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February 12, 2018
This is about...
Carrot “TABBOULEH”--YUM!!
        Even though I’m not a football fan, I ALWAYS WATCH THE SUPER BOWL FOR OF THE OTHER STUFF that goes on. Who’s singing the national anthem? Will the commercials be funny and clever this year? Will I like the half-time show? It’s also one of those nights where I always feel like, (along with everyone else,) I’ve been given permission to indulge in a lot of junk food while I watch. SINCE I’M ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AN EXCUSE TO GO OFF MY “HEALTHY” DIET, I’M IN! Of course, there’s a little regret the next day, but those organic cheese doodles, that donut and the dish of cappuccino kahlua crunch ice cream were well worth it.
        After my super bowl deep dive into junk food land, I’m vowing to be good until another day, when I can convince myself that a few “guilt-free” indulgences are warranted ---guess what?

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February 5, 2018
This is about...
Red Wine MEATLOAF--YUM!!
        RED WINE AND MEATLOAF? Admittedly, it’s a bit unusual. A LOT OF YOU HAVE PROBABLY EATEN MEATLOAF SLATHERED IN KETCHUP, OR MADE WITH SLICES OF BACON covering the top. But, pouring red wine all over it while it bakes is a new take for me. And, this version from Lynne Rosetto Kasper veers away from the basics, not once, but twice, soaking the bread in the wine too.
        MEATLOAF IS A PEASANT DISH, inexpensive and an easy way to use up scraps of food that you already have in the house—a stale piece of bread, half an onion, some slices of carrot or pepper, cheese, herbs ready to turn or HOW ABOUT WHAT’S LEFT IN THAT BOTTLE OF WINE. All of these little additions are what make any meatloaf so tasty. The wine is no exception. Although it shouldn’t be a surprise....

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January 29, 2018
This is about...
The MIRACLE BOULE--YUM!!
OK---THERE’S NO DENYING IT---IT’S FREEZING IN WOODSTOCK. We’ve had a week’s worth of days below zero. AND, I WOKE UP ON THE FIRST DAY OF 2018 WITH NO HEAT HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ME! The locals up here say that this is the REAL Woodstock weather. Having lived up here for the last 10 years, I’ve apparently only experienced a lot of mild winters--- an aberration---global warming so to speak. Whatever. BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
        Being a warm weather lover, you’re not going to find me out on the slopes. Nope, I’ll be in my nice warm kitchen cooking up some comforting stews and soups. So far, I’ve made a lot of those this winter. But THERE'S ONE THING THAT’S BEEN MISSING....

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January 22, 2018
This is about...
Lainey’s Roasted Winter Vegetables with Rosemary and Kalamata Olives---YUM!!
        ROASTING IS ONE OF THE BEST AND EASIEST WAYS TO COOK VEGETABLES. The high heat of the oven intensifies their flavor, making them sweeter and more delicious. You can pretty much use any veggies you want, although winter root vegetables are especially suited for this kind of cooking. Just toss them onto a rimmed sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper, and the oven does all of the heavy lifting. IT’S YOUR JOB TO OCCASIONALLY GET IN THERE AND TOSS THEM AROUND, so they roast evenly.
        My friend Lainey turned me on to this recipe. She found it online. What makes it a standout are.....

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January 15, 2018
This is about... James Beard’s Pound Cake---YUM!!
        Actually, MY VERY FIRST TASTE OF A POUND CAKE WAS FROM THE FROZEN FOOD SECTION OF THE SUPERMARKET. My mother didn’t bake—so Sara Lee was her go-to. It really wasn’t a traditional version, being much lighter and finer in texture, but it was what I knew. And, it was a delicious cake, which to this day, is surprisingly pretty much the same. STILL, I LIKE BAKING “FROM SCRATCH.” So, making a homemade one is my go-to. I’ve got a bunch of pound cake recipes in my repertoire, but this is my hands down favorite---James Beard’s version from his classic cookbook, “American Cookery.” His, is again, not following the basic pound cake rules.
        A TRADITIONAL POUND CAKE IS USUALLY JUST THAT....

