lost in the petals


Oh hey there blooms. You look nice. Real nice. 

Flowers are expensive, especially big ole gorgeous ones like these babes. But, I got these for free because I stole them from my parents’ house. It wasn’t easy work. I had to figure out how to wrap them up nice for the train ride, then the Hubway bike ride, then the 3 flights of stairs … but they are nice and safe now. 

And I love them. Plus they look great in my newly acquired milky vase from West Elm

To close out the long weekend, I went out to dinner last night in Chinatown for Pho. Yeah, go ahead and try to pronounce that. The last day of a weekend is always precious to me. I'm doing everything I can to savor the freedom of sundresses, the sun, and memorizing the feeling of gently swinging in my hammock. But, it was worth leaving my gorgeous flowers behind and trying something new. Plus, I didn't spill on myself as much as I had expected which is always a win in my book.

Side note: I nearly died with excitement when I saw my blog had been mentioned on "Front & Main", the West Elm blog two weeks ago. I mean really guys, remember when I said "It’s actually a secret dream of mine to be a part of their “Front & Main” blog since it’s kind of like all my favorite things in one (internet + West Elm + cooking + pretty pictures)." Ah-mah-zing.

it's a fish party (for one)


You can cook a decent meal for one person. I swear.

I met this person on Monday who said they like to cook but don't because "you know, it's hard to cook for one".  I told this gentleman that I had no idea what he was talking about. This is obviously an exaggeration. Cooking for one without leftovers is not easy folks, but it is totally possible. I know because I did it tonight. I also spilled an entire glass of pinot grigio all over my kitchen because I didn't want to turn on the light, but let's talk about the dinner instead.

Right? Ok.

One of my biggest food regrets is that I said for the first 26 (?) years of my life that I didn't like olives. I'm not sure why, but nobody fought me on this. Go ahead hate olives Jen! I was also permitted to avoid asparagus (which I distinctly remember my grandmother cooking on family holidays). Asparagus just looked so boring and limp (twss). Olives were intimidating and mysterious. Well, tonight I put them together... with artichokes and some lemon ... and some swordfish ... and of course other things ... like love.

This wasn't as quick or pain-free as last Wednesday's dinner (cod with lemon caper vinaigrette) but it was super tasty. Plus, it calls for white wine and I'm really good at drinking white wine. Except for last night that is. Spoiler alert folks, you can't have 4 glasses of pinot grigio coupled with limited dinner and expect to get off scott free. 

Tonight, I took some inspiration from a recipe I had seen on MSNBC of all places. I saw olives, seared fish, and artichokes and knew it was a win. The original recipe called for a whole process of using fresh artichokes, which would be great if you had time. And you had an unlimited budget. And you didn't want to shove cheez-its in your face the minute you got home from yoga. So, as an alternative I went with canned artichokes and they worked like a breeze.

Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Get a skillet to medium high heat with a bit of olive oil. Add in about 3 artichoke hearts that you've cut in half. Place them flat side down so they sear up a bit nicely. 

(Step 2) Add in the minced garlic and butter. Watch the heat of the pan so as to not char up the garlic. That would be an obvious negative. After a minute-ish, add in the coriander, asparagus, thin lemon slices (3?) and the white wine.

(Step 3) There isn't a lot of liquid in the pan at this point obviously, but you essentially just want to simmer all the goodness in the pan until the liquid reduces a bit and all the flavors get a chance to mingle. Pretend it's like a middle school dance. If you think you need more wine, add it. Or drink it. This is pretty free form folks. 

Once you are satisfied, remove this business from the skillet and get ready to sear up your fish. You absolutely don't need to clean the skillet, but just make sure you don't have any garlic / artichoke remnants behind since they'll burn and then your kitchen will be smokey and not in a cool way.

(Step 4) Gently pat your fish dry with a paper towel. This seems weird but it helps you get a delightful sear slash crust ... and trust me, it's kinda like the best part. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a high-medium skillet with olive oil. Cook 3 minutes on each side (which means flip in between obviously... unless you know magic). You'll know the fish is done when the skin edge is looking crispy. Need more advice? Google it.

