If there were a contest for the world's greatest cucumber lover, I'm one-hundred percent certain -- or even more, if that's possible -- that I would win, or at least be a strong contender for the title. I can't seem to get my fill of cucumbers these days. Every week this summer I've made dill pickles, or a batch of gazpacho, or cucumber smoothies. And when I can find the small pickling cucumbers, I munch on them for afternoon snacks, for a quick pick-me-up. Cucumber salads make the perfect accompaniment to Thai food, like the satay skewers in the photo below (I'll share that recipe in my next post), and this version uses ingredients you always have on hand in the pantry. To make very... Read more →


To be honest, I'm not crazy about green beans, at least not when they're overcooked, mushy and limp. However, this is the summer of "if it's green, I'm grilling it," so it seemed only fair that I test out green beans on the grill last week. Who knew that grilled beans would stay fresh and still crispy, with just a hint of smoke from the grill? And they made perfect dippers for a spicy peanut-harissa sauce that also would be great with steak or slices of toasted bread. If you haven't tried green beans on the grill, I urge you to get out a grill basket and give it a try. You can make these beans on the panini press, too. I promise that once... Read more →


Which ingredients absolutely, positively, have to be in the perfect potato salad? I think we can all agree on potatoes, but what else? Celery? Pickles? Eggs? Sugar? Onions? When it comes to the perfect potato salad, I'm a potatoes-only purist. For me, it's more about the sauce that binds it all together, and I prefer tangy to sweet. However, I'm not against adding a good handful of garden-fresh herbs when I'm lucky enough to have some. This summer, I've been making lots of dill pickles, and there's always a good bit of fresh dill weed left over, so this creamy dilly potato salad has become the standard variation for the season. Don't skimp on the dill; it's an ingredient in its own right, and not... Read more →


When I see pickling cucumbers at the farmers market, I am the moth drawn to the flame. I must have them. And when I see fresh dill, I must have that, too. And then I make dill pickles, lots and lots of them. Sometimes, however, I find cucumbers but no dill, and for those times, I have my friend Pauline's bread and butter pickle recipe. Pauline, who left us for the great kitchen in the sky last year, taught me many complicated dishes, from her French-Canadian heritage and her stints living in other parts of the country, and she taught me this simple one. The only change I've made is to cut down on the sugar (and even at that, most of the sugar remains... Read more →


At this time of year -- beautiful springtime in New England -- I get asked often whether I miss living in the log house in rural northwest Rhode Island. To be honest, I don't miss the pollen clouds, the stink bugs, the carpenter bees. I don't miss mowing the lawn, or weeding the large herb garden, or fending off deer, squirrels and rabbits, just to save a few tomatoes on the vine. Another thing I do not miss is the limited access to a wide range of ingredients. Now that we're living The Downsized Life here in Boston, we can get anything. Our regular grocery store carries a variety of produce used in Caribbean and Latino cooking, to meet the needs of those large populations.... Read more →


In the summer, you want things to be simple. Throw some tandoori spiced grilled lamb, flank steak with ponzu and honey glaze or chicken bulgogi -- or hamburgers and hot dogs -- on the grill, and spend 5 minutes whipping up this sweet and easy cole slaw. It keeps for three days in the refrigerator, and deserves a place on any picnic table. Recently, there's been some sort of cole slaw shortage around my neighborhood. The supermarket deli sections don't have it in stock, which seems crazy as cookout and picnic season is upon us. No need to worry, though, because cole slaw is so easy to make at home. Save yourself time and effort by starting with store-bought cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and... Read more →


It takes a village to make a plate of collard greens. Well, it took my village to make this plate of collards. Stephen, a regular user of our Little Free Library, loves to cook and has a large garden in the Fenway near the Museum of Fine Arts. Recently he brought me a wonderful gift of a huge bag of collards fresh from the garden. Believe it or not, I've never cooked collards, because I've never really loved them (too slimy, and usually made with ham hocks, which I don't eat). So I asked for recipe advice, and Stephen suggested the typical long cook time of 2-3 hours, with smoked turkey in place of the ham, or maybe smoked paprika. I knew I wouldn't like... Read more →