Author Archives: withthegrains

About withthegrains

Blogging about whole grains, film grains, wood grains, words and wanderings.

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour: Slow Supper, Long Table

June 2014

My inner control freak avoided the piss-beer phase of college drunkenness, from which most budding beverage aficionados graduated and advanced into the realm of craft beers. Between buying into the antioxidant powers of grapes and discovering the flavor merits of bourbon barrels, I came to associate with the wine and cocktail side of menus. Beer escaped me.

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour

Explaining these missing leaps in my life to beer drinkers usually garners many a volunteer. Some of you are probably even mentally volunteering as you read this. “Oh, I will teach you to love beer,” says the self-nominated hero of hops. However, somewhere between volunteering and beer drinking, these heroes usually fall to the wayside, and I continue to sip with purple lips. That is until Brooklyn Brewery came to Pittsburgh!

J.Heineman Warehouse

Despite an increase in national attention, Pittsburgh is still like a nerdy kid in gym class, waiting awkwardly while Philly and Chicago easily make the cut. When the Brooklyn Brewery put Pittsburgh on its Mash Tour, it was the equivalent of the coordinated captain picking the gangly nerd to be on his team while other jocks were still available.

Brooklyn Brewery Chef

Welcome Cocktail

Beyond recognition for Pittsburgh as a growing scene for food and culture, this dinner was a milestone for me for a couple of reasons:

1. My styling partner and I had the opportunity to design the event, from the menu illustrations all the way to the suspended floral installation. This was a big step for our venture, Harvest & Gather.

2. Yours truly drank more than a few baby bird sips of beer and thoroughly enjoyed it. With their bourbon barrels and notes of chocolate and orange peel, those Brooklynites might be the first to really push me in the beer direction. Good thing I walked away with some bottles for the sake of drinking practice.

Mulberry Shrub Shandy

Shrub and Shandy

After a live band and a Mulberry Shandy in the parking lot, garage doors of the historical warehouse opened to expose guests to their dinner table. The setting was the J. Heineman company, a wholesale food distribution warehouse, where Civil War ammunitions were once stored. A century and some years later, the high wooden ceilings, natural light, steel beams and concrete floors made the perfect backdrop for the Slow Supper, Long Table.

The Table

The menu was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson and local Chef Kate Romane. Each course featured a different beer variety, as featured on the pallet pedestals with an array of foraged florals.

Pallet Beer Displays

Brooklyn Beer Display

Cuvée Noire was the high note of the night for this novice drinker. Its description boasts coffee, chocolate and citrus, and unlike many pretentious promises of flavor notes, these three winners are legitimately present. Dessert beer might be this baby bird’s wings to the great big sky of craft beer!

Mash Dinner Menu

Greens and Scallops

Snap peas, Pea Puree, Pea Tendrils, Slow Cooked Egg, Mint Oil
Brooklyn Wild Streak (10% ABV): A Belgian-inspired golden ale aged for several months in second-use bourbon barrels, giving it a soft, round character infused with a balanced oak flavors. 100% bottle re-ferment with a blend of priming sugar, Champagne yeast and the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces providing a wonderfully complex earthy funk.

Scallop and Apple Crudo, Roasted Sour Cherries, Apple Jus, Brown Butter Gel
Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (7.6% ABV): A classic saison, cracklingly dry, hoppy unfiltered golden farmhouse ale featuring the rare Sorachi Ace hop. It tastes like sunshine in a glass. 100% bottle re-fermented.


Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Turnips, Radish, Rhubarb and Carrot Puree, Citrus Pickled Onions, Charred Onion Emulsion with Family Style Farmer Greens, Champagne Vinaigrette
Brooklyn Local 2 (9.0% ABV): Combines European malt and hops, Belgian dark sugar, and raw wildflower honey from a New York family farm. The beer emerges with a mahogany color, dry fruity palate and complex aromatics. 100% bottle re-fermented.

Dark Beer

Brklyn Brewery Beignets

Ginger Sugar Doughnuts, Spiced Cherries, Apple Caramel
Brooklyn Cuvée Noire (10.6% ABV): A Belgian Stout brewed with Mauritius sugar and orange peel, aged for six months in bourbon barrels, and then 100% bottle re-fermented.