(Step 5) Plate and eat. After you put your amazing fish on the artichoke business, squeeze a bit of lemon on top and toss a smidge of parsley on there as well. 

Now eat by yourself and love it. If you are me, you'll get one of the million magazines you subscribe to flip through and pretend to educate yourself. Set some mood music (think Ingrid Michaelson) and perhaps light a candle. Oh, and I spent some quality time basking in the glory of the flowers I arranged at Floral Class on Tuesday. Yep, I'm going to floral class. More on that another day.

Shopping List (for ONE!)
artichoke-y delight
olive oil
Can of artichoke hearts
1 T of butter
Asparagus (like 3 stems? do we call them stems? I have no idea)
Lemon slices 
3 cloves of garlic minced
4 kalamata olives sans pit, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp Ground coriander
1/4 cup of white wine

fishy business
Salt and Peppper
5-6 oz of swordfish (halibut would also be amazing)
olive oil
lemon zest / juice

weekend snap happy


As previously documented, I had an amazing weekend in Palm Beach. It had a little bit of everything. Sun, bacon, sand, rain, drinks, new friends, old friends.

This will now have been my third trip to Florida in just as many months, which seems like a lot to me considering I'm not actually a member AARP or a Disneyland fanatic. But, it was obviously amazing and totally worth it.

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should have. For instance, I have zero with the amazing bride but I still took some and I still had a very memorable weekend attempting to be classy in Palm Beach. And here is the evidence. I'll let you be the judge.

Bird's eye view of Boston from the aeroplane. Bonus points for sunset and wonderful pink skies.

Wonderfully complete wedding welcome package. I am especially thankful for the "fancy Mounds bar" and the Advil. The alligator gummies were also delightful.

Just a little poolside reading and relaxation. I'm a sucker for amazingly big and soft towels that are brightly colored. I didn't make it very far into the book. I was just too popular with the other pool guests.

Afternoon walks by the beach. The water is so perfect that it feels artificial. Like they took a vote on the perfect temperature and just set the ocean to that. I'm not joking. I loved it... until I saw fish.

BLT. Extra Bacon. Extra wonderful. Savored slowly over a book during a quick afternoon rainstorm.

Poolside at the Breakers on Saturday. Feeling fancy. 
On vacation you can get margarita in a can.... you can also get a burger that will be so amazing you might want two. But then you remember you have to get into a black tie suitable dress later, so you only have one beer and one burger.

Amazing gardens at the Breakers. Perfect for conversation and "etc".

Tea lights make everything more romantic.... but that gorgeous hoopa covered in even more amazing flowers was pretty awesome too. I wonder what the protocol is for a Catholic who wants a hoopa covered in flowers?

I have a lot of glasses. I love all of them and all of their contents. Over the course of the evening the glasses were accompanied by a trio of salmon appetizer, amazing halibut, make your own sundae, and wedding cake. All facts.

Post wedding face. Almost home and on the water taxi back to the North End. Sleep is overrated so until this point I have decided to only sleep an hour. I've learned that is not the best decision.

This is the only way I wish to commute to the airport going forward.

love and light


Last night I watched one of my oldest friends get married.

I could tell you about the phenomenal food, sitting by the pool, making new friends, or how I rented my dress from Rent the Runway. But all of those seem trivial compared to sitting next to your first friend from college as she removes her aching feet from her wedding shoes.

I can't quite describe it but as we sat next to the excitement of the dance floor, I almost felt like we could have been anywhere chatting. That's the best thing about Carrie. She makes you feel like you are her sole focus.

But then you realize that you aren't wearing sundresses and traipsing around Nantucket or cooking together in a kitchen. In actuality, your friend is sitting in front of you in an amazing dress and radiating happiness on her wedding day with the guy who stole her heart. I can't even put words to that.

I've always believed in love but there is something so incredible about seeing a friend in love.

ah-ma-zing weeknight fish.


