Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sweet Saturday

This is one of my MOST favorite things

I've washed all my bedding and hung it to dry out on the line
in the spring sunshine and Winnie the Pooh wind

It is all put back together and ready to jump into 

 How simply sweet life can be 


Friday, April 27, 2012

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Flageolet Beans and Sautéed Mushrooms

Sometimes called Sunchokes

I can't believe I dug these from around my compost pile
A cross between an artichoke heart and a potato
a bit earthy, but nutty and sweet

I wanted a thick creamy soup, without the cream
 French flageolet beans to the rescue, a creamy delicate white bean

To compliment the earthiness I decided 
to add some sautéed mushrooms on top,
toasted pumpkin seeds, wintered over parsley and a drizzle of nice oil
I've got soup for today, tomorrow and the freezer!

 4 lbs. jerusalem artichokes (because that is what I had)
washed and cut into thick slices
6 large shallots, peeled and sliced
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half
4 stalks of celery, chopped
Sunflower oil
Kosher salt
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups flageolet beans - any creamy white bean will do-
1/2 cup white wine if you have it around

Heat 2 T of oil in soup pot, add shallot, celery and garlic,
season with a bit of salt and sauté until beginning to soften
Stir in sunchokes and beans to coat with oil

The older they are the longer they take, but soaking them only takes about
15 minutes cooking time off.  Ask the master researcher and cook book author Brook Dojny
or Jaques Pepin if you don't believe me

Add Stock and water and season with salt - I used a few teaspoons to start
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a mild simmer and cook, partially covered,
until the beans (along with everything else) are very tender
about 1 1/2 hours
stir occasionally
After about an hour add your wine if you are using, and taste for salt to see
if you need a bit more 

Just in case you thought you were the only one who doesn't plan ahead
I thought you would appreciate my frozen chicken stock - it does melt down
in no time at all :-)

While the soup is cooking, toast about 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds, dry, in 
a skillet until golden brown

Slice your mushrooms nice and thick and sauté them in a bit of 
olive oil and sea salt until caramelized and tender

Chop some fresh parsley

When the beans are done, puree the whole pot until smooth and creamy
Adjusting the salt and adding some fresh ground black pepper

Serve hot with mushrooms and seeds on top with a sprinkle
of parsley and a drizzle of your best olive oil (or toasted pumpkin seed oil if you have it)
I also gave it a pinch of Maldon's Sea Salt on top

And have a great weekend

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fear No More

After 15 years I finally have a chance to become intimate
with my yard at Lily's

Someone has always cut the grass,
 who the hell had time to do that,

 and even though I would
plant all the plants, someone else weeded them

and my lovely employees would trudge to the compost 
pile once or twice a day for years,

creating these heaping mounds of whatnot 
that quite frankly I was petrified of

Well - FEAR NO MORE  I say

I've cut the lawn twice, giving me this wonderful
sense of understanding about the lines of the
small acreage and how it settles in to grow every year

and yesterday - while Renee worked on fencing in 
my big garden project this spring - more on that soon to come-
I conquered my fear and tackled the compost

I think the problem for me was that the system that
everyone tells you to set up just doesn't work with
the way I am

Little contained boxes, that I couldn't even begin to understand
how to turn, let alone what to do when one got full etc. etc.

I ripped all that out and decided to continue on my journey
of just not being like everyone else

I spread the piles out, got rid of the grass that was growing all around it,
There was no smell, no bugs, and most of the 70 thousand egg
shells we have tossed in there over the years have broken down

I found jerusalem artichokes abounding, (now I know what
that lovely tall small sunflower was every year coming out of
the compost area) and tossed the bejesus out of the 
older piles that actually are starting to look like some good stuff

ahhh, I'm pretty pleased with myself

Now I have two piles close to being done and then
a huge section reserved for new stuff that I can actually
get to and continue tossing about once in a while

and my lettuce seeds have sprouted! 
I think I'll mulch in between the rows with some of my 
"black gold"

Get out there kids! Have some fun!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Okay to be on a Road to nowhere?

