Easter bread woes

For all but a few of the last 20 or so years, I have faithfully used the same recipe for Easter bread, from my beloved Roseto Cookbook,* Anna Marie Ruggiero’s culinary homage to the life and times of the Italian immigrants, their children, and their children’s children, in a tiny town in the Slate Belt […]

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Growing up with Yankee

I fell in love with New England—technically, my native New England—not on those tedious trips north from Pennsylvania when I was a tiny child, but month by month, on the pages of Yankee magazine. I’ve mentioned before that my father, a first generation Italian-American, grew up in a papermill town in Western Maine. Think Richard […]

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Remembering another Miss Austin

No, not Austen. And not Jane. But they have books and writing in common. It was a verdant Central Pennsylvania summer, and I was in my last term, anxious for graduation. Summer terms were rapid-fire in those days, eight weeks as opposed to the usual ten. Classes met four times a week and, as I […]

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Rearranging

I hit the ground running early this morning when inspiration struck. Move the love seat from the den back to the living room, and move the wingback to the den. There is nothing unusual about this urge, as most women know. When the kids were itty bitty, I was always moving furniture around. In those […]

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‘Drug store skin care’ revisited

Yesterday I found myself cleaning out what I referred to in one of my early posts as “the graveyard under the sink”—that Netherland in the vanity where all of the once-tried and subsequently rejected hair care products, body lotions, nail polish, and so forth find their home. I purge the vanity every three months or […]

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Au revoir, Monsieur Mayle

I teared up, almost as if I’d lost a friend, when I saw that Peter Mayle had passed.  After all, he had given me Provence—first on the printed pages of his charming, insightful trilogy—A Year in Provence, Encore Provence, Toujours Provence—and thereafter the engaging, lighthearted novels he set there, irresistible confections all. Hotel Pastis and […]

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Letting the light in

This morning, our low here broke a 100-year record. Thus, I’ve decided that my blogging anniversary week will be dedicated simply to — in the immortal words of the Temptations — “…sunshine on a cloudy day.” This particular sunny light is Italian… in Monterosso al Mare, in the Cinque Terre.      

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The urge to organize

My friend Teresa always used to say that December 26—Boxing Day—was her favorite of the year, since she was able to enjoy all the pleasures of Christmas with none of the pressure. I’ve kept her counsel for many years; the lazy day after Christmas is one of my favorites as well. This year, with the […]

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A tisket, a brisket…

All right, that reversion to a childhood nursery rhyme was silly, but it came to me in the middle of the night, as Miss Puppy was inching me closer to the edge of the bed. I’d been lulled into a stupor too early by whatever silliness was on the tube at the time. Now I […]

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Christmas in black and white

You’ve heard my prattle about Hallmark Christmas movies. Except for mentioning that The Christmas Train is head and shoulders above all the rest and my absolute favorite so far this season, I’ll leave you to chat about Hallmark movies amongst yourselves. This post, instead, is about their worthy ancestor of an entirely different ilk, our […]

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Cook with what you have

I read cookbooks the way most people read travel magazines, far more for the narrative than the recipes themselves. It’s a near addiction (thankfully, a harmless one) that I’ve had for years, since Aunt Florence gave me the 12-volume The Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery in 1969. I’m fairly certain that the collection was one of those […]

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Let the frenzy begin

As I write this, I’m preparing psychologically to clean and straighten out my baking pantry before the Christmas endurance contest begins. Baking Christmas cookies with my mother the first two weekends in December remains one of my favorite childhood memories. Mom gave cookies away in droves, never forgot a generous box for the rectory, and […]

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