Come Tour My Kitchen


We’re back from a five-day camping trip on the bewitchingly beautiful Maine coast and I have to tell you, I’ve fallen hard for the sea. Falling asleep to the sound of the surf, walking on the beach in sun or fog, the surf…ah, we were absolutely swept off our feet from our mini-vacation.

I’ll be giving you the full rundown of our adventures -a tornado, my first lobster roll, an overly friendly skunk in our camp, and plenty of good eats -shortly, but right now we’re busy dealing with the camping aftermath of sandy laundry, sticky dishes, and tired, sun burnt kids. We’ve got our hands full!

So until I get my photos uploaded & edited, here something for you to read….

I was thrilled to be featured on the Cafe Mom food blog, The Stir, last week. The lovely Kim Conte interviewed me and we chatted about my family, cooking, blogging and Simple Bites.

Included in the feature is a full photo tour of my kitchen, so you can see where all the action takes place. Check out my favorite spot for morning coffee and email check, as well as the counter where I Tweet-&-Cook, a favorite pastime.

Of course I threw in some family shots and plenty of food photos to make you hungry, too!

Head HERE for the full interview on The Stir.

Three 3-Minute Chilled Soups

I fell in love on my honeymoon. With a cold soup. Yes, I was already head over heels with a tall engineering student, but a chilled Hungarian sour cherry soup, enjoyed on a shady Budapest courtyard with the aforementioned tall student, also captured my heart.

That memorable lunch left an impression on me – on my palate – and I’ve never turned down a cold soup since.

Cold Soup. I know, it’s almost a contradiction. Isn’t soup supposed to be a comforting dish, warming us down to our very toes? Simmered on a back burner on a chilly autumn day? If you’re not familiar with the summer version of soup, it certainly can sound off-putting, but it is actually a marvelously refreshing way to enjoy summer’s produce.

Here’s what you may not know about cold soups: [Read more…]

How to Cook for a Family Reunion: Part 2 – Lessons Learned From the Kitchen

This post is Part 2 of How to Cook for a Family Reunion. Read Part 1 here.

What is hosting a family reunion like? Well, think of the biggest, most elaborate birthday party you’ve every thrown for your kids. Think of the planning, the prep, and the big day. Then string ten of those birthday parties in a row – with all the guests sleeping over. That describes the work that goes into planning and executing a family reunion pretty accurately.

Not to worry, however! With proper planning, communication among family members, and following the suggestions from our first post, you, the host can enjoy the reunion just as much as your guests. Yep, that’s right, you’re not going to be chained to the stove the whole time, so you’d better bite the bullet and go swimsuit shopping–you’ll be poolside along with everyone else!

This post will highlight tips for success to feed a large group of people from your own kitchen. I think that if the kitchen is running in a smooth and orderly fashion, the family reunion is sure to be a triumph!

So grab a pen and paper and take notes for your own reunion… or even as preparation for hosting those out-of-town guests next weekend. [Read more…]

Cookbook Love: What I’m Reading


My cookbook collection has expanded considerably this summer and the content has gotten much, much richer. I use to be a collector of coffee table cookbooks – pretty to flip through, but not so practical for the home cook- but nowadays, I’m all about practicality and application.

Yes, gorgeous photos are still appreciated, but writing, style, fresh ideas and personality all take precedence as well.

That said, here are some recent acquisitions that I can’t put down, clutter my night stand and counter tops, and are already getting a tad splatted…


250 Home Preserving Favorites by Yvonne Tremblay.

If there is a Canadian queen of jam, it’s probably Yvonne. She’s pretty much the quintessential Prairie girl who grew up making jam & jelly alongside her mother and grandmother. Fortunately for us, she shares her favorite recipes in this new cookbook that is jam-packed (terrible, pun, I know) with inspiration.

250 Home Preserving Favorites begins with a thorough primer on preserving (Thank. You. Yvonne.) covering everything from The Fundamentals of making jam to Choosing and Preparing Fruit & Vegetables. The entire section is crammed with tips, obviously learned from years of experience and is worth the price of the book alone.

Then, the recipes!
Yvonne already won me over with her Micro-Mini Jams, explored and tested over at Simple Bites. The book also contains a bevy of both single and mixed fruit jams, conserves, marmalades, fruit butters (we love those!) and chutneys.

Oh, there’s also a few mincemeat recipes. You’ll recall I made mincemeat for the first time last Christmas. Well, I’ll be giving these new recipes a go come November.

Ideal for the fledgling or veteran jammer, I recommend 250 Home Preserving Favorites for anyone who loves preserving food in jars.

Lighthearted at Home by Anne Lindsay

Yet another Canadian girl! Culinary icon, Anne Lindsay is probably familiar to many of you and in this new cookbook she gives us over 500 –um, wow!– recipes with a ‘lighter’ side to them.

Basically, I’ve adopted this cookbook as my new ‘Joy of Cooking’. Anne pack so much into this hefty hardcover book, with recipes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. The hard part? I want to try everything!

Recipes are easy to read and follow, the photos are splendid, and the tips on healthy eating an added bonus.

I particularly love the creative menu planning ideas, as I entertain often.

Lighthearted at Home is an extremely well-rounded, feel-good cookbook. It’s one you want to buy and slip into your kids’ suitcase when they leave for college. I can’t wait to try the other, oh, 490-some recipes, that are calling to me!


The Berry Bible by Janie Hibler.

Who doesn’t love berries? OK, my kids don’t, but that is besides the point. I’m loving my advanced copy of The Berry Bible and its 175 recipes for berries of all kinds.
These are gorgeous and original recipes; just the section on poultry paired with all sort of succulent berry sauces and glazes is enough to get the tummy really, really rumbling.

Oh, and did I mention that the first half of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia on berries worldwide? Yep. There’s no question this is Janie Hibler’s area of expertise.

Just one quibble about the Berry Bible: no photos. Yeah.
Now, I read cookbooks the same way others read novels, I’ll devour them, photos or no photos, but this could be an issue for those of you who are more visual.

However, my advice? Get in line for a copy of The Berry Bible.


Poor Girl Gourmet by Amy McCoy

I’ve already waxed eloquent over my love of Amy’s cookbook, but in no way has it gotten shuffled to the bottom of the pile or pushed aside as new books arrive.

It stays on my counter with my other favorites (pictured at the top of the post) and is getting plenty of use. In fact, I’m packing a jar of her Tangy Barbecue Sauce for our upcoming camping trip to the Maine coast.

Sure, go ahead and leave a comment: What cookbook is getting the most use this summer in your kitchen?

Not Just Hot Dogs: 3 Real Food Campfire Meals

This topic is perfect timing for our family, as we’re heading up to the Boundary Waters tomorrow for a much needed family vacation. This is the time of summer when the kids are restless and the parent’s patience is wearing thin. We can only be cooped up for so long before we just need to spread our wings and shake our tail feathers a little bit.

So often I feel like people give up when it comes to camping food. All creativity is thrown out the window, and the hot dog and hot dog bun enter the picture, taking up residence as the only dinner able to be cooked over an open fire. But it’s not.
[Read more…]