Ultimate cosmo and pimento cheese crackers for New Year’s Eve


Pour an extraordinary cocktail, set out some irresistible nibbles, and you’re ready for a celebration.

My search for the perfect New Year’s Eve libation this year led me to the “PDT Cocktail Book,”: by Jim Meehan (Sterling Epicure, 2011).  Illustrated with Chris Gall’s colorful woodcut engravings, the book is an engaging and often esoteric guide to the artisan cocktails created for the speakeasy-style Manhattan bar, Please Don’t Tell.  It’s such a hit that I couldn’t find a hardback version anywhere so I downloaded the e-book version. Continue reading Ultimate cosmo and pimento cheese crackers for New Year’s Eve

A squash worthy of a feast

I’ve begun to dread any recipe that starts with cutting up a winter squash.  Every time I slice open a butternut squash, I worry that I’m either going to break a knife blade or slash a finger before I’m done.  Kabocha squash, which I love, is even more of a challenge.

So it was a pleasant surprise when I sliced into a delicata squash for the first time this year.  The knife just slipped right through the thin skin and tender flesh.  The heirloom squash didn’t even require peeling.

The flavor was wonderful, too – a little milder than butternut, but sweet and rich with a creamy texture.  It’s ideal for this beautiful salad I found in one of my favorite new cookbooks, “Eat Good Food,”  by BiRite Market owner Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough (Ten Speed Press, 2011). Continue reading A squash worthy of a feast

Holiday cookies without the fuss

No matter how much I plan ahead for the holidays, it seems life starts spinning out of control about this time every year.

Here it is less than two weeks ’til Christmas and I still haven’t made any of the usual decorated cookies.  Maybe sometime next week.  Who knows?

With these buttery shortbread cookies in the house, I’m not too worried.  They’re so good in their natural state, one bite banishes all thought of frosting and sprinkles. Continue reading Holiday cookies without the fuss

Spicy soup soothes the soul

We’ve had a harsh introduction to winter in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I live.

Ferocious winds buffeted the redwoods surrounding my house for three days and nights last week, uprooting a huge tree just up the road, knocking down a utility pole and sending a long limb crashing through a skylight in the living room.  The power was out for four days and the DSL just returned.

We’ve lived here a long time and we’re used to the electricity going out in the middle of big storms.  We have a generator to keep the refrigerator, freezer and a couple of lamps running.  But cooking becomes a challenge when the oven doesn’t work and you have to wear a backpacker’s headlamp to see clearly what you’re chopping.

I was grateful to have a beautiful red kabocha squash sitting on the kitchen counter when the lights went out.  With a little curry paste, chicken stock and some coconut milk from the pantry, it made a spicy but soothing soup to improve our mood during a difficult week. Continue reading Spicy soup soothes the soul