tassel pillowcases


The house we rented for our vacation was modern and beautiful. The bedrooms were all made up with white linens but often had one small flourish that made them very special. These tassel pillowcases were my favorite. Maybe one day I will try to make my own using this how to for making tassels.


spaghetti with sardines and breadcrumbs


Every year during spring break we take a vacation with my extended family...there are eleven of us in all: my sister, her husband and their two children, my mom and dad, and the five of us. We are just back from this years trip so the next few posts will be from our time away. I am the cook of the family, and although I get tons of help with shopping, table setting, and clean up, the majority of the cooking is done by me. When we arrived the week before Easter we were warned that the shops would all be closed from Good Friday through the Monday after Easter, and as a result I immediately started stockpiling food.  Things that could be stored in the pantry were especially appealing since refrigerator space was limited and 4 days is a long time for things to last. I was a little worried about trying something for the first time when a table of 10 were counting on me for dinner but all were quite happy with this dish! We ended up having it again towards the end of our trip - this time I used whole wheat spaghetti, which no one even noticed. Coarse breadcrumbs add texture to this dish so I recommend making your own from some stale bread: just tear bread into small pieces and then pulse in a food processor or blender until you have coarse crumbs. If you want to skip this step Panko breadcrumbs are a good alternative.





1 pound spaghetti

1/2 - 3/4 cups breadcrumbs 

olive oil

1 red onion, finely diced

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tins sardines 

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water

to a boil.


In the meanwhile, toast breadcrumbs in a medium skillet until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and wipe skillet clean. Return pan to the stove and add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a skillet placed over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until transluscent. Add sardines and the oil they are packed in to the pan and break up with a wooden spoon. 


Once you have started sauteing the onions and garlic you can cook the spaghetti. When it is almost ready add the parsley to the sardine mixture. Drain the spaghetti when it is al dente, reserving a cup or two of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and toss to combine, adding some of the pasta water if the mixture seems too dry. Stir in breadcrumbs and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil if desired. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.


ham, not just for holidays


When I think of ham I imagine Easter dinner. Or, a giant buffet. Just a few months ago I discovered these very small ham roasts at our local farmer's market, and recently I found a tiny Niman Ranch ham at Whole Foods. Since the hams are fully cooked (as well as nitrate free and responsibly raised) all I had to do was heat it up and make some sides...which, to me, is the fun part of making dinner. When I set down the plates the kids were all so excited and there was a chorus of "Mmmm, I love this ham!" It will definitely be added to the list of things to keep on hand - the fact that there is a long refrigerator life is a bonus too.


decorating with kids art


My friend Coco (age 5) did this self portrait and I just love the way it looks taped to the wall in her room. So simple, and yet it adds so much personality! The hot pink tape is a nice touch.




almond french toast


At my daughter's preschool you can sign up at the beginning of the year to have a loaf of challah delivered to your child's cubby every friday. The kids love it, and often the bag is ripped into first thing after school and the bread is devoured as an after school snack. On the weekends that the loaf lasts until saturday morning, this french toast is one of my favorite breakfasts. Make the french toast as you normally would (beat a couple eggs with a little milk and a splash of vanilla, dip the bread into this mixture and let it soak it up) and then dip the slices into a plate full of sliced almonds. Brown it on the griddle or in a skillet with some melted butter. Delicious!


pizza party


I love spending an afternoon cooking with friends, especially if the friends love to cook and eat as much as I do. Our dear friends Randall and Bernat fit the bill...we have spent many weekends together where the majority of our time is spent in the kitchen, and the rest of the time is spent either shopping the farm stands or eating! Last September we had one of those weekends and this pizza party was the result. Pizza is perfect for a multi-generational cooking party - there isn't much cooking once you have made the dough...and dough takes time but is fun to make. Plus, once you have gathered all the possible components everyone can mix and match the ingredients to suit their own tastes. Half the fun comes from seeing what inspires everyone, and tasting each others winning combinations. 


If you do not feel like making your own dough you can buy pizza dough at most supermarkets these days.



1 package dry yeast

1 cup warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

approximately 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

cornmeal or semolina flour


Place the yeast in a large bowl with the warm water and sugar. Set aside for about 10 minutes until frothy. Add flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil and mix to combine. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 miutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If the mixture is too sticky you can mix in a little more flour until it is manageable. 


Use remaining tablespoon olive oil to coat a large bowl. Set dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for about an hour - the dough should double in size. Divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces and roll into rounds about 1/8 inch thick, using more flour for rolling. You can stack these between layers of parchment paper sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal until you are ready to use.


We made a second batch of pizza dough using 1 cup of whole wheat flour mixed with 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.  You can use whatever you like for toppings...we made a tomato sauce with sauteed onions, garlic and fresh basil. We also sauteed broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms. Our raw toppings were figs, sliced mozzarella, grated parmesan, and fresh herbs. We also loved drizzling a little extra virgin olive oil on after cooking and sprinkling with course sea salt.


Cook the pizzas in a preheated 450° oven. I do not have a pizza stone, or any rimless baking sheets, but I find that using these sheet pans inverted works can still slide the pizzas off the pan onto a cutting board or plate pretty easily. Just be sure to sprinkle them liberally with more of the cornmeal.



brooklyn boulders

Nothing makes my kids happier than rock hopping at the beach or in the mountains so I was very excited when I learned that an indoor rock climbing space had opened in our neighborhood last year. It is a great rainy day activity, and I love that my kids can really use their muscles and improve their coordination while having so much fun. Brooklyn Boulders has a variety of levels including one big practice wall that is perfect for very young or very inexperienced climbers...the "rocks" are big enough and close enough together that we all could climb to the top. Of course, there are plenty of more advanced areas too. They host birthday parties too...something I plan to take advantage of in the future.


snack drawer


After getting tired of always negotiating the after school snack choices we started a "snack drawer". The idea is pretty simple…I fill the drawer with snacks that are pre-approved: nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, and sometimes popcorn or peanut butter filled pretzels. In addition the kids (and any adults that care for them) know that they are always allowed to have fresh fruit or cheese. Not only has this cut down on the arguments, it has also allowed the kids to be quite self sufficient after school.


lentil soup



I served ham at our last New Year's party and only about 2/3 of it was eaten. I threw together this soup the next day and it was so delicious.  If you want ham in the soup but don't have a ham bone lying around you can buy a small fully cooked ham, such as a ham hock. If you want it to be strictly vegetarian omit the ham and use vegetable stock or water for the liquid. Our babysitter had tried a recipe for lentil soup that added a cinnamon stick to the pot and she raved about it. I was intrigued so did the same added another dimension to the soup without being overpowering...I would definitely do it again.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, thinly sliced

4 stalks celery, diced

8 ounces mushrooms, stems removed, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic

1 pound french lentils

1 ham bone (optional)

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

2 qts. chicken or beef broth 

1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste

1 pound chopped kale

1 teaspoon vinegar


Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over high heat and add onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, lentils, ham bone, bay leaf, cinnamon, stock and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper and cook until lentils are very soft and ham is fork tender and falling off the bone. Stir kale into soup, working in batches if necessary, and cook another 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Add vinegar and cook 5 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.


birthday painting


As special as a homemade card can be, a painting is even more dramatic! I think this one is particularly beautiful!