Friday, December 28, 2012


It has been blissfully easy to remove myself from
my usual routine this last week and I have been
truly enjoying myself

I hope the same has been possible for you.

As we all contemplate the new year ahead I'd like to share
this powerful perspective:

Everything you are and can be is already a part of you

Love yourselves today


Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Cooking Class

Among one of the calls I received for holiday baking orders
was a request from Sustainable Harvest to do a
Cooking Class/Dinner as a Christmas Celebration for their staff

I knew with a name like Sustainable Harvest we would get along
fine with a menu of local, seasonal ingredients but I hadn't done
any holiday decorating!

I dug out a few treasured items I have saved through the years

And went outside to snip a few branches of evergreen and found some
rose hips on a rugosa over by the garden

It's amazing what tucking a few of these things around 
does for the room.  Instant Holiday!!
and it took me about 20 minutes

I had planned the menu and laid out the ingredients
so that as soon as they arrived we could get started

Citrus Rosemary Spritzers 
Lentil Pate with Garden Carrots 
Cheddar Pecan Crisps 
Carding Brook Farm Mesclun with
Grapefruit, Pecans, Red Onion and
Yellow Birch Farm Feta 
Fresh Caught Diver Scallops,
Seared and served over
Cauliflower Puree 
Old Ackley Farm Red Cabbage
Sautéed with ginger, scallions
and sesame oil
Poached Pears with honey
and chocolate sauce

They wasted no time getting down to business

And, as often happens (thankfully)  I learned
a trick or two - here Florence is showing us how easy
it is to peel ginger with a spoon - SLICK!

They made beautiful salads while nibbling
on the appetizers they made upon arrival

and we did a few basics, like searing scallops,
and sautéing cabbage, in the "hot" kitchen.

I then freed them to go and sit at the set table and relax
as I served them the food they had prepared

Bravo ladies!

I returned home last night to a wonderful surprise.
Renee had made three wreaths and hung them around the house

We hang them inside the house, in the dining room,
kitchen and living room.

It creates such a warm and toasty atmosphere

I love simple and hope that you are all having
a really good time.

I've included the recipe for Lentil Pate 
they made last night.



½ cup French green lentils
1 cup shallots, roughly chopped
3 cups stock
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp kosher salt
2 T olive oil
3 T chopped cilantro

Simmer lentils and shallots in stock (salt if needed), covered,
until tender.
Drain, keeping any remaining liquid
Puree in food processor with paprika and salt, adding liquid as necessary for desired consistency.
Add oll.
Stir in cilantro

Allow to chill before serving

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cleaning House

Okay, I have answered emails,
vacuumed, mopped the floors

I even cleaned the globes on the chandelier

I have one more work project to complete before I can
go into my sewing room to make more of these awesome pin cushion caddies!

As I struggle with this balance I was reminded of a poem
my father had sent me years ago, when I had just begun quilting

 - Author unknown

My neighbor is washing her windows
and scrubbing and mopping her floors.
But my house is all topsy-turvy and
dust is behind all the doors.

My neighbor, she keeps her house spotless
and she goes all day long at a trot.
But no one will know in a fortnight 
if she swept today or not.

The task I am at is enticing...
My neighbor is worn to a rag.
I am making a quilt out of pieces 
I have saved in a pretty chintz bag.

And the quilt, 
I know my descendants
will exhibit with prideful heart.
"So lovely - my grandmother made it,
an example of patience and art"

But will her grandchildren remember
her struggles with dirt and decay?
They will not...
they will wish
she had made them a quilt
 like the one I am making today.
Happy Monday

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Braised Beef with Garlic and Rosemary

Last night was a December Wine Workshop at Lily's

The main course was Old Ackley Farm stewing beef
braised in red wine with garlic, rosemary and spices

I served it over mashed sweet potato and butternut squash
(recipe can be found in a November post of this blog)
with sautéed beet greens from the garden which
I had blanched and frozen at the end of the season

Ed and Barbara of Wine Traditions in the Washington DC area
 presented delicious wines with my food and we instantly became part
of a mutual admiration society

Lydia asked me for the recipe for the beef, so
I thought I would share it with everyone

Before I go, I want to give you a link to 
Alewive's Girl.  Rhea has posted some beautiful photos
 of her home on a pre-baby nesting day



