A couple of weeks ago there was a giant stainless steel pan sitting on a table in the lunch room at work, with a note saying there were 35 of them…free for the taking.  With lids.

Of course, I just had the have one.  Or five.  For…uh…well…hmmm…I had no idea.  But my building of about 50 people cleared them out that day. 


As people would walk by with their giant pan, I’d ask what they planned to do with it.  With varying degrees of defensiveness, everyone admitted they didn’t have a clue.  But when they saw it, they just had to have it.

They tried to put it in the oven at work.  Good on width, but the oven wasn’t deep enough.  So no massive cakes.  Portable fire pit?  Giant pan of chips and salsa?  Beer and ice for a party?

Here’s what I did with mine this weekend. Herb garden.


Even as we were drilling the drainage holes, my father was lamenting the destruction of such beautiful vessels…but he couldn’t come up with a better use.


Vacation season starts today

I’m on my way to LA to visit a friend this afternoon.  She used to be one of my customers when I worked in NY.  Tonight I’m going out with her and her ex-boss.  Tomorrow we drive to Solvang for a wine tour.  Back home Sunday night.

We have a secret trip to Legoland in San Diego planned for Easter weekend.

Mark and I go to San Francisco on April 17th. 

After that, we’re stuck at home for a while. But we have our tickets booked for the summer.  The kids and I arrive on 7/11.  I fly home on 7/15.  The kids fly home with grandma on 8/1.  And grandma flies back to NY on 8/8.

See you all then.

Party time!

Last winter, I found this amazing looking recipe for jerk chicken on Serious Eats.  The recipe didn’t intrigue me, so much as the technique.  As they explain in the accompanying article, traditional jerk chicken is cooked on green pimento wood.  They have you cooking the chicken on a bed of bay leaves and allspice berries.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  I even bought big bags of bay leaves at the middle eastern supermarket right after I moved to Phoenix.  But I never made it. 

Finally, a couple weeks ago, I decided I’d had enough thinking about it.  We decided to invite a bunch of people over, specifically to give me the motivation to try the chicken recipe.

We called it an-excuse-to-try-a-new-recipe party. Mine is jerk chicken.  Evelyn’s is a pineapple upside down cake.  Mark’s is a rum punch.

I wrote out 20 invitations.  We invited everyone on our end of the street (except the lady who wouldn’t come to the door).  And the kids invited 4 school friends each.

This is the second time I’ve tried to have a party, so I was more well prepared for the results this time.  People are HORRIBLE at RSVPing.  I have had 6 responses and only 3 yeses.

I decided to send out a broad invitation at work.  5 thanks, but can’t make its. 1 maybe.

The party was last night. 

I had 1 midday cancelation.  1 no show.  1 of the husbands ended up having to work.  But we had 3 families over, including 1 work family.  There were 7 kids, plus 2 babies…so the kids didn’t feel it was underattended.

Mark wanted to be prepared in case we had people come who didn’t RSVP.  We cooked 40lbs of chicken.  Holy smokes….that’s a lot of chicken.  The chicken was fantastic. 


24 habaneros for 20lbs of chicken.  Plus another 3 for the vinegar sauce.  It was that perfect hotness that is right on the edge of being too much.

I made rice and peas and coleslaw, cut up a pineapple and some strawberries.  Evelyn’s cake was great and almost completely devoured last night.  The lady across the street brought a tropical ambrosia style salad. 

So, I’d describe it as a very enjoyable evening, but a complete failure as a party.  Still, I’ll probably try again.

Now I have to start planning Owen’s party.

When life gives you 75lbs of lemons…

This past weekend, Mark and I helped his friend out by taking a few lemons off his hands. 

The tree was loaded.  Really loaded.  It is a full size, thorn-covered, 20 foot tall lemon tree.  The fruit load was so heavy they had props under the branches. 


It took us about 10 minutes to gather our fill.


We juiced the brown and blue baskets.  Mark freezes the juice in Solo cups.  It’s the perfect amount for a half gallon of lemonade.  I think we got 38 cups.

I took about half of the green basket. 

I started a limoncello experiment.  Results at the end of March.  They’re stuck in a dark closet until then.

Lemon hammocks



Pithless rind in the liquor


Of course, the lemon rind version doesn’t consume the entire lemon, so those guys are sitting, bald/naked, in the fridge waiting to be juiced for lemonade.

I used a couple pounds to make lemon marmalade. 


Evelyn nibbled at it and said it was OK…she’s a terrible judge right now because she’s sick.  Owen doesn’t like it.  Mark, who is a marmalade hater, says it too sweet and too sour at the same time.  I happen to think it’s delicious.

I still have a third of the basket sitting in my garage.  I have to figure out what to do with them soon.

And I need to get moving on my orange tree.


Uncle Johnny wrote to me yesterday asking where I’ve been blogging or posting photos.  I haven’t been.  But maybe I’ll start again. 

Today was a good day for nosing around the old sites and trying to remember where I had been posting because I’m stuck at home.

Here’s why…


The fuzzy gray part at the bottom of Evelyn’s left lung (right side).  Mild pneumonia. 

So she’s home.

And I’m home.

And because I only pay for days he goes, Owen is home, too.

Birthday Blizzard

My birthday blizzard came early.  I hope.  Because otherwise, we’ll be having a lot more snow this March.

Yesterday morning we could see our lawn.  Today, it’s tough to see the car.
07Mar blizzard car

07Mar blizzard grill

And our dog fence went on the fritz while the neighbor was plowing his “driveway” (which includes large portions of his yard).  I have a sinking suspicion that our wire got plowed up and cut.  And is now buried under a few feet of snow.


I actually pulled my camera out yesterday to take some pictures of the kids and realized that Evelyn has hit the point where she won’t let me take a photo unless she’s posing. Then, after I snap each shot, she needs to approve it. What was life like before digital cameras?!

(Something about this picture reminds me of a photo I’ve seen of Chloe.)

01Mar evelyn

A couple of weeks ago, Owen got into the sifter I’d used for cocoa and, later, found the batter spoon while I was baking and not paying close enough attention.
10Feb cocoa face