Tuesday, 14 May 2013 | 41 comments
I entertain the big questions with frequency but allow them to slide away unanswered with equal frequency, which is one of the 3,798 reasons I should probably never bear children into the world. This is a roundabout way of getting to my point, which is Dear Stephanie, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Stephanie wrote me the kindest email weeks ago asking lots of questions, mostly answerable, except for one: How do you do it? » Click to read more
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 | 31 comments
i. It is garden-planning season around here. We went a little crazy poring over seed catalogues and, in the recent thaw we had, are doing some initial digging around to make new beds. This year, I will have a bed just for my lettuces and leafy greens, which are some of my favorite things to grow. This is because they’re easy, except where slugs are involved, and because I get to have that kindergarten-wonder moment almost every day when I go out to the garden or Ben brings in lettuce for a salad. Our friend Connie likes to say that this part of the year is best for gardeners: no drought, no pests, no weeds, no deer. And in your mind, the garden is always beautiful and successful. (I believe the subtext there is, “So enjoy it while you can.”) » Click to read more
Monday, 10 December 2012 | 40 comments
I have family friends who host a yearly, big breakfast/brunch (complete with mimosas and bloody marys) before tromping out raucously into the cold to find the perfect tree and bring it home. I wanted to bring that tradition into our life this year, but it was not meant to be. We squeezed in getting the Christmas tree just before Ben dropped me off at IAD to catch a flight to Ghana for work. Just 24 hours later, these grey, winter morning pictures seem pretty outlandish—it’s 90 degrees and humid here, and my hotel room overlooks the pool bar where there’s a live steel drum band playing. » Click to read more
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 | 19 comments
Have you ever seen the Federico Fellini film, La Dolce Vita? There’s this iconic scene where ridiculously glamorous Anita Ekberg hops into the Trevi Fountain, clad in a full-length black evening gown. She wades around, oozing this beautiful-and-damned carelessness, full skirt wilted and clinging to her legs, arms thrown wide, embracing the night. Minus the extreme bustiness, I can almost remember a time when I felt like that: arms open, unworried about tomorrow, taking it all in.At the risk of sounding disingenuous—I am only, after all, in my mid-twenties—that carefree embrace of the world seems very far away, most days. My passions have become tempered with a concerned urgency. Even my motivation to cook, which remains a happy place in my life, is more utilitarian nowadays. Kinda boring and sad, huh? I am a bit of an old soul, and I’ll be the first to admit, but certainly being (or feeling) old doesn’t preclude a naïve sense of wonder. » Click to read more
Monday, 30 January 2012 | 23 comments
While Ben and I were browsing the most amazing bookstore I’ve ever seen in Buenos Aires, I stumbled upon an absolute gem of a cookbook. Siete Fuegos, written by famous Argentine chef Francis Mallman, draws on his upbringing in Patagonia, cooking over outdoor fires with gauchos. It’s fresh and authentic, and I loved it as soon as I flipped it open.I didn’t have room in my carry-on only luggage to buy the book and carry it home, but I jotted down a few ideas and vowed to look it up when I got back. It was beautifully photographed and I sighed a little, jealous of people whose lifestyles let them spend whole days, weekends even, cooking over outdoor fires. Back in the States, Ben’s emails started arriving, describing the Uruguayan vineyard in which he’s spending the harvest. Everything sounded a little familiar, and I realized that Ben is living the Uruguay version of Siete Fuegos.
We went for a swim after work, and then lounged around in the shade of the courtyard [...] At this point, they started getting the fire ready in the massive parilla (giant outdoor grill) and we soon enjoyed the smell of onions, eggplants, chorizo, morcella (blood sausage) and huge cuts of beef grilling slow and steady. By dusk, we all sat out in the courtyard at one long table and ate and drank for the next two hours.