And now we make .... Baked White Fish with Lemon Caper Champagne Vinaigrette

So guys. Three things.
(1) I can’t for the life of me learn how to spell vinaigrette
(2) I love easy meals. This is an easy meal.
(3) Using the phrase “casserole dish” makes me feel like I’m 67 years old. There is nothing wrong with being 67 but it makes me feel like my kitchen is 70s orange and I’m pumped about AquaNet.

You know how when people tell you “oh, yeah. This is a great weeknight meal. You can totally do it in 15 minutes.” But then, you end up eating at 9pm because you f-ed up the rice twice or cutting up the ingredients took twice as long as Giada / Rachel Ray / Ina says it should.  Well folks. I’m not going to lie to you. Because I don’t want you to lie to me. This literally took me 5 minutes of prep time and 20 minutes in the oven.

Let me paint you a picture. I start thinking about dinner at 7 in the morning. This is a slight exaggeration but I love food and I think about it all the time. Food makes me happy. I eat my feelings … regularly. One time someone cancelled a date with me and I ate an aggressive amount of bread and a way too old Easter chocolate bunny. Even though it wasn’t really worth it. I can often diagnose my moods by what I’m eating before I can really understand my own emotions. Weird? Maybe.

So, if you ever see me hugging a loaf of bread in front of a dish of olive oil and grated parm … it’s probably best to throw me a pound of cooked bacon and walk away.

But back to dinner.
I ended up picking up the fish from Mercato del Mare during my lunch break so as to streamline the cooking process post yoga. Baby sister and I were working on making curtains for her apartment, so it was going to bea full evening. There was no time for extensive prep, excessive dishes, or post eating coma. This meal really fit the bill and I’ll have it in my back pocket for the next time I want to cook for someone on a week night. The best part about it is the minimal prep and zero babysitting.

(Step 1) Preheat oven to 400 F.

(Step 2) Salt and pepper both sides of the fish filets andlay them in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. If there is a “skin side” to your fish, put it facing down.

(Step 3) Toss into the dish some cherry tomatoes cut in half and cut up asparagus. There is no specific amount, just do as much as each person wants to eat. I know that’s not helpful but if you’ve found this recipe, then theoretically you can think for yourself. I tended to put the veggies around the edges of the fish as opposed to smack on top. You should probably dothis as well.
(Step 4) Drizzle the dish with olive oil and a gentle dash of salt. Toss in the oven and set the timer to 20 minutes.

(Step 5) Now, let’s make our vinaigrette. It’s really easy. Don’t get stressed out. I don’t know how “juicey” you like your meal… but I like juice. So, I’d rather make extra than run out and have my plate dry as a bone at the end of the meal. Combine the following: lemon juice, champagne vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, and capers. Taste it. Want more ofsomething? Add it. I added a bit more olive oil and honey after my first taste. Note, if you don’t use salt packed capers, add a smidge of salt. If you do use salt packed capers, then we can be friends for forever.

(Step 6) Pull the fish from the oven when its flaky and done. Use a big ole flat spatula to transfer the fish from the casserole dishto the plates. Distribute the veggies and pour the vinaigrette over….. and eat. And love.

Seriously that’s it. So easy and so light, which is greatbecause as we discussed I’ve going to FLA this weekend and nobody wants to havea bread baby by the pool. Unless it comes with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and extra crispy sweet potato fries.

Shopping List (for two)
For the fishies
2 6 oz white fish filets (anything you want… I went with cod because it was on sale. But seriously. Pick what you want.)
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Halved cherry tomatoes
Chopped asparagus

For the juicy tasty vinaigrette
2 T Lemon Juice
2 T Champagne Vinegar
3 T Olive Oil (most flexible here… add more of this before adding more vinegar or lemon juice)
1 T Dijon Mustard
Smidge of Honey (1 teaspoon?)
Capers  (… as much as you want. I’m not the caper police, but I wish I was. That sounds like a great gig)

Bonus picture:
Check it. I legit wrote this recipe out. Kinda exciting no? I've never actually done that before. Weird.

in progress


I’ve started a lot of posts recently and not finished them.

