Inspiration, Move Me Brightly

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Details– demi baguettes wrapped in logo stamped craft paper– the evening started with a gift, an invitation to the diners from us to break bread with their fellow diners, to be part of something special, and ephemeral- a glimmer of magic for one night, for one meal, for two hours to be transported to another time, another place and fed and tended to.

Last week,  I participated  my first Pop-Up- an idea I’ve been tossing up around and over and under since I first heard pop-ups. I finally did it, and I’ll do it again. I didn’t do it alone, I had supportive partners, some great staff .

It was success, we totally pulled it off.

Radishes washed and ready for their close up
Cippolini onions roasted with sherry vinegar and orange for our vegetarian diner.

I don’t know that I’ve fully processed everything that went in to it, all the energy, the planning.

We banged out a 7 course meal for 2 seatings of 25. We got the early seating out and happy before the late seating arrived, (which was what everyone was worried about-except me, I had a plan and it worked). The room was pretty, the music was on point– it flowed, it jammed, it worked.

I think the food was really good, maybe I’d have liked a bit more soigne, and we could’ve refined the bouillabaisse stock a bit more but all in all I was happy with everything. AND I wish we got pictures of the Amuse- which was a gorgeous crispy fried orb of bechamel with Gryuere and toasted dulse which sat on a mussel shell with a dollop of pureed parsley.

We also did not get a picture of the Oxtail marmalade- nestled in little jars with buttered pan de miel, pickled mustard seeds and cornichons

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Plates mised for Amuse bouche & L’entree


Le crudite- radishes butter and salt


Le fromage– A Camembert style from Winter Hill farm in Freeport + local apples, spicy greens, maple vinaigrette and handmade oat crackers
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These were so so good.
Le desset- lemon tart, ginger meringue, pistachio dust, grapefruit Lillet sorbet with thyme.
The evening began and ended with a gift – Les mignardises- the last course- spiced rose truffles & salted pumpkin caramels

It felt good and it felt comfortable to be driving something forward again.

You’d think I’d need some time away from the kitchen, well,  so did I,  Friday night I threw together some kind of pasta with Brussels sprouts, we ate standing in the kitchen.

Renewed by pampering, as soon as I got back from getting my nails done on Saturday, I felt the urge. I was inspired by my day of reading.

I needed to cook, I needed to cook things I hadn’t cooked before. I had picked up 2 cookbooks at the library earlier in the day, one on Modern Israeli cooking ( not Solo’s book, they don’t have that yet, I don’t have it yet either but it is on my Amazon wish list)  and Rice Noodle Fish about eating in Japan.

The Israeli book, ok not much of a stretch, it’s the kind of stuff I cook all the time, but I found a recipe for Chicken Shwarma that surprised me, made sense and best of all, I happened to have all the ingredients in the house. So this was Saturday night’s dinner.

Chicken Shwarma

Beet Salad with Pomegranate

Israeli Salad

2 Ingredient Flat Bread

Oven Frites with NYC Street Vendor White Sauce

Tahini Sauce


After breezing through the Isreali book, I began reading Rice Noodle Fish in earnest, I read it through from cover to cover in one day, imagining the smells and tastes and textures, the dedication required to do one thing until you are the master of that one single thing. Could I , I wondered, do that? Spend my life doing one thing until I did it better than anyone else? Probably not, I don’t have a helluva a lot of discipline, I’m not linear, I’m not very Japanese, I’m probably the opposite of everything Japan is, so much so that I am completely intimidated by Japanese cooking.

I’ll play around, I’ll make a souped up (ha!) ramen with homemade stock and I’ll totally ramenize my noodles ala Chang. I’ll tempura when I get the urge. But I’ll never be able to make real sushi– because it’s the rice man, it’s all about the rice, and I don’t have the patience. I crave real sushi, warm rice sushi, the cold rice sushi so indigenous and so mediocre it brings me to the edge of melancholy. I’ll eat it but not with much enthusiasm, same way I’ll eat one of those baby greens salad, those depressed and always slightly wilted mesclun mix greens that carry the scent of  industry. I’ll eat it  even though I know it’s a mimeograph of what it’s meant to be.

Equally intimidated by and enamoured of everything I read about Japanese food, I wanted to make Sukiyaki , but I lacked like 15 of the 20 ingredients.

I had all the ingredients though for a beef stew, and decided on Bo Kho, which is Vietnamese not Japanese, but it is sort of kind of close to Japanese- well ish. After reading pages and pages about aging and fermenting I wanted funk, and seasonality. I refined my recipe with Kim, who did my nails and eyebrows this weekend, she made me look a little less Sasquatch.  Her son cooks in a Thai restaurant, she’s saving up to open a place in Windham. I wish it was a place in Brunswick.

I ended up making this whole  Asian flavored dinner that had absolutely nothing Japanese in it.

