• Latest projects

    [wp_caption id="attachment_22" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My current artistic endeavors"] 

    My current artistic endeavors[/wp_caption]

    Beautiful greens from the garden

    Beautiful greens from the garden

    Here's an idea of a couple of projects I am working on----the garden and occasional art. I did a linoleum cut and printed it the other night for some endpapers. Yes, there are books in my future. Hopefully very soon.

  • Back to work

    The holiday weekend was an action-packed few days of fireworks, boats, and cook-outs. We spent an entire 24 hours with the Manfre clan at their lakehouse on Highland Lake, NH. It was a really beautiful area, with a cute little cabin right on a lake……parked next to boatloads of who else but honest-to-goodness New Yorkers! They were everywhere, on their (loud) motorboats, their (loud) ATVs, and at their “peaceful” lakeside cabins. Matt and I slept on the screened-in porch, which gave us the full effect of the New York surround sound. To be fair, I was woken up one time by a gaggle of loons passing by, so I can’t blame my whole sleepless night on them. Matt was so restless that he got up to fish for awhile----between the hours of 4 to 5 AM, which is actually too early for the fish! We still managed to have a great time, and caught some amazing fireworks right over the water (shot off by the next-door neighbors. Luckily we were out in the boat). The Manfres are champion eaters, so we ate really well---steak, corn, doughnuts (my fault), brownies, ice cream sandwiches, and other foods too numerous to mention.

    We came back to VT Saturday afternoon and started Part One of the birthday production. Matt got tickets to see Beth Orton, who was performing at the MOCA. It was an incredible concert, at once transformative, delicate, and powerful. I would highly recommend any of her albums, although I haven’t heard her latest.

    The last part of my mini-vacation involved going to a friend’s house for a sixth of July party. Lots of good food and some heated conversations about how the Olympics have been ruined by media coverage, as well as the use of Spanish smoked paprika as a secret ingredient (try it—it works with anything). A relaxing time….and back to work today.

    Did you know that Pinot Noir is really good chilled?

  • [wp_caption id="attachment_8" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Heirloom tomatoes"]Heirloom tomatoes[/wp_caption]

  • Happy Anniversary!

    We went about our day in a normal fashion, and had just gotten home with dinner (pizza with eggplant and goat cheese and Caesar salad) when Matt’s mom called. From my end of the conversation, I gathered that Matt was thanking her for a card we hadn’t yet received. I suddenly realized that it was our anniversary! Four years, which isn’t much in the grand scheme, but not too shabby. We both felt terrible that we hadn’t remembered on our own what day it was…and we would’ve been much nicer to each other if we had. Unconditional love is a nice thought, but sometimes dirty dishes get in the way…….

    I weeded in the garden for a bit today. Every day I venture out, vulture-like, to see what’s ready to pick. We’ve had some strawberries so far, and the blueberries are getting very close. The raspberries have started to turn, and I picked what I could from the edge of the patch. It always turns into a brambly mess as the weather gets nice, as hard as I try to keep paths clear so I can pick. Instead, I have to put on pants, sneakers, and long sleeves so I don’t get too scraped up.

    Tomorrow we’re going to New Hampshire for the fourth. We’ll be at the Manfre’s lake house, close quarters and hopefully fun times. I’ve always loved the fourth, since it’s right around the corner from my birthday. When I was little, we would go to Pennsylvania to visit with my Mom’s family. They would have a cake and present for me, and I would swim until my lips turned blue. There are pictures of me when I was six in my pink tiger bathing suit with the little skirt, eating cake.

  • I'm a blogger, too!

    [wp_caption id="attachment_17" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Sausage and peppers with fresh local squash"]Sausage and peppers with fresh local squash[/wp_caption]

    Well, those of you who have known me for awhile probably never would have thought they would see ME blogging. Since I am rather adverse to computers and technology in general, it is rather a stretch. I thought it may be a good project for someone nearing an important age (it's not 20). Maybe it's the fear, or just the novelty, but I hope to keep it going---at least for a few months.

    I am beginning my much-anticipated four day vacation. I plan to do lazy things that I don't normally have time for, like lying in the hammock (a new addition to the estate--check it out when you visit) and creating a brand new gelato flavor (I've been wanting to use fresh herbs in everything). Also, I am determined to make fun popsicles--all the rage now, but there's something very appealing about them. Like the Jell-O pudding pops that I loved as a kid--creamy and comforting, vanilla, chocolate, and swirl. My brother and I had them when we went swimming at my grandparents' pool.

    I also plan to get in the studio and try to remember what I do there. It's unfortunately been awhile...The good news is that 500 Handmade Books just came out (published by Lark Books), and my books are two of the 500! Not a very good percentage, I know, but good enough for me.

    Stay tuned to this space. I promise pictures and more.....

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Process

I'm not good at recording what I do when I'm in the kitchen. I have tried to correct this quirk, especially with my preserving recipes so I can replicate it (or not) the following year. Usually my best strategy is to have a little notebook next to me, preferably one which can lie flat open and is just the right size to stay in one place while I'm writing. This notebook is used expressly for in-process recipes because it winds up too close to my projects and picks up spills, or at the very least, water spots from my hands all over the pages. Luckily, the recipe I want to talk about here doesn't need directions. It's a simple, one-ingredient wonder with a history.

We planted St. Croix variety wine grapes several years ago from a friend's pruned cuttings. My husband built a lovely structure (Geneva double curtain) for them to grow into and has been vigilantly pruning and caring for them. Every year they produce slightly more fruit, and we are always at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the crop. Last year, I made grape jam and jelly, and I wasn't really thrilled with either. I happened to catch a tweet from Mario Batali giving advice on what to do with excess Concord grapes—he recommended making mosto cotto (also called saba and vin cotto). I checked out a few recipes and decided that it was a perfect use for the grapes and maybe a perfect condiment for us. It is also a traditional "slow food" which is not made very often anymore, even in Italy. After convincing my husband that we did not have enough grapes to make wine this year, we harvested them and I got to work. About 25 pounds of grapes were destemmed, crushed, strained, and cooked down for two hours to make about a quart of mosto cotto. It's good—sweet yet balanced with tart acidity, an unctuous texture, and amazing color.

Not only did I create something useful and a product that will last well into the dark days of winter, I felt my husband's grandmother peering over my shoulder, remembering the process from when she was a little girl, growing up in the south of Italy. It's a food with a sense of history and a strong sense of place.

**If you're interested and want to read more about mosto cotto, see the NY Times archived article here for recipes and sources.

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