Rainy Day Thoughts

The sound of tires swishing along rain-soaked streets reminds me of waves tumbling along the lakeshore yesterday. The downpour splashing heavy drops on our air conditioner has convinced me to forgo my morning walk. I’ll follow an exercise video instead. Other creatures are more content with the sky’s liquid gift. Birds have more puddles for a bath or drink. Dogs don’t care (I guess). The rabbits carry on and squirrels seem indifferent. I’ll wait for the rain to dwindle before grabbing my gear for another beautiful walk around my city. In the meantime, I’ll use this time to write, read, … Continue reading Rainy Day Thoughts

Passing of Memory’s People

My readers will know how often I have mentioned the impact of my third college year in the Toscana region of Italy, principally in Siena and Firenze. Most pieces drew on my acquaintance with the Vivante family at Villa Solaia near Siena or my Florentine host family, the Chellinis. I rarely mentioned a regular guest at the Chellini’s Sunday dinners, Gustavo’s son Roberto. Then in his mid-twenties and as yet not married, he shared his passion for good food, wine, and cigars whenever he could dominate the table talk. We American ‘paying guests’ enjoyed his conversation and argued with him … Continue reading Passing of Memory’s People

Fragrant Things

Mise en place—this French phrase describes the first step a mindful chef or cook takes in preparing a meal. Many cookbooks instruct those who follow their recipes at home to do so. When preparing ingredients based on taste, experience, or the tyranny of a recipe, a cook will sort, wash, chop, dice, mince, julienne, measure, sift, or melt each item for the intended dish. She also will ensure that all pots, pans, cutting boards, knives, stirrers, sorters, and smashers are in place before preparation begins. My go-to mise en place for nearly every hot dish I cook (yes, even pancakes) … Continue reading Fragrant Things

A Little Chocolate Now and Then Doesn’t Hurt

  The magic of chocolate—so many of us are grateful for its power to transform a gloomy winter afternoon into a cozy cuddle with a steaming mug of cocoa and a book, for the bitter-sweet flourish of a flourless chocolate cake at the end of a meal, or for mirthful mischief while stealing from a box of cocoa-dusted truffles.   The French/American actress and dancer, Leslie Caron had a small part in a film called Chocolat released in 2000.  She played an elderly woman, quite the opposite of her ingenue starring role in An American in Paris 50 years earlier.  … Continue reading A Little Chocolate Now and Then Doesn’t Hurt