The Snow Hath Cometh


This morning we used our special snowman mugs filled with David’s 24 Days of Tea for December 11, Hot Chocolate, to celebrate the

 By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

            If you say the title of this blog post fast enough, you nearly bite your tongue[th]. I realize the preceding sentence incorporates homonymy of the word ‘weather’, but ‘climactic conditions’ seemed pretentious for a snowy Sunday morn. This weekend, the meteorologist’s dire warnings proved true: As of last evening, we have had a steady snowfall. The sparkling, clean, white snow brightens up the dreary landscape. On Friday night, I powered through the grocery, and then picked up extra items early Saturday, purchased Christmas stamps at the Post Office, and then returned home to engage in online gift shopping.

I admit to being an avid subscriber of the New York Times Cooking, which appears in my e-mail three times a week. It includes ‘vintage’ recipes of James Beard, Craig Claiborne, Julia Child, Pierre Franey, and contemporary ones by Amanda Hesser, Julia Moskin, Sam Sifton, and Mark Bittman. I have hit Save on that page for so many recipes, I pray the page doesn’t crash! I also am fiendishly devoted to the Food Network’s Alton Brown’s Macaroni and Cheese recipe. Who knew a bay leaf and paprika could make such a delicious difference? Now, there’s a new kid on my cookbook block: The Barefoot Contessa’s Cooking for Jeffrey. Ina Garten’s Roasted Chicken with Lemons, and her Tuscan Roasted Potatoes offer a bit of heaven in every bite.

Admittedly, I am enamored with cooking. As a long-time foodie, I attribute this to growing up with a mother of Italian descent, who excelled in the culinary arts, along with her two sisters, equally accomplished, and an immigrant Italian father who served up delicious Italian food. Small wonder I honed my culinary skills. With today’s snow and cold, I have turned my attention to making a Julia Moskin recipe for chicken potpie. In lieu of a white sauce, she sauté sliced mushrooms and bacon in butter, adding floured, cut up chicken thighs, thyme, and other delectable ingredients, including chicken stock and Marsala wine. Carrots and minted peas are served on the side.

Thus, I embrace the frosty weather as I hunker down this December day, writing, and later cooking. This is my favorite way of spending a chilly, snowy day, a glass of vino included, with the dinner, naturally.

Ciao for now.







All Hallow’s Eve

Halloween! -
Halloween! –

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Before we could kick back and fully take in the beauty of the October autumn foliage, strong winds stirred, and blew down the red, and gold, and orange leaves from the trees. This year’s Halloween saw rain, cold, and gray all the day. My daughter had home for the weekend. She donned a sparkling cat-ear headband, and she proceeded to hand out large Tootsie Roll Pops to the assorted Trick-or-Treaters who had braved the rain. When the rain momentarily ceased, a steady stream of pint-size firefighters, law enforcement, princesses, skeletons, Flying Marios, Spidermen, clowns, Crayola crayons, and even a cow and even a chicken hastened to our doorstep. Yet two sisters, accompanied by their mother, wore the most inventive and charming of costumes: Jelly Fish. The girls each held a plastic bubble umbrella, one pink, and one blue, trimmed with streamers of fish-related decorations. The blue Jelly Fish wore a bright blue rain slicker, and her sister wore a vivid pink one. Both wore color-coordinated rain boots and gloves. Their mother told us since it had snowed last Halloween, she was having her daughters dress for the elements this year! Underneath the rain slickers, the girls wore warm sweaters. While other miniature goblins and ghosts shivered as they uttered, “Trick or Treat!” the Jelly Fish sisters skipped along happily, oblivious to the elements.

After we had run out of bags of Tootsie Roll Pops, we sat down to dinner. While my daughter was doling out the treats, I had been concocting a thick, hearty, minestrone soup with cannellini beans, carrots, celery, onion, fideo cut spaghetti, porcini mushrooms, baby spinach, and assorted Italian herbs. In between adding ingredients, I hurried back and forth to admire the evening’s costumed throng. The night before, we had howled over the movie “Young Frankenstein”, which plays as well today as it did in the 1970’s. However, on Halloween night, we laughed over the film “Hocus Pocus”. The character of Billy remains hilarious, as do the antics of the three witches. As we viewed the shenanigans of the characters, we sipped our homemade Hot Buttered Rum drinks, and munched on our cider and pumpkin doughnuts. All in all, we agreed it had been a busy, fun-filled Halloween for the both of us, and, we trusted, for the valiant, weather-challenged Trick-or-Treaters and their parents. From  All Hallow’s Eve, we move to November 1, All Saints’ Day, from the pagan to the sacred, and today’s weather is sunny and warm.

Ciao for now.