Saturday, August 30, 2014

Cucumber lime cooler

Got cucumbers? I know you do. Your cucumber patch has probably gone wild, just like mine has. Cukes are pretty good for you, and darn refreshing too, so this week's Saturday Sipper is a wonderfully refreshing drink that uses up some of those surplus cucumbers.

1/2 large cucumber (or two small pickling cukes), unpeeled
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about two)
1 + 1/2 tablespoons honey 
2 ounces vodka
5 fresh mint leaves
two mint sprigs for garnishing

Makes two minty fresh cocktails!

Place all the ingredients into your blender and whirl away until smooth. Pour into two glasses and garnish with a big sprig of mint.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A prolific patch of happy

A prolific patch of purple coneflowers in my side garden is a happy sight indeed—and the bees love them!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A little Ludwig van

We have a tradition in late August to pull the lounge chairs into a shady spot, crank up the outside speakers, and tune into the radio playing live at Tanglewood, whose last concert of every year is Beethoven's ninth symphony. We've been to Tanglewood many times, and have seen this choral masterpiece performed, but it's much less crowded in our back yard. Drinks and nibbles are always a part of this ritual of course, and here we have chilled Prosecco, a variety of cheeses, some crusty bread, and local fruits. The best peaches of the season were from nearby Brooksby Farm.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Leland Palmer

You've heard of the Arnold Palmer, haven't you—half lemonade and half iced tea? Well This week's Saturday Sipper celebrates Arnold's twisted relative from David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks' fame—the Leland Palmer. It's a bit complicated with loads of ingredients, and you must make a syrup and chill well before mixing the drink, but it's super refreshing and well worth the effort. This cocktail is straight from Bon Appétit magazine.


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup hot water
3 cups freshly brewed jasmine tea, cooled
3/4 cup gin
3/4 cup limoncello
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 cup chilled club soda
Ice cubes
6 lemon slices (for garnish)

To make the Leland Palmer syrup base Stir honey and 1/2 cup hot water in small bowl until honey dissolves. Cool completely. Combine honey water, jasmine tea, gin, limoncello, lemon juice, and grapefruit juice in large jar and chill for several hours. This is the Leland Palmer syrup—enough for 6 drinks.

To make the Leland Palmer drinks— Fill two glasses with ice and add (1/6th of) the Leland Palmer syrup to each glass, then top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge.  

Makes two twisted Leland Palmer cocktails!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014


One or two wild things usually pop up from our compost that we put throughout the gardens. Sometimes it's a tomato, sometimes it's a flower, and sometimes it's a mystery for a while. When I saw the greens on this plant I was hoping that it was going to be a pumpkin, but it turned out to be an ornamental gourd. (emphasis on mental.) The runners on this fellah must be 25 feet long, so I have been calling it (cue the dramatic music here) Gourd-zilla. Run wild, run free Gourd-zilla. Just do your thing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Opera costumes

Opera Costumes from the time of Marie Antoinette
in the late 1770’s. Gorgeousness!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy birthday Mom!

Here is my incredibly amazing mom on her 80th birthday. 
She is in a 1934 Ford—the year she was born!
My cousin Bill refurbed this classic car.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pauli's punch!

At my mother's 80th birthday party today we served a "welcome drink" called Pauli's punch. (Pauli is short for her name, Pauline.) The drink was made with Hpnotiq, a French liqueur made with cognac and fruit juices. We added rum to give a little extra kick, lots of lime juice to cut all that sweetness, and some club soda to add a little fizz, because let's face it, even at 80 Pauli has pazazz!!

2 oz Hpnotiq liqueur
1/4 lime wedge, squeezed 
1 oz white rum
club soda
lime wedge for garnishing

In a large glass, mix Hpnotiq with rum and the squeezed lime juice. Fill two ice-filled glasses with this mix until 3/4 of the way up the glass, then top off with the club soda. Garnish with lime.

