There was a time when
the sun seemed to laugh upon the bay
happily – and the brilliance blinded me
to the choking motor, silently struggling 

underneath your weighty demands.
Never whining, regardless playing along.

The restaurant stank of a dead sea
and the water, though clear
tasted rotten.                                            I drank,
how could I have known of              the poison?
June is innocent and her magic intoxicating.

Twilight is a lingering goodbye
that accepts a black velvet night and
promises late night laments,

the lighting bugs and crickets didn’t even try
to compete with the county fair,
lights demanding attention,
whistles, beeps – buzzing electrics, persistent droning,

cotton candy, face paint – mirror mazes, twisting rides – 
all an illusion of joy, a spectacle  
your performance was …
joys of childhood wrapped into one:
              ice cream, summer’s treat
              cookie, mom’s specialty 
              cupcake, birthdays’ delight

for cookies...
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1-1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla 
1-1/3 cup oats
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped 

for cupcake...
ice cream
chocolate syrup 
crushed pecans 

what TO DO
in a large bowl…
cream butter with brown sugar
add the egg, beat well
add vanilla, mix

in a small bowl…
combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, slat, cinnamon, nutmeg

in another small bowl…
mix oat, chocolate chips, pecans
to the large bowl...
add the flour mixture in 3 parts 
add the oat mixture in 3 parts
(alternate between the flour & oats)
mix well

in a cupcake pan…
line the pan with cupcake holders
spoon in about 1 tbs of dough
press down lightly with the spoon

preheat oven to 350 F
bake for 7-10 mins
let cool

to assemble the cupcakes...
spoon ice cream atop cookie
mix syrup with crush pecans
spoon this mixture atop ice cream
spoon more ice cream atop 
freeze for a few hours

for JUST cookies
on a cookie sheet…
spoon dough onto ungreased sheet 
bake at 350 F for 10 mins 
I have spent the past few days gawking at architecture, art & design.
Call it a hobby, or an obsession, perhaps a fervor –
at any rate, I squinted, craned, and probably drooled a little.
I marveled at both old & new,
the art of making is just … remarkable.
But there is something particularly special about handmade works.
These works come from another world, a world of calloused hands,
a world that is now fixed in rust, 
a slower world – resting in the sunshine, sipping coffee slowly, & reading a hardcover book.
For today, as summer is fading into fall, I am going to slow down,
enjoy the final light of August
& appreciate the art of hand-making with
old world homemade pasta 

for the ravioli… (makes about 30 ravioli)
1-1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water

for the filling…
1 lb chopped spinach
olive oil
1 egg
¼ cup (ish) parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
fresh parsley, salt, pepper

for the sauce…

what TO DO

first for the ravioli…
dump the flour onto a working surface
form a “volcano”
crack the egg into the volcano, beat with a fork (this is the “lava”)
add olive oil & water, beat with a fork
keep beating & slowly shove the walls of the volcano into the lava pit
work the flour into the lava mixture until you have a ball of dough
kneed the ball of dough for about 3 mins (add more water if need be)
divide the dough into two parts
wrap one in plastic wrap
roll the other out on a floured surface
(this will be a workout)
keep rolling … until the dough is paper thin … thin enough to see the text of a newspaper through … keep rolling …
cut the dough into ravioli sized squares, about 2.5” works well
repeat with the second ball of dough (yes more rolling)

now for the filling…
heat olive oil and freshly chopped garlic in a frying pan
chop the spinach & sauté in the olive oil/garlic
when the spinach is cooked, remove from heat
add beaten egg, cheese, bread crumbs & seasonings
place back on heat, stirring for a few minutes
and then the assembly…
spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the first half of ravioli squares 
cover each with the second squares 
using a fork, press the edges together 

now just the cooking…
bring a pot of water to a boil, salt generously 
add the ravioli, cook for 3-5 minutes 
remove from water & let drain on a paper towel 

finally the sauce…
in a pan sauté butter, freshly chopped garlic & parsley 
spoon this on top of the ravioli 


take a look at some summer snapshots on the Discoveries page
enjoy !
went running today
out in the woods of the ancient sages,
their backs straight as arrows despite their age.
they tower over me, murmuring back and forth the secrets of the universe,
cackling at my artlessness.
their comportment is always stately, and justly so,
their wisdom far exceeds my own.
they gather in groups to discuss,
they must journey from another world above,
spears thrown down by the gods, piercing the ground,
and I amble into their mystic space,
light falling from a distance above,
it feels ethereal.
and it makes me wonder why I worry,
why those trivial things that shouldn’t matter, just do.
like the chip of paint missing from the wall or the toast that is too toasted
or the less than perfect mark or the silent phone with no messages.
my worries seem less worrisome out in the woods.