It’s weird what I end up writing about. Sometimes its about sitting in the park, other times the focus is on what I’m experimenting with in my kitchen, and then other days those two combine and I get thoughtful and write about what’s happening in my head.

But writing isn't coming to me today despite wanting to write. Perhaps my ability to write went to the same place as my patience and balance. The balance is a legit issue given that I have slanted floors and the last thing I need is to start falling over while standing up. I already have a suspicious bump on my head with no known cause. I hit myself in my sleep? That seems like a bad thing.

So here are the rough headlines of things I started to write but didn't:
+ mentors
+ life timelines
+ age is but a number (or is it)
+ do butterflies exist
+ turning 29
+ my biological clock is (not) ticking

Maybe tomorrow will be a better writing day. My friend Carrie is getting hitched this weekend in FLA ... and I'm sure that will get the ole juices flowing. A good emotional event usually does. Until then, I'm just going to keep deep conditioning my hair and cursing that 2nd glass of wine I had on Sunday night. The 2nd glass of wine led to my new sundresses being shipped to my parents house... as opposed to my house. Inconvenient. Initially I was inclined to blame an unknown 3rd party ... but Meghan keeps me honest. The fault lies with the wine.

pink cheeks


minot beach on soothing saturday night

One of my favorite parts of summer is nighttime. I know, the summer is about warmth and sun ... and I say nighttime. Let me clarify.

I love the feeling of sun-kissed skin after the sun has set.

It's almost like getting a gold star for having a great day.

I'm pretty sure any dermatologist / doctor / etc is going to be mentally tisk tisking the computer screen. And I get it. I really do. I'm Irish. I have blonde hair, blue eyes ... and skin that matches all of those physical traits. I just do not "tan". I never will.

But, tonight as I mentally recap the weekend in my head... my cheeks are pink and my arms have a slight glow to the them. I'm probably the only person that is okay with a sunglass tan on a Monday morning. It's my way of reminding myself of fun times during the course of a work week. I want to see my nose a different color than my eyes. It's like a badge of awesomeness / memories / fun. 

So tomorrow, when I'm sitting at my desk and looking at emails. I'll be thinking of the following:
  • walking to commuter rail on Saturday morning with my canvas tote filled with dirty laundry ... and stopping to see the seals
  • sitting on the back porch of the family house drinking an ice coffee while family filters around
  • splitting my first golf club BLT with baby sister
  • gawking at the ocean during a all ladies sunset bike ride .... wearing maxi dresses
  • countless hours sitting in Adirondack chairs on the front lawn waving at neighbors
  • long runs through suburbia
  • dominating two pots of coffee (as a family of course)
  • taking a nap on the train back to Boston ... and balancing my laundry as a ride my Hubway bike towards the North End
  • impulsively stopping for $5 appetizers at Bacco because it felt right ... and having to pay because a waitress spilled water all over me
... but most of all. Losing track of time in my hammock and loving all of it.

Good thing I'm not friends with any doctors. I don't need anyone reminding me tomorrow of my poor  sun "behavior" on this sunny weekend. Also, I'm thankful that only baby sister was around to see me tumble out of the hammock this afternoon. I'm not totally sure how I ended up beneath it but I think it started when I was trying to be photogenic. 

In parting, I will share my "recipe" for a phenomenal summer cocktail. It's called a "white ice" ... and it was bestowed on me by my Dirty Jerz roommate Jenny. Without Jenny, I would have gone insane during the Summer of 2009. She also introduced me to chicken sausage but I'm more thankful for "white ice" and watching "So You Think You Can Dance" while yelling at the tv together.

White Ice
White Wine ... any type (I'm not a chardonnay fan ... so I tend to go with Pinot Grigio)
Lemon slices
Carbonated clear tonic / seltzer (lemon seltzer or regular tonic)

Yeah.... its that easy. Combine all three in whatever proportions suit your soul. Its the most refreshing summer cocktail I've stumbled across recently. Plus, it has great memories of attempting to improve our pool game and judging the other people in our apartment complex. Both of which are great skills I still haven't quite perfected.

amazing friends.


