pasta - 2Confession: I am not that into pasta. I can’t really put my finger on why, but it really just doesn’t get me excited about dinner. But my reality is that I feed kids every single night and they do get to weigh in on the weekly menu plan. Also, I am really fond of my sanity and what can possibly be easier than pasta?

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ugly tomahtoI am a fair weather tomato fan, and I mean that in the best way. I just think that the sad, cottony, flavorless orbs on offer in winter are simply not worth the trouble. I have learned to make due with grape tomatoes for the kids’ snacking and I am fine with tinned Romas for sauces. But I will never just buy a tomato from a grocery store in the winter and put it on a sandwich or a salad or anyplace else.

Flip the calendar to summer and I can’t get enough. All shapes, sizes and colors get thrown into salads, pasta, rice, eggs. Tomato sandwiches on toast with salt pepper and mayo? Perfection.

tomatoes, feta, arugula, basil, olive oil and sea saltThis salad is also perfection for me. Read More →

 

KHA_0913_2My friend Anna (of Lunch Box London fame) has worked in a lot of professional kitchens and has shared many time and effort-saving tricks with me since I have known her. Cooking with her is a pleasure — she cooks intuitively and creatively, has great taste and zero fear. Anna is also really efficient. If she can do something in two steps, no way she is going to take five. Or a burner on the stove. Or dirty an extra pan.

I am a complete convert to Anna’s low-effort method of prepping kale and other hardy greens:  Read More →

Community Plates

image from communityplates.org

For the second time in two weeks, we are all home for a snow day. Still new to such a snowy climate, any hassle is totally outweighed by the excitement of cancelled school. sledding and snowmen. Mother Nature might is asking us to slow down a bit; who am I to complain? After all, we are cozy at home together with plenty of food in the pantry and firewood for the fireplace.

But I also know that I am lucky. We all have neighbors (whether we see them or not) who are not warm, who do not have a full pantry, and who are alone. I want to spend my few minutes on the Internet today introducing you to Community Plates, one of the groups trying to help address these needs.

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KHA_0776I make popcorn all the time.  Several times per week. It is a delicious snack that takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish. It is inexpensive, healthy and the ingredients are in my pantry whenever I need them. I know I am biased, but stovetop popcorn is so easy and delicious, why why why would anyone choose microwave popcorn?  Maybe it seems hard? Or bland?  Or maybe the “lite” popcorn has us convinced that regular popcorn is naughty? Well, stovetop popcorn is none of those things and it is dead easy.  Here are our go to tips for making stove top popcorn that will turn you forever from the chemical-scented imposter.

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I’ve been setting up shop in the new kitchen. Filling a pantry from scratch is such a luxury. Usually I have to slog through old spices that guilt keeps me from throwing away. But when we left London, we had to pitch it all. My husband did the dirty work in case I just hid them in a suitcase and got us stopped at Customs.

Just like the start of a new school year (this is the year I will do all of my homework on time!), I am still full of energetic plans to make this the kitchen that stays organized, the kitchen that never gets cluttered with half bags of old pasta and esoteric ingredients that will never get used. (Check back a year from now I’ll have a post about history repeating itself…)

spice kitchen-2

Spice jars on a rotating caddy, by JosephJoseph. These live on the counter near my stove.

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Poster by asintended. Available at Keep Calm Gallery

Poster by asintended. Available at Keep Calm Gallery

Oh dear reader(s). I have been slow to post. I am a bit of a perfectionist. I have been writing the wittiest and most insightful post about ex-pat life. Specifically, how immersion in another culture has affected me. How it has helped me learn about myself. How it has helped me to become more familiar with my own culture by comparison. I had funny anecdotes about taking my kids to the States for the Summer, like the time my daughter couldn’t figure out how to flush an American toilet. I had deep wisdom about consciously fostering connections to American culture for my kids. You may roll your eyes at all of this, but it was brilliant I tell you. You should have read it.

I never hit “publish” on these draft posts because each time I finished, the essay was already out of date. By the time we went home for the Summer, I was well on notice that we might be moving back to the States any minute. By the time the post on “Living in Limbo” was finished, it was out of date as well. The decision had been made. Which ironically meant cutting “American Summer” short to return to London to pack out.

London has been very good to us and I will always be grateful that we were able to stay for two years past the original assignment. In truth, I wouldn’t have chosen this summer to move on. I feel like there was more to be done and so much more to see. A lifetime wouldn’t be enough to peel back all the layers of this modern/ancient melting-pot of a metropolis.

Next up: Connecticut. If you think this sounds like a straightforward transition back to white-picket-fenced America, you’d be wrong. Consider for a moment that in my 40 years, I have never lived outside of a city. Our new home is in the WOODS. With windows on ALL FOUR SIDES. Surrounded by NATURE. Once when I was seventeen I stayed on a farm and I had insomnia because it was TOO QUIET. It is completely novel to me that our neighbors won’t have a view straight into our living room or be able to hear every argument conversation through the walls. And that’s before I even get to the part about having actual closets. Seriously. There are Lots Of Closets.

Card by hartford prints. Available on Etsy

Card by hartford prints. Available on Etsy

Have you seen the multi-colored cakes all over the internet?  They are generally enrobed in white buttercream so that the first slice is a surprise.  I made my first technicolor rainbow cake for the kids second birthday, when they were way to young too appreciate the awesomeness of this:

Making these cakes is deceptively simple.  Basic reliable cake recipe (box mix, even) and good quality food coloring (like Wilton’s gels).  Think about the colors and patterns you are looking for.  For a psychedelic rainbow cake, divide the batter into small batches, color separately and then add each color into the very center of the tin on top of the color before.  The batter will push the colored layers out and do all of the work for you.  The same method will produce a great vanilla/chocolate zebra pattern.  Or football team colors.

This Fourth of July cake is even easier…red white blue cake-1

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The Sixes have graduated from Kindergarten and are chillin’ until they start the 1st grade. Some pool time and sports camp. A healthy amount of boredom to balance out the overscheduled academic year. Getting grubby and washing off with the garden hose.  These are the joys of summer.

June also kicks off with birthdays.  First the Queen (actually 21 April but celebrated in June with the Trooping of the Colour and an awesome flyover).  Then the Sixes.  Remember last year’s back-to-back homemade parties for each kid? That will probably go down as a once-in-a-lifetime feat of strength. This year we took the saner path of throwing the first party at home and the second off-premises. Read More →