Category Archives: Uncategorized

Juice of the Week: Beets From Tip to Tail

June 2013

Farms and gardens are beginning to brim with life, making my market bag brim with produce to make fresh juice all the fresher. The meandering routes of bold burgundies and rosy hues, through the greens of these local beets, were too beautiful and beneficial to waste.

Beet Tails and Tips

Beet Leaves

Ginger Carrot

Lots of Celery

Beet Leaf Juice

Beets From Tip to Tail
makes ~2 quarts

Bunch of small beets with greens*
1 bunch of celery*
2 1/2 lbs organic carrots, rinsed
~4oz ginger, peeled

*When I share recipes on this here corner of the blogosphere, I consider the ingredients and directions to be a point of departure. In the case of this beet and celery laden Juice of the Week, consider this recipe a “do as I say/suggest” rather than “do as I did.” Had I planned more and had more produce on hand, I would have balanced the very potent celery with apples or citrus or both. I’ve still been drinking this in the morning, and I’m used to the celery, but it may not be for everyone. Give it a whirl. Change it wildly. Just have fun and be healthy!

Juice of the Week documents my goal to drink fresh juice daily (made in batches weekly).

Cardamom Browned Butter (I’m Really Proud of This One!!!)

January 2013

I usually don’t boast when sharing recipes, but when it comes to this butter experiment, I feel entitled to brag!

Cardamom Browned Butter

I searched a few combinations of “browned butter” and “honey” and “cardamom,” and the most immediate results were recipes for cookies, streusels, cakes, etc, but what I wanted was that flavor combination in a butter. Just butter. I left Google momentarily, and I experimented. Once you try this flavor packed butter, you will understand why I feel entitled to boast about this experiment! After making enough for yourself, this simple, flavorful butter would make a great gift in a little jam jar for someone who deserves a little jam jar of heaven.

Browned Butter with Honey & Cardamom


1 stick organic, unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 Tablespoon clover honey


Heat a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently.

Continue to cook the butter.

Once melted, the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further (and to prevent from burning).

Pour the browned butter into a small container.

Add the honey and cardamom and stir to combine.

Set the butter aside to cool and set.


Happy Red, White & Blueberry!

July 4th, 2012

This Fourth of July, I’m not responsible for a thing except documenting my special one’s pyro side as he choreographs his spectacle, swimming in a creek, swaying in a hammock and riding through the forest on a zippy scooter.  However, there’s always room for a biteful of thematic eating.

Hopefully the grill sends pleasant aromas your way, and the sun shines on your holiday!


Header_new perspective

Pittsburgh: Time To Take Another Look

October 2011

Here is where I should be inserting an embarrassing photo documenting the early days of the friendship that has come to span more than a decade.  However, here is where I am going to display a rare dose of restraint, or rather, I already have posted an “embarrassing” photo documenting earlier days in our friendship.  As I said then, Heather and I have veered wildly from the days that brought us together, and our veers have shaped us into very different people.

Yet, through it all, we have remained very good friends- very good friends with a one sided visiting record.  Granted, I have more reasons to visit Philly than Heather has to visit Pittsburgh.  My family is close to Philly.  I have multiple friends there, and I am drawn to the bigger city.  However, in nearly a decade of living here, I deserve at least one visit.  That fated time finallllllly came in October when Heather and her friend Jess loaded a Honda with clothing, pillows, blankets, enough water to survive a very dramatic flat tire scenario [did not transpire] and God knows what else.  A few cheesy pop albums later, they arrived in the Steel City.

It was time to put on my tour guide hat [sunglasses]) and see the city anew!

Ready to see and learn more about my Pittsburgh?

More to come…

Mustachio Pie and a Sausage Torte Celebration

September 2010

That first day, in the sunny park, when we shared Greek food and laziness, neither of us had foreseen a one-year anniversary.  We had long been saying we’d been “hanging out” for “two weeks,” but the one year  moment was nigh!  When had “two weeks” really turned into one year?  When had we first spent that sunny afternoon together?  When had we both altered our schedules so our work shifts would align?  I found an email I sent to a friend when I was in that gushing state of mind:  August 19, 2009.

For most of those “two weeks,” the dashing carpenter had complied with my mustache request.  He referred to the “caterpillar” on his lip as “your mustache.”  He’d spend his evenings in his armchair, watching the news and combing his mustache with the tip of a metal, mechanical pencil, saving his facial hair frustration and complaints for me.

The month of August was beyond busy with Hothouse preparations, so our official anniversary came and went before I had time to properly commemorate.  This was my first one-year anniversary ever, so I wasn’t about to let it slip away completely unnoticed.  Following the “belated equals bigger surprise” school of thought, I pushed my plans to September.  I had just the present in mind for my gentleman friend and my mustache:  Mustachio Pie and a Mustache Grooming Kit!

Pie Dough Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the Chocolate Pie Dough

Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa in a large bowl.

