Culinary inspirations

Travel and transformation—and what to take with you when you go

Travel and transformation—and what to take with you when you go

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated with a painting I was working on from a photograph of a sunset I saw while traveling in Japan. The sunset was glorious! But my painting!!! About 12 square inches of the canvas was good and the rest was just overpainted and trite. I showed my friend, and she said, “Ummmmmmmm....” I said, “I know! I’m trying SO HARD.” She said, “That’s the point.” 5 foot 3 inches of stuff and nonsense.

I literally painted over the whole thing.

The promise of spring… or, how spring can be SO fickle!

The promise of spring… or, how spring can be SO fickle!

Sunny one day, rainy and cold the next. Peaceful, then wildly windy! Warm, then here comes a snowstorm! Spring is so beguiling… and so fickle!

Let’s not forget, we’re in another transition time. Spring is a little bit of a seesaw. So our immune systems can be tricked! We can get colds or leftover remnants of the flu.

It’s been super rainy here in the Bay Area, in fact, super rainy in many parts of the country. And while you may be yearning for those bright, fresh spring greens it isn’t quite time to jump into a big salad yet. But it is a time when you want to perk up and feel a little brighter.

How do you welcome in the green of spring and still successfully juggle all the vagaries of what’s going on outside?

Refresh & renew: spring cleaning!

Refresh & renew: spring cleaning!

On a recent Sunday, I was in my pantry trying to find baking powder. If you know me, you know I’m not a baker. Soup, yes! Baked goods, not so much. So I have a little bin at the top of my cupboard where I keep less-used things that I have to get on a step stool to reach. I stretched up, got down my little box, pulled out the baking powder… and noticed the expiration date. Embarrassing!  

Bringing February to life with beets & citrus!

Bringing February to life with beets & citrus!

When you think of February, do you picture the color red, matters of the heart and that Hallmark holiday right in the middle of the month? I remember those old-fashioned paper valentines! Sitting at the table, filling them out, and taking them to school, one for every classmate. And the cupcakes parents would bring in, iced with colors not found in nature. And those hard little pastel, heart-shaped candies stamped with messages (BE MINE). As I got older, it was all about, am I going to get a valentine from a CERTAIN PERSON? And then, am I going to have a date?

Food to have on hand for holiday meals, from fancy to impromptu!

Food to have on hand for holiday meals, from fancy to impromptu!

You may not be surprised to learn that when I’m thinking about food to have on hand for the holidays, I’m thinking soup!

This is the time when you’re entertaining both formally and (more often than not) informally. Your kids are home from college, and their friends drop by. Your favorite Aunt just arrived hungry from Cincinnati. The family is suddenly hungry, and a quick, comforting impromptu meal is in order. Soup!

We’re back in the kitchen! American eating habits are changing.

We’re back in the kitchen! American eating habits are changing.

Referencing the old saying, Everything old is new again—all of a sudden, cooking at home is trendy! A recent article in Bloomberg Business with data about current eating habits says,

“Home cooking would be making a comeback if it ever really went away. Restaurants are getting dinged by the convenience of Netflix, the advent of pre-made meals, the spread of online grocery delivery, plus crushing student debt and a focus on healthy eating. Eighty-two percent of American meals are prepared at home [emphasis mine]-- more than were cooked 10 years ago, according to researcher NPD Group Inc. The latest peak in restaurant-going was in 2000, when the average American dined out 216 times a year.”

Go big! Stepping outside your comfort zone

Go big! Stepping outside your comfort zone

Take a look behind the scenes and join me (studio 306 A) and all my artist friends for Artists at Work at the ICB Building (Industrial Center Building) in Sausalito, California this Friday, September 28th from 1 to 8 pm PDT. Built in 1942 to produce cargo ships and tankers for the war effort, the building now houses 100+ artists working in media including painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry, weaving, basketry, new media, fiber art and more. Rather than just an open house, this is a rare opportunity to see the artists at work, watch their process and see how their art is created.

What is nourishment?

What is nourishment?

In the past decade we’ve placed SO much emphasis on whole foods, clean foods, paleo vs. vegan, gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant... I think we’re there already, don’t you? We know what healthy eating is. ENOUGH ALREADY! I want to move beyond the research, the data, the shoulds, the restrictions (and the ensuing guilt), and plant my flag right here: are you really being nourished by by what you eat?

A Gravenstein applesauce story

A Gravenstein applesauce story

Do you have annual food rituals that you love? Making tomato sauce when the season's at its peak, freezing ripe blueberries or making stock when soup season begins in fall? The fizz of anticipation, the planning ahead, the sheer contentment when the treasure is stored away for future delight. If you haven't tried it or tried it with a friend yet, do! Working side-by-side with a dear friend in the kitchen is one of the most nourishing experiences in the world. Enjoy!

Splendid in summer: cooking for friends

Splendid in summer: cooking for friends

Making dinner during the week most often involves what I call “functional cooking”—menu planning, repurposing leftovers and utilizing foods I have on hand.  Doing the shopping, the prepping, the cooking, and the dishwashing. Nourishing myself and my husband is a good cause but it kind of becomes a means to an end. Making it work, day after day. But cooking for friends? That’s inspiring! In fact, when I get in a dinner rut, I know it’s time to have some friends over.

The incredible, edible, versatile egg!

The incredible, edible, versatile egg!

Are you an egg fan? Then you know what I’m talking about! A delicious, versatile, nutrient-dense food unlike any other. You can add an egg to anything. In fact, a favorite mantra of mine is, when in doubt throw an egg on it! It can be the answer to all your meal planning questions, such as what’s for breakfast? lunch? Or dinner? Eggs can fill the bill. But did you know how great they are for your brain?

An explosion of color!

An explosion of color!

You know I’m passionate about cooking and creating art… but did you know I’m also obsessed with my garden?

This is my favorite time of year! In July, before it gets too hot, the dahlias, the showgirls of the garden set, are prancing around. The orange Gerber daisies are vibrating next to magenta petunias next to peach-colored baby petunias (which have become great favorites) next to electric blue lobelia. Just when I think I’ve seen it all—and I look at my garden every day—THESE colors suddenly appear in an explosion of color!

When simplest is best

When simplest is best

Calling all caregivers: what do you cook when the person you care for (including you!) is not that hungry? When your energy is low. When you just don’t have it in you to do anything the least bit fancy? When you really need the nourishment, but all that washing and prepping just is not going to happen? We know better than to disconnect from healthy food; but how do we stay connected during busy or challenging times?