The life of a single 28.75 year old female can be amazing.

You get to fill the DVR with anything you want. Nobody judges what you make for dinner from your freezer (hi frozen meatballs!). You can dry your hair in any state of undress you want. Plus, you never feel guilty for not hanging up your work clothes at the end of the day.

The other amazing part of being 28.75 is that your friends are mature and smart and sweet. When you have a bad day, they text back. They even call you. (I know right? People who use the phone. Amazing.) When we were younger, I think the natural inclination was to take you to a bar, order a cranberry vodka (or five), and wake up the next morning feeling "better" but not actually better. You might have cleansed the disappointment / anger from your system, but in the morning the confusion was still there. 

At 28.75, I'm not going to pretend that wine doesn't make a great day even better or sooth a bad day. But, my friends are a bazillion times smarter now. Like for reals guys. Maybe it's because we are really good at making PowerPoints or because we have more life experiences, but the support system at 28.75 is pretty baller.

Sometimes it's hard because everyone has a different life timeline (this is a whole different forthcoming post). People meet their partners at age 16, 21, 28, 35, etc. It's easy to feel "behind" when you are still buying milk for one and subconsciously realizing you need to flip your mattress more often since you only sleep on the right.

But. Your friends are smarter now. You like them as much, if not more, than when you first met. 

At 28.75, you theoretically know how to deal with disappointment and confusion.... most of the time. But because of your amazing friends.... you cope even better. 

Amazing right?

When I was younger, all of my immediate friends lived in the same place. Literally. I could walk to everyone's apartment in one day if I wanted. Do you know how long it would take me to walk to NYC, LA, DC? More than a day for sheezy. But, in these odd circumstances... I'm closer to my friends now than when we could take shots of mylanta during college or eat Big Dig fries in grad school. (BTW, Big Dig Fries are essentially nachos but with waffle fries. They are in one word... amazing.)

The point of all this? I have amazing friends. That text me, call me, and ... in one very special case... order Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Ice Cream delivery. I'm not even joking. The delivery guy had to convince me to come downstairs because I didn't believe that I had ordered anything.

Good luck finding friends like mine. It'll be a bitch.

expensive taste


i'm early for saturday yoga. always.

According to my Foursquare check-in history, I've been practicing yoga for 14 weeks in a row. 

This is by far the most expensive habit I have ever formed. And trust me on this. Because one summer I bought a whole lot of tank tops and my parents made me document them all with estimated cost in an Excel spreadsheet. Spoiler alert? Even if you buy it on sale, it adds up.

I feel like at least once a year you see articles about how much people spend on coffee, buying lunch versus packing, expensive shoes, etc. I'm pretty good about all of those things. I don't mind making my own coffee, I enjoy the satisfaction of eating something that I've made, and given my desire to walk the line between nautical / beach and business casual.... I don't prefer expensive shoes. I prefer TOMS.

But, I can't find a substitute for yoga. It's really quite great slash terrible.

It's even made me start to run in the mornings (and enjoy it) because my favorite yoga classes are after work. On mornings that I don't run, I try and get in 15 minutes or so of self practice on my very slanted floors ... which sometimes feels like a handicap and other times a help. But, it just isn't the same as laying down my mat in the company of others.

Initially, I thought about investigating yoga DVDs ... but I really don't want to do that. I like the anticipation of wondering what my favorite instructors have in store for the day.

Instead, I'm giving up cable.

I had initially planned on doing so when I signed up in December ... but had wavered recently. I can afford cable so why give it up? 

On Friday, I was a little frustrated. Let's call it "unbalanced". I craved going to a yoga class. I wanted the silence that came with time on my mat and guided movements... but I had already been 3 times that week. Yoga is by no means free and 3x is absolutely not free. So, I didn't go. I wanted it on Friday night, I wanted it Saturday morning. Sunday I made scones .... so I compensated with carbs. Sue me. Actually don't, just make the lemon lavender scones. 

