This has been my spring for travel. And talk about contrast! April, Japan. June, Umbria! Japan was an exquisite revelation. Umbria was more of a pilgrimage.
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.
I’m fresh off the plane from Japan, where in addition to sampling the cuisine (see my field report below) we followed the peak of cherry blossom blooms from place to place by train. Peak bloom is only one week, and which week is not entirely predictable. We hit it! And we were utterly and delightfully besotted. :)
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?
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!
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?
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!
Thanksgiving can be full of joy, gratitude, warmth, friends, family, and of course, good food! But it can also be an emotionally wrought holiday, especially when it comes to food.
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.”
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.
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?
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!
Have you got plans for Labor Day weekend? We're planning to enjoy every last drop of summer, with a feast featuring a little something something on the grill, colorful super-fresh salads, and the last of this season's oh-so-glorious peaches. Recipes all right here. Join me?
Summer heat getting to you just a little bit? Have I got the coolest, most refreshing ideas for you! Soundtrack included. 🙂 An excellent solution from the archives. Enjoy!
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.
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?
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!
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?
My dears, we are approaching picnic season! Including the grandaddy of picnics, 4th of July. I've got you covered with potluck etiquette, recipes and strategies to help make hosting or participating a delicious—and delightful—success!
Are you snapping up those gorgeous fresh herbs appearing in farmer's markets? Herbs are exceptionally powerful for both health and flavor, so go right ahead! But you won't want to let any go to waste. Here's a useful guide from the archives to help you enjoy every smidge. :)