Monday, February 15, 2010


In an effort to keep expenses down and reduce the amount of trash I make everyday, I am expiramenting with taking lunch to work in my new blue lunch box, purchased at Brooklyn Kitchen.  This week, I used my left over meatballs to make a sandwich.  Then I roasted some vegetables, added some arugula greens and a boiled egg and had myself a tasty little lunch.
Roasted Winter Vegetables
makes 6 servings

1 pound carrots
1 pound parsnips
1 large sweet potato
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup chopped parsley
sea salt to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste
olive oil

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the vegetables into 1" cubes, Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes then sprinkle with parsley.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Returning home after a long trip to the frozen tundra that is New York in February, I dove right into my comfort food recipes of choice from the Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  This is my favorite of her books, and I have had more success from this one book than any other at making delicious food for friends and loved ones.  Time to get cozy.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
(recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style)
serves 6... but I like to make extra for sandwiches during the week

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a dash of cinnamon
1 extra large egg, beaten
vegetable oil
olive oil

Place the ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, egg and 3/4 cup of warm water in a bowl.  Combine carefully with your hands.  Form mixture into 2 inch diameter balls.

Pour equal amounts vegetable and olive oil into a large skillet, to a depth of 1/4".  Heat the oil.  Very carefully, in batches of 4 or 5, place the meatballs in the oil and brown on all sides.  This is a bit tricky, and you have to pay close attention to keep the balls from sticking to the pan bottom.  Remove from the oil and put on a tray with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.  Discard the oil but do not clean the pan.

For the spaghetti and sauce:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1-1/2 teaspoon  minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 pounds spaghetti

Heat the olive oil in the meatball pan.  Add the onions and saute over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.  Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits from the pan until most of the liquid evaporates.  Stir in tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer on lowest heat for 25 to 30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.  Serve hot with the cooked spaghetti and grated Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Boutique wallpaper company Cavern has just launched a line of artists editions papers that are really smart. They are affordable and environmentally friendly, too.

My favorites were designed by friend (as well as artist, caterer, and homemaker extraordinaire) Julia Ziegler-Haynes. A little vintage, a little arty, a lot pretty.

Find out more at their website.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Miles flown so far: 21,254

As a result of airline tickets purchased with mileage points, the attached blackout dates and other limitations, we were "forced" to stay 5 nights in French Polynesia on the way home.  We made the most of it by booking some time on Bora Bora: that magical, quasi-imaginary place of exotic paradise lost in the South Pacific.  This concept rings less true in the rainy season, when we were there.  We flew into Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia and the largest city on Tahiti.  We didn't see much of the city, but the airport cafeteria and the Tahiti Airport Motel (our layover for one night) were two things best avoided.
The tiny flight to Bora Bora the next morning took off into sheets of rain like I have never seen.  The waters parted in time for landing, and I was able to get a shot of the island and its resorts.

Almost every moment of our time on the island it rained, or was cloudy, or was cloudy and rainy.  Besides that, however, you could see what a special, beautiful place this was.  The colors of the water, sky and sand were otherworldly.

Our one good sunset.

And a rainbow!

The time we spent in Bora Bora was an unexpected luxurious addition to an already spectacular trip.  I am so glad we were able to experience it, even in the rain.  That said, I made some mistakes when arranging the trip that I wish I could have changed.  Staying at a resort on Bora Bora is not a good introduction to Polynesian culture and cuisine, and I knew that it would not be.  It is one of the most spectacular islands in the world, and the idealized version of the South Pacific (which is why all those resorts are there).  I will admit I wanted to fulfil the fantasy of an over water bungalow looking out over an azure lagoon.  I got this, and it was romantic and private and wonderful, despite the rain.  Beyond the room and the surroundings, I wish we hadn't felt so trapped at our specific resort.  The food was terrible and overpriced.  If our time in French Polynesia had not been such a tack-on to the planning of our entire trip, I wish we could have seen some of the less inhabited islands and sought out a more authentic experience.  I watched the No Reservations episode about French Polynesia and it seemed so much more interesting than the country we visited: eating food caught yourself in a breezy locally-built bungalow with no electricity looking out at several other uninhabited islands under thousands of stars.  In short, becasue of our hasty planning and limited time, our Polynesian fantasy was not fully realized, but it was a relaxing and peaceful stay, nonetheless.

A nice end to an epic journey to the other side of the world... and I really feel ready to go home!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Queenstown was our last stop in the South Island before one night in Auckland on our way out of New Zealand.  Located on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown seemed like an amalgamation of Boulder, Colorado and Prague.  It was packed with tourists, especially backpackers, most of whom were using the town as their base for helicoptering, jetboating, skydiving, bungee jumping or even just hiking around the local mountainous wilderness.  Everywhere else we went in New Zealand seemed to be visited only by elderly British couples and ourselves.  In Queenstown, I was the one who felt old.

This is Vesta Design Store and Cafe, on the lake shore in town.  It is a cute old house where Kiwi designers sell their wares and you can enjoy a flat white (latte) while perusing some local architecture and interiors magazines.

The greenhouse in the front garden was cute.

In the spirit of all things Queenstown, we decided to get our piece of the adrenaline circuit and signed up for some tandem paragliding.  We strapped in with our respective guides and leapt off of this mountain into the wind.  That blue ribbon indicates to the guide that there is enough wind to keep you aloft once you jump off the edge.

There goes my boyfriend.

I expected to be terrified, but it was actually quite peaceful.  As close as a person can get to flying... quietly drifting over hilltops and forest.

At the end of the ride, my guide gained altitude on a cross wind and then decided to give me a thrill by spiraling down to earth incredibly fast.  It was radical.  I wanted to go again as soon as it was over.

Having really experienced the nature, adventure, and thrills of the South Island, we flew to Auckland for one night in New Zealand's largest city before heading home.  There were some pretty Victorian houses in various stages of repair and disrepair around the Ponsonby neighborhood where our hotel was located.

Two weeks was not enough to see all of the South Island, let alone the whole of New Zealand, but I think we got a good taste for things.  Of course, I was blown away by the awesome natural beauty of these islands (as everyone who has been is, I am sure).  Also, I was surprised by the sense of isolation and its strong affect on the culture of the place.  If I am ever lucky enough to go back, I think I will focus the trip even more on seeing pure nature.  Auckland was a pleasant enough city, and we had some good food and great wine in several places, but without a doubt the most remarkable time of our trip was spent being floored by the surreal countryside, beaches, mountains, forests, glaciers, rivers and lakes of this tucked-away corner of the globe.