September 21, 2012

carrot bread

Last weekend in an attempt to use a bunch of carrots I had in my fridge, I whipped up a carrot bread. I also threw in half an apple, a handful of walnuts and another handful of golden raisins just to add some flavor, texture and dimension. It was a really easy adaptation and combonation of some other cake/bread recipes I have tried.

Start by mixing together the dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Add the wet ingredients, one at a time:
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
1-2 cups of carrots (or other vegetable... I used one cup + the additional ingredients I mentioned above)

Mix together well and pour into a lightly greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to one hour. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center. The bread will be complete when the toothpick is clean. You don't want it too overdone as it may dry out. I find it to be delightful breakfast! Enjoy!!

Also this weekend is the start of the annual Sausage Fest at the Standard Tap. If you haven't gone before, you have been missing out and should make every effort to get in there. Take my word... it's worth it!

September 19, 2012

pin it on

my work space
I have a penchant for order and cataloging. I can't help but think everything should have it's place. This trait has me often invited into friends homes for day long organizing sessions. Two of my favorite past times are cleaning up my workspace and rearranging furniture in a room.  Many, many years ago, before I owned a laptop, I would sometimes horde magazines until there would come a point when I would purge them but not without flipping through each one and making tears of my favorite images, ideas and inspirations. Once a pile had accumulated, the sheets would be organized into a book. I still have this book and occasionally sometimes add to it. After I got my computer, I started doing the same thing with images I would find online. Folders with different labels soon cluttered my desktop until I started uploading them to a tumblr account. After about 4 years of continually adding images I found and reposting others, I broke down and joined the sister site to tumblr, pinterest. I have been really enjoying the format of pinterest, mostly because it has a very clean and basic format and allows you to be as organized as you want. Have a look and feel free follow or to leave a comment! See you over there...

September 17, 2012

wings & scarabs

Here is a sampling of one of my latest obsessions... illustrations from the enigmatic French turn-of-the-century artist, E.A. Séguy. I would surely love to have at least one of these prints hanging in my home. Have a gander while I try and visualize how the bathroom may look wallpapered with these beauties.

September 12, 2012


I have been spending a large amount of time at home due in most part to the cycle of food shopping, preparing meals and dining in. It works wonders for the bank account. Really, it does. But honestly, once September begins and the slightest crispness takes over in the air, I always find myself happily in the kitchen again. Over the summer I was doing a decent bit of juicing and started to enjoy adding beets to my mixes. The taste is one I enjoy, the sugar is a boost in the mornings and the color beets produce is absolutely divine. This past week I picked up some nice organic beets at the market and decided to try something new... using the entire beet and it's greens. So I started by making sauteed beet greens and then, pickling the bulbs.

Sauteed Beet Greens
Start by trimming the greens off of the beets and supplementing some bulk by adding a bunch of swiss chard. After soaking them twice in a sink full of cold water to remove any sand or dirt they are ready to be chopped.  But first, while soaking start sauteing two chopped strips of thick cut bacon in a large pot. Once the bacon starts to crisp, add a large chopped shallot and lower the flame. While that slowly cooks, get back to chopping the greens, tossing some of the hardier stems in early with the onion and bacon. Next add a minced clove of garlic and raise the heat. After about two minutes on a medium-high heat add a 1/4 cup of dry white wine and 1/4 cup of water, scrape the bottom of the pan clean and get everything mixed together. Finally toss the chopped greens in and cover. Let them wilt and cook down tossing occasionally to incorporate everything. Once it is all reduced add some salt, pepper & chili flakes to taste and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar for a kick. Delicious!

Pickled Beets
The following day I tackled the beets themselves. Start by washing them well, quarter them and cook in a steamer for 30 minutes. Once finished and cooled, remove their skins by gently rubbing them away with a paper towel. Slice them, toss them into a quart jar or airtight container and add a thinly sliced shallot and a teaspoon of each: whole peppercorns, whole coriander and chili flakes. You can use the beet water left from steaming and pour it inside the jar to fill it half way. Top off the rest with half white wine vinegar and half apple cider vinegar. Into the fridge they go and will be tasting more delicious every day.

September 3, 2012

summer reflections

It was four short months ago that I was looking ahead at summer and visualizing a long stretch of hot days, long nights of work and buckets full of money. I was set on doing something out of the ordinary for my summer self and intentionally not taking it easy. Alas, things went awry. And I happily went with it because I am more interested in listening to the universe and finding my course according to what life sends my way. In doing so I have had one of the best summer seasons I can remember for years. I recall plenty of time on the coast, sunny days, sandy feet, wave wrestling, lazy days at the pool, backyard BBQs, arcades, rollercoasters, rainy afternoons, platefuls of seafood, moonlit nights, mornings in the garden, reading, mid-day cocktails, quiet cappuccinos, spectacular sunsets and above all... Italy. 

Just about halfway through the summer I jumped a plane to Italy and landed in Rome to meet mio amore. There were just 24 hours of Rome in 100 degree weather and I didn't have a typical tourist experience. Instead my brief stay was divided between a boutique hotel, Eataly, and an evening in Testaccio, a quiet neighborhood a good deal away from the sights of any Roman ruins or tourist traps. Dinner at Felice was a highlight, followed by catching up over an al fresco whiskey at a nearby park.

From there we spent the next week and a half making our way around Tuscany and the central west coast spending the bulk of the time in Massa where I met family and friends and enjoyed the local sights, food, wine and my first dip in the Mediterranean.

There was a quick day trip to Pisa with an even quicker stop at the tourist infested Tower. The rest of the day was spent wandering the winding streets and alleys, enjoying a light, low key lunch and of course, a creamy gelato to cool off with before heading home.

Friday brought a train ride to Florence through the hills of sunflowers, vineyards and olive groves. An afternoon of walking through town begged for a proper Negroni at the Caffè Giacosa. A quick stop for picking up postcards and then we made our way back to the station.

The weekend was spent in Siena. The views from our terrace were out of this world. I enjoyed every sunset & sunrise I could catch. We lunched at a local roadside bar and later dinned at a spa, enjoying their natural thermal baths and breathtaking views. The highlight of the weekend was a night in the old town of Siena with drinks in the square and dinner on a cobbled Medieval street in the most warm and rustic osteria.

Before the sunrise drive back to Rome to catch my awaiting flight to Newark I was lucky to have a couple last days back in Massa to soak up the sun and Italian hospitality. I can not wait to go back and see more and revisit with all the wonderful people I was so fortunate to meet.

Ciao summer!