Victory Is In The Kitchen


My daughter bought me this poster at the Churchhill Museum in London. I love how she instantly thought of me when she first eyed it. Of course, as a competitive home cook, my version of victory in the kitchen and the intent of the poster are quite different. Imagine the war struggle and women on the home front struggling to make ends meet and keep a household running. A message like this was meant to motivate a commitment to the war effort. With increasing shortages of food women tended vegetable gardens and used their creativity to put substantial meals on the table with what little they had. They were portrayed as of equal importance in the winning of the war as that of the fighting soldiers.


Maybe when it comes to creativity and a few ingredients I am not so much different from the women in the early 1900’s since winning in my kitchen has been a common occurrence lately. These mushroom lettuce wraps just took the grand prize in the Mad About Mushrooms recipe contest. Inspired by the olympics (Yay Team USA) and ingredients found in a local Korean market these meaty mushrooms soak up the sweet and spicy bulgogi marinade and are a light vegetarian option. Do you like lettuce wraps? What’s your favorite filling?

Korean Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

1 firm ripe Asian or bosc pear, peeled, cored, julienned

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, washed, sliced (stemmed shitake, cremini, oyster)

1/3 cup Korean bulgogi style marinade (bottled or homemade)*

1 teaspoon Korean sweet & spicy sauce (gochujang) *

2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

pinch kosher salt

2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated into cups

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In bowl, gently toss pear and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat a large, non-stick, skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic just begins to turn color. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. Add Korean marinade and gochujang; cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are glazed. Turn off heat. Stir in green onions. Season mushrooms with salt. Spoon mushrooms into lettuce cups. Top with pickled pears. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 12 appetizers or can serve 4 to 6 as an entree.

*located in the ethnic section of grocery store or any Asian market

Here is my first video demonstrating how to build another version of a lettuce wrap. Pretty excited that I have taught myself another new trick. Victory is in the kitchen in more ways than one.


Make Merry & Bright & Balanced

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

Time to put up the tree and holiday lights. This year I picked out the tree in literally 2 minutes because it was too darn cold and slippery to walk the farm. My one and only was quite grateful for my quick choice and chopped it down before I could change my mind. We missed having William to man the saw and grateful for Caitlin coming by to help decorate. Only those tiny white lights will do and I love how the tinsel sparkles in reflection.

In reflection there is nothing that lights up my life more than the smiles on my children’s faces during the holidays. Like my father I am always happiest when my children are around. In fact, I feel most in balance when I am sandwiched right between them. Like the sweet vanilla cream between those crispy chocolate cookies-perfectly balanced, centered, calm, merry and bright.

Christmas 2010 Merry and Bright

Christmas 2010 Merry and Bright

Now imagine for a moment how one feels when one of those bright lights is suddenly snuffed out. The entire strand dims and the sparkle disappears. Losing a child turns all is calm to all is upside down and inside out. It’s chaotic night instead of silent night. There is no rest ye merry gentlemen, but plenty of dismay.

Fatigue is not a friend of the grief-stricken. It disrupts the balance of our being and plays havoc with our coping skills. Lack of sleep, restless sleep and insomnia causes a tipping of the scale with one teetering on the edge. Do whatever it takes to get a good night’s sleep. Peaceful sleep is crucial for getting through each and every day. In the long run, it is essential to getting your sparkle and your balance back.

When it comes to recipes balancing your taste buds is crucial. The most delicious dishes have a balance of salty, sweet, bitter and sour in the ingredient list. There is also a 5th taste known as umami which has to do with the savoryness or meatyness of the dish. I also add the 6th sense which has to do with the love one puts into their food. Food from the heart is inspired and has a certain sparkle. With just one bite all is merry and bright with the world.

This is my grand prize winning dish from the Beringer Wine Great Steak Challenge. It’s perfect for the holidays as either a main dish or an appetizer. It’s perfectly balanced flavors are incredibly affordable and will add a certain sparkle to your festive buffet.

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

1 cup Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Shiraz

1 cup beef broth

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

2 tablespoons molasses

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, about ¾-inch thick

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

18 cup-shaped leaves of Boston lettuce

½ cup sliced green onions

¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Heat covered gas grill to high. In a medium skillet, bring wine, broth, cranberries and molasses to a boil. Boil sauce, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 22 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy; set aside. Meanwhile, season steak on both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place steak on hot, lightly greased grill rack. Grill steak 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Turn, and grill other side for 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Reduce gas grill temperature to medium. Grill steak 7 to 9 minutes or until medium-rare (125 degrees on an instant read thermometer). Transfer steak to a cutting surface; let rest for 5 to10 minutes.  Thinly slice steak across the grain.  Arrange lettuce cups on a large platter. Fill lettuce cups with steak. Top steak with cranberry-wine sauce, a sprinkle of green onions and cheese. Serves 6 Serve with Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Shiraz.