Kung Pao Celery Salad


Assorted dumpling that I had in the freezer (kimchi momos & TJ’s cilantro chicken wontons) with black vinegar sauce & watercress

Bo Kho



It it was not perfect fatty tuna belly melting on warm vinegary rice nor was it chewy noodles in rich pork broth it wasn’t even karage fried chicken with curry sauce but it was all very delicious and balanced and nuanced and everything good though not in anyway was it Japanese.


Chicken Shwarma

  • 1 tbs garam masala
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1 tbs powdered chicken soup ( I used this stuff I picked up as a joke called Cock Seasoning- you could use a ramen soup packet, or use Adobo seasoning instead, or a mashed up bouillon cube, or just some salt)
  • 2 tbs olive oil +
  • 1 grated garlic clove
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs ( you could use bone in with skin, I did- just makes more work)
  • 1 Large white onion
  1. Mix together everything but the onion and slather on the chicken
  2. Marinate over night or at least 4 hours
  3. Preheat oven to 200
  4. Cook thighs for 45 minutes
  5. Meanwhile- Saute onion slowly in a bit of olive oil, until brown and sticky- set aside
  6. Remove chicken from oven and cut into strips, about 4 -5 per thigh-THE CHICKEN THIGHS ARE NOT EDIBLE YET-DO NOT SNACK
  7. Heat a bit of neutral oil in a large saute pan
  8. Stir fry the sliced thighs until they get caramelized and a little crunchy on the ends (if you’ve ever made carnitas, its the same idea–cooking slow cooked meat over high heat till crispy but still succulent)
  9. Mix in the cooked onions

Serve with flat breads, parsley leaves and tahini sauce, or go full on and add french fries and salads, and pickles  and white sauce and hot sauce. Try these oven frites they will change you life. So will these 2 ingredient flat breads.

2 Ingredient Flat Breads

  1. Mix together equal amounts Greek yoghurt & self rising flour
  2. Let sit 1 hour
  3. Roll in golf ball size balls
  4. Roll out on floured surface
  5. Heat cast iron pan till blisteringly hot- spray with olive oil
  6. Place a flatbread in the pan, when it bubbles flip it (about 2 minutes) – cook another 30 seconds
  7. Repeat until done

(I used 1 pot of yoghurt then used the same plastic container to measure the flour- that made 6 flat breads)

NYC Street Vendor White Sauce

Whisk together the following:

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 tbs Harissa paste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper

Add a little water if it’s too thick- it should drizzle like salad dressing. This is terrific on almost everything you eat.

Kung Pao Celery Salad

This is my new favorite thing, it has supplanted smashed cucumbers as my go to- it is spicy and cooling and crunchy and salty and sour– it is everything and a terrific foil to anything with juicy, meaty fattiness, but also would be quite awesome with strips of cooled poached chicken breast or shrimp.

  • 4 peeled celery stalks- sliced about 1/4″ thick on a diagonal
  • 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns (toasted & smashed)
  • Salt
  • 1 tbs black vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbs neutral oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch dried chili pepper or 1/2 tsp chili oil or 1 fried chili pepper in oil chopped + some oil
  • 1/3 cup or so roasted salted peanuts (not dry roasted, unless you like them, 1 don’t)
  • chopped scallions & torn celery leaves
  1. Season celery with salt & sichuan peppercorns
  2. Whisk together vinegar, garlic & oils
  3. Pour over celery
  4. Sprinkle chilies, peanuts, celery leaves & scallion on top

My Maine Bo Kho

  • 1 pound beef stew meat- marinated 4 hours -I used local beef and it was so tender and flavorful, even though it was cut in quite small pieces and there was very little fat- this would be ridic with short ribs – adjust the initial cooking time to 2.5 -3 hours for short ribs.
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 star anise pods or 1 tsp powdered
  • 2″ fresh ginger, peeled- smashed not chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup white wine or Shoaxing cooking wine or sherry
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 cup beef stock
  • 4 medium size waxy potatoes cut in quarters
  • 1 large delicata squash cut into 1″ thick rings
  • 3 large carrots cut in 3″ pieces, washed peeled if necessary
  1. Burn onions- Slice onions in half and hold over flame with tongs until the face of the onion is blackened- if you have an electric oven- place cut side up as close to broiler as you can until it blackens — it should get dark but not like on fire crazy decimated cinders- just the tip, just get the tip blackened and a bit burnt- also you don’t HAVE to do this part
  2. Heat a small amount of oil in a dutch oven- I used chicken fat because I had some from the night before, you could use what ever you have, neutral oil, coconut oil anything really except bacon fat- too much flavor.
  3. Brown meat on all sides, remove and set aside
  4. Add star anise, cinnamon, ginger & garlic to the pan
  5. Stir around in the fat until you can smell the spices
  6. Raise heat a bit and add wine
  7. Deglaze the pan, getting all the brown bits (fond) mixed into the liquid
  8. Put meat back in pot , add onions, garlic
  9. Add fish sauce, stock + reserved marinade
  10. Raise heat- bring to boil
  11. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour
  12. Add carrots, potatoes, & squash
  13. Cook for another half hour or so until potatoes are tender

Serve with crusty baguette + fistful of fresh cilantro leaves & a few scallions

Marinade- marinate beef 3-4 hours, reserve marinade

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 white onion sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh ground black pepper

Here’s some other stuff I cooked recently.

