Garden

Caramels 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.14.16 Holidaze (& a Giveaway)

Have you been sucked into the December vortex? Standing in long lines, eating too much sugar and feeling like a loser because you can't afford to buy all the presents are some indications that the holidays are getting the better of you. Resist! I say. Go simple. Stay true. Be calm. It's a challenge, I know. Just the other day, as I sat wrapping gifts, I was overcome with sadness. Both my parents are gone, what little family I have lives on the West Coast and most of my friends are far away. I never had children. I live in a tiny cottage and my home doesn't overflow with several generations. My life suddenly seemed very thin to me and, I confess, I felt a little sorry for myself. And I start every day with a gratitude practice in which I carefully review all my many blessings! What is it about this time of year that preys on our vulnerabilities? I didn't really snap out of it until my husband came home and took me in his arms and talked me through the realities: I am healthy. I am safe. I am lucky. I am loved. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.


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Bowl 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

10.12.16 Greener Pastures

Nine years ago, I married a wonderful man. I had been married before—not once, not twice, but three times and each time I had walked down the aisle filled with hope. But I had not been ready. I had not learned the true nature of love. I had not yet ripened into the woman I was to become, the one that could open her heart and receive as much as she could give. When we found each other, everything changed. Our wedding was a beautiful nighttime celebration in front of friends and family. It was cocktails, cake and dancing in a loft in New York City. The flowers were extraordinary and Danny Meyer catered the finger food (there was even an ice cream bar). We spent our wedding night in a room overlooking Central Park at the Carlyle Hotel. It was glorious and extravagant and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I know I'll never get married again. A couple of months later, we went to India for a five-week honeymoon. What a life! It seems an awfully long time ago in some ways, but our love feels very fresh and alive. And that curry? It's a memento of that trip to India—a green version of an incredible tomato curry we ate in Udaipur at this stunning hotel.


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Mk1 790 xxx
photo by staci valentine

9.21.16 Poverty Food

My friend Mirena Kim is such a superb creature. We met more than 20 years ago and instantly bonded over our love of food, crafts and wicked giggling. Through life's ups and downs, I have watched her handle whatever came her way with grace and humor. She has always been there for me: totally supportive, never judging. Her aesthetic is flawless; everything she makes and keeps around her is quietly beautiful and highly functional. In the last few years, she has dug deeper into her ceramics practice and the world has taken notice. (You can read more about her here and here, visit her website here, and watch this video my husband made about her.) Her bowls, platters and vases are fully integrated into my home life and will be forever. This summer, Mirena flew in from Los Angeles for a spontaneous visit and spent a few glorious days talking, hiking, swimming in the lake and teaching me to make kimchi straight from the garden. 


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Ratatouille1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

8.11.15 I Smell a Ratatouille

You may not know this about me (though it is mentioned here), but ratatouille is one of my very favorite words. I love to trill the r and the whole concatenation of sounds just feels so marvelous tripping off the tongue. (And the movie was pretty fabulous, as well.) The dish itself has never held quite the same appeal, mostly because I shun bell peppers. But when candy-sweet cherry tomatoes, firm zucchini, lush basil and fresh garlic are flowing from the garden, and gorgeous Japanese eggplants are piled high at the farmers market, this humble Provençal vegetable stew definitely comes to mind. Here's my twist on a beloved classic.


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Peony bud 790 xxx
iPhotos by gluttonforlife

6.5.15 Greece Is the Word (& June Hot Links)

Farewell is such sweet sorrow. I'm leaving on a jet plane, just as the garden kicks into its full glory. While I'm away, the peonies are going to bloom in a burst of pink and white fireworks. The jasmine will waft its sweet fragrance all over the yard and into the open windows of our tiny cottage, but I'll be in Greece. Which will certainly be no small consolation for missing one of the prime moments of the season in our little corner of the Catskills. I've never been to Greece before but my suitcase is packed with all things blue and white in anticipation. Last night, only half joking, I made a Greek salad for dinner. Priming the pump. New sights, new sounds, new tastes, new friends: here I come.


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Redbud 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife and friends

5.28.15 Spring Things

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Let's get the bad news over with. The beautiful little eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) outside our kitchen window gave up the ghost. Its vivid pink blossoms, one of the earliest harbingers of spring, failed to appear last year. We chalked it up to the same late frost that destroyed many apple blossoms, since the tree eventually leafed out, its broad, heart-shaped greenery a welcome source of summer shade, But this year, there were again no blossoms and no leaves either. Further investigation revealed deep vertical cracks running up both sides of the trunk. Apparently, it's not entirely unusual for strong winds to cause this, though it certainly feels deeply unjust. The skeletal branches are a sad reminder of how much I will miss our dear tree, a friend to birds and butterflies, and a bosom companion to this solitary writer. Now, on to the good...


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Old man winter 790 xxx

3.30.15 Ice Ice Baby

Our tiny cottage has been caught in the frigid grasp of Old Man Winter for months now. His icy breath penetrates every nook and cranny, seeping into our very bones. The spring equinox arrived without much fanfare, just an incipient thaw that seems to have frozen mid-trickle. But change is coming. The light is different, quicker and clearer, and the cold air is scented with a damp optimism. Anticipication mounts, becoming almost unbearable. Before we surrender entirely to the frenzied bacchanal of spring, let's take a moment to give the Old Man his due.


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Winter house 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

3.6.15 March Hot Links

The guy who plows our driveway is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every time it snows, he comes by and makes a huge mountain at the end of our front walk. I guess it hasn't occurred to him that we actually leave the house. At any rate, after the recent snowfall, there was a wall nearly four feet high and almost as wide. It was so wet and heavy that heaving every shovelful was a considered effort. Such a sisyphean task is what passes for a good workout here in the boondocks. And someone in my yoga class told me to spray the shovel with Pam to prevent the snow from sticking. Who am I and how did I get here?


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2 squashes 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

1.27.15 Squash Your Cravings

I turned 52 last week. It seems like only yesterday I was confronting the milestone that is turning 50. As much as I believe that age is just a number—as opposed to something that defines us, inside or out—it can feel a bit alarming when the clichés become increasingly relevant. When I texted a friend recently to ask him how his photo shoot was going and he wrote back complaining about "the concrete floors," I had to chuckle. Until being out snowshoeing for hours in the freezing cold resulted in my knee suffering from what I think might be a little bursitis. Tell me that word doesn't conjure up your grandmother. How do I weather the changes? With a sense of humor, a healthy dose of denial and a stockpile of resilience. Which is not to say I don't occasionally stare aghast at the loosening skin on my neck. But I think Nora Ephron covered all that more than adequately and so I'd rather talk to you about another thing I stockpile: winter squash.


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Berries 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

12.23.14 A Winter's Tale

The wave of melancholy brought in on the tide of winter has somewhat receded here, though the pervasive grey and permeating damp nibble little holes in my soul. Do you ever find that the tears induced by chopping onions suddenly turn real? It's as though they lubricate the tracks for old sorrows to come pouring out. This is not always an unpleasant thing and can pass like a sudden squall on an otherwise calm sea. With the holidays upon us, memories lie close to the surface—of Christmases past, of loved ones no longer with us, of times that appear brighter from a distance. We romanticize, we idealize and then, with any luck, we return to the present moment with gratitude. For this is what we have now and it is enough in all its barren beauty, its eternal uncertainty, its yearning and celebration. Come take a little tour of the garden with me and see what charms it holds in these days of the solstice. (And find out who won those caramels!)
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