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...]

italian lemon slush

italian lemon slush cocktail

I can’t imagine there’s anything I wouldn’t love about the city of Venice. Since I haven’t been there yet I remain a vicarious traveler; picturing a sepia-colored city like no other, floating over an ancient network of canals, all those mysterious alleyways winding through a landscape of crumbling palaces.

Twenty-seven summers ago my best friend took off in the direction of Europe, with no real itinerary or return date. I’d planned up until the last minute to go with her, saving all my waitressing cash in a box under my mattress, but drama overrode – it became suddenly necessary that I break up with my then-boyfriend and find a new apartment. How unromantic!

lemon peel syrup for italian slush

Everything worked out fine in the end, but missing that adventure was my regret. In the middle of her travels, my friend called me from Venice; she was running out of money but still hoping I’d change my mind and meet her there in Italy.

I felt a tiny bit jealous that she was in a place I’d only ever dreamed about seeing, until she described the harrowing time she was having there; getting off the train alone in the middle of the night, finding the Piazza San Marco teeming with rats and also a few human ones intent on stealing her backpack and who knows what else.

It can happen in any city anywhere, but somehow, knowing it was less than paradise at that moment in Venice made it a little easier to accept what I was missing.
[Read more...]