Archive for the ‘The Purple Side’Category

Marfa Texas

What do we really know of a place, what do we really understand about the places we are from, the places we visit, the places we live, and the places we hear about in the news? To really understand a place do you have to stand in it; feel the temperatures change and see how the light moves?  What do we really know of another person and their experience? In todays super fast world what do we really know about our own country?

I have always been proud of my travels and the many stamps in my passport, but I have always been a little more reluctant or less motivated to see some of my own country. This past year I started to change some of that – I started 2018 in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, I spent a weekend in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with friends this fall, and I ended 2018 a few weeks ago in Marfa Texas. As a child from one coast who moved to the other coast Texas has always been a place that somewhat baffled me (I admit there were preconceived notions) but there was one small town in the high Texas dessert that always intrigued me and called to me. A small art destination a three-hour drive from the closest city, El Paso, it seemed a mystery and I wanted to experience it. 

I went for a long weekend with a friend; we flew into El Paso and started the drive east along Interstate 10. Once we were out of El Paso the sky was large and the road stretched endlessly through empty land dotted with cactuses and prickly pear. We would drive past rolling mountains and wind through more enormous open spaces. As we drove the empty landscape the stretches along the boarder it felt hard to not think of all the rhetoric we hear about walls, and harder yet to not imagine how difficult the long journey would be across so much space, and ultimately how endlessly ridiculous closing ourselves off could ever be. But it was also so beautiful, so much more beautiful then I ever imagined the light and clouds continued to dance and move and shed and reveal the landscape in an ever changing relationship.  

Our fist destination was a star party high in the Davis Mountains above the towns below and removed from the light of civilization. We drove and continued to climb with the landscape changing and pine trees and snow along the roads, but the sky and light continued to dance and dazzle through sun set. 

Marfa is a small town of only a few thousand residents surrounded by cattle and ranch lands, but in the 1970s the artist Donald Judd fed up with the New York art scene relocated there and started the Chinati Foundation. Artists have continued to follow and today Marfa is a small town with a large, off beat and impressive contemporary art scene. Waking up in Marfa one feels like they landed in the set for an old western, and indeed the film GIANT was filmed here and it hasn’t changed much in all of the following years. The roosters and chickens announced the day and then driving through the small town with no stop light save for one blinking red light at the center of town one feels transported back in time. The train rolls through almost once an hour; the buildings still look like film sets from the Wild West. But Marfa is also ultra modern in places (albeit quirky); in this sleepy town there is great coffee attached to a laundromat, and in a lumberyard. You drive past cowboys on the road but then at night can eat in restaurants sitting next to people you would expect to see in the hippest neighborhoods of the hippest cities. 

We started our first full day in Marfa at the Chinati Foundation among Donald Judd’s 100 untitled works in mill aluminum, and Dan Flavin’s Marfa Project in neon, what is considered one of the last great contemporary art pieces in the past century. We walked in the shadows of the theatrical piece From Dawn to Dusk by Robert Irwin and moved from dark through to the light as if we were a character in the chiaroscuro of a Vermeer painting. 

We walked among Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete and watched how the light of the day changed the scenery and the artwork. The Chinati Foundation was created to permanently show the work of a few contemporary artists in a site-specific home, and to emphasis art as part of its surrounding landscape and how art and nature are inextricably linked. The art becomes part of the location and nature around it and in return nature and the west Texas desert location become part of the art. 

We shopped the couple of stores dotted along the main streets in town and saw art everywhere among the town from non-operational gas stations to the sides of buildings. 

At this point I should say that Marfa is a unique town and stores and restaurants hold unique hours, think only being open a few hours a few days a week, and even then not reliably. It had been recommended to us to plan our meals as restaurants are closed many of the days of the week, and we happened to be there on Monday and the majority of the town closes on Monday. We did see a number of stores say by appointment and would certainly recommend trying to call and make appointments if so inclined as it seems that is how things worked. 

With much of Marfa closed on Monday we chose to spend the morning in town at a few stores that were opened and then driving up to another town of Fort Davis and a Botanic Garden. The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanic Garden is a non-profit to promote awareness and appreciation for nature and the diversity of the Chihuahuan Dessert. Hiking trails stretch through canyons and up along rock outcroppings that provide endless spectacular views of mountains, rocks, Madrone trees, agave, and cactuses. 

