Author Archives: withthegrains

About withthegrains

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

#TBT: A Perfectly Styled Picnic

August 2014

As one who has had to add salt to beer and stir like crazy, I humbly bow not only to the notion of this picnic, but to the perfect layers of foam atop those icy deck beers. This scene harkens from the days of film no less! Meanwhile I bask in the the luxury of digital forgiveness.

IMG_0790_picnic 01

I could contemplate this scene and its story for hours!

IMG_0791_picnic 02

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


Digitally Yours,

A Wednesday Wander: Love Advice from Porto

From a Wander in Porto, Portugal in February 2007

Lately the internet has been pushing many an article about love and coupling my way- “10 Ways To Know You’re With The Right Person” or “10 Things Happy Couples Do To Stay Together,” etc. While the timing of these articles is just a little too coincidental to be coincidental, these articles do proffer their fair share of good advice- let your fella know you’re thinking of him, kiss for a full six seconds, prioritize communication and more!

Stacked City

As helpful as it can be to spell out love advice, sometimes the most helpful advice emerges quietly, through wandering and observing. In a city of colorful houses stacked on severe inclines, it helps to have a hand to hold and someone with whom to share the Port views of passing boats and ever changing bridge shadows.

Hand in Hand

ie: Hold hands and let your love flag fly!


Happy Sappy Trails!

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!

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Layer Cake with Roasted Plums

August 2014

My name is Quelcy, and I am prone to perfectionism.

I fully admit this is a problem, but rather than acknowledge a higher power and 12-step my way through this issue, I just seek constructive friends to indulge my need for critiques. I am also prone to perfectionist tantrums, in which I want to hide my work and/or start over.

Chocolate Cake Layers

This cake was one of those tantrums. I set out to impress, obviously. One doesn’t just layer cake for the sake of any ol’ Monday. I wanted to contribute to a group and announce, “oh hey, did I mention I bake?” I did not want to announce, “Oh hey, did I mention I bake, but the texture of my baking is a complete failure?”

Roasted Plums

My decision to be amenable to a crowd, and therefore gluten free, resulted in a grittier texture (second issue with this batch of almond flour, so maybe it was a milling fluke?). Perhaps I was rushing as well, and I didn’t allow the cake to bake or cool long enough. As always, there are several factors and several ways to beat yourself up.

The result was a very rich, chocolatey fail in my mind. However, the cake was chocolatey enough, and I had all the right toppings to gussy it enough, so I just decided to offer my cake with a humble apology for the texture, and you know what happened?

That friendly crowd ate every last morsel, and in the words of Life cereal, they liked it! They really liked it!

Is there a moral to this cake? Sure. The moral of this cake story is: eat more chocolate and don’t hate on yourself too much.

Chocolate Plum Cake

Gluten-Free Almond Chocolate Layer Cake with Roasted Plums


2 cups organic almond flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups organic raw cane sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened, pure cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup organic, unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
1 cup red wine

2 large organic, cage-free eggs
1/2 cup organic ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Heat oven to 350º F. Butter two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and red wine, and bring to a boil. Add to the flour mixture and, using an electric mixer, mix until combined.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the ricotta and vanilla.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.


Whipped Cream Topping
Note: I typically use maple syrup for my whipped cream sweetener, but I wanted this topping to have a little more structure, so I used powdered sugar. 


1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic powdered sugar


Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the powdered sugar, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to use.


Balsamic Roasted Plums


4-5 organic plums
organic unsalted butter
balsamic vinegar
organic light brown sugar


Cut plums in half and remove pits.

Arrange in a baking dish, cut side up. Brush each plum surface with melted butter and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sugar and spices.

Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.



Transfer one of the cakes to a platter and spread with ¾ cup of the whipped topping.

Top with the remaining cake, and spread with the remaining whipped topping.

Top with roasted plums (I threw in some gooseberries also). Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with thyme or the fresh herb of your choice.


Here’s to Chocolate Failures!

Instagram Lately: What Color(s) Was Your Week?

