vampirediaries.jpg“No,” I said to my husband, “you don’t get it. You can be born a vampire, or you can be made a vampire. Like being in the mob.”

“So how did Damon and Stefan get to be vampires – were they born that way?” he inquired gamely, steering the car through college town traffic on a bright, October Saturday.

“Well, in the book and the show, you know, they’re different in a lot of ways, but in the book and the show they only talk about ‘made’ vampires. In the book they became vampires because of Katherine. If a vampire drinks your blood and nothing else happens, you just die – like that girl Vicky – but if they drink your blood and then you drink some of theirs, you become a vampire, and live forever. You have to go through a lot of changes, but eventually you’re a vampire.”

“They must be great in bed after a few hundred years as guys in their twenties,” he mused.

Read more ...

porchI am a person who remembers absolutely everything. I remember being sick when I was two years old and believed (one, hopes, due to fever and not psychopathology) that tiny men were marching out of my laundry hamper. I remember the first day of kindergarten, the exact words in the note from Eric saying he didn’t like me that way in fifth grade, the way the flap of skin looked after I jumped on a clam shell in Maine when I was ten, and the phone numbers of all my friends from high school.  I remember the way the air smelled in Boston on a day when it carried the ocean into the City, and the diesel smell of the streets in Europe. I remember slights and offenses and try hard to forget them. I remember generosities and kindnesses, and try to cherish them.  I remember to do the things I say I’m going to do, unless I’m under enormous stress. (That’s a whole different issue).

So remembering things about Halloweens past should be easy, right?  All of the pumpkins, and costumes, and cobweb-covered porches should transport me back, like Proust in Rememberance of Things Past:

And suddenly the memory revealed itself: The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.

No dice. I love Halloween; in general I prefer the autumn holidays because they don’t happen in summer (which I dislike) and I don’t have to buy gifts, decorate the house or forget to send cards again.

Read more ...

garlicshrimp.jpg Despite my family of garlic haters, I love garlic. And I love lots of it in all forms. A very close older family friend eats it raw and rubbed on toast, then spread with butter or rendered duck fat. It's now his daily health ritual since he learned garlic has been shown to keep the heart healthy and keep cancer at bay. Maybe he knows a thing or two, because he's going to be 90 next year. Sometimes I even indulge in a slice of garlic toast too. Though I try to keep the practice at a minimum because I don't want to go around smelling. Even so, almost all my cooking and the recipes on this site start with sautéing garlic. Garlic is just one of those vegetables that many people use and it crosses many cultural boundaries. It's a base flavor in Mediterranean, Asian, and North African cuisine. I have always wanted to use garlic for something more than just a base, instead a main ingredient.

A few weeks ago I had the idea of making garlic soup. With the chilly weather here in the Northeast, I was craving a warming and comforting soup packed with flavor. But when thinking about garlic soup, 'comforting' might not be the exact word that comes to mind for everybody. Most people hate garlic for its pungent taste and odor, but boiling it really tames its pungency. The garlic becomes mellow but still keeps all the wonderful properties of its unique flavor. Another bonus of this preparation is that there is much less smell after eating compared to sautéed garlic. Garlic haters might actually change their minds after eating this soup.

Read more ...

cathy7.img.jpgIt’s officially autumn, and you can feel the magic in the air. While some are sad to see the summer weather disappear, I welcome the new chillier climate with open arms.

As the colors of fall slowly emerge, bold crimsons, brawny browns and golds, I find myself easily seduced by the changing landscape. The rattling bronze oak leaves – some already dark chocolate and crisping at the edges – seem to awaken and enhance my imagination. In one swirling breeze I am energized and inspired unlike any other season of the year.

However, it’s the dashes of unexpected brightness brought about by Halloween that give me my biggest thrill. I have always admittedly been a "Halloween junkie." I can’t remember a time I haven’t been up for a little Halloween hijinks, including some kind of playful hocus pocus, a pumpkin palooza party or trick-or-treat fun.

My irresistible attraction to this holiday overflows into my cooking. I enjoy creating fun Halloween treats from common, everyday foods. This creation takes a classic white cake and icing recipe and easily transforms them into these individual candy corn cakes with orange-cream Icing. 


Read more ...

snickers.jpg I was a weird kid. I never ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My mother never had to tell me to straighten my room. And I liked Halloween more for the decorations than the candy.

Except for Snickers. I loved Snickers.

Something about the mix of sweet chocolate, sticky caramel, dense peanut butter nougat, and crunchy peanuts made me swoon. I still remember the house at 101 Pinewood Drive in our neighborhood that gave out the king size Snickers bars to every kid who came by on Halloween.

Bam! That big bar would hit the bottom of your plastic pumpkin. Then you'd have to center it, otherwise your pumpkin would lilt for the rest of the night. After you hit that house, it didn't matter how many Dum Dums or Tootsie Rolls you got.

Read more ...