We walked along Fort Davis’s main street and had dinner in town, a far different experience then just 21 miles away in Marfa. Fort Davis settled into the bottom of the Davis Mountains reminded me of small mining towns I visited as a child in the Sierra Nevadas. We had dinner at a Pharmacy and Soda Shop that has been opened since 1913. With the regular ding and rumble of the train and the drug store with our server also helping us in the store it all reminded me of one of my favorite childhood plays OUR TOWN, and it felt hard for me to sit here with these real people and wonder how we have come to this place where our country currently is today. 

At some level there seems so much that should and does connect us but somewhere along the way it feels like what separates and differentiates us has become the most noticeable aspect of who we are and how we identify ourselves. We all want the best for our children but can we extend that to children who are not our own – isn’t that what parents from Guatemala and Honduras and Yemen want? How was I so fortunate to be born to the place and circumstances that another wasn’t? And how has where I grew up in San Francisco also made me who I am and the beliefs I have. And what is so different from me and a rancher in Texas? 

On our final day as we drove west along Interstate 90 to 10 back to El Paso we drove past more small towns and stopped at the art installation Prada Marfa. A juxtaposition of a high-end storefront that never opens in the middle of empty land, Prada Marfa felt like the perfect metaphor for the experience in Marfa – beautiful, odd, both out of place and completely of only the one place that it exists in. If the hope is to say art is about the place it is seen Prada Marfa is the perfect example.

We continued to drive west along empty roads with expansive skies and as if truly out of a clichéd movie moment had tumbleweeds blow right across the road around us. West Texas was nothing like I expected but that was because I had notions based on what I heard and not on what I had ever experienced. The way the light changes had never been talked about in the news, and maybe that is not the only thing that is missing from the headlines that are meant to rile us up on one side or the other. Perhaps the nuance of visiting a place and seeing the real people who live there is also lost in our currant world, the ability to be curious and a little open minded. All of the things I take with me overseas to the many countries I have visited are also what I need in my own backyard. 

On a practical note we ate at Stellina, Cochineal, Pizza Foundation, Marfa Burrito, and Fort Davis Pharmacy & Soda Fountain.

Exceptional Coffees at Frama and Do Your Thing.

We shopped at Mirth, Marfa Book Company, Get Go Market, and Marfa Brands.

Happy travels either far or near, 



01 2019

Sprouted Kitchen’s Everyday Lentil Soup

As the seasons continue to change in what seems faster and faster time; as we set the clocks back just as the days and weeks move forward in another year, I think about the rhythms and traditions that slowly take root in life. The way I fast on Yom Kippur, meet my friend and her kids to go trick or treating, and the way my life is split between salad season and soup season.

As the cool days start and the leaves change color there is nothing I want more then to turn to soup and indeed I turn to soup for months on end. Perhaps it was growing up eating daily home made soups from Matins or the fact that soup feels like the perfect thing to both cook and eat for the next few months. The other day as Brooklyn’s weather took a chilly turn I wanted soup and I knew exactly which soup I wanted, a staple to me – Sprouted Kitchen’s Everyday Lentil Soup, then I noticed although I made this soup on repeat last year I never shared the recipe (I am sorry, my bad).


This is an easy lentil soup and the reason I like it so much is it hits every note I crave – simple, wholesome, hearty from lentils, sweet from sweet potato and carrot, tangy from spices and lemon juice, with a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes. It is so good! I love this soup with a little  parmesan cheese and chunk of crusty bread.


Here are a few other things from the last few weeks that I have really loved – the Netflix series SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT. And these two books moved me beyond words, I am so grateful to see more voices and perspectives being shared and the way to connect to different experiences through the shared love, family, hardship, and pain we all experience in life – AMERICAN LIKE ME and A PLACE FOR US.


Stay warm and welcome to soup season!



