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Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

New Year’s Resolution Minestrone

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

soup3So far I have stuck to my New Year’s resolutions except for the part abut the peppermint bark. I resolved to eat nothing but healthy foods and have done so religiously since December 31st–except for the peppermint bark. I just gave the peppermint bark (what was left of it) to Aunt Christina so now I am totally on track.

I made this soup which is full of high-fiber vegetables and makes you feel virtuous even before you finish chopping the leeks. Tom and I have been eating it all weekend and we both feel as fit as say, that guy in “Creed.” (Michael B. Jordan, not Sylvester Stallone.)

I gotta be honest, it’s a pain in the ass to make but worth the trouble because you end up with enough to last for ages so it’s three meals for the aggravation of one. Plus you get all that upper-body exercise from the veggie choppage. Okay, it’s unlikely M.B.J. got those biceps by this method but still.

So give your peppermint bark to an unsuspecting relative and make this soup. You will be glad you did.


New Year’s Resolution Minestrone

(Makes about 12 lunch servings.)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

2 leeks (white part only), well rinsed and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried thyme

salt and freshly ground pepper

½ head Savoy cabbage, shredded

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 ribs of celery, diced

1 medium potato (any kind) peeled and cut into ¾ inch dice

1 parsnip, peeled and diced

2 quarts’ low sodium chicken broth (see note)

1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes with their juices

½ cup frozen petite peas

½ cup frozen corn kernels (or fresh if it’s summer and you’re not too crabby to scrape a cob)

1 can (15 ounces) small white bens or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Melt the butter in the oil in a large soup pot over low heat. Add the onion and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetable s are soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, herbs, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-low and add the cabbage. Cook, stirring once or twice, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the carrots and cook, stirring once or twice, for about 2 minutes. Repeat this with the celery potato, and parsnip, in that order, adding one vegetable at a time and cooking each for 2 minutes or so.
  5. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Raise the heat to medium and bring the soup to a simmer. Then return the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer it for about 1 hour.
  6. Add the peas corn and beans and cook for 15 minutes (Are you crabby, yet?)
  7. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot, passing the cheese separately.



If you’re not too crabby already, you can add or substitute any vegetables for those listed, like green beans, broccoli, a turnip, rutabaga – anything your family will tolerate (or not notice). Also, at the end of cooking you can throw in a handful of diced cooked chicken or meat. You can also put a scoop of cooked rice or pasta at the bottom of each diner’s bowl and pour the soup over it.


If I’m too lazy to make homemade, I like to use Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, which is available at most Whole Foods storesl.



New Year Mimosa

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

mimosa3I’m fascinated by how various cultures ring in the New Year.

I’ve heard that in Colombia, if you have an urge to travel in the New Year (yes ma’am I do), you walk around the house with a suitcase at midnight on the 31st.

In Denmark, if you have a particular wish for the New Year, you make it while jumping off a chair. (If you’ve had too much aquavit or whatever it is Danes drink, this could get ugly.)

In Venezuela, you buy and wear new yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve for good luck in the upcoming year.

Perhaps my favorite ritual is in Japan, where there’s an Abusive Language Festival:  You climb a hill to an ancient temple, screaming profanities at whoever caused you trouble in the old year.  (When you get to the temple, you chill and get happy.)  I think if I had to pick someone to curse at, it could be my cable guy, who thinks that when he says he’ll be there between 9 and 11 it includes 5:30.

Not to be greedy, but wouldn’t one greatly increase one’s chances of overall happiness in the New Year by combining these rituals?  I was thinking I could put on yellow underpants and jump off a chair while holding my suitcase and cursing the cable guy.  The trouble is, of course, my family would commit me to a mental hospital, and I’d be unable to reap the benefits of my actions.  So instead, I think I’ll stick to the American way of ringing in the New Year with a good old mimosa.

(Serves 8-10, unless you want to drink it all yourself, in which case definitely don’t jump off a chair.)


1 cup of fresh orange juice

1 cup orange flavored vodka

ice cubes

1 bottle of champagne

Instructions: Combine the orange juice and vodka in a large pitcher, and add some ice.

Pour in the champagne, mix, and serve in champagne glasses.



Mom’s Short Ribs (aka Stringy Meat)

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

MOM at 95 3_4 When my siblings and I were growing up, my mother was a miraculous cook—every night she procured dinner for eight people. Among our favorite meals was what we called “stringy meat,” which was any kind of meat that was cooked long and slow until it was a fork-tender, pull-apart, deliciously stringy thing. Read More


Flourless, Dairy-free and Delicious Pumpkin Cake

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

pumpkinCake_2So it’s Thanksgiving and you’re already irritable just thinking about the cooking tasks that lie ahead of you. You wish that it was  your sister-in-law who was the one cooking, as usual,  but she is bailing this year and going to Paris (where they have lousy pumpkin pie, by the way). So there you are with the piles of sweet potatoes and cranberries, getting crabbier by the minute. Read More


Beer Bread (Erin Go Drunk)

Monday, March 17th, 2014


This is a great bread for St. Patrick’s Day if you are not too drunk to cook due to  all the beer you imbibed at the parade this morning. Read More


Oh My Darling Clementine

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

ClementinesInBowlImageA couple days before Christmas, my sister and I were having our annual bitch-in about all the kitchen time we were putting in that week, when Lindsay mentioned she was making a Clementine Cake. I assumed this was something akin to a Key Lime Pie. “Sounds great,” I said, mentally dismissing it as way too Florida for a proper holiday dessert, and likely way too complicated for a week with cooking chores so numerous I was already as irritable as Scrooge. Read More


Easter Cookies Redux

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Picture #1: Easter cookies, 2012.

Picture #2: Easter cookies, 2013. Okay, I personally don’t see a great leap forward in my family’s decorating skills. However, the awesome pastel cuteness of Pict #2’s cookies as captured by an iPhone 4s makes the previous year’s look like something from a horror movie. Read More


Green Food

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Once again March17th is drawing near and our thoughts have turned to green food. (Well, my thoughts have anyway. Yours may have drifted towards Kierkegaard, say, or Homeland Security.) Read More


Moroccan Wedding Cookies

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

My sister-in-law, Julie, is an amazing cook and food stylist and writes a column for The Baltimore Sun called “The Recipe Finder.” When I saw her at Thanksgiving, she was—having just cooked all week for her lazy-ass family—beginning prep for the column’s annual Holiday Cookie Contest. Read More


Holiday Cookies: Not Pretty

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

It’s time for the holiday cookie swap again, which always throws me into a semi-panic.

I have this idea that Christmas cookies should be artful, delicately scented and decorated to reflect the charms of the season. Not the big, crude mounds of heart-stopping content that usually emerge from my oven.

But this year I’ve decided to meet the cookie challenge by baking what I know, rather than attempting something that’s beyond my skill set and my patience level. Read More

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