But today! Today, I went to my 6pm class. It was great. My muscles shook, I relaxed, and I felt great.

I am not planning on giving up tv.... ever. But, I can't recall the last time a few hours of E! or Bravo made me feel as good as 75 minutes of yoga. Plus, I'm really good at wearing stretchy clothes and oversize t-shirts .... both of which totally fit with yoga. If I can fit bacon in here somewhere, it'll be like all of my worlds colliding in one amazing feat of awesomeness.

"romantic" lemon lavender scones


In June 2010, I had a scone that changed my life. It was in Kinsale, Ireland. It had raspberries. And it changed how I felt about scones as a whole. I'm not sure what I felt before... but it wasn't love for scones. 

To this day ... I have searched for a scone that I loved 40% as much.

Well this morning I made lemon lavender scones. They are easy, delicious, and romantic. Yep, I'm not sure quite what makes these babies feel "romantic" but they do. I feel like I should be wearing cute pajamas as I eat them (not my oversized J. Crew men's waffle shirt from junior year of high school). I'm also supposed to be curled up in an arm chair and reading a wonderful book on a Sunday. That... I did manage to pull off.

Plus, it wouldn't be a weekend if I didn't cover myself (and my kitchen) in flour... right?

I don't know where regular people buy "culinary" lavender (apparently there is a difference?) but I bought it at my favorite store in the North End, Polcari's on Salem St. And it was only a dollar. I've only ever stumped the gents at Polcari's once before on a weird ingredient... and I'm probably better off not making a homemade face mask with dried orange peel. So thanks for that guys.

Theoretically you might want to have a coffee grinder or a mortar/pestle situation in your kitchen for the lavender process, but I have neither and my scones were delicious. I just used a spoon and my hands and crushed that business right up. You won't get stronger from crushing lavender with your hands but you will smell amazing.

(Step 1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. This recipe makes 9 solid sized scones so... pick a pan for that.

(Step 2) Combine the lemon zest and lavender in a small bowl and really smoosh it around to get the "essential oils" released. Then add the sugar.... and mix around again. By this point, you will already be in love with these scones.
(Step 3) Toss the amazing sugar mix into your your large mixing bowl (stand mixer, whatever) and add flour, baking powder, salt and shortening. Mix it up until the shortening is all sorts of tiny like cornmeal.

(Step 4) In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk and cream. Don't forget to save the egg white from the yolk. You'll totally want it to put on the scone pre-baking.

(Step 5) Combine your bowls and mix it all up.

(Step 6) Take a deep breath and get ready to cover your kitchen in flour. Gently massage the dough onto a well-floured surface. I say "gently" because I don't really care how much you do this ... you really just don't want the dough to be sticky anymore. 

(Step 7) Roll the dough to about one inch thick and cut the dough however you want. I cut into 9 squares and they were great. But, if I was bringing these to say a fancy brunch, I'd probably try to get 12 scones out of the dough just fine. 

(Step 8) Arrange scones onto baking sheet, about two inches apart and brush the scones with the reserved egg white. At this point, I have also realized I don't have a pastry brush. I used a spoon. It felt less "culinary" but whatever. Now, spring the tops with sugar.... aggressively. It's worth it especially if you don't want to make the glaze.

(Step 9) Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until pale golden.

(Step 10) Want the glaze? (You do. It's worth it). Mix up the lemon juice and confectioner sugar to a thick-ish consistency. Drizzle away and top with some additional ground lavender. 

Now, you eat them and you love them.

If you are me, you eat two for yourself while reading The Girl Who Played with Fire ... then you want to share them, so you put on your sneakers and walk two miles to put one outside of a friend's apartment in Back Bay. By the way, it's gloriously sunny out and since you are on a scone high you don't even care about all the tourists.

I bet you wish I knew where you lived now don't ya? Not in a creepy way of course.