Sprouted Kitchen’s Everyday Lentil Soup
2 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
1 large carrot diced
1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian herbs (alternately equal parts dried oregano and dried basil)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup green or duPuy Lentils
1/2 cup split red Lentils (alternately I eliminate this and use 1 full cup of green Lentils)
5 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp olive oil or butter to finish soup
3 cups roughly  chopped baby greens (kale, chard, or spinach are all delicious)
Juice of lemon
Parmesan cheese for serving 
    • In a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat warm olive oil. Sauté onion, carrot, sweet potato, and garlic with salt until softened approx. 5-6 minutes. 
    • Stir in Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, and lentils. 
    • Add broth and stir.
    • Bring to a simmer and lower heat to low and cover. Cook for 30 min or until everything is tender but not mushy. 
    • At this stage the original recipe calls for you to blend half of the soup but I always skip this step. 
    • Stir in the turmeric, olive oil, and greens. Stir a min or so for the greens to wilt and then turn off heat. 
    • Add lemon juice to taste along with salt and pepper to taste. 
    • Serve each bowl with parmesan cheese and enjoy!



11 2018

Chicken Tinga Tacos and Deep Feelings After Nine Years

Every September the feelings return, the deep missing and longing, the hollow aching hurt of sorrow. In less then two weeks it will be nine years since I lost my mother. She always marked anniversaries and the next year by jumping ahead so she would be saying that in a few weeks we will be working on a decade without her. And this year as the feelings took me by surprise I remembered the calendar and how easily I could be brought back to that night almost nine years ago. To the night that stands like a dividing line between one life and next, like the continental divide imperceptible to the naked eye but where to one side the waters run in one direction and on the other side they run the exact opposite course. It is hard to explain how much can be lost so fast, because certainly to anyone who has yet to lose an integral figure the feeling cannot be conveyed, its a deep vacuum that consumes the certainty from the world, a certainty you never knew you existed with until the existence is gone and can never be replaced. You learn to live without that certainty without the comfort you once took for granted but sometimes you remember what was lost and the bone deep ache for that person and the life they lived with you returns. As the years go by I am stronger when these feelings arise but I am always humbled by how much the deep longing can still exist.

Later this month my sister, Anne, and I will be taking a writing retreat in the mountains of Santa Cruz with two of our favorite authors. And so this September as the feelings are there they are mixed with anticipation and also a deep sense of memory of what that lost life once was like. A few years ago I joked to my sister that I thought we were raised Jewish-Mexican. We were culturally Jewish lighting the Chanukah candles while frying latkes and dipping the bitter herbs in salt water each Passover, and living in the Mission then a predominately Mexican neighborhood with burritos and tacos from 24th Street being our most common meal. When we were sick our mother would either make us matzo ball soup, bring home whatever left over soup was at Martins, or more often run to the taqueria across the street for a pint of Tortilla soup. I can remember the comfort of countless Friday’s eating burritos while watching a movie sitting at my mothers side on our well worn blue couch while the 27 Bryant passed the window outside.

Food can transport us, can comfort us, can express who we are or would like to be. Mexican food is by far the thing I miss the most not living in California (ok my family, but the tacos are a very close second and far less complicated). When I found this recipe for Chicken Tinga Tacos I jumped at the chance to make them. They are not the most traditional but something about them felt like home to me, they tasted like those Friday nights with my mother on a blue couch. They felt like a comforting whisper of a life that has passed but never left me.

These tacos are so easy to make (even easier when you use a store bought rotisserie chicken) and I like mine slathered in a Mexican style coleslaw, something about the hot cold drippy mess makes them feel even more like home to me. These tacos are the thing food should be transportive to another place, another time, deeply imbued with a feeling. A feeling that lasts well past 9 years and I am pretty sure will last the rest of my life.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup canned crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great!)
12 corn tortillas for serving 
1 avocado for serving
My Mexican Coleslaw:
1 small head of cabbage shredded or narrowly sliced
1 shallot minced
1/2 cup of cilantro chopped
1-2 pickled jalapeños finely chopped (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup vegenaise (or mayonnaise or sour cream)
Juice of lime
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. 
  • Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in the chipotles, oregano, and cumin, and toast for a minute. 
  • Add in the tomatoes, stock and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. 
  • Place the tomato mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. 
  • Return the sauce to the pan over low heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes together. Taste and add more salt if necessary. 
  • For the coleslaw, combine the vegenaise and lime to make the dressing. 
  • Add the cabbage, shallot, cilantro, and jalapeño to dressing. Taste for salt and pepper and add as necessary. 
  • To assemble the tacos warm the tortillas (either in a microwave or wrapped in a low oven). Take a slice of avocado and mash onto the bottom of each tortilla, add chicken on top of avocado, add coleslaw on top of chicken. 
  • Wrap and eat and be messy and happy with each bite. 


