Celebrating Independence Day

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Celebrating a recent Fourth of July with my friend Christie.

I have the great fortune to live in a community that celebrates the Fourth of July in true Norman Rockwell form. In this small town on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, families gather along tree-lined streets to watch the parade, with gracious houses draped in bunting serving as backdrop. Picnic blankets dot the lawns where little girls and boys in their patriotic finest play, blowing bubbles, waving flags. Adults mingle and celebrate, sharing their summer plans and catching up with the young men and women home from college. It feels like America should feel, to me at least. Continue reading

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

DSC_0013This Greek inspired lentil salad hits all the right notes – crunchy, creamy, light-yet-filling, and bursting with bright flavors.  It’s a great take-along for a Memorial Day picnic, and though it stands alone as a vegetarian entree, it would be a fabulous accompaniment to anything from burgers to grilled chicken.  The lemony dressing will seem like too much at first, but the lentils will absorb it over time.  French green lentils are worth seeking out – they have a wonderful nutty flavor and do not get mushy like other lentils.  I also love French feta if you can find it – it is milder and creamier than other varieties.

Lemony Lentil Salad with Dill, Cucumber and Feta

makes approximately 6 cups

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic, one peeled and two minced
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small cucumber, small diced (about 1 cup)
  • cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 small red onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 3/4 cup feta, small diced
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with one peeled garlic clove and a large pinch of salt.  Add lentils and cook over medium-high heat until lentils are tender and cooked through, 18-20 minutes.  Drain, then place in a large bowl.
  2. While lentils are cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the two minced garlic cloves, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Add dressing to the still-warm lentils.  Allow to cool completely.
  4. While lentils are cooling, chop veggies, herbs and feta.  After chopping the tomatoes and cucumbers, place in a colander lined with paper towels for at least 10 minutes to absorb excess liquid.
  5. Add all veggies and herbs to the cooled lentil mixture.  Stir in feta last.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

Make Me Blush

Make Me Blush
Pale blush was a favorite shade on the runways for Spring 2014, making silky underpinnings and accessories in this flattering hue the perfect choice for a Valentine’s indulgence.  What woman wouldn’t want a hint of spring next to her skin even if she’s bundled under layers of cashmere?  I am absolutely wild over those Stella knickers and the lace-trimmed silk pajamas.  The matchstick necklace is high on my wish list as well.  Such a clever way to tell her she lights your fire!

Eberjey lace trimmed robe
$180 – net-a-porter.com

Eberjey Iris thong
$42 – journelle.com

Claire Vivier leather clutch
$145 – clarevivier.com

Stella McCartney matchstick necklace
$345 – net-a-porter.com

Chloé perfume
$120 – bloomingdales.com

By Terry baume de rose lip gloss
$53 – net-a-porter.com

Eberjey Iris bralet
$54 – journelle.com

Last Minute Gift Guide for Him 2013

Yes it’s true –  only 9 shopping days left until Christmas.  Don’t panic!  Build a fire, pour a glass of wine, pull out your laptop, and shop the last minute gift guide.  I’ve got your back.

He’ll be the coolest one at the tailgate.  Smathers & Branson Lumberjack Plaid Needlepoint Flask here.

Keep him smooth and refreshed.  Kiehl’s “Ultimate Man” Soap-on-a-Rope here.

The perfect weekend watch.  Timex for J. Crew Andros Watch here.

Help him relax with this smooth and spicy small batch bourbon. Bulleit Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey here.

If the bourbon doesn’t beat back winter’s chill, this donegal wool cap will (here).

His coffee will stay hot for the whole commute.  Dean and Deluca Stainless Steel Travel Mug here.

Everyone looks better in a pair of aviators.  Ray-Ban Classic Aviators, all black and polarized here.

He may not admit it, but he loves cashmere just as much as you do.  J. Crew grey cashmere sweatshirt here.

Stuff his stocking with these not-too-tight-but-not-too-loose boxers in the softest cotton.  2xist Pima Button Fly Boxer here.

The best base layer for all of his winter activities.  Craft Active Long Sleeved Crewneck here.

So you can officially quit nagging him about what to wear.  Glenn O’Brien’s How to Be a Man (here).

Who doesn’t want to travel in style?  Billykirk Navy 20″ Water Repellent Canvas and Leather Carryall here.

Think Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor.  Scotch & Soda Navy Peacoat here.

Couldn’t resist.

I’ve saved the best for last.  Pack his bag and surprise him with a rustic chic trip he’ll never forget.  The incomparable Blackberry Farm here.

all images from retail sites with the exception of Robert Redford (Habitually Chic) .

What to Bring: Lemon Garlic Hummus

DSC_0307Store-bought hummus makes an appearance at almost every casual get together these days, but you can up the ante by bringing a flavor-packed homemade version to this year’s Memorial Day cookout.  It comes together in minutes, and DIYing it allows you to use fresh seasonal ingredients that may not appear in those little round tubs at the grocery store.DSC_0305Lemon Garlic Hummus

makes 3 cups

  • 2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (use two or three cloves if you are less of a garlic enthusiast)
  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • a few grinds of pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzle
  1. Set aside a big pinch of the lemon zest.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and the pinch of lemon zest into the bowl of a food processor and process until combined.  Through the feed tube with the food processor running, pour in the olive oil and process until hummus is smooth and creamy.
  3. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with the reserved lemon zest.

The jar of tahini will last for ages in the fridge, so if you keep garlic and a few cans of chickpeas on hand, you’ll find yourself throwing this together all of the time with whatever you have in the house.  Jarred roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, ghardiniera peppers, chipotles, artichokes, and olives all make great versions, and the recipe is easily halved.

recipe and photos by the aesthete and the dilettante

Now THIS is Love

Yesterday I spent four and a half hours on these cookies.  I am not making this up.  The most ridiculous part, however, is not the amount of time that it took.  It’s that I made them for my son’s classroom Valentine’s Day party.  I’m sure all of those 8th grade boys will spend LOADS of time appreciating the work that went into them.  And by loads I mean the 2 seconds it takes to either shove them into their mouths whole or use as projectiles in a sugar fueled food fight.

In retrospect, I think dying the dough three different colors was a wee bit ambitious, though my favorite cookies turned out to be the ones made from rolling the scraps together.  And yes, I am aware that Martha Stewart is not losing sleep over facing me in a cookie decorating throwdown.

Speaking of Martha, here is the recipe I used if any of you have a spare half day to devote to baking cookies.  I didn’t even get to the making of the filling and turning them into sandwich cookies part!

I doubled the recipe and ended up with 58 cookies using a 2 1/2 inch wide cookie cutter.

photos via the aesthete and the dilettante