Beer Varieties

Here’s to transforming industrial spaces for one evening only!
Here’s to suspended florals and flickering candles!
Here’s to Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, their bridges, beers and chefs!
Here’s to some serious sips of beer and more to come!



P.S: Check out my other post about Brooklyn Brewery’s Pittsburgh stop on the Mash Tour.

Instagram Lately: When Was Thursday?

July 2014

Note: The scene is the line at an independent coffee shop with its required share of brick, reclaimed wood, mason jars and thick-framed glasses staring at laptops. The protagonist, Quelcy, is in desperate need of caffeine. While she waits, she encounters a few familiar faces and “shoots the shit.”

“Hey Quelcy! I meant to ask you, how was your event on Thursday?”

“………….” said Quelcy’s blank stare.

I stalled in a way one does when trying to recall the name of the person in front of her, but rather than racking my brain for a name, I struggled to recall Thursday.

Thursday… Thursday… what the hell had I done on Thursday?

The sad fact? It was only Saturday.

Granola and Blue Skies

A beautiful breakfast brainstorm…
A tour of a houseboat as part of a creative meeting…
A backyard garden party with toe-tapping ukulele songs…
A glimpse of an enviable olive VW…

When the days and hours are so disparate, my inability to recall Thursday becomse a little more excusable.

Flowers and Feet

Though these busy spells leave me ever so slightly mentally frenzied, I’m truly grateful to forget what day it is if I’m pursuing beautiful experiences rather than trudging through a work week, so… Happy Monday?!?



p.s: You can follow more of my Instagram adventures here.

#TBT: Christmas in July

July 2014

It’s late at night, and the hot, humid day finally offers a break in the form of a cool breeze. The little one and I walk the hills of my neighborhood, taking in the glittering views those hills afford, and maybe she rolls in some freshly cut grass because that pup loves her some freshly cut grass.


This is summer, and god damn it, it’s passing me too quickly! Before summer sprints into August, let us take a minute to appreciate these little bastard snowmen cakes in the spirit of Christmas in July.


Merry July!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: Yellows in Puerto Rico

From A Wander in San Juan, Puerto Rico in September 2011

Logic might follow that summer’s heat would inspire me to revisit my pictures from colder times and places. However, this girl loves her some sun, both on her shoulders and on her memory lane, so this Wednesday’s Warm Wander is brought to you by the letters P and R and the color yellow!

Soda Facade

Tiled Door

Telephone Yellow

Yellow Paint Black Door

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!


May Your Wednesday Be Warm & Colorful!

Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust

July 2014

“Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it. Don’t overwork it.”

This is what plays over and over in my brain, like some sort of Rain Man, while I rub flour and butter through my fingers, aiming for that sweet spot of “pea size” or “coarse meal.” Knowing there is a right answer to forming a pie crust sends similar shudders down my spine as math and science did in junior high. The perfectionist inside me wants to SPRINT to Language Arts class, where I could dance around themes and concepts and not worry about being right or… god forbid… wrong!

Fresh Cherries

Much like my math and science track record in junior high (nerds get A’s despite self-induced stressing), my pie past should encourage me. People eat my pies, and they even request future pies, but somehow that’s not enough to assuage my inner fears, for in that record, is one miserable failure. By “failure,” I mean one EPIC failure. Much like a lunchtime cramming study session, I had not prepared at all. I just read “butter and flour” and went to town pulverizing those ingredients together until a cookie-ish crust emerged from the oven. Was it a pie crust? Hell no. Was it delicious? Yes, it was still quite edible.

Cherry Carnage

Regardless, that failure plagues me, and in some twisted sense of logic, rather than just avoid pies, I set out to make overly ambitious pies…and in the case of the 4th of July, deep dish pies…meaning even more pie crust than necessary!