Yes, I should be in Chicago now, sorting my way thru
thousands of booths lined with the newest and coolest
in design ideas,

planning my outfit for dinner at the newest dinner hot spot
The Girl and the Goat with friends later tonight

In fact, was it just yesterday at this time that I was
joking with those friends, who, didn't have a direct flight
from Portland as I did, and were stuck in Buffalo for 12 hours?
Yes, that was me

Strapped in and ready to take off last night at 5:30, the
nice little Steward's hand set wouldn't work, so, following
regulations, we all trudged off the plane so they could fix it

An hour later, all strapped in again and
 able to hear the safety spiel just fine...,

my denying little brain registered it as a joke
when the steward started saying in a choked panicked voice

"exit the plane as fast as you can, do not take
your bag, just exit the plane quickly"

It wasn't until my seat neighbor started imploring that
no one panic and I smelled fire that I realized they were serious

I grabbed my bag - sorry- my Mother taught me
to never leave your purse anywhere-
and filed off

SO grateful that the plane hadn't taken off yet,

overcome with emotion at how well we all did 
as fellow human beings together - 
no one pushed 
and everyone was so KIND to one another, 

and giving my friends in Buffalo reasons to cheer in their airport bar because
my circumstance was now worse than theirs,

I felt pretty fortunate

I can't say I am not supremely disappointed,
 but I have to admit
that I had this incredible change in personality experience

In my matter of fact, get everything done, restaurant personna, I would have
bellied up to the reservation desk, been first to get rebooked etc etc

but last night I decided to just ALLOW 
Allow the grace of the universe if you will
allow myself to be guided by circumstances instead of guiding them

I observed, waited, and made a decision on my continuing travel based
on what was available by the time it was my turn at the desk

Not much it turns out, so I am home

I'm still adjusting to the change in plans,
and I'm SO not sold on the personality change,
but I think I really believe that I am supposed to be home


By the way, for some great nutritional info on polenta go to Sarah B's latest post

Thanks for listening

Monday, April 23, 2012

Polenta Lasagna

The wonders of a rainy weekend

PJ days, dress making, movie watching and lots of cooking

Remember that kale I showed you?

Well, I decided to put it to good use in a polenta lasagna

At Lily's we traditionally made it vegetarian with
three cheeses, spinach or swiss chard and homemade tomato sauce
The recipe is in the revised Lily's Cafe Cookbook

Yesterday I made it a bit differently with
sautéed kale, Bilinski's chicken sausage, and this goat's milk "ricotta"
which I think was just a weirdly set greek style yogurt, but it worked
wonderfully and gave the dish a nice little lift

I thought I'd share the recipe in case it's raining where you are
and you are inspired to cook in your pajamas


Bring 5 cups of cold water and 1 scant T of kosher salt to a boil
I added loads of chives from my garden to the water and some chopped parsley
Once it boils, whisk in 1-1/2 cups good quality polenta corn meal

Turn your heat to med low and continue whisking until a nice thick mush has formed

At this point, I turn the heat to low, and leave it to cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often
This makes the polenta extra creamy and delicious
When it is just about done I stir in 1 T of unsalted butter for good measure
you can add cheese here too, but since I was going to use dairy in the lasagna I left it out

While the polenta is cooking, slice up 4 chicken sausages if you choose to use them
and sauté them in a large pan with a bit of olive oil to release their juices and
caramelize them a bit.
Remove from the pan and set aside

In that same pan add a bit more oil and 2 cloves of chopped garlic
cook for 30 seconds
 add your kale (which has been washed and relieved of any thick center stems)
a bit of salt to taste, some red pepper flakes and a pinch of oregano
sauté until tender - this didn't take much since my kale was young and sweet
Honestly, I would choose swiss chard for the green in the summer for just that reason

Putting it all together:

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking pan and spread half of the still hot polenta
in a layer on the bottom
Cover this with 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
dot with 1 cup of ricotta cheese
spread half of the greens on this
then half the sausage
cover with grated parmesan

-at Lily's we would also use fontina or jack or mozzarella etc.
feel free to go crazy-

Spread remaining polenta on top of this and repeat the layers one more time
I dot the top with a bit of tomato sauce at the end if I have some left over

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, turning once

Let stand for 15 minutes to set before serving


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Maybe you can join us

In Celebration of Spring

Roger Olsen and I will be hosting a dinner at Lily's
on May 12, 2012 at 6pm 

We will be showcasing local spring bounty

The price is $50.00 per person and will
include 6 courses

A specially selected wine list will also be available

To make a reservation or inquire please
call Kyra at 207-367-5936 or email me at

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pure Bliss

Six straight days of sunshine, warmth and NO BUGS!!
(and no intense cafe schedule)

I don't think I have the cosmic right to be anything else
but deeply grateful

I have been gardening like a fiend and loving it

A few years ago I decided to stop stressing about
the success of my gardens as a whole
 and take pleasure in 
the small perfect vignettes that constantly
present themselves

Like this little gathering of johnny jump ups basking in the sunshine

Or my kale, that I planted much too late last summer and 
did nothing, has wintered over and looks beautiful and ready to eat!

