Returned from Colorado at 1AM this morning.  We’ll see if I get in the kitchen tonight.  Stay tuned !


Ballad, M.Thatcher, Dog

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osbourne :   A gambler going down the tubes in Macau.   There was a helpful primer on the rules of baccarat which should come in handy given my exotic international lifestyle.  Ha.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel:  Hilary Mantel is such a super big deal author I felt I should LOVE this.  The stories were  dark and more than a little unsettling.  I didn’t love it, but it was interesting enough I’m glad I read it.

The Dog by Laurence Osbourne:  Funny but increasingly dark account of an expat in Dubai.  I enjoyed it.

51H7BgDh9fL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_As night falls on Macau and the neon signs that line the rain-slick streets come alive, Doyle – “Lord Doyle” to his fellow players – descends into his casino of choice to try his luck at the baccarat tables that are the anchor of his current existence. A corrupt English lawyer who has escaped prosecution by fleeing to the East, Doyle spends his nights drinking and gambling and his days sleeping off his excesses, continually haunted by his past. Taking refuge in a series of louche and dimly lit hotels, he watches his fortune rise and fall as the cards decide his fate. 
In a moment of crisis he meets Dao-Ming, an enigmatic Chinese woman who appears to be a denizen of the casinos just like himself, and seems to offer him salvation in the form of both money and love. But as Doyle attempts to make a rare and true connection, all that he accepts as reality seems to be slipping from his grasp. 


51xgKXBu1bL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel’s trademark gifts of penetrating characterization, unsparing eye, and rascally intelligence are once again fully on display with stories of dislocation and family fracture, of whimsical infidelities and sudden deaths with sinister causes. Cutting to the core of human experience, Mantel brutally and acutely writes about marriage, class, family, and sex. Unpredictable, diverse, and sometimes shocking, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher will brilliantly unsettle the reader in that unmistakably Mantel way.





51XJpzpiDRL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In this extraordinary, both comic and philosophically profound novel, the acclaimed author of Netherland uncovers the hidden contours of a glittering Middle Eastern city—and the quiet dilemmas of modernity. When our unnamed hero, a self-sabotaging and oddly existential lawyer, finds his life in New York falling apart, he seizes an opportunity to flee to Dubai, taking a mysterious job for a fabulously wealthy Lebanese family. As he struggles with his position as the “family officer” of the capricious Batros brothers, he also struggles with the “doghouse,” a condition of culpability in which he feels trapped, even as he composes endless electronic correspondence—both sent and unsent—in an attempt to find a way out. 

An unforgettable fable for our globalized times, The Dog is told with Joseph O’Neill’s hallmark eloquence, empathy, and stylistic mastery.








NYC Vacation

We just returned from a little family vacation to NYC.  The husband’s best friend played host and what a host!!   We had the full urban experience from camping out in his incredible home (he owns a former hat factory which he converted into huge loft style apartment for him on the top floor, with the middle floor rented as an apartment and the bottom floor as an art studio) to being shuttled around the city to all of his favorite spots from a Ukrainian hot spot in the Village for pierogis at midnight to Argentinian immersion theatre and a music studio to hear his band play.  Exactly the sorts of activities we usually do here in the burbs.  Ha.

Here’s a synopsis of what we covered in 3 days and 4 nights :

  • 3 shows: Fuerza Bruta (courtesy of THBF), Something Rotten (picked by Helen) and Shuffle Along (picked by me) – all fabulous
  • 2 museums:  The Whitney (ugh) and the The Frick (much better)
  • many fabulous meals, my favorite being The Brindle Room
  • miles of walking – Helen tracked us on her fitbit and we clocked in at 28.9 miles in 3 days – holy cow !
  • the castle at Central Park, tacos and mini donuts in Chelsea Market, the view from the High Line, free games at Bryant Park  (Helen creamed us in Scrabble) and the icing on the cake was a Purdy Girl store in the East Village where I got a $168 jacket for $39 – whoo hoo!



