Thursday, December 31, 2009


Danish puffy pancakes (aebleskiver), prosecco, bubbly cranberry juice and orange chocolates-- sweet treats  to welcome the New Year.

There is snow on the ground and freezing rain in the weather forecast.  Neither is cause for alarm. Unusual as  a wind chill of 12 F is, in this part of the country it will not stop us from welcoming the New Year with  a dinner of wild mushroom soup and  homemade muffin-sized pizzas.
We will toast 2010 with prosecco, blood orange frizzante and sparkling cranberry juice and Danish pancakes (aebleskiver).  We will replace our traditional viewing of Die Fledermaus with a Russian biopic of Tchaikovsky.  If we feel peckish between dinner  and breakfast, we have pistachios, dark chocolate with orange filling and crystallized ginger good friends brought from the Bahamas.
If we cannot sleep after a doppio espresso, we have a hefty history of the Ukraine to keep us company. We will make no resolutions except to live well, read mindfully  and love well.


Francis Bacon. our flying pig, gets a dusting of snow.

Below, this bath is for the birds.

A flower basket in the garden.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Kitty wants pie.
Pumpkin maple pie with chocolate ganache.
Turkey with chestnut stuffing.
Some of the loot.

Monday, December 28, 2009


On Xmas Day we had champagne with pomegranate with our friends John, Margaret and Miss Crabbaple. Yesterday, we had a Ukrainian feast at The Big House. More anon.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The Infanta's Stolen

Hazelnut cookies with Israeli date spread.
Bizarre but tasty cornmeal cookies with jalapeno pepper jelly filling.

We are a family of foodies. We love to try out new recipes and we are lucky to have friends with whom to share our experiments. There is no better occasion to share these than the holiday gatherings in our own neighborhood where foodies predominate. Never mind that there are professional chefs and cookbook authors in the list of those invited to local holiday hootenannies. We are fearless when it comes to attempts at culinary upmomship.
For the gathering at the historical home of She Who Will Not Be Named Due To National Security Concerns--are you impressed yet?--we will make cornmeal cookies with jalapeno jelly filling. We have a bit of trouble wrapping our minds about the idea of hot-hot jelly, but we know that MesoAmericans put scorching chili peppers in their chocolate. Who are we to argue with them? We are not absolutely mad about cornmeal cookies. We tried an Italian recipe once and found the texture way too coarse for comfort. Crinimi is Italian for the v-shaped coarse cornmeal cookies. Perhaps in Italy cooks use a finer grade of meal, available in the US at shops that carry South American foodstuffs. We will give it a go. Someone gave us a jar of jalapeno jelly we did not quite know how to serve. Crimini! Now we know.

Junior has been on a baking kick and tonight she produced four delectable loaves of Stolen. Neighbors, countrymen, forget your diets. There is stolen abroad and it is plum good. For her next performance, Junior will attempt hazelnut cookies. Instead of a Nutella filling, she will use an Israeli date spread. More anon.


Our entrance light wears a snow cap.
There is a car somewhere under the snow.
Now, where did we put that snow shovel?
Pole vaulting, anyone?
A tobogan might help.
Progressive camouflage.
Storybook tree.
Our snow covered street.

Nineteen inches of snow are something of a record for our village. It isolates us from the nearby Washington, DC and makes us feel as if we were living in David Lean's set of Dr. Zhivago. So far, our neighbors' fences are safe from us thanks to our wonderful wood guy, who brought us a cord of locust and cherry a week before our first snowfall, earlier in the month. We stoke Morsolino, our Scandinavian wood stove, put on the kettle and brew oceans of tea. We bake bread, make soup and rejoice in the quiet the follows winter storms.
During the previous first snowfall, a paltry thing that did not merit any cancellations, the snow plow driver saw fit to spend the entire night scritch-scratching his way around the village. This time around, when the accumulation really called for strong measures, he make a couple of passes on main street and called it quites. " When asked if being marooned in her house at the edge of the woods, Trudy Thundermouse replied with her usual eloquence.
"Hit don't bother me none. Ah've gots me a good bottle of sherry and my mainly main brung me lots of chocolates, tangerines an'oranges and some new desktop publishing softywear. mah turkey's a-thawin' for Xmas. Eve and ah just chillin', just chillin' like the good Lord meant me to."
Quarrel with Trudy's wisdom, if you wish. I think she has a point. Chilling is good. That is just what I plan to do as soon as I get ready for the freezing rain and subzero temps on the forecast for the rest of the week. Button up you overcoat!

