Thank you, Alice Waters

Farm-to-TableNearly 15 years ago, I read Dr. Andrew Weil’s 8 Weeks to Optimal Health and threw out all products in our house containing trans-fatty acids. Since then, we’ve gone through several nutritional changes in our home. We’ve had a vegetarian household multiple times; I’ve jumped on and off the Paleo and Atkins bandwagons; and there was a short-lived Ayurvedic period.

All these experiments have led me to the conclusion that Conscious Omnivore best describes my food philosophy. Fresh, organic, seasonal, pastured, sustainable, and local–those are my keywords. In the case of meat, humanely raised is as important to me as organic. I do not cook or eat pork, lamb, or veal (never have had veal; never will).* I believe that if we are going to eat other creatures, then it is important to not waste them. Last month, I cooked beef tongue for the first time and discovered that it is insanely rich but very good.


Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, Berkeley, CA

At the heart of the chefs and writers who have so greatly influenced my approach to food is Alice Waters, whom most consider the initiator of the American food movement. For more than four decades, she and her restaurant, Chez Panisse have stood by the philosophy of serving good, sustainably raised, in-season food.

Many influential chefs have passed through the Chez Panisse kitchen during their careers, including Jonathan Waxman, Jeremiah Tower, Mark Miller, Paul Bertolli, Deborah Madison, and many more. Those chefs became integral in the spread of the sustainable movement. Waters herself based much of her philosophy on the French / Provencal approach to fresh food food and cooking.

alice-waters-my-pantryWaters has authored or co-authored many Chez Panisse cookbooks over the years. While these books have always centered on the restaurant, her most recent book, My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own, co-written with her daughter Fanny Singer, focuses on the homemade pantry staples that Waters finds personally important for her own kitchen. Published in 2015, this compact book is packed with recipes for homemade pantry staples, from spice mixes, preserved fish and meats, and condiments to pickles, sweet preserves, and homemade cheeses.

Most ingredients in Waters’ book are easy to find when in season, such as the quince in the Quince and Apple Paste or the cherries in Mary Jo’s Brandied Cherries. Some basic pantry recipes include an All-Purpose Pickling Brine, Corn Tortillas, Whole Wheat Flatbreads, Beef Broth, Chicken Stock, Masala, Red Wine vinegar, and Hummus.

While studying the recipes for Cumin Salt and Za’atar–and imagining myself making Panforte for this year’s last-minute holiday baking–I cooked her easy and delicious Lentil Soup for dinner. Everyone loved it—and I love this book. It will sit on an easily accessible kitchen shelf, right next to Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way.

My Pantry: Homemade Ingredients That Make Simple Meals Your Own
would make a thoughtful gift for anyone who is interested in preserving foods through canning or fermenting, cheesemaking, and breadmaking.

166 pages (hardcover)
New York: Pam Krauss Books, 2015
6-1/2 x 8-1/2 | ISBN 9780804185288

*Sometimes a piece of sausage and onion pizza from Lou Malnati’s sneaks into my mouth.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this Alice Waters’ My Pantry through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for my opinion. All of my opinions are mine and mine alone.
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Star Wars Knitting Patterns

The next trilogy of one of the greatest entertainment franchises of all time opens tomorrow night, Dec. 18, 2015. Star Wars: The Force Awakens , complete with Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3PO, Chewbacca, R2D2, and, presumably, Luke Skywalker, is the most anticipated movie of the year for multiple generations. For those of us who grew up with the original trilogy, this is Christmas wrapped up in a box with a giant red bow, and we’re more than willing to buy tickets ahead and brave the crowds to see it in the theater. Our family has our tickets, does yours?

For us knitters, the Star Wars franchise has resulted in a multitude of fantastic patterns for hats, sweaters, scarves, and even amiguri dolls. Here is a quick source guide to several Star Wars knitting patterns. Patterns listed here are inexpensive or free; some patterns will knit up quickly enough to even give as Christmas gifts.

