Walnuts in tins

Spiced Candied Walnuts

Maybe it is because I am in New England or that I have the time but I am enjoying being in the Holiday spirit of giving and thinking about family and friends both new and old. Even though it is unseasonably warm which I don’t mind, as I still expect any number of difficulties ahead for my first winter in the country, the holiday season is evident everywhere. During the day animated winter scenes dot the country roads and at night festive lights aluminate houses along otherwise pitch black roads. If only I were a passenger as I was in my childhood rather than the driver I could enjoy the display with more delight. I fondly remember piling into my father’s car for excursions through different Pittsburgh neighborhoods to see Christmas decorations on front lawns celebrating the holidays. Read more

Finished Dish

Two Favorites — Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts— Roasted Together

It’s the saturday after Thanksgiving and I am craving some traditional holiday fare. This year’s celebration while throughly enjoyable forged a rather untraditional direction as far as food went. A cousin and her husband who I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade came to my home for a nibble before setting out to a restaurant in Pittsfield. Chosen by my cousin for it menu which didn’t include traditional holiday’s fixing, it was delicious. Read more

Muffins in plate

Country Comfort — Banana, Apple, Raisin, Walnut Bran Muffins

After a two-year exhaustive search for a home in the country, I finally found the perfect house in one of the Hilltowns of Pioneer Valley in Western Mass just east of the Berkshire. I’ve been in my new digs for exactly two months now and it already seems like my life in New York City was a distant nightmare. Living in a small town in the middle of nowhere is where I am meant to be. I so welcome the peace and quiet of the country and feel like I am finally HOME. Changing from city life to country life — apartment living to home ownership — has not been without its challenges but more on that later. Read more

kale, celeriac, quinoa and fig salad without napkin lo-res

Celeriac, Kale, Quinoa and Fig Salad

During the winter months a favorite root vegetable of mine is celeriac or celery root. Not a big fan of celery I am partial to the milder flavor of celeriac and was so happy to be introduced to it several years ago through my CSA.

Celeriac is a cousin to anise, carrots, parsley and turnips and tastes like a milder form of celery with a hint of parsley. Unlike most root vegetables it has very little starch. An ugly brownish hairball of a vegetable, it must be peeled of its outer layer. To get rid of the skin I use a knife to cut it away. I guess a vegetable peeler could be used but I have never tried it because of the bulb’s irregular shape. Read more

close-up lentil soup low-res

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Spending a week at my rental in Western MA, the first thing I did was make a big pot of yummy Vegetable Lentil Soup. Believe it or not I still had some root vegetable from my last few CSA distributions rolling around in the fridge’s produce draw and I wanted to use them. Soup, of course, came to mind as the perfect vehicle. I wanted to make a versatile soup that I could have on hand for quick meals during the week as well as freeze for when I came back during the winter months. Making a basic lentil soup that I could vary by adding a variety of vegetables or yogurt each time I heated up a portion made sense so I wouldn’t get tired of eating it. And, since getting protein at most meals is a challenge as a vegetarian making the lentil soup helped to satisfy that need as well. Read more

plate of food for dec lo-res

December’s Book Club was all about Sharing


The Menu

Mustard Roasted Broccoli with Leeks and Lemon
Curried Tomato Chickpeas Stew
Wild and Brown Rice Ghee and Lemon
Tossed Salad
Christmas Surprise Cake
White Wine


December’s Book Selection

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Rating:

Everyone contributed to December’s book club meeting both by bringing food or wine and sharing their thoughts about the charming book we read. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was the prefect book to read in December. With everyone’s hectic schedule we needed an easy read that was on the lighter side. And, this fit the bill. While light and breezy to read it was charming and sweet without being saccharin. The same can be said for our dinner. Read more

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and potato

Rating:

Nobody in the book club wanted the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to end. The characters in the novel were so vivid and alive you felt as if you had made new friends and the book’s ending was the end of that friendship.

The novel is a series of letters written to and from Juliet Ashton, a writer living in England after WWII, and her publisher and the inhabitants of Guernsey Island. A chance letter written to her from a man living on the Island of Guernsey who happened to find her name in a book by an author he is enamored with grows into a correspondence with him. Read more

rice

Wild and Brown Rice, Ghee and Lemon

I’ve wanted to experiment with ghee and while it is butter it may not be as bad for you as unclarified  butter. Of course, it is still one hundred percent fat so I take any health benefits with a grain of salt. It is however good for cooking at high temperature and has a wonderful flavor. The clarifying process increases the shelf life and it doesn’t need  refrigeration. Although some people do store it in the fridge. Read more

Broccoli Pesto

Mustard Roasted Broccoli Pate with Leeks and Lemon

Not too sure about what everyone was bringing as things kept changing up until the last-minute, I decided to make an appetizer to go with the prosecco I had on hand. I am glad I did as it was a big hit.  I got the recipe for this super easy to make wonderfully zingy pâté from The First Mess blog. How could you go wrong with broccoli which I love dressed up with a grainy tangy mustard and my favorite ingredients, lemon and lemon zest. Read more

Ingredients for stew overhead

Curried Tomato Chickpea Stew

I wanted to cook a marinara sauce of some sort and a recipe I’d been making since 1979 from Craig Claiborne’s New New York Times Cookbook stuck in my mind.  It is an eggplant and tomatoes sauce that uses a cup or more of parsley giving it the most wonderful fresh taste.  But I wanted to include protein in the dish not eggplant  and decided chickpeas were a good option. Read more