Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my gift to you…

In the spirit of this Holiday season, I send to you, my faithful readers a beautiful poem about a small Christmas tree by my favorite poet.

little tree
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forestand
were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
“Noel Noel”

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

wordless Wednesday…Christmas at Tiffany’s...

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients
of a truly merry Christmas.

I wanted to share the stunning simple beauty of Tiffany’s
Christmas décor at their store in Oak Brook, IL.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

shameless self-promotion…

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents
as opening our hearts. - Janice Maeditere

Being jobless once again after a flurry of temp free-lance work, I decided to do a little shameless self-promotion of my TWO brand new 2010 Calendars.

The “in my sister’s garden” Calendar features images that I took over several months in my beautiful sister’s stunning garden.

Naturally the “feasting on…pixels: a food lovers calendar” is a collection of the best of my food photos that have appeared here in this humble blog over the past year.

I chose 14 special images for each Calendar (that's one for each month and a front and back cover photo.)
I hope that you click on over to my ZAZZLE GALLERY and at least take a look at my photo Calendars, Holiday and everyday note cards.
I am very proud of th eowrk that I have produced this year and here's hoping kind readers that you will like some of it as well.

Merci mille fois in advance...!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas at the Mill…

"Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart,
you won't find it under a tree."

I apologize to all my readers for being absent from this blog for a few weeks.
I have been up to my neck in work, but since I am free-lancing, I have to grab every bit of work that I am offered.

One of the events that I photographed took place at Old Graue Mill in Oak Brook, Illinois called “Christmas at the Mill".
They had their annual Artisan Boutique with handmade items from select local Artisans.
Beautiful hand-pieced quilts, scrumptious warm hand-knitted items, stunning pottery, unique jewelry, one-of-a-kind ornaments, cards, Christmas figures and other gift items were on offer.

Carolers sang Holiday melodies and Santa was there hear your list of Christmas dreams. A team of beautiful Haflinger Draft Ponies gave sleigh rides around Salt Creek to children of all ages. (I went was a blast...!)
I wanted to share some images with you of this wonderful event. It was a perfect day and a great way to start the Christmas Season, sipping some cider, meeting Santa and sharing the day with lovely people.

The handmade items were displayed on all three floors of the Old Graue Mill and in the the historic Frederick Graue House up the hill from the Mill. It was a good time to get to know the local artisans as well as explore all the corners of the beautifully restored Graue Mill.
The Mill is closed for the season, but you can still pick up some of their ground cornmeal for yummy winter recipes if you call ahead to Graue Mill at (630) 920-9720.

Belle and Bess, Haflinger Draft Ponies are all decked out in sleigh-bells pulling the candy cane sleigh from A Zoo to You

Friday, November 20, 2009

vitamins from Brussels…

This time of year, eating fresh greens gets harder and harder for me as my garden goes to sleep for the winter. But the saving grace is that Brussels Sprouts are in season. As a child, I hated Brussels Sprouts with all my might, as they came to the table boiled to death and ghostly grayish-green.

Now that I know that there are dozens of tasty ways to prepare them, keeping them fresh tasting and green, I try to keep a stalk of them in my cold pantry all winter. They are easily available on a stalk all over the US at you local Fruit and Veggie market.

Brussels Sprouts on my "Martha Stewart green" French button chair

I found these interesting facts about Brussels Sprouts and I wanted to share them with you, especially if these are not your favorites. This may encourage you to give Brussels Sprouts a whirl this Winter.

15 Facts About Brussels Sprouts

1-Brussels sprouts are native to northern Europe.

2-They are part of the Brassica family of vegetables, which also includes cabbage, broccoli, kale, and collard greens.

3-They get their name from the fact that they were widely cultivated around Brussels, Belgium during the 16th century.

4-They were introduced to England and France in the 19th century.

5-According to a 2002 survey, Brussels sprouts are the most hated vegetable in Britain.

6-French settlers in Louisiana introduced Brussels sprouts to America in the 1800s.

7-Commercial production began in 1925 on the Louisiana delta.

8-By 1939, Brussels sprouts were being produced in central California.

9-Today, almost all U.S. production of Brussels sprouts happens in California.

10-Other top Brussels sprouts producers include Canada, The Netherlands, England, and Germany.

11-Like broccoli and some other members of the Brassica family, Brussels sprouts contain something called sinigrin, a glucosinate that may prevent colon cancer according to research.

12-One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 1,122 IU of Vitamin A.

13-That same cup also contains 669 IU of beta carotene.

14-A cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains about 60 calories.

15-1/2 cup contains 80% of the RDA of Vitamin C.