Makes two punchy cocktails!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Purple loosestrife + goldenrod

A curved split-rail fence curves along a field of purple loosetrife and goldenrod on my street in Hamilton. Dan took this photo the other day on a morning walk. I think there are all sorts of other wildflowers in this field, milk weed pods, and snapdragons. All just doing their own thing on a lovely summer day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gorgeous portrait–Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall  1924-2014 

Lauren Bacall—one of the last living Hollywood legends—died yesterday. This gorgeous portrait of her shows off her youthful beauty. She turned heads with those big green eyes set wide apart on her face, those lips, and that hair!  She was sassy, sultry, and sexy with a husky voice and a lanky figure, but somehow, when her head was tilted down and her eyes were looking up, she was irresistibly adorable too. And so many films! My favorite of hers is probably How to Marry a Millionaire… I'm embarrassed confess how many times I've actually seen it….Twenty?… Thirty? I'm also a fan of Key Largo, Designing Woman, The Big Sleep, and Murder on the Orient Express. Most recently she voiced the character an old mouse in the charming English version of the animated French film  Ernest & Celestine. I like that she was always a straight shooter, saying exactly what was on her mind. Take for example that famous line she cooed to future husband Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not...

You know how to whistle, don't you Steve?
You just put your lips together and blow.

Cue the wolf whistle, and rest in peace 'Slim.'

Click on the gorgeous portraits label below for more gorgeousness!

Monday, August 11, 2014

You alone will have the stars

O Captain! My Captain!…

R.I.P. Robin William  

You - you alone will have the stars 
as no one else has them…
In one of the stars I shall be living. 
In one of them I shall be laughing. 
And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, 
when you look at the sky at night…
You - only you - will have stars that can laugh.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

+ + +

If you haven't ever read
Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, you should.
And if you haven't reread it lately, do it soon.
What is essential truly is invisible to the eye.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Pickle for a Nickel, and other cucumber stories

My cucumber patch has gone wild! I grow the little pickling cukes instead of  their bigger cousins because I think they are crunchier... especially when they are picked real small. Even some of the ones in the photo above were too big for my liking, like that big fellah. The small cukes have a tender skin, a bumpy texture, and a killer crunch—and they actually snap when bitten. Z-snap! 

I suppose you are wondering about the title of this post? Well, pickling cucumbers always remind me of the pickles my mom made when we were little—gigantic jars of them, made with fresh dill from the garden—and that memory always reminds me of the book "A Pickle for a Nickel," that I had when I was even younger. Must find a copy of that book.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Cleopatra

This week's Saturday Sipper may seem a little girly, but don't shy away guys, it's still a great summer drink. It's named after Cleopatra because she believed that rose petals were an aphrodisiac. Amor, amor!

The Egyptian Rose—known for its many petals—was the one that Cleopatra used to entice Mark Antony. Apparently Cleo covered the floors of her palace, and of course, in her boudoir and most especially around her bed. Rumor has it that the fresh rose petals were a foot and a half deep, and even the sails of Cleopatra's royal barge were drenched in rose water. So how could Mark Antony not succumb to the seductive minx? Try this drink and see what happens.

2 oz gin (of your choice)
2 drops rose water
pink lemonade
roses for garnishing

Fill two glasses with ice and add an ounce of gin into to each. Add 1 drop of rose water to each glass... You do have some, don't you?! Fill up the rest of the glass with pink lemonade (yes, I suppose plan yellow lemonade would do in a pinch, but really...) then garnish with roses or rose petals. I'm sure that Cleopatra would approve.

Makes two rosy cocktails!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Blue + white

Blue and white fabric makes me smile.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Lillet cocktail

The Saturday Sipper this week is one of the most refreshing summer cocktails ever—the Lillet cocktail. Lillet blanc is a delicious French apéritif wine made with a blend of white wines and liqueurs made from Spanish and Moroccan orange peels. Click here to read the history of Lillet—it's quite fascinating. Mmmm—this cocktail is light with the essence of orange, and not too boozy tasting. 

2 oz Lillet blanc
2-3 drops of orange bitters
prosecco or champagne
orange slice for garnishing

Fill two glasses with ice and add an ounce of Lillet into to each. Add 2-3 drops of the orange bitters (I use Stirring's brand), then fill glass with the prosecco or champagne. Stir and add a slice of orange and maybe a pretty nasturtium flower, and then sip and dream of being in the South of France.

