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Tag Archives: home
I’ve been thinking about — and doing — a lot of cooking lately. Part of it is the season, winter always means comfort foods and afternoons spent in the kitchen. I’ve also just read a great book about a cooking school — The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. It’s a story about a chef, her student and the lessons that they learn both about food and life. The class meets once a month and each of the students learn more than recipes as they find their lives are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create.
It’s got me thinking about taking time to do things. Last week I made pasta again, this time I used my mother’s vintage pasta machine — it looks like a piece of an airplane! I had some friends who are interior designers and while I cooked they helped me come up with ways to redesign my kitchen. I think I’m going to be spending more time there!
Even though the holidays are over, that’s no reason to stop decorating your home. Once the extravaganzas and excess of the holidays is over, it’s sometimes nice to simplify things. But simple doesn’t have to mean plain or boring. Instead of ribbons and bows and things that sparkle, try natural decorations. Even though we associate fresh herbs with spring and summer, there are a number of herbs that are hearty enough to face the frost, like rosemary, lavender, thyme and sage. Not only do these herbs go nicely with the sorts of foods we want to be eating now, they brighten your table and environment with their simple looks and soothing aromatics. They can be arranged with eucalyptus and are also a good accent visually with bowls of brightly colored and in-season citrus fruits, which are also both aromatic and health affirming.
These herbs can help soothe you once you get sick as well. Eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary are good for colds. You can put a few sprigs in the bottom of a hot shower and let the herbs infuse the steam. Or put some herbs, peeled ginger and citrus peel in a muslin bag and float in a warm bath. One thing that I love is to do is take a pot of steaming water and throw some herbs into it and then drape a towel over it and steam my face for as long as is comfortable — it soothes a sore throat and congested nose. I hope that you only have to explore the decorative uses of these herbs this winter!
After all the craziness and parties of the holiday season, the start of the new year is a good chance to do some nesting and have a movie night at home. Whether it’s a family night with the kids, a chick flick with the girls, or a romantic comedy for two, a night in front of the screen is sometimes exactly what you need. Serve up some big bowls of popcorn. And while salt and butter is always an excellent topping, popcorn is incredibly versatile. Consider these toppings:
Chile Margarita: Add lime juice, a teaspoon of tequila and some finely minced jalapeno peppers to your butter before you toss.
Rosemary: Add 2 sprigs of roughly chopped rosemary to your oil before you begin popping your corn for an herbal infusion.
Cheddar Cheese: Mix 1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder, a pinch of mustard powder, and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper with melted butter and popcorn.
Lemon: Add some lemon juice to your melted butter and toss the popcorn with zest of one lemon.
Pumpkin Spice: Mix 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until all melted and mixed. Pour over popcorn.
Bacon Cheese: Pour 1/3 cup butter over popcorn and then toss with 1/3 cup crumbled bacon and 1/3 cup grated cheese.
Mediterranean: Skip the butter and toss popcorn with olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese and some Italian seasoning blend.
I wanted to share some of my holiday table and home decorations with you. My entryway is decorated for Christmas with red and white flowers and glassware, and some snowmen strewn among the holiday cards.
My first big meal of the holiday season was for the first night of Hannukah. I started setting the table a few nights before the dinner. If you can do that, it alleviates a lot of the stress on the day of dinner. It also lets you see how things look ahead of time and gives you time to experiment and play around with different combinations of plates, napkins and decorations.
For my Hannukah dinner I used lots of blues and silvers. The plates were my Annieglass 2008 limited edition snowflake plates — they have a little bit more of a Middle Eastern flair than a traditional snowflake pattern. I used dreidels and silver snowflakes on the table and each place had a gift candle, white orchids and silver ornaments.