Pork roast with spicy honey (or maple- can’t remember)
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Roasted pumpkin & red onion– a la Ottolenghi with tahini, parsley & toasted pine nuts
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Chicken pot pie – chicken breast , potatoes, carrots, celery, peas and onions in veloute enriched with Vella Dry Jack cheese and thyme with a buttery buckwheat crust topped with fennel pollen, lemon & smoked salt.
I made my husband a cheese-steak, that was nothing like a Philly cheese steak but twould have to do– thinly sliced reverse seared NY Strip with pepper jack cheese sauce & caramelized red onion on a garlic rubbed baguette.

Recipes and News!

It has been a whirlwind of activity over here in Brunswick!

I am teaching four classes for the Library on Affordable Cooking, a Class on Modern Jewish Cooking at Now You’re Cooking in Bath, a class for the Beth Israel Congregation on Vegetarian Jewish Party Food, doing a fancy mocktail party for the folks at MCHPP and dun dun dun dah dah….. PLANNING MY FIRST POP-UP!!!!!! YES !

More details on that when they are fully sussed, but my friend Christine Burns-Rudalevige and I are planning some thing AMAAAAAAZING!


In the meantime…

Here are the recipes for the class I will be teaching tomorrow night on Modern Jewish Cooking– what is that you may ask?There are probably as many interpretations of that as there are the Torah. For me it’s food that strikes a cord of remembrance without being necessarily the traditional recipe, adding some thing unexpected, or mixing Ashkenazi with Sephardic flavors.

When I was young my grandparents would bring back oranges from Israel (also from Florida), and they would talk about how amazing the orange juice was there, and I imagine the after years of Eastern European fare that the explosive bright flavors of the Middle East were as much a part of the spiritual awe as the visit to the wailing wall was.

There are Eastern European flavors that have yet to make it to many of our tables as well, I often day dream about the dishes I would make for my grandparents if they were still here, ones that would open the doors to their food memories as children.

For my Poppa Hy who was Romanian I would make him pastrami spiced smoked lamb with a bit of spicy whisky spiked sour cherry chutney, a salad of slightly pickled kohlrabi ,radishes and parsley, and a halvah cake with roasted quince.

For my Nanny Mattie- the only one born in America (though of Russian decent)  I would make for her the most perfect fried chicken, potato salad laced with caviar, an heirloom tomato salad and a raspberry tart, because she was very fancy.

For my Poppa Willy a communist from Warsaw, whose family were learned sophisticates I would make lightly fried slightly pickled trout with a horseradish cream, thick slices of schmaltz brushed garlic rubbed toasted pumpernickel bread, a salad of bitter greens and sweet onions and an apricot torte plus a glass of tea with plum jam and slivowitz.

And for Bella, my Bubbie,  I would make a stew of wild mushrooms browned in butter and thyme enriched with mushroom stock with a thick dollop of sour cream and a flurry of dill fronds, I would make her slow slow roasted eggplant drizzled in tehina and pomegranate seeds, and a dense sour rye with handmade butter and raw scallions- and I would make her my impossibly rich flour-less chocolate cake.

If they were all together I would make them this meal, which would pay no particular allegiance to any but hint at all. (And since none of them really kept Kosher I would totally use butter all those places where you see coconut oil and sour cream in place of cashews and tofu)

RECIPES from Modern Jewish Cooking Class at Now You’re Cooking

Seeded Flatbreads

  • 1 cup all purpose or bread flour
  • .25 cup rye flour
  • 2 Tbs Buckwheat flour
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (dry active or instant)
  • .5  teaspoon kosher salt
  • .5 cup warm water (110° F for active – 120° for instant)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • .25 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbs caraway seeds or nigella seeds
  1. Place flours, yeast, poppy seeds, and salt into a mixing bowl.
  2. Add water and oil and beat for 1 minute.
  3. Place dough (it will be sticky) on a floured surface and cover with a towel. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 min., preheat a cast iron skillet to med-high.
  5. Divide dough into four and shape each piece into a ball.
  6. Mix caraway seeds & sesame seeds and spread out on work surface
  7. Press each ball into the seeds on one side
  8. Roll each ball into a 6-inch circle.
  9. Cook on HOT cast iron pan brushed with olive oil
  10. Sprinkle with additional salt while hot if desired  

Creamy Horseradish Vinaigrette (Dairy Free)

