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  • Over the years, I’ve attended many holiday parties, and hosted even more. I’ve appreciated all festive offerings, and while I would never turn my nose up at a jar of caviar or good bottle of wine, the gifts I’ve enjoyed the most came from creative minds and loving hearts. A particularly memorable one was a forest green ceramic planter filled with fresh sprouting seasonal herbs, including rosemary, sage and thyme, potted in an edible soil of crumbled dark chocolate brownies. These whimsical treats can be tailor-made to accommodate the dietary restrictions of the host (low cholesterol, or gluten-, lactose-, tree nut-, or sugar-free), and preferences (mild, hot, smoky, crunchy, sweet, savory, or vegan). You will need some simple supplies like Mason jars, cruets, clear gift bags, decorative tins, ramekins, twine and labels. Now let’s get this craft party started!
  • Years ago, my aunt hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for 20 people. She prepared a turkey feast from scratch and it was delicious. The next day, 18 of us had a date with the toilet bowl and were queasy for days. The only two who weren’t impacted were the vegetarians. We were all stymied and started asking questions trying to deduce the source of our illness. Remember the board game “Clue”? Well, Mrs. Peacock poisoned Mr. Boddy with a contaminated turkey leg in the dining room. Turns out that Auntie left the unwrapped, partially frozen turkey on the counter to thaw overnight, so the vegetarians were unscathed by her “fowl” deed. Here are some cautions to help keep your dinner guests healthy, happy and free from harm.
  • With Thanksgiving approaching at gigabit speed, we’re all gearing up for the big day with a main course of stress, and side dishes of angst and doubts about menu choices, modes of preparation, presentation (and dinner guests). To help make this feast a delightfully memorable one, I’ll now take your questions and offer cooking tips.
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  • DMV, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. The first time your license expires after you turn 70, you have to show up in person at the DMV regardless of how good a driving record you have. I guess they want to make sure you haven’t gone blind and that you still have enough synapses firing to pass the written test. I decided to get my Real ID at the same time.
  • As pies and tarts are the quintessential desserts of fall, here’s a lesson on crusts of all manners to suit assorted palates, dietary restrictions, skill levels and entertaining needs. There are four ways to go with pie crusts: 1) divine, scratch-made ones with choice ingredients have a somewhat complex and time consuming methodology, but well worth the effort; 2) crust mixes need the addition of a fat and liquid; 3) dough balls or pre-made pastry sheets only require rolling into the desired shape, or molding into a pan; and 4) pie crusts a-go-go come ready-made either refrigerated or frozen in pie plates.
  • This season delivers a bounty of exciting fruits, roots, seeds, gourds and grains to inspire us all to become salad enthusiasts. Here’s how. Green with Envy: Take a break from anemic, low-achieving Iceberg lettuce, and change up with antioxidant rich, brain-boosting dark leafy greens. Crisp Romaine, Caesar’s classic go-to green with a fantastic store of Vitamins A and K; peppery Arugula, a sexy little number with aphrodisiac properties dating back to ancient Rome; tender Mâche with sweet and nutty nuances, and fabulous Frisée with funky, lacy leaves and a bitter edge that wakes up ho-hum salads. There’s more. Delicate, pale green Butter lettuce, frequently “living” with roots still attached, and kale, the king of leafy greens, whether Curly, Lacinato or Dino varieties with sturdy stems and stiff leaves adds a tangy bite.
  • From time to time, my husband has observed: “It must be really hard living inside your head.” Alas, this is often true. I wish brains could have an off switch where you could say, “OK, we’re done for today! Do not even THINK of contacting me again until at least 7 a.m.” But my brain just never wants to quit. Around 2 a.m. I wake up and start pondering both ponderables and imponderables. They just won’t go away no matter what tricks I use to get them to shut up.
  • Breakfast, hands down, is the most important meal of the day as it “breaks” the “fast” from the previous night’s sleep, fueling the body with essential nutrients while jump starting the brain to take on the morning’s activities. I’ve observed six breakfast styles during my travels, and would like to make some suggestions for getting the most out of this vital morning meal.
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