Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Venetian tie candy!

The Venetian shopkeepers really know how to showcase their goods—look how fabulous they make neckties look—it's not just eye candy it's TIE candy! Such yummy colors, and those stylish Italian men are not afraid to wear them either.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pizza night

On pizza night instead of making one large pizza, I split a dough ball into four quarters to make four different kinds of pizzas. I've experimented like a mad scientist over the years with all sorts of ingredients—figs and gorgonzola, brie and mushroom, chicken sausage, even Spam and pineapple (totally kidding on that last one, which is just so wrong). But you get the idea. Ultimately I've decided that the simpler the pizza the better. I use the pizza stone that Dan and I got as a wedding present 18+ years ago and when I crank the oven heat up to nuclear (550°) the bottom crust is always crispy and crunchy. One of these summers we'll make an outside pizza oven, but until then, this technique will have to do because it beats take-out pizza by a Roman mile.

Clockwise from top left is a white pizza with pancetta and fontina cheese and lots of fresh ground pepper, to the right of that is a pizza Margherita with a mix of cheeses (provolone, fresh mozzarella and fontina), topped by an arugula salad, below that is another white pizza with shrimp, scallions, and mix of cheeses (It's worth noting, that the Italians frown upon mixing cheese with seafood, but what can I say? It works really well here.), and finally, a classic pizza Margherita with basil—the colors of the Italian flag. Don't forget to drizzle the 'za with extra olive oil just before serving, it adds a delicious flavor.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Seasonal confusion

These warm November days seem to have confused our spring blooming forsythia, which is budding out now, and its yellow blossoms look striking against the autumn burgundy color of the leaves. Just a few weeks back we had a cold snap and even some snow, so it's no wonder that it's confused what season it is. It'll be ok and bloom as usual next spring.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sugar maple leaves

Beautiful sugar maple leaves are matched by their respective Pantone color swatches! Very clever idea explained by the photographer in his blog.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ophelia drowned

Inspired by... these gorgeous creations of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine Ophelia, who drowned surrounded by fantastic garlands of "nettles, daisies, and long purples." (Hamlet, the Death of Ophelia, act 4 scene 7). Dreamy.

by Benjamin Whitley  

from Korean Vogue in 2007

by phatpuppycreations

by Amanda Keeys Photography

Actress Rooney Mara from Vogue Magazine

Ophelia Kirsten Dunst in Lars Von Trier's film, Melancholia 

Actress Rooney Mara from Vogue Magazine

The Lily Pond by candygears via Flickr

from Vogue, December 2011

by Susan Lenz

by unknown artist

by Toni Oswald

by Ashley Leazer

Ophelia John Everett Millais

by David Cater

by John William Waterhouse 1889

by unknown artist

by Alce Hnna  

by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello

by Maria Medeiros

by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello

by Ayten Alpun

by Sarah Walker

by Olivia Gird photography

by from

by Spiteful Pie

by Harold Copping

by Azahara Fernández

by unknown artist

Kamille from roseblood and mothdust blog

Ophelia from Korean Vogue in 2007

by Lady Orlando

by Sonja Michelle Merle Pace

by Catalina Dudka

“There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.” 

— from Shakespeare's Hamlet

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey talk

Yup, today is all about the turkey. Well... it's for pausing to reflect with family and loved ones, and giving thanks for good health and a roof over our heads, but really, it's all about the turkey. And the stuffing. And the pumpkin pie. 

We have lots of wild turkeys that saunter through our yard all year long. Each spring the Toms proudly strut their stuff and show off their fine feathers while trying to catch a lady. This fella was at it for days! Here is a video Dan took last summer of one of the ladies lounging around, nibbling on bugs, and having a nice little dustbath. At the very end she shakes her body and the dust goes everywhere.

Of course everyone knows about Butterball Turkeys, but how about a ball of butter shaped like a turkey? I bought this at a local grocery market:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving day hunt

While all those turkeys are roasting in the oven tomorrow morning we'll be at Appleton Farms in Ipswich, sipping some warm (spiked?) coffee or hot chocolate while watching the annual Myopia Thanksgiving Day Hunt. (Don't worry, they don't use a fox anymore). There's a lot of excitement in the air, and you can literally feel the ground rumble as the horses gallop by with their riders, all in their colorful formal hunting gear. It's not truly a "hunt" these days; the only shooting that takes place is from photographers, including Dan and me. We both shoot reference photos — like the ones shown here from last year — to use for my equestrian paintings. Tally ho!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey roulade

Here is my take on turkey with stuffing, and it's not your mama's Butterball! It's a roulade—a boneless, skinless turkey breast surrounding a fennel spiced chestnut stuffing and a layer of spinach. (Mama would approve of the token greens.) I larded the outside with an herb packed compound butter (sage, thyme, parsley, and rosemary), and then a smokey bacon to help keep the turkey moist. This turkey can be prepped way in advance, only requires an hour and a half in the oven, (until it reaches 160°) and comes out incredibly moist every time. The aromatic flavors of the compound butter permeate throughout the turkey so every bite is fabulously flavorful.

— Make gravy by roasting the turkey bones etc. (after deboning) with some onions, carrots 
     and celery, and make turkey stock and gravy from that. 
— Try and find nitrite and nitrate free bacon.
— Cook roulade until an instant read thermometer reads 150°.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bowl of nuts

Here's a nice annual fall tradition, cracking through 
a bowl of nuts.Enjoy this funny clip from 
the quirky, character driven film Best in Show!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bird's nest

It was fun to discover a little birds nest nestled in a branch of our coral bark maple tree. The leaves of this Japanese maple—normally a lime green, but turn flaming peachy-yellow in the fall—look striking against the red branches of the tree.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Linguine alle vongole

This is a longtime favorite of ours, and we use a Food & Wine magazine recipe from 1996. Dan made it this week, and it was a treat: Littleneck clams in a sauce of their own briny juices, white wine, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and a judicious dash of red pepper flakes, commingling perfectly with long strands of linguine.The almost fully cooked pasta is tossed in with the sauce for the final few minutes to absorb all those flavors. It's an essential Italian pasta technique. I'm thankful I live near the sea, because the clams—vongole in Italian—absolutely, positively must be fresh! "No canned clams" is right up there with "no wire hangers!" Serve with a crusty piece of garlic bread and a nice Italian vino bianco and it's pazzesco buona (crazy good!) One thing we DON'T serve it with: cheese. Seafood and cheese is vietato (forbidden) in Italy—as my brother David found out when he ordered his seafood pizza at Lo Guarracino restaurant in Positano; that's his ’za on the right in the photo below. Looks like the wine pitcher needs refilling!

Back to the linguine and clams: For wine, we bought a 2009 Falanghina by Terredora DiPaolo at Henry's Market Wine Cellar in Beverly. This was was yummy from opening to finish. The wine comes from the Campania region of Italy, which includes Naples and the Amalfi Coast, and is an excellent alternative for white wine lovers who want to go beyond chardonnay or pinot grigio. During our trip in Italy we tried some Greco di Tufo, also a very nice white from Campania, but haven't been able to find it near our home ... yet. Meanwhile, this Falanghina will do!