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Super Summer Salads

3 Aug

Dear Zoe,

My week with you in D.C. was heavenly for so many reasons.  But one of them was the meal we shopped for and prepared so lovingly for your sister’s birthday.  I should’ve known that when Lucy said her meal of choice for her special birthday dinner was “a nice salad”, that you had some tricks up your sleeve to make it something wonderful.  Your approach to salad-making is now my official summer meal fallback plan!


July is my favorite summer month: the Iowa roadsides are a-bloom with mullein and chicory–and the farmers’ market is overflowing with peak variety: cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, melons, new potatoes, green beans, sweet corn…the list goes on and on.  I love this explosion of nature’s colorful abundance!

Assembling the team

I often eat dinners of giant salads made of whatever is left in my fridge after a trip to the market.  But there is a certain elegance to the following approach to salad-making that can elevate a simple salad to a smorgasbord of deliciousness. There is something about this combination of cooked and raw vegetables served simply that creates the perfect opportunity to savour them each for their seasonal seductiveness: Continue reading


Sour Jerks and the Women Who Love Them.

24 May

Dear Bec & Nina,

I’m writing this from my stuffy Chicago apartment just a day away from departing for your love ratification festival of joy (aka wedding). This meal is a lil’ mixture of your old Caribbean hood in Brooklyn and the Eastern European vinegariness of Chicago. Hope you all enjoy it. I’ll do a repeat of whatever you would like to sample when I see you on Friday! 

Love you, Margie

The slow arrival of summer in Chicago is always a relief. Not because of the end of the bitter winds, drifting snow, and constant gray sludge attached to the bottom of my jeans, but because I can finally accept that my neighbors were not eaten my zombies. Snowmagedden, what we fondly call the blizzard of 2011, made my back deck a wasteland of snowdrifts and rotting lawn furniture. After a few months of teasingly warm temps and nights in the 40s, we’ve reached a plateau and I’m finally beginning to see life in the neighborhood again. Back doors have slammed open and my neighbors have appeared again, alive, and ready to grill.

Cooks should ensure that there’s room in the fridge for a couple of loiterers as these babies will need 24 hours chillin for maximum flavor.  

People of all genders can love the Jerk.

Jerk chicken is one of the easiest, most flavorful dishes to grill. Some folks turn to spice rubs and bottles o’ jerk but the results are just not the same!  Continue reading