Makes two trés refreshing Lillet cocktails


Read more about Lillet by clicking here!

You may also like the Lillet Basil Cocktail

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Thursday, July 31, 2014


Reflections of irises and water hyacinths dance on the surface of the water in our fish pond. That's two of our "Freds" swimming around. Several Japanese fishing floats bob and migrate around the pond, giving "the Jers" (short for "the Jeremiahs," our bullfrogs) a nice place to perch.

Click on the links below to read more about our fish and fish pond!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birthday breakfast

for my birthday breakfast we indulged with Julia Child's cheese soufflé, mushrooms sautéed with fresh thyme and Marsala wine, smokey cob smoked bacon, and a buttery croissant. It was too early for prosecco—that came later though!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wyeth traditions

Portrait of Shorty by Jamie Wyeth 1963

I swooned in awe today while viewing the Jamie Wyeth exhibit at the Boston MFA. JW is a skilled contemporary realist to be sure, but is not afraid to expand beyond the mastery of rendering that runs in his family blood to a bit of abstract expressionism. He once hung out with Andy Warhol at the factory in NYC, so  it's no wonder he busted out of his conservative painting technique.

My favorite painting might be the one shown above— the Portrait of Shorty. It's gritty and real and I'm in love with that fabric on he chair. And that JW painted it when he was in his late teens is crazy to me—such innate talent.

Other paintings that I liked included a series that JW painted in 2007 of the Seven Deadly Sins—paintings that address human frailty and the sins of pride, envy, anger, greed, sloth, gluttony and lust, as noted by Dominican Saint Thomas Aquinas. But in Wyeth's clever twist, these sins are acted out by seagulls—birds that the artist has observed for decades along the coast of Maine and from his studios on Monhegan and Matinicus islands. “Gulls are nasty birds, filled with their own jealousies and rivalries,” Wyeth once said. See detail from one painting below.

I also really liked the portrait show below, of model Orca, (yes, his real name). 

Grilled tomatoes + garlic

Skewer up some baby tomatoes along with roasted garlic cloves (you can get them at the Italian deli bar at Whole Foods) and grill lightly to give it a quick char. Then drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Done. You can eat as is or on  top a piece of grilled ciabatta with basil olive oil. If you're feeling crazy add some halved Kalamata olives.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Baby Swiss chard

I grew this rainbow of greens! I have some large Swiss chard growing in the garden, but also keep a small saucer pot of chard plants to clip as baby greens for my salads. I let these leaves get a little bigger than I intended, but they were still tender and sweet. They aren't full grown but way bigger than micro greens or the baby greens you find in mesclun salad mixes.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Blueberry Hill Thrill

This week's Saturday Sipper is made with Junior Johnson's Blueberry Moonshine! Moonshine in general is a not for sipping, and this hooch is no exception. But on a hot summer day it goes down quite nicely when mixed with some seltzer, as this drink is.


2 oz Blueberry Moonshine!
raspberry lime seltzer
blueberries and lime wheels for garnishing

This drink is super easy to make. Fill two mason jars with ice, add a shot of moonshine to each, and fill with the seltzer. Add skewers of blueberries and lime wheels, then find your favorite shady spot and sip away.

Makes two very thrilling Blueberry Hills!

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blissfully creamy

Every time I have a bite of burrata cheese I tend to wax lyrical about how sublime it is. Well, it's that good. And unless you've eaten this cheese, I am sure you think my enthusiasm for it is quite esoteric. This fresh mozzarella cheese stuffed with cream and pieces of mozzarella makes my legs weak—especially when it's laid upon slices of vine ripened tomatoes from my own garden, and topped with bits of green and purple basil, a few flakes of fleur de sel salt, and anointed with olive oil from Italy. Oh, and be sure to have some crusty bread to sop it all up with. Go find thee some burrata!

You may also enjoy:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Baby beets

These baby beets came from Canaan Farms in Wenham. Aren't they beautiful? They were picked just hours before I bought them. Even though the beets were only the size of golf balls, the greens were massive. I'll steam or roast some of the beets, and maybe shave some of them—raw—into a salad.