Tuscany, as most everyone knows, is a magical and unspoiled place. Although many areas can be crowded with tourists, with just a bit of effort, one can still find beautiful slices of traditional Tuscan life. When asked by friends to join them in a stay at one such unspoiled gem, we agreed without hesitation. They had found a villa to rent at a family-run winery in the Chianti Classico region of the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero) between Sienna and Florence. The villa’s resident caretaker, Marianne, would provide home-cooked traditional Italian meals for us on selected evenings. How could we possibly resist? Continue reading
Traveling throughout the United Kingdom, I struggle to understand how such a densely populated country can have so much green space and agricultural land. The population density of the United Kingdom is a staggering 650 people per square mile — compared to 84 people per square mile in the United States. One of the ways they achieve this “greenness” is by densely packing the cities, villages and hamlets (a village without a church) — leaving large expanses of green space for agricultural use.
I retired as a scientist at age 50 to pursue my culinary passion and culinary school. This meant, of course, that my fellow culinary students were younger than my children — as were many of the faculty. Yet, it all came together. The older students looked to the culinary juniors for energy and encouragement. The younger set looked to the few “oldsters” for a bit of academic counsel and faculty-management strategy. Continue reading
I grew up in New Jersey, a stone’s throw from New York City. So, I was accustomed to bilingual households. As in our home, it was the norm among my friends to have grandparents and/or parents born outside the U.S.A. America is a melting pot of cultures, and this was, and still is, particularly true in the New York City metropolitan area. In part, this was due to the area’s proximity to Ellis Island*, the main immigrant conduit in the first half of the 20th century. Greater than one third of the U.S. population (this includes me) can trace at least a portion of their ancestry to the 12 million people who landed here between the late 1800s and 1954. Continue reading
It made me smile, when living outside the US, to hear impressions of Chicago. Some envisioned gangsters on most street corners and wind so fierce it would blow you off your feet. Continue reading
When I host a sit-down dinner, most of my friends expect: 1) to be recruited to the kitchen to help with last-minute preparations or 2) to watch me tossing things to and fro in the kitchen while they eat and drink. I think it is part of the joy of cooking — to make it a relaxing group experience. Continue reading
Not long after the turn of the 20th century, my Grandfather left Belarus as a young man to come to the United States. He didn’t like what the Bolsheviks were doing in Belarus and saw escape across the Atlantic. Unfortunately for him, it meant an arduous journey, a struggle to survive as a new immigrant and not seeing his Belarus family again until he was in his 70s – more than 50 years later. Fortunately for me, it meant growing up with my kind-hearted grandfather and living under the influence of my Belarusian ancestry, including the glorious дранікі (dra-ni-ki) — the Belarus version of the potato pancake. Continue reading
This post is about lamb chili and my friend Debbie.
Debbie is amazing. She is an engineer, has an MBA from the University of Chicago, teaches, paints, writes and is a Mom and wife. In addition, she is beautiful, personable and nice. Yet, as much as our green dragons might encourage us to hate her, we all love her. Continue reading
I was a precocious 13-year old, and looked the part. So, I was able to lie about my age, and get a job. The work wasn’t exciting, but It allowed me to save a lot of money (at least it seemed like a lot at the time). These savings became my ticket to see the world when I turned 18. Continue reading