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January 8, 2018
This is about...
Goulash---YUM!!
        STEW!---just saying the word congers up homey, comforting, a kind of relaxing and letting go. Not only does its soothing aroma spread everywhere as it cooks, but the anticipation of A LONG-COOKED SIMMERING ANYTHING IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER CAN SOOTHE MANY A WEATHER-WORN SOUL. This stew, a rich, long-cooked goulash, does all of that. The beef is slowly simmered with a lot of bright orangey-red Hungarian sweet paprika, lots of onions, carrots, and a hint of caraway. At the very end, it’s brightened up with a squeeze of lemon or some cider vinegar.
        Years back, when I was performing in Prague, goulash was everywhere, and I ATE A LOT OF IT. Interestingly though, the eastern Europeans are all about ....

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December 31, 2017
This is about...
BAKING with OPRAH’S INTENTION!! and A NEW YEAR’S TOAST!
        I THINK WE CAN SAFELY SAY THAT OPRAH IS HARDLY THE FIRST PERSON THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT GREAT BAKING. But, she is an expert on inspiration and passion. NOW, I DON’T KNOW OPRAH—just from the TV, like everyone else. But she more than anyone else has given me the tools I needed to define what my own passion really is. She calls it “PURPOSEFUL INTENTION.” I would go one step further and call it “LOVING, PURPOSEFUL INTENTION.”
        One of her most important mantras, that I completely take to heart, is that you must be very clear about...

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December 25, 2017
This is about...
IT’S A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! and “SNOW!”
                                           Photo by david L. Brown Photography

                                           Photo by david L. Brown Photography

IT’S A WHITE CHRISTMAS!
        It’s been years since the last time this happened. And in honor of this unusual event, I’ve posted my favorite picture of all time. IT WAS TAKEN BY MY FRIEND, DAVID BROWN. We both lived on the Jersey shore in funky Victorian houses, up on top of a hill with a view of the harbor below.
        DAVID’S and his wife Michele’s WAS BRIGHT PINK AND PURPLE...

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December 18, 2017
This is about...
Dreamy LEMON PAVLOVA and New Year’s Resolutions!
        IT’S GETTING DARK IN WHAT SEEMS LIKE THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY NOW. With the clocks turned back, the sun is being forced to yield to night way to early. Still, I do love winter sunsets with just the outlines of the trees etched out in Paynes Gray--my favorite oil paint color. AT THIS TIME EVERY YEAR, it’s always the same for me. I START TO GET MORE THOUGHTFUL, more appreciative, MORE “DREAMY.”
        After a crazy summer of running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the cupcakes flying around me in every which way, I finally have the time to “catch up” ---refocus, reevaluate, and ask myself the question--- “WHAT IS IT THAT I DO WANT??” ....

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December 11, 2017
This is about...
Mini Holiday CHEESE BALLS---YUM!
        THE HOLIDAYS ARE A CRAZY, BUSY TIME FOR ME! And whenever I’m invited anywhere, I always bring something homemade with me. Most times it’s something sweet, but occasionally I like to switch it up with something savory. I WANT IT TO BE SIMPLE, QUICK, EASY TO CARRY, AND OF COURSE, DELICIOUS.
        These mini cheese balls are just the ticket. I LIKE THAT THEY’RE ONE BITE, so much better than a large cheese ball that can be hard to navigate. And the cute pretzel stick makes them easy to neatly pick-up. You can whip them up in a flash, NO FANCY PREP WORK REQUIRED. You don’t even have to go near a stove. Plus, the variations are endless. Here’s a festive red and green version. The sweet pop of the pomegranate seeds and the hint of onion from the chives complement the cheese really well. These will get you going. Then you can take it from there.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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December 4, 2017
This is about...
Holiday COOKIE BARK---YUM!
        ’TIS THE SEASON ALREADY!    Immediately after Thanksgiving is over, I always feel like I’m behind. Too much to do and too little time. OWNING A SHOP IN WOODSTOCK MEANS THAT YOU HAVE TO DECORATE WAAAAY IN ADVANCE. And I’m usually one of the last-- which means the weekend right after turkey day.
        I ALWAYS LIKE TO HAVE A FEW HOLIDAY OPTIONS at Peace, Love and Cupcakes. Every year there’s “The Peppermint Twist”—a chocolate cupcake with a peppermint patty baked inside and topped with a swirl of vanilla/peppermint buttercream. Then there’s “The Ginger Baker,” a spicy gingerbread cupcake that’s topped with cream cheese frosting. But I ALWAYS LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER FUN OPTION. One year it was big gingerbread men cookies. Another it was homemade caramel popcorn. And this year, it’s.....

