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 →

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Everyone in our home headed back to work or school today.  The weather here has been grim, so we’re getting off to the right start with the most traditional of English breakfasts: porridge.  Except that I am American, and I call it oatmeal.  Sorry, porridge just sounds so dreary.  Either way, it’s so good for you with its whole grains and protein.  But all of that warming nourishment is wasted if it is gluey, gloppy and boring.

Here are some of my tricks for keeping it easy and manageable. Read More →

Thanksgiving is the ultimate eating holiday, but not necessarily the ultimate “foodie” holiday. Seriously, would you ever have another meal with both mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and bread-based stuffing together? Even if you aren’t avoiding carbs, that is just a crazy menu with too many side dishes. But here is the cool thing about Thanksgiving, it is one day of the year when the menu isn’t driven by perfect balance and elegance, it is driven by family and traditions and enjoyment and love. One can’t eat like that everyday, but it is a lot of fun to eat certain things once a year because they remind you of your grandmother or your family back in the South or that time when my sister made some gnarly cranberry sauce at school and brought it home in a dixie cup. No one wanted to eat it but we did anyway and now we laugh about it every year.

Here is our menu. I’ll update with some photos tomorrow night, but I really hope you’ll leave a comment sharing your must-have Thanksgiving dish. The kind of thing that really makes it feel like Thanksgiving. I won’t bore you with the details, but I assure you that I never would have chosen this menu on my own.  I love it anyway because each dish represents a dear family member or friend, even if they won’t be at my table.

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DSC00097When I was growing up, we traveled to New Orleans a couple of times to visit family during Mardi Gras. We got all dressed up and staked out a prime spot along the parade routes. To help us little ones, my uncle attached a box to the top of two 5” ladders and my cousin and I relished our prized elevated perch. We could see right over the heads of the adults and yell “throw me sumthin’ mister” as the floats cruised slowly by. We came home exhausted and sorted through in our huge haul of beads and doubloons and trinkets. Read More →

As a way of combating bouts of picky eating, we let each of the kids choose dinner for the family one night per week.  They are in charge and they have to help cook.  The other kid sets the table.  Most weeks, this is a simple negotiation of which one gets to pick pizza and which one gets to pick pasta.  Out of nowhere this week one of them insisted on octopus.  We made it once last summer and they loved how it wiggles around as it was cooking in the skillet.  Counterintuitive fact: my kids are fascinated by foods that actually look like animals.  If you think your kids are similarly inclined and you haven’t done this, take them to a fish monger (not a grocery store but a proper fish market) and let them pick out something awesome.  Cook it with them.  Even if they don’t love it, you will both have fun finding out.  But I digress.

The other kid was not really feeling the nostalgia and said he only wanted pasta for dinner.  This is what compromise looks like:

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My fabulous sister has been blogging for several years at Brunch and the city and The Hill is Home.  In fact, she was a driving force behind this blog.  See, back in DC we lived next door and we both knew pretty much everything happening in each other’s lives.  With an ocean and 5 time zones of separation, she encouraged me to do this to keep my family back home plugged into my school adventures.  We were lucky to have her visit for Christmas.  She and my mom and I pretty much went mad in the kitchen blending recipes and inspiration from home with techniques from school and ingredients from London.  Below is her Brunch and the city post about good old-fashioned Christmas morning comfort food made from scratch.  Enjoy! Read More →