  • .5 cup silken tofu
  • 1 .5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish or  grated fresh horseradish
  • .25 cup water
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped dill & chives
  1. Place tofu, vinegar, horseradish, garlic, shallots and ½ herbs in food processor
  2. Blend until pureed
  3. While processor is running , add water, followed by oil
  4. Season to taste with salt & pepper
  5. Stir in remaining herbs

Smoked Trout, Beet & Apple Salad

  • 2 filet smoked trout
  • 6 small steamed beets, peeled & steamed
  • 1 tart  apple
  • 1 sweet apple (like a honey crisp or ginger-gold)
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • juice & zest of 1 lemon
  • dill fronds to garnish
  1. Squeeze half a lemon over shallot and let sit
  2. Skin trout and break in to bite size pieces , reserve skin for optional garnish
  3. Dice beets into cubes
  4. Peel apple and dice into cubes (same size as beets)
  5. Toss apples & beets with 1 tablespoon of Horseradish dressing
  6. Spoon a small amount of dressing in to the center of a plate
  7. Arrange beet and apple cubes + shallots over top
  8. Lay trout bits on top of that
  9. Scatter crisped trout skin & dill fronds over top

* Trout “Grebenes”

  1. Heat oven to 400
  2. Lay trout skins flat on a lightly oiled sheet pan
  3. Bake until crisp (@ 10 minutes)  

Charmoula Cornish Hen Stuffed with Ptitim & Quince

4 Cornish Game Hens



  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup (15g) coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup (15g) coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1/3 cup mint
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon or so  Orange Juice
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 125ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon harissa

Preheat oven to 450

  1. Place Hens in a large zip lock bag and pour 3 /4s of the marinade over then- squish and squeeze until each hen in completely covered- marinate 8- 24 hours
  2. Remove from marinade, pat dry
  3. Season inside with salt & pepper
  4. Stuff as much Cous Cous in as you can
  5. Sew shut or truss
  6. Arrange on a rack over a roasting pan, brush with olive oil
  7. Roast 30 minutes, reduce to 350- roast an additional 10-15 minutes until thigh meat registers 170
  8. Drizzle with reserved Charmoula


Spiced Ptitim with Quince & Hazelnuts

  • 2 Cups  Ptitim aka Isreali Cous Cous,
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 pinch saffron (optional) in 1 tbs hot water
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose petals (optional)
  • 1.5 cup diced poach quince
  • 1 preserved lemon, cored minced or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
  • .25 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts
  1. Heat oil in bottom of a pan
  2. Add cinnamon stick & cardamom pods
  3. Heat until fragrant
  4. Add water, saffron, a few pinches of salt & rose petal
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Add couscous bring to a boil
  7. Lower heat cover and simmer until all the water has been absorbed
  8. Whisk together lemon juice, thyme leaves, lemon zest & olive oil
  9. Pour over hot cous-cous mix to combine
  10. Gently fold in cubed Quince
  11. Serve warm or at Room temperature

Poached Quince

  • 4 quince
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • cinnamon stick
  1. Peel, quarter, and core each quince.
  2. Put the quinces, honey, and lemon zest in a 3-quart saucepan.
  3. Add enough water to cover the quinces by 1 inch (about 1-1/2 quarts).
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  5. Put a plate or a lid that’s smaller than the saucepan on the quinces to submerge them.
  6. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the quinces are tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
  7. Let them cool in the cooking liquid.

Butternut Squash, Red Carrot & Red Onion

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 6 large red carrots, washed well, peeled only if not organic
  • 2 red onions quartered
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  1. Heat oven to 450
  2. Place sheet pan in oven – 10 minutes until a drop of water beads on the surface
  3. Toss vegetables in salt, pepper & sumac
  4. Carefully remove sheet pan from oven
  5. Pour vegetables and arrange in a single layer
  6. Roast 30 minutes until soft and caramelized, stir every so often, keep an eye on the squash it will cook faster than the onions
  7. Arrange vegetables on a platter, drizzle tehina sauce over top, scatter herbs and nuts if using.

Tehina Sauce

  • ¼ cup tehina
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped mint or parsley to garnish
  • toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts (optional)
  1. Whisk together tehina, lemon juice & water
  2. Add garlic
  3. Whisk in olive oil until it is the consistency of honey  

Caramelized Pear Blintzes with Cashew Sour Cream


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/4 cup cashew milk or water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-1/4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  1. Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl with a spout, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Heat a pan with coconut butter
  4. Pour enough batter into the center of the pan to cover about 1/3 of its surface area then quickly pick it up and use a swirling motion to cover the rest of the pan.
  5. Let this cook until the edges start turning brown and grab an edge with a flat spatula then use your fingers to lift the edge and get the rest of the spatula under the crêpe and flip it.
  6. Cook for about another 30 seconds or until you see some brown spots when you peak under the crêpe.
  7. Transfer to stack ,stack them on top of each other with a paper towel between each one

