Monthly Archives: January 2017

pussyhat update

It appears that many of our readers made and/or wore pussyhats for the various marches around the world. Here are a few pictures that make us smile!



friday favourite – a vicarious vacation

So it’s been a week of dreary, grey, rainy, dark and damp weather. I don’t think I’m alone in the January blahness. Like I said on Monday – give me a real winter.

And while I admit it’s been a little torturous to open and save the stream of sunshine pictures from my sister’s vacation this week on Nevis … I kinda really love it. And it makes me want to go back to this perfect Caribbean paradise sometime soon. It’s my Friday favourite because it’s a long time family favourite.


vegetable chicken barley soup

A bowl of this simple soup has everything you need. I felt pretty smug after making it recently – vegetables, whole grain and protein!

A friend brought me the recipe, and I was a little skeptical about not starting a soup with the usual saute of onion, garlic and carrots. But this one doesn’t want for anything…even though everything is simply simmered.

Here’s the recipe:

Put 2 cups of water, 2 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of beef broth in a large pot. Add 2 raw cubed chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), 1 diced onion, 2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer for about one hour.

Add 1 cup chopped zucchini, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets, 1 cup peeled and cubed squash (or sweet potato), and 1 cup barley (well rinsed). Bring back to a boil and simmer on low for another hour or so – until vegetables are desired texture.

It makes a hearty, barley-rich soup, and the chicken is incredibly tender. You could use whatever vegetables you have around (I happened to have mushrooms, zucchini and sweet potato).



a real winter

Okay, I might just be speaking for myself – after all, my blogging sidekick sister is in the Caribbean – but I love a real winter. The whole deal. Snow banks, down coats, handknit socks, beef stew, fireplaces.


This winter started off with promise. I shoveled my new driveway several times (probably cursing the whole time but I’ve forgotten that part). Then it rained. Then there was freezing rain. Then it just got stupid with spring-like mud everywhere.

I am sure winter isn’t done with us yet. I just need more of the white stuff to lighten up the still-dark mornings and make way for slip-free walking. Maybe even cross-country skiing if the stars align.

Anybody out there with me on this?!


no knead bread

I bought the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day several years ago after reading a review about it in the paper. It changed my whole outlook on bread baking!

The premise behind the technique is that you make a high moisture dough and you don’t knead it. In the beginning of the book the authors describe The Secret…mix the ingredients from their recipe into a container all at once and let the dough sit for two hours. Then the dough is ready to shape and bake or refrigerate the dough and use it over the next couple of weeks. When you want fresh bread, take some dough from the container, shape it, let it rise and then bake it! 

I think it’s worth buying or borrowing the book to understand why it works, see the illustrations and to read the chapter Tips and Techniques but it’s not essential.

I have made several of the recipes in the book but the one I return to over and over is Bran-Enriched White Bread. Here is the recipe:
Makes four 1-lb loaves.

3 cups lukewarm water

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

3/4 cup wheat bran

5 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

cornmeal for the pizza peel

  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 qt container with a lid. (I use my kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook for this step)
  2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients with a spoon or heavy-duty stand mixer.
  3. Allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses, about 2 hours
  4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise or put it in the frig with a lid (not airtight) and use over the  next 14 days
  5. On baking day: dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1lb piece (about the size of a grapefruit) Shape into a ball, allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.
  6. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 450 F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on another shelf.
  7. Sprinkle the loaf with flour and make slashes in the top of the bread.
  8. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of tap water into the broiler tray and close the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes.

    Don’t let all the instructions intimidate you. Once you have made it a few times, you get into a routine and it really is quick and delicious. It disappears very fast but if you have some leftover, it makes excellent toast.  HAR

pussyhat project

Saturday January 21st is the Women’s March on Washington, the day after the inauguration.

“The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

A friend sent me a link to the Pussyhat Project. It’s a grassroots project with a mission to provide the people at the Women’s March with a unique, collective visual statement – pink hats that look like pussy ears! Check out the link, the pattern for the hat is provided. If you are a knitter, they are asking you to make a hat or two and send them for people to wear as they march. I have several friends going to the march and I think I can make one or two in time for them to wear them.


I just finished one for myself to wear this winter. Anyone want to join me? Send us a picture of you wearing your pussyhat and we will post it on the blog!



friday favourite – homemade gin

You might know that I love gin. My gin cupboard has more choices than my spice and herb drawer. I don’t think I’m a gin snob (yet) but I admit to being a little hesitant when my friend brought over her homemade gin for a tasting last week.

I treated it like any of my favourites – putting lots of ice in a short glass, running fresh lime around the rim, measuring out 2:1 ratio of tonic:gin.

And I gotta say…her homemade juniper goodness is my Friday favourite.


You can get your own kit right here.

Nothing warms a winter’s evening like a little glass of homemade gin.


soup swap

Full disclosure. I have never participated in a soup swap but it sounds like a great idea. I just read about it in the Food section of the Boston Globe. “A soup swap is dedicated to the idea of entertaining and building community though sharing pots of soup.” The article describes it as a healthy version of the cookie swap.


The article included some tips for hosting your own soup swap:

The hosts provide a side dish (usually salad), bread and a simple dessert.

Guests bring a pot of soup and empty containers to take home a taste of all the soups.

Invite as many people as you have burners on your stove so all the soups can be heated at the same time.

Have everyone bring their own ladle to serve their soup.

Email or print out the recipe for everyone.

Sounds like fun. Let us know if you try it!



unexpected time off

Due to budget cuts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I am currently on a 12 week furlough. I had three days to tie up all loose ends before my computer was shut down.

I work part-time and we won’t starve without my income, but it is part of my identity. I like the mission of Reach Out and Read, the non-profit pediatric literacy program I worked for. Hell, even Nick Kristof of the NYTimes likes Reach Out and Read!

So I am re-grouping and figuring out what to do with my unexpected time off. After the initial shock wore off I started generating ideas. I pulled out my moleskin notebook and fancy new pen and started making a list!

I own at least 30 various cookbooks. I am going to find a recipe I have never made in each one of them (or as many as I can) and develop some new favourites for the dinner rotation.

I am going to visit the wonderful Worcester Art Museum on a weekday and take a docent tour, just like I would do if I were visiting another city.

I have a membership to Tower Hill Botanic Garden and want to visit and take a winter walk there. Maybe I will even meet my co-worker ACC!

I am going through my closet with a ruthless eye (the way my sister does when she looks in my closet!) and donating all those sentimental clothes and T-shirts that I never wear.

And I am going to walk MAX more often and for longer distances. He is going to appreciate my unexpected time off.