Nearly there

I called Ferdinand from work to see how he was doing and he said, “all right.”
“How was school?”
“All right.”
“Was it a good day?”
“Yea, it was all right.”
“I’ll be home about 11.”
“All right.”
That’s okay–I speak nine year old boy. A language of sometimes no more than two words but with what could be 46 billion different meanings. And like any language, harder to translate over the phone.
I told him that I loved him and then I roasted a prime rib, made a potato gratin w/ fresh sage and garlic, roasted fennel with a drizzle of cream, braised string beans and tossed them with wild mushrooms and caramelized onion (with a clove), tossed endive, radicchio and watercress into a salad and served a cheese from the southwest corner of France and a black truffle cheese from Italy. For dessert, chocolate jonty.

Don’t lie down

I was in my own train wreck yesterday without even leaving the house. Bits and pieces all over the place with about four minutes to pick them up and put them back together.
The key is to move. The bed will talk to you like melted chocolate.
I cussed, folded laundry, whipped egg whites and folded in chocolate chips and dried cherries. I made phone calls, toasted walnuts, stirred them into butter, flour, and sugar, rolled them into balls, and dotted them with jam, squared off half inches of brownie and wrapped them in wax paper and I brushed my teeth and then brushed my teeth again. I made menus for work, swept the dust out the door without looking for the dustpan, I told Jonathan how to make chicken soup, asked him to give my boy a hug for me and stuck to the schedule, taking the #7 train to the west side at 4:30.
By the time I got home I looked like somebody’s gym towel from last week.
The trick is, when you’re done, go to bed. At 8:39 I crawled to my raft of a mattress and at 8:40 I was sleeping.

How to taste olive oil

How to taste olive oil

You can still get La Macchia for the holidays. Give someone a can of La Macchia, and you are giving someone their own tree on a hillside in the Chianti. It takes the olives from one whole tree, that bears fruit just once a year in Tuscany, to fill a liter of La Macchia.
To know more about it, click here: Get your hands on some La Macchia

7am start

Got on the train at 6:15 to get to work by quarter to.

Turned on the lights, poured myself a cup of coffee and started:

Breakfast for 35

Frittata w/ fresh scallion, basil and parsley
Yogurt w/grated apple, raw whole oats and honey
bowl of beautiful berries
fresh orange juice

At 9 am I took out the beef for Lunch for 41

Browned the beef with a few pieces of bacon and onion and then cleared the pans with a whole bottle of chianti. Let it simmer in the oven with stock while I sauteed onion, carrots and a bundle of leek, bay leaf, fresh thyme, parsley and celery tops. Took out the big onion and slid in the tiny chopped stuff. Recovered. Cut up butter flour and sugar, pressed it in the pans for shortbread and simmered eggs, fresh lemon juice and sugar. Baked it in the other oven.
Braised the string beans. Sauteed the fennel. Roasted the shallots and tossed them all together.
Roasted potatoes on the rack under the beef stew.
Rubbed 2 whole salmon, each filleted into 2 halves with La Macchia, drizzled with sea salt and set them to rest on halved plum tomatoes, whole scallions and lemon halves.
Made a sauce w/ more scallions, strips of lemon zest and parsley and La Macchia
Simmered rice w/it’s own bundle of leek, thyme, celery top and bay leaf
Washed and cut the romaine and ripped in fresh herbs; set up huge bowl dressed w/ La Macchia, olive oil, lemon and salt; set up a huge bowl back up
Made a relish tray of raw carrot slivers, celery, radish, cornichon, nicoise olives, picholine olives and cherry tomatoes
Made a single plate w/ice berg and grated cheddar, olive oil and balsamic on the side
Plattered everything up.

Washed all the dishes and got on the train going uptown to make:

Dinner for 37.

Jonathan met me outside with all the stuff I made the night before:
hand rolled lasagna noodles layered in paper, meat sauce, grated parm
spinach sformata
marinated chicken breasts on the bone
chocolate souffle cakes
along with all the raw ingredients for the rest of it.