From Crepe to Blintz

  1. Place 1 1/2 tbs of caramelized pear in off center, closer to left hand side
  2. Fold bottom up mid way to filling
  3. Fold top down
  4. Fold left side and roll towards right side

Repeat until complete , you can freeze if you like for later use

To serve

  1. Heat knob of coconut oil in pan
  2. Lay blintz seam side down
  3. Cook until edges start to brow the flip
  4. Allow other side to brown
  5. Remove to warm plate
  6. Repeat

Serve with dollop of Cashew Cream and a scattering of maple cashews

Caramelized pears

  • 5 almost ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  1. Heat coconut oil in pan
  2. Add pears & vanilla
  3. Stir to combine
  4. Add sugar and salt
  5. Saute over low heat, until fragrant and soft
  6. Let cool slightly

Cashew sour cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Soak 20 minutes
  2. Blitz in blender till creamy and smooth



The Week That Was…..#showyourgold

us with 6-8

The week that was so many things all at once. The week that was clarifying and encouraging and enlightening and hilarious and exhausting and rambunctious and fun.

Because, on occasion, lady luck turns her smiling face towards me I got to spend my week at Camp Sunshine with a terrific group of people. I don’t know that I have laughed so much and so often in such a short amount of time, especially when stone cold sober. To find yourself so bonded with a group of absolute strangers, especially as an adult is rarer than rare- I landed in the albino panda bear triplets level of rare with my fellow members of Culinary Corps.

Here we are first night- all excited and trying to remember everyone’s name – I kept getting Margot and Chanel confused because, French.



After  Pizza, Cornhole (no, dirty mind, its a game…with bean bags…that you throw) a bottle of wine, a few beers and some shared secrets we were a team.

The next morning when we got in the van “Taking it to the Streets” started playing. For 4 years I did Street Theatre every summer weekend,  and that song signaled that it was time to get my shit together because in just minutes it’s curtain’s up and SHOW TIME. The next song was Sugar Magnolia, my wedding march,  clearly the music karma was right in the right place.


By 10:30 we were on campus and the adventure had begun.

It was less rural than my camp,  Camp Betsey Cox,  was but then again so are some parts of the Appalachian trail. It was pretty much what I expected as far as landscaping and housing and that kind thing, it was like fancy camp, the kind with A/C,  and of course, the requisite tether ball.

We met the kids and their families the first night during an event we sponsored call Test Your Taste Buds- we had a collection of “exotic” ingredients that we were using throughout the week for them to taste.

I had balsamic vinegar….most people got it.

The kids were; well what can I say – they were kids. The teenagers looked like they’d rather be anywhere but where they were, the 3-5’s were berserk with excitement to be up late and at camp and surrounded by all these people, 6-8’s & 9-12’s were in various stages of over stimulation and interest. And as I interacted with every person on the line, I stopped being scared because there was nothing left to be afraid of.

There were highs and lows throughout the week, though many more highs than lows. I fell madly in love with a 3 year old named Robbie- a fabulous little Ukrainian boy, a bear cub of a boy- maybe it was our shared blood that did it- there were three Eastern European women there and we bonded, our souls akin- –  born of the dark forests filled with mushrooms, souls that pick flowers and berries, Matrushka souls with layers upon layers- not to mention each and every one of us probably was dressed in velvet vests and flowered skirts by our grandmas when we were young.

One of the women had a daughter named Anna- who was terrifically articulate for someone so tiny and young, she was 4 or 5. Anna’s talent show performance will stay with me forever. She did not just get up on stage, that child took the stage, she had that thing that makes you stop talking and watch and listen. She began her performance with a bit of a sassy sermon…during which she told us all that when we were afraid God was looking out for us, and that if we died it was ok, not to be scared, we’d be ok because we’d go to God. Then she sang a hymn and encouraged us all to join. I wish I knew the words.

It was chilling- and not just because I tend to teeter strongly towards atheism and then totter over to agnosticism …but because she was so aware of her own mortality

It wasn’t just Anna,  for everyone at that camp, mortality was an  in-your-face reality not just a concept of a thing you realized when you almost got in an accident, not in a whew almost got me sort of way… but it is a constant presence in their lives. Some of these kids were sick, really fucking sick and the ones that weren’t had siblings that were, and the parents, the parents, are facing the real possibility of losing their child.

After Anna’s song, after watching Kayden dance his little butt off to the Nae Nae song, watching Shayla hula hoop, and Robbie stomp around to Let It Go – I broke- I needed a time out. I cried in the walk-in for a few, then got back in the kitchen to take care of business. TCB, baby, TCB.

The rest of the week- we all worked our butts off to entertain and educate. In the evenings we had the chance to sit with a family and learn about them and their experience. I’ve had a look into the cancer experience with my Dad. I knew how one day everything’s fine then there’s a bump, a pain, a cough that won’t go away and the next day it’s 7 days a week 24 hours a day CANCER.