I wish I could spend all day wandering the woods,
listening to the elders whisper the story of the worlds.
_ _ _

I baked some toasted almond biscotti, again.
This time I added some miniCHOCOLATEchips.
(3/4 cup toasted almonds + 3/4 cup chocolate)
Special thanks to Tog (the German baking Italian) for all his help!
early morning light + english time tea + almond chocolate biscotti 
Oops.  I “forgot” to eat the bananas, and they are VERY freckled.  Guess this means I just have to bake some banana bread. (!)

This recipe is my mom’s.  It is mouth-watering, lip-smacking good.  It is luscious and rich, so much so, that it should properly be referred to as banana cake.  But the name banana bread justifies breakfast consumption.  Enjoy it warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven with a fork.  Banana Bread:


3-4 brown speckled bananas
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
½ cup chopped walnuts (or chocolate chips)

2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup milk
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar

what TO DO

in a small bowl…
mash the bananas with a fork
the browner the bananas, the sweeter (and the better!)

in another small bowl…
mix: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg & orange zest
add chopped walnuts … or chocolate chips … or both

in a large bowl …
whisk the eggs
stir in the melted butter, milk & brown sugar
add the dry ingredients in 3 parts & the bananas in 3 parts, alternating between the two, stir after each addition 
(do not over stir)

in a bread pan…
line the bread pan with parchment paper
this allows for easy removal & prevents the bottom from burning (especially when you have an old, temperamental oven)
if you’d prefer, you can butter the bread pan instead
pour the batter into the pan
sprinkle some more walnuts/chocolate chips on top

preheat oven to 350F
bake for 50-60 mins.
remove from oven, let sit for a few mins, consume immediately!

2 people, 1 sitting, 0 banana bread leftover  (really)

mid August.
and the sands of summer are seemingly slipping faster down the hourglass.
if only summer’s magic could pause time.
then more books would be read, more picnics would be enjoyed & more (tandem) bicycles would be ridden.    
but if the world was paused
then the crickets would be silent, the fireflies would be suspended, the waves would be frozen, & the fireworks would be hushed.
and summer would be … not summer.
I have a tendency to mourn summer before she’s gone.
it is a preemptive tactic.     
but there is still more summer to come.
so here is to the finale of summer.
to the last of short shorts, the last of ice pops, the last of tan lines, the last of summer reads, the last of cherries on the front porch, the last of no shoes, the last of sand, the last of sleeping in the green grass & the last of summer late night bonfires with guitar playing and smores!


for the graham cracker crust …
2 cups flour
¾ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons butter, cold
¼ cup honey
4 tablespoons milk
1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract  

for the filling…
2 packets instant chocolate pudding
3-3/4 cup milk
1 cup (ishh) mini marshmallows 

what TO DO

in a large bowl…
sift together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
cut butter into small cubes
work the butter into the dry mixture with your hands (or a food processor)
keep working until you have a coarse meal 

in a small bowl…
stir together honey, milk & vanilla 
add this to the dry mixture

on a floured surface…
roll out the dough 
place the dough into a pie dish 
(I wanted the crust to be thick so I used most of the dough.  I made graham crackers with the rest!)

in the oven…
preheat to 350 F
depending upon how thick you made the crust bake for 10-25 mins.
remove from oven & let cool

on the stovetop…
prepare the instant pudding as directed
let cool for about 5 mins.
pour into the pie crust 
top with marshmallows
place back in the oven for about 5 mins or until the marshmallows are golden
remove from oven
let stand 

serve warm or place covered in the fridge for at least 3 hours & serve cold  
enjoy outside at night with friends/family

happy mid August!
I woke from raindrops prattling to the rooftop.  
A chill was creeping through the open window.  
I crawled under the sheets instead of out of bed.  
Lazy Saturday perfection: fuzzy slippers + torrid tea + honey biscuits:


