Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I've been away from here for a while.

You see I actually got very sick quite unexpectedly. Sick as in your day starts out completely unremarkable (breakfast, exercise, client conference call . . .) and then a few hours later you're in the ICU! Anyway, the point is I haven't really been up to the task of blogging, or really much else, for most of August. But I was completely humbled by the graciousness and thoughtfulness of so many who visited me in the hospital, stayed with me when I got out, sent me good things to read and beautiful things to look at, and made nourishing, delicious things for me to eat. It certainly makes me appreciate what a blessing good health is — and good friends!

So not a whole lot of cookin' has been going on in my kitchen of late. Seriously, I don't even know when I last made a home-cooked meal or what it was. This is what I "made" for breakfast this morning. I know, it looks like something a college student would eat.

In the wake of the mysterious illness (which is yet to be named but the doctors assure me I'll make a full recovery from), I also felt like I needed to get away and kind of regroup. So I stole away this week. While there will be no food pictures, I thought perhaps you might still enjoy these shots.

I do miss cooking and promise to get back to it soon, as well as blogging. Warm wishes to all for a wonderful Labor Day holiday ahead!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting Smashed

It's Monday. What can I say except I miss the weekend already. I'm having separation anxiety and am wondering how I'll survive until Friday when the weekend comes back to greet us with hopefully this in hand:

It's my 2011 Drink of Summer. I tend to get on these kicks and right now this is it: the Bourbon Blackberry Smash. I first had a version of this a few months ago at a restaurant in town. It was called Red Rocks, which I think is quite a clever name. [I'm in marketing so I can't help but evaluate things like this on menus. . . . ]

But as I ponder how to brand my version, I think I'll call mine Bourberry.

Consider this your gateway drug to bourbon if you think you don't like it. 'Cuz after tasting this, you'll wonder how you made it so many years without this lovely liquor. The next thing you know you'll be drinking two fingers (or sometimes six) "neat" out of a lovely old fashioned glass (or plastic cup).

It really is the perfect summertime drink. The rich, tart fruit at its peak is the perfect match for the wood undertones you find in bourbon. And the sparkling lemonade adds just enough crispiness to it to really quench your thirst. Well, not that you'll want to stop at just one. And because it's considered a "smash," the blackberry seeds are intentionally unstrained , so it's the lazy man's cocktail. Perfect for when it's too hot to do any heavy lifting and you'd rather laugh at the silly face the seeds and lemon slice made in your drink.

I must say, it is rather perfect to sip from the veranda or the pool — or anywhere else for that matter.

So I hope you'll join me this weekend (or tomorrow) and get "smashed!" I hate to drink alone.

Makes 1 drink, but you'll want to quadruple this so plan accordingly

3 oz fresh blackberries
2 oz bourbon
1.5 oz sparkling lemonade (or club soda with some fresh lemon juice squeezed in it)
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water - or some agave syrup if you're lazy)
lemon wedge for garnish

Muddle blackberries in a glass. Fill with crushed ice. Add bourbon, sparkling lemonade and simple syrup. Garnish with a lemon slice and sip!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Easy A

I loved the charming comedy Easy A and thought Emma Stone scored an "A" in my book for her breakthrough performance and the witty humor and smart commentary throughout. I'm definitely looking forward to Emma's new turn as the protagonist Skeeter in the film The Help, based upon Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel opening August 10th.

If you've read the book, you know good ole Southern cookin' is central to the story. My mouth was watering thinking about the fried chicken they ate. I know that fried chicken. It's cooked in Crisco and it's extra crispy which locks in the juiciness of the meat. You need extra napkins—or a towel—to catch the juice as it runs down your chin. I know that smell of frying chicken. When you're hungry (or not), I'm not sure there is anything that smells better. I can close my eyes now and be in my grandmother's kitchen watching her deft hands commanding those chicken pieces in the skillet like a general while I wait for them to cool down enough to eat.

While I love fried chicken, it's not something you just whip up. It's rather involved and takes some practice before you perfect it. Clearly my grandmother has had a lot of practice. In fact, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I've never even made fried chicken before! I'm happy just eating my mom's or my grandmother's. It's like if someone sews you beautiful clothing, like my grandmother also did, why bother to learn to sew yourself? That was my rationale anyway, which I realize now is quite short-sighted. So I'm planning to master fried chicken (or at least start trying) this year. It was one of my 2011 cooking resolutions, which may seem a bit off the New Year Resolution track of eating healthier, but it's not an every day dish so I'm not going to feel too guilty about it. So stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, though, let me share with you this Easy A (as in appetizer) recipe that is perfect for summer and has nothing fried in it! I made it as an appetizer while in Palm Springs this summer for a girl's weekend. It was a wonderful treat and easy to polish off poolside with a an adult beverage in hand, which are both required when it's 110 degrees.

I love cherries. They seem like such a quintessential summertime fruit. I can eat them by the bowl full. They always remind me of my dad too. The Colonel, as he's known, has two tricks. One is "The Quarter Trick." I will spare you the description, but if you've ever met him, there's a 99.999999% chance he's done The Quarter Trick for you.

The second trick, which I haven't seen him do in a while but remember it fondly from my childhood, is he could take the cherry stem in his mouth and somehow tie it into a knot using his teeth and tongue. As a 5 year old, that was fascinating stuff! Anyway, if you've got any Easy A cherry recipes, please send my way while summer is still here! This year is flying by. . . .

Prosciutto and Cherry Crostini
Adapted from Cooking Light

Note: I made this as a crostini but you can easily make it into a sandwich if you wanted a larger serving. It would also hold up well for a picnic. You can certainly change out the meat (salami, turkey, etc.) and the fruit (plums, peaches, cherries). I kind of don't think you can mess it up.


1/4 cup fig preserves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
5 oz soft goat cheese
baguette, sliced on the diagonal
2 cups arugula
2 cups cherries, pitted and sliced
5 oz very thinly sliced prosciutto


Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk; set aside.
Spread cheese evenly over bread slices; divide arugula, cherries, and prosciutto evenly over bread. Drizzle with fig preserve mixture. And plan to make another batch 'cuz these go fast.