rigatoni and roasted delicata squash

About two months ago my entire kitchen  – along with every other room in the four bedroom Colonial Revival home I’d lived in for the past 10 years — was packed into a seemingly endless pile of boxes and loaded onto a long distance semi trailer truck, headed for New Jersey.

It took a few professionals less than a day to wrap and pack it all, but here I am, these many weeks later still sliding razor blades, sticky from packing tape, along the tops of the few remaining boxes.

Settling into a new space is a process. As I unpacked pots, pans, dishes and so many spoons, spatulas and whisks along with them I also found things that I didn’t know I had and had no idea I needed. Like about a thousand bamboo cocktail skewers, for example. And 3 dozen souffle cups.

“Why do I have all this stuff?” I wondered over and over…the whole experience left me a more than a little traumatized. I made a promise to myself that from now on I need to imagine the inevitable exit of every single thing I bring into my house.

Cooking in my new kitchen has progressed from the baby steps of basic survival meals. I’ve been inspired by food shopping. There are fantastic markets here, so well-stocked I have to restrain myself…all I need to do is remember how I gave away my pantry while we were packing a few months ago.

One night I riffed on a recipe from Heidi’s 101 Cookbooks, a roasted delicata squash, chile and mozzarella salad. Delicata is only around for a few months (right now) and I’m always glad to see it. The beautiful, striated green and sunset yellow skin is tender enough that there’s no need to peel it — I sometimes just scrape the skin randomly here and there to remove blemishes — and the flesh roasts up tender and very sweet.

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garden state

I’ve found a new place to call home. This summer, I moved with my family halfway across the country, from the Midwest where I’ve lived for the last decade, back to the Northeast where I was born. We’ve landed in New Jersey — not exactly my childhood state, but very reassuringly close to the edge of the Atlantic ocean I’ve missed for so long.

I’m just coming out of the fog of exhaustion that moving brought on, which felt more physically grueling than I ever remembered. Is it my advanced age? There was a time in my life when I picked up and moved every couple of years without batting an eye. Of course, those were days when the tendrils that held me in place where like threads on the end of a baby onion; nothing like the roots that formed after living in the same house year after year, watching my children grow up.

The past few months have been chaotic, and the lack of an orderly kitchen space — not to mention the piles of boxes all around — left me unbalanced and out of sorts. It was until I managed to cook a few simple meals in the new house that I felt some control. Even simply chopping fresh parsley, heating some garlic with olive oil to put over a bowl of pasta made life seem peaceful and predictable again.

There is such a bounty of great food in this part of the world; I feel very lucky and excited at the abundance of beautiful fresh seafood, local meat and produce. In Essex County where I live now, there’s a farmer’s market every day of the week in each different town.

I’ll be getting back to my usual cooking and posting recipes here, but for now I wanted to share a taste of my recent trip to the market.

Talk to you soon!

pressed roasted vegetable sandwich

roasted vegetable sandwich

The lazy days of summer – are you feeling them yet? The calendar says it’s officially here, but we’re just as busy as ever in my house, with certain things even causing stress, making me count the days until we can leave town for some much needed down time on our favorite beach.

My style of vacation cooking is pretty simple; the only tool I bring along to our rental cottage is my favorite chef’s knife, since the kitchen there is supplied with the major essential – a lobster pot.

pressed roasted vegetable sandwich [Read more...]