Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Midsummer's daydream cheesecake

Daydreaming in the raspberry patch inspired this summer cheesecake, garnished with a tumble of blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, figs and ruby red currants. A crowning halo of wild blackberry brambles and wildflowers encircle the sweet mélange.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who's next?

A funny thing happened to me at the deli the other day. I grabbed a number for service and giggled out loud when I saw the number 51. Two women waiting at the deli giggled along with me and commented that it's nice that I am so amused doing my shopping chores. I showed them my ticket and told them that although I was 51 that day, it was only for a few more days. The woman nearest me gave me her number 52 ticket and said, "Here, you'll be needing this then." Funny lady! I said "Wouldn't it be nice if the number read 26 instead of 52?" and she asked, me "Would you really want to do it all over again?" Without hesitation I replied "absolutely!!" Happy birthday to me—hopefully I'll always be 26 at heart.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sweet brandywine!

First Brandywine tomato of the season! (Technically it was the second Brandywine—Mr. Woodchuck got the first ripe one, but that's another story for another day...Damn country living!) Back to the tomato. We decided the best way to honor this first tomato was to slip it inside a BLT sandwich. Cob smoked bacon, Boston bibb lettuce, Hellman's mayo, and slabs of that luscious, red tomato, all sandwiched between lightly toasted ciabatta bread... Then eaten outside in the summer sunshine of course! Drooling yet? Read more about our summer tomatoes here.

Photos, Diane Carnevale

Shaws Market in Beverly  
carries this brand of bacon

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fluffy clouds

Scrumptious, fluffy clouds inspired this painting that I recently made. The view is from the bridge that covers Fox Creek in Ipswich, just before Crane's Beach. It's a scene that I've painted a zillion times. See the detail of the painting below. Oil on canvas / 18 x 18."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cherry bomb fizz

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

This drink is 'da bomb! It's loaded with summery cherry flavors, and the sweetness is balanced with lime juice. Doesn't everyone have a bottle of cherry kirschwasser that we only use once in a blue moon when we make a cheese fondue? Well, here's another good use for it! These drinks were fun to sip out of jelly jars.

3/4 cup pitted cherries
juice from one lime
 1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces cherry kirsch
2 ounce vodka

Makes 2 cherry-licious drinks.

Place pitted cherries, lime juice and simple syrup in a blender and whizz it up. Add kirsch and vodka, and give another quick pulse of the blender. Pour into a glass with ice cubes and add seltzer water. It will fizz up in a dramatic way, so make sure to let your guests see this part. Garnish with cherries and a wedge of lime.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Lebanese tabbouleh salad

 Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern appetizer spread made with bulgur wheat that is scooped up or wrapped in a lettuce leaf. An authentic tabbouleh salad would have way more mint and parsley than I show here, and the tomatoes and cucumbers would be cut into smaller pieces. This is an Americanized version. Cut your veggies however you wish, but don't skimp on the lemon and olive oil because those flavors are so zesty and fresh. Occasionally I'll add in some feta cheese too. (photo, Diane Carnevale)

1 cup bulgur (cracked) wheat
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tsp salt

 + + +
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 
1 cup or so of halved grape tomatoes or diced plum tomatoes
1 English or Persian cucumber, unpeeled, chopped or diced
Juice of 1 large lemon (or more!)
1/4 cup olive oil
dash of cinnamon and all spice
dash of allspice
1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1/4 cup diced purple onion (optional, I like the color and crunch)
Feta cheese (optional, but if you use is then don't add any extra salt)
salt and pepper to taste

Place the bulgur in a large bowl, pour in boiling water, along with 1 tsp of salt. Stir, then cover and let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes. Water should be all absorbed by now, but drain off any excess if there is some. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Let sit for an hour before serving.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mirror, mirror

I was day dreaming by our little fish pond the other day—perhaps mesmerized by the trickle of the waterfall—and I noticed that the blue sky had made the surface look like a mirror. It was a reflecting glass made of water. I hope you can see what I saw that day, the wiry foliage of a corkscrew rush, not unlike Medusa's head, reflecting on the smooth, silver water. In the floating green glass ball you can also see a 365° view of the foliage above the pond.