Black Pepper

Furthermore, rather than stick to custom/safe fillings, I tend to stray from tradition, which is why this particular recipe from Adventures in Cooking appealed to my overcompensating, perfectionist side. The addition of coarsely ground black pepper adds an element of surprise to bites of this crust. The unexpected contrast is abrupt, but the mouth continues to chew, the mind processes the flavor, and everything meshes with the slightly balsamic notes of the cherry filling.

Cooling Rack

Though I stressed, though I recited my “don’t overwork it” mantra repeatedly, the pie earned the good graces of my friends, and if the idea of pitting 3.5 lbs of cherries has you hesitating, at least take comfort that this pie lasts for a long while. It is, after all, a very deep dish pie!

Final Deep Dish Pie

Balsamic Cherry Pie with Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Crust
adapted from Adventures in Cooking

Filling Ingredients

3.5 lbs Cherries, pitted (1.75 quarts, pitted)
1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
3 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter

Crust Ingredients

4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon organic, unsalted butter

2-3 Tablespoons water & 1-2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, combined & chilled


1 organic egg, whisked
1 Tablespoon water
turbinado sugar

For the Filling

Bring the ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat, stirring every few minutes.

Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, taking care not to crush the cherries while stirring. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Crust

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Use your fingers to rub the butter and flour mixture together until the texture resembles coarse meal.

Begin adding the tablespoons of ice water & vinegar while stirring gently.

Separate the dough into two pieces, one that is 2/3 of the total dough and one that is 1/3 of the total dough. The larger portion will be the base, and the smaller portion will form the lattice top.

On a well floured surface, roll the larger portion of dough into a circular shape, about 1 cm thick. Carefully transfer the dough to a lightly greased and floured, 8-inch springform pan. Mold the dough into the sides of the pan, letting the extra crust hang off the edge. Trim excess crust.

Roll out the remaining crust. Cut it into 1-inch strips for the lattice pattern, but leave the lattice pieces on a large plate lined with parchment paper.

Place the plate and the crust shell, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl until combined.

Remove the pie shell and lattice from the refrigerator.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and then arrange the lattice strips on top. Use your thumbs to press the edges of the crust and lattice strips together and cut off any excess crust. Brush the tops of the lattice strips with the egg mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Set the egg mixture aside.

Place the pie on the second-lowest rack of the oven, and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, lightly brushing the surface with more egg at the 45 minute mark. If you notice the edges of the crust browning too quickly, cover them with tin foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 45-60 minutes before serving. Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a sunny deck!


Here’s to Pie Stresses & Successes!

Instagram Lately: 2000 Ways to Keep Occupied

July 2014

On weekends when all activities hinge on cooperative skies, gray mist can be a monochromatic motivation sucker. I had to choose a coffee shop for a meeting and make evening plans, and every option felt utterly exhausted. Nothing in this city felt new, and spending money on the same old felt futile. Then mentally, my mother pointed her finger at me in that tisk, tisk, tisk way, “Oh you’re bored? Would you like to fold some laundry? I didn’t think so. What do you propose you do instead?”

Wine Cheese Friends

Not laaaaaaaundry! Noooooooo!

Time to be a little creative à la wine, cheese and game night with good friends. It was the perfect solution. After tipsy laughter and competition, I returned to seeing the city as a place of possibilities. Lots of new and exciting elements are popping up, and others have existed unbeknownst to me. I tried my very first Pizza Boat pie (there will be more!). I had my first brunch at a restaurant I like and learned the transformative power of using sushi style salmon in eggs benedict (I might not be able to go back to lox. I may be screwed). I watched my dog delight in fountain fun.

Thommy of Ikea

I snapped my 2000th Instagram photo, and if I step back enough, that 2000th photo was a reminder of how a camera, even a phone camera, can help the everyday to hold more possibilities, more documentable moments, more beauty.

In conclusion, gray days come and go, but life is about laundry or living, ie, “Quelcy, get over yourself and do something.”

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

A Perfect Summer Burger

July 2014

If a foreigner were to lump me into the ultra white, New Balance sneaker class of tourist, I would be offended. If a foreigner were to fault me for putting Bush into office, again, I would take offense. If a foreigner were to assume I eat a lot of cheeseburgers, I might just have to shrug and embrace the truth in his or her assumption.

