Shout-out to my soup

On Monday, the day of Nanny's funeral, I received a lovely note from a Food 52 friend: she let me know that my Tuscan Bread Soup had been chosen by Jenny as the feature of her Weeknights With Jenny column. This is the second time Jenny has highlighted one of my recipes, and I'm very flattered. It seemed fitting, in a lovely way, that if something I cook was to be honored, it was done so on a day that I was honoring Nanny. So, thank you, to Jenny and to all who wrote such nice notes. You have no idea how especially much those kindnesses meant to me on Monday.

Oliver has had a bad fever all day and felt like the pits. True to form, he said earlier, "I need to frow up", went to the toilet, grasped the sides and threw up three times. He will be such a champ at college parties, for the love. It's weird how some kids are pukers and others aren't. Jack has thrown up twice, TWICE, in his entire 7.25 years, while for Ol, upchucking is a common, could it be almost-monthly?, event. At least it doesn't phase him. Today I had to pressure him to brush his teeth afterwards. Blech.

Tom's in NY, and I managed to find a sitter for two hours today (now!) and three tomorrow. I am infinitely grateful because tired does not even begin to describe how I feel right now, so I am happy to be in bed, starting to catch up on things missed and late, and to tend to myself a little bit. I intend to make myself a good dinner tonight, something hearty and comforting and good, savor a glass of good wine and call it a day on the early side.

It's not all about basil! Ginger Golds, chutney and a canning tip

While I love well-spiced food, it's worth remembering just how fresh, or not, your dried peppers are before adding them generously to a dish. Yo on my chutney and the ruby specks from a new jar of crushed red pepper flakes that makes it hop. I added a bit more apple and sugar towards the end to cool things down a tad and this will definitely still raise a sharp cheddar and roast chicken sandwich to new heights.


I find -and here's a helpful tip for you new'ish canners out there- that seasoning elements like spice and herbs tend to mellow as your jam or chutney cools and ages. So do err on the side of really being able to taste what you've added or you risk having it be a lost flavor later.

This is a great recipe, is posted in my Jams and Chutneys section, and I highly recommend you trying it out. I'll be teaching a canning class in Fairfax in October, and this is the recipe we'll be making, so come one, come all. It's a perfectly seasonal recipe too in the sense that it utilizes the wonderful-for-cooking Ginger Gold apple which is coming into season as I type (I bought a half-peck a couple days back and put most to use in this batch of chutney). Lest you worry that the Ginger Gold is the same apple as the horribly underwhelming, mealy and sad Golden Delicious, NO! The yellow delicious is one of the parents of the GG but it was partnered with the Albemarle Pippin which adds crunch and kick and a nice shade of green to the peel.

Last night, I had a slight revelation via pizza. Sage is great in addition to or alongside basil. Sage is fabulous in general, an under-utilized, under-appreciated herb, in my opinion. You'll see I have two different sage pesto recipes in Dressings and Sauces, just yesterday I made another batch of my Blackberry and Peach Crisp with Sage-Brown Butter Topping, I love the blackberry-sage jam I concocted last month, and the fried sage leaf/sage oil drizzle atop my Pappa al Pomodoro is the cat's meow.

Sage, known as salvia in Italian, was first described by Linnaeus in the 1750s. Long considered to have many medicinal qualities, the scientific name for sage is Salvia officinalis with officinalis deriving from "officina, the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored." Sage is a hardy plant that's easy to grow in most spots; it's one of the few things I can cultivate without fail. In fact, it overtook a planter of mine so I transferred the whole plant (bush really) to the ground, and it's thriving.

Its leaves are utterly pleasing in shape, feel and color: kinda of sweetly furry, soft, sizeable and a comforting, beautiful shade of green.

Pappa and a cake

What a nice and productive day it's been so far. Jack  and I went to his class open house this morning so that I could see lots of what he's been working on. We played a math game, he showed me his journal and a report he'd done on Cousteau. It was darling and fun and then two of my dearest pals and I hung out in the parking lot for at least a half hour, freezing but in hysterics. Fun. I headed home with a mission to bake, frost and freeze a Reine de Saba (Julia's chocolate-almond cake) so that I could check that off my to-do list for the party we're having for Mom and Dad next week to celebrate their 40th anniversary. In the meantime, I made a pot of pappa al pomodoro just because it sounded delicious. And it was!

pappa al pomodoro