I made this dish intuitively, so the amounts here are approximate

4 lbs of stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium red onions, peeled and diced
1 head of garlic, top cut off
1/2 cup diced pancetta, or bacon
5 peppercorns
6 whole coriander seeds
2 whole allspice
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt
3-5 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 bottle of a dry red wine
(I used Marcillac and it really came through)
2-3 cups chicken stock

Toss cubed beef with salt to lightly season
Pre heat oven to 325 degrees

In a heavy bottom dutch oven, 
heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium high heat
Add pancetta and cook until beginning to brown

Add onion,
 keep cooking until pancetta is golden and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes

Add beef and stir to coat with oil, onion mixture
Pour in wine and bring to a boil
Add garlic, peppercorns, coriander seeds, allspice and bay leaves
Simmer until the wine is reduced by half

Add stock and rosemary,
 taste your braising liquid at this point and add salt if it needs it

Bring to boil, take off heat, cover and place in heated oven
(I use Molly Stevens method of putting parchment paper over
 the beef and liquid before putting the cover on)

Cook covered until meat is tender and sauce has thickened
This took about 2 hours in my oven, might take 3 in yours
I took the cover off for the last 20 minutes to brown the meat and richen the sauce

I let the braise stand at room temperature for an hour, 
squeezed the roasted garlic from the skin, 
removed my stems and leaves and allspice,
 added some fresh cracked black pepper, stirred to combine
and reheated it before serving

This would be even better if cooked a day ahead and if there had been any
leftovers I bet they would taste even better today.


Friday, December 14, 2012


Renee showed me a video this morning titled Mainah Style
 - a spoof on the popular music video "Gangnam Style -

It has that Mainer Pride,
 showing how things are done here with grit instead of glamour
and a whole lot of heart

Nothing could be a better example of this Maine essence than
 yesterday's Real World event at the high school

 It was my third All School Real World and I, 
 with the help of a lot of good people, (especially Carmen Rollins)
devised an amazing race of sorts in the gym

The idea was to involve the kids fully;  Mind, Body and Spirit

It was bare bones creative ingenuity in a school that
has no extra funds and very few bells and whistles

But where else would you find a race course with knotted lobster traps filled
 with books to be balanced on your head

And have kids that know intuitively how to untie them 
and retrieve their contents

We even have guys in suits (yes, from off island)
but still, they drive all the way down to talk about
doing the "next right thing" to make your life what you want it to be

and mom's who can show yoga moves

and a dance teacher who works with over 300 kids a year

and a lead office administrator who produced the
coolest mind puzzle station ever

And when the rope broke during the tug of war, (that's a whole n'other story ;0)
what did the boys do, but coil it up for me in neat lobsterman fashion

This community, this 'place'
 is busting at the seams with heart and soul
and so are we all as people

When we possess so much, so simply,
why is it that we continue to think we need to have more?

I am always so grateful to be reminded
that this is enough

Thank you.

Enjoy your weekend
  I hope there is much laughter,


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

I had the best time entertaining last night.

Of course the company was wonderful, but I also did something
a bit differently

We made tapas kinds of things and put them all 
out on the table at once, 

Seared scallops (first of the season, fresh caught in our local waters)
Oysters (also local) sautéed broccolini, fried chic peas, stuffed mushrooms,
pate, cheeses, nuts, figs, olives, smashed potatoes and more

I added some raw brownies towards the end of the night,
but that is the only time I had to get up.

I didn't miss any of the lively conversation, or break the mood of the table
by clearing and serving
It was so pleasant and easy

There was lots of laughter,
 even a bit of dancing before we all sat down

I am strongly reminded of how important
it is to choose to surround yourself with good people

and oh so fortunate that these good people want to be around me

A big hit of the night was my smashed potatoes served
with Yellow Birch Farm greek style yogurt


Heat your oven to 450 degrees
Meanwhile, simmer small to medium sized potatoes
in salted water until cooked all the way through, but not falling apart
A knife will go through them easily

Drain and place them 2 inches apart on a lightly oiled baking tray

With your hands and a pot holder or paper towel
to protect yourself from the heat,
Smash the potatoes down to flatten them to about 3/4" thick

Drizzle them with oil - not olive, it will burn - I use grapeseed 
and sprinkle them liberally with sea salt - Maldon's if you have it

Place in your hot oven and roast the smashed beauties
until they are crisp and deep golden brown on the outside

Serve immediately. 
 They are great plain, but the yogurt turns them into a celebration

Enjoy yourselves!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Presentation Day

Amber gives her Senior X presentation today on running
her own pop up bistro, the Sassy Pumpkin, for 6 weeks
out of Lily's

She presents to 6 panelists and 10 fellow students
giving them samples from her menus and explaining
the process she went through, what she learned,
and how it has affected her decisions about
her future plans.

