Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rock solid

This beautiful old stone bench sits proudly at the Wenham Tea House. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Thomas Chippendale

Here is another in a series 
of our weekly Saturday Sippers! posts.

For this week's Saturday Sipper we've just gotta tip our hat to a horse. Yup, a horse named Thomas Chippendale. In case you hadn't heard, at last week's Royal Ascot races in jolly old England, the aforementioned winning horse collapsed from a heart attack directly after crossing the finish line of one of the races on the final day. Read the story here—what a heartbreaker! We've concocted a drink that's a riff on the classic Pimms Cup drink—it's got the Pimm's of course, and the ginger ale and cucumber, but we added a shot of bourbon and a dash of liquid smoke because Thomas Chippendale obviously smoked on the track. In the spirit of Ascot, and in honor of dearly departed TC, it's imperative that you wear your fanciest hat whilst sipping this thirst quenching libation. And so, with a stiff, British upper lip, this one's for you TC.

2 oz Pimm's No. 1
2 oz Maker's Mark bourbon
4 oz ginger ale
few dashes of liquid smoke
Garnish with cucumber slice

Makes 2 galloping drinks.

photos, Dan + Diane

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lilly Pulitzer lentil salad

Lilly would have loved a dish saturated in so many bright shades of pink so I thought I'd name it after her. To make this Moroccan spiced lentil salad cook your lentils, then add a sauce made from garlic cooked in olive oil, cumin, allspice, lemon juice, salt and pepper. (If you need a proper recipe here is a similar one) Toss in pickled onions and pickled purple cauliflower, (both of which turn pink when pickled—do you love?), chopped mint, parsley, and finally, cosmos blossoms. Think pink!  photo, Diane Carnevale

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Flaming reddish pink azaleas flank the 
Buddha that sits in our Japanese maple grove. 

See our Buddha in the spring here, and in the fall here.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

White bean + purple cauliflower salad

This is a fun twist on a Tuscan white bean salad. I tossed white cannellini beans with purple cauliflower florets (raw, so they keep their purple color), fried sage leaves, lemon olive oil, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and garnished with purple sage blossoms.  

Click to see my Tuscan white bean salad posted last year.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Color inspiration—starfish

Colorful starfish.

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Farro, arugula and grilled tomato salad

This salad of farro with grilled tomatoes, arugula, and boconccini mozzarella balls is a good on a hot summer day. If you haven't tried farro yet, it's a delicious, nutty whole grain that's full of fiber and has a firm, chewy texture when cooked. It tastes great either warm or cold. I cook it the same way I cook brown rice—with a 2 to 1 ratio of liquid (I always use chicken broth) to grain. Other farro recipes you might like:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wild Strawberry super moon!

Did you see the Strawberry supermoon last night? We did! And as we danced barefoot in the grass in our illuminated back yard I thought to myself, this is a moment I'll remember forever. The full moon of June, technically full tonight, is called the Strawberry Moon. It was named so because this time of year (in North America) June is the peak harvesting season for strawberries. The Strawberry Moon of June is sometimes referred to by Europeans as the Rose Moon, while other cultures have named it the Hot Moon for the beginning of the summer heat. Whatever you call it, it was super beautiful.

The Nick and Nora martini

It's summer, and here is the first in my 
weekly Saturday Sippers! postings.

In our adventurous quest to procure the perfect summer cocktail recipe, we came across this delicious libation—the Nick and Nora martini. It's bright and sassy, just they way Nick and Nora from the Thin Man series were. The ingredients are unusual and perhaps even a little eccentric,  just like N & N, but combined together they make a damned refreshing summer drink! 

3 oz Tanqueray gin
1 oz Lillet blanc
2 oz grapefruit juice
juice of half a lime
splash of cardamom-infused simple syrup

shake, strain, pour in a glass
garnish with a lime or a grapefruit slice

Makes 2 spunky drinks.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Midsummer's day

Happy summer solstice! One of these years I'll have a Midsummer's Night Dream party, as an ode to Will Shakespeare, but this year we welcomed summer—the longest and sunshiniest day of the year—with a light, modified Nordic-themed lunch. In Scandanavian, Finnish, and Baltic cultures this first day of summer is a blockbuster annual celebration that involves major frolicking! Fresh flowers in the hair, dancing, and traditional dress are all part of the reveling. The food usually includes pickled herring, potatoes with dill and strawberries and cream for dessert. To drink? Ample toasts of caraway infused Aquavit.  In that spirit, but without the pickled herring, we enjoyed an alfresco lunch of  Charlie Trotter's citrus smoked salmon on rye bread with a a shmear of a dill lemon cream cheese spread,  a bowl of our own home-grown strawberries, Havarti cheese and an Aquavit spritzer (lingonberry preserves, sugar, Aquavit and lemon). Skoal!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Grilled lobstah!