Julep and the Burger

Thus, when the 4th of July rolled around, and my dear friend with a hospitable deck suggested sushi, I humbly objected. Burgers; burgers are American. In the end, I do believe everyone thanked me for it (not to toot my own horn; just to encourage you should you be feeling bullied into sushi).

Mega Burger

What a perfect burger it was: grilled, grass-fed, organic, hand-formed patties, with cheddar, avocado, egg, greens and a toasted bun. Knowing this burger would be the star of the BBQ gathering, I prepared an equally impressive dessert. More on that to come!


Patriotically yours,

#TBT: Even A Beginner Can Make A Scrumptious Cake

July 2014

Do you like cooking but hesitate to venture into baking? Does your sweet tooth beckon, but you ignore its pleas? Fret no more! Even a beginner can make scrumptious cakes. Allow the folks of Mixer-Maid to encourage you and take kitchen efforts to new heights.


#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.


Happy Baking!

A Wednesday Wander: A Cosmic Park in Jaipur, India

A Wander From Jaipur, India in December 2012

As a little girl, I did my fair share of cloud staring, but what really sparked my curiosity were spaces and design. I channeled most of my musings into drawings and living room theater productions. Whether it was the religious backdrop of my childhood or my natural inclinations, science was sort of lost on me. For that reason, I am in awe of the intense, sky-staring curiosity that manifests as a park of mammoth instruments… à la Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India!

Astrology Park and Fort

Jantar (“instrument”) Mantar (“calculation” or “formula”) is an astronomical observation site. It constitutes the most significant and best preserved set of fixed monumental instruments built in India in the first half of the 18th century; some of them are the largest ever built in their categories. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, the monumental masonry installations embody several architectural and instrumental innovations.

To this day, the observatory is used by astrologers, for instance to calculate the auspicious date for weddings. Students of astronomy and Vedic astrology (Jyotish) are required to take lessons at the observatory, and it can be said that the observatory is the single most representative work of Vedic thought that still survives, apart from the scriptures.

(Learn even more here)

Astrology Park_Observatory Deck

Rashivalaya Yantras (pictured above)
A group of twelve instruments, with a graduated quadrants on both the sides, used to find the direct determination of celestial latitude and longitude.

Astrology Park Jai Prakash Yantra

Jai Prakash Yantra (pictured above)
A map of the visible heavens is inscribed on the inner surface of the bowls, with additional scales (including the zodiacal divisions of the year) around the rim. A small ring is suspended from cross wires. Its shadow projects the position of the sun onto the inscribed celestial map.

Astrology Park Observatory

In the midst of meandering amongst all these scientific, cosmological structures, I found my way into an Aquarian corner. While we’re talking heavens and stars (and maybe love and life?), how about a little astrological musing for my fellow Aquarians?

Aquarius Quelcy

Your romantic side is flying high today, Aquarius! The opposite sex in general, and your own partner in particular, are going to seem especially attractive to you. You could also see in an entirely different light in someone you think of as a friend. An increasingly busy social life is in the air, so expect some invitations to parties or other social events.

Your work ethic is especially strong today so use it. You have the stamina to put your nose to the grindstone for many long hours. Work overtime if you can. The rewards will be plentiful and it will certainly earn big points with the people in charge.

Pretty good, right?


Here’s to the Heavens!

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Picolé de Milho Verde (Icy Cold Corn Popsicles)

 July 2014

Knee-high by the 4th of July, as the corn growing saying goes, means I am seasonally jumping the gun with these icy cold, corn popsicles. However, once I saw this recipe, the notion of corn for dessert was too tempting to wait for late summer’s bounty. I took advantage of the grocery store’s first kernels, yielding a pop so sweet and creamy, I’m dreaming of the 2.0 version to come when husks and tassels fill the farmers markets.

Mold and Popsicle

I altered the recipe below ever so slightly from Food52. The author’s adaptation referenced a popular Brazilian dessert, but being of Nebraskan roots, I like to think of this refreshing treat as a way to use more of summer’s sweetness in a day. You do know you can take the girl out of Nebraska, but you can’t take the Cornhusker out of the girl, right?