August 2014

In a fiery blaze of American rock glory, the Floral King left me for the foggy beauty of rolling Irish hills and the remnant charms of the Romanian nightlife. While the wanderlust whirled inside me, I had no choice but to play with leaves and lovelies on my own. As I did, the week transpired as if inspired by color swatches. 

This Week in Reds

A Revival of Reds

A year ago, I barely thought about flowers. Then my perfectionist neurosis and the Floral King’s perfectionist neurosis’ powers combined in the form of Harvest & Gather, which has me bundling lemon leaves into the wee hours of the night, painting them shades of gold and red to render them anew, and hoarding Italian cans for farm flowers. Life is rosy red, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How many ways can you slice a pig?
So many delicious ways! Too much time had passed since I found revival in the form of food at Cure, so the Urban Farmer and I went to indulge in the type of meal that demands slow, savoring bites and inspires the gears of food creation to turn- corn custard, lime aioli, a bursting fruit cobbler topped with a perfect whipped cream football… time to start adapting these flavor profiles into my own repertoire! I’ll hold off on butchering for the time being though. Maybe one day. 

Minty Hair and Fish

Bucolic Blues & Greens for Bright Times

Under layers and long sleeves, I had an itch to embrace summer in the form of spontaneous, wild fun. The result was a minty green swoop across my face and a blonde that shocks me each and every time I see my reflection. These types of toss ups are so inspiring in the way they trickle to fashion and persona. Who is this punky face staring back at me, and does she possibly need to buy some more black and deep violet ensembles? The answer is most likely yes, indeed!

The same gray skies that motivated long sleeves opened to reveal an intense sun and new tan lines. Way below that bright blue sky, we ate, drank and made merry for hours on a farm, where the rainbow chard was just as beautiful as the florals I had arranged. A full Sunday on a farm with a fire pit, crazy creative chefs, sunshine, amazing food, wine and one handsome Urban Farmer equals one happy, minty green, blonde, brunette girl. 

What color(s) was your week?



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


Lemon Curd

August 2014

The following dialogue is based on a conversation from my real life, the retelling of which will probably result in me being called “a shit,” but… Worth it!

The Urban Farmer: I’m supposed to bring something to this beekeepers’ potluck, so I need to think of something between here and the North Side.

Me: [Long pause] … Of course the entire neighborhood of food distribution conveniently between here and the North Side is closed for the day… [long pause]

The Urban Farmer: [said with confidence and enthusiasm] I could bring a pizza!

Me: You can’t bring a piiiiiiiiiiizza [dramatically drawn out]

The Urban Farmer: Why not? Everyone loves pizza! What’s wrong with a pizza? Not everything has to be so faaancy.

Me: Listen, pizza is a show stealer! There are parties named after pizza. You can’t just waltz in and plop your pizza on a table of homemade contributions.

While continuing to mock the idea of a pizza (maybe you should cut it into fancy bites and serve it with toothpicks), I spooned lemon curd into a jam jar and sent The Urban Farmer to the only grocery store en route, the ghetto grocery store if you will, for berries and a baguette.

“Pizza,” I muttered again to myself in disbelief.

Lemon Curd and Cinnamon Toast

Lemons might be my spirit animal. Much like yours truly, this lemon curd is sweet and tart and has a sassy answer for almost everything you throw at it. Hungry for breakfast? Spread it on toast or add a pucker to your parfait. Feeding a few for brunch? Bake it in a French toast or in your pancake batter. Having a wine night? Pair it with cheese and fruit. Entering the dining and wine-ing hours of the night? Be bold and figure out how to use it in a cocktail and as a sweet accent to a meat or fish. There are many possibilities, but above all, use it when you might otherwise be tempted to contribute a pizza.

Lemon Curd Breakfast

Lemon Curd

yield: 3 cups


3 organic lemons, finely grated

1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar

1 stick organic, unsalted butter, room temperature

4 extra-large, free-range eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice (from 3 to 4 organic lemons)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


Use a food processor fitted with a steel blade to cream together the lemon zest, sugar, and butter.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time.

