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April 9, 2018
This is about...
Quick BLACK BEAN SOUP---YUM!!
        If you’re one of those people that leans towards VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN, YOU EAT A LOT OF BEANS. Although, I’ve cooked many beans “from scratch,” ---from their dried state-- it’s time consuming and, sometimes, depending on the age of the beans, they never even soften for you. SO, I ALWAYS REACH FOR THE CANNED ONES now, which lets you make a hearty soup in about 30 minutes.
        This one is PACKED WITH FLAVOR. Garlic, onions, jalepeno and bell peppers, as well as a healthy dose of cumin and coriander to bring it all together. A light saute of the veggies is all that’s needed. Then, just dump the rest of the ingredients in the pot, simmer for 20 minutes and you’ve got dinner. You can choose to make it creamy, by blending it, or keep it chunky, or anywhere in between.
        Now even though canned beans are my favorite for this soup, not all canned beans are created equal....

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April 2, 2018
This is about...
GREEK SALAD---YUM!!
        It’s that time of winter (it's too cold to be spring yet, even though it is) when I’VE REACHED MY BREAKING POINT WITH GREEN LEAFY SALADS!. I need that CRUNCH of summer, AND I NEED IT NOW! Give me anything but microgreens, romaine, radicchio, arugula and spinach. I refuse to buy one more green leaf. My boycott has led me to more substantial composed salads, like this Greek salad. It’s a mix of chunky crisp veggies—cucumbers, peppers, red onion and tomatoes all tossed with briny Kalamata olives and chunks of salty, tangy feta cheese. To make the veggies pop, the dressing is infused with garlic, red wine vinegar and dried oregano. It’s bright, crunchy AND THERE’S NOT A GREEN LEAF IN SIGHT! ....

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March 26, 2018
This is about...
EASTER CARR0T CAKE---YUMMY!!
        EASTER IS ALL ABOUT THE BUNNY. And bunnies are all about the carrots. AND IN OUR FAMILY, when I was growing up, EASTER WAS ALL ABOUT CARROT CAKE. It was a religious holiday in my house, but for my sister and me, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE SUGAR. That morning, ALL WE EVER LOOKED FORWARD TO WERE THE LITTLE BASKETS OF CANDY HIDDEN all around the house by the “EASTER BUNNY.” We’d scour both floors looking inside and behind every curtain and door. And somehow, we would always miss one or two baskets, hidden in plain sight—tucked behind a drape or hanging high up on a curtain rod. That frustrated us, but cracked up our parents.
        AFTER SITTING RESPECTFULLY, STONE-FACED IN CHURCH, WE’D ALWAYS HEAD OFF TO GRANDMA’S FOR DINNER. By the time we arrived, my sister’s and my blood sugar levels were flying off the rails---we loved it!   And although....

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March 19, 2018
This is about...
FISH EN PAPILLOTE---YUM!!
        YOU CAN FIND FRESH FISH UP HERE IN THE SUMMER, BUT THERE’S NO HOOK, LINE OR SINKER IN FEBRUARY. And although Woodstock may turn into beachfront property sometime in the future, there is still no ocean in sight-- just yet. The only place to buy decent fish in town is the MEAT MARKET. It’s frozen, not fresh, but it is WILD CAUGHT from as far away as New Zealand—and it will still be delicious, especially the way I plan to cook it-- EN PAPILLOTE.
        SOUNDS FANCY, doesn’t it? But it’s not. IT JUST MEANS “IN PARCHMENT” ---- simply wrapping up meat, fish, vegetables, or even fruit in a packet of parchment paper or foil, and then baked. What you end up with ....

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March 12, 2018
This is about...
IRISH Soda Bread---YUM!!
        I HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT ST. PATRICK’S DAY. My family is part Irish. Ok. But, my mother would always dress me up for school in “THE WEARIN’ OF THE” --- ORANGE. Yes orange. You see, we were Irish Protestant—orange Irish. The first year I really understood what that meant was in 3rd grade. There I was in my orange dress surrounded by a sea of green. AND, THE TEACHER DECIDED TO TURN ME INTO A LESSON PLAN, explaining the conflict between the predominantly northern Irish Protestants and mostly southern Irish Catholics though my clothing. All I wanted to do was crawl under my desk. From then on....

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March 5, 2018
This is about...
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms---YUM!!
        I HAD NO IDEA THAT MUSHROOMS CAME OUT OF THE DIRT WHEN I WAS A KID. I thought they were some canned things you got at the supermarket. Nowadays, there are lots of varieties to choose from, some domesticated-- like white buttons, and shiitake. And some wild--- like morels and hen of the woods.
        Even though PORTOBELLOS MAY LOOK LIKE THEIR OWN CATEGORY OF MUSHROOM, THEY’RE ACTUALLY NOT. They’re part of the largest family of domesticated mushrooms, the white button. They’re just allowed to hang out in the earth a lot longer-- all grown up into an adult-size. CREMINI’S, TOO, ARE THOSE SAME BUTTONS, their growing time midway between the small white ones and the largest brown ones.
        Amazingly, the caps of the portobellos can spread out as big as 6 to 8 inches in diameter .....

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February 26, 2018
This is about...
Honeyed Ginger and Turmeric TONIC---YUM!!
        THE FLU!    IT’S EVERYWHERE!   I think everyone I know was knocked over by it this winter----except me—knock on wood.   Keeping your body alkaline with a battery of green veggie juices is one way to help fight it off. ANOTHER IS THIS POTENT, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, TURMERIC TINTED, GINGER TONIC, guaranteed to clear out your head and combat any sniffling/sore throat action that you may feel coming on. If you like, adding the optional chiles will clear out the congestion even faster.
        IF YOU HAVE A PRESSURE COOKER OR AN INSTANT POT, THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO PULL IT OUT. Actually, this was the maiden voyage for my instant pot. Purchased way back in April when I was in Portland, OR ....

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February 19, 2018
This is about...
Grandma’s SPAETZLE---YUM!!
First, here’s a little story:
       
“FANTASY OF THE AIR" PERFORMED SEVEN SHOWS A DAY, 5 DAYS A WEEK.
       While a live orchestra played, a muscular Barney would swing on 2 rings suspended from the ceiling, while a petite Minnie would hang off of him striking pose after pose –in a kind of air ballet.   AT THE END OF EVERY PERFORMANCE, HE WOULD LET GO OF HER LEGS AND IT WOULD LOOK LIKE MINNIE WAS DOOMED TO FLY HEAD FIRST INTO THE FILLED SEATS!   A drumroll kicked in, THE MUSIC WOULD SWELL, and at the very last moment....

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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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