Monday, December 14, 2009


'Tis the season of lights when Jews commemorate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem, in the 2nd. century BCE.  Rather than being a celebration  of a of the military victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian army of Antiochus IV Epiphanes,  Hanukkah commemorates a miracle. According to the Talmud,  after the Temple had been cleansed, what was left of  consecrated  olive oil was only enough  to light the eternal flame for one day. Miraculously, it burned for  for an entire week. To me, freedom of worship is the  real miracle. As a descendant of Sephardic Jews, Hanukkah is a time of reflection and joy for me.

 To celebrate the sweetness of freedom, I made cranberry relish spiced with cinnamon and jazzed up with golden rum. It  makes a good filling for sufgnayot, the jelly filled doughnut tradutionally served at Hanukkah, but folks who celebrate the winter solstice and Christmas, are welcome to the recipe.I plan to try the same recipe with kumquats instead of oranges.


1 package fresh cranberries
Two oranges, minced
 Three quarters of a cup water
One cup sugar
Half a cup rum
1 teaspoon almond extract
A pinch of grated Saigon cinnamon

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Allow it to boil for ten minutes. Add cranberries, orange, rum, almond extract and cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes, stirring frequently. Let it cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Below, leftt--boorzhui tchotkes Lenin would have hated, but Lenin is dead. Painting by Charlie Shobe, bowl, Morocco, red Hungarian (?) cloth, ebay, silver,pre-war Poland, candlesticks, Portugal, lamp, a 79 cent find at the Goodwill. Cat cutouts, England. Painting, Charlie Shobe. Pine cones from our garden. Rocking horse, Germany.

Long ago, a mouse gnawed a hole in the back of the old pie safe below. Now it is a desirable antique.
Left---Portuguese lamp, Goodwill, Murano paperweight from WV flea market, pitcher from K-mart, fish batik from Ginza, in Georgetown, MD. Homely painting, New England flea market, Hanukkiah, Pottery Barn, boxes are gifts friends brought from India and Iran, old Heinrich tureen is from ebay and pewter objects come from Holland via the US Virgin Islands.


My friend Margaret made us this Winnie the Pooh. He sits on a Big Lots chair. She Who Will Not Be Named gave us the locally made glass ornament.The tortoise shell glass goblet comes from the Goodwill thrift shop. Little houses from tag sales, trees, Big Lots, Eiffel tower ornament, Restoration Hardware.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Francis Bacon, the flying pig and his sidekick, Ha Motzie (The Boss), Yoffie tov!

This assumes that you already have a grapevine wreath . If not, hie yourself to the countryside and gather lengths of bittersweet, wild grape or any pliable, pencil thin vine. Defoliate and twist to form a circle. Gather enough evergreens to cover half the wreath. Attach evergreens with twist ties. Decorate with a bunch of artificial berries and a ribbon.
I used an old grapevine wreath, some cedar greens, recycled berries berries and ribbon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Time to refill the wood box.
Morsolino, our Norwegian wood stove, keeps us cozy.
We got chestnuts too.
Cara Cara orange.

Icy lilac branch.
Snow on euonymus.
Fragrant American cedar.

The intricate branches of Harry Lauder's cane.

Fungus among us.

Fairy moss and fungi.


Below, gaillardia Tokajer followed by yellow mum, wine red mum.

Above, purple alyssum

Ethereal  pearl  colored miniature rose blooms just before last week's snow fall.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


"A humanist has four leading characteristics -- curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race." E. M. Forster