11–19 of 19 entries from the month of: February 2010

When Life Hands you Lemons…

February 10th

make limoncello.

Limoncello party

My friends Juliann and Jennie are super smart librarians who can drink me under the table. Our outings regularly involve new restaurants and swapped recipes, books that are secret gems of the library, Meatloaf lyrics, and wine. Red wine, to be precise.

They recently decided to make limoncello with the current bounty of Arizona citrus. They threw a limoncello party this weekend and it was, as described above, more fun than you can imagine. We sat outside by a great fire while the men smoked cigars as we sipped our limoncello, enjoyed countless rounds of bruschetta and homemade biscotti (these foodies know no limits) and laughed until my cheeks hurt.  This is a new group of friends for me — but one where I’ve quickly found a comfortable place. And they seem rather comfortable with me too — calling me on my BS and deliberately not laughing at my jokes when they could have been told better.  Juliann and her hubby are two of the most generous hosts I’ve ever encountered. They’ve had me over countless times in the last year and each time I’m surprised by the caliber of their welcoming friends into their home.

Limoncello party

It also helps the Js are as sarcastic and cynical as I am about many topics. Much like their limoncello, they are tart and strong. We three are the sole members of the “Anti Vampire Book Club,” where the only rules are: no poetry (not my rule) and most certainly no vampires. If you knew them, even if you are a Twilight fanatic, you’d understand. And you’d be laughing.


Posted in
Community, handmade, Kitchen Talk
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Israeli Meatballs

February 9th

My first trans-Atlantic trip was to Israel and Palestine in 1999-2000. I was on a journalism internship with the American Jewish Committee. We visited a variety of newspapers and got to see the majority of both countries within 3 weeks. It was a trip I won and the beginning of a life-long love affair with international adventure.

Baked Falafel

One of the things I remember most clearly was the new array of foods we were introduced to. Traveling with a dozen other student journalists, we were immediately taken to a restaurant in Tel Aviv upon arrival and the best of Israeli cuisine was showcased. This was long before I’d be introduced to Pita Jungle, my local Tempe haunt, or even hummus for that matter. There were so many interesting and colorful things to try, including falafel.

Baked Falafel

We soon learned the chickpea is a staple in Israeli cooking because most restaurants keep kosher. No dairy and meat on the same plate or even at the same meal. Imagine how shocking this was to a Christian girl who grew up on cheese burgers? Or even more sacrilegious  for my new Jewish friends — bagel sandwiches with cheese, eggs, and sausage.

Baked Falafel

My love of Middle Eastern food began with gusto. Falafel stands on the streets were far more appealing to me than hot dogs anyway. Falafel — or Israeli meatballs — are fried balls of chickpeas and spice. They were wrapped in warm pita, with salty pickles and a dash of hummus that made your mouth dance. It was just so very good. When I came home, similar to my exuberance after living in Mexico, I wanted to recreate the adventure through food for my family and friends.

Baked Falafel

It’s taken ten years, but I’ve finally gotten around to making a falafel recipe worth sharing. My one beef, so to speak, with falafel is that they are typically fried. I don’t do well with fried food. My stomach cramps and I pay for the indulgence for days to come. So, when putting this recipe together, I knew baking would be crucial.

Lunch with Julez

Baked Falafel

Yield: 18 large falafel


2 cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 handful of spinach (about a cup)

1 handful of parsley (about a cup)

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup pepitas

2 eggs

juice from 2 lemons

dash of paprika

dash of cumin

dash of garlic salt

dash of pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add all ingredients, minus the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is grainy — not runny. Scoop onto greased baking sheets in uniform shapes (an ice cream scoop works well.) Lightly brush tops with remaining olive oil. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden, turning at minute 8.

Serve with quinoa, hummus and a nice glass of white wine. These are incredibly healthy and tasty!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk, Recipes
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February 8th

My friend Kim was given a gorgeous gray cotton three button wrap at Christmas. I fell in love. I watched her open it and as soon as it was polite to do so, I picked it up and started counting rows. I knew I had to have one. Thankfully, Ravelry agreed and I found the pattern. With a bit of holiday money burning a hole in my pocket, I splurged on a cashmere blend yarn and some coconut shell buttons.

Three button wrap

One month later…

Three button wrap

This was particularly tricky to photograph by myself; it is supposed to look like this, but my version is considerably smaller. It is still warm, soft, pink and perfect! I am very pleased with how it turned out. And as crazy as it sounds, I may make myself another one in lime green. I want a bigger one too.


Posted in
Domestic Art, Journal
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Mo’ Momos!

