I remember the oddest moments of my childhood. I remember jumping into a pile of leaves, getting shot in the eye with a rubber band by my brother and leafing through Ethan Allen catalogs imagining how I would redecorate my room (sorry mom). Now I take pictures for a living of other peoples lives and how they would like to live it. It's not always obvious which memories will shape your life or what will resonate with your family. My hope is to show the inspiration in the everyday and maybe even some exceptional stuff that might inspire my daughter, myself and maybe even you. I'm searching for the stuff to remember.

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I Don’t Mean To Brag………

But this pie was REALLY good.  And yes, I did make it and it was one of my better pie crust days.  Just sayin’. But I can’t take credit for any recipes here.  The pecan pie filling recipe is from Fanny Farmer and the crust is my staple from “Baking With Julia”.  The salty crust and the sweet nut filling are super yummy together.

FLAKY PIE DOUGH (from Baking With Julia)

(makes 4 single crusts or 2 double)

5 1/4 cups pastry flour or all purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 3/4 cup (11 oz) solid vegetable shortening, chilled

1 cup ice water

Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Add the butter and, using a pastry blender (or fingers like I do) cut it into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Break up the shortening into small pieces and using the pastry blender (or 2 knives as I sometimes do, I don’t like extra gadgets but I don’t like using my fingers with the shortening because its too soft) cut into the mixture.  When the mix is clumpy and curdy and holds together when a small bit is pressed between your fingers, add the water and mix with a wooden spoon only until its incorporated.  Turn dough out onto a work surface and fold over on itself until you can gather it into itself.  

Divide and shape into four disks and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Use up to five days in the fridge or freeze for up to a month (ready for Christmas!)

BEST-OF-ALL PECAN PIE (from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook)

Basic pie dough (see above)

3 eggs

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup dark brown sugar 

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup pecan halves 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Line a pie pan with the rolled out dough and set aside (I put it in the fridge so it stays nice and cold).  Beat the eggs in a bowl with a whisk until the yolks and whites are blended.  Ad the corn syrup, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla and blend well.  Stir in the pecans, then pour the mixture into the pie shell.  Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center quivers slightly.  Don’t over bake!!! 

Pick me up……

Its finally cold outside.  Winter waited till the last minute to hit us with actual winter weather and frankly its a little late in my book.  Now its going to seem like its just dragging on.   But heres the thing, madeleines make it all better.  A cup of tea and a madeleine and you almost don’t mind that the ground hog saw his shadow…………..

Orange Cardamom Madeleines (from Martha of course)

for the batter:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for pan

1 tbsp. good-quality honey

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1.  Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter.  Make batter:  Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat, stir in honey and vanilla.  Let cool 10 minutes.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt in a bowl.  Stir together sugar and eggs in a bowl.  Gently fold in flour mixture until combined.  Add butter mixture and fold until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat over to 325 degrees F with rack in center.  Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each mold halfway.  Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles.  Bake until cookies are puffed and edges are golden, 7-8 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool slightly.  Unmold cookies onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

for the glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

2 tbsp strained fresh orange juice

4.  Stir together sugar and orange zest and juice in a bowl until glaze is smooth, thick and opaque.  Using a small pastry brush, coat ridged side of each cookie with glaze (or I just dipped the ridged side into the glaze).  Let set 15 minutes.  Cookies can be stored in a single layer in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.  As if they last that long……….

note from me to you:  this recipe is a tiny bit skimpy on cookie size.  I like my madeleines a bit on the fatter side.  I didn’t have enough batter to make 2 dozen when all is said and done. If you have kids, go ahead and double this recipe and figure you’ll get 2-3  less cookies per dozen if you put a touch more batter in the pan.

Storm King

On Black Friday we decided to skip the nightmare of shopping or running errands and spent the day with good friends.  We ended up at Storm King, the sculpture park in New Windsor, NY that is about an hour north of the city.  The weather was warm and the day was perfect.  Storm King is the dream museum visit, it’s both filled with (mostly) great sculpture and kids can run and be free and you don’t have a security guard giving you the flat eye.  It’s hard to take young kids to see art, especially sculpture.  While I don’t think they were aware that they were climbing on an Alexander Calder it was certainly magical at the very least.  

Work by Alexander Calder

Exploring the rolling hills of Maya Lin (my personal favorite installation).

Andy Goldsworthy’s curving stone wall.

We finished our visit with a trip into Cornwall and had lunch at Prima Pizza, perhaps the most kid friendly pizza place ever.  The kids had their own table and we sat at the counter, a win/win situation for all.  Then we kept the groove going and went to the movies just a few minutes away (Fandango Regal Cinemas, Fishkill NY).  If you time it right, you won’t have to wait.  

Storm King is closed for the season but reopens on April 3, 2013.  However, if you become a member, they have one weekend a month throughout the year when members only can go. The landscaping is so lovely it works in all seasons.  I would imagine it would be beautiful on a snowy day with a thermos of hot cocoa.

