut muffin was calling my name and I am so glad I got it!

This is the kind of morning I like.  A little cooking, a little cleaning, a little planning ahead for dinner.

Let summer begin!

May 21, 2011 / City Living (Boston)

The Glory of Stale Bread

Although I don’t think of Spring as a typical soup season except for “soupe a l’oseille” which I remember vividly from my childhood days in France.  Not only the taste but also the little “ditty” we used to sing.

“La soupe a l’oseille.  Pour les demoiseille (mispronounced to rhyme).
La soupe a l’ognion c’est pour les garcons.”

Our soup of the week is a roasted asparagus soup that I pulled up on my phone on epicurious when I found some gorgeous, relatively inexpensive US asparagus at Russo‘s.  I’m not a huge fan of leftovers and by day three of having this soup two things ring true:

1)  It’s a great recipe because I’m still eating it three days later.
2) I need something to bring it up a notch and make it feel different.

A few weeks ago I bought a brioche for French toast that just never happened.  It was the same week I decided to olive oil roast some cashews and ramps.  After a day or two the brioche was rock hard and ready for the birds.  Instead I cut it into crunchy stale cubes and slowly cooked them on the stove top in a cast iron pan with a little bit of the left over olive oil from roasting the nuts.  The crumbs from the bread board were tossed on the back porch for the birds. I added a few more of the ramps cut in large pieces to be removed later.  Once they were nice and crunchy in a crisp way not a stale way, I sprinkled some fleur de sel over them and let them cool.  Once cool they were tossed into a plastic bag and stored in the freezer.

On day three of the soup, I grabbed a handful of croutons straight from the freezer and tossed them atop the hot soup.  Bread never freezes completely so it’s good to go straight from the freezer.

Hooray for grey rainy days, tasty asparagus soup and some stale bread!

September 17, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Rosh Hashanah: Sweet Honey & the Apples

Pears with a simple syrup, Amaretto, and blanched almonds

Pears with a simple syrup, Amaretto, and blanched almonds

Okay, so this post is not really about apples nor is it about honey, but it is about Rosh Hashanah and another orchard fruit – the pear and it should be sugary sweet.

So, school is back in session, classes have started up again from swimming (with daddy), to music (with mommy and the famed Sharon Simon of groovybabymusic‘s Music Together classes) and coming soon will be clay class at the Arsenal Center for the Arts and maybe we’ll squeeze in some yoga or tennis lessons.  @dearhusband (aka Dad or Dan) is back on a busy travel schedule and the children are both overwhelmed and excited with all the new activity.

So here I am at home with some pears from our “apple share” a freezer overflowing which includes flash frozen raspberries from Wright-Locke Farm in Winchester and I relish this time alone.  Yes, I have work and chores to do, but I need my glass containers back from the freezer and the pears will spoil while in a few more days.

I set up the stove and counter and peel, chop, smoosh (yes it might potentially be a technical culinary term), boil and simmer my ingredients.  I do a some work as I wait for the jars to sterilize and then again as the process.

I go into the playroom and grab a “very useful engine” from my son’s train table (an important culinary tool).  I love the little connection I feel to my boy as he is probably napping across the street at his family daycare as I pick up his train.  You see, the old Brio train that we had, then sent to London for my cousin’s to play with and my dad brought back with him for my children has a small crane with a magnet at the end, which is perfect for picking out lids from their hot water bath.

Henry's train as a canning tool

Henry's train as a canning tool

My husband will come home late tonight and be able to have a cup of tea and a nice slice of soft whole wheat bread (I am not usually a fan, but for a basic “American’ style bread the Great Harvest Bread Co.’s whole wheat loaf is perfect) topped with homemade raspberry jam.  Whether we’re all asleep or I am still awake he will know we were thinking of him and he’ll have a moment to sense that he his home before he heads out the door for work on Friday.

The pears will be sent off to friends and family as we gather for a meal to celebrate the beginning of a “sweet New Year”.  I was inspired by the Chinese Five-Spice in the chocolate soup at the Langham Hotel’s Chocolate Bar so I added some cinnamon to the heating water for the pears and some five-spice powder to the simple syrup.  I think we will enjoy these over some home-made ice cream or perhaps with a little creme fraîche.

