Category Archives: personal

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Hello | Happy Halloween

easy pumpkin bread recipe

I started to write this post about 100 times. I don’t know why it was so hard, but it was. It was tough and time was tight.

First, I thank you a million times over for your emails and messages. It’s wonderful to know you care and you wonder. I like that. I like it so much.

So, here goes.

No, I’m not pregnant.

Yes, I took a break.

And, yes, everything is good. It’s great even. read more »

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Tomato, Feta, + Lemon Pizza | Reconnecting with Friends

Neither of us can remember exactly how it happened, but it was through the magic of the internet that we reconnected. And, the coolest part? We were not searching for other, but just found ourselves in the same group of people on twitter one day. It was all very cool and possibly cosmic.

Life can really surprise and delight sometimes.

Lisa and I grew up together just one house apart in the Sunset District of San Francisco. We are the same age. We played together as children and went to the same high school. But we lost contact, which so often happens when you are thrust into adulthood at 18 years of age. We landed in different colleges in different states. And, apart from the occasional conversations of our polite parents who remain neighbors, I didn’t hear much about Lisa over the years.  Now, here were are many many years later with our little kids and our growing families. We both love clothes and pretty things. We both love our mid century homes, our husbands, and our wee ones. And, most delightfully, we both love to eat.

Did I mention pizza? Yes, we love it. Sure, that might not be entirely uncommon, but it’s enough for me. Lisa introduced me to a brilliant cookbook and a revelatory pizza recipe. I’m simply not letting go of this girl again.

Last month during our stay in San Francisco, Lisa and her husband had us over for dinner one night. It turned out to be a perfect night with the sky clearing just in time for a lovely sunset and a fun meal. The kids played well. The boys chatted. And we all ate a lot. I mean that. I probably ate more pizza that night than I did during all my middle school slumber parties combined. Yes, it was gluttonous. Yes, it was worth it.

This pizza I speak of is bright. It’s lemony and fresh. The cilantro marries so perfectly with the tart tomatoes, lemon juice, and zest. It’s a combination, which would never occur to me. I’m not that creative. However, I am so thankful that there are people in this universe who are pizza geniuses. I’m also thankful that those very geniuses created a wonderful cookbook, which I bought within hours of this dinner party.

Thank you, Lisa, for everything. Next time, we will feast in Seattle. I can’t promise it will blow your mind like this pizza. I can, however, promise to cook with tons of love for you guys.

Yeasted Pizza Dough (Makes three 10 inch pizzas)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 and 1/2 cup warm water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 and 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, whisk the yeast into the warm water until dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes.

If using stand mixer, add all the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl. Using the paddle attachment on low speed, mix for 5 minutes to form a wet dough. Add 1 and 1/2 cups more flour, and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoonful as needed to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be a little sticky, but not too wet.

If making by hand, add the olive oil, salt and 2 cups of flour to the bowl. Using a wooden spoon, mix for at least 5 minutes to form a wet dough. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups flour onto a work surface, place the dough on top of it, and knead it for about 8 minutes to form a soft dough with a nice sheen; it should be sticky but not too wet. If the dough sticks to the work surface, rub a little olive oil on it. if the dough is impossibly sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour by the tablespoon as needed.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a large well oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Or, put the dough in the fridge and let rise overnight. The next day let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours before proceeding with recipe.

Tomato, Feta, and Lemon Zest Pizza

1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe (above) yeasted pizza dough
Fine yellow cornmeal or flour for sprinkling
4 cups (1 pound) shredded Mozerella cheese
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 ounces sheep’s milk Feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Arrange the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If using a baking stone, place it on the floor of the oven and preheat the oven for 45 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil. Set aside.

To shape the pizzas, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently form each piece into a loose round and cover with a floured kitchen towel. Let rest for 20 minutes. Scatter cornmeal over 3 inverted baking sheets. Shape each round into a 10 inch disk.

Divide the Mozzarella into 2 piles, one about two thirds the total amount and the other one-third. Line up the 3 pizzas for assembly. Scatter the larger amount of cheese of the 3 pizzas, leaving a 1/2 inch rim. Layer the onion on top of the cheese and place the sliced tomatoes over the onion leaving a bit of space between each slice. Distribute the remaining Mozzarella on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the Feta.

Place a baking sheet with a pizza on the lower rack and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pizza to the upper rack, place the second pizza in the oven on the lower rack, and continue baking for 10 minutes. Then, finish baking the first pizza by sliding it off the pan directly onto the lower oven rack. Rotate the second pizza to the upper rack. Bake the pizza on the lower rack for 4-8 minutes to crisp the bottom until well browned. Finish baking the second and third pizzas in the same manner. Immediately after removing each pizza from the oven, brush the garlic oil onto the rim. Garnish with lemon zest and cilantro. Sprinkle lemon juice sparingly over the top.

Source: The Cheeseboard Collective Works

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Leek Macaroni and Cheese | Small Pleasures

Have you been to Loch Ness?

