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Here’s a representative photo of our winter — Anna in her new Andy Carroll Liverpool jersey and scarf on a Sunday morning with a plate full of just-out-of-the-oven scones! We’ve been doing this every weekend that Liverpool is on Fox Soccer Channel or ESPN (the games tend to start nice and early Boston time).

Just doesn’t get much better than this! (I think this was from the day when our Reds knocked off Chelsea — it REALLY doesn’t get much better than that… especially this season)


Thanks to everyone for these submissions! The judges have met, and the winner is…

Reader Cathy!

We loved how her haiku seemed to fit with this spiral-covered buddy. He seems like an artsy type who just wants to be free and creative and can’t be caged in.

We will get this in the mail soon. There will be many more opportunities for readers to win hand-crafted stuff, so keep checking back.

As loyal LPE readers well know, Anna and I have enjoyed learning how to bake a fine loaf of bread over the past few years. Usually, we knead, knead, knead away and go through several rising cycles to make a nice, dense sandwich loaf. But just a few weeks ago, a colleague of mine gave us a most special treat — a beautiful loaf of cranberry pecan bread and the recipe for how to make it.

Last weekend I finally tried the recipe. And it’s incredible. Here are the results:

Not bad, eh? Best part is that it’s the easiest loaf of bread I’ve ever made. Check out the recipe here.

Apparently, this recipe made the rounds about 3 years ago after being featured in the NYT and has been popular ever since. The two biggest differences between this and other simple bread recipes are: 1) the bread requires no kneading (but it has to rise for 12-18 hours) and 2) you bake it in a dutch oven so that you simulate baking in a steam oven. You can add all sorts of things to it (nuts, cheese, fruit, etc.), or, just keep it simple. And how cool does it look to have the flour pattern from the towels between which the dough rose on the outside?

So make yourself a loaf today. And invite us over. We’ll bring the soup.

In another installment of my new series, we feature a classic spot in Watertown that’s about 10 minutes from our house. We first saw this place just driving by and thought, “A new restaurant in an old steel car diner! Every one of those we’ve ever been to has been good.” It looks like this:

Just by the looks of it, you’d figure it would have good breakfast stuff, right? But would you guess they’d have a rockin’ gourmet dinner menu? And fantastic dessert? And good beer? And water in fancy bottles? Well let’s see…

Right on all counts! The whole classic old-school diner vibe is evident from the counter…

…to the menus, which feature images of old travel postcards from tourist traps of the U.S.A. (including… wait for it… Ogden, Utah! Which I’m thrilled about, because my Aunt and Uncle live there!). Here I am with a slightly more conventional San Francisco menu:

Anna and I like to go to the diner for just about any special occasion or, well, just about any occasion. Usually we try to sit in the fun circular booths. The last time we went it was super busy for a Sunday night, so we sat at the counter and watched one of the chefs turn out magic on the griddle. Highlights include their “kobe” beef burger, their Thanksgiving dinner plate, their sour cream pancakes, and their split pea soup:

When I try to be healthy, I order my favorite, the Asian chicken salad. Sometimes Anna likes to order it too:

Lately, Anna has been really into their Lime Rickeys, whose color reminds me of Ecto Cooler:

And we both are totally into their one-of-a-kind pointy cupcakes:

In short, the Deluxe Town Diner is the Best of Boston. It will make you happy. If you are in the Boston area, you must go soon. If you live somewhere else and ever come to visit us, chances are we will take you there.

EDIT: We were there on Saturday and the menus have changed! No more olde timey state postcards, now it’s some kind of painting that’s the same on them all. Oh well, farewell, Ogden menu, it was fun while it lasted.

Just in time for the holidays, we’re giving away soaps to a lucky reader of our friend Ronit’s blog, Two Hippos. Read the post and comment at the bottom for your chance to win your choice of two bars of LPE soap.

Ronit is the ultimate crafter, quilter, baker, vegetarian chef — and history Ph.D. candidate — and maintains an awesome blog! She’s giving away eight different gifts from her own collection and those of friends for Chaunukah, so check back each day for more giveaways! And keep reading Two Hippos after the holidays for more of her craft ideas, recipies, and fun things to purchase.

The title explains it all. Gordon seems to do all of the things that “dogs” do, like searching every room in the house for a place to safely store his rawhide bone for later…

Anna has been on fire with the blog posts lately. Time for me to catch up and add to the conversation. I’ve been meaning to blog about a new favorite place near our house, and our trip this morning reminded me to get on it!

As something of an amateur chef, I have enjoyed the variety of places to shop around Boston. Within 15 minutes of our house are probably 10-12 grocery stores, including several of the “usual suspects” for the Northeast suburbs (Trader Joe’s, Whole Paycheck). These places have their spot in a grocery rotation, but we are lucky to live where we do in Belmont because my favorite grocery find, Russo’s, is just 10 minutes away in Watertown.

