Archive for November, 2011

Cilantro Ginger Margaritas

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

In this verdant green cocktail, a margarita takes a stroll to the garden, and comes back greener, fresher, and a little spicier.

Cilantro and ginger root get in the blender with margarita elements – lime, tequila and sugar – to create a lively emerald cocktail.  Herbaceous and citrusy, with that sweet, vegetal tequila note, it’s a fresher, more floral margarita.

My recipe started as a healthy, post-run, Sunday morning smoothie – the lime, cilantro, ginger, thing;  I had an apple in there.  This was pretty delicious: icy cold with little taste arrows pointing in all directions – sharp citrus, spicy ginger, peppery cilantro.  Even the palm sugar owned a solid piece of the taste real estate.  My husband and I took one sip and said, almost in unison,  “This is amazing; it needs tequila.”

Sometimes good health is served in a smoothie, and sometimes it arrives in a cocktail.  There were many served the very, very healthy night a bunch of friends all made tamales.  To be posted soon.

Cilantro Ginger Margarita

makes approximately 4 drinks

juice of 4 limes

3/4 inch chunk of ginger root chopped loosely

1/2 bunch of cilantro

2 tablespoons palm sugar or honey (or more to taste)

1 1/2 cups sparkling water

3/4 cup tequila (more or less to taste)


Mix in a blender lime juice, ginger, cilantro, and 1 cup sparkling water.  Whirr until all is mixed well.  Pour mixture through a strainer and discard solids.

To this mix add another 1/2 cup sparkling water and the tequila.  Pour over ice in a shaker, shake hard, and strain into a glass.

Or, mix again in a blender with some ice cubes and serve in a glass.

To rim the glasses:

Set out two plates, one with a bit of palm sugar or honey on it, the other with sea salt.  Run the rim of the preferably chilled glasses first in the sugar, and then in the salt.


A sleeping garden shed

Monday, November 28th, 2011

A garden shed tucked away for the winter – the hoses rolled, the mower cleaned, the gardening gloves washed, the peony stakes bundled – is beautiful.   Properly placed hooks are beautiful.  Hanging tools are beautiful.   Garden hats always look great on a hook.  Mostly, the whole thing is beautiful because all that WORK is at rest, which means the person in charge of digging, planting, watering, trimming, and weeding can rest.

I didn’t organize this shed; Tom Stockton, the man who lead our renovation project, the man who brought Howlets back to its understated gray grandeur, put in the hooks and rolled in the mower, but as I walked around the yard recently seeing new areas to clear, dead wood to remove, and imagining new garden spaces, I opened that door to the shed, saw all the tools looking so peaceful, and I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful.  I whispered “hush,” and tip-toed away.


Mini Cha-Cha Sandwiches

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Paradoxically, mini anything evokes memories of both sweet childhoods and sophisticated adulthoods – nursery rhymes and English novels, matchbox cars and Mini-Coopers.

Therefore, tiny ice cream sandwiches guarantee to amuse and delight both the children’s table and the adult table.  Maybe even the teenagers’.

Lark Fine Foods, already legends for their Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (try serving a dollop of olive tapenade on top for a delicious appetizer.) and their collection of “cookies for grown-ups,” just began producing  a mini-size Cha Cha, their spicy chocolate if-mole-were-shortbread cookie.



I had my eye on a box with a cup of tea, but Brett Roeske from Lula’s Pantry in Rockport, where I was day-dreaming about my next cup of Earl Grey, imagined the darlings – black rounds with a slightly rough cut edge that reminds you people make these cookies, not machines –  as miniature ice cream sandwiches.  Add to that a glass of Champagne.  That’s life with Brett, always a little bit better than -.

Given the perfectly scaled red Cha-Cha box, how can one not consider these Minis at the bottom of either a four-year-old’s or forty-year-old’s Christmas stocking?  Even a teenager’s?

I recommend a tiny scoop of Batch Vanilla Ice Cream, handmade in Jamaica Plain, MA,  in that tiny ice cream sandwich.  Listen for the tiny ice cream truck.


File Under “i”

Monday, November 14th, 2011

I was ten years old, and playing croquet with my cousins.  We began to argue about the rules, and called upon my aunt to referee.

“Marilyn! Tom says you have to go through the wicket twice at the end; I think he’s lying!”

Marilyn disappeared for – count them – three minutes, and returned holding a slim, faded pamphlet.  She paused on the side of our croquet field and proceeded to read, “The Rules to Croquet.”

“You OWN the rules to croquet?!” I asked, stunned, “ – And you knew where to find them?!”

“Of course,” my aunt smiled, “I knew exactly where they were – in my filing cabinet under “i” for important.”

“File under i” is where I put everything that’s really important.  wink..

Jason Grow, Portrait Photographer

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Jason Grow hates to be interviewed, and would barely tell me anything, so I had to resort to what I know about him:  He makes delicious homemade pasta, even pizzocheri, the buckwheat pasta from Northern Italy impossible to find in this country.  A rough cut dough cooked with kale, potatoes, fontina cheese, sage, butter and garlic, pizzocheri was born in the Italian Alps and happily immigrated in Jason’s capable hands to New England ski-slopes as the perfect ending to a day on skis.  Jason worked at Stars, Jeremiah Towers’ San Francisco restaurant and celebrity chef incubator.  He worked at Chez Panisse for one day, then said, “unh, no, I don’t want to do this,” and he went back to Stars.

Jason’s the kind of Dad who makes homemade marshmallows for his kids’ hot chocolate.  I’m fairly certain that one of his life-goals is to master cheese.

Jason’s height – tall, very tall – still surprises me.   His gentle, freckled face and eyes, which flash unchecked from deep and sad to the laughter that knows there’s a whoopie cushion on the teacher’s chair, still have all the freshness of a fifth-grade boy running out to recess.  His daughters – Matilda, 13, and twins Jemima and Maisy, 10, share his strawberry blond hair and fair skin.

Jason built a play-house for his daughters that many people would be happy renting for a summer.

He met his wife, Sarah, in a California wild fire.  Both were photographers covering the fires and the fighters, and bumped camera equipment trying to out-run the burning brush.

The Grows live in one of the trim, turn-of-the-century East Gloucester houses that was probably once home to a successful cod fisherman or net-maker.  To support his fresh pasta habit and to keep curtains in the playhouse, Jason takes muscular but refined, intimate but formal, stately but accessible photographs of people, including me, here.

He’d rather talk about the posole he made for the guys putting a new roof on his house than his photograpy, so I have to reference his bio, which is really just an extension of his modesty:  “Jason Grow specializes in photographing exceptionally accomplished busy people with real time constraints in real environments.”  I’ll list the sexier journals on his long list of editorial clients:  Time, Forbes, The New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, Barron’s Bloomberg Business Week, Sports Illustrated.  He’s taken photographs of Ray Tomlinson, the father of email, Maine organic farmers Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch, author Kate Braestrup, (I loved her book, “Here if You Need Me”), lots and lots of guys in suits looking either sternly or playfully wealthy, and pioneers.  The kinds of magazines Jason shoots for likes a good pioneer – a geneticist or a crazy IT guy.  Close to his heart, Jason shot Best Chefs in Boston for a Boston Magazine cover.

He hates having his picture taken as I learned when he came to my house to take mine, but he’s returning soon with Sarah and the girls soon so we can all make Christmas Tamales.  That will be a blog you shouldn’t miss.

Check out his work at