Corn Popsicles

Picolé de Milho Verde (Corn Popsicle)
adapted from Food52
makes 8 popsicles


4 ears of organic and/or local corn
2 cups organic, full-fat coconut milk
4 Tablespoons organic agave syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice corn kernels off ears and put on baking sheet. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and cool.

Stir agave and vanilla extract into coconut milk and microwave for about 30 seconds, to dissolve the sugar.

Use a food processor or blender to combine corn, coconut milk, agave, vanilla and salt until as smooth as possible.

Pour liquid into pop molds.

Freeze overnight, and then enjoy the sweetcorn goodness!


Go Huskers!

Instagram Lately: We Humans Are A Funny Breed

July 2014

Overheard this past week:

“Excuse me, how do we get to the goats?”

“Quiche- it’s the only vegetable that begins with a Q.” [said in all seriousness]

“I’m leaving for my trip on the next Full Moon.”
“Oh? I’m leaving on the next New Moon.”

Pie and Greens

We humans are a funny breed, both for what we say and do. We bring goats to a field of invasive plants and pretend it’s an innovative idea. We shed tears over a ball kicked by the wrong feet. We torture our pups for the perfect picture of pie. We perch on ladders precariously while texting and tagging, and we merge meals into one beautiful excuse to take everything slowly on Sundays.

Gold Gold Props

…but these are the funny, quirky moments which keep me going, keep me snapping pics and keep me blissfully feeling creative and inspired, and keep me wishing Quiche were a vegetable.

What do your Instagrams reveal lately?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

#TBT: Pause for Living

July 2014

Do you ever feel stuck in a week that seems to lag and lap you all at the same time? Welcome to my July 7th through present moment. In the spirit of such a sprinting stasis, this vintage Coca Cola publication delivers a wonderful reminder to…


In between attempts to fire off a few more emails, edit a few more photos, and spray paint a few more fronds, I’ll pause and appreciate the visit I had with the best friend from out of town, the unexpected burger dinner with my dad, and the massive party I’m going to work/attend on Friday (hence the fronds). If only I could pause for a little lady luncheon like this…


#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.


Happy Pausing!

A Wednesday Wander: Produce in Puerto Rico

A Wander from Rincon & San Juan, Puerto Rico in September 2011

When you see a rather peculiar man, on the side of a busy road, wielding a machete, do you stop to say hello?

The Coconut Stand

If that man is wielding that machete to cut into coconuts, then hellllll yes (but you still might want to adhere to the buddy system just in case the coconuts are a trap…a refreshing, tropical trap)!

Quelcy and the Coconut Stand

Bananas are another story. I’m not one to nick a ‘nana from a laden truck.

Truck o Bananas

Had it been a mango truck, this may have been a different story.


Bon Voyage!

A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Instagram Lately: Farms, Fireworks & Freedom Ringing

July 2014

Business loving, acronym fools love to preach the merits of setting S.M.A.R.T goals:

Specific: Target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable: Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
Assignable: Specify who will do it.
Realistic: State what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related: Specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Farm and Food

This 4th & 5th of July, I should have received a trophy, a ribbon and my name on a plaque for the achievement of my S.M.A.R.T goals. If I had had to submit a goal proposal, it would have read something like this:

Specific: I would like to make a cherry pie. 
Measurable: I would like to make one pie and eat a hamburger and corn on the cob on a sunny deck. I would like to see at least one fireworks display.
Assignable: I will make a pie. Chris will grill organic, grass-fed, free-range, hand-formed hamburgers. Thommy will make a patriotic gathering to keep the party going. Dana will make sure my minty bourbon cup runneth over. The city will fire off smiley faces and weeping willows and saturns over the rivers and bridges.  
Realistic: I’m ambitious. I will achieve all of these goals!
Time-related: These goals shall transpire for the 4th of July, and while we’re at it, let’s just keep going on the 5th and then lazily enjoy waffles on the 6th, while basking in the glory of our goal achievement.  

4th and 5th of July

Baaaaaaam! Success! Woooooohoooooo!