The Jerusalem Artichoke thats no choke.

I’ve seen these around quite a bit and had them in restaurants here and there but never actually cooked any myself.  Upon buying them at the farmers market a few weeks ago, I did a little research so I could understand the nature of the beast.  First of all, they are not artichokes but a tuber and member of the sunflower family.  Easy to grow and quite invasive if not contained, these are going in my lazy gals garden next spring. Although they seem so english to me, they are actually a native of North America.  I  consulted "Tender"- Nigel Slaters gorgeous cookbook on vegetables and gardening to see what the english had to say about it all. He suggests them raw in a salad, steamed and in a salad of bacon and parsley and theres a soup as well as many other takes on this mysterious food.  Here’s just a simple start to your introduction to the otherwise known as “sunchoke”. 

Washed and scrubbed.  I roasted mine with the skins on.  There’s no right or wrong way here, I just happen to think they are prettier with the contrast of the brown skin and it gives it a little bit of extra flavor (like a potato skin).

I split these in half and trimmed of any knobby bits that seemed unsavory.  Try to keep them uniform sizes so they roast evenly.

I tossed these in a little lemon juice to keep their color then with olive oil and a little thyme because that’s what I had on hand.  Nigel suggests parsley, lemon, hazelnuts and almonds (tossed in a warm salad of baby spinach-yum!).

I roasted these at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes till they got a bit crispy almost like a roasted potato then sprinkled with maldon’s flaky sea salt and a few cracks of pepper.  

5 Things to do BEFORE Thanksgiving…..

I love the holidays and I love all the hoopla surrounding them but on the actual day I like to have a little free time to hang with my family as well, not just cook.  So I’ve been trying to be uber prepared this year so I can have plenty of downtime.  This of course means you’ve got to do a little bit here and there before the cook off begins.  So here’s a few things I’ve been trying to get out of the way so I can be free as a bird………

1.  Wash and prep your veggies.  Depending upon how far in advance you are of the day, you can at least scrub them and if its the night before you can do a bit of chopping for say your stuffing etc.

2. Start setting aside your pieces of stale bread now. You can make a nice menagerie of types (whole wheat, sour dough and just plain white)  and get them cube or torn and ready to be stuffed.

3.  Make your pie dough and freeze it.  This cuts a lot of time off and your pie dough will be nicely chilled already so you don’t have to put it in the fridge for 2 hours after you make it.  I use a recipe from “Baking With Julia” and it yields either 4 pie crusts or 2 pies with tops.  

4.  Polish your serving pieces (or your silverware if you are super fancy).  Clearly I haven’t gotten to these!  But as you can see, I’ve got my work cut out for me.  Wondering if I just do it with toothpaste (in lieu of toxic polish) if Imogen can get into this task?  Keep you posted on that one.

5.  Iron your table linens.  This happens about twice a year if I’m lucky.  :)

1800’s House Plus (or what to have in a hurricane)…..

Ok so I was one of the lucky ones who was not really affected personally by Sandy.  We are in a flood zone but somehow we were fortunate enough that it didn’t flood in our neck of Brooklyn.  I like to think that we are a fairly “Macgyver-esque” household and could pull from our daily arsenal of stuff to get through the lack of heat and power.  But I got to thinking we could indeed be more prepared, especially if this kind of storm is going to be our new norm.  So I’ve put together a few items that could be rather handy and some others that are nice to look at (you can’t put everything in storage in NYC) but useful as well. These are in no particular order and if you click on the image of the item you are interested in, it will take you to the link for easy access.  Some of these might even make a handy guy (or gal) a nice stocking stuffer.

Ancient industries candle holder/galvanized box (comes with 10 white 6” candles inside). At $30.00 it gives you both storage and light.  

Nature Power Solar Power Pack and Light  (has a USB port to charge phones, cameras and mp3 players) and 2 portable LED lights. And just to say, its on sale for $79.99 right now!

This little enamel bucket is good for everyday use (great for composting) but also for saving tap water in case your water supply is tainted.  What I like about this one is that it’s covered so you can keep it fresh.  It’s 32,00 Euros, don’t ask me why I can’t find these in the US.  All the good looking enamelware seems to come from Europe.  

Eton Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with flashlight, solar power and cell phone charger for $32.99.  It comes in other colors as well.  This one is in “Breaking Bad” green!  


The Premier Firewood Company will deliver to you in NY or CT (which if you live in the city like I do, is a rare and awesome find).  Half face cord runs you about $185- delivered and stacked.  Useful for some Little House on the Prairie style cooking as well……get out your spider pot!

I own this book and have dined with William Rubel himself.  Unfortunately its out of print but you can find copies in all the usual ways- its a collectors item so its seems to run about $90.00.  You can also view his blog on traditional food ways.
And last but not least, this old school Coleman cooler will keep ice for up to 3 days. I appreciate the fact that Coleman still makes a cooler that isn’t plastic and while its a bit more expensive at $159.00, I imagine this is the last cooler you’ll ever need to buy.