Monday, 29 August 2011 | 7 comments


Did you know the word “vignette” comes from the french, and even earlier latin words for “vine” and “wine”?Nowadays, we use it to reference a short story, or a scene or tableau.Which is all very appropriate, I think.(All you local folks, get yourselves out to DC’s wine country to see how gorgeous the vineyards look just before harvest. These merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes will be picked any day now! And for everyone else—a wine grape-inspired recipe is in the works.)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 | 2 comments


So, I am not a Twitter person. I worked in the IT-ish area of my field for awhile, and was on Twitter and was not really a fan, after my initial starry-eyed “wow! I’m connected to everyone!” phase. But, tech-savvy cousin Chuck, Yellow House resident, has gotten us up and running (without permission, I should add), and so we are available on the Twitterverse. @casayellow, if you’re into that sort of thing. I can’t guarantee if I’ll be an active twit-ter or if the feed will just be manned by robots, letting you know when we have a new post…but I can guarantee a good time at the Yellow House, regardless. Tweet!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 | 6 comments

Mahogany rice salad

I had a nice little anecdote to go with this post, but then an earthquake hit (?!). Now, I think I can distill the message down to a few simple statements: Make this, don’t stick to the recipe too much if it stresses you out, and drink a glass of wine with it, because wine is a beautiful thing and, um, earthquake. I’m grateful the situation was mild enough that I can make light of it, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t unnerve me just a little bit. I had never heard of mahogany rice until very recently. The little natural foods grocery near me is going through a remodeling which will downsize available space, and in saying hello to one of the managers last week, he looked at me, sighing, and said, “You’re not going to be very happy.” He was in the process of sticking angry yellow “Discontinued” stickers on each and every bin of bulk grains and spices. » Click to read more

Sunday, 21 August 2011 | 9 comments

Collards on toast at tend

My friend Meghan tells me I’m unfit for survival, because I love all things bitter and astringent (her rationale being that through history, a bitter taste has signalled poison, and that we have evolved to dislike that taste accordingly as a survival mechanism). Black coffee, tannic wine, vinegars, and chocolate with a high cacao to sugar ratio—these are among my pantry staples.Bitter greens are no exception. Luckily for me, kale, chard, lettuces, and other bitter greens are something I can grow myself in my small city backyard. My garden is putting out some wonderful ruffly-edged collards right now (yes, they survived the slug-pocalypse). The fantastically talented artist/blogger/letterpress-er/gardener Heather Smith Jones, one of the ladies behind the collaborative blog tend, recently asked me to contribute a guest post. With these collards coming in, I thought I’d chat a bit about the realities and rewards of growing things in a tiny city garden. You’ll find the recipe, along with more photos and thoughts, over there. (And so much thanks to Heather and all the ladies of tend–I’m honored they thought to include me in their week of guest posters.)

Tuesday, 16 August 2011 | 7 comments

Of crabs & corn-on-the-cob

We snuck away to a cabin in West Virginia last weekend for what seemed like the first really summery getaway I’ve had this year. Our hosts were old friends of Ben’s family, who are some of the most gracious folks you can imagine. They’re the type of people who love traditions, both new and old. Generally, those traditions involve a lot of food shared around a table on their big front porch, overlooking the mountains and the south branch of the Potomac river. The crab feast of last weekend is one of the newer traditions; but their celebration of “Russian Easter”, which takes place in the spring, is an event that dates back to the childhood of our hostess’s late mother. They have an astonishingly detailed documentation of these yearly celebrations in album form, complete not just with photos, but with the menu and guest list from each year, as well as a beautifully written introduction that explains the roots of the celebration. I spent hours poring over 60s- and 70s-era photos and painstakingly typewritten descriptions of “Poor Man’s Caviar”, exquisitely distilled vodka, and “the abundance of their table.” They’ve also compiled a Russian Easter cookbook, complete with all the wonderful cheese-, cream-, and dill-laden dishes you’d expect from a Russian recipe—but I’m saving those for some more appropriately colder months.

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