[this might be why I don't work for corporate America]

Did you achieve all your Independence Day goals every so smartly?


Ever so ambitiously yours,

ps: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

Mash Tour: The Brooklyn Brewery Comes to Pittsburgh

June 2014 

When I had a day job with a 401(k) and all that responsible “stuff,” I shared an office with a Brooklyn transplant who felt a burning desire to tell me the numerous reasons why I was living in the wrong city. Am I a diehard Pittsburgher? Not at all. Does Brooklyn make my heart melt? Sure. Do I want to live there? Of course. Do I want to pay rent there? Hell no. Do I need someone telling me daaaay in and daaaaay out why my Brooklyn clock is ticking? No thanks, I’m good.

Though I doubt he’ll read this, what I want said officemate to know is, “guess what! Brooklyn came to ME!” [shit-eating grin fills face]

Brooklyn came to PITTSBURGH!


This summer, Brooklyn Brewery hit the road on their Mash Tour, and Pittsburgh was one of the destinations- a testament to the many changes that have transpired in the city’s food & drink scene.

“What’s the Mash Tour,” you ask?


n.1: The first step in the brewing process; mixing malted barley with water, then heating to extract its sugars.

n.2: An adventurous mix of emerging culture from our neighborhood and yours; dinner parties, concerts, comedy, readings and humanity’s favorite beverage.

Blackberry Meadows and Brooklyn

Though I am a novice in beer drinking, there is something appealing about drinking a cold beer on a hot summer day, and nothing channels summer for me like a good ol’ farm dinner. Combine cold beer, talented chefs, picnic-style dining, music and mingling, and you have a Brooklyn Brewery Mash kickoff event, and you have these folks rocking the picnic look like champs…!

Picnic Style

Dinner on the Farm and Shrub

I drank beer, and I enjoyed it! This was a truly momentous day indeed! As such, if I liked Brooklyn Brewery’s Summer Ale, I imagine you beer drinkers might want to take a sip or two or three. I also snuck a sample of Wild Purveyors‘ new Shrub flavors, and I highly recommend purchasing those for summer sipping.

Cheese Plate Remains

Chef Justin Severino of Cure, Chef Mike Poiarkoff (a Pittsburgh native!) of Vinegar Hill House and Brooklyn Brewery Chef Andrew Gerson collaborated to feed us picnickers using Blackberry Meadows’ beautiful wood-burning oven.

Chefs at Work

In the spirit of eating on a farm, the dinner felt much like sitting at a table full of growing boys. Squawking or staring at the clouds, or maybe pointing a lens at the clouds like yours truly, instead of finding your way into line, resulted in a picked-over spread. However, there was still beauty in the remnants and in the act of very generous picnic sharing smoky, roasted potatoes with me.

Come and Get It

“Cooooome and get it!”

Roasted chicken

Roasted Potatoes

wild mushroom aioli and bacon

Kale Salad
white miso vinaigrette, golden raisins and shallots

Roasted Bok Choy
charred scallion buttermilk sauce, torn mint and basil topped with pickled chiles

Grilled Garlic Scapes
roasted green garlic and scape oil

Food and Music

Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective to show you the cool elements of your own city. Thanks to the Mash Tour, I discovered the strummings of local band Union Rye. Both their tunes and attire were the perfect fit for a sunny Sunday on the farm, and I hope to hear them again soon!

Union Rye and Beezus Kiddo

Greenhouses Row

Olive Oil Cake and Whipped Sorrel

After learning my line lesson on the savory courses, I was quite sure to be at the front of the dessert line for the olive-oil corn cake with rhubarb jam and sorrel whipped cream. The idea of sorrel whipped cream had my brain whirling with herbal ideas.

Fence Coil and Barn

I had sun on my shoulders, music in my ear, and flavorful food on my plate. It was the perfect summer Sunday, and it happened in Pittsburgh. It was especially exciting because there was still more of this Brooklyn-Pittsburgh hybrid in store. Stay tuned!


Santé to Summer Sipping!

