Asparagus Tarts with Panko Crust

Asparagus Tarts

It is spring in Michigan, the time of year when I get a bit of a green tinge from eating too much local asparagus. And, since I planted my very own crop last year, this is a special season as I had the chance to savor a few of my own spears – but just a few. Asparagus, a perennial, cannot be harvested in the first two years after planting. This allows the shoots in years one and two to grow into tall lacy plants which send lots of nutrients to the roots for later harvests. But, of course, I couldn’t bear to wait until year three. So, I cheated and picked just a few spears. They were a true guilty pleasure!

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Evening Cocktails – The Essentials

I’m-Not-My-Father’s-Daughter Cocktail

Growing up in my family meant time out for a cocktail at the end of the day. I knew Dad was home from work when I heard the clink of the glass rod against the wall of the cocktail pitcher. He was definitely a stir-don’t-shake kind of guy when it came to his evening Manhattan (although the shaker was always on hand when needed).

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Tamale Party – a.k.a. Bridge-Playing Gringos Tackle Tamales

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Steamed tamales for a crowd.

Last week our bridge group (16 of us) descended on our kitchen to make tamales – with time off for a bit of bridge, loads of fun and, of course, some serious eating and drinking.  How did a group of bridge-playing gringos end up elbow deep in masa?  It all started with a side-conversation around Friday night bridge:

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“Hope Chest” Root Vegetable Baskets — Celebrating 20 Successful Years!!

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest, LaGrange, IL, USA

A group of busy women were looking for efficient ways to raise money for our favorite charity:  the Constance Morris House, a Chicago area shelter for victims of domestic violence.  We had tired of exhausting raffles and holiday events.  But what else could we do??   “Perhaps a second-hand clothing shop?,”  someone suggested — “something sustainable rather than multiple whirlwind events?”  We thought it was a fabulous idea! Continue reading

A Malvern Hills Ramble – Sustained by Hearty Granola

Earthworks at British Camp, Malvern Hills

Earthworks at the British Camp, Malvern Hills, England

If the word “ramble” brings to mind someone droning on without focus, you are probably not English.  In England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, a “ramble” is a walk. One “rambles” the public rights of way that lace through the UK countryside – paths established before the days of Downton Abbey.  And, like many things English, time has done little to change them.   Continue reading

Lille – A Macaron Mecca

Lille, France

Lille, France

Wandering the streets of Lille, you begin to wonder how this small French city sustains a patisserie on virtually every corner. Are the locals required to eat in a patisserie as least once daily? Or is it because the window displays look so good that it is impossible to resist the treats within??  Or is it that Lille is the home of Paul, the famous French pastry shop? Or is it the colorful and ubiquitous macaron that weakens ones resolve?? Continue reading