09 2018

Jessica’s Corn Pudding


For as unconventional a life as I grew up in I have always felt like I was a bit of a traditionalist and sentimentalist. I love tradition and ritual. I love holidays! I love the lights of Christmas, the latkes and candles of Chanukah, and a giant meal with loved ones on Thanksgiving. I have fond memories of playing a version of football with my uncles and cousins on Jomar Drive in Napa; and of Thanksgivings spent on a farm in upstate New York with Zelda’s family; and cooking next to one of my oldest and dearest friends for years in her kitchen in Pennsylvania.

I am very fortunate to have a number of friends from my youth, decades of friendship stretched over distance but still bound tight with instant love and familiarity when we see each other again. My mother always said the mark of a real friendship was its ability to seamlessly pick up when you see the other person despite time or space. Two of these friends are Zelda’s nieces whom I met when we were 5 or 6 on their farm in upstate New York, and a lifelong friendship began. We spent weeks of the summer together and for a few years a week in February. I loved the farm and my days with them milking cows, making up songs, playing in Aunt Rose’s house and imagining a life that was so different from the one I lived in San Francisco. Our friendship stretched through our childhood and into adolescence, it moved through college, and into our 20s and 30s. I was honored to be at their weddings and watch as they had children and find my own friendship with their daughters and son. I spent many a Thanksgiving with Jessica and her family as it grew in Pennsylvania, baking pies late into the night and then delicately moving around each other the next day as we cooked a giant traditional feast. I loved the way we both talked and didn’t as we chopped and mixed ingredients and washed the never-ending stacks of dishes.


Jessica is one of those special friends you find in life, one who grows with you and continues to grow through changes and triumphs and defeats. She is one of the kindest and most generous spirits I know. She is humble and gracious. She is warm and encouraging and wise. She is observant and honest. She is one of the best mothers I know and I have watched her for years in awe and hoped that someday I can be a fraction of the mother she is. It was an honor to stand with her on the day she got married and to hold each of her 4 daughters as babies. I have always felt grateful to have a friend like Jessica in my life because she is the truest definition that I know of what a friend should be – a person who you go through life with, a person who you hold in your heart and you know holds you in theirs not for a few days or years but for a lifetime.


This past year Jessica was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) she has taken on the hardest part of her life the way she has taken on everything else I have seen her take on – with truthfulness, acceptance, determination, and faith. She has undergone 6 months of chemo, surgery, and now radiation. I have been inspired so many times in life by Jessica and this past year has been another example of how much I admire her. She is so open and honest in sharing this journey, she writes beautifully about the experience and has bared both her fears and her faith. She is one of the most optimistic and realistic people at the same time. I have been moved by her fight and her resilience, how she is handling this with such grace and inspiration.


I have been thankful for her friendship for so many decades but this year I felt particularly thankful to have her in this world and in my life. In the years that we shared Thanksgiving she always made this corn pudding that I loved and then one year she wrote the recipe on a card to send me home with it along with leftovers. The last few years I have made her corn pudding to everyone’s enjoyment and found that for me it feels like the quintessential Thanksgiving dish – filled with butter, sour cream, corn, imbued with a history of friendship, and then lovingly baked in a casserole until warm and brown. I texted with Jessica on Thanksgiving morning and told her I was making her corn pudding, I thought of her as I mixed the ingredients together, and I thought of our many years of friendship and what I hope is many more years of love and sharing as I ate the corn pudding cold directly from the fridge on Friday morning.


Perhaps it is the sentimental side of me that loves tradition, it’s the side of me that likes to feel the history and years fold up on each other in a single recipe and the way it can bring back a lifetime of memories and love. I am lucky to call Jessica my friend, I have been lucky to call her a friend for over 30 years, and I will continue to feel lucky to call her a friend as we move forward into future years of life together.




Jessica’s Corn Pudding


1 stick butter

2 eggs

2 cans cream style corn

8oz of sour cream or milk

1 box of Jiffy muffin mix (8 ½ oz)

  • Pre heat oven to 350°
  • Melt butter in 13x9x2 inch baking dish
  • Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and mix well.
  • Add the butter to the combined ingredients and mix again.
  • Pour into the pan that melted butter and bake for 45 min – 1 hour until golden brown and set.
  • Enjoy hot, room temperature, or cold the next day.