#TBT: A Patriotic Pie

July 2014

Once a Cornhusker, always a Cornhusker, so even though my family moved to the East Coast when I was a wee corn-loving lass, we returned every summer to visit. Summer time in the small town of Gothenburg, Nebraska meant trips to the lake and watching my brother make waterskiing look entirely too easy. When one particular trip coincided with the 4th of July, the plan was to lounge lakeside and then return to town for the big fireworks display.

There was just one glaring problem.

100 Bake Off Recipes

Our boat of an old car broke down, and we were stuck on a dusty road, near the lake. There were no cell phones to facilitate a hasty rescue. There was no grill. There was no excessive display of food, some potato chips at most. With little else to do, we sat by the lake and watched the little fizzles of amateur fireworks over the water. Even though the holiday felt like a failure at the time, sitting there by my older sister is one of the 4th of July occasions I remember the most.

IMG_0820apple pie

This year I’ll be eating burgers, making pie (this is becoming tradition) and hopefully creating some new memories. If only I had such a patriotic pie server for the occasion!

“The flaky layers in crescent dough made them a natural for short-cutting this traditional apple dessert. Mrs. Angela Wencel of LaGrange Park, Illinois, rated the ‘Bright Idea’ prize for this tasty dessert.”

What are your fondest memories of the 4th?


Happy Patriotic Pie Making!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.

A Wednesday Wander: Brazil, in the Spirit of the World Cup

 A Wander in Brazil from December 2010

In the spirit of the World Cup, I’m mentally returning to Brazil.

Tiny Jesus

I’m squinting to discern a tiny, mountaintop figure looming in the distance.

Giant Jesus

One fairly significant hike later, I am merely a tiny figure at the base of the giant Christ the Redeemer.

Coconut Vendor

I’m wiggling my toes in the soft sand, while sipping the freshness of a straw poked into a green coconut.

Coconuts for Two

I’m basking in the warmth of water at sunset and savoring the sounds of songlike Portuguese.



I stayed for a while, but there is still so much more of you I need to see!

Until we meet again,



A Wednesday Wander is a way to revisit journeys past and work my way through my many photos and journals that might otherwise collect proverbial dust. Thanks for wandering with me!

Instagram Lately: What Kind of Day Are You Having?

June 2014

“What kind of day are you having?” was a question penned on an otherwise blank page.

Instagram_Fountain Pup

So I turned my day into words on paper…

I’m having a summer day- a kind of day that includes a Crayola-blue sky, pillowy, cotton clouds and breezes in between beams of sunshine.

I’m having a day to listen to worries, then push them aside and replace them with a table for two, chilled soup and summer’s sandwich- bacon, lettuce and tomato! I’m having a day in which water tastes like sweet strawberries and herbs.

I’m having a day for fountain splashing and fur everywhere! I’m having a day to watch my puppy try to eat the water, and I remember how many smiles she has brought to my face because the world is still so new to her.

I’m having a purple-stained hands sort of day, from picking the mulberries that would otherwise squish underfoot. I’m having a day to pick the very last honeysuckle after eying it for weeks.

I’m having a night to notice a firefly for the very first time this season, and those early flickers transport me to so many other days and nights of pure summer.

Summer Drinks and Fruit

Had I been into brevity, I may have just written, “the lucky sort of day.”

What kind of day do your Instagrams reveal?



P.S: You can follow my Instagram adventures here.

Homemade Kombucha: One For The Bucket List!

June 2014

Waaaay back when, I happened to be in a Los Angeles Whole Foods admiring the bounty of beverage options in comparison to my Pittsburgh store. Wanting some new, exciting, healthy drink for my flight home (waaaay back before 4 oz/liquid restrictions), I bought my first ever Kombucha. From the West Coast all the way to my steel city, my baby bird sips were barely visible. Though it cost me $4.00 from my precious [ie: nonexistent] student savings, and though the label extolled the health benefits of its probiotics, there was no way in hell I could finish it.


Potentially the most unappealing image on my blog, this is the SCOBY- Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. This is the basis of the Kombucha making process, and yes, it is slimy and strange.