Over the past month, an early morning Saturday or Sunday trip to Russo’s has become one of the highlights of our week. And we’re not the only ones who love it. Russo’s is nearly always packed by 9 a.m. on Saturday AND Sunday. Why, you ask? How about this?


And this?


The place has an incredible variety of produce for just about every sort of cuisine you can think of. The Asian and Italian sections are especially strong:


They buy local stuff in season (today I picked out a basket of apples, maybe 7 lbs. worth, for $.79 cents a pound):

mark apples

They also have a fantastic bakery and deli counter. The only problem with those is the crowds. As I mentioned earlier, it’s almost incredible how full the place is by 9 a.m. on the weekends. Getting a cart around the small store requires real concentration. But the mix of shoppers is great and the deals even better.

I’m hoping to post more “Best of Boston” places in the near future. But in the meantime, anyone have any spots like this to share?

So yesterday, amidst pouring, hurricane-induced rain, our friends Mark & Laurie hosted their 5th annual Meatball Cookoff (affectionately known as the Balls Party). We are still full. Entries are accepted into three categories: best meatball, best non-meatball, and best dessert ball. Laurie had told me about what had won in the past, so knew we had to go… balls to the wall (And yes, half of the fun of the Meatball cookoff is making jokes like that over and over and over again).

We hadn’t made meatballs in years, so first of all, we had to remember how to cook them. We had lots of ideas for what might make a unique and tasty ball, but eventually I decided on a pretty basic duo of pesto-infused beef and chicken balls. One had basil pesto, the other sundried tomato pesto. I ended up baking them for about a half an hour and they were nice and brown. Problem is, keeping meatballs fresh for an hour without being coated in sauce is tough. I named them Red Light/Green Light Balls, and once they got to the table they looked like this:

pesto balls

Anna decided to reprise one of her favorite recipes from Williamstown, a tasty double chocolate ball introduced to us by our friend Katie Kamieniecki. They are simple and easy to make but will blow your mind. The basic recipe is cream cheese, crushed Oreos, and melted chocolate. Noboday can resist! She called them…

Mmmm Balls

Competition was fierce this year, as there were 13 entrants for the “Best Meatball” category!


One of our favorites was Anne Marie’s traditional, Italian meatball. Are you kidding me!? She told us she let them simmer for four hours. Everyone needs to know an Italian chef as talented as AMC. We could’ve eaten these all night:


As we were all judges, we sampled everything. I took my judging very seriously… and sampled them all twice. We then rested for a bit and played Atari! After awhile, we all voted and the results were announced. And guess who won the best Dessert Meatball category? Anna! She was very proud. And she won an awesome chef’s hat!


It was an absolute blast. Any else doing anything like this?

Based on  your emails and comments, we know what you, our loyal readers want to see: more of the plants. We’ll get to those in a minute.

But first, here are a few shots of how we celebrated Easter this year. As Anna wrote earlier, my sister, Annie, who lives just down the road in Boston came over and we had a feast. Anna’s creations from her new Wyoming cookbook proved ready to go into the permanent rotation. Here we are posing for obligatory pre-meal photos before digging in:


After brunch, Annie opened her Easter basket. Gordon was especially interested in its contents:


What can we say, he knows what the good stuff smells like:


Apparently, begging is exhausting. It always amazes us where and how Gordon can fall asleep:


It was a lovely holiday and a great opportunity to think about our families and friends and reflect upon the magnificence of winter turning into spring.

Speaking of spring, ok, it’s time for some plant seedling updates. I’m happy to report that we have removed the greenhouse lids on two of the flats because the seedlings have outgrown their roofs. Here’s the latest:


They are all mostly in the 3-5″ tall range. The green beans are especially happy, already sprouting little leaves!


My favorite upstarts have been the sunflowers. They sprouted up a few days ago, with the seed coats a clear giveaway for what was coming up out of the ground:


We’ll probably have to start transplanting the squash, beans, and cucumbers soon. We’ll put some more pictures up when we do. Send along your own if you are taking the plunge into container gardening. It’s easy and incredibly satisfying.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and happy spring!

Seeds went into the ground Saturday… and we already have plants! Well, you can judge for yourself:


Simply beautiful! They they did require some coddling (spray bottle water feeding, evenings bathed in “natural” light from the plant light). BUT a bunch of little guys have responded well to this treatment and have started poking out of the soil. I especially like the ones that lift up big pieces of of soil on their way out of the ground. This one seemed particularly strong:


Nearly all of the vegetables have shown at least a little bit of green above the surface. Even the tomatoes, which we figured would be the hardest to grow from seed. The quickest growers have been the lettuce. They are fun little sprouts and particularly phototrophic, growing at an almost 45-degree angle toward the window:


More “growing updates” to come soon. Happy Spring, and Happy Holidays to everyone!


June 2023
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