Made the white sauce and heated the meat sauce. Layered it up for the lasagnas and stuck them in the oven. Roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms and made a quick red sauce for a vegetarian version.
Seared off lardon for the passed hors d’s.
Seared shrimp with whole garlic cloves parsley and sprigs of thyme for passed hors d.’s
Cut up the sformata for passed hors d.’s and dipped the bottoms in parm.
Heated up the cannellini and fried garlic with lemon and garlic to toss through.
Braised the string beans and sauteed onion for them. Finished them with toasted pignoli and golden raisins.
Heated the chicken, pulled it off the bone and sliced on the diagonal. Plattered with the pan juices.
Sent the hors d.’s out when the guests arrived.
Plattered everything else while the guest speaker did his thing. Voice like velvet. (Tom Brokaw.)
Whipped the cream.
Made second bowl of beautiful berries.

Took off my apron and hailed a cab to pick up Ferdinand.

Because of my mother

I love hard, I sing loudly, I eat candy with a passion, I am from Hartford, I have cold feet, I never quit, I cook every night, I get really angry, I know all the words to “you are my sunshine”, I never miss breakfast, I worry about oncoming trucks that are nowhere in sight when I cross the street, I could scare a stone with a sneeze, I go around saying things like I have peace like a river when I don’t, I only serve my family exactly the amount I think they’ll eat, I use real butter when I bake, I can look at a house or a mitten and think, “I could make that”, I save empty sugar packets for keeping loose beads, I can find a tooth in a soccer field, I yell too much, I cry silently, I will feed anyone who is hungry, I strike up relationships with people on the subway, I think George Booth is hysterical, I have huge hands, I love books as if they lived and breathed, I am a money shunner, I can tell quality fabric from poor imitation, I carry the Times crossword around the house, and I watch waves of the ocean to sync the rhythm of my heart.


A. Walk the dog
B. Make dinner
C. Stare at a wall
D. Eat butterscotch brownies w/ chocolate chips and just a teeny bit of coconut. Ding Ding.

3/4 sifted all purpose flour
scant 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

all of that gets mixed together. Add to:

4 tablespoons of melted, cooled butter mixed with 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 large egg (not extra large.) Stir in two good handfuls of semi sweet chocolate chips and one small handful of sweetened coconut. Bake at 350 degrees. Take them out as soon as the knife is clean. They’ll be golden on top, but look like they aren’t quite cooked. Let them cool for an hour.

putting my one foot in front of the other

I know it wouldn’t make the book of Life’s Helpful Hints, but the day after my mother left, I went back to work.
I took the train to 74th and Broadway and shopped. I put it all in a cab and tied on my apron.
I soaked cannellini and simmered them with fresh sage leaves, garlic, olive oil and a shower of salt. I chopped onions and carrots and celery for soffritto, moved them around over a gentle flame for 40 minutes and added tomatoes. The beans were smashed, chard was sliced, ciabatta was toasted in the oven and then everything went in the pot for a
Tuscan Ribollita.
I seared a pork loin with the ribs still attached and stuffed it with gremolata before I roasted it.
I braised carrots w/a spill of vinegar, a shallot, a pinch of sugar and salt, bay leaves and peppercorns, and then tossed them with currants and toasted pignoli.
I caramelized onions until they collapsed.
I squeezed lemons into eggs and sugar, thickened them on the stove and poured them over a shortbread crust.

And I was so thankful for a place to put myself.


My mother died.

Before she died, she asked us all, sister and daughters and niece to stand around her bed in the ICU and tell her that we accepted her decision, and we did.
They cleared the tubes away and tucked the blankets around her and asked her if there wasn’t anything she wanted.
“I haven’t eaten anything or had anything to drink for four days,” she said. “I want a coca cola.”
She drank the coke and asked us to call her brother. I passed her the phone. “I’ve had enough.” she said, “I want to die now Ferd. I’m drinking a coca cola and it’s delicious. I love you.” I tried to think of what else I could give her.
I called the other Ferdinand and he sang to her on speakerphone. He read her a poem.
We held her hands and rubbed her feet. We told her how much we were going to miss her.
“There’s nothing I can do about that,” she said.
The nurse brought an afghan and a candle a worry stone and muffins and coffee and water.
My mother said to my sister, “Love each other.”
Her breathing slowed down. Her niece called from Spain to tell her she loved her.
We cried and cried some more. For a moment, we were quiet.
As my mother left, we sang to her.