11 2016

Understanding and All Star Bars


It has been such a heartbreaking week, month, possibly start of a year. The news feels so very hard and painful and everyday feels harder to face the headlines but turning our faces at this time feels like exactly the wrong thing; we need to look deeply at ourselves and at each other rather then turn away at this time. If ever there was a time to turn to understanding, compassion, growth and change now seems like the time.

The past few days I have read a few things that have meant a lot to me in these sad and confusing days…

Michael Brown’s Mom, on Alton Sterling & Philando Castile

Death in Black & White

The next time someone says “all lives matter” show them these 5 paragraphs

Trevor Noah made a great point and its important

W Kamau Bell on This American Life

Brene Brown’s word’s were so powerful

And for something hopeful 

Now onto something sweeter because after all of that I need something sweet. Tonight is the All Star Game and I baked these Chocolaty Pretzel -and-Peanut Cookie Bars. They seemed the perfect thing to eat with friends and watch baseball!


All Star Bars – recipe adapted  from Martha Stewart


1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan

5 1/2 cups salted mini pretzel twists

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 1/3 cups roasted and lightly salted peanuts

6 ounces (about 1 cup) bittersweet chocolate – I use chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and line with parchment, leaving about an inch overhang along sides. Butter parchment.
  • Place 4 1/2 cups pretzels in a food processor and pulse until texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sugar and butter until well combined. Transfer to pan, spreading evenly, and pack down flat with the bottom of a measuring cup.
  • Drizzle condensed milk evenly over crust. Sprinkle with peanuts & chocolate.
  • Gently press the remaining 1 cup pretzels into milk along top of bars.
  • Bake until chocolate melts and condensed milk bubbles and becomes golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Cool completely in pan on a wire rack, then refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.
  • Run a sharp knife between bars and short sides of pan. Using parchment overhangs, transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 15 squares.



07 2016

A Perfect Summer Crumble to Celebrate


Last weekend 13 members of my extended family gathered in Portland to celebrate my sister’s graduation from college. It was a wonderful weekend of togetherness – we shared yoga practices, had a back yard BBQ party, dinners out in PDX, a visit to a lavender farm, a hike to a waterfall, and more laughter then could be imagined.




In the almost seven years since our mother passed away my sister and I have discussed what milestones might look like without her there with us to celebrate. At times we imagined these milestones impossible, my sister in fact while she was always certain she would graduate college, she was not always sure if she would walk in the ceremony without our mom. But as time has moved us further from that impossible date we have seen these milestones differently, they no longer are only reminders of her absence (which it is impossible to not recognize) but more they have become celebrations of what we have done in our lives both with and without her. My sister’s graduation was exactly that a celebration of the accomplishment that my sister earned on her own with the help of many but ultimately on her terms and in her own fashion. The weekend was filled with love, pride, joy, laughter, and a few tears. It showed us what more milestones might look like in the future; and it reminded me that while my mom won’t be with us for these milestones she also could never be further off than the magic moments we experience together. I have found again and again the truth that our loved ones never leave us entirely, their absence and love can be felt all-ways.




To celebrate my sister I baked a beautiful summer crumble that we topped with Salt & Straw Ice Cream. Summer crumbles are one of the simple joys of life, sweet fruit that needs little more than a topping of oats, sugar, and butter crisped in the oven. We made ours with nectarines and raspberries and I used no measurements, but I did make another at home and measured for posterity’s sake, I love this crumble with peaches/nectarines/berries in the summer and apples/pear/and dried cranberries in the fall (although really any fruit combination works well). At home I added some coconut flakes that were lingering in my pantry for some added summer celebration. The crumble is beautiful and perfect enough for a celebration of any type but really needs no more celebration other then its summer in order to make it.

Wishing my sister a very happy birthday and continued congratulations!



Perfect Summer Crumble to Celebrate



4 peaches or nectarines diced (ultimately you are looking for approx. 4 – 5 cups of fruit)

1 pint raspberries

Scant 1 tablespoon of cornstarch

1 tablespoon of sugar


1 cup whole rolled oats

¼ sugar (any kind of sugar works here, use whatever is on hand)

½ teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (approx. ½ of stick)

¼ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Ice cream, or whipped cream for serving (optional)

  • Preheat over to 350° F.
  • Combine the fruit with the cornstarch, and tablespoons of sugar in a 9-inch pie or baking dish.
  • Using your hands combine the rest of the ingredients for the topping together in a bowl until it is well combined and texture of small peas or sand. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.
  • Bake for 35 – 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the fruit juices are bubbling. Serve warm, or room temperature, or cold as leftovers shared out of the fridge.