Use a pastry blender or a fork to cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter throughout. (Or combine dry ingredients in a food processor, then pulse in butter.)

Drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water at a time (up to 6 tablespoons total), tossing after each addition, and using only enough water to make dough clump together when squeezed. Add vanilla (if using).

Pat dough into a disc, tightly cover with plastic wrap or parchment, and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days (or freeze for up to 3 months).

To Make Pie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a rolling pin to press the disc of dough into a circle large enough to cover a 9inch pie plate. Press dough into bottom, sides, and along the rim of pan to uniform thickness. Trim excess dough; embellish edges. Chill 20 minutes.

Cover the edges of the pie with tin foil to avoid crisping or burning. Bake 18-20 minutes until the crust is baked through.  Cool on a rack.

Pie Filling Ingredients

1 1/2 cup(s) half-and-half
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup(s) pure cane sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 ounces bakers chocolate
3 tablespoons local amish butter
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
zest of one organic orange
pistachios, finely chopped

For the Pie Filling

Whisk half-and-half, yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and bubbles.

Cook 1 minute more and remove from heat.  Stir in the bakers chocolate, butter, and vanilla.

Stir in the orange zest.

Pour into pie shell.

Cool partially and garnish with a pistachio mustache.

Cool completely. Transfer to refrigerator to set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

The Mustachio Pie was my top priority for the evening celebration, but a couple cannot live on pie alone (though, the dashing carpenter might argue otherwise).

Two very important parts of the dinner were ready:  the dessert and the wine.  It was time to add the main course before the arrival of the man.

Sausage Torte

1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
1 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 large organic red potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 small organic summer squash, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 links Italian sausage, crumbled and sautéed in olive oil
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter rectangular baking dish.

Layer half the potatoes in rows in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly.

Toss cheese, flour, thyme, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer half the squash in rows atop potatoes.

Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

Sprinkle with half the cheese mixture.

Add all the sausage and repeat potato, squash and cheese layer.

Sprinkle onions over top and cover with foil.

Bake about 40 minutes.

Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer.

Add to the anniversary table!

Happy Anniversary Carpenter!

I wonder what the next “two weeks” has in store?!?!


When You Are Engulfed in… Cake

April 2009

I will forever be grateful to This American Life.  As I podcasted and knit my way through the extra weeks of winter, Ira Glass introduced me to David Sedaris.  I had met my superior in sarcastic people watching, and I humbly surrendered.  My neighbors probably thought I was losing my mind as the laughter passed through the thin walls.

When David Sedaris came to Pittsburgh, my friend Thiago treated me to a ticket.  From our seats in the sold out theater, we watched the tiny David Sedaris, on the stage far below, awkwardly read previously published works and some new pieces.  Watching someone read on a stage can be and was a strange dynamic, but I was desperate for new material from him after having requested everything possible from the library and combing the internet.  As a thank you note to Thiago, I made us a special dessert to eat after the show.

As David Sedaris is Greek and has several stories stemming from his family’s Greekness, I sought Greek inspiration for our dessert.  As always, I adapted the recipe to my baking/eating habits, and I also took some liberties on the frosting to achieve my “book” cover, but I’ll leave some of the original guidance for more authentic renditions.

In Greek: ραβανί, pronounced rah-vah-NEE

Ravani (also spelled “revani”) has its roots in Asia Minor and is made with a combination of flour and semolina (or farina). In some areas of Greece, Ravani is made with walnuts or rice, and a Lenten version is made with oil instead of butter. This version of Ravani is plain with the option of adding almonds, using a food processor.


2 cups of fine-ground semolina
1 1/2 cups of whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 cup of pure cane sugar
1 cup of butter, softened
6 eggs, separated
1 cup of whole milk
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
2 tablespoons of water

[For the Syrup]

3 1/2 cups of sugar
3 cups of water
Juice of 1/2 lemon


Decrease flour by 1/2 cup
Add 1/2 cups of crushed blanched almonds


1/2 cup chopped almonds or almond halves


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Sift the flour and whisk with semolina, almonds if using, baking powder, and baking soda. In the processor mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add egg yolks, sugar, and grated orange peel and continue to mix until light and creamy.

Add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the milk, until completely blended.

Remove from processing bowl and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Whip the egg whites with 2 tablespoons of cold water to the stiff peak stage, and with a wooden spoon, stir carefully into the batter until thoroughly distributed.

Transfer the cake batter to a lightly greased and floured large baking pan (11 X 17 X 2-inch or equivalent) and spread evenly with a spatula. (Optional: sprinkle chopped almonds on top, or place almond halves on top before baking.)

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for approximately 30-35 minutes. Cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the baking pan when done.

Remove from the oven and allow cake to cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes before starting the syrup.

Prepare the syrup: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Boil for 7-8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pour the hot syrup over the lukewarm cake, evenly and very carefully to avoid collapsing the cake, starting at the outside edges. Allow to cool completely before cutting into small square or diamond-shaped pieces.