Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Hand-written recipes are the best recipes.  

The above recipe was given to us by my mom.  I asked her to "email me the recipe," and this is what I got.  But I like this better.  It's like a little love note. My mom's good at that.  And she's good at picking recipes.

Most of the things I make are a blend of stuff I already know and what I've discovered on the internet.  It's an experiment, and it never comes out the same.

However, hand-written recipes are always good, because somebody that you know tried it, then took the time to write it down, with you in mind.

They also make me feel sentimental (Clearly.  Excuse me while I stroll down Memory Lane.) Because they make me think of my grandma and great grandma.  Hand-written recipes remind me of Christmas time, when I've helped my grandma make the old Italian cookies from recipes that were written down 50 years ago, the cursive neat, the pages faded and yellowed, folded too many times.  They instruct you to add "pinches" and "handfuls" of things, and use ingredients like lard (that's why they're so good). And when I bite into them, I think to myself that these taste exactly the same as the cookies my great grandma would have been eating years and years before.  They're like an edible time machine, and make me feel more connected to her: that makes me happy.

Big Grandma and I, circa 1986. We're thinking about ya, Gram.

Well, this isn't Christmas in July, and this recipe is probably the opposite of cookies.  But, it's written, with love, from Mom, and is probably one I'll continue to make year after year.  Is it weird that pickles will make me think of my Mom?

Mom's "Fresh Cucumber Salad," or Bread and Butter Pickles (copied from...?)
Copied exactly as written-- interpret as you will. I added my notes.

3 fresh home-grown cucumbers
add strips of green/ red peppers (we used a long hot)
1 T celery seed (replaced with fresh dill sprigs and pickling spice)
2 cups sugar
optional - add chopped onions (do it)
2 cups white vinegar

Set on counter 4 hours in a bowl.

Place into jars.


"Fresh Cucumber Salad" is all the way to the left, top.  The beets are the pink ones. Bottom pic is turnips and scapes.

Okay, I can't help myself - I always mess with recipes rather than follow them exactly.  It has more to do with what's in my cupboard at the moment than anything else.

Anyway, this was a good way to preserve some veggies.  We were overloaded with cucumbers and other vegetables from our CSA and decided to refrigerator-pickle them to stretch out their expiration dates. (Refrigerator pickling saves them for weeks-months, whereas canning saves them through the apocalypse).  We've used variations of this recipe and this one from good old Alton Brown to pickle beets, turnips, and garlic scapes, too, but those take longer to cure, so you'll just have to wait and see how those turned out (although, I don't see how they could turn out bad...).



Thursday, July 26, 2012




I've just returned from a little road trip to Montreal, and I have some lovely meals to share with you.

If only we could have really shared, then I wouldn't have had to do quite so much yoga upon my return.  The French like their food rich.

Confit de canard with pancetta and arugula. (Excuse moi.  My French is bad.)The only salad I ate all weekend, and we shared it three ways.

Some nights we ate fancy -

Le beouf.

- some days were more casual.

La Binerie.  Baked beans are a Montreal thing, and these were the best I've ever had, hands down (I ate two helpings).  The crepe also contained Quebec cheddar, which was hearty and had some zip. Tres bon!

And I made sure to save room for French pastries. The flakiest, and butteriest of them all.

We ate the apricot one.

We did see the sights, but we also love to experience the local flavors of the region, and those tend to be what I remember the most.  We saw some beautiful cathedrals and buildings among the cobblestone streets:

 Vieux Montreal. (Old Montreal)

Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal.

Montreal is a lovely city.  But at these times I felt like a tourist. An outsider looking in.  Voyeuristic.

It was sitting in the open air cafes, sipping a wine I've never heard of and enjoying a meal with a French name I could barely understand, that I felt the most connected with the city.

Montreal is a straight shot up from Albany, four hours, easy peasy.  And then suddenly you're in another country, speaking another language, eating amazing food.  Life is good.

Au revoir.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

See the sea

Hibiscus and lavender margaritas.
Milagro Mexican Cafe, Stonington, CT

This weekend, Patrick and I headed out to Connecticut to spend a few days by the ocean with his family. His family is huge and wonderful, the scenery is beautiful, and we had a great time. 

A victim of the heat.

I looove the ocean.  But I hadn't been in years, so it was a treat to be so close. The giantness of it makes you feel so small. The seagulls pick at the crabs and guard their babies, jellyfish undulate past the dock, the tide routinely rises and falls, and the waves continue to bear down on the coast. Nature keeps going, regardless of me.  

Happy pup.

Local wine. Stonington Vineyards, CT.
We drank both the sheer chardonnay and vidal blanc- both were very refreshing. The latter was my favorite.

I had some wonderful tour guides to show me around Stonington and Mystic.  We sipped some delicious CT wine, looked through some adorable shops, and dined at some local joints.

Paella (basically a seafood explosion) 
Ancient Mariner, Mystic CT.

All of our home-cooked meals contained veggies and fruit from Grandpa's garden.  Clam chowder was made from fresh-dug clams.  I learned how to sail!

All in all, it was a pretty awesome trip.  Thank you to Patrick's relatives, near and far, big and small!

Who doesn't want to do this with their ice cream bowl?
(I saved the cutest picture for last.)

Now, I'm home for a day and then... off to Montreal!

Let the adventures continue. Stay tuned.

- D

Highlights to come:
kitty kuts
pickled things
more weddings
moving across the river!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Turkey and gruyere on a croissant. Amazingly simple.
Mrs. London's Bakery, Saratoga Springs, NY

Fancy (ginger, cinnamon, Earl Grey Tea) ice cream in Madison Square Park, New York City, NY

The place to ourselves- almost. Eat a local hamburger. Greensquare Tavern, New York City, NY

The View: Taughannock Falls, Trumansburg, NY

The Finger Lakes have a special place in my <3
Cayuga Lake, Ithaca, NY

I'm not sure what day it is.

That's the first sign that I'm lost in Summer Vacation.  And it's only the second week.

How I kicked off the summer:

I spent a weekend with friends that I haven't seen in a long time.  We shared stories and drank wine. I ate White Castle for the first time.  And we learned that SUNY Binghamton can go harder than SUNY Albany (or, they just never learned how to pace themselves in Albs). ;)

I saw my first Dave Matthews Band concert, and it was pretty amazing, even for not knowing most of the songs.  Seeing concerts with others who are huge fans only makes your own experience that much more awesome.

Watching the show with my favorite DMB fan :)
Darien Lake, NY

Then, I went on 3 roller coasters!

Still onward! We road-tripped to Ithaca, drank local beer and ate local food...

Salad with apples, and fancy grilled cheese with tomato, using locally-sourced ingredients. 
The Bandwagon BrewPub, Ithaca, NY

.... and shared a special and intimate ceremony with two of my favorite friends.

True Love.

Now I'm home for a couple of days, detoxing before my next adventure.

Um, sorta.