Recipe adapted from this one on Food + Words

Shopping List
zest of two lemons
1 tablespoon culinary lavender, finely ground-ish
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening
1 large egg
1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white for brushing the tops of the scones before baking)
1 cup light cream
4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (from the zested lemons)
2 cups confectioners' sugar
finely ground culinary lavender, for sprinkling atop scones

pretty flowers


Guys, I’m famous.

Just kidding of course. But I did meet a really sweet girl this weekend …. who get this … read my blog and not because I sent it to her and was like “check out this recipe I made” or more likely than not “look I posted a picture of a seal”.

Anyways. On Saturday, I went to the West Elm in Fenway because they were having a “pop up flower shop”. West Elm has like a bazillion great events with bloggers / Etsy / or whatever but I always seem to be travelling or making PowerPoints and can’t go. It’s actually a secret dream of mine to be a part of their “Front & Main” blog since it’s kind of like all my favorite things in one (internet + West Elm + cooking + pretty pictures).

It was really a perfect storm of greatness in that Becca of Petal Floral Design had peonies, West Elm had pretty vases, and I had my contact lens rebate credit card burning a hole in my pocket. Becca asked what I was hoping for in my arrangement and I pretty much left it up to her.

Needless to say I was pleased with the results.

Here are a few non-Instagram pictures that I snapped this week as I gawked at my glorious buds:

I’m really looking forward to stealing mounds and mounds of hydrangeas from my suburban garden this summer. Especially the blue ones. But ....in the meantime, I’ll just keep paying for flowers from Whole Foods.

sticky (but delicious) tomato jam


Tonight... everything .... is.... sticky. 

I made JAM. Tomato Jam.

Before you start to feel like I'm some sort of amazing kitchen witch (I don't know maybe you think Jam is hard) .... I will tell you that making jam is one notch harder than matching up white socks or making mussels. Some assembly / patience / attention required. That's it.

The tomato jam came about because by the virtue of market timing. After running errands all day on Saturday,  I didn't make it to Haymarket until just before closing. Enter the FIRE SALE. Almost everything is a dollar. You can't buy 3 tomatoes, you can only buy 3 pounds. It's how I ended up with all the asparagus for Sunday dinner.

I was a little unclear what to do with 3 pounds of tomatoes. It's getting to be really nice out and I didn't want to make bolognese sauce or tomato soup. It also wasn't warm enough for gazpacho which I'd have made in a heartbeat. Thankfully, my friend Gretchen from "Under My Knife" provided me 3 great suggestions: bloody mary mix, pizza sauce, pomodoro sauce ... or tomato jam. It's always great having a friend whose Instagram makes you salivate regularly. Get one, I recommend it.

The "hardest" part of this was figuring out how to sterilize the jars - which I ended up just microwaving since that was one of the options. The second hardest part was not burning myself on the hot jars ... and hot contents ... that I had to ensure weren't too far apart temp wise or the glass would allegedly burst. I'm no genius but that seems like a great way to ruin the jam.

So this is how it goes. Also, I doubled the original recipe from "A Wednesday Chef" since I had 3 pounds of tomatoes. Each pound of tomatoes will generate one 6 oz jar... so 3 pounds is 2.5 jars. (You are welcome for doing the math.) Oh, and kitchen scales are overrated right? This is how I measure ingredients and it works juuuuuust fine.

(Step 1) Prep your tomatoes. You need to core them (take out all the brains in the middle) and roughly chop them.

(Step 2) Now add all of the ingredients into a pot / saucepan. Seriously. How easy is this? So, add the tomatoes, sugar, lime juice, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and red pepper flakes.

(Step 3) Bring this all to a boil and stir often.

(Step 4) Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir the pot occasionally. You want it to get to the consistency of jam (obvi) ... which will take about 75 minutes... maybe a smidge less.
(Step 5) Pour the jam into hot, sterile jars ... and screw the lids on tight. I have no idea why but the recipe I followed suggested putting the jars upside down to cool. Whatever, I did it. You should do it too.
You are done. Now, if you were me ... you'd give one jar to your Italian landlord, one jar to a lucky friend, and keep the half jar for yourself.

Shopping List
1.5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
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