May your Fall and following days be filled with sweetness.  Relish your times alone and enjoy your time with friends and family with gusto.

June 15, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Lexington Farmer’s Market Opening Day

Opening day at the farmer’s market is always fun, and happening upon it by accident is even better.  It may be that you’re driving by and have time to stop.  It may be that you accidentally signed up to work at the CSA and it turns out you signed up after someone had already taken that job….oops.  So there you are with a few extra hours free and Lexington is on the way home.

The market started off strong, and I hope to make it up there several times this year.  Here is a little preview.  I hope to have a full slideshow up over at the Boston Food Mom site later this week with the entire market featured.  

April 18, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Ramps and eggs






This was a week of no grocery shopping.  We had lots of eggs left over from various local egg purchases the week before, the meat from Stillman’s Farm is in the freezer, our Boston Organics delivery, and we had a huge bag of broccoli left over from a shopping trip at Wilson’s Farm.  

The plan this morning was to make a simple frittata for dinner.  We had some Canadian bacon to use up and then we could use of some of the broccoli and eggs.  

This morning I decided that broccoli is exactly what I don’t want in my frittata.  I like the frittata to have little slices or cubes of vegetables.  I don’t want any weird textures like the tree-like knobby ends of broccoli.  So while my son ate his lunch, I quickly sautéed a small onion and some spring onions.  Threw in most of the broccoli (I needed some for the kids’ dinner) dumped in some vegetable broth, sliced up some carrots and one potato and made some soup.  I seasoned it all with a little Maldon salt and fresh pepper and whizzed it together leaving a few little chunks for that nice home-made texture.  

At the playground, I had a moment to flip through a magazine and found an egg noodle recipe that uses vegetable purée so my plan for the kids’ afternoon activity and dinner was making pasta.  We stopped at Formaggio Kitchen on the way home from the park and picked up some semolina flour, some cervelat and mortadella and some ramps for the frittata.

My daughter and I steamed and puréed the rest of the broccoli to make green noodles.  She chose the angel hair setting and we went ahead and made fresh broccoli pasta.  Their dinner was fresh pasta, fresh sugar snap peas (since they really get very little of the veg from the pasta) and some slices of cervelat.  

For our dinner we had a frittata made with ramps, potato and some left over Canadian bacon.  It was close to perfect.  Next time I would use real bacon.  There is a wild earthy flavour to the ramps that would go really well with the smokiness of some nice applewood smoked Niman Ranch bacon.  

[Aside on the Canadian theme.  Here is an interesting bit of news for Canadians or rather Americans that were once Canadian even though Canada always recognized them as such I think.]

April 11, 2009 / City Living (Boston)

Easter our way

A dozen

We are celebrating Easter with our friends this year and the focus is on the kids, the hunt, and perhaps the chocolate. It can’t be all about the kids though. None of us are religious, but we love traditions. I like learning about their Easter morning tradition. They will be dying eggs tomorrow morning (before we head to Formaggio Kitchen’s first barbecue of the season…in the rain.) We will be hanging out at home having some much needed family time with our immediate family and the friends we consider family.

I am thinking that we need some good special breakfast food tomorrow. We have the gorgeous eggs. They are almost too good to make pancakes with, but my son loves eating and helping to make the pancakes. I have been wanting to make lemon ricotta pancakes for a long time now. (One moment while I write myself a grocery list for them.) Okay, and this recipe with the sautéed apples sounds scrumptious as well.

Mon petit chef.

I think we may also need a special beverage. If we were doing brunch, I would have to go for the classic Bloody Mary. However, on a rainy Saturday with kids, it might have to be a something for the afternoon that goes well with puddle stomping. Perhaps a warm beverage that involves chocolate or coffee and a well-suited liqueur. I will do some research and get back to you on that one. As for Easter Sunday, we are going to go a bit commercial for Easter and head over to Lexington to Wilson’s Farms for their events, which includes an Easter egg hunt among other “family fun” events. The problem with “family fun” events are that they involve a lot of fun for the children, some good photo opps. to forward to the grandparents, a few battles over candy/treats/toys/leaving/sharing, and typically a “mommy meltdown” by the end. I will try to behave.

May you find many eggs, may you not put them all in one basket, and may you enjoy the weekend however you go about it.