2-1/2 (3) cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening cold
¼ cup butter cold
1 egg
¾ cup buttermilk (+2-1/2 teaspoons vinegar)
1 tablespoon honey

what TO DO

in a large bowl…
sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt
cut in the shortening and butter into small cubes
work these into the dry mixture, using your hands
work until you have a coarse meal

in a small bowl…
add egg, buttermilk, honey
beat lightly

Helpful Hint:
If you do not have any buttermilk, no worries, it is easy to make your own. 
In a measuring cup, add 2-1/2 teaspoons of whine vinegar.  
Fill the measuring cup with ¾ cup milk.  Let this stand for about 10 mins. 
Then stir.  And there you have it, homemade buttermilk.

in the large bowl…
form a volcano out of the dry mixture
pour the wet mixture into the volcano

on a floured surface…
knead the dough, (only for about 30 seconds)
using a biscuit cutter … or an empty salsa jar … cut out round biscuits

on an ungreased baking sheet…
arrange the biscuits
place in oven 425 F four about 10-15 mins.

best warm and with company!

great with dinner … or with breakfast …
delicious with a little more honey … or with black raspberry jam ….
perfect with coffee … or with tea …

I don’t know what to write about.

It’s Tuesday.  Tuesdays are no longer tainted with the nostalgia of the weekend, and they fall too early in the week for musing about the next.  Most Tuesdays are utterly and undoubtedly, average.  Tuesdays are all about routine.  That means: waking rituals, working/studying, maybe a run or some errands, a standard meal, and a simple dessert … with tea/coffee … on the porch … with a book that you’ve almost finished …

I like Tuesdays.

After dinner my Mom always has tea with Italian cookies.  (Actually, she cleans first while the water boils and then has her tea.  Anyway,) That is her routine.  Sometimes routine is underrated. 

I am going to bake biscotti, which are technically Italian biscuits.  They are crispy and dry and intended to be dunked in tea/coffee.  They are not too sweet and can be a dessert, a breakfast treat, or a midday procrastination.  Biscotti are traditionally made with almonds; however, there are many different takes on these tasty treats.  Seeing as it is Tuesday, and I do love almonds, I am going to go traditional with a little extra crisp, Toasted Almond Biscotti: 

Toasted Almonds:


1 egg white
1/3 cup sugar
1 (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
1/2 teaspoon slat
1-1/2 cups almonds (unsalted)

what TO DO

Helpful Hint about separating the white from the yolk:
(I learned this from baking with my Grandmother.  We would bake so much that at least a dozen eggs would get separated before we began baking)

over a bowl …
carefully crack the egg in half
try to keep the yolk in one side of the shell
slowly toss the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell
the whites will fall out into the bowl
try to keep the yolk whole
it’s okay if you have some whites in your yolk (but try not to get any yolk in your whites)
after most of the whites have dropped into the bowl, save the yolk in a separate bowl  (you will need it later) 

in a bowl …
whisk the egg white until it’s all foamy
add sugar ‘n’ spice
add salt
whisk until you have a thick mixture
add the almonds
stir … keep stirring … until the almonds are fully coated

in the oven…
place a rack in the upper part of the oven
preheat to 300F
place parchment paper on a baking sheet
scoop the almonds onto the parchment
(if you have extra mixture in the bowl, don’t spoon it onto the baking sheet…trust me…the almonds mixture will bake sticky and make your life more difficult than need be…oops.)

after 30 mins…
your kitchen should be smelling wonderful
check the almonds, if they seem toasted, they’re ready
after they cool, break them apart

now you have two options:
you can either stop here and just snack these delicious critters (perfectly acceptable option) maybe while you read a book or watch the Olympics.
you can bake some toasted almond biscotti!


2 cups flour
1 (heaping) teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 stick = 6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                    

what TO DO

with a sharp knife…
chop the almonds

in a bowl…
whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder & salt

in a larger bowl…
cream the sugar and butter with a stand mixer (if you have one) or hand mixer (this works equally well)
cream until light and fluffy
add the egg, beat
add the yolk, beat
add the vanilla, beat
dump in the mixture of dry ingredients, ALL at once
mix well with spatula…keep going…until you have a stiff dough 
add the almonds, fold

on a baking pan…
cover with parchment paper
divide the dough in half
shape each half into a rectangle (about 9” x 3”)

in the oven…
move the rack back to the middle of the oven
preheat to 325F
bake for 20 mins
rotate the baking sheet
bake for another 20 mins or until golden and firm
remove from the oven (keep the oven on!)
when cool enough, slice the biscotti diagonally into 1/2" wide pieces (I used a bread knife)
sprinkle some cinnamon sugar onto the cut sides
bake for another 10-15 mins

store in an airtight container
enjoy with tea/coffee and company!