06 2016

Life In Links


I’m just finishing my last day in a lovely week long visit with family and friends in San Francisco; a cake is baking in the oven, and tomorrow I fly to my friend’s wedding in Mexico. Here is some of what I have enjoyed and some of what I am looking forward to in links.

SF is Unaffordable on This American Life, so true and such a great listen. This city is not for sale!

Its hard to come to San Francisco and not think of how it has changed, everyone keeps telling me to watch San Francisco 2.0

Virunga I loved this documentary and found it so inspiring, important, and enlightening.

When Breath Becomes Air I can’t seem to say enough about this book and how it moved me.

First They Killed My Father and Lucky Child were 2 of the most impactful books I read after returning from Cambodia and now First They Killed My Father will be a movie.

I loved this movie on my flight to Seoul last month.

Chelsea Handler does Racism was amazing!

If you want to be happier embrace sadness! I loved this article and the idea. Sadness has a lot to teach us.

When Your Calling Seems Vague 

The Park Slope Food Coop’s April Fool’s Line Hater’s Gazette still has me laughing out loud!

Can’t wait to get home and make this  Mushroom Kale Cornmeal Tart!

Lead photo my mother who would have turned 70 years old a few weeks ago!


04 2016

First Prize Onion Casserole


After my mom died there were so many questions – was I all right? Was my sister all right? Had we eaten? Did we need anything? Did I know where my mom had kept this or that? Months later when we cleaned out her house the questions were still there but had changed – What were we going to do in our lives? Where were we going to go? Could someone have this or that of our moms? And the BIG question – Do you have your mom’s recipe for – her chocolate mousse, her lasagna, her macaroni and cheese, her chocolate chip cookies, her chicken curry, her rice casserole?

I loved the questions about her recipes, her food always showed her boundless love to people, and the fact that specific items had resonated made her love feel received, recognized, and appreciated. I wrote here about finding her chicken curry recipe years after she passed, and finding her kugel recipe. In the last few months I had a similar discovery when looking for her friend’s banana bread recipe I came upon a recipe cut out from the SF Chronicle that looked familiar but instead of being called rice casserole it celebrated the onion. I sent the recipe to some of our family early on a Saturday morning and before too long my phone was ringing with calls and text messages “you found it! That’s her rice casserole recipe! I know what I am making for dinner for the family tonight.”


It’s a very simple recipe but the first moment the onions hit the butter it smelled like my mom’s kitchen and Monday night dinners. Lately I have been having some tough emotions about my mom, I of course love her so much, unconditionally, forever, but as her daughter I saw more of her layers like an onion. She could bring people to tears in good and bad ways like an onion. To so many she was their rock, their best friend, the wisest woman they knew, the kindest and most fun. But like any deep relationship once you peel the layers of the onion and the day to day as her child at times felt harder – the buttons we pushed in each other, the complicated relationship she had with her family that was inadvertently transferred to me, the ways she could pour out everything for humanity but then be too tired and would take to her bed for days leaving me to take care of myself and at times my sister. Like an onion our relationship could be sweet or have a strong bite to it. But beyond everything she is my mother and just because you lose a parent doesn’t mean that your relationship with them ends or that the complicated feelings become condensed into only the good ones.


But this casserole is only the sweet memories of comfort and care. The onions have a good relationship with a lot of butter that leave them only tasting sweet and caramelized. My sister and I joke if anything of our moms tasted good it was – butter, sour cream, or half and half – and this recipe doesn’t let down. I served it the way my mom always served it with a big green salad and as much love as I possibly could.

Love All-ways,



First Prize Onion Casserole from Marion Cunningham and the SF Chronicle


5 cups of water

1 teaspoon salt + more to taste

½ cup long grain rice

4 tablespoons butter

4 large yellow onions, cut into ½ inch dice

6 ounces Swiss cheese, grated (1 ½ cups)

2/3 cup half and half (or milk)


  • Preheat the oven to 325°. Have ready a 9x13x2 inch baking dish.
  • Combine the water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Slowly add the rice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for just 5 minutes; drain well. Transfer rice to mixing bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the onins and cook over medium heat, stirring until they are shiny and soft, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add to the rice.
  • Add the grated cheese and the half-and-half. Stir until well mixed. Taste. Salt and pepper to your liking (it will need it).
  • Spread the mixture in the baking dish. Place in the over and bake for 1 hour, until golden on top.

