I was born during blackberry season, and my summer memories are filled with recollections of dusty trails, mounds of thorny thickets, and fingers and lips stained red with the sticky juice of stolen berries.
I have a passion for flavor and a reverence for ingredients, which I love to share. Thanks so much for visiting!
What I believe in eating…
Whole foods: whole grains, legumes, veggies, fruits
Plentiful greens, vegetables, and fruits at every meal
No added fat (I get my fats from nuts, avocados, and tofu, not oil)
No sugars (or very tiny amounts, very infrequently)
Limited flour-based foods (breads, pastas, tortillas)
Organic produce whenever possible
Food without additives
Meals based on local, seasonal produce
Foods that come from companies that treat their employees well
Jammy red and flinty white wines 🙂
This blog is an exploration of both ordinary and special occasion recipes. Most are vegan, some are ovo-lacto vegetarian, and most are also low fat/low sodium. I sometimes break my belief list (above). Sometimes mushrooms are better dried, not fresh, and sometimes ingredients come from distant countries (thank you, Marco Polo). Eating out can mean not getting organic foods … another great reason to cook at home. And there are times during a cold when I can’t smell or taste, and must take things on faith. Some stews are, well, less than photographically gorgeous, but incredibly delicious wearing their rich, long-cooked brownness. And sometimes, classics are deeply comforting…just as they are.
For decades, I filled up on sugary treats, rich meat, poultry, and fish dishes, gorgeous cheeses, and creamy sauces. I gained weight, slowly and steadily. Portions were large, and not surprisingly, my health suffered and I started getting troubling symptoms.
Then in 2017, my husband had a heart attack, followed by open-heart surgery. On his surgeon’s strong recommendation, our diet changed to a very low fat/low sodium, plant-based style. I was worried that I’d start gaining weight with all the grains, but I actually started losing weight slowly … so we’ve done just fine. And cooking this way has given me an opportunity to explore global recipes that depend on the intense flavors of spices and herbs rather than meats and salt and fat.
My interest in making food began when I was very little, by helping my mother in the kitchen. I’d stand on a chair and stir chocolate chip cookie dough, making a glorious mess on counter and floor. My mother finally bought me a recipe book for children, trying, no doubt, to reign in my maniacal enthusiasm. The book started out with oatmeal (and a face made from raisins) and progressed to a cake. I think I completed it in about a week.
I spent summers with my grandparents in what was then a very rural Napa Valley. My grandmother had a huge garden with apple, pear, and walnut trees, chickens for eggs, bees for honey, herbs, vegetables, and berries. I learned how to can foods, make breads and pies, and tend a vegetable garden. And that vision of delicious self-sufficiency continues to be my dream.
During college, while working on a Fine Arts degree, I supported myself by working in restaurants during the summer, including the Silverado Country Club and what is now Tra Vigne Ristorante in the Napa Valley, as well as several Kauai and Oahu resorts. When I began, I knew zip about fine food, but there’s nothing like working in a good restaurant to get a crash course in world-class cuisine, wines, ingredients, and tools. Tasty classrooms!
While working in advertising and marketing in the Napa Valley, I became a member of several wine organizations: the Academy of Wine Communications, Women for WineSense, The American Institute of Wine and Food, and the Wine Market Council. These affiliations deepened my knowledge of the world’s wines and, by extension, the foods that pair well with them.
I joined Schramsberg Vineyards, wearing multiple hats (advertising, design, marketing, public relations), and worked with James Beard Foundation chefs from all over the US, creating winemaker dinners for the Davies family. After that, I represented Mumm Napa Valley, Champagne Mumm, and Perrier Jouet, and organized Napa Valley Wine Auction dinners, as well as gala events for those clients. Several years later, I began working with Emeril Lagasse (“BAM!”), writing articles and creating recipes for his website. He was a ton of fun to work for, and unfailingly polite and creative.
Following that, I was staff writer and editor for vineSwinger.com, a website featuring all things wine, cheese, and chocolate…from a young, hip, perspective. We had some amazing wine and food tastings in evening vineyards, on shady summer decks, and around bonfires. Good times!
These days, I live near Puget Sound, in Washington state. Here, it’s the Pacific Northwest’s bounty that inspires. Apples, berries, asparagus, tomatoes, greens, winter squash, and root vegetables, all grace our table, and local farmer’s markets influence our choices.
So although my life has sometimes lead me in other directions, food, wine, and writing have been constants. I think that first of all, food should deeply nourish us with enticing flavors and the types of flavors only fresh and organic ingredients can provide. But I also believe that good food is about the experience: meals shared with friends and family with visually appealing presentations, filling our senses with happy delight. That is true nourishment.
Please stop by again, and thanks so much for visiting…