Today is the last luscious day of an absolutely beautiful spring, and nothing says 'Bring on summer!' better than grilled lobster with basil butter. You can cut back on the amount of butter that Bobby Flay uses in this recipe (it's obscene!) but do use all the basil—it adds an interesting flavor. This lobster was succulent and sweeeet. Since there was a slight Italian vibe, we served this with a side of Italian farro and drank a chilled Prosecco. Bellissimo!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Russian comfrey

Symphytum x Axminster gold , or Russian comfrey  is one of many favorite plants in my garden. It has textural, spear-like leaves with lime and lemon colors, grows quickly and has delicate, nodding blossoms in lavender that remind me of little fairy bells. Unfortunately, Mr. Woodchuck likes it too!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


There are beautiful shadows and form on this watercolor by John Singer Sargent. I love that he pulled in some deep violet and turquoise colors too.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Papaya, avocado and kiwi salad

This is my new favorite weird salad combo... papaya, avocado and kiwi! I squeezed some fresh lime juice over it for added zest. This fruit salad combo works great for a breakfast (below) and for lunch I jazzed it up with macadamia nuts, baby arugula (from my own garden!) broccoli sprouts, lime juice, avocado oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Either way, it's ├╝ber antioxidant rich!

Click on the fruit salads label below
 to see more weird fruit combos.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Vertical viewing—Anna Karenina

Choo Choooo! Anna was a baaaaad wife. I've seen several film adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's classic masterpiece, Anna Karenina, but the latest one I saw was the most creative yet. Director Joe Wright, best known for his Atonement and Pride & Prejudice films (I happen to love both films.), blew me away with his unusual take on the film. The style is probably not for everyone, but I thought it was absolute genius. The film is so very, very beautifully shot, sublime in fact, and is part film, part theater and stage. It's as if he and Baz Luhrmann of Moulin Rouge fame got together for drinks and came up with this concept. Some of Wright's trademarks are long, continuous shots, often during a dance or a ball, and his shots of character's hands that portray sexual tension are pretty amazing too. But I digress. The Greta Garbo version is quite lovely, and some recent PBS adaptations are very well done too. Oblonsky, Tverskoy, Anna & Count Vronsky, Levin & Kitty, and dear, loving, patient Karenin. He really was a good sport for a while there.

“All happy families are alike; 
each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” 

Anna Karenina

the 1935 version with Greta Garbo and Frederic March
the 1948 version with Vivian Leigh and Ralph Richardson 
the 1985 version with Sophie Marceau and Sean Bean
the 1997 version with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer
the 2012 version with Kiera Knightly and Aaron Taylor-Johnson

*Vertical viewing defined by me—In wine tasting, there is a term called vertical tasting—sampling one wine varietal from the same producer from several vintages. So I call it Vertical Viewing when I watch and compare several different versions of films. It's great to really get into the storyline and compare the acting and the strengths and weaknesses of each film.

Click on "vertical viewing" label below for other vertical viewing suggestions!
Or click to read my vertical viewing posts of Emma, A Christmas CarolCyrano de Bergerac and Shakespeare's Tempest!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Art in the Barn, 2013

Tuscan olive grove

I have three paintings in the annual Essex County Greenbelt Association's  'Art in the Barn' show. The group show is this weekend, three days only—today, Saturday and Sunday—and there's loads of paintings, pottery, jewelry, and sculpture to peruse and buy. This organization is "...the region’s most effective champion of land conservation, working to conserve the farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic landscapes of Essex County, " so any art that you buy supports the beautiful ECGA open spaces of the North Shore. Click here to view more of my paintings on my website.

San Gimignano skyline

On the scent

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Every spring I find these Japanese maple tree sapling volunteers in the grass around our JM grove and the gardener in me can't resist digging up a few and planting them in a protected spot. I have grown many trees this way, and one maple is now over 10 feet tall. It just takes a little love and patience. This particular sapling cultivar is Acer Japonicum "Fireglow."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Color Inspiration—Blue grass

Look at all the the colors in this blue grass!

