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Creating a simple and sentimental Thanksgiving

Some years we may feel we are facing the holiday season rather than embracing it. Difficulties of all shapes and sizes can make Thanksgiving a day we look to with some trepidation. One way to navigate these feelings is to create a Thanksgiving of simplicity and sentimentality. Asking for help, adjusting traditions and reducing the number of side dishes are three ways to simplify the day and meal. If you always host, consider letting someone else play that role. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, think about ordering the feast pre-made. As for creating a sentimental Thanksgiving, layer the day in shared memories and tributes to what your family has to be grateful for by sprinkling host and guest-given toasts throughout.

TRIED-AND-TRUE WINESIt’s easy to keep Thanksgiving wine simple and sentimental, too. Unoaked Chardonnay, Riesling, dry Rosé, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir are, without question, the wine heroes of the Thanksgiving meal. These varietals are ideal pairings because they ei…
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Garden recipes and meal planning start the school year off right

(Written for the Los Altos Town Crier) It’s a time of ripening. Tomatoes, corn, squash and melon are reaching full readiness at seemingly the precise same moment in our backyard vegetable boxes. After months of watering and waiting, it feels nearly miraculous that there is actual food on the vines. Or perhaps that is just the awe of a mediocre-at-best gardener. Indoors, things are reaching a more complete state, too. Kids, ripe from a summer of equal parts adventure and boredom, are at their peak condition for taking on a new year of school. I watch in amazement as they tear tags off just-bought clothes, wrap up summer homework assignments and discuss morning routines – hardly believing we’ve reached the end of summer break. Here again, I wonder if my astonishment at the arrival of the school year start is the result of my equally mediocre ability to keep a schedule. Regardless, after a summer of enjoyable time spent with my kids and my garden, it’s thrilling to watch the next step for bo…

The Powerful Brightness of Joy

(published on

On the darkest of nights, when cloud cover masks the sky’s countless constellations, a patient star-gazer will still find light. A brief hole in the sky as the clouds shift, allow the celestial bodies to show through. Joy is this way too, coming into view even in the bleakest of times.

This is not to say that joy replaces sadness or struggle nor that it’s realistic to expect a constant state of elation in life. Rather, our minds are capable of a duality which allows for both dark and light emotions to exist alongside one another. If we can infuse even the smallest amount of lightness or levity into a time of difficulty, we can steady ourselves for the journey required to pass through dark times.

I recall a time in my life when I was facing a hefty problem. Of the many calls of support I received, one stood out as especially uplifting. A friend who had experience with a similar situation rang me to talk about it in practical terms. After some time of sharing advi…

Cheers for Schmears! Mother's Day Bagel Brunch

(Written for the Los Altos Town Crier) Encircle mom with love and bagels If you’re ready to round up the moms in your life for brunch, look no farther than the beloved bagel, which is suitably circular to reflect the everlasting love of moms. We love our moms year-round, but Mother’s Day gives us a reason to encircle them with appreciation. Round references aside, a bagel spread makes the ideal brunch for celebrating Sunday – the variety of toppings and bagel flavors offer something for both sweet and savory food fans. Whether you’re a mom hosting friends or a dad looking to wow his wife, a bagel spread comes together with little effort, and is impressive whether you’re hosting a party of one mom or a houseful of mothers. What’s more, brunch sits perfectly placed on the clock to allow the mom in question to sleep in or go for a morning walk as it’s prepared. THE BAGELS

If you’re able, buy bagels the morning of the brunch for maximum freshness. Posh Bagel, with locations in Los Altos and Mou…

Mother's Day Round Up

Breakfast in Bed: Dads: get ready to harness your children’s nimble fingers and infectious enthusiasm in preparation of Mother’s Day breakfast in bed.

Moms Supporting Moms: My girlfriends, sisters, aunts and mom are my absolute bedrock. It is upon their love and reinforcement that I thrive.

Mom and Wine Have Much in Common: Time and moms have an extraordinary relationship – we seem capable of bending time when needed.

Chill at Home or Take a Hike: For a maternal figure who would love nothing more than some quality time at home, declare the day a screen-free one and head outside.

Granola for All the Moms: This Mother’s Day, my kids and I will show some admiration and appreciation to my women friends without biological children: aunts, in-laws, neighbors and colleagues who serve as honorary moms to my kids -- loving them fiercely and without question.

Versatility in a (pale pink) glass: Top wines for spring entertaining please many palates

After a long and particularly wet winter, the recent mild weather has people yearning to socialize. 
(written for the Los Altos Town Crier)

Knowing how to fill your wine glass during the changeable weather of spring can be somewhat perplexing, but if you stock up on a few versatile vintages, you’ll be ready for every entertaining scenario. It is with some reservation that I share my current go-to bubbly. There’s a portion of me compelled to hoard the remarkable value all to myself. At $14.99, Antech Emotion 2016 Crémant is as well priced as it is delicious. Crémant wines (made the same way as Champagne but far less dear in price) are ideal for spring entertaining. The fine strands of bubbles, delicate pink hue and tender floral and dreamy cherry notes of this Crémant have me wondering whether the winemaker managed to bottle spring itself. From the Languedoc region of France, Antech Emotion 2016 Crémant is a great aperitif before a dinner party. Or have it on hand for a night when company …

Root Vegetable and Red Lentil Tray Bake

My mom has proclaimed that she could live on pasta alone. Funnily enough, I don't recall pasta featuring heavily on her dinner rotation when her dining room was full of kiddos. But I totally get her. It's how I feel about this vegetarian tray bake. I could eat it noon and night for weeks on end before I grew tired. As I don't just cook for myself, it is a dish that makes it onto the table every few months. 

The warm Ethiopian spices scatter on before baking and drizzle of dressings at serving, make this a meal fit to impress should you wish to go meatless for company. The quick clean up adds to the overall joy of the dish.

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon paprika 
pinch of ground cloves
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 carrots, washed and rough cut
2 turnips, peeled and rough cut
2 parsnips, peeled, cored, rough cut
3 large shallots, peeled and rough cut
2 tablespoons grapeseed or avoc…