These are 15 great reasons to eat your sprouts;
one more is that each sprout has only 10 little calories…so eat up…!

My two favorite ways to enjoy them is steamed and tossed with a lemon vinaigrette.
Made this way they taste fresh and light.

During the cold months, I love to roast Brussels Sprouts in the oven. Cut sprouts in half after washing. Toss them with a fruity olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees, turning after 10 minutes until caramelized (about 15-20 minutes).

These are very sweet, pungent with out any cabbage-y flavor and pair very well with winter braised meats and that Turkey you may be cooking for you Holiday table.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

wordless Wednesday…Happy Veteran’s Day…!

Nothing is to strong as gentleness,
and nothing is as gentle as real strength.
~ St-Francis de Sales

I have been busy with many new projects,
but I wish you all a Happy Veterans Day…!

I will be back posting very

Friday, November 6, 2009

November peas…a simple supper

Unbelievably, my little urban-suburban garden is still producing peas, lettuces and a few last tomatoes. I sowed another batch of peas and lettuces mid-September, and the tomatoes are just not quitting. With that in mind, I decided to make a super-simple meal of probably the last of my autumn crops.

My Novemember crop of peas

I made a package of the Gluten Free cheese ravioli that I bought from Conte’s Pasta. I gently sautéed a few tomatoes and halved peas in a first cold press fruity Olive oil with chopped shallots and garlic.

After the ravioli are cooked through and drained, I topped them with this very simple sauce. I finished my dish with a bit of freshly grated ParmesanoReggiano and a few stings of fresh Mozzerella. A very quick and easy-peasy meal with the last harvest from my urban-suburban garden.

Gluten-free cheese ravioli with November peas and tomatoes

I can't say enough about Conte’s Gluten Free ravioli. I haven’t had ravioli since before I was diagnosed and these were delicious and you would never guess that they were gluten-free.

Conte’s Pasta Company is truly a premier manufacturer of gluten-free ravioli, pierogie, gnocchi, stuffed shells, pasta, and pizza shells. The believe that everyone should be able to enjoy pastas. Believe me, these are the best gluten-free pastas that I have yet to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

wordless wednesday...a walk in the woods

Colors burst in wild explosions
Fiery, flaming shades of fall
All in accord with my pounding heart
Behold the autumn-weaver.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

eat, drink and be scary...

As spirits roam the neighborhoods at night,
Let loose upon the Earth till it be light.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

sweet pumpkin maple custard...pumpkin week continues

This delicious pumpkin custard can be baked in sugar pumpkins or in individual small ramekins in a bain maire (water bath). The baking time in a pumpkin is slightly longer as the pumpkins insulate the custard as it bakes. I like to bake my custard in pumpkins this time of year as it looks wonderfully unusual when served.


2 small sugar pumpkins

4 eggs

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup of pumpkin purée

1/2 cup maple syrup

a pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tsp oil for baking dish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Cut the lid off the pumpkin and remove the seeds.

Place a steamer basket in a medium saucepan with several inches of water.
Place pumpkins in the basket, cover and steam until just tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Let cool . (I popped mine in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.)

Combine the eggs, cream, maple syrup, pumpkin purée, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.

Pour mixture into the pumpkin shell. Place in the oiled baking pan and lightly cover pumpkin with foil.

Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until mixture has set like a custard.
Allow to cool and cut pumpkin into wedges and serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Happy Pumpkin eating...! ! !

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

wordless Wednesday: autumn in Paris…

Everyone has their natural place...
Neither pride nor price determines its altitude: childhood decides it.
Mine is a Parisian sixth floor with a view over the roofs.
~ Jean-Paul Sartre, Les Mots

For many years past, I have spent the autumn season in Paris. Not only is it a magical time of year as the leaves change into their fall couture, there is different vibe throughout the city that seems less hectic and more serene. Unfortunately this year I will be here in the US. But I am missing Paris very much this autumn, so the misty grey or golden autumn days here remind me of those glorious days in my favorite city. This year, images of past autumns in Paris will have to do, and I share them with you, gentle readers.

A breath of Paris preserves the soul.
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables ~ 1862

All I wanted was to connect my moods with those of Paris.
A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it? ~
Ernst Haas

Delicious autumn...! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.
What you have caught on film is captured forever ...
It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten them.
Aaron Siskind

And because it is Pumpkin week, here are pumpkins that are Parisiennes: Jaune Gros de Paris.

The beautiful giant pumpkin of the historic Paris market, Marché Les Halles. This big fruit can grow to over 100 lbs. They are round, flattened and have light ribbing. They are good keepers and are still popular in France. Good in pies, soups and baked or picked small and roasted or fried like squash.