Add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer.

Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.


Stay Sassy!


A Wednesday Wander: Copper & Keyholes in Paris

From A Wander in Paris, in December 2011

My eyes. My stomach.

These were my guiding navigational forces when I returned to Paris after a long gap since my nannying stint, and these forces failed me not. Though I recommend the museums and cultural icons of Paris, what I truly loved most were my long wanders with my camera and my appetite for all things amandine.

Copper Cookware

Green Doors


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!


À bientôt!

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

August 2014

Two tons of bricks in a one ton bag.

Is that how the expression goes?

If not, it conveys the idea I want to express. On one hand, this notion of exceeding capacity is negative- shit will break! On the other hand, life is short, and if you have the possibility of stuffing an extra ton of bricks into said receptacle, why not risk it? Within reason, the latter is how I approach creative projects, socializing and my output in general- more, More, MORE!

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

What is the important take away from this?

If you invite me to a morning meeting in your home, I’ll probably bring breakfast too! Sure, I have to take my dog through her morning routine and finalize the meeting’s agenda, but why not just wake up earlier and crank the oven on a summer day?

Rhubarb Compote Muffins

Note: The rhubarb flavor was very light in these muffins, so I recommend serving with extra rhubarb compote, or increasing the rhubarb in the recipe. 


Muffin Batter

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup rhubarb compote
3/4 cup organic turbinado sugar
1 organic egg
1/2 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned

Crumble Topping

1/3 cup organic light brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon organic unsalted butter, cold


Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease 11-12 small to medium muffin cups, or line with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl, beat together rhubarb compote, sugar, egg, and melted butter.

Stir the rhubarb compote mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them 3/4 full.

In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in 1 Tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle crumble topping over muffins.

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, being sure to rotate the muffins half way through their baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.


Here’s to too many bricks & cobbled idioms!

My Favorite Healthy Eats for “Fittsburgh”

August 2014

For a city known for infusing salads and sandwiches with french fries and cole slaw, “dining out” and “healthy” are very rarely synonymous. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the tables of greasy foods are turning, and there are plenty of healthier options. I recently added my two cents on this topic, and dorked out about whole grain rice, as part of a Fittsburgh blog post.

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 9.10.11 AM

Check out the full story-
4 Pittsburgh Food Writers Spill it on Their Favorite Healthy Eats in the ‘Burgh

If you happen to be dining in Pittsburgh, check out my recommendation and enjoy a serene dinner at Pusadee’s Garden.


Here’s to Health!

Instagram Lately: August Messes & Lyricism

August 2014

Bánh Mì messes in the making.
Frigid waters to contrast the hot sun.
A focused breath and a bit of zen.
Playing make believe with cake, florals and flowing hair.

Downward Dog and Banh Mi

Fluttering pages à faire.
An inspired oven, a table full of desserts, and a plate of clouds stacked to the heavens.
Raspy impassioned vocals, intense moves and poetic lyrics from the islands I play on repeat

Concert and Dessert

by Future Islands

I wrestled by the sea
A loneliness in me
I asked myself for peace
And found it at my feet

Staring at the sea…

All that glitters is gold
Don’t believe what you’ve been told
People lie, people love, people go
But beauty lies, in every soul…

I wrestled by the sea
A dream of you and me
I let it go from me
It washed up at my feet
Staring at the sea…

If you wait, if you wait for the morning
How long, how long
I asked myself for peace
I asked myself for peace
And found a piece of me
Staring at the sea…


Here’s to August’s Messes & Lyricism!

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

Rhubarb Compote

June 2014

I know I still have approximately two months to savor, but in this city where gray and precipitation all too frequently prevail, the summer never seems long enough. There are so many elements of summer I would like to preserve and stretch into the next season(s):

- the ease of slipping on my worn out Toms and taking my Julep for a walk in the sunshine, or on late night strolls when the air is just a tad cooler, and the city glows.
-garden dinners
-tan lines
-the way tomatoes never make it to the stove or oven because I consume their summer sweetness straight from the container
-open windows, fluttering curtains
-waking up to natural light flooding through said open windows
-taking pictures late into the evening with the abundance of natural light

Rhubarb Compote

In lieu of stretching summer far into fall, and fall far into winter, I made an attempt to stretch the season of one of summer’s greatest gifts: rhubarb!