February 7th

My friend Shailesh, who is originally from Nepal, and his wife Aimee, invited me and a handful of other friends over this weekend to make dinner. We learned to make momos. I’d never made dumplings before, and while I’m sure I’ve eaten something conceptually similar, these won’t soon be forgotten.

They were out-of-this-world good.

I mean it.

The sauce? I could have sipped it from a bowl if it hadn’t lit my mouth on fire.

And dumplings are super easy to make! Who knew? It goes a bit something like this:


Take a giant bowl of filling (no idea what this includes other than ground turkey)

Dumpling papers

Dumpling papers, which are essentially squares of pasta

Crucial bowl of water

A bowl of water to get your fingers and the pasta a wee bit wet

Shailesh in action

And then watch your favorite Nepali go to town.

Prep the paper

Prep the paper

Get the pasta wet

Drop in a bit of meat

Make sure it isn't too much




Ready for steam


Once you’ve done this 3,000 times — place them in a steamer for 12 minutes.





Then top with a variety of excellent spicy sauces,


Some very American salad


And Greek spanikopita.

Nepalese Momos

Inhale. Repeat.

It was fun that the dumpling table included: two Austrians, a man raised in the Azors, a Puerto Rican, a woman born in Columbia to a bull fighting father, and two American girls, plus our Nepalese host and his family. I live for this kind of diversity in Arizona! It was a delight to hear everyone’s stories and what brought them to my desert.

A great night of community among new friends.


Posted in
Community, Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
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February 6th

Bikram, week 2

Bow pose

Morning pose between classes this morning; I feel much more graceful in this pose than this appears. I’ve got 16 classes and 4 pounds down. I am feeling strong and really tired.

Regardless, this pose does make me feel warrior fierce.


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Fresh Air

February 4th

Secret Garden

One of many quiet nooks I’ve found lately to ponder the heavy conversations I’ve been mulling over at work. We are knee deep in national health issues and trying to figure out what policies and programs could do something to change the sad fact Americans are eating and smoking themselves to death. Personal choice and responsibility have never been more important to our nation, our security and our future.

If you’d like a non-traditional take on what has led us down this path, this guy thinks it all started with Nixon. (This is both hilarious and frightening by his research.) The program is long, but well worth consideration. It is also inspiring me to shake up my own eating habits and take more responsibility for my health.

I’ll be standing in front of a class of graduate students preaching about the importance of such choices too soon; better to do so being my very best. I think this may be the best motivation I’ve ever had.


Posted in
Good to Great, Journal
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February 2nd

New cookbook

This week’s soup was inspired by a new cookbook and a new kitchen tool — an immersion blender. Why I haven’t spent the $20 on one of these before is a mystery. It makes cooking soup about a thousand times easier and less messy.

january 31 008

Best $20 you could spend, trust me. Before, I was ladling soup into a blender, pureeing and then pouring it back in the pot.

And then spending the next 30 minutes cleaning soup off the floor, stove, etc.

This week's Soup

Not this week. Instead, I roasted the usual suspects,

This week's Soup

This week's Soup

This week's Soup

And threw in some white beans, canned tomatoes and spice.

This week's Soup

Two seconds of blending in the pot later…

This week's Soup

And I have 8 super healthy meals ready to go. Voila!


Posted in
Domestic Art, Kitchen Talk
Comments (19)

One Yard Glory: February

February 1st

Dear Finny,

You say you did a bit of fuzzy math to the tune of pi, and what I read was, “Pie? I want pie!!” The Homer J in me kept me from even trying the hat pattern, but I did rock the dressing. So, mission nearly accomplished for our January One Yard Wonder sew/cook along.

{Your hat is adorable.}

Congrats again to Lori, whose hat is pretty rad. Plus, it is recycled and plaid — two of my most favorite things. Preppy green!

january 31 025

january 31 024

As for February, I was thinking we’d keep up the green theme and go with the folklore bag. I like the simplicity in this design and I go through fabric totes like you wouldn’t believe. They never seem to be quite big enough to get all my gear and my lunch to my desk without appearing like a ragamuffin in the process.

Instead, with this new bag in the works, and your yummy new recipe for spicy cauliflower with capers packed for lunch — I’ll be set!

Also, I’m sending you a Valentine — as I do every year!



Posted in
Domestic Art, handmade, Sew Along
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February 1st

January 2010

Tennis, yoga, 5 books,  2 new jobs, 3 gajillion episodes of Mad Men, and one raging crush on Don Draper later… February!


Posted in
Goals, Journal
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