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November 27, 2017
This is about...
The Day After Thanksgiving TURKEY STOCK!
        IT’S THE DAY AFTER THE BIGGEST FOOD DAY OF THE YEAR, AND MANY OF US WILL HAVE LEFTOVERS. Some of us, like me, even plan on it by making extra. ONE OF MY FAVORITE “LEFTOVER” MEALS, actually a required one each year, IS MY ROAST TURKEY SANDWICH. There’s nothing unusual about this creation—just a yummy construction of Thursday’s turkey, good mayo, crunchy romaine on some softer than chewier white bread, all sprinkled with salt and pepper. Beside my sandwich are 2 sides—stuffing and cranberry sauce. Ok, maybe some reheated mashed potatoes too, and gravy? Then of course, the finale--Pie. An over the top starch-fest if ever there was one. YUM!
        I always try to send everyone home with their own “day after” feasts. And, BEING THE KIND OF PERSON WHO CAN NEVER...

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November 20, 2017
This is about...
CRANBERRY-ORANGE CREAM PIE
with Orange Whipped Cream and Sugared Cranberries!

        OMG! ONLY 4 DAYS UNTIL THANKSGIVING! Are you cooking the meal? Or are you a guest? If you’re the one doing the cooking and having a bunch of people over, try to enjoy the process— DON’T STRESS! And there’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re a guest, be available to help clear the table or wash the dishes. Ask if there’s anything you might bring along—a pie, wine? Don’t bring flowers—that’s just one more thing your host will have to deal with when time is at a premium. However, DON’T HESITATE TO PITCH IN, IF ASKED. It will very much be appreciated at the end of a long, DELICIOUS day.
        HERE’S A YUMMY PIE, BURSTING WITH BRIGHT CRANBERRY AND ORANGE FLAVORS. It’s a scrumptious, pretty pie that will stand out on your holiday table...

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November 13, 2017
This is about...
Thanksgiving TURKEY MEATBALLS with GRAVY!
        OMG! ONLY 10 MORE DAYS LEFT before Thanksgiving is here! For me, it’s the best holiday of the year, ALL FOOD---ALL DAY! And I love everything about it, the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing --ah the stuffing--, 2 kinds of cranberry sauce, homemade and that obligatory one that slips out of the can. Then of course, there’s my grandmother’s iron brunners--her version of creamed spinach--, a token salad, and those hot steaming biscuits dripping with butter to go along with the stuffing and mashed potatoes. You can’t have too much starch on Thanksgiving. AND FINALLY, THERE’S ALWAYS WAY TOO MANY PIES, ALMOST A PIE PER PERSON, from pumpkin to chocolate cream.
        Although nothing could ever completely replace the official roasted bird in my book, here’s a fun way to add another turkey option...
November 6, 2017
This is about...
Comforting Escarole and Bean Soup!
        THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN SOUP ON A COLD, RAINY NIGHT. This one is perfect!---soothing, filling and never fail. I make it so often, that I know the recipe by heart. It’s not complicated but it does have 3 LITTLE TRICKS that make it extra delicious.
        First, take your time cooking the escarole and tomatoes, a full 20 minutes. That smooths out the traditionally bitter escarole. Second, puree or mash half of the beans. That makes the soup a little thicker and adds a rich creaminess. And finally...

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October 30, 2017
This is about...
DRACULA’S DENTURES---BOO!
BOO!

        WHEN I WAS GROWING UP, EVERYBODY GOT DRESSED IN THEIR HALLOWEEN FINEST in the morning, and kept their costumes on until bedtime. After sundown, along with every other kid on the block, my sister and I would hit the streets, literally running from house to house, collecting as much candy as we could. Once we couldn’t carry one piece more, we’d run home to dump it out, and head out for a second round.
        AFTER AN EXCITING AND EXHAUSTING NIGHT OF CANDY SCAVENGING, one more task was still to be completed...

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October 23, 2017
This is about...
Sweet Potato Curry---YUM!
        It always amazes me about the weather up here. One day you’re wearing sandals, and the next a winter coat. That’s what happened this week— ALL OF A SUDDEN, I’M SHIVERING. So, this sweet potato curry is perfect when it’s time to turn the thermostat up and don a sweater.
        CHUNKS OF SWEET POTATO FRAGRANT WITH GINGER, GARLIC, THE BITE OF SOME RED CURRY PASTE ALL MELLOWED OUT WITH CREAMY COCONUT MILK is a soothing, cold weather meal. I like to add some greens at the end, spinach in this case, and a squeeze of lime to brighten it up a little bit. Just ladle it over some steaming white rice, and you’re guaranteed to...

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