Rhubarb Compote in Jars

What began as an unexpected prize for arriving late at the farmers market (“sure, I’ll take those wilty looking stalks!”), transpired into a layer in a baked French toast, a pairing for cheese and baguette slices, a slathering on morning toast, muffins for a morning meeting, a fruitful accent to scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, and so on and so forth. The potential for rhubarb compote, unlike the season in which it grows, is quite endless!

Local Rhubarb Compote


1 3/4 pounds local rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces (about 6 cups or 12-15 long stalks)
1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar

1 piece (1 inch) fresh, peeled ginger, finely grated
1/3 cup red wine (I used Malbec)


Stir together rhubarb and sugar in a large saucepan (off heat); let stand until rhubarb releases some liquid, about 10 minutes.

Bring rhubarb mixture, grated ginger, and red wine to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down but some whole pieces remain, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let sauce cool completely before serving.


Here’s to Savoring & Stretching the Tart Sweetness of the Season!

#TBT: A Table in Montmartre

August 2014

While I’m feeling nostalgic for all things Parisian, I couldn’t help but fixate on this page of Sauces, from The French Cookbook. The tipsy perspective evokes the feeling of walking the hills of Montmartre, the arrondisement where my favorite movie took place. Unlike my walks though, in which I relied heavily upon my imagination [and a dash of wistful voyeurism], Velvet Sauce truly puts us in Montmartre. We see the famous Sacré Coeur from our very own window, where wine surely flows generously, and the chairs straddle the line between comfort and formality. It’s the perfect venue for serving such a sauce!



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


À bientôt!

A Wednesday Wander: Coffee in Paris

From A Wander in Paris, in December 2011

Lately, a few friends and I have been having some in depth conversations about coffee- why we drink it, when we drink it, how it’s sourced, when did latte art become a thing…? What I’m not telling you is I have an exciting coffee project in the works, but what I am telling you is all this coffee talk has me missing Paris [to be fair, almost everything has me missing Paris because I could happily spend all of my days there as cliché as that might be]. Until I can sip a café noisette dans la rue, I am vicariously sitting at an outward facing table, sipping something strong and judging everything passing before me.

Red and White Stripes

Brightly Colored Empty Chairs

Facing Out

Espresso and Wine

Coffee and Smokes

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!



From the Farmers Market

June/August 2014

I haven’t plodded along on what one would call a “career path” by any means, and for a span of time, this approach meant not having a full-time job. During one glorious summer of job juggling, I had plenty of time for summer bicycle adventuring to farmers markets. I practically hit one every day, a habit that took my blue bicyclette and me all over the city in search of perfectly sweet, juicy tomatoes. When engaged in a conversation about promoting local foods, I rather scoffed at someone who told me local foods needed to be more convenient. “But there’s a farmers market every day!” I practically shouted.

Snap Peas

Fast forward to present day, and step aside as I humbly put my foot in my mouth. Making a commitment to local foods is just that- a commitment. Between forgetting what day of the week it is and the alarming rate at which summer seems to be passing me, I nearly missed this commitment. Fortunately, I can buy a fair share of local foods at the grocery store, but there is something fulfilling about mingling with the grower of your food.


So it was on a sunny Saturday in June, I made the effort to mingle, to visually scan summer’s yield and to be inspired by that moment in the growing season.

Rhubarb and Julep

The market rewarded my effort with plump raspberries, bright green snow peas, and an abundance of rhubarb, which tickled the nose of my four-legged kitchen assistant.


The berries and peas barely stood a chance of survival past pecking and pawing, but the rhubarb inspired several recipes.

The Little Bean

On that note of summer passing all too quickly, I realize I am sharing these musings past these lovelies’ seasons, but nevertheless, I would have been remiss not to celebrate the way they inspired words, images, recipes and gatherings. Stay tuned for recipes to bookmark for their prime next year.

