France: First stop, Giverny

We seem to have plunged straight into summer here on the East Coast (mid-90s today? really?), but I’m still longing for spring. We got back from our annual vacation a couple weeks ago; this year we spent a little more than two weeks in France. It was Tuck’s fourth experience with air travel, but his first time overseas, and he did so well.

We visited Giverny for two nights–I had longed to go ever since reading Linnea in Monet’s Garden as a little girl–and while Monet’s grounds were beautiful, I preferred the many other amazing gardens all over the town, simply because the crowds overwhelmed me a bit.

Monet’s gardens:

Monet's Garden

Monet's Garden

Monet's Garden

Monet's Garden







Above, the setting for a dinner al fresco at our wonderful B&B, Le Moulin de Giverny. A lovely evening with guests from all over Europe:

Dinner at the inn in Giverny

Dinner at the inn in Giverny

Dinner at the inn in Giverny

Dinner at the inn in Giverny

The amazing window in our room:


This was my dinner another night. Yes, it’s a big melted cheese. On some bread. It was amazing.


I have lots more to share–we spent a week in the Loire Valley, and six nights in Paris. All my garden pictures are in a set here, and food pictures are here. The whole kit and caboodle (hundreds) are here. Of course, I have to grab my moments on the computer when I can; there’s a lot of this sort of thing happening here at home:

It's official: T is growing up. Lowered crib mattress today. See pic for favorite activity.

How would you like a Spring Treat?

Well hello! It’s spring. Supposedly. It is going to snow tonight, but we’re ignoring that because the CSA has started up! This year Stone Soup is offering “Spring Treat” shares every two weeks until the summer shares begin in June. They include fun stuff like eggs and treats from other farms–this week we got two pounds of whole wheat flour from another farm in Western Mass. Most of the share was stuff that stored over the winter in the root cellar–Carrots, turnips, potatoes–but the new flock of hens has started laying and there was spinach and arugula from the cold frames. Oh frabjous day!

Spring Treat 1

Speaking of spring treats, I’ve been on a risotto kick, and a couple weeks ago I sprung for some early asparagus and made big batch. Of course, leftover risotto is…not great. Sticky. I like my risotto almost soupy, and the leftovers are sort of depressing. I decided to try to make crispy cakes out of it, figuring that the worst that would happen is that I’d have heated it up in a pan instead of the microwave.

I found that the key was manhandling the cakes. I scooped out each one with a tablespoon (the kind you actually use at the table, not…you know.) and mashed it into cake form.

Risotto cakes

Each one took a dip in panko crumbs, and then went into the pan with a bit of olive oil over medium/medium-high heat.

Risotto cakes

Flipping them required a bit of ginger handling–they aren’t the sturdiest–but they held together.

Risotto cakes

I basically kept poking at the side of one with my finger until it felt like it was heated through. And then we ate them really really fast.

Risotto cakes

Creative reuse

Despite the reduction in major food projects around these parts, we ate pretty well over the holidays. The part I was a bit smug about, actually, was how I used up the many leftovers that were packing the fridge after Tom left.

For Christmas Eve we recreated the dinner from two years ago: steak, celeriac puree, and wilted spinach salad with bacon. I am totally hooked on that purée technique (cube up root vegetables, sauté some garlic in olive oil, add the vegetables and soften a bit, add stock, cover and simmer until soft, purée with a dash of cream and butter if you’re feeling fancy) and have had great success with rutabaga as well as celeriac. Dinner was tasty, though I over-cooked the spinach:


PSA: If you don’t have an immersion blender, do yourself a favor and get one ASAP. Over the last few weeks I used mine to whip cream (whisk attachment), purée things in their pans (blender attachment), and chop up stuff (mini prep). I have this one and it’s the best $40 you can spend on a kitchen gadget.

But somehow we ended up with mountains of the celeriac. I mean, ridiculous leftovers. We ate it with the leftover steak but there was a still a huge bowl sitting around. A few days later I got sick of looking at it, so I popped it all back in a pot with some milk (fine, and a little more cream), heated it up, made grilled cheese, and called it soup. It took a while, because I forgot to turn on the stove. But normally it would have taken about 5 minutes.