I haven’t been there. I am not sure why I didn’t visit there on my trip to Scotland some time ago. I suppose it might have something to do with a monster. I hear there is one living there deep in the depths of the lake. I don’t care much for monsters particularly those who live in murky waters and are elusive to the public. Perhaps this is the reason, whether subconscious or not, I never visited. It does seem like a place, however, one should visit during a lifetime. There are so many places like this. These are the places we check off the list as we get older. Some of them are historic and most of the places are downright gorgeous and inspiring. This is likely why places like Loch Ness make it to the top of many people’s lists.

Monster or not, this was going to be the year I checked this Scottish landmark off my list. K and I planned to go to Paris and Inverness next week. We planned the trip ages ago as K is scheduled to shoot a wedding at a Loch Ness castle on Thanksgiving. Of course, we were terribly excited, albeit a little nervous, to travel so far with Maeve. We talked a great deal about how she might handle the time change, what we would bring for her comfort, and whether her bizarre sleep schedule might allow us to eat at a cosmopolitan dinner hour in Paris. We really focused our attentions on the Paris leg of our journey and, with stars in our eyes and pain au chocolat on our minds, we fantasized about jaunts down old alleyways and drinking frothy cappuccinos as Maeve sampled her first madeleine cookies.

And then the trip got closer and more real. There was no more fantasizing and, down to the wire, we began researching our journey from Paris to Loch Ness. The odds seemed stacked against us at every turn. The buses were slow. The car rides daunting and long. And, the flight? No direct flight exists to Inverness. As we sat before our computer last week going over and over these options, I looked at K and told him to go without us. I was earnest. I was tired. I could not imagine taking Maeve on a cross-atlantic flight and turning around and traveling another 12 hours with her to Scotland only to return to Paris days later. Sure, it’s possible, but it didn’t look fun. It looked hard. Hard on Maeve and hard on her parents.

I know I should be disappointed. I should be truly melancholic right now as my Parisian fantasy slips through my fingers. But, truthfully, I’m not one bit sad. The decision was so very easy once I realized how difficult it was going to be for Maeve. It’s strange, really. I felt more like a mama at that moment than at any other point during these past 10 months.  Little else matters these days apart from Maeve’s comfort and well-being. I fully embrace it.

We are celebrating much smaller pleasures around here. There are milestones to celebrate and good food to eat as the holidays near. We visited family in San Francisco last week where Maeve was in absolute heaven. She loved the beach and the sunshine. We ate my mother’s pot roast and Maeve discovered mashed potatoes. Life will never be the same.

This week is another time to celebrate small pleasures together as a family before K travels to Europe. I discovered my new car has heated seats and that was an absolutely wonderful moment. However, something even more miraculous happened on a casual trip to the grocery store last night. I found both chanterelles and leeks were on sale! This never happens and, thus, I considered it a sign. It was a glaring sign, really. Who would pass up such offerings? I can’t imagine anyone would. So, I brought the goods home and crafted them into the most toasty comforting dish I could envision. I made leek and chanterelle macaroni and cheese. It was absolutely mouth-watering. Nutty and rich, this macaroni and cheese was the perfect way to celebrate our little life here.

The meal is perfect for showcasing these fall edible treats and for enjoying on a rainy night with your loved ones. It’s not Paris, I know. However, Maeve loved it. She doesn’t know the difference. Those madeleines will surely wait until she does.

Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb. macaroni pasta (large elbows)
4 cups whole milk
6 tblsp. flour
4 tblsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
1 and 1/2 cups chopped chanterelle mushrooms
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (green part only)
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
8 oz. mild raw milk white cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook at a rolling boil until just tender. Drain. Rinse. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring the milk to just a boil in a heavy saucepan. Set aside.

Melt the butter in another pan. Add the flour and whisk over low heat for about 5 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from the heat.

Add the butter mixture to the milk and whisk well to get rid of lumps. Add 1/2 tsp of paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Return to heat. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly until it’s smooth and it thickens. About 5 minutes.

Add mixture, chanterelles, and leeks to the pasta and stir until well coated and mixed. Spread the grated cheese over the top of the pasta. Sprinkle the top with the remaining paprika.

Cover the dish in foil and bake for 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil, place dish under the broiler (about 4 inches away from heat) and cook for another 3-4 minutes until slightly golden.


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A Bit of Time

I intended to post earlier than today. I intended to let you all know about our June plans. I intended to do so many things, but as you can see, I did not quite accomplish everything I set out to do. Regardless, I want you to know I am taking a short break. It’s just for the month of June and I’m sure you won’t even notice. June, after all, is when the sun finally comes out and we spend less and less time at our computers and more and more time on the patio barbecuing and sharing drinks with dear friends.

If such things are not in your June plans, I suggest you make room for a bit of this type of recreational activity immediately. You deserve it.

And so do I. I need this time. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I took a good look at the moms around me. Everyone seemed less frazzled, more alert, and even patient. That’s when I took note. These women are on paternity leave. It’s a wonderful thing and it’s something I didn’t give myself. As an independent worker, it wasn’t offered to me. As a hard-headed person, it didn’t sound like an option.

That was silly and I realize that now.

June is going to be a month of blissful walks, garden parties, and a bit of the dreaded sleep training. I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I bid you goodbye for now. I’ll be back shortly. The time will fly. I know it will. xo

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