It’s been a year. Or has it? Was it really a year ago when I scratched an idea on the back of a napkin, committed my kids to a far-fetched food challenge, and threw myself into the blogosphere? My WordPress dashboard says that it’s true, but I still have a hard time believing it.

While this blog started as pseudo experiment, it’s grown into something more. I’ve discovered a love of storytelling and its ability to convey through words and images my thoughts about two important subjects: food and family.

This blog has given me the opportunity to do so many things – to connect with people from around the world, to support local businesses, and to help nurture people’s interest in cooking at home.

It’s a fitting time to share some of my favorite moments from the past year. The moments that made me laugh out loud, the touching moments, the highs and the inevitable lows. So here they are, in no particular order. Although the first one really was the best.

1. I got a smiley face from Deepak Chopra.


2. We completed our 52-week challenge. Favorite phrases: “This tastes like garbage”, “my fruit smells like salami” and “I don’t want to lick the eyes.”

3. I landed on Google’s first page for search terms like “cukeasaurus” and “why birds won’t eat crumbs out of a bowl”.

4. My dog became my muse.


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Stay in Touch




We did it! We reached the end of our 52-week challenge. And since we’ve had way too much fun with it, we’re heading into another year of new foods. 

But before we get there, here’s a snapshot of this week’s food: clementines.

With clementines, we’ve now covered nearly all things orange, and my informal survey says that most are winners. Except for the ugli fruit which was visually unappealing, but tasted great.

So here we go…

ME: The mystery food that I have tonight is….

LAUREN: Couple seed? Couple pit?

ME: Couple seed?

EMMA: It tastes like orange. It tastes like juice.

ME: It’s an orange but it’s a special kind of orange.

SAM: Gravy?

ME: No. Have you ever heard of the name tangerine? You have (Lauren)? And you have (Sam)? And you have (Emma)? (All three nod) Where have you guys heard about it?

LAUREN: School.

ME: Cool, what do you think it’s going to look like on the inside?

LAUREN: Reddish pink? 

ME: Nope, smell it.

EMMA: It looks like orange!

SAM: It smells like a butterfly.

LAUREN: It’s the freshest smell in the world.

EMMA: Mmmm….it smells like garbage.

ME: No, we’re not saying that anymore. I don’t think the fruits like it when we say that. I’m going to take the seeds out and then you can try it. Whoa, this is the juiciest thing I’ve ever seen.

LAUREN: Can I try it first?

ME: OK, one for Lauren. This one’s for Sam. Let me get you some napkins because it’s really juicy. What do you think Lauren?


ME: Just good or amazing.

LAUREN: Yeah, amazing!

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When we first moved to Chelsea in 2005 there was talk about building a park in the sky – The High Line. It was a far-flung idea, and rumors suggested that the park would never happen. We crossed our fingers and waited.

The original High Line was an above-ground train track built in the early 1900s and used to shuttle milk, meat, produce and other provisions along the west side of Manhattan. 

Abandoned since the 1980s and facing demolition, a group of high profile celebrities and architects rallied around the plan to create a park in its place.

In 2006, that plan became a reality and construction of The High Line Park began. After hearing about it for years, it was a joy to finally see the park open in June, 2009.

Today it’s one of my favorite parks in all of Manhattan. Lucky for us, it’s a few short blocks away from our apartment.

In the summers it’s packed with a mix of locals and tourists, but winter also has its charms. While the flowers aren’t yet in bloom, the raised elevation gives you a different perspective on the buildings below. The clouds seem more vivid, the Hudson a deeper shade of blue.

It’s a great spot for a stroll, a picnic, or as Lauren and I like to do: sketch the buildings and sights below.



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sweetpotatoes 224

When I lived in Berkeley, CA for a year, all I did was eat. There were so many options. Chez Panisse was around the corner on Shattuck Avenue, an owner-owned and operated pizza collective called The Cheeseboard was across the street. The Saturday morning farmer’s market was alive and well, where vendors with Birkenstocks and forearm tattoos sold freshly-picked figs and avocados.

One of my favorite places to eat in Berkeley was a little Tapas restaurant called Cesar. Rodney and I would often stop in for a drink – it was reminiscent of our local haunts in New York: dark and vibrant with loud music and louder cocktails.

Cesar had a huge Sherry collection and over the course of the year, I became a fan of the Spanish wine. From the lightest Finos, to the medium-bodied Olorosos to the dark and syrupy dessert wine Pedro Ximinez, I drank it all. We’d talk to the bartenders, and bring friends for Sherry tastings. Sherry gets a bad rap because of brands like Harvey’s Bristol cream which are so cloyingly sweet, but if you take the time to learn about it, there’s a whole beautiful world of fortified wine out there, just waiting to be discovered.

The food at Cesar was equally impressive. Although all of the tapas were good, some of my favorites were the authentic Spanish bocadillos, little sandwiches made from cured meats, hard boiled eggs, cheese, or tuna. And no Spanish restaurant worth its salt would be without its own spin on Paella. A picture in the Cesar cookbook shows a kitchen paella pan so big that the chef is actually sitting in it. Who knows if it was actually used or just hauled out for symbolic value; whatever the case, it was impressive.

One of their most memorable dishes was also their simplest. They excelled at making fries. Thin and crisp, the defining feature a scattering of fried herbs that were tossed into the fries right before serving.

I was in my kitchen recently, wondering what I was going to make for dinner. A Japanese sweet potato was staring at me. It was hefty, over a pound in weight, with browning ends that suggested that it had a few more days left to live. It was time to use or chuck, but what to make?

As Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner A Love Story often says, when you’re stuck on dinner ideas, just start chopping an onion. Something will come to you. Jenny was right. As I was peeling it, I remembered in Technicolor the crispy fries from Cesar. I hadn’t thought about those fries in years. I got out on of my favorite kitchen utensils – my Japanese mandolin – and shredded the peeled potato it into fine strips.

I wasn’t sure if my experiment would be a success. I don’t tend to fry much at home, more to do with the smell of oil in the house than for health-related reasons. But I figured the shoestring potatoes would cook quickly.

After soaking them in cold water, I dried the potatoes thoroughly. I learned a hard lesson in cooking class after I tried to sautee still-wet rice in a hot pan: water + blazing hot oil = one hell of a smoking, hissing, kitchen-clearing mess.

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Purple sweet potatoes

According to the kids, purple sweet potatoes taste just like spaghetti squash. I disagree. While they’re both sweet, they couldn’t be more different in texture. We settled into our familiar pattern: Emma loved it, Lauren tolerated it with a smile on her face, and Sam was completely disinterested. I actually prefer these sweet potatoes to the traditional garnet yams which are a little too cloying. If you haven’t branched out and tried different varieties of sweet potatoes, now’s the time.

ME: OK, so we’re going to try something that looks like this….

LAUREN: Potato!

ME: It’s actually not a potato. Well it’s not a regular potato. OK, it’s starting to drip everywhere!

ME: What does it look like?

LAUREN: Well bigger than a regular potato. And it’s purple.

ME: What color is it going to be on the inside?

ME: Pinkish yellow.

SAM: Green.

ME: It’s purple. I’m going to give each of you a little spoon of it.  Emma, you’re first because you’re a really good taster. What do you think?

LAUREN: It tastes like noodles.

EMMA: I really like it, it tastes like doodle soup.

ME: Like noodle soup? Yeah, it kind of has a starchy flavor doesn’t it.

LAUREN: It tastes like the potato noodles.

ME: What are those?

LAUREN: Remember when you scooped the noodles out?

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