For some of these families there were/are treatments every single day for a year, weekly overnights in the hospital for another year and it keeps going until and if, you are one of the lucky ones and 8 years pass with no more cancer and after that you start with a clean slate, just the same risks as the rest of us- maybe.

There were children there with cancers that no one has even studied yet. Children in wheel chairs, with therapy dogs, with thinning hair and poor motor skills and it didn’t matter at Camp Sunshine- they didn’t have to be special just because they had cancer- they could be special because they were Jack or Jaxson or Salem or Finn- they could just be kids, they could be individuals. Their siblings could be special too because they were Willow or Noah or Jesu or Hudson, not just the kids who’s brother or sister was sick and they could be loud and they could be rowdy and they could be the center of attention if they wanted to. And the families could just hang out and do stuff like families do.

us with 6-8


And the volunteers…those warm, wonderful people, they all smiled, like all the time and they weren’t Disney smiles- they were real, they were the kind of smile that you don’t even notice is on your face. Whether they were holding a baby or scraping off trays in the dining hall they were smiling and kind, so very , very kind.

The air in that camp was filled with joy and light despite the 3 days of rain, and being a part of that was indescribable. The team I was with was incomparable…and the nightly visits to the fork were perfect, after all  camp isn’t camp without a nighttime sneak through the woods to giggle and misbehave.

I learned a few things too.

I learned that I can be a part of team, that children and I get along just fine, and that I tend to over pack, but that that’s always not bad thing because sometimes you need to have a bathrobe picnic of snacks and sometimes someone needs an extra blanket because one didn’t fit in her garbage bag (wink).

I learned that I am definitely a crier but I can make friends fast and that I miss the camaraderie of a group. I learned that I can function without much sleep though I tend to get punchy and rowdy, that I should never again be photographed in an oversize white coat with my hair up, that being covered in jello really isn’t that bad except for the flies, one of which may have just stayed with me for the next 2 days.

And I learned that yes I did miss my husband and my kitties and Pudgie but we were all were just fine without each other for a few days, and no one starved to death or lived on hot dogs wrapped in pizza.

Thank you to Camp Sunshine.

Thank you Christine and Aimee. Thank You Shin and Matt and Jeremy and Chanel and Margot and Lauren and Janice and even you, Perri, my meshuganah maidela.


thank you




A Journey Begins Tomorrow


Tomorrow at 4pm I begin my week at Camp Sunshine. I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I’m terrified, if not I’ll re-iterate- I’m terrified.

I’m uneasy about some things, like sharing a room with strangers ( I snore, its bad, deviated septum bad), and I’m afraid my broken finger tip is going to be painful and annoying and that my shitty knees are going to act up, and that I’ll have forgotten something important or I’ll curse in front of the kids or worse the parents. I’m going to miss my husband, own bed and my cats and even little Pudgie the budgie. But none of that scares me. That’s just housekeeping.


What scares me is the necessary loss of ego that a journey like this requires. This is not about ME, the ME that needs approval and encouragement, the ME that posts pictures of her food on Instagram and delights when strangers “like” it. The ME who worries if she looks fat in that or whether her hair still looks like Justin Beiber meets Countess LuAnn.

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I am bound to this sense of self through all of my securities and insecurities and in order to give fully I’m going to have to let go  of the “I”. None of that will really matter, because nothing I will do this week will be about ME, in that sense, the “I”needs to be replaced with who I really am and what I have to give.

Some say the path to enlightenment is a series of lessons designed to instigate the loss of ego. In order to become a part of the whole that self awareness of fears, wants and needs must evaporate. And that is scary scary shit, letting go of fear is not easy.

So many of us are ruled by fear, fear of disappointment, of pain, of failure, of success, of happiness, of doubt, of death, of loneliness – so this week I have to put away my fears and just be, which is really hard.

The children and their families live with a daily sense of fear that cannot compare to my fear that I’m being judged for not being pretty enough or thin enough or well dressed enough.  Whether my knife kit is worn and ragged is not important. It’s important that it holds my knives and that it, as well as, I, am there to do what I went there to do and that is to have fun with these kids!

So that is what is gonna happen!

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This is my SandWITCH hat.

My costume for the masquerade is mostly done, my knives are sharpened, by tonight my bags will be packed and my food story cookies will be baked, I’ll get a pedicure and some last minute provisions tomorrow and be on the road by 3:00 ready to go through the rabbit hole…stepping into a world that will be as familiar as it will be strange.