5 other seniors are giving their presentations within the school as well
What a wonderful process of discovery.

Amber has put her heart into the project and I wish her the best

We had a relaxed morning together yesterday at Lily's while she
baked her coconut cake and organized her food and thoughts
for today.

I'll miss these days of one on one sharing
~ special times in our fast paced lives ~


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Short Cuts and Sewing Machines

You know what they say,
once you go Bernina, you never go back
 and I do love my machine

I love it even more knowing Ron at Cote Brothers in Turner Maine
is a day trip away!
  He is the sewing machine magician
and a very kind man. 

Yesterday, while he tuned up my babies
 I goofed around in town for a few hours.

Upon picking them up,
Ron suggested a shortcut for my return trip home

 I ended up in some of the most beautiful scenery ever!

Farm land, Rolling mountains, Ponds, Old barns

 Maine is such a Wonderland

 Then, 10 minutes from home,
I came to the top of Caterpillar Hill and found this!

And a tuned up Bernina to boot -
Sometimes I just can't stop grinning

Enjoy your day

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Night Away

Usually I am not a huge lover of this Holiday season
But no cafe to run, light snow, holiday lights in downtown Portland
and meeting up with friends for the evening
definitely filled both Renee and I with a festive spirit

We started with lunch at Eventide.
For the life of me I can not remember who told me to go here
But I will be forever grateful

Located across the street from Duck Fat,
in the space that used to be the cool cookbook store,
they feature oysters, crudo (cold) dishes, 
an imaginative menu with new takes on old favorites
and a pretty hip crowd of young and old alike

We tasted a bunch of small plates, all good,
my favorite being this crab salad on pickled cukes with 
a ginger vinaigrette of sorts


for a poke around


Wouldn't these lights look fab over a kitchen island?

Of course we couldn't leave without something and Alice,
 the owner, was there - so it was like a double treat 

A bit of shopping in the Old Port - Renee bought me a new mandoline
by OXO which I am excited about and a cutting glove so I
don't cut my fingers off!

A wine tasting at Brown and Co. and then dinner
with friends at Emilitsa, a greek restaurant on Congress St.
that we had a very generous gift certificate to from
satisfied design clients

We ended the evening with a drink and great conversation at 
Grace, an old church which is now a restaurant and bar

This led to some interesting discussions of freedom from traditions
which is how I have decided to look at Christmas etal.

I can celebrate December in a way that fills my soul,
it doesn't have to look like what everyone else chooses to do.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cast Iron Heaven

Last month I roasted a chicken (Old Ackley Farm's of course!) on the fly in
the nearest pan I could find, which happened to be
my 12" cast iron skillet

It came out so well that I did it again last night
and have decided I will probably never use any other pan again.

Try it!  I stuffed the cavity with an apple I found
rolling around in the back of the fridge and threw some
kosher salt in with it

Drizzled the chicken with a bit of olive oil,
Sprinkled with kosher salt, granulated garlic, rosemary, black pepper and thyme

 Popped it in a 350 oven, basting every 25 minutes
and roasted it for a total of about an hour (170 degrees on a meat thermometer)

It comes out so crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside
and the pan drippings are pure caramelization

A perfect meal by the wood stove
with some of that sweet potato and butternut squash mash
and sautéed kale leftover from the garden

What a way to start the weekend


Friday, November 30, 2012

A Good Thing

Yesterday in our Real World class, the ladies from
Island Quilters Guild came to give the kids
aprons they had made for them upon my request

They were super well received and oh so appreciated
and made from really wonderful fabrics too!

Then, Mr. West (the principal) taught them how
to make pizza

 The real way

We had our chopping station

and our saucing station

 our topping station

and the best station....Eating!

There was a lot of energy in that room.

And it was a really good thing.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!