Or this sweet little what not growing all healthy and green
in the middle of my lawn

 - deep sigh-

What if I drop the expectations, let things be, encourage health
and just enjoy them as they are?

I have been giving my ego a vacation and my heart is LOVING it!

Here is something else I love

Debby has been quilting like wild fire since the La La class
Look at this baby quilt she made for a friend's new grandson -

For me, it is that blue and white check around the border
that just makes the whole thing DANCE!!
I am headed to Chicago soon for
the KBIS kitchen and bath show!!
Very excited,
about the show, but mostly about the restaurants I've made reservations in
I'll keep you posted

You all have a wonderful weekend

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Completed Project

This design job was a wonderful challenge

 and with the help of
an outstanding team of people,
 starting with the contractor Tomboy Construction Inc. and her crew,
and including the homeowners, we were able
to really make the most of all these spaces.

A complete kitchen redo, 2 bathroom remodels and
an added bathroom with storage space were the requests.

I feel it came out awesome.  I hope they agree.

Kitchen during...

Kitchen after...

The walls and trim are Monterey White - Ben Moore
and the cabinetry is from Island Interiors in Trenton, Maine

I found this at an auction, it is like it was made for the space!

Sink in the powder room off the kitchen, haven't found the perfect mirror yet

Beveled subway tile in celery upstairs

A bit of the the added bathroom

Part of the transformation into storage space, etc...

Ahhh, I would move in.

Off to the garden!
Enjoy your day

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paint Colors and a Guest Blogger

Picking paint colors for your home, inside or out, is a huge undertaking and with paint up to $100 a gallon and labor close to $40 an hour, you really don't want to get it wrong.
  But it is such a sensitive thing.

Color in a room sets the tone of everything for me, not just the mood,  it speaks to who you are, your intentions in life, and how you feel about the whole picture.  
I do a lot of color consulting for clients and it is such a high when we get it just right.

Kristine and I met in January when she accompanied Rhea from Alewives to help with the La La Log Cabin Quilt workshop.  Upon arrival in Lily's the first words out of her mouth were, 
"I love your colors"
  That is the sweetest thing anyone can say to me and I knew we would become fast friends.

At the time,  Kristine was finishing a remodeling of a wonderful older home in Maine where she holds down the fort with her husband, two young boys, a full time job and a great design sense.  She was struggling with paint color choices to set the final tone and was playing with the idea of painting the walls and trim all the same color, something I very often do.

Excited by her choices, I asked if she would share her decisions and process in a blog post when she was thru.  Happily she agreed to fit it into her crazy schedule.  I feel like we all inspire each other every day, it is so fun to see what we are all doing.


Greetings Lily’s House readers, 

Kyra asked me a loooong while back if I would “guest post” on her blog about how I select paint colors for my home, what inspires me, the process by which I build off of color, etc. etc.  My instant response was, “well, mostly I just steal color inspiration from others, is that an acceptable practice to blog about?” To which Kyra aptly responded, “hell yeah!”  ..and so, here we are…

I have to admit that I was especially inspired by the marriage of colors when walking thru Lily’s café…the girl has got it I tell you..the gray-blues work so well with the bold, chocolate bar wall, pattern on pattern in upholstery and clean lines thru out her special place.

For me, color is that critical component in a room that sets the tone for the personality of the space…I’ve never been an “off-white with woodgrain trim” kind of gal..but, thru experimenting with color and making many mistakes I have learned that I favor a monochromatic trim and wall color’s the easiest way to keep things clean, modern and classic all at the same time.

