Friday, September 27, 2013

Blueberry Hibiscus Panna Cotta with Wild Blackberry Swirl


On the motionless branches of some trees, autumn berries hung like clusters of coral beads, 
as in those fabled orchards where the fruits were jewels . . . 
Charles Dickens 

It was a beautiful day. Certainly not a day for sitting inside, even with the windows thrown open. This was not a day for work, for burying one’s head underneath a pile of papers and a heap of ideas. No, this was a glorious day for heading out of town, for a brisk country walk. This was a day for liberating both body and soul, getting a bit of fresh air and just thinking of other things. Little did we realize just what we would discover.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Orange Cointreau and Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake


School has started, the sweaters have been dug out of drawers and closets, the evenings are just a tad shorter and a whisper of autumn is on the breeze. And our television series are picking back up; no more the dearth of excellent crime or political series from around Europe, no more need to succumb to the nonsensical, mind-numbing offerings on rent-a-film, all the Die Hard this and the Bourne that, the super hero this and the giant-fire-balls-end-of the-world-that. The city settles down once again into its natural rhythm.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing II (Too)


I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.
Albert Einstein 

For Part I A Skillful Understanding link here.

“But I can’t write!” a student at Plate to Page wails as she clutches her camera desperately to her chest. “I came to improve my photography!” or “Oh, but you have talent, I don’t!” a friend and fellow blogger will tell me. “And writing takes so much talent!” But, really, what is talent? Who judges who has talent and who doesn’t? Can we be good at something without talent – or bypassing the whole notion of talent?

Talent is elusive, ambiguous. Mysterious.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crunchy Seed Crackers for Bread Baking Babes


Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile. 
- William Cullen Bryant

This has certainly been one of those odd, between-season weeks. One day we are enjoying cool late afternoon cocktails on a café terrace, sweaters off and hung over the backs of our chairs, faces turned up to drink in the glowing warmth of summer’s heat, and the next we are bundled up in fleece and socks, warming our hands around mugs of steamy coffee, huddled in our apartment watching bad tv. The rain and the sun take turns walking the streets; I imagine them doing the old Paper-Rock-Scissors thing in the dead of night, deciding by random which one will spend the day with us. We wake up every morning, this long stretch of September, not knowing what kind of a day it will be. And we are rather exhausted by the flip-flopping, this emotional tug of war. Both husband and dog droop around the house when the weather is gray and rainy, pots of coffee are brewed and drunk, soup is poured from tins. But if this is what it takes to turn summer into autumn, then I will gladly suffer the whims of Mother Nature.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chocolate Spice Cake with Sour Black Cherries


Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven 
where the love of our lost ones pours through 
and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. 
Eskimo proverb 

It has been raining hard outside since before dawn. The sky, that hazy pewter gray, undefined. Sorrow has washed over the city turning stunning, regal white into dirty, unkempt beige. They say that the rain should wash a city clean, yet it only seems to muddy everything, evoke a sadness that lies hidden underneath, a sadness that smolders just below the surface in better times, brighter days. People, bundled up and shrouded underneath hoods and umbrellas, scurry across the square and disappear into the distance. I stare down at the scene from my window above. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



There is nothing to writing. 
All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed. 
- Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes I feel that writing is like marriage. It takes a lot of hard work. The more time passes, the more we are in the relationship, the more we understand and build on that newfound understanding, one step at a time, in a never-ending attempt to get better at the whole darn thing. It is a constant struggle abounding in frustration, complications and compromises. And patience. Tremendous patience. Yet, swept up in the burning passion and desire, driven by love, we are certainly able to weather the rough storms that keep cropping up on the horizon. We strive to evolve, develop our skill and our knowledge in a constant effort to reach higher and farther, to improve and get it right.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Honey Baked Custard with Caramelized Apples


Behave so the aroma of your actions may 
enhance the general sweetness of the atmosphere. 
- Henry David Thoreau

How many plates of apples and honey do I remember ! Flimsy paper plates, too fragile to hold the weight of all of those slices of apples. Sitting in the classrooms behind the synagogue on those chilly folding metal chairs, we would pass around that paper plate, balance it on one small hand while choosing one slick slice of apple, dip it in the golden gooey honey and proffer the plate to our neighbor. Concentrated on the paper plate as we were, ever-fearful that it would tip and flop over, visions of apples tumbling to the floor, the honey perched on the tip of our own slice would slither down our fingers, leaving a sweet sticky remembrance of this special New Year treat. Apple slices eaten, fingers licked, we would listen as our teacher explained the significance of the sweet apples and honey.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pizza Bianca with Olive Oil, Mozzarella and Garlic


Pizza is a lot like sex. When it's good, it's really good. 
When it's bad, it's still pretty good. 

Our favorite pizzeria in Italy was about a twenty-minute drive from Ettore’s house. We would bundle the two boys into the car every Friday evening and drive the winding back roads to Arluno. During the winter months, the trip was done in the dark, pitch black dotted with freckles of yellow lights coming from a house here or there in the distance. We passed in front of the other pizzeria to get there, that pizzeria standing alone and rather forlorn right up against the edge of the road; a waiter holding aloft a huge, flat tray would dash nervously across that road, dodging cars zipping around the curve, to get to the terraced porch on the opposite side. In the summer, the days longer, the trip was made in the waning afternoon light, the boys jiggling excitedly in the back seat. Once arrived, we would be greeted by the jubilant Silvana and her soon-to-be husband, Gino and Silvana’s father, the pizzaiolo, always so warm and welcoming, as if we were their special guests.


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