birthday strawberry shortcakes with strawberry-balsamic-basil sauce

I was five years old, in kindergarten, when I received an invitation for my first sleep-over party. I am sure I was excited – but I mostly remember feeling confused that someone would be having a birthday party so late in the year. I suppose I must have known that people’s birthdays happened year round, but with mine and my brother Dan’s just one day apart and right in the thick of summer it had always felt like birthdays were a seasonal event. There were ‘the holidays’, and then there were ‘the birthdays’ – and six months later, the cycle would begin again.  Continue reading

An hour of one’s own

stuffed squash blossoms

My brother Ben has been staying with us the last few weeks. He is clean and tidy, pitches in with dishes, and watered our garden for us while we were away – so you can see he is a fine houseguest. He is also a beloved playmate for my little guys; they have been in heaven spending time with him most afternoons, digging vast irrigation canals through the yard and engineering elaborate train track systems around the family room.

While the design and construction projects have been taking place, I have had something quite unexpected: Continue reading

Bright shining as the sun – Tomato Tuesday

slave free tomatoes

Tomato season is upon us! In our garden, we plant easy-to-pick-and-eat cherries in all colors of the rainbow, and then watch for heirlooms to creep in around the margins (this year, we have grow-back green zebras, my favorite). When we got back from the mountains, we found a bright shining rainbow of candy-sweet and deep-tart and summery-smelling beauties waiting for us. And boy do I have a recipe for you. But first – first, let’s talk (in a totally roundabout way) about why we grow tomatoes in our yard, even though 1/4 of our household (starts with K, 6’4, also inexplicably hates blueberries – any guesses?) doesn’t even LIKE them. Unless they are cooked. And then only maybe.

Continue reading

Coming home

lavender buckwheat crisps

Hello! I hope you all had as relaxing and rejuvenating a week as we did. I spent my mornings taking long walks through the mountains with Kate or reading under the trees … in the afternoons we all lazed in the cool green Tuolumne river, while trout flashed through the shadows and big kids leapt from granite boulders into the clear water. Kyle and Dan ran a week-long beer-tasting contest (winner undeclared – an East vs West coast tournament format has been proposed for next year). They endeared themselves to their wives by shuttling the kids to and from kiddie camp, and stayed in camp to read their vacation books while Kate and I walked (Dan read one of my very favorites, the book my mom gave to each of us in her last summer and that he hadn’t been able to brave until now – I am glad to say he loved it as much as I do).

ice cream kiddos

Jacob and Sonia definitely made their mark on the mountains – Sonia wore her sparkly wings and performed a solo dance routine in a talent show (she called it “The Fairy, The Dance, and The Hundred Acre Woods”) and Jacob engineered a truly epic sand pit that became known in Kiddie Camp as The Tuolumne Ocean. All four of our little ones survived on various incarnations of oatmeal, ice cream, and fruit. They were in heaven. (Sonia also scared everyone half to death by getting lost fifteen minutes after we arrived … Kate and I found her huddled under a tree up the hill and over a bridge, scared but most of all irritated that “Daddy is taking so long to come back after I ran away from him!”)

Being up in the Sierras felt like a homecoming. Continue reading

Around the table

Assuming we can somehow fit this towering mountain of sleeping bags and bug spray and jackets and soccer balls into our vehicle (ah yes, traveling with children!) we are heading off early early early in the morning to Tuolumne, Continue reading


garden hydrangeas

In May I told you about my friend Eleanor, a jam-and-baking goddess who promised that, come summertime, she would teach me to preserve my plum tree’s delectable fruit. She actually went one better, and brought me to “the source” – and so it was that early on a sunny Saturday morning I found myself in Watsonville, clutching a paper bag filled with twenty pounds of plums, standing in Aunt Ann’s bright and welcoming kitchen.  Continue reading