On the topic of making mistakes, these little guys will save you from a mountain of frustration and are worth their weight in gold….behold, the Benjamin Moore color sample…

trust in this…..I would not steer you wrong… these are a staple when deciding on color…I used six of these when selecting the color for my living room and ultimately decided on something altogether different.  Nonetheless, I swatch each color on different walls that see different light at each time of day as color can read a million ways when visualized in evening versus morning light…

Next up….and also worth his weight in gold…”Tom from the paint department at Hammond Lumber”…he can’t paint a wall to save his life, but he knows everything there is to know about polymers, VOCs, how many coats it takes before a company guarantees its color, what paint finish you should use for walls vs. trim vs. ceilings..when it’s ok to cheat, what cheap paint brushes are the best (ps. the $7 dollar Ben Moore all surface brushes) and he never judges me when I buy 6 color samples and then return to purchase a gallon of a completely different color…ladies and gentleman….”paint department Tom:”

Inspiration for me, comes from many places: nature, spying a great color in a magazine shoot, friends’ homes, design blogs and last but not least…pinterest.  This platform is the crack pipe of design, images, recipes, and randomness…and I’m smoking it with the best of them.  We are so fortunate…and sometimes have a plethora of influences at the touch of our fingers…not to mention the ability to color match just about any medium…so without further ado…here are my home’s current paint colors..(I’ve literally repainted every room in my home at least 5 times over and never the same color) the’s just paint…

Living room (Benjamin Moore Gray Owl):

 Dining Room (walls-Ben Moore Edgecomb Gray; trim/wainscoting Farrow & Ball Pointing:

Foyer (Farrow & Ball Pointing mixed in Ben Moore Regal line):


1st floor bath (walls-California paints Amelia; trim/wainscoting Farrow & Ball Pointing):

 Master bedroom (white stripe-Lowes Eddie Bauer Oyster white; blue stripe-custom mix Martha Stewart cumulus cloud; bedding Dwell Studio):

Front door (Benjamin Moore Stratton Blue):

thanks for letting me share,




Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Saturday Smile

I transplanted a bunch of seedlings into bigger pots this morning
and just wanted to tell you that my "cupcakes"
are all doing really well.  That Vermont Compost,  Fort Lite
potting mix is amazing stuff, these are the healthiest 
seedlings I have every grown.

And the paper liners in the muffin cups really helped in
getting the plants up and out without disturbing the
roots too much

Pretty cool.

Today I am fighting that Spring urge to panic in response
to what needs to be done in my gardens at my house 
and at Lily's. 
Slow deliberate movements right?
I will feel better when I get out there

Have a wonderful weekend and look forward to a guest blogger on Monday -
Kristine Incandella Lucas - 
and join us in a discussion about paint colors and how to pick them


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Goat's cheese and Roasted Asparagus

Last night was the first official gathering of a Wednesday evening
runners/walkers group, thought up by our early morning exercise group.

I ran until I couldn't breathe and walked until I could, proud of 
myself for making it around the 3 mile loop with some dignity.

It was a gorgeous spring evening and we were rewarded by this
lovely sunset and some great ending conversation.  I am continually
amazed at having TIME to do things like this.

That was all great until I woke up this morning and felt
like someone had run me over with a truck.
I hope it gets better.

I am catering a small shower for a friend on Saturday and
went to my neighbor's (The Red Barn Farm) to
pick up some goat cheese. 

Donna and Marsden just finished their new barn this winter and
it is a peach.  The color is fabulous - Ben Moore, Cottage Red- 
and I always feel so fortunate when I'm asked to come
into where the animals are and take a peak

Seven babies were born 5 weeks ago and I had the chance to
pet them and watch them play today

This is Lily - one of the new Mom's-
She's been making goat cheese for Lily's Cafe for years now 

There is something so peaceful for me in this barn.
The timelessness of it

The sweet smell of hay, the animals
just doing their thing and a chance to catch up
with Donna and hear some great stories.

It just slows me down and I experience such gratitude

I noticed that Renee had brought some asparagus home
last night from the Co op and I thought I would share
my recipe for how I cook them since
the bounty of fresh asparagus is almost upon us here

This is simple, quick and really delicious


Roasted Asparagus with Champagne Vinegar

Set your oven to 450 degrees

Snap off the tougher bottom part of the stems of the asparagus
 and line them up on a baking tray

Drizzle them with olive oil and toss them lightly to coat,
Sprinkle with sea salt and just a touch of granulated garlic

Place in hot oven and roast for 4-7 minutes, just until they
begin to color and are crisp tender

Remove them from the oven, place them on a serving platter
and sprinkle lightly with champagne vinegar

A dash of freshly ground black pepper finishes them off nicely

And yes, I think some fresh goat cheese would be wonderful dotted on top :-)