MJ’s Chicken

Ladies & Gentlemen I present to you the famed MJ’s Chicken.
(I may be hyping this up a little too much.)
But this chicken is good, really good.
It’s my mom’s specialty.
So without any further ado, MJ’s Chicken:  


boneless & skinless chicken (about 1.5 lbs)
1 egg
Italian bread crumbs
Parmesan cheese
Olive Oil

what TO DO

in a small bowl …
whisk an egg, adding a spoonful (ishh) of water

in a larger bowl …
add Italian bread crumbs (if you have regular bread crumbs just add your own Italian seasoning)
add parmesan cheese, mixing with the bread crumbs

in a baking pan …
coat the bottom with olive oil 

cut the chicken into tender shapes (if they aren’t already that shape)
dunk the chicken into the egg then dunk into the bread crumbs
place the breaded chicken into the baking pan
once all the chicken is in the pan, flip each piece over so both sides have been coated in the oil

preheat oven to 350
place the chicken in the oven
flip each piece after 20-30 mins (ishh)
bake for a TOTAL of 40 mins (ishh) or until the chicken is golden and crispy

make extra, this chicken is fantastic as leftovers, especially as a sandwich
this chicken is great in a salad (smile)
and great with ….

Baked Sweet Potato Fries !

Fun fact: Sweet Potato vs. Yam.

I have this theory.  Hear me out.
Answers are more satisfying when I don’t google my questions.  
I’m serious.

I have a question, such as, what’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  It is more fun to ask people my puzzling question.  If know one knows the answer, I ask more people; I’m searching for the answer.  Really searching, not virtually searching.  And I eventually find someone who knows the answer to my question.  And my quest is complete and that answer is more rewarding.

So what’s the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
No one knew.
I caved.
I googled it.

A monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf)
Native to Africa, over 600 varieties
More starchier & drier than sweet potatoes

Sweet Potatoes:
A dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves)
Classified as ‘firm’ or ‘soft’

The mix-up
‘soft’ sweet potatoes are often labeled as yam in the US

‘firm’ sweet potatoes were first produced in the US
when ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were produced, people began calling them yams to distinguish 
Apparently, the US Department of Agriculture requires the label ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the label ‘sweet potato’  
So anyway, I have sweet potatoes (I’m fairly certain).  And I’m going to bake some sweet potato fries.


Sweet Potatoes 
Olive Oil
Chili Powder
Garlic powder
Black pepper 

what TO DO

preheat your oven to 400F (450F if you like your fries super crispy)

peel the skin off the sweet potato 
cut the sweet potato into fries
shoestring, wedges, rectangular chunks … it can be tricky.
Helpful Hint: cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise in half and work from there 

toss the fries in a bowl
                  add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil per sweet potato 
                  mix, making sure the fries are fully coated
add the spices
                  vary based upon how many fries you have and how much spice you prefer
                  Helpful Hint: 1 cinnamon = 1 chili powder = ½ paprika = ½ garlic powder = 2 black pepper
mix well
place aluminum foil on a baking sheet and dump the fries on top
bake, turning every 10-15 mins for about 30-40 mins or until the fries are baked as crispy as you like


this is how I dream of summer in February.
besides, it gives reason to laziness.
particularly under big, shady trees.
hopefully with a summer breeze.

hot means no dinners in the oven.
last weekend I made an olive oil sauce, which I have eaten all week.
pasta, chicken, peppers, tomatoes, bread, eggs – any and all of these combinations.
it is simple and absolutely delicious, olive oil & spice:


¼ cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp blue basil (or regular)
1 tsp bay leaf (crushed)
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp red pepper
¼ tsp sea salt (or regular)

what TO DO

finely chop the garlic
heat the olive oil and garlic on the stovetop for about 3-5 mins
mix the remaining ingredients together
add the mix to the hot garlic/olive oil
heat for another 5 mins, stirring occasionally

Let the sauce cool and pour into a bottle.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days (if it lasts that long)
Before using the sauce you may want to heat it up

Happy August!