How We Shop Now

For the majority of my life I have loved food shopping. It is what you do prior to cooking, and cooking as you may have guessed from reading this blog, is one of my joys. What I know from years of grocery shopping is this:

  • Each store is unique
  • Shopping where there are happy & knowledgable employees is more fun
  • Mentally bookmark stores with unique/quirky items
  • Not all bulk sections carry foods you want to (or should) buy
  • Produce sections tell you a lot about the community
  • Not all of us like other people packing our shopping bags

Then there are the farmer’s markets – a wonderful subset of places to food shop. Loved both because my dear Grammy Caldwell started taking me to them when I was a young girl, plus they give you an opportunity to speak with the farmer who grew the food, and you get to go shopping outdoors! My lifelong love of farmer’s markets and farm stands is something I’ve written about here and here and here.

The thing is food shopping isn’t what it once was. Continue reading

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May 2, 2020 · 8:55 am

Sunshine Milk

Marshes on Nantucket

It may be the beginning of April, though honestly March does not feel as if it were just a month ago – it feels instead like an entire year ago. Given the planet is in the middle of a pandemic my sense of time is completely skewed.

Low tide on Nantucket Island

My grandparents, and presumably yours, lived through the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19. Hundreds of thousands of people lived with the terror of Polio until a vaccine was created in 1955. Covid-19 is the most recent disease to sweep across the globe. I’m not a scientist so I have no advice to offer of how to cure this disease. Nor am I a doctor, so again, no brilliant insights of how you can attempt to avoid this disease, though there are several things you can do to help “flatten the curve”*, and I sincerely hope you are able to do them. As someone who is most often found in the kitchen, all I can offer you at this moment is a bit of sunshine in a cup. Continue reading

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Celebrating a Second Spring with Stinging Nettle Soup

Spring is an elusive season here in New England. You’ll get a 60º day, followed by days of rain, sleet, and even snow. Or Mother Nature will deliver us a handful of spring days, follow them up with a few weeks of mud season, then boom thrust into the dog days of summer. I imagine her cackling, pretending to be sorry we didn’t get more spring-like days, but really she’s not sorry one whit. Which is why it feels as if we won the weather jackpot this year.

Spring buds in Oklahoma City

After our youngest moved out of the house in January, my husband and I realized how much extra space we had. So we decided to bring our daughter all the things she’d been storing at our house, combine the massive drop-off with a mini family vacation, and gain even more space in our cozy home. Because let’s face it, to truly become empty nesters we needed the house to be emptied of all the kid’s stuff.

Weeks prior to our departure we swept through the house, finding stashes of books, clothes, art supplies, tools, sleeping bags, and letters our daughter had saved. Once it was all staged Shawn started to box it up. There were more than a few discussions where we wondered if all of her stuff  would fit in the back of the truck. Thankfully it all fit in, like some sort of crazy 3-D puzzle. And so a few days after our 25th wedding anniversary* we took off like a herd of turtles. The back seat of the truck was stuffed high with our own travel gear, a few knitting projects for the road, some books on tape, and our dog Oliver who was happily perched high atop all these bags ensuring a proper view out the window. Just 1,623 miles to the “drop off.” Continue reading

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Beware the Whomping Willows

Things don’t always turn out as you’d expect.

Dunes at Tyndall AFB

After having children I developed a sixth sense (otherwise known as Mom logic) for figuring out what might happen, then preparing for it. Part of my job as food stylist was to anticipate the unexpected. I’d pack my kit, knife bag, and various tools, but in addition I’d have plans B, C, D & E ready for when things went sideways. And trust me – they almost always went sideways.

My best friend and I are both firm believers in imagining the worst possible scenario in any given situation so when it doesn’t happen, as it usually doesn’t, anything else which might have cropped up is a cake-walk (note my husband and therapist are not fans of this last method even if I think it works for me).

The point in noting all of this is simply to say that usually I can deal with most of what life throws at me and mine. Not always gracefully, but I manage. Occasionally even with a modicum of aplomb. Continue reading

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Simple Gifts

I woke up the other morning with a list running through my head. Not a grocery list or a to-do list, but a list of several people and things I am grateful for.

Late summer plumbs in a hand-made bowl.

It feels as if, just like the cornucopia of food at the local farmer’s markets in August, I too have a bounty of blessings. The unexpected gift from a friend at church who made me a set of pottery bowls because he thinks every good cook should have a set of nesting bowls. All summer long those bowls have been filled with seasonal fruits and other yummies. The gift of father who lived a very abundant 88 years*. A husband who is willing to dumpster dive in order to find the pearl earring I lost while we were doing some demo at a volunteer job. Yes miracles do happen – he found and rescued the lost earring from a soggy shop vac bag. Plus the every day gift, which makes it that much bigger, of my wonderful family who love to eat whatever I come up with in the kitchen.

There have been challenging moments over the last few months because that’s just the teeter-totter of life, but I’m trying hard to focus on the plus side of things. One giant plus I discovered during a dinner at a friend’s house. It was a lovely, late-spring meal and since I was one of the guests who lived close by, I offered to bring a few culinary contributions. My friend Jessica tasked me with bringing the green sauce for the poached salmon plus a gluten free/dairy free dessert. I knew which green sauce I was supposed to bring, but of course me being me I began to tinker and play around in the kitchen. I arrived not only with the requested green sauce and a gf/df rhubarb crumble, but two other green sauces I thought might go well with our supper**. While all of those green sauces were yummy (trust me – I put generous scoops of all three on my plate and drizzled or dipped with abandon) the one I have been making weekly ever since that meal is Continue reading

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