Double-Knit Star Wars Scarf

star-wars-scarf-double-knitStorm troopers, Death Star, Millennium Falcon, light sabers and more adorn this beautiful double-knit scarf. Perfect for your favorite fan. Find the pattern here:


Star Wars Knitting Charts

In addition to the charts included in the above scarf, different Fair Isle charts are available for free from different sources. You can easily add them to your own favorite hat, scarf, and sweater patterns. Check out these sources:



R2D2 Hat

A perfect gift for R2D2 fans. Find the pattern here:




Child’s Yoda Hat (photo: Nancy Lutz)

Child’s Yoda Hat

More than 10 years ago, our son went as Yoda for Halloween. My mom made the whole costume. He was about 4 years old and walked and talked in character all night. He wore the beige fleece robe until he could no longer get his arms into it. I do wish we had had such easy access to online knitting patterns back then. Our son’s green felt Yoda ears were on a hair band covered with angel hair for Yoda’s hair. Unfortunately, they didn’t cover his towhead blonde hair. These knit ears are perfect and cover the hair beautifully! The pattern does say that it can be altered for adult fans. Find the pattern on for free on, courtesy of Nancy Lutz (picture credit goes to knitressnancy, too).


princess-leia-buns-knitting-patternPrincess Leia Bun Hat

No list of Star Wars knitting can be complete without a link to a pattern for a Princess Leia Bun hat. This pattern is available at

yoda-gurumi-knit-patternYoda Amigurumi

I love these tiny Star Wars dolls! They are perfect gifts for fans of all ages. offers a free downloadable pattern for this darling Yoda amigurumi (photo credit: wanderingcat, Ravelry).

BobaFettPatternKnitBoba Fett Hat

Last but not least, this Boba Fett hat knits up quickly for the hard core Star Wars fan in your life.



Finally, be sure to check out my earlier Sci Fi / Star Wars post (it includes a crocheted Ewok amigurumi and a Baby Leia Bun Hat).

I’ll continue to add more patterns and sources as I find them. In the meantime, May the Force Be with You!





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Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook

Bone broth is a hot topic in slow food and clean eating. Until this summer, I really didn’t give it much thought. I have experience making my own stocks and pretty much dismissed bone broth as a rebrand of a method my grandmother would have seen as basic knowledge, similar to the rediscovery of cultured foods (very cool), which echoes Grandma’s annual sauerkraut and my mom’s homemade yogurt.

Then this summer, my nutritionist put me on a high protein / low carb diet—not a true paleo diet, but close to it. After years of trying to eat low carb through vegetables, it turns out I am a “protein type.” As part of that new way of eating, the nutritionist recommended bone broth as a morning meal and as a snack, if needed. After reminding me of the difference between broth and stock, she explained the nutritional benefits of bone marrow and bone broth from organic, grass-fed beef. But you don’t need a nutritionist to help you understand the health benefits of bone broth—all you need is Marco Canora’s Brodo.

Canora is the chef behind Hearth, an Italian restaurant in New York’s East Village. In November 2014, he opened Brodo as a tiny take-away window at Hearth. Through that window, Brodo serves up cupfuls of nourishing bone broths. From gut-health benefits and anti-inflammatory properties to bone broth recipes and recipes using bone broth, everything you want to know or need to know about bone broth is in Canora’s new cookbook.

In addition to a chapter on the nutritional and healing properties of bone broth, Canora thoroughly explains which bones from which animals are best for bone broth and gives suggestions for tracking down butchers who carry organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised products. To paraphrase, we are what we eat, so we are what our food eats.

The broth recipes themselves cover Brodo’s signature sipping broths (Golden Chicken Broth, Grass-Fed Beef Broth, Hearth Broth, and Polpettone), broths from an array of other animals (duck, veal, lam, pork, fish, lobster, clam), an End-of-the-Month broth, and vegetable broths (mushroom, vegetable, and seaweed). Three additional chapters include recipes for sipping-broth add-ins, risottos, and delicious broth-based soups. All recipes are easy to read and follow.

Brodo offers beautiful photography and is a pleasure to sit down and read. In an interesting two-page spread, Canora summarizes traditional bone broths from around the world. He also offers a chapter on a great 3-day bone broth reset plan, for those who, like me, tend to fall off our nutritional band wagon. His reset aims to give your digestive system a rest and begin to heal after days of overindulging in overly processed, inflammatory foods and drinks. Sounds like the perfect start to the New Year!

Buy on Amazon! Brodo: A Bone Broth Cookbook
Author:  Marco Canora with Tammy Walker
New York: Pam Krauss Books. 2015.
160 pages. $20 (hardcover).
ISBN:  0553459503 / 978-0553459500

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for my opinion. All my opinions are mine and mine alone.

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