Kung Pao Chickpeas

Kung Pao Chickpeas is a great dish to make if you haven’t meal planned for the week. All you need is chickpeas, random veg and a few asian stir fry staples (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic chili sauce, honey).  Plus it is perfect for Meatless Monday!

Last night’s version had red and orange pepper, asparagus, a whole container of sauté greens, cashews and a little bit of buckwheat soba. And of course, chickpeas. Yummy and healthy !


B&B and The Cousins

This weekend was the middle school production of Beauty & The Beast with Sophiachow’s own Helen playing Cogsworth the uptight clock.  Ha – all she had to do was channel her mother, which she did splendidly!  It was a great show, the kids were fabulous and I’m feeling a little sad it is over.

We had lots of family coming through to see the young star.  My parents and my niece came to the show with us Friday night.  As I had spent most of the week in New York for work and then had to be in the office both Thursday and Friday, I broke down and ordered pizza for the gang.   I did manage to make a salad to have with the pizza and my Dad was horrified at the inclusion of roasted broccoli.   He does not like broccoli apparently!  All these years, I never knew that.

Saturday, Anne, my Aunt Pat and my little cousins, Molly & Nanna, arrived.   For dinner before the show I fed them my favorite salad with roasted chicken, barley, greens and cherry tomatoes accompanied by Irish soda biscuits.  Sunday morning we had waffles and the husband made everyone (except me) fried eggs  (disgusting) which the kids gobbled down even faster than the waffles.  Lunch on Sunday was veggie wrap sandwiches with apple slices and we finally conducted the chocolate test!  I read (a few years back) that if you can’t see/smell you can’t tell the difference between white and milk chocolate.  I’ve been dying to put this theory to the test and the kids were 100% enthusiastic to be the testers.  Even Anne (who HATES any chocolate except for white) took part.   Most of us were able to tell the difference though I found it more difficult than I anticipated.  Anne knew right away!!  Nothing like a strong aversion to inform your taste buds.

I was too busy to meal plan / grocery shop so it’s going to be a clean out the pantry/freezer sort of week.   Could get interesting.


NYC, Blue Apron, A Big Mess

I’ve had a spell of out eating out recently from a night at Incontro with the gals, to a weekend lunch at the cafe in Nordstrom  (my hands down favorite place to get lunch at the mall) and then this week I’ve been in NYC so every meal has been out.  Lucky me, Lisa and I hit the town one night and went to the most delicious place for drinks and apps and I have no idea what the name was (it was pouring, it looked inviting, we ducked in for a drink) which is too bad as I’d love to go back.  The place we ended up for dinner, Chalk Point Kitchen, was good but perhaps not worth the sum of money charged for some sweet potatoes, broccoli and one octopus tentacle.

What have I been cooking?  Good question!  I made turkey chili over the weekend plus snow day crepes for the family during Sunday’s storm.  My friend Ellen gifted me two Blue Apron deliveries so we had some battered catfish with risotto paella and a chicken noodle curry.   I have to say, I wasn’t a huge fan.   The husband complained that it tasted “too chemical-ish” and my issues were that it didn’t quite meet my exacting healthy cooking standards (which is code for too much in the low nutrition carb department and not nearly enough veg), the amount of packaging was insane and I still had to spend 45 min cooking.   On the plus side, it was fun to open the box and it was nice to have much of the prep work done.  And the serving sizes were pretty large (which meant leftovers for lunch!)

Other than that, on the cooking front since the last post, there was at least one meal of my now favorite chicken and spinach dish and that’s about all I can remember.   Better luck next week.





Snow Day Crepes:

This is what it looked like when I was trying to make chili, corn muffins and brownies all at the same time: IMG_6007


Blue Apron Catfish:


Sausage Skillet with Peppers and Farro

This recipe for a smoked sausage skillet with peppers and farro was a huge hit with everyone in the family.  I made two changes- first, I didn’t have any farro on hand so I used brown rice.  Second, I tried not to eat things that are smoked and so used fresh sausage instead.  Which meant cooking the sausage before hand which added a little time to the recipe.  Well worth it as it was quite yummy.

Health factor?  Not super duper healthy but not awful either.