For readers who would like to keep up with my second act as I build my volunteering life, I'll be posting updates about my progress on my blog Lydia Likes It (http://www.lydialikesit.com). You can subscribe by email or add it to your feed reader, by clicking through to the blog. I also share other brief tidbits I like, from anywhere and everywhere. It's quirky and fun, and occasional, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore, by Grace Young and Alan Richardson (2004) Why I've kept it: To understand why I will never, ever, ever let this book go, you need to read the backstory about the wok on the cover, and the wok maker, and the search by my friend Marcia through the alleys of Shanghai for my wok, made by the same wok maker. I fell in love with The Breath of a Wok at first sight, and I promise that you will, too. Read about... Read more →


Two lessons I learned in childhood: chicken soup cures all ills, and Chinese food cures all ills. So, what do you call a Chinese chicken soup that also happens to be packed with anti-oxidant rich dark leafy greens? A miracle cure, I think. If you get hit with a seasonal cold, or pneumonia, or if, like me, you feel like you've got a touch of the flu from getting your annual flu shot, you're going to want to try this recipe for Chinese chicken soup, made with inexpensive and readily-available ramen noodles and packed with dark leafy greens like bok choy (you can substitute spinach or other Chinese greens). Remember to discard the salt-filled flavor packets that come with ramen noodles. If you don't have... Read more →


When it comes to egg and cheese casseroles, I'm all in. No matter the filling, the mix-ins, or the variety of cheeses, I love them all. If I had the discipline, I would make a casserole every Sunday, cut it into squares, and eat one square for breakfast every single day of the week. Egg and cheese breakfast casseroles make satisfying suppers, or impressive brunch dishes, too. This recipe features one of my favorite combinations, broccoli and bacon, and I used creamy, mild muenster cheese plus sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano for the "glue." You could substitute fontina or goat's milk gouda, or even Swiss cheese, for the muenster. Vegetarians can omit the bacon, or substitute a vegetarian bacon which will still add some smoky flavor to the... Read more →


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? Venice & Food, written and illustrated by Sally Spector (1998) Why I've kept it: Some books are meant for cooking, and others for cuddling. Venice & Food, which I purchased in Italy on my first visit to Venice, is a cuddling book. Hand-written and illustrated, this book is almost too gorgeous to use, too precious to disturb by ruffling its pages. If you have ever had the good fortune to visit Venice, you will no doubt have found a favorite square, a favorite sotoportego, a favorite ponte over a favorite canal, and perhaps a favorite wine bar or... Read more →


Fresh corn season flew by this year, and I never got around to making this salad for you. Sure, I could have waited to share the recipe until next August, a full ten months away, but there's no reason not to enjoy corn all year long. Good quality flash-frozen organic corn always has a place in my freezer, and a little bit of tender loving care brings it to life in salads, puddings, cornbreads and soups. If you're making a list of perfect side dishes for a Friday night roast chicken or roast beef, put this corn salad near the top. The secret to perking up frozen corn is to give it a quick roast in the oven with salt and pepper. Of course, if... Read more →


Do you soup swap? Whether it's an informal trade with a neighbor, or a more organized Soup Swap party with a group of friends, making and sharing soup is as comforting as a pot of soup itself. The basic idea of soup swap is that you exchange quart-size containers of soup with general appeal (everyone does not love borscht, as it turns out), that can be frozen for enjoyment throughout the cool weather months. It's great fun to make something you know will nestle into a friend's freezer, to be pulled out and savored on a chilly evening. For my next swap, I wanted to create a make-ahead-and-freeze bean soup with neither tomato nor hot pepper in any form. This turkey, red bean and cabbage... Read more →


When we moved from log house to city apartment, I downsized my large cookbook collection, and kept fewer than 100 cookbooks. What made the cut, and why? The Silver Palate Cookbook 25th Anniversary Edition, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (2007) Why I've kept it: The original Silver Palate Cookbook was, to cooks of my generation, what Joy of Cooking was to our parents. Unique in format, packed with lots of informative and sometimes amusing sidebars, The Silver Palate Cookbook -- born of a popular New York City gourmet take-out shop -- introduced us to bold ingredients, unusual flavor combinations, and fearless entertaining. Chapters covered appetizers to desserts, plus brunch and beverages. When my original paperback copy came apart at the seams, I knew I... Read more →