Early in Tom’s visit we made potato-leek soup, and we accidentally peeled too many potatoes. Tom diced up the extra and parboiled it, and used some for omelets and things while he was here. We also had two huge bunches of kale from the final winter CSA share, and I cooked it as per usual but we somehow had a ton leftover. Also I had a lot of bacon, since I planned to cook it for Christmas breakfast and we never got around to it thanks to a gift of Zingerman’s cinnamon rolls from Christy. And we’d made a batch of carnitas in the slow cooker, forgotten to uncover it to cook off the liquid, and thus scooped out some of the extra liquid, cooked it down (Tom again, always thinking!) and thrown that in the fridge where it turned into a gorgeous jelly (bone-in pork shoulder). AND Ben made pasta one night and cooked the whole pound, so there was a bunch of cooked rotini in a ziplock.

As you can imagine, all those bits and bobs were rendering the fridge a bit chaotic, and I was pretty much out of storage containers.

Here’s what I did: (This seems so simple, but guys, it was awesome.)

-Cooked some of the bacon as lardons, pulled it out
-Diced up some onion and cooked that along with the potatoes in the bacon fat
-Threw in the pasta to brown up a little bit and get heated up
-Added some of the pork jelly to glaze it all and provide a bit of moisture and sauce
-Mixed in the kale, heated it all up, topped with parmesan.


The potatoes were key here. SO GOOD. In fact, it’s 11 a.m. and if I had any of that in the fridge now I would be eating it. I’m hungry.

Happy New Year!

Hello there! It’s been a while. Two months, actually, and 4+ since I was around regularly. This whole “having a child” thing? Very time-consuming. Also, distracting. I’ve been blogging weekly over at Fit Pregnancy, and I did a couple work projects this fall, but mostly I’ve been whiling away the days with this extremely charming young man:


To be perfectly honest, for a while there I just wasn’t very inspired to write about food, or to cook, and I have assumed that it would bore you all to tears (if any of you are even around anymore!) if I wrote about….life. Tucker and being a mom and so forth. Especially since I’m covering that at Fit Pregnancy. But then Ben started asking if I ever planned to post here again and I said I wasn’t feeling too sure and he encouraged me to just write about whatever I feel like writing about.

Which may be food (probably mostly food), or the baby, or…well, I don’t know what. Meanwhile, here’s Christmas. It was a relaxing one. My brother tore himself away from his graduate studies and his reign of glory designing gorgeous stuff for Archival Clothing, and joined me and Ben and Tucker for a very laid-back week in Boston. Our kind downstairs neighbors were living it up in Paris and let him crash at their place.

It went like this:



Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

Someone wasn’t quite convinced:

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010

We (I) drank a LOT of eggnog (I’m incredibly fond of almost any dairy product now that I am in fact a human dairy) and ate a lot of cheese and spent a lot of time just hanging out. And only Tom had to travel in the blizzard afterward, so yay!

We cooked, too. I think I’ll post that separately; I’d hate to make my computer explode in shock by doing too much at once! How are you people? I can’t believe it’s 2011 but I have a good feeling about this year.

CSA Weeks 16-20: The wind-down

Oh, hello. I have a blog? Hmm.

We’ve come to the end of the regular CSA season, though I’m signed on for a winter share again and will get vegetables every other week until Christmas.

Week 16, 9/21:
CSA Week 16

Week 17, 9/28:
CSA Week 17

Week 18, 10/5:
CSA Week 18

Week 19, 10/12:
CSA Week 19

Week 20, 10/19 (Note the Freak Beet that is the same size as a squash. It was in the swap box. I traded cilantro for it!)
CSA Week 20

In the first October share I got gorgeous leeks–two bunches, because there was one in the swap box (??!!?). Who doesn’t like leeks? I had a few minutes to deal with them and I decided to cook off all of them at once, because I thought I remember my mom saying I could freeze them once they were cooked.


I use a Jamie Oliver tip for cleaning leeks: Slit them almost to the root and then rinse away from the root so the silt falls out the top.



Once they were cut up I really had a huge pile of them. Riches!


Into the pan with butter and a bit of oil. Low heat. Long slow cooking. (…hee.)



Once the leeks were cooked I used them in a frittata with some leftover pasta:


Parmesan in with the eggs:





The key with a frittata is to keep pulling the edges back and letting the raw egg run under the cooked part. And then eventually you use a plate and flip it over to finish.