To see more colors, click on the "color inspiration" label below.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sweet and crunchy

This unusual sweet potato with curried puffed grains recipe is from Food & Wine magazine. The combination is perfection—a little sweet, a little spicy, a little crunchy, and whole lot of flavor. Instead of using regular sized sweet potatoes I used mini ones, which made this a good appetizer size. I also added some caramelized onions and a maple syrup glaze.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In the Japanese maple garden...

Japanese painted fern and "Bloodgood" Japanese maple are a match made in heaven. And they look great with this lichen covered rock.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Blackberry panna cotta

It's berry season, and you can find great deals on berries at the markets. This luscious blackberry panna cotta tasted as sweet and silky as it looked here. With it is a blackberry coulis made with cassis.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eye spy irises

The alliums are fading, but the irises are in full bloom!

photo, Dan Ryan

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A taste of Vietnam

The thing I love about Vietnamese food is that it's always so fresh and colorful. During the recent heat wave we enjoyed this meal; Vietnamese Rice noodle salad (I also added julienned slices of cucumber and savoy cabbage to this recipe), Vietnamese lime chicken wings (seriously finger lickin' good—you must try!), and a refreshing mango cucumber salad (you can adapt this recipe to any tropical or Asian fruit salad). Love that these recipes garnish with peanuts!

Vietnamese Rice noodle salad

4 oz rice noodles
1 cup finely sliced cabbage
1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, coarsely shredded
3 scallions, thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup loosely packed mixed fresh cilantro, min (and also basil leaves)
1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

  1. Drop noodles into boiling water, turn of heat and let soak for in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. To make the dressing, whisk together vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and salt in a large bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add noodles, carrot, scallions, herbs, and peanuts, tossing to combine.

Vietnamese mango and cucumber salad
one diced mango
1/4 of an English cucumber with skin, diced
1/3 of a small onion, diced or 1 sliced scallion 
cilantro leaves
(do add diced red pepper,
I just didn't have any this day!)

1 tblsp honey 
1 tblsp Asian fish sauce
2 tblsp lime juice or rice wine vinegar 
grated ginger
1 clove minced garlic
dash of Srirracha chili sauce 

You may also like this other Vietnamese food post with
Szechuan buckwheat noodles salad and grilled Vietnamese style shrimp

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Black parrot tulips

They faded last week, but these frilly, black parrot tulips were a nice treat this spring. Although they're usually a dark purplish-black, they looked positively blood-red here with the sun behind them. They were a nice contrast to the lime green Creeping Jenny below them.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fiddlehead fern tart

This fiddlehead fern tart was a taste of springtime! On a buttery square of puff pastry I spread a mix of grated Gruyere cheese, a beaten egg, a good splash of cream, salt and pepper. Then I toppled the blanched fiddleheads on top, and baked the tart in a 400° oven until it looked done—about 15 minutes. This would work well with asparagus too, as fiddleheads taste like a combo of asparagus and artichokes.

You may also like:

Monday, June 3, 2013

On the scent

On the scent  9 x 12

I painted this horse and hound painting yesterday. I was outside under the pergola and battled strong wind gusts, flower petals blowing onto the canvas, and curious bugs dropping by to inspect the canvas. See more of my equestrian paintings here.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just what the Doc ordered!

First bramble smash of the season! The heat is on with temps relentlessly in the 90s, and these drinks are just what the doctor ordered. Dr. Osterizer that is... my blender! I make mine different than Bon Appetit mag recipe though, using the aforementioned blender instead of mere muddling, and adding club soda. I whizz up berries, sugar water (made with half stevia, half sugar) and lemon / lime juice in Dr. O to make a thick yummy berry syrup which I keep in the fridge. Then when I want to make a drink, all I have to do is add the syrup, vodka, club soda, and ice. Then I just stir and sip. Aahhhhhhh.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Falling for Fornasetti

Graphic, Diane Carnevale

Piero Fornasetti (1913–1988) was a Milanese painter, sculptor, interior decorator and a creator of more than 11,000 products, but it's his unusual portrait plates that I always fall for. No doubt the most famous of Fornasetti's works was his interpretation of soprano opera singer Lina Cavalieri. Fornasetti came across her picture in a 19th century French magazine and she quickly became his muse and inspiration. The genius of Fornasetti was that he took this one image of her and creatively reinvented it in multiple ways. Today there are 350 variations of Cavalieri's portrait plates, and his son Barnaba Fornasetti continues to design in his father's name.

Piero Fornasetti

Check out this very fun interactive Piero Fornasetti  website, which
 shows a series of different faces each time you go back to the beginning.
There are a few online sources to purchase your own  
Fornasetti plate here and hereAlso, check out the 
Fornasetti home here… it’s amazing!