My food story-

As a way to introduce ourselves to the other chefs we have all been asked to bring something edible to tell our food story. I really had a hard time with this, it seems my story is long and winding it has no definitive beginning, it branches out in one area then doubles back– my food story takes place in NYC and Long Island, in India and Philadelphia, in Maine, in Seattle, in Northern California, at my mother’s house,  in my grandmothers’ kitchens, in my father’s house, my food story is written on Chinese take-out containers, wax deli paper, slim-fast cans and sheet pans. Should I make bialys? Or kasha varnishkes ? (My husband tells me that no one wants that).What about pastrami ? Or toast with condensed milk . Maybe I should have started a batch of my grandfather’s wishniak 2 months ago. Maybe Bella’s apple cake with plums or Poppa Hy’s matzoh brei, Or my parents Chinese pork garlic bread sandwiches? What about my salted nutella & hazelnut budino? The smoky fried chickpeas from my first Food 52 win? Or something with blueberries because I live in Maine or should I  roast a turkey or make a porchetta? Then I remembered and I looked in my email…..

RE: Cookies

Ira Waks <>


to me
 Very good better than aunt lola


Not Quite Aunt Lola’s Rye Miso Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3 C AP flour
  • 1 C rye flour
  • .5 # butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 T blond miso
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 C granulated sugar
  • 3 C dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt +
  • 1 cup semi -sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bar dark chocolate broken in pieces
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • .75 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • .25 cup chopped candied ginger
  1. Brown butter, while butter is hot whisk in miso to combine- let cool till “softened butter texture”
  2. Sift together flours, baking soda & salt
  3. Cream butter & sugars
  4. Add egg 1 at a time allowing it to fully incorporate before adding next one
  5. Add flour in 3 steps (DON’T FORGET TO LOWER THE MIXER SPEED!)
  6. Stir in Chips etc
  7. Add 1 Tablespoon HOT water
  8. Mix well
  9. Portion  with tablespoon & freeze at least 4 hours or overnight
  10. Preheat oven to 375
  11. Place frozen dough directly on sheet pan, leaving room for spread
  12. Sprinkle with sea salt
  13. Bake 12 -13 minutes




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Hey you,  wassup? How’s your summer going? It’s been awhile I know, I’ve been busy too, and by busy I mean kind of occupied but really more like I’ve had lots of intentions to actually do things but procrastinated them away because there’s a new season of Real Housewives of NY and you know I’ve been like doing stuff too.

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I’ve been cooking things and instagramming them and pretending that that is the same thing as writing – which it is not.

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How pretty is that? It’s just a side of wild salmon with Dijon mustard, brown sugar, salt & pepper – then I cooked it till it was done.
Chickpea fritters with mint & dill – lots of animal free protein in here- I served them with a garlicky yoghurt and a watermelon salad spiked with ginger and harissa.
I re-decorated my dining room to the way I thought it should be at first, but had to wait until a day when I was alone in the house to do it because Christian thought I would be wrong- but it totally opens up the space. HA!


But today, today in the humid sticky heat of nearly August, I’ve decided to share with you not only what’s been happenin’ but my new favorite recipe for No Churn Ice Cream.

I grew these pretty pretty flowers.

I’ll be heading to camp in a few weeks, and I’m nervous but excited. I’ve never spent very much one on one time with sick kids and I’m afraid of getting emotionally overwhelmed, luckily I’ll be with 10 other chefs who are doing the same thing, and we can support each other. One of the great things I’ve discovered about volunteerism is the asshole quotient is usually pretty low, most people who donate their time and energy are kind and generous, and that makes it a whole lot easier to do things that are emotionally and physically challenging.

If you are reading this and you have not yet donated to Culinary Corps I urge you to do so on my behalf,  it’s a good thing to do. CLICK RIGHT HERE.  Please put my name in the Honoree Box. ( I was using Go Fund Me- but I found their fees too high).

Farrah says- “Donate to Culinary Corps!” – actually Farrah gives zero zilch eronay fucks about anything besides her own comfort, but that’s because she’s a cat.

So I was on TV the other day, yeah I was on a show called 207– they highlight things that are happening here in the great state of Maine. The host Rob Caldwell was super nice, in fact everyone there was. I went on to promote Culinary Corps at Camp Sunshine.

Here’s the clip:

Aside from the 300 ums, my wacky looking hair and sweaty brow I think I did pretty well- all I need is a make-up artist and a dream and I would be great at this TV thing.

On a much lighter note I received my first Influenster box this month…so I too can shill free stuff like a celebs, and though I’ve only really gotten to try out 3 of the six items in the box – let me tell you I LOVED them! Hand to god, I wouldn’t say anything if they sucked- like my Glossybox- I did not love Glossybox and I will say nothing more about it (#wasteofmoney).


1. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel cloths– This could go on my desert island list, and it is certainly going with me to camp. They are wonderful when you are hot and sweaty- they cool you off and clean your face- and yes I should maybe have thought of using them before I went in front of the camera.

2.  Vaseline Spray moisturizer– I am both lazy and perpetually running late, mostly because I am lazy- and yes my skin does suffer from it- because really who has time to put the lotion on it’s skin when you’ve given yourself 35 minutes  to shower, dress, do your hair , feed 3 cats, 1 bird and make breakfast & lunch for you and your husband? This morning I sprayed on my moisturizer as I was walking down the stairs– and my skin is soft and just a bit shimmery. Booyah!