The leftovers made good sandwiches for the flight out to CA that weekend. And coming soon, re. that trip: I finally got to eat a sunday supper at Lucques! And I took photos. And met Suzanne Goin. But I didn’t take a photo with Suzanne Goin, because I do have a LITTLE pride.

CSA Weeks 11-15: Summer to Fall

Wow, newborns are really time-consuming. I think Tucker can sense when I’m thinking of getting back to blogging, because that’s inevitably when the previously-silent monitor lights up with a ravenous scream. He’s a great baby, a solid night-time sleeper, and awfully cute, but during the day he doesn’t take well to naps in his bassinet, preferring me to walk my legs off all over Cambridge trying to get enough hours of sleep in for him. I finally went on Google Maps yesterday and measured how far I’d walked, and it was 4.5 miles for the day. (To the library! To Trader Joe’s! To Harvard Square! Walk walk walk walk walk!)

In the month (!!?!?!!!) since he was born, we’ve moved from summer to fall in the CSA. Here are the shares:

Week 11 (8/17)

CSA Week 11

Week 12 (8/24)

CSA Week 12

Week 13 (8/31)

CSA Week 13

Week 14 (9/7)

CSA Week 14

Week 15 (9/14)

CSA Week 15

The tomatoes were fantastic this year, thanks to the hot, humid weather. A few days before Tucker was born (in fact, the day I started labor!) I made BATs (Bacon, Avocado and Tomato!) to celebrate the bounty.




Ben had spinach on his:



I was lucky to have Ben’s mom here for almost a week after we got home, and my mom (and eventually my dad) came out from Oregon the following week. A joint production between Christy and Ben (who figured out the pork rub himself!), featuring delicious corn salad with the basil butter I made in July:


My mom made me lots of stuff to freeze, including a triple batch of pesto, which will keep us in pasta through the winter (I have a gallon ziplock full of little plastic containers in the freezer!). We ate some of the pesto the first night, along with more tomatoes and some leftover steak:


Now that the weather is cooling off and the CSA shares are heavy with potatoes and squash, it’s time to get back to the kitchen and dust off the oven. Now, to figure out how to cook while Tucker is demanding all my attention!

Coming soon: The epically awesome granola my mom has been making my entire life. (I have 6 bags in the freezer, aren’t you jealous?)

Welcome to the world, Tucker Flaim!

I am thrilled beyond belief to announce the birth of our son on August 20! Seven pounds, 14 ounces, 21 inches long, with pouty lips and lots of hair. His name is Thomas but we’re calling him Tucker.


We’re home from the hospital and getting to know each other at home. He is an escape artist and hates to have his arms swaddled, so we’re working on keeping him asleep! I’ll try to get back here in the relatively near future but I have a feeling I won’t be cooking much for a few weeks…


Thanks for all the well-wishes this weekend and throughout the pregnancy, all.

CSA Weeks 9 and 10: Full-on summer

No baby yet!

Week 9:

CSA Week 9

-New potatoes
-Purple cabbage (a frilly, pretty one)
-Summer squash
-Green peppers
-Cavolo nero!

Oh, August. You make dinner so easy. I steamed the corn and cut it off the cob, and mixed it with some of the basil compound butter I made a few weeks ago and froze.


Boiled the beautiful little new potatoes and dressed them with more of the butter, along with salt, pepper, and a hit of white wine vinegar. (I also put a little vinegar in the boiling water, Cook’s Illustrated tells me that helps them get tender without crumbling.)




Sliced up the tomatoes and drizzled w/ olive oil and salt, a bit of fresh basil over everything, grilled sausages for protein and voila! Easy easy dinner.


Week 10:

CSA Week 10

-Pattypan squash
-Purple beans

The Kitchn ran a recipe review of a french tomato tart from David Lebovitz last week, and it cried out to me. So simple! So pie-like!

I used frozen pie crust from Trader Joe’s (quite good; I recommend it), and fresh mozzarella instead of goat cheese. This led to some issues down the line. (I’m still having camera issues. We can have things blah and reddish and dark or way overexposed.)


You spread mustard on the crust; I didn’t taste it directly but I could tell it added nice flavor.