In the meantime, how is your farmers market inspiring you?



Instagram Lately: Boredom at Bay

August 2014

Boredom and loneliness are choices. This is what I tell myself, and this is what I believe.

However, that doesn’t mean boredom and loneliness don’t lurk around me every now and then, but just as they do, ideas pop into my head. Next thing I know, a motorcycle appears, and I’m zipping around the twinkling city, with the wind whipping in my face, in pursuit of a perfect burger and fries, or…

Myths and Pizza

…or, I’m listening to the myth of the Shrine of the Virgin Mary, while a heavenly glow illuminates my orator. Little did I know about this hilltop saint until the garden party took a stroll.

…or, I am eating brick-oven pizza while potters pick at banjos and mandolins.

…or, I am crying real tears. I’m feeling my entire chest well with warmth, after eating an all too monstrous bite of hot pepper, in my first ever bánh mì from Lucy’s. That woman is famous. That pepper is infamous.

…or, I am finally savoring the tiniest bites of expensive macarons. Try though I might, I do not taste the gold they must contain to cost so much.

Banh Mi Moto Babe

How do you keep your boredom at bay?



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

Simple Foods For A Summer Garden Party

July 2014

I recently prepared the food spreads for a backyard garden party at Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, where I spend many of my daytime hours playing with dried arrangements, my camera and photoshop. The party concept was to inspire attendees to host their own backyard gatherings, with the goal of spending more time enjoying summer and less time stressing over food and decor. As one obsessed with food, my challenge was to demonstrate how presentation and thoughtful pairings render visually appealing and appetizing foods without excessive effort. On that note, I bring you these very loose “recipes” for your own summer socials…

Garden Party Food Ideas

Watermelon (seedless)
Garden Fresh Basil
Fresh Mozzarella in Olive Oil & Herbs
Variations: Balsamic Vinegar, Lemon Zest, Flaky Sea Salt, Cracked Pepper


Garden Party Spread

Zucchini Spread with Cucumber Slices & Garden Fresh Basil (Recipe Below)

Cheese and Melons

Brie with Berries & A Honey Drizzle
Garden Fresh Flowering Herbs for aroma & presentation

Blueberry Crostinia

French Baguette
Garden Fresh Mint
Variations: Honey, Jam, Fig, Raspberries, Sage, Verbena, 


Zucchini Crostini


In the vein of grandmother style cooking and approximated proportions, this loose recipe is a great way to take advantage of summer’s abundance of zucchini and herbs. You can very simply feed many a friend from your garden or local farm stand. I sourced the zucchini and onions from Garfield Community Farm, and the fresh herb and green pepper garnishes came from Roxanne’s home garden.

Farm Fresh Zucchini Spread for Crostini
Yield: Party Size


3 small-medium, local yellow onions, sliced

2 large local zucchinis, grated

3-4 Tablespoons organic Lemon Zest
1/2 cup organic Lemon Juice
1-2 cups organic ricotta cheese

salt and fresh crushed pepper to taste

local cucumber
local green pepper
local basil


Coat the bottom of a wide, thick-bottomed sauté pan with olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and butter (about 1 teaspoon per onion). Heat the pan on medium high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the onion slices and stir to coat the onions with the oil. Spread the onions out evenly over the pan and let cook, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, sprinkle some salt over the onions. If the onions appear to be drying too quickly, add water.

Once the onions are caramelized, add the grated zucchini and stir. The mixture will become very liquidy. Continue to simmer until liquid reduces, 20-30 minutes (this time will be drastically reduced if you’re not making the party portion of this recipe).

Remove from heat. Drain off excess liquids if need be. Cool to room temperature (can cool in the refrigerator if need be).

Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and ricotta cheese to your desired creaminess.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on baguette slices with fresh cucumber and garden fresh green pepper slices.


Happy Garden Gathering!

The Brooklyn Brewery Mash Tour: Slow Supper : Big 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: Big 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!