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April 29, 20111 Comment
SPRING 2011. ARTICHOKE. 04.29.11

Last summer I was at the National Portrait Gallery chasing squirrelly children through a Norman Rockwell exhibit, lucky to catch a glimpse of a piece of his legendary work here or there between mutterings of “don’t touch that” and “please stop running.” The very last piece in the exhibit caused me to stop, stunned into perfect silence. Amazingly, my not-quite-5-year-old son also managed to halt. We both stared breathlessly at this piece. “What is he thinking?” I asked my son. “He looks scared,” he replied. “Why do you think he’s scared?” Having never found himself teetering at the edge of a high dive, my boy was unfamiliar with the feeling. That feeling of uncertainty and fright. You either need to jump and face that fear, or you need to walk sheepishly back to the end of the diving board and down the ladder past all the waiting swimmers who will surely snicker and sneer as you pass with your chin firmly in your chest, eyes down. This piece of artwork was a reminder that sometimes, we just have to jump. And hope for the best.

This week I did not one, but two scary things. Yes, two. The first pertains to the lovely spring wonder pictured above. You see, there are a handful of foods I enjoy eating but prefer not to prepare in my own kitchen. Whole lobster. Pie crust. Anything involving booze and fire at the same time. French fries (a hot oil horror story for another day, I promise). Until now, I would have added artichokes to that list. Between the prickly barbs on the tough outer leaves and those fuzzy, hair-like bits near the heart, I’d previously left this vegetable to the professionals. In the name of conquering my fears head on, I invited the artichoke into my kitchen and saw it with new eyes. They were slightly less scary baby artichokes, actually. And I might have used some frozen artichoke hearts in my cooking, too. Baby steps, okay?

The other scary thing I did was purposefully and deliberately walk away from comfort and safety, that which is known and secure. These are the words that run through my head in a repetitive loop: Leap and the net will appear. Today, I leave my steady and happy job of more than five years. This is a place with bright, passionate people and a rock solid mission. This is a place that greets me with friendly faces each day and contains me in a light-filled, cheerful office with modern, sleek furniture. There is a small voice somewhere (which I can’t hear all that well anyway since I’m practically deaf in one ear) telling me that I’m crazy and that I should cling to what is good and familiar. But the louder voice – the one I can’t drown out – says to reach for the stars. So folks, I am all yours. I have chosen to pour myself into this little site and into you. I hope to bring you more of what you want, get some of what I need (sleep, mostly) and all the while, cook and eat and photograph and write and do it all over again. Leap, and…we’ll see what unfolds. Thank you, loyal readers, for carrying me to this place. I will not let you down, I promise.

Well, okay then. Sigh. I’ll end on a lighter note. See you back next week. If you find yourself wanting more in between, you can catch additional photos, recipe previews, articles and other fun stuff on Facebook and Twitter. So long for now and thanks again.

Artichoke Lists

April 29, 2011Comments Off on Artichoke Lists

1-1/2 pounds baby artichokes

1 bunch kale

1-1/2 pounds green beans

1 pound brussels sprouts

1 yellow onion

1 shallot

1 head garlic

4 lemons

Fresh basil

Fresh parsley

Meat / Fish

3-4 pound whole chicken

1-1/2 pounds tilapia (U.S. farm-raised)

12 oz. fully cooked chicken sausages

4-6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts


Parmesan cheese

Pecorino Romano cheese

4 oz. mozzarella cheese

1 egg

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup pesto

10 oz. package frozen artichoke hearts

1/2 cup creme fraiche

1/2 pound boule pizza dough (if not making from scratch or defrosting)

Pantry Staples

Small crusty wheat loaf

Old Bay seasoning

Mayonnaise (reduced fat)


1/2 pound pasta (shells or other short variety)


1 jar fire-roasted red peppers

1-1/2 cups panko

Note: List does not include “weekend splurge” ingredients.


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