A layer of gorgeous pink lady tomatoes and some basil (I seeded the tomatoes and blotted them dry to try to reduce the moisture in the tart):


Then the mozzarella (or, if you’re following the recipe and don’t loathe goat cheese like I do, a nice goat cheese). I had marinated it briefly with some herbs, salt, pepper and oil to try to make it more interesting.


Close up the edges like a crostata, and bake it:


Two-thirds of the way into baking I realized that the water from the mozzarella was bubbling out the bottom and we were going to have some majorly wet crust. I transferred the whole thing onto a wire pizza rack and perched it over the baking sheet. Unfortunately there wasn’t really time to get it very dried out; next time I will use different cheese and start on the wire rack from the beginning, I think.


Still, despite the flabby bottom crust, this was mighty tasty and SO easy. I’ll definitely be experimenting. And I know I should feel guilty about not making my own crust, but honestly? The pre-made stuff was good, and made this a crazy-fast weeknight meal. A few minutes to assemble and then it bakes for 30 minutes.


Quick check-in

Hey there. No, I didn’t have a baby (yet). I just haven’t posted–I’m running around like a crazy person trying to get things done done done before he arrives.

Also my camera has randomly started acting up. I bought it in April before our trip; suddenly it is really overexposing photos and washing out the colors no matter what I do to the settings. Anyone have a Canon S90 point and shoot and know what I’m talking about/have suggestions? It’s really annoying, especially since the summer produce has such amazing colors but while they show perfectly on the screen, as soon as I push halfway down to focus, they white out. Argh!

Example: This perfectly delicious watermelon from the farm:

Delicious local watermelon

I played with this shot a bit in iPhoto, without terrific success:

Delicious local watermelon

The color wasn’t deep red, but it was a lot deeper than it appears in the photos. It was also perhaps the best watermelon I’ve ever eaten. It was a mini variety, incredibly juicy and, as Ben described it, perfumey. Even most of the rind was juicy and sweet! I ate all but one piece. Sorry, Honey.

CSA Week 7: Compound butter and fabulous corn

The disaster of the previous week’s corn was forgiven once we ate this duo. Oh man, was it good!

The haul:

CSA Week 7

-Zucchini/summer squash.

I wasn’t going to get to the basil before it turned black and sad, so I decided to make a compound butter that I could freeze.


I put the ingredients in my new boyfriend, the Vitamix, in roughly the order implied by a compound butter recipe int he binder that came with it. Unfortunately my butter wasn’t actually very softened and I was using totally different ingredients. Um, oops.


It did work eventually, but it took doing. And it was so hard to get the butter out of the bottom of the blender! I think the cuisinart wins on this sort of task.


The butter could have used a little more zip, but I have loads of it in the freezer so I’m going to be positive.

That night I applied it lavishly to the ears of corn we’d received. I’d soaked the ears in water for about 20 minutes, then peeled back the husk and desilked before buttering and closing them back up.



10 minutes on the grill and the corn was just barely cooked, incredibly tender and sweet.


Another night, I plowed through that summer squash, riffing on a suggestion from my mom to roast it and mix it with feta and mint. I added cherry tomatoes and used basil instead, since I still had some.

(I didn’t use the giant one in the end.)



The downside was using a 450 degree oven on a hot day. And I was too eager and put the tray in before the oven was hot enough, so the squash softened before getting really brown. Luckily I have plenty more where that came from to try again!




We ate it with sausage:

I made leftovers into a killer sandwich the next day, btw. And it would also be great tossed with pasta.

I had my baby shower this weekend! I am just 2.5 weeks out from my due date, if you can believe it. I don’t think I’ve posted a single photo of myself since I have been showing, so here you go, complete with a giant flower showing where the baby is. Between the hand gestures and the weird talking facial expression this is a very accurate photo of me!

Baby shower

My friends Lauren and Megan hosted in Lauren’s backyard. It was lovely, and I ate QUITE a bit of Megan’s totally ridiculous key lime pie. (She’s promised me the recipe. I will fully make this even with a newborn at home.)

Baby shower


And just to be silly, I brought craft-store wood veneer masks as favors, with Crayola markers to color them. Everyone was very sporting about it.

Baby shower

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