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Yes, my bare foot is on my dining room table, where people eat (not me though, I usually sit on the other end)

3. Blue Diamond Sriracha Almonds – So the day my Sunshine box arrived was hot as hell, I just rode my bike all over the place , I was schvitzy and hangry so after I wiped my face down with the aforementioned wipe, I ripped into these babies like I’d never seen food before and forced myself not to just pour the whole packet into my mouth. Instead, I went upstairs to hang out with the bird- like I do everyday when I come home and I ate them like a lady, one (or two or four) at a time whilst sipping a cold glass of lightly sweetened herbal tea ( spiked with gin). I’m not one to go ubernuts with the sriracha, I think it has a time and a place- and that place is definitely on salty crunchy almonds- also I think they would make an AMAZING crust for pan seared fish.


And that’s the end of the notreallyadevertising but they gave me stuff so I would write about it, and now I fulfilled my obligations (and I LOVE my new stuff) so win win.

Have you seen this?  Mad Libs for Every Food Blog Commenter ? It is BRILLIANT- maybe more so if you have ever posted a recipe or read the comments section of an online recipe but the team at The Kitchn nailed it!

My dessert making has been going pretty well I’m getting very into this no churn ice cream. I love the texture it’s very soft and creamy and lush, sort of like gelato but more like the spumoni you get at L&B spumoni gardens. If you have ever had the pleasure you know, I don’t gotta tell you. But if you haven’t and if you are ever in Brooklyn and want to know what it was like before Pinterest the go to L&B Spumoni Gardens it’s in Bensonhurst fircrissakes, and not for nuthin’ but the Sicilian slice is freakin’ great also they have good clams.

Today I even have recipe for you!  It’s a long game sort of recipe, perfect for when its hot and you don’t want to move around so much. There’s a long wait time – 3 days- ish – but you are really only doing anything for like 25 minutes.

This requires some time because it implements the cold steep; during which you infuse flavors into cold cream using time rather than heat to fill all those fat cells with essential oils. If you are planning to have it on the weekend, you can put in 5 minutes on Wednesday night and a half an hour on Friday and it will be ready on Saturday.

Tea & Toast Ice Cream

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 tablespoons or 3 tea bags of good quality Darjeeling tea
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can less 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 Thick slices of sturdy white country bread or 1/3 of a good baguette
  • 4 tablespoons best butter
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  1. Using tongs hold the cinnamon stick over a gas flame until it starts to smolder- if you have an electric stove place in a heavy pan and toast until it turns black and your house is filled with this great smell that is burnt cinnamon. Do the same with the vanilla pod, yes I know, it smells freakin’ great.
  2. Break up the cinnamon stick into small pieces  and chop up the vanilla bean.
  3. Place the cinnamon, vanilla, tea, pinch of sea salt & cream in a container with a tight-fitting lid cover and stick in fridge if you remember to do so give it a good shake every couple of days let steep over night or up to 3 days.
  4. Meanwhile…. Toast the bread well- until its dark brown with just a tiny bit of burnt
  5. Butter both sides of the bread USE ALL THE BUTTER, break into pieces and place in food processor.
  6. Pulse until you have a coarse crumb, remove from processor and stir in 2 tbs of the condensed milk & salt, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  7. Strain the cream discard solids (you could wipe off the vanilla beans and stick in some sugar to keep forever, if you wanted to, I do that because I am thrifty)
  8. Whip the cream to stiff peak – I use my KitchenAid  you could use a whisk, if you need an arm work out
  9. Fold the remaining condensed milk gently into the whipped cream, get it thoroughly mixed in, the cream will deflate some.
  10. Carefully swirl the toast crumbs into the cream mixture to give a swirl of toasty bits. If you are not confident in your ability to do this with out mucking it up- pour half the ice cream base into a loaf pan then add the toasty bits then cover with remaining base and tap on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles out.
  11. Gently pour everything into a loaf pan or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze over night.

I would serve this with bourbon soaked cherries or some blackberries smashed with a bit of sugar– or even a spoonful of warmed cherry or blackberry jam, a couple of sugar cookies wouldn’t exactly be over kill either.

If you want to do away with the whole nonsense and just make some ice cream whip a cup of cream add most of the can of sweetened condensed milk to it + some thing like chocolate chips or some bits of halvah or crushed berries or salted peanuts or even sriracha almonds (ooooh, hmmm, maybe but maybe not) and freeze it over night in a tightly wrapped container.

So so my lovelies that is the end of today; my girl Holly Jo is in town and I’m meeting her for happy hour in an hour and a half. So in honor of my new hairdo which I hate even though it is a necessary evil because I accidentally burned a hank of hair off of my head with my new hairdryer the same week  I broke my fingertip. I am leaving you with these words of wisdom from Countess DeLesseps- with whom I now share a hairdo.