Serves 6



01 2016

The Giving List – 2015 Edition


It’s hard to believe another year is winding down and shortly we will be in January again and trying to remember to write a new year on letters and checks. I have to admit 2015 has been a year that has felt heavy and some what hard for me and more for the world. I don’t believe in the fresh start on January 1 but if ever there was a time to wish for a fresh start this year might be it.

Every year this list has become more and more a reflection of what has occupied my thoughts and my heart during these days, and this year is no different.

Wishing us all light and hope.




All-ways closest in my heart. I was raised in the shadow of these soup pots and surrounded by this community my entire life.

“Martin’s, as it is affectionately known, is a free restaurant, serving breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch on Sundays. Our mission is to serve in the spirit of compassion, understanding and love.”

Note: Quote taken from Martin de Porres Website. See link for more information.


Through the heaviness and darkness of the news this year something remarkable has also occurred in Myanmar.  The National League for Democracy, the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi won the popular vote in Myanmar’s first free and fair general election in over half a century.

In the past four years Build a School in Burma has built 15 schools impacting kids from preschool through high school.

“Build A School in Burma’s mission is to build schools in underserved areas of Burma (Myanmar) to educate children and give them a chance for a better future. Build a School in Burma built [their] first school during 2011 in Nan Ouw village.”

Note: Quote taken from Build A School In Burma Website. See link for more information.!

Shining Hope For Communities:

I read Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book A Path Appears this year and was tremendously inspired by many of the stories and organizations but especially Shining Hope For Communities.

“We believe in the urban poor; in their strength, resilience and capacity to create a better future. Through grassroots leadership, we link schools for girls to community services for all, building vibrant, gender equitable communities where all are able to realize their full potential.”

Note: Quote taken from Shining Hope For Communities Website. See link for more information.

International Rescue Committee:

It is hard to look back at 2015 and not think of refugees. It is also hard to imagine the magnitude and the importance.

“The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives. At work in over 40 countries and 25 U.S. cities to restore safety, dignity and hope, the IRC leads the way from harm to home.”

Note: Quote taken from International Rescue Committee Website. See link for more information.

The Compassion Collective:

Also, to end on note of hope and light The Compassion Collective. Started by Elizabeth Gilbert, Rob Bell, Cheryl Strayed, Brene Brown, and Glennon Doyle in the face of darkness choosing light and showing love.

“Today’s refugee crisis is the worst humanitarian emergency the world has seen since World War II. Just as the Greatest Generation’s response to the holocaust defined them, so will our response define us.

We want to be remembered as the generation that chose Love over Fear.”

Note: Quote taken from The Compassion Collective Website. See link for more information.


12 2015

Life In Links


The other night while I took the subway home from a dinner with friends one of the usual performers started to play a song on a set of bongos, he was as Happy as the song he played, he collected his donations and as he moved onto the next subway car he said “As the world gets worse let’s each of us try to get a little better.” That phrase has stayed with me, I liked it.

Here is some of what I have been reading, watching, thinking about.

I loved these quotes

I went to see Henry IV last week at Saint Ann’s Warehouse and I am still thinking about how great it was!

One of my favorite films and books this year was Brooklyn!

I went to the New York Film Fest back in October and saw Where to Invade Next, Steve Jobs, and Microbe et Gasoline

Also, saw I The Danish Girl that was beautiful beyond words; and Spotlight and now I am outraged and inspired at the same time.

So moved by The Displaced in the NY Times

I just heard about this cookbook Soup For Syria

The Dalai Lama’s Daily Routine & Information Diet

Understanding Happiness with the Dalai Lama, a British Rabbi, an Episcopal Bishop, & a Muslim Scholar

My sister and I have always lamented the terrible sympathy cards out there, but she told me about these empathy cards and I love them

More empathy and what to say when life is hard (because it can and will be hard!)

My dad loved this video on ripping off the labels and I agree, also Between The World And Me is at the top of my want to read list

Feminism video “Its not what’s on my head, its what is in it!”

And just for fun because this makes me smile when I here it!




12 2015