Time and memory lapsed, and I tried again. I chose a mango flavor, which promised to be more palatable than my first tangy ginger attempt. Forgetting the element of carbonation, I shook the bottle vigorously to disperse the Eraserhead looking “mother” lurking in the liquid. MISTAKE! I ended up wearing half the bottle and lamenting another $4.00 [mostly] wasted.

Tea Plus Scoby

Add the Scoby to a gallon of sweetened black tea and starter tea (from a previous batch of Kombucha), and let the tea ferment for 7-10 days.

Fast forward a year or so, and I made my peace with the mystifying fermented beverage. Beyond peace, I became an apostle of the fizzy, vinegary drink- drank the koolaid so to speak. I bought bottle after bottle, flavor after flavor, all the while thinking to myself- I should really be making this myself. Yet, the idea of a “scoby” and home fermentation prevented me from making the leap for a VERY LONG TIME. Until now! Finally, finally, finally, a friend offered me a “mother,” and I had no excuse. Kombucha is off the bucket list! 

Pitcher of Tea

After 7-10 days of fermenting, carefully remove the Scoby with clean hands, and set aside temporarily. Transfer the fermented tea to a pitcher to make pouring and bottling a lot easier.

If you’ve read this far with a puzzled look on your face, fret not. “Mother” and “Scoby” and even the word “Kombucha” all justify a puzzled look or two. They might even justify a look of disgust.

Save Two Cups

Reserve 2 cups of the fermented tea to use as a starter in the next batch.

Definitively speaking [ie: Wikipedia-ly speaking], Kombucha is a lightly effervescent fermented drink of sweetened black tea. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or “SCOBY”. 

Bottle and Ferment

Pour the fermented tea into glass jars, leaving room at the top. Set the bottle tea aside for 1-3 days, in a cool, dark place, to carbonate. At this stage, you can add juice or fruit to add flavor. Once the kombucha is carbonated, it’s ready to drink and enjoy!

With one batch under my belt and another in the works, I’m high-kicking and dancin’ with delight at the possibilities in store: fruits and flavors and ice-cold, fermented beverages on hot days! Wooohoo!

Note: I’ve listed the very condensed instructions in the photo captions, but for a full guide to making your own kombucha, I recommend this guide on The Kitchn


Feliz Fermenting!

p.s: This post fits the goals of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event to embrace the part of us that is still learning and experimenting. This monthly event aims to connect and inspire us to try new things. Check out other food bloggers’ experiments and endeavors via this month’s host, My Kitchen of Love.



#TBT: Patriotic Pecan Cookies

June 2014

Imagine you grew up on some remote island, and though you developed a taste for sweetness via nature’s sugars (fruits, honey, etc), you never tasted chocolate. Maybe you know about it because some Giligan’s Island style professor rigs wifi from a coconut, so you spend your time at the internet hut looking at pinterest boards of fashion, wedding place cards and recipe after recipe with chocolate drizzles, chocolate chips, chocolate ganache, etc, etc.

Then, for whatever reason, you have the opportunity to travel to “civilization.” Perhaps it’s a remote island’s equivalent of a Rumshpringa? Your mentor/companion for this transformational trip escorts you through the airport, which you vaguely understand because you’re caught up on Orange is the New Black (again…wifi hut). Once you pass security, you behold the marvels of the newsstand, and you make your first purchase- chocolate!

How intense would that be?!?

100 Bake Off Recipes

Do you remember the first time you had chocolate? I was practically reared on ice cream and homemade baked goods, so my first taste of heavenly chocolate probably came before full sentences exited my mouth. I can’t imagine the thrill of being conscious of the very first bite of chocolate. I can, however, imagine the extremely bitter disappointment of biting into 100% pure chocolate. That I remember, unfortunately.


“Mrs. Mary Jane Sobel of Houston, Texas puts a chocolate ‘frosting’ atop her cookies before they bake; easy and ready-to-eat when they come from the oven. Coconut almond frosting mix adds a special crunchiness to the cookies.”


May you taste chocolate anew!

#TBT (Throw Back Thursdays) glimpse into the vintage visual feasts in my personal collection of food and entertaining books.