Reflected below are the leaves of a Japanese maple.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Some enchanting garden

The Rose Garden inside Beverly's Lynch park is a magical place indeed. Originally it was the formal sunken Italian rose garden of President Taft's original summer home. I grew up nearby on Lothrop Street and used to frolic in the beautifully manicured garden when I was a child. Wasn't I lucky? It's really no wonder that my husband and I eventually created a sunken garden in our own back yard with such grand inspiration! The two huge stone lions that flank the entrance steps were so majestic and mysterious to me, and the aroma of the flowers were heavenly. The garden has beautiful herringbone brick pathways, ancient carved limestone benches, and a brick wall that encloses it like a neat little package. Shouldering the Atlantic Ocean, the crashing waves add an extra romantic touch to the garden. It's also a fabulous place to get married, and I just happen to know that twenty years ago today it was a spectacularly sunny day there... wink wink

Upon entering, the signs on the brick columns read:

Whoever enters here let him beware
For he shall nevermore escape nor be free of my spell.

(bottom photos, Diane Carnevale)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pick up sticks

This julienned beet, granny smith apple, and carrot salad looks more like a game of pick up sticks. Feta cheese added a lovely creaminess and pumpkin seeds were added for crunch. The baby beet micro greens were a nice addition as well.

Click below to see other beet salads I've made:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Color inspiration—mangos in the moonlight

Tonight's full moon is called the full thunder moon
We sure could use some drenching 
thunder storms this week!

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Great contrasting colors! A lonely yellow daylily pops her head through the burgundy foliage of an ornamental peach tree, as if she was playing Peek-a-boo!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The shagadellic—yeah baby!

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

Our Saturday sipper this week is the direct result of a torturous week of summer heat and humidity. We nearly hit 100° yesterday! So all week we've  looked forward to a cool libation, and simply had to trip out with this thirst quenching cocktail. Hypnotiq liqueur is a Caribbean blue colored blend of tropical fruit juices, vodka and cognac. Mix it with a little gin and some bubbles and you'll be in shagadellic bliss.

2 ounce Hpnotiq liqueur
2 ounce Bombay Sapphire gin
Shake it, baby.
then add 4 ounces tonic water

Makes 2 psychedelic drinks.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Turn up the volume and click below to listen to one my favorite summer songs. Lead singer Harriet Wheeler has an amazing voice, and it's just a good way to start the weekend—the epitome of a sweet, sunny tune. It always makes me feel 14, barefoot and carefree in the summer sunshine.

Summertime, by the Sundays!

And it's you and me in the summertime 
We'll be hand in hand down in the park 
With a squeeze and a sigh and that twinkle in your eye 
and all the sunshine banishes the dark...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stone cold

This cool and refreshing stone fruit salad has sweet slices of nectarines, peaches and apricots, a few halved cherries, a sprinkling of arugula leaves, and some briny French feta cheese.

Click below to see two other simple, stone fruit salads:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The mermaid in art

Mermaid in the detail of a map by N.C. Wyeth   

Mermaids—sirens of the sea—are so enchanting, and not just to fishermen and shipwrecked sailers! Folklore of sea creatures with upper bodies of humans and tails of fishes have been told, retold, and illustrated for centuries. I put together this collection of mermaids in art throughout the ages. The first primative images are in the desert in South Africa, where it was once an ocean. Serpents and mermaids often appeared in prints and engravings (particularly in ancient maps), political cartoons, children's books, and so on. There are a lot of mermaids here (45ish!) and believe it or not I used restraint in choosing which images to post. Enjoy!

The Mermaid
Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne?

~ Lord Alfred Tennyson

Karoo desert rock art, believed to be mermaids, South Africa

Karoo desert rock art, South Africa

coat of arms print, 1554-1591, by Jost Amman 

medieval mermaid and merman print, artist unknown

Giovanni Andrea Maglioli  1580-1610

a 19th-Century engraving of a manatee and a mermaid

Colored copper plate engraving, Neptune, mermaids, seashells, 1810 

 The Prince of Whales political cartoon, by  George Cruikshank, 1812

by John William Waterhouse, 1900

by Maurice Greiffenhagen, circa 1900

by Howard Pyle, 1910

by Herbert Cole, 1915

by Warwick Goble

by Herbert Cole, 1915

Unidentified artist

Unidentified artist

"And I should look like a fountain of gold," 
illustration to The Mermaid, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
by Warwick Goble, circa 1920

Pinup mermaid

Unidentified artist

by Lisa Paizis

by Annie Stegg

by William Stout, 1999

by Victor Nizovtsev, Russian fantasy illustrator

Darryl Hannah in the film Splash

Julianne Moore as a mermaid in a Annie Leibowitz photo


A cone breasted Madonna-esque mermaid

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark, 
 honors childeren's book writer Hans Christian Anderson. 
(We took this photo in 2005!)

And with a splash of her tail 
she disappeared into the blue beyond...