For Lillie Belle and All Dogs Great & Small

Dog quotes
Lillie Belle
“Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” –Agnes Sligh Turnbull, American Novelist (1888-1982)
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
–Anatole France, French Novelist (1844-1924)

Anyone who has loved and lost a dog will appreciate Lucy Dawson’s sketches in her book, Dogs Rough & Smooth, originally published in 1937.

Dawson (1870-1954) was a popular British illustrator known for her paintings and sketches of a variety of dog breeds and was commissioned by the Royal Family to paint the Queen Mother’s favorite Corgi, Dookie. The book, her second of dog sketches following Dogs As I See Them, was republished in 2016 with a foreword by Susan Orlean, an author of several books including Rin Tin Tin and a contributor to several publications, including the New Yorker, Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times. Read more

Chicken Piccata, Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, and Chianti for a Cold January Night

Chicken piccata recipe

Inspired by all of the warm-lighted, cozy and down-home, family-run Italian Cafes we seem to stumble upon when traveling about, below is a simple recipe for one of our favorite Italian chicken dishes along with three elegant chiantis to create an “Italian Cafe” meal at home during the cold month of January. Read more

Sailing “Close-hauled” Into Summer

sailing quotes Ahh, summer…there is nothing more inspiring than the majestic beauty of a sailboat sailing offshore, making its way into a welcoming harbor filled with beautiful white boats on a sunset-splashed summer evening.

It brings forth dreams of heroic adventures on the high seas and imaginings of far-away paradisiacal places with “palm-green shores” and ancient ports with cargo ships unloading their treasures of “emeralds, amethysts, topazes, cinnamon, and gold moidores” (as John Masefield describes in his poem “Cargoes”), all bathed in the magical golden hues of summer.

The idea of sailing is the ultimate romantic longing – glistening waters, brilliant sunsets, and a solitude that drenches the soul in the wonder, mystery and power of the natural world. Read more

The ‘Key’ to Key Lime Pie

best key lime pie recipeThe Key Lime* – different from Persian or Tahiti limes that one typically sees in the grocery store – was introduced to the Florida Keys during the 1830s by Henry Perrine, a diplomat and botanist who discovered the plant in Mexico.

It is little surprise, then, that the combination of refreshing limes and sweet condensed milk, which was also invented around the same time, eventually evolved to become Florida’s State Pie.

In fact, it was only on a recent trip to Florida that I discovered just how many varieties there are to Key Lime Pie – and how delicious the perfect one can truly be. From light and fluffy to a heavier custard-like filling, one quickly develops a discriminating palate for a dessert that is offered in just about every restaurant in the state. Read more

Late Spring, Early Summer: The Perfect Time for an English Trifle

“A dessert typically consisting of plain or sponge cake often soaked with wine or spirits (as brandy or rum) and topped with layers of preserves, custard, and cream.” –Merriam-Webster dictionary

English trifle recipeI can still remember the first English Trifle I tasted years ago. Its soft airy whipped cream, comforting creamy pudding, fresh sweet berries and crumbly texture made for one memorable, heavenly dessert.

Having scoured my cookbooks (this was pre-internet) for an English Trifle recipe, but failing to find one that reflected the culinary vision I had in my baker’s mind, I set out to create my own.

I had just read Frances Mayes’ 1996 memoir Under the Tuscan Sun, in which she shared a Lemon Cake recipe that I had made, served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Deliciously moist and fresh, I decided to make my first trifle with her lemon cake in place of the more typical ladyfingers and sponge cake that one finds in traditional English Trifle recipes. Read more

Springing Green With “All Things Asparagus” and Sweet Spring Dream Cookies

asparagus recipes“I look forward to the spring vegetables because the season is so short. Mushrooms, edible foraged herbs, wild leeks, early season asparagus.”
–David Chang
“The first thing to look at is the tip of the spear or the bud. It should be tightly closed and erect, not open and droopy. The hue of green asparagus should be fresh, bright, and with no hint of yellow. White asparagus should be a clear, even, creamy color. The stalk should feel firm and the overall look should be dewy. Although asparagus, like nearly everything else, is now marketed through most of the year, it is freshest in the spring, from April to early June.”
–Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992)

Spring, like life, is short. Celebrate the sprouting of Spring with the recipes below for “All Things Asparagus”, the ultimate Spring vegetable.

For something sweet, enjoy a recipe for Drömmar Swedish “dream” cookies. Read more

A Perfect Spring Read for a “Break” from the World

Shepherd's Life James RebanksThe transition from winter to spring is never an easy overnight happening. It can be a time of slow adjustments – a waking up of the senses to the soft light and intoxicating freshness of the spring air. It is the only seasonal transition where the body and soul yearn for a restorative break from the previous season’s grip.

With a feeling as if the world is in upheaval, spinning away from the light and into the darkness of chaos, confusion and conflict where incompetent leaders have “lay waste [their] powers”, the need for a spring “break” this year of 2016 seems all the more necessary.

“The world is too much with us”, William Wordsworth once wrote in a poem that speaks to the importance of the restorative powers of nature for the body and soul: Read more

Happy Sweet Spring Desserts

easy banana cake recipe

“Nothing is so beautiful as Spring…[w]hat is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s SWEET being in the beginning…” –Gerard Manley Hopkins from the poem “Spring”

Nothing is more perfect than a slightly sweet, light, ethereal dessert after dining on a plateful of pasta at an old-world Italian restaurant on an early spring evening.

You could say that the Italian dessert “Panna Cotta” is like tasting a bit of spring itself in all of its lightness, sweetness and silky, creamy freshness. A simple pudding-like dessert, Panna Cotta (which literally means “cooked cream”) originated in Northern Italy, where “the earliest recipes mention simmering the cream with fish bones (the collagen would set the cream).” Read more

Chicken Soup for the Presidential Soul

homemade chicken soup recipeLife is tough. Whether you are running across the country campaigning for president or running city blocks to the nearest coffee shop early in the morning, the moments of modern day living can sometimes leave one in a spinning, dizzying delirium.

As we come to the finish line of February, perhaps a bit weary from all the running – running to keep up with the 2016 presidential election, running to work, running a business or running a very crazy household – it might do your soul well to sit down for a quiet moment to enjoy a hot steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup. Maybe even contemplate a different perspective, such as what life would be like on Mars or back in the days of our Founding Fathers…

Enjoy below: the Winter Citrus Salad for some refreshment, the Homemade Chicken Soup for some comfort, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter chip cookies for some satisfaction. Read more

February 15, 2016: A Presidents’ Day To Remember

Thomas Jefferson quotesThe 2016 Presidential Election may very well be a turning point in American history. Many pundits and journalists are opining that it could even usher in a fundamental transformation of the political landscape, the likes of which we have never seen.

As the candidates travel from one state to another, carrying with them their bag of political goods and ideas, they are met by an increasingly disappointed, disenfranchised